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.

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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Want To Live Longer? VOLUNTEER!

As we age, we continually look for ways to hold off the effects of time and to stay younger longer. Amazingly enough, one of the best ways to live longer is to actually embrace our senior status and put it to work in the community.

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Research has shown that seniors who volunteer live longer and happier lives. Volunteering delivers what has been labeled as a "giver's high", a rush of endorphins caused by doing good for others. This rush of endorphins actually goes a long way in decreasing depression and increasing happiness, which is key to improving overall health in our senior years. It also helps to keep seniors from feeling isolated and alone.

On the whole, we are now living 3 times longer than ever before and these years of experience can be a huge asset to our community and to our health. Embracing volunteer opportunities like joining Big Brothers & Big Sisters, not only give you that "giver's high", it also can be a way to pass on the experiences and knowledge you have gained to the next generation.

Find out what opportunities exist around you.

St. Joseph, MO has a lot of opportunities for senior volunteers. We put the link to Big Brothers & Big Sisters above, but there are several agencies, libraries, schools, and community gardens that could use your help. Each and every one of them could greatly benefit from the guidance and experience the senior community can offer.

Decide what you can handle both physically and mentally.

While working in a community garden can be a great benefit to the community, if your joints won't allow you to pull weeds or plant seeds, that may not be the best fit. Equally important is understanding your emotional limits as well. Various agencies have volunteer opportunities to help the less fortunate and abused in our community, but some of those situations can be very emotionally and mentally taxing.

Look for opportunities where you can use your experience.

If you're a former math teacher, you might consider volunteering as an after school tutor, or if you're a retired electrician, you could donate your guidance to a habitat for humanity project home. The possibilities are endless if you put your mind to it.

Don't be afraid to create something new.

Just because you're older doesn't mean you can't show the young pups a few new tricks. If you don't see an opportunity to volunteer that you like - create a new one! If you can fill the gap in your community, DO IT! Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do something that hasn't been done yet, or possibly needs to be done better.

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Happy Administrative Professionals' Day!

These four amazing women are the backbone that makes it possible for Freudenthal to deliver First-Class Care day in and day out! Thank you so much Michelle, Patty, Catalina & Angie! WE LOVE YOU ALL!

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HAPPY EARTH DAY!

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Make The Choice For First-Class Care!

You can choose your home health care provider.
Make the choice for First-Class care from Freudenthal!

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Family Caregiver Team Meetings: Win/Win

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Not all the issues in family caregiving and decision-making can be solved; sometimes it is important to accept a temporary solution. It's important to try to work toward building a consensus. Change happens slowly, but when families meet regularly, seeds are planted that can grow into more productive solutions. Often things do not change until there is a crisis, but the work that has been done during the family meeting will make decision-making easier when the crisis does come. Agreements can be made on a limited-time basis to see if the agreed-upon action actually works. Future meetings can be used to evaluate these trials and revise them if needed.

Respecting each other's points of view help to create an atmosphere of acceptance and allows for creative solutions to be born. In order for these solutions to work, people have to learn to compromise. By being open to alternatives, you might get part—although maybe not all—of what you want or need. Often, family members, or ourselves, hold out for only one solution to a problem, and don't consider other possibilities that could assist the situation. Asking for help is one of the hardest things for anyone to do. Learning to graciously receive help offered can also be a struggle, not only for the person who is sick, but also for the person who is the primary family caregiver. Being appreciative is the best reward you can give someone who is trying to help you, even if the type of help he/she is offering isn't exactly what you wanted. When you make someone feel good about helping, he/she will want to help again. “Thank you” will take you a long way in working together. In creating the family caregiving team, think about how each person should be acknowledged.

A written agreement capturing the decisions and agreements made at the end of the family caregiver meetings can be a helpful reminder for the different team members. Distributing a calendar with different days marked with responsibilities and commitments can also help each person honor the agreements made.

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April Is Occupational Therapy Month!

Occupational therapists ask, "What matters to you?"
not, "What's the matter with you?"

Your life is made up of occupations, or meaningful activities of daily living. These occupations can include many roles, such as being a family caregiver, a parent or grandparent, a spouse, a cook, or even an artist. We generally don’t think about our daily occupations until we have trouble doing them. Everyone has occupations—from the grand-baby whose occupations are playing and learning to develop important skills, to the senior adult whose occupations are engaging with family and friends and managing his or her home. If you are recovering from a traumatic episode or even trying to remain in your home as you age, your daily occupations can be disrupted. Freudenthal occupational therapists incorporate these daily occupations into the rehabilitation process.

Our occupational therapists will come to your home and:

  • Perform an individualized evaluation & help your determine your goals 
  • Customize a therapy plan to improve your ability to perform daily activities and reach your goals
  • Perform an outcome evaluation to ensure that your goals are being met and/or make changes to the therapy plan
 The Freudenthal Occupational Therapist Team (Right to Left): Julie Raines, Angela McQuinn, Sheila Surmeier

The Freudenthal Occupational Therapist Team (Right to Left): Julie Raines, Angela McQuinn, Sheila Surmeier

Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s living space, making recommendations for adaptive equipment and also training the client how to use it, and guidance for family caregivers. Occupational therapists have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the patient, and making the patient an integral part of the therapy team.

Our ultimate goal is to help you or your family member maintain those meaningful activities and to age at home as long as possible. Maintaining those daily occupations can make a huge difference in the quality of life not only for the client but also their family caregivers.

 

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Happy Easter!

May you and your family have a happy and blessed Easter!

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