Healthy Heart Habits for You and Your Loved Ones

February is National Heart Health Month, which means there couldn’t be a better time to learn more about the heart and what it means to keep it healthy, especially as we age.

Heart health affects more than just the heart. If your heart is healthy, you’ll feel the effects because the heart is pumping as it should and circulating proper amounts of blood and nutrients throughout your body. Conversely, if you’re heart is unhealthy, you’ll feel the negative effects throughout your entire body and find that it hinders many parts of your life.

Healthy Heart

Caregivers should be putting heart health on the front burner this month and remind their aging loved ones that it’s never too late to start practicing healthy heart habits!

Here are 6 habits that promote heart health and longevity that seniors and caregivers should learn to incorporate into their daily routines:

Healthy Heart Habits to Adopt:

  1. Stop smoking! This is perhaps the WORST thing you can do for your heart at any age, but even more so as you age.
  2. Exercise regularly by doing something you love. It will get your blood pumping, keeping you strong and healthy.
  3. Eat a colorful range of fruits and veggies because different colors and varieties of fruits and veggies will give you the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
  4. Take an omega-3 supplement. Most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which causes the risk for heart disease to sky-rocket.
  5. Prioritize your protein by avoiding red meats like beef, lamb, and pork. Instead, stick to healthy protein like fish and eggs, as well as leaner meats like turkey and chicken.
  6. Know the symptoms and warning signs of heart disease. In addition to working on better heart health, it’s important to work on your overall health. Health conditions that are not related to the heart can actually increase your risk for heart disease, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself in all areas of your life!

Although heart disease risks increase with age, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. Making the right diet choices and creating healthy habits can help protect you.

February is not only National Heart Health Month, but it’s also the month of Valentine’s Day, which means it’s important to keep your heart healthy for yourself, as well as your loved ones.

Arise Cares Caregiver Spotlight: Kristine Bettermann

The Caregivers at Arise Cares enjoy making a difference in the lives of seniors, people with special needs, and families. Our caregivers get to experience a personal connection with their clients and see the meaningful changes they make in their lives.

We asked one of our caregivers – Kristine Bettermann – about her experience working at Arise Cares.

 

The Basics

How long have you been a Caregiver?

My first job as a Caregiver was through Arise and I’ve worked here for 1 year and 3 months.

 

How did you first come across Caregiving as a career?

Since I am minoring in Special Education, I am in a lot of classes with girls and guys who were already working as Caregivers for part-time jobs. I sat next to a girl who worked for Arise Cares and she got me really interested in applying.

 

What’s your favorite thing about being a Caregiver?

People who are not fully physically independent sometimes lose their ability to do their favorite pastime activities on their own. It is really special for me to help them do those special activities and experience the joy it brings them.

 

If you’re a college student, what do you plan on doing in the future for a career?

I am majoring in psychology and minoring in Special Education. I would love to become a marriage and family therapist as my career progresses.

 

Your “Why”

Why are you a caregiver?

I am a Caregiver simply because I love taking care of people. I know that I have a kind heart and would do anything to make someone’s day.

 

As a college student, how is your role as a Caregiver setting you up for your future?

Being a Caregiver has given me better people skills, as I interact directly with many different people through this line of work. It has also helped me with my homemaking skills like making beds, cooking, cleaning…etc.

 

What inspires or encourages you as a Caregiver?

The families of my clients encourage me to do the best job that I can when I am working for their loved one. Before I do something, I always think to myself, Is that how I would want someone to care for my grandparents? I like families to know that their loved one is in good hands when they are with me.

 

Your Advice

What words of wisdom do you have for other Caregivers?

Be personable, but also professional. In this line of work, you are working very intimately with your clients and their families. It is ok to get to know them and have them know you on a personal level, but it is also a job and boundaries have to be set right away.

 

What words of wisdom do you have for clients and their families?

Don’t be afraid to let your Caregivers know what is expected of them and correct them when they are doing something wrong. We get paid to do this job and I know it’s a bit awkward to ask someone to take out your garbage or do your laundry, but that’s why we are here.

 

What do you wish you would have known when you first became a Caregiver?

I did not realize how attached you get to your clients and their families. It is really hard to say goodbye to people who you have spent months or even a year with. Listening to their weekend plans, sitting with them at dinner and hearing about their day makes you feel at home.

 

If you’re looking for a meaningful career, consider a career as a Caregiver at Arise Cares. Besides a valuable career, you’ll find a flexible schedule, a competitive wage, and real-world experience to help reach your future goals.

Arise Care’s Senior Day Program: Our New Location!

Describe the process of designing the new location. Why is it laid out and decorated the way it is?

We know that families face obstacles/resistance when bringing their loved one to a program like this, so we wanted to make the space as homey and comfortable as possible. The space had to be inviting and warm for people to get past their initial fears. We try to put ourselves in our client’s shoes and ask the question, ”Would I bring my loved one here?” If we answer yes, then we know we are on the right track.

We feel we are on the right track!! We have a space with lots of natural light to sit and watch the outdoors, a separate larger space for activities, exercise and meals, and a nice quiet, cozy space relax.

 

What is the mission of the Senior Day Program?

Our mission is to provide peace of mind when life is hard! We know that many families face health challenges and difficulties as they age making it difficult to remain at home. Our goal is to help them stay at home for as long as possible. Our day program is just one more way for families to achieve this. It gives the family caregiver some much needed respite, but also offers the care recipient; socialization, activities, meals, and care when they are with us. If the family caregiver can stay healthy and have an opportunity to re-charge that leads to good outcomes. Our day program can assist that family caregiver by providing care while they recharge.

 

What are the benefits of the new location?

One primary benefit of our new location is that we have all of our resources in one location. Nursing staff, management staff and caregivers are all right here! Location and easy access make a difference in the decision process for families. The close proximity of many residential neighborhoods, medical resources (such as St. Cloud Medical Group – South Campus), the fast growing education corridor on 33rd Street South, and the easy access to some of the largest employers in St. Cloud make it easier for families to choose us for the care of their loved one. Often, the primary caregiver is an adult child still in the workforce. They are in need of support for their loved one so they can continue to work. Our location can be helpful for those in this situation.

 

What do you hope your clients and their families will gain from utilizing the services of the Senior Day Program?

We all hope that our client families gain peace of mind by using our services. That’s a BIG hope, yet we truly believe that we can do that for families. We have witnessed our clients put off moving to a facility for months or years by using our services. They can achieve some stability, especially when facing health decline, isolation in aging, dementia, or caregiver burnout.

 

What should people expect at the open house?

Our Senior Day Program Open House is taking place August 29th from 9-11 AM and 4-6 PM at our new location: 2907 Clearwater Road in St. Cloud.

At our Open House, visitors can expect a full tour of our facility. They will see the activities their loved one will participate in, they can visit with our staff, learn about our services, and enjoy light refreshments. We are very excited to meet with families. If you can’t make it to our open house, please call (320) 281-2306 or contact Sue Christensen to schedule a tour.

 

Arise Care’s Founder Story: An Interview with Jay Vachal

 

 

I founded Arise in 2000 after my own personal experience with home care services, Our son required home health care due to his disabilities, but we were disappointed in the level of care offered by home care agencies in the area at the time. The services didn’t meet our needs and there were frequent changes in personnel. We wanted to do better, not only for our son but for all the families struggling with the same issues. Living it firsthand gives us a unique perspective and a deeper level of empathy for our clients.

We believe you or your loved one should drive the decisions regarding how, when, where, and by whom care is provided. We can help you make these important decisions and ensure your loved one the dignity and compassionate care they deserve.

– Jay Vachal

Arise Home Health Care is locally owned, operated, and founded by Jay Vachal. To get a better idea of the background that motivated Jay to start Arise Cares, we asked him a few questions about the company and his ambitions:

 

  1. What inspired you to start Arise Cares versus looking for other service providers?

Service……or I should say “the lack thereof” service. The providers available in our area at the time [my son] Isaac started receiving home care services had very little empathy for what our life was like. Instead of focusing on the customer experience, those providers acted as if they were “good Samaritans” for taking us in. Getting to know Isaac and our family was not a priority. Communicating effectively with our family was not a priority. Getting a “warm body” to our home for 50% of the scheduled shifts was “good enough”. People like Isaac and the families that support them are, in many ways, under siege and my thinking at the time, and to this day, are they deserve better than “good enough”.

 

  1. What advice do you have for families that know they need help, but have a hard time finding the help they truly need?

Try to connect with as many people as possible going through circumstances similar to your own. Ask those people for recommendations. There is no substitute for firsthand experience but make sure you ask at least two people. It is best to have a balanced sampling of experiences as you discern what is best for you.

 

  1. What is most rewarding about helping a family that needs caregiving assistance?

When effectively executed, our services bring peace of mind to the client and their family. That peace of mind plays out differently in each family, but it is truly rewarding to see the stress, anxiety, and fear reduced in a household under siege. If that peace of mind can be sustained long enough, healing and hopefulness often return to the client and family members.

 

  1. How have your clients and their families impacted you and your perspective on caregiving?

Clients and their family dynamics are like snowflakes; no two are alike. Every home care situation, while similar to others, is still unique and requires customization. In healthcare, you often find a one size fits all approach to diagnosis and treatment. When home care and caregiving are done well, they personalize the client’s treatment and share the client’s goals. Generally, the main goal being to age in place while remaining as independent as circumstances allow.

 

  1. Please share any other insights or perspectives that you believe people should know about yourself or Arise.

Only a chosen few people in our society have the gift to become caregivers. Sometimes the chosen few need an “environment” in which to nurture and develop their caregiving gifts. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that the leadership at Arise Cares must – and does – view the client and the caregivers as equally important. They are our lifeblood and Arise Cares would not and will not exist without them.

 

The Benefit of College Caregiving for Your Future Career

College-aged students looking to work in a health-related field should thoughtfully consider working as a caregiver for a facility like Arise Cares. Whether you’re interested in going into Nursing, Special Education, Community Psychology, Social Work, or the Human Services, caregivers learn to balance many important skills that will prepare you for your future careers.

Working with Arise Cares, you can receive hands-on experience working with children or adults with special needs, or work with the elderly in their homes or at our off-site Senior Day Program. For the benefit of both our staff and our patients, we work to match up our employees’ experience and interests to their respective area, so that you do what you enjoy while you’re with us.

Caregiving Benefits

As one Health Career website geared to students in Europe recommends: “Getting some relevant experience is one of the most important things you can do to help find a career in health, so take any opportunity you can.”

Many Nursing programs recommend finding work as a personal care aide because of the unique blend of experiences you will receive. Rasmussen College notes, “This experience will help develop your interpersonal skills and improve your ability to communicate with patients who are in pain or cognitively impaired.” Nursing Times goes a step further, saying “Without the hands-on experience of delivering personal care and seeing how situations present, nurses are ill-equipped to prevent potential problems. Developing such nursing skills can be compared to learning to read.”

Some of the experience you can expect to gain include:

  • Assisting clients with personal care
  • Assisting clients with homemaking tasks to alleviate their physical demands
  • Reminding clients about medication
  • Being a trusted companion to the client
  • Communicating with the client and their family members
  • See more description of a caregiver’s duties here

In addition to great work experience, working with Arise Cares also appeals to your lifestyle. We work to accommodate your schedule and availability, and you will gain job satisfaction while making people’s days brighter and easier.

We invite you to apply for an Arise Cares position through our online application. We look forward to working with you!

Seven Tips to Ease Your Holiday Caregiving Responsibilities

As the holiday season approaches, do you find yourself stressing about additional caregiving responsibilities? The act of providing care can be both an incredibly rewarding experience and an extremely difficult responsibility. How can you better take care of yourself and your responsibilities? Take a look at our seven tips below:


Prioritize and Plan.
 Before the holiday season begins, plan and prioritize events, obligations, and the tasks you need to accomplish. Planning will do wonders! This planning stage is vital if you want the holiday season to run smoothly. Get organized, gather your shopping lists, and plan your invitation lists and menus. Budgeting and having your schedule in one place will help you in the long run.

Extended family sitting together opening gifts

Engage the Family in Planning. Don’t take on the burden of the holidays on your own. Lean on them to help accomplish everything from household errands, cleaning duties, meal preparations, planning and more. Your spouse, siblings, close friends, and children (even the younger ones) can help ease the burden of responsibilities and will be the backbone of your support system.

Maintain Routines. With so many exciting adventures and hectic schedules to keep track of, it’s important to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Keep up with dietary, fitness, and other such regular daily routines, and help your loved ones keep up with regular habits as well. The comfort of a daily routine will keep stress at a minimum.

Avoid Stress. Avoiding unpredictable crowds, tension-inducing events, and high-stress situations will help seniors who live with dementia. Do what you can to provide comfort and calming techniques when such events cannot be avoided. One-on-one time at a big event, such as a crowded family reunion over the holidays, can give you a chance to reconnect and ground tense emotions.

Connect with Support. If you need help, find it. In addition to a strong system of support, hire professionals to help provide additional caregiving and to accomplish errands. Often times, we take on the Superman mentality of wanting to be able to do it all. Connect with others for support; Find online message boards, help groups, a counselor or therapist, and other health professionals in order to find the support and share advice on what you need.

Elderly man in festive sweater and party hat laughing

Take Care of Yourself. Often when we take care of others we forget to take care of ourselves. Slow down and take some time to relax. Trust your instincts, be able to recognize the signs of stress. Treat yourself to some time alone or to just socialize with friends. The need to provide and care should not negatively impact our mental and emotional health. Eat healthy, exercise often, and sleep well.

Grandparents opening gifts with grandchildren on couch

Reflect. At the end of the season, some simple reflection can help make next year even better. Ask yourself about what worked and what did not. Maybe you will need to begin planning earlier next year or get even more family involvement. Some reflection can help you make improvements for next year.

Arise’s Nominate a Caregiver Contest

If you know a caregiver that is going above and beyond this Holiday season, nominate them to win some fantastic prizes! Arise will be offering a contest in celebration of National Family Caregivers Month by giving away an R&R gift package which will include a $50 Olive Garden gift card, a $20 Parkwood 18 gift card, a $50 Daylily Spa and Salon gift card, as well as some other special gifts. In order to win for the caregiver in your life, tell us why you think your family caregiver is the best of the best in our Facebook comments.

For a second chance entry and to read the rules and regulations, visit the Contest Page. The winner will be announced November 29th, so stay tuned to our Facebook page!

Recognizing Depression in Seniors

Depression is a difficult topic to discuss with anyone, especially family members.The stigma that looms over the title of “mental illness” is a difficult problem to solve. Many warning signs of depression are often overlooked and, unfortunately, are only realized after it is too late.

Woman with her hand on another woman's shoulderDepression in older adults can easily be written off as “moodiness” or “typical behaviors”. This is not always the case. Sure, everybody has an image of that cranky man on television that lives down the block, but depression is very different.

Warning signs of depression vary greatly from person to person, but can still be identified. The sooner they are recognized for what they are, the better chance there is to arm yourself and your loved ones with the right tools to battle depression.

According to the Administration on Aging, some common warning signs are:

  • Sad, discouraged mood
  • Persistent pessimism about the present, future and the past
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies, social life, and sex
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Lack of energy and feeling slowed down
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Loss of appetite and loss of weight
  • Disturbed sleep, especially early morning waking
  • Depressive, gloomy or desolate dreams
  • Suicidal thoughts

Signed into law by president, Lyndon Johnson, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA) set out to maintain the dignity and welfare of older Americans. It also paved the way for services that organized and coordinated opportunities of older Americans and their families to recognize and treat symptoms of depression in the community.

The AOA website offers a vast amount of resources for families and caregivers that allow them to care for their loved ones with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Family sitting around elderly man smiling

If you or your loved one are feeling the effects of depression, know that there are resources that are available for you. Nobody needs to battle depression alone and the symptoms should not be disregarded as minor feelings. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the 24/7 Treatment Referral Line at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find the treatment that works for you.

Visit psycom.net with your loved one to obtain a better understanding of what you may be feeling.

 

Your health and wellbeing go far beyond physical wellness. At Arise, our philosophy is “Stay Home, Stay Safe. Stay Healthy,” And that is exactly what we want for al or patients- no matter the age and no matter the symptoms.

Nine Common Signs for Recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating and heartbreaking disease to have and to witness. While the symptoms you have and how strong they occur vary, it’s important to identify the following nine signs:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs in Alzheimer’s patients can be seen when a loved one forgets big details of recent conversations or important dates and events. Remember, this symptom can be inconsistent meaning a person can tell a story one day, and confuse major details of the same story the next day.

2. Misplacing items
A person with Alzheimer’s may lose track of items and be unable to retrace their steps to track it down. They may also place items in unusual spots, like placing keys in the fridge or a phone in the dryer. They may try and reason with themselves, thinking that an item was stolen or someone else misplaced it.

3. Difficulty in understanding visual images and spatial relationships
A person showing this symptom may exhibit difficulty judging distances, recognizing patterns, and be unable to properly discern their image from a mirror. Perception of time and length will be difficult to grasp as well. They may judge a timeline of 10 minutes as closer to 3 hours, or think a friend has been gone for weeks when in reality they have only been gone for hours.

4. An inability to plan or solve problems
A person developing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s will have a hard time focusing and concentrating on tasks and problems; tasks may become difficult to accomplish and problems may seem difficult to solve. New problems will be one thing, but familiar tasks like following a favorite recipe or keeping track of bill payments and daily duties will be especially difficult.

5. Mood swings and changes in personality. Possibly due to the other symptoms, frustrations and confusion can arise. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can become suspicious, depressed, anxious, or irritable. Anxiety and a constant fear of being unsettled usually come from confusion, fear, and feeling overwhelmed from trying to make sense of a now unfamiliar world.

6. Poor judgment
Being unable to focus and concentrate as well as having difficulty in perception and memory can lead to poor decision making. Money is usually the first indicator. Examples of this can be giving unusual gifts or overpaying on purchases, tips, and donations. They may be unable to assess what is safe or appropriate or dress improperly for the weather or a special event.

7. Withdrawal from regular life
A person with Alzheimer’s may refrain from regular hobbies, social circles, and organizations. It may seem like they are disinterested in what they previously enjoyed, but having other symptoms on this list may cause them to avoid and become insecure in those hobbies and behaviors.

8. Issues with speech and language
Participation and comprehension in regular conversations will become more difficult. They may struggle with vocabulary and identifying words, names, and people. With time, they may begin speaking gibberish words or experience speech reduction, resulting in a reliance on gestures.

9. Restlessness
This can take place in the form of wandering away from home or doing seemingly unimportant tasks like packing for a non-existent trip or cleaning already clean clothes. They may do these tasks because of memory loss or they may want to accomplish these tasks to regain a sense of purpose.

 

It is important to remember that if a loved one has a few or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean they have the disease. It does mean, however, that you should take your loved one to a doctor or medical specialist trained in evaluating memory disorders at a certified clinic. For more information on the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alz.org.

To help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, Arise has helped organize and will be walking in the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The event will take place on Saturday, September 26 at Lake George Municipal Park. All money raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Association’ mission-related initiatives. For more information on starting and team or fundraising as an individual, visit Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Choosing a Home Health Agency

“Of all the lessons I’ve learned through my years of caregiving, the most important is to keep the love connection going. Just tell them that you love them again and again and again. You will never say it too much- ever.”

– Joan Lunden, journalist, author, mother of seven and long time caregiver to her mother.

You love your parents. You are so thankful for all they’ve done for you through the years. You want to help them as they age, but the caregiving task is getting to you. You’re trying to get ahead but you feel like you’re running on a treadmill. You are burnt out physically and checking out emotionally. How do you show your love to your parents and provide them the care they need?

If you’re struggling to keep up with caregiving and keeping your life balanced, it’s time to step back and look for other options. One of the best options in this transitional time of life is home health care. When making this decision, it’s critical to know what to look for in a home health agency.

10 Questions to Ask Home Health Agencies

Home Care Agency

  • How long has your agency been providing home care services?
  • What certifications and licenses does your agency have?
  • What are your financial procedures? Do you have documents explaining costs and payment plans?

Caregivers

  • How are caregivers selected? Are background checks run on all of the staff?
  • What are your requirements for caregivers? Do they go through ongoing training and development?
  • Are caregivers supervised? If so, what is done to ensure workers are given the best possible care?
  • Are caregivers available at any time (24 hours a day, seven days a week)?
  • Who is all involved in making changes to the care plan?

General Care

  • What services do you provide?
  • Do you have nurses and other health professionals evaluating the home care needs of my loved one? How are the needs assessed?
  • How is my loved one’s care plan documented? Can I see an example?
  • Who can we contact if we have questions or concerns about the care? How do you addresses problems if they arise?
  • Do you have caregivers that can meet my special language or cultural preferences?
  • What processes do you have in place to react to emergencies?

Once you’ve asked these questions, follow up with a request for references. A great home care agency should have a long list of doctors, clients, nurses, and families that are eager to share their experiences with the agency.

Arise Home Health Care has been providing quality home care services for over 15 years across central Minnesota. Learn more about the Arise story and services, or contact us for a conversation about your unique caregiving needs. We would happily answer any questions you may have about home health care and our agency.