Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Assistive Devices for Lifting and Transferring Loved Ones when Providing Care at Home

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Lift and transfer devicesUsing help to lift or transfer someone doesn’t always mean you need a second pair of hands. There are devices and tools that can help make the process safer for everyone involved. If you have such a device, it’s essential that you understand how to use it properly and to inspect the device regularly to be sure it’s solid. It’s best if you can ask a qualified healthcare professional (such as a physical therapist) to show you how to use the equipment. Some of these items are available for rent, as well as for purchase.

Some types of transfer and lifting equipment include:

  • Transfer or gait belt – This belt goes around the person’s waist and provides you with something sturdy to hold on to. You then can provide support and guidance to the person as he or she moves along a sliding board, gets up or down to/from a seated position, or is walking. Transfer belts must fit and be placed properly for them to be effective and safe.
  • Turning or positioning sheet (sometimes called a piqué) – Small sheets, often of a more durable fabric than regular linen and sometimes backed with waterproof fabric, can be placed underneath someone who is lying in bed. By holding the sides of the positioning sheet, caregivers can help move the person up and down in the bed or from side to side.
  • Sliding board – A board is used as a bridge between two surfaces, such as a bed and a chair, a wheelchair and bath seat, etc. If the person needs extra assistance, support, or security, a transfer belt can be used at the same time.
  • Portable lift, often called a Hoyer lift – A sling, usually a large square of strong fabric or mesh, is placed underneath the person who is going to be moved. The sling is then hooked to cables that are suspended from “arms”, which slowly lift the person off the bed or chair. The person is then guided to the destination and slowly lowered. The sling usually stays in place while the person is sitting in a chair, but is removed when in bed.
  • Ceiling mounted lift – Permanent lifts similar to Hoyer lifts can be installed from the ceiling. The cables run across a track and are usually installed in bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Lift chair – It can be hard for some people to get up from a sitting position if they are in a recliner type of chair. Lift chairs have a mechanism that pushes up the seat, guiding the person who is seated to a standing position.

For more information on devices that can help you provide physical care, please visit At Home Solutions. There you will find resources, including community support. We are here to help you provide quality care at home.

Protect Your Back While Caring for a Loved One

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by Kim McCreery No Comments

back injuryLifting or helping transfer someone, such as helping him or her move from a bed to a chair, can be hard on a caregiver’s back, especially if you haven’t been trained with the proper techniques. Improper lifting or transferring can result in an injury not only to you, the caregiver, but also to the person you are trying to help.

Back injuries to caregivers usually happen if they are not:

  • Trained in how to properly lift or transfer a person
  • Trained in how to properly use assistive devices
  • Able to recognize their physical limits
  • Physically capable of lifting or transferring
  • Able to recognize when to ask for help

So can you reduce your risk of being injured? Absolutely, and here are some tips that will help.

The most important thing to remember about staying safe is something that is also taught to healthcare workers: know when to ask for help. It may be an instinct to dive right in and do what needs to be done, but there are some situations when you should never try to lift someone alone, no matter how much you feel that you can. They include:

  • If the person has fallen on the floor
  • If the person is not cooperative or is combative
  • If you don’t feel you can do so safely

When people fall on the floor and can’t get back up on their own, it’s usually safest to try to make them as comfortable as possible, with a pillow under the head for example, and then get help.

Staying Safe While Lifting and Transferring

It may be tempting sometimes to cut corners and try to save time when lifting or transferring someone, but this can lead to injury to both you and your loved one. Here are some tips that caregivers should keep in mind for everyone’s safety:

  • Know your limits. Don’t lift or transfer someone you know will be too much for your ability.
  • Encourage the person being transferred to do as much as possible, such as bearing weight if he or she can.
  • Take cues from the person you are moving. Try to move at his or her speed, and watch for signs of discomfort or pain.

For more information on home care and proper body mechanics, please contact At Home Solutions. Our caregivers have been trained in how to lift and transfer clients in a safe and professional manner. Contact us to see how we can help you, with services ranging from personal care to respite care, so you can take a break, reducing the risk of fatigue or injury. Let us help you.

Seniors at Risk: Dehydration

Posted on: July 11th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments


Water makes up over 60% of our body. Water is vital to life. You can go weeks without food but only about 3-4 days without water. Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from poor hydration. The challenges of aging including a lack of thirst–our sense of thirst decreases as we age; mobility limitations that make getting to the bathroom and using the toilet more difficult; and incontinence cause some seniors to avoid drinking adequate amounts.

Best Beverages for Hydration
The best liquid to drink is water followed by beverages like unsweetened, decaffeinated tea and coffee, milk, and low sodium soups. Diluted fruit juice can be another option too. Make it half and half. Fruits and vegetables high in water content including melons, cucumbers, and berries help us stay hydrated as well. If eating is an issue, try a simple fruit smoothie made with fruit, ice, and milk. Avoid excess caffeine and concentrated high sugar beverages.

Monitor Your Beverage IntakeIce-Cold-Water1-265x300
8-10 8 ounce glasses a day is advised for most people. Keep track of your intake. Sometimes we don’t know how much we are drinking unless we monitor it. Keep a chart OR set up 8 glasses, grab a permanent marker, number them 1-8 and drink them in order throughout the day. Put each glass away once you finish the beverage inside.  Follow your doctor’s advice if you have a condition that affects or limits fluid intake.

The consequences of poor hydration include low energy, dry skin, poor circulation, constipation, medication concerns, and other potentially serious health issues.  Keeping hydrated is one of the best things we can do for our health. Make it a daily goal to drink up!

If you are concerned about a loved one, read more about the causes and effects of dehydration.



Managing Caregiver Stress Part 1: Identifying Triggers

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Are you a family caregiver struggling with stress?

Studies show family caregivers are under a tremendous amount of stress. Many are providing care for a relative for years on end, often with little or no help. Commonly reported feelings and conditions associated with the stress of caring for another include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom, anger, resentment, guilt, and hopelessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
  • Poor nutrition, lack of exercise and self-care
  • Sleep deprivation and fatigue due to constant nighttime interruption
  • Low energy and motivation
  • Physical aliments

Identifying Triggers

If you are a caregiver, keeping a journal is a first step to identifying your individual stress triggers and patterns related to caregiving. Once the triggers have been highlighted, you can then apply targeted solutions.
Consider the following questions on a daily basis and write down your answers in a notebook for two weeks.

  • What are my biggest causes of stress related to my caregiving tasks today?
  • How do they make me feel?
  • How do I respond, emotionally, verbally, and physically?
  • Do I take steps to make myself feel better and help alleviate my stress?
  • If yes, what are those steps and how do they provide relief?
  • If no, what do I do instead?

Journaling in this fashion provides self-awareness and can help caregivers face their feelings and stress triggers head on. As you keep track of your days, you should start to detect patterns of behavior. Document these patterns as well.

This exercise is a big first step in the direction of finding solutions to help manage and alleviate your caregiver stress. Often this is the hardest step as guilt can prevent caregivers from even acknowledging they are struggling.

Our next blog post focuses on resources and steps to finding solutions. Stay tuned!


Healthy Hearts: A Holistic Approach

Posted on: February 19th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

In Matters of the Heart . . .

We have a loving heart, an aspiring heart, an inspiring heart, an

illumining heart and a fulfilling heart.” Sri Chinmoy

The heart is the center of our cardiovascular system and it also represents our emotional/spiritual essence.

Caring for our hearts is a two-fold task then. We should properly nourish, exercise, and rest our hearts and we should care for our emotional well-being through positive thoughts and actions including cultivating and nurturing loving relationships.

With Valentines Day and the Million Hearts Campaign going on, February is an ideal month to focus on Heart Health. I encourage all of you to think about ways you can improve your Heart Health every day. Prepare a salad filled with colorful vegetables and a sprinkling of walnuts then a hour later take a 30 minute walk with a loved one.

Heart Health doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It is simply a matter of making conscious, loving choices every day. Below, are links to resources on the many ways to care for your heart!


Heart Healthy Diet

Heart Healthy Exercise

Stress Management Tips

Healthy Relationships








Exercise for Seniors: It’s Never Too Late to Start

Posted on: December 30th, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

“If exercise could be packaged into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
Robert N. Butler, M.D.Former Director of The National Institute on Aging

National Institute on Aging (NIA) indicates that an inactive lifestyle can cause older people to lose ground in four areas important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility, endurance

According to a study performed by NIA for people age 75 and older:

  • 40% cannot walk two blocks
  • 32% cannot climb ten steps
  • 22% cannot lift ten pounds
  • 7% cannot walk across a small room
  • 50% of those who fracture hips never walk independently again, with many dying from complications

The Many Benefits of Exercise for the Older Adult

Cardiovascular: improves blood pressure; decreases risk of coronary artery disease; improves congestive heart failure symptoms and decreases hospitalization rate; improves lipid profileLady Lifting Weights

Type 2 Diabetes: decreases incidence; improves glycemic control; decreases hemoglobin levels;improves insulin sensitivity

Osteoporosis: decreases bone density loss in postmenopausal women; decreases hip and vertebral fractures; decreases risk of falling

Sleep and Moods: improves quality of sleep; improves cognitive function; decreases rates of depression, improves Beck depression scores; improves short-term memory

Osteoarthritis: improves function; decreases pain

Cancer: potential decrease in risk of colon, breast, prostate, rectum; improves quality of life and decreases fatigue

Other: decreases all-cause mortality; decreases all-cause morbidity; decreases risk of obesity; improves symptoms in peripheral vascular occlusive disease

Benefits presented in the article “Promoting and Prescribing Exercise for the Elderly,” by Robert J. Nied, M.D., Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan and Barry Franklin, Ph.D., William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

 Before starting exercise, older adults and/or adults with chronic conditions should develop an activity plan with a health professional to manage risks and take therapeutic needs into account.                    

Activities to Improve the 4 Area of Fitness

  • Strength: resistance bands, weights, calisthenics, dancing
  • Balance:  yoga, chair exercises, dancing
  • Flexibility: yoga, chair exercises, dancing
  • Aerobic Endurance: walking, swimming, water aerobics, low impact aerobics, dancing, rowing

Consult your physician if exercise results in: chest pain, dizziness, cold sweats, extreme breathlessness, very rapid heart rate that lasts longer than 5–10 minutes after stopping activity.

Regardless of where you live, there are exercise programs suitable for all ability levels. Talk to your doctor, activity director, local community center or gym. Check out these online resources for more information.

Exercise doesn’t just improve physical well-being, it also provides energy, lifts our spirits, keeps us sharp, and helps us fully participate in all areas of life. Don’t forget, indoor and outdoor chores count as exercise too. The important thing is to do something on a regular basis. Move it, lift it, stretch it!





Senior Nutrition Series: Go for the Fiber

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments


Plants such as fruits and vegetables are fiber-rich carbohydrates. Filber Rich Foods

Fiber is vital for good health. Studies show decreased risk for heart disease when adults consume enough fiber. Evidence also suggests that fiber in the diet can help prevent colon cancer and promote weight control. Other benefits include improved bowel function and lower blood cholesterol levels.

Fiber Recommendations according to

  • Men over aged 50 should get 30 grams of fiber a day.
  • Women over aged 50 should get 21 grams of fiber a day.

Beware of Fiber Poor Carbohydrates including white bread, baked goods, white rice, and sugar. We call these bad because these products contain little or no fiber, easily convert to glucose and raise your blood sugar FAST! Also,
these foods contain little or no nutritional value.

Seek out Fiber Rich Carbohydrates including fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain products (wheat, oats, rye, quinoa, barley, brown and wild rice). Note: pasta should be consumed al dente, meaning don’t over cook the pasta. It should be firm not soft.


Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Foods and Nutrients to Increase


Senior Nutrition: Good Fats, Bad Fats

Posted on: October 3rd, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments
Good Fats

Good Fats

If you grew up eating a lot of real butter, shortening, and lard, this post is for you!

Dietary fat is a nutrient that helps your body absorb essential vitamins, maintains the structure and function of cell membranes, and helps keep your immune system working.  We need fat, however, some types of fat may increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. Fat also has a lot of calories, increasing the risk of weight gain.  Source: Mayo Clinic

The Good Fats

Monounsaturated fats: These heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. Sources: olives, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and olive, canola, and peanut oils.

Polyunsaturated fats, Omega 3 and 6:  Found mostly in vegetable oils, these help lower both blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels— especially when you substitute them for saturated fats.  Sources: Soybean and canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed, cold water fish (cod, crab, lobster, scallops, tuna, trout, and salmon).

 The Bad Fats

Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are the solid fats. They are linked to chronic diseases, especially heart disease. Sources: High-fat cheeses, high-fat cuts of meat, whole-fat milk and cream, butter, ice cream, palm and coconut oils  **Low-fat versions of these foods usually still contain saturated fats, but in smaller quantities than the regular versions.

Trans Fats: Partially-hydrogenated oils — the dirty word to look for on a list of ingredients.  Sources: It’s a semi-solid fat commonly found in commercially baked goods and some hard margarines.

Bottom line, avoid those fats you grew up with…real butter, lard, and shortening. Take it easy on the baked goods and go low-fat in the dairy section when you can!


Benefits of 24 Hour Live-In Care

Posted on: September 20th, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

According to AARP, Nearly 90% of people over age 65 indicate they want to stay in their home as long as possible. 24 hour/Live-in Care allows those who require around the clock care; those who may be a fall risk; or those suffering from Alzheimer’s to do just that.

What services are available with 24 hour/Live-in Care?

  • Chronic disease management support for CHF, COPD, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and other Dementias, Arthritis, Stroke Impairment, Diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s, and Cancer.
  • Medication reminders and documentation
  • Bathing and grooming
  • Housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation
  • Shopping, errands, transportation to doctor appointmentsclasped hands
  • Walking assistance and light exercises
  • Companionship and suitable activities
  • Relief care for families
  • Short-term or long-term care based on need

Who might need 24 hour/Live-in Care?

    • Clients whose family live out of town and cannot provide care.
    • Clients whose family caregivers need help, a break, or who are going on vacation.


  • Clients who wander and cannot be left alone.
  • Clients who pose a fall risk and cannot be left alone.
  • Clients who are recovering from surgery or illness and need constant care.
  • Clients who do not want to go into an assisted living, group home, or nursing home.
  • Clients who want to move back home from an assisted living, group home, or nursing home.
  • Clients who need 24 hour care in order to be discharged from the hospital.
  • Clients who need around the clock care in the hospital per the staff.

What are the Benefits of 24 hour/Live-in Care?

24 hour/Live-in Care offers one-on-one, personalized care in the comfort and safety of familiar surroundings. Caregivers are experienced, extensively trained, and supervised. 24 hour/Live-in care provides family members peace of mind that their loved one is in good hands.

Where can 24 hour/Live-in Care take place?

24 hour/Live-in Care can take place in a private home, apartment, assisted living facility, rehab/nursing home, or hospital room.

Why use At Home Solutions for 24 hour/Live-in Care?

Since 2001, Award-winning At Home Solutions has been providing professional care to seniors and adults with disabilities. Our caregivers are bonded, insured, and must pass criminal and MVD background checks. Caregivers are experienced, extensively trained and tested, closely supervised, and a care coordinator is on call 24 hours a day. At Home Solutions takes care of all payroll, taxes, and workman’s compensation. And, At Home Solutions coordinates with Geriatric Care Managers, Home Health, Hospice, Medical Equipment Suppliers, and other community resources to make sure all required services and supplies are in place.

To schedule a free care assessment, call 1-888-496-3983.


Nutrition Series: Protein Recommendations

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Good nutrition is one of the pillars of good health. This week we start a 6 week series of simple, straightforward posts on different components of nutrition to help seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers make informed food decisions. As a bonus, each week we will include a recipe based on the topic. Week one: Protein Recommendations. Remember to consult your doctor before you make major changes to your diet especially if you are on medications and/or have a medical condition.


Protein Recommendations

1. Mix it up. Most reasonable diets provide enough protein for healthy people. Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all of the amino acids you need.

2. Go low on saturated fat. Beans, fish and poultry provide plenty of protein, without much saturated fat. Steer clear of fatty meats and use whole-milk dairy products sparingly.

3. Limit red meat—and avoid processed meat. Research suggests that people who eat even modest amounts of red meat have a higher risk of developing colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and a higher risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or any cause. There’s also substantial evidence that replacing red meat with fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, could help prevent heart disease
and diabetes—and could lower the risk of early death. So make red meat (beef, pork, lamb) only an occasional part of your diet—no more than two 3-ounce servings a week—if you eat it at all. And skip the processed stuff—bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats—since that’s linked even more strongly to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes risk.

4. Eat soy in moderation. Tofu and other soy foods are an excellent red meat alternative. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to go overboard: Two to four servings a week is a good target.

5. Balance carbs and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates and increasing protein improves levels of blood triglycerides and HDL, and so may reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other form of cardiovascular disease. It may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs.


Protein Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls Recipe

  • 1 cup of low-fat peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup of Instant protein shake mix (found in the health section of your grocery store). Recommended brands: Aria Protein Shake Mix 50% whey/50% soy chocolate flavored; Gensoy Soy Protein Shake chocolate flavored.)

In a microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter and honey for about 30 seconds to soften. Stir together and gradually add the protein. Mix well. Form into balls and place on wax paper. Cool and refrigerate. Variation: roll balls in chocolate chips, coconut, granola.