Home Care Connections

Bringing meaning and memories to holiday celebrations

Published November 27, 2018

The holidays are upon us with a wide variety of festive occasions to brighten the season. December is also a wonderful time to enjoy the company of friends and family.  For elderly parents or relatives in your life, the holidays can be especially meaningful as an opportunity to interact with different generations of family and friends and catch up on the latest news and happenings.

To help ensure that everyone enjoys this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep your elderly guests engaged and involved.

  • Set aside some tasks they can help with during a holiday gathering. Ask them to bring a plate of baked goods or help to set the table.  They will feel useful and happy to contribute to the holiday tradition.
  • Allow time for reminiscing. Many of our fondest memories from childhood are recollections from holidays past. Allow your elderly family to be nostalgic and share stories about the holidays of their youth.
  • Add something new to your celebrations. Go shopping for new seasonal decorations, take in a holiday themed movie or play, or enjoy the sounds of festivities while dining together at a local restaurant.
  • If weather permits, spend time outdoors, but modify the activity, if necessary. Many outdoor events can be adjusted to be more low-key. Instead of a winter walk, take a drive to view holiday lights around the neighborhood.  Be on the lookout for signs of fatigue and proactively suggest breaks or a midday rest.

Keep in mind that time spent together will bring joy and create new special memories that will last long after the season ends.

Whether you need support services to remain independent, nursing or rehabilitation after an illness or injury, or comfort as you face your journey’s end, count on the agencies of Home Health Foundation to bring our full continuum of care to your door. Regardless of the season, we’re committed to care – in the comfort of home.

All of us at Home Health Foundation extend warm holiday wishes to you and those you hold dear.

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In November we give thanks

Published November 6, 2018

The month of giving thanks is upon us. It’s fitting that November is also National Home Care and Hospice Month, the perfect time to pay tribute to the nation’s home health and hospice professionals who make an incredible difference in the lives of patients and their families and play a central role in our health care system.

What separates our family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., from all the others? We are your local, not-for-profit home health and hospice provider, serving the community since 1895. We offer a full continuum of care – from supportive services to skilled nursing and rehabilitation to end-of-life care. Our home care and hospice professionals are highly skilled, with advanced training and certifications in a variety of specialty areas including palliative care, wound and ostomy care, IV therapy and diabetes. And, we are renowned for our compassion and our unwavering commitment to patient-centered care.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, and especially during National Home Health and Hospice Month, remember the home health and hospice professionals from Home health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., still making house calls, rain or shine, to bring care home.

To learn about all the services we offer, please visit our website home page here.

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Is physical therapy right for you?

Published October 4, 2018

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, illness or surgery, the recuperation process can sometimes mean learning how to reduce your pain, regain strength and safely complete daily tasks again. Physical therapy is care that aims to ease pain, build strength and help you function, move, and live better.

The physical therapists at Home Health VNA work with you using a variety of techniques and a wide range of services such as exercise and massage, as well therapy treatments designed to meet your goals.  They also teach the patient and/or caregiver in the care and use of wheelchairs, braces, crutches and other medical equipment.

Here are some ways physical therapy may help you:

  • Improve Mobility and Reduce Pain. If you’re having trouble standing, walking or moving — physical therapy can help. Therapists customize care plans that can restore muscle and joint function, reducing pain and improving mobility.
  • Manage Diabetes and Vascular Conditions. If you have diabetes, physical therapy can help you control your blood sugar through exercise. Diabetes may also cause a person to lose sensation in their feet and legs. Physical therapists can help you to regain sensation and prevent further complications.
  • Improve Balance and Prevent Falls. If you have fallen or are at high risk for falls, therapists will provide exercises that will help you improve coordination, balance and problems stemming from the vestibular system.
  • Manage Age-related Issues. Osteoporosis and arthritis are common ailments for elders. Physical therapy can help you recover from joint pain, joint replacement surgery as well as manage these conditions.
  • Manage Heart and Lung Conditions. After suffering a heart attack or having surgery you may need physical therapy to regain strength and daily function. If you are coping with a pulmonary condition, physical therapy can help improve breathing and clear fluid from your lungs.

The physical therapists of Home Health VNA work hard to help patients regain and maintain their quality of life.  If you think physical therapy at home can help you, speak with your doctor or health care provider about a referral to Home Health VNA.

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Easing the transition from hospital to home

Published September 1, 2018

The month of September gives way to multiple transitions. Long summer days begin to wane. The humid days of August turn cooler.  Summer vacations come to an end and work and school routines return.

A transition that is more complex than the change of season is the return home after a hospitalization. If this transition is not managed effectively, issues can arise that impact recuperation and a return to independence.  Whether you are entering the hospital for a scheduled procedure or just want to be prepared in case of an emergency, planning ahead can help guide your transition home from any hospital stay.

  • Make sure that the things you typically use during the day (toiletries, reading glasses, reading material, cell phone and charger and medical equipment such as a walker or cane) can be located on one floor and are easily accessible. If possible, move your bedroom to the first floor, near the kitchen and a bathroom.
  • If your hospitalization is planned, prepare and freeze several meals in advance that can easily be defrosted and reheated. If your hospital stay is unexpected, ask family or friends to assist with some prepared meals or order from a grocery store that will deliver.
  • Have grab bars installed in the shower and near the toilet, use a non-skid bath mat and shower seat and place soap and shampoo within easy reach.
  • Before leaving the hospital, make sure you fully understand any newly prescribed medications and if they may cause an interaction or adverse reaction with your current medications.
  • Ask your hospital case manager if you qualify for home health care while you recuperate at home.  Home Health VNA is the regional leader in home health care and provides both exceptional people and exceptional care to make your transition to independence as safe as possible.

For more information and a full list of services available from Home Health VNA, visit our services page by clicking here.

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Berries: A Bounty of Benefits

Published August 16, 2018

It’s a natural inclination to over-eat during the winter months, but when it comes to steamy summer days, our appetite can seem to diminish.  Although hunger may fade during the humid August heat, the need for proper nutrition does not. This is especially important for the elderly who are at greater risk of malnutrition. There are a multitude of reasons that may make it challenging for seniors to maintain proper nutrition, such as a decreased sense of taste, lower caloric needs and difficulty chewing or using utensils.

Good news! The summer season is a terrific time to add fresh fruits to the menu and overcome some of those summertime nutrition challenges. Berries are a versatile fruit, sweet to the taste and a refreshing way to provide nutrients during hot and humid temperatures. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating berries into your diet.

  • Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are in season! They’re plentiful in the summer making them less expensive to buy.
  • Berries of all kinds are loaded with fiber which is great for the digestive system, and offers a natural alternative to a fiber supplement.
  • Most berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which provide an abundance of health benefits and support the immune system.
  • Berries can be included in many types of diets and prepared in a variety of ways. Blend them into a smoothie, add to a fresh summer salad, or simply eat them as they are!
  • Berries are easy to chew and are a perfect finger food, eliminating the need for utensils.
  • Adding just a small serving of berries to a meal is a great way to boost nutrient density without creating an overwhelming portion size.

The heat and humidity of summer will be with us for several more weeks.  So, don’t forget to take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruit, especially berries, in August.

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Staying Heart Healthy in Summer Heat

Published July 12, 2018

After our extremely cold and snowy winter, the summer heat and humidity have arrived. Already, in early July, we’ve experienced several days in a row of high humidity combined with temperatures in the 90’s. Most of us welcome the summer warmth, but people with heart conditions or high blood pressure have to be cautious. When the heat and humidity rise, so does the incidence of heart problems.

Steamy weather can be dangerous for older individuals, people with heart disease and those taking certain medications for conditions such as high blood pressure because they can cause the body to have an exaggerated reaction to hot weather. And, on hot, sticky days, the heart has to pump harder to initiate the sweating response that cools the body. For people who already have a weakened heart, that extra pumping can cause stress on the entire cardiovascular system.

Whether it’s just a few days, or an extended heat wave, remember these tips to stay cool and heart safe.

  • Avoid exercising or strenuous physical activity in high heat. Make plans to complete outdoor tasks early in the morning, later in the day or when the weather cools.
  • Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Water is critical to all functions in your body.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Stay in a cooler environment. If you don’t have air conditioning, get to a senior center, shopping mall or your local library during the hottest time of the day.
  • Wear light colored and lightweight clothing. Lightweight fabrics help heat to escape which allows the natural process of perspiring to cool you off.
  • Take cool showers of baths to cool down.
  • If you must go outside, wear sunblock. A sunburn can make it harder for your body to stay cool. And take a cellphone with you so that you can call for help if you feel lightheaded or ill from the heat.
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Treasured Moments

Published May 29, 2018

Summer has arrived and the signs of change are all around us. Trees and shrubs show their flowers in parks and gardens and the days grow longer, brighter, and warmer. With the arrival of summer, I’m reminded of all the seasons we New Englanders experience, and how they mirror the changing seasons of life. Some, like summer, bring respite. Others bring changes that are more challenging to experience.

At Merrimack Valley Hospice, our goal is to support patients as they move through a profoundly meaningful and yet challenging season of their lives. Hospice is a compassionate approach to end-of-life care that focuses on comfort and quality of life for patients with advanced illness, when cure is no longer possible. And, when home is no longer possible, High Pointe House, the hospice and palliative care residence of Merrimack Valley Hospice provides compassion, dignity and comfort to patients and support to family members. High Pointe House focuses on quality and comfort for the patient and allows for simple pleasures and treasured moments.

I invite you to learn more about Merrimack Valley Hospice and High Pointe House and the many services we offer including pain management, expressive therapies and support groups. More information is highlighted on our website by clicking here.

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May is Older Americans Month

Published May 16, 2018

Across the country, older Americans are taking part in activities that promote an active lifestyle, fitness and social connection. They are sharing their wisdom and experience with future generations, and they are giving back to enrich their communities. They’re working and volunteering, mentoring and learning, leading and engaging.

For 55 years, Older Americans Month has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. This year’s theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes the importance of being active and involved. No matter your age or lifestyle, you are never too old to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

It is widely known that remaining socially engaged and physically fit can improve your quality of life as you age. Engaging in social and productive activities, like joining an exercise class or volunteering in your community, may help to support your healthy aging and foster a positive attitude. In fact, research shows that people who exercise regularly and maintain an active lifestyle are less likely to develop certain diseases, have a longer lifespan, are happier and better prepared to cope with loss.

Are you ready to begin? May, with cool mornings and comfortable days, is the perfect time to get moving outside for a more active lifestyle. Becoming more active is not about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years!

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National Nurses Week 2018

Published May 7, 2018

Nurses inspire, innovate and influence

Please join the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., as we recognize the millions of nurses who make a remarkable difference in the lives of patients and families during National Nurses Week, which is celebrated May 6 through 12. This special week is a perfect time for all of us to pause and recognize all nurses for the expert medical care and support they provide in a wide variety of settings. Nurses offer gifts beyond the medical care they provide. They calm fears, foster hope, and provide reassurance, often during what is a difficult or stressful time.

Nursing has been at the heart of our service since the agency’s inception in 1895. Today, we have nearly 260 registered and licensed professional nurses providing leading-edge, compassionate home health and hospice care wherever our patients call home. Their efforts in the home and in our offices allow us to provide a full spectrum of medical care and support in more than 110 cities and towns in this region. Many of our talented nurses have specialty certifications and extensive training in complex illnesses. All of them provide award-winning clinical care that has earned our agencies a stellar reputation as the leader in home health and hospice care. Their commitment to quality care and compassion is both heartwarming and inspiring.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we would like to honor nurses everywhere and to especially recognize the contributions of the nurses at Home Health Foundation.

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How to discuss end of life care with your doctor

Published April 2, 2018

April is considered Healthcare Decisions month, a time to complete an advance directive or to review one already completed to ensure it continues to reflect the care you want, or don’t want, at the end of life. The next step is to discuss your end-of-life wishes with your doctor.   Studies show that the single most powerful thing you can do to improve your chance for a “good death” is, to simply and courageously, talk about it with your doctor.

Talking with your doctor or healthcare providers about your end-of-life wishes is a discussion to have before a medical crisis happens.  Even if you’re in good health, it’s still important to make sure your healthcare team knows your wishes, since anyone’s health status can change suddenly.

Here are some tips on how to begin.

  • When you make your appointment, make it clear you want to talk to your doctor about end-of-life care. That way the staff can set aside time for this important conversation.
  • Decide whether you want a family member to join you or if you prefer a private conversation. Let the staff know if someone else may be included when you make the appointment.
  • If you already have an advance directive, bring it and any other information about your end-of-life care priorities with you.
  • Make sure your doctor is willing to follow your directive. The law does not force physicians to follow a directive if they disagree with your wishes for moral or ethical reasons.
  • Assure your doctor that you have discussed your wishes with family and your appointed health care agent and that they respect your decisions.

The time to plan for end-of-life care is before you need it.  Schedule the conversation now, so that when the time comes, you and your doctor have a foundation for moving forward and honoring your wishes.  For a free conversation starter kit from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Conversation Project, visit https://theconversationproject.org/starter-kits/ or call 978-552-4186.

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Proper Nutrition – Not Just a Matter of Luck!

Published March 13, 2018

If you have a chronic medical condition, you need more than luck to make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrition – an essential component in the management of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and more. In fact, what you eat often affects how your body responds to treatment. That’s why it is so important to follow a nutritional plan that includes a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and protein.

Older adults with chronic illnesses are especially at risk for poor nutrition, which can be the result of bad eating habits, loss of appetite, and decreased access to healthy foods because of limited mobility, money, or time. Insufficient nutrition can also lead to in the loss of muscle and other tissue, which can:

  • Make it harder to recover from surgery and illness
  • Make it more difficult for wounds to heal
  • Increase the risk of infection
  • Increase the risk for falls
  • Decrease the strength needed to take care of yourself

 
Home Health VNA has a team of registered dietitians that provide nutritional recommendations and teach patients about specific dietary guidelines based on their medical condition and lifestyle.   They can also help with strategies for menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Remember, if you’re managing a chronic medical condition, it’s important to choose the proper foods that provide the best nutritional value to help you maintain strength, fuel recovery and stay active and independent.

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Heart Disease. What’s your risk?

Published February 7, 2018

February is Heart Health Month.  Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  It’s also an equal opportunity killer which claims approximately 1 million lives annually.  Your risk of developing heart disease is determined by several factors including:

Age – Heart disease can occur at any age.  However, four out of five people who die from coronary heart disease are aged 65 or older.  The risk of stroke doubles with each decade after the age of 55.

Gender – Men and women are equally at risk for heart disease, but women tend to get coronary artery disease, on average, 10 years later than men.  Death rates from heart disease and stroke for women are twice as high as those for all forms of cancer.

Family History – The presence of heart disease in a parent or sibling, especially at a young age, increases your risk of developing heart disease.

Smoking – Smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as non-smokers – and they are more likely to die as a result.

High Blood Pressure – People with high blood pressure have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and kidney damage.  When combined with other risk factors, such as smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes, the risk increases several times.

Obesity – People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have no other risk factors.

Diabetes – Developing diabetes seriously increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, even if glucose levels are under control.  More than 80% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

Inactivity – Failure to exercise regularly can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, as physical activity helps control weight, cholesterol levels and, in some cases, can help lower blood pressure.

The good news?  Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.   February is the perfect month to make sure you have a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a diet low in salt and fat and high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Already have heart disease?  The Hearts at Home program at Home Health VNA is specially designed to provide the nursing care, teaching and support you need to manage your symptoms so you can feel better at home.

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Staying connected to support aging parents

Published January 8, 2018

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over. It’s time to return to the familiar routines of work and family. For many, the holidays included visiting aging parents and other family members and an opportunity to view and assess their living situation to determine how well they are functioning independently at home. Oftentimes, this assessment indicates it may be time to suggest changes to the home or the need for other assistance to keep them safe.

Talking with your parent or loved one about getting help at home can be a difficult conversation for both of you. For them, it represents a loss of independence and a realization of declining capabilities. But, talking with your parents or other family about support services doesn’t have to be one long conversation. Instead, when the moment is right, think of working your concerns into everyday exchanges. Then suggest small changes that will keep them safe, comfortable and maintain their independence. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Call several times a week. It will help you learn about what is happening at their home and give you an idea about how things are going.
  2. Do a home safety inspection. Make sure to test smoke alarms and check the house for uneven flooring and loose wiring. Remove scatter rugs.
  3. Have grab bars installed in the bathroom.
  4. Take advantage of local community resources such as Meals-on-Wheels, home delivered grocery services and senior transportation programs that might be available in the community.
  5. Contact their local senior center to learn of educational or exercise programs available for socialization and to keep them engaged with others.
  6. Know where important papers, such as their insurance cards and health care proxy, are located.
  7. Get to know your parents primary doctor and local pharmacy. Accompany them on an occasional routine office visit and get an updated list of their medications.
  8. Contact your local home health care agency. If your parents begin to need more care, such as help with bathing, medication reminders or light housekeeping, Kind Connections, a private care program of HomeCare, Inc. can help.

 
Kind Connections is the leader in private care services, and expert at helping elders remain safe and independent in their own home and community.

For a free brochure and list of available services call 978-552-4186 or click here to be directed to the Kind Connections page on our website.

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Bring on the holidays!

Published December 20, 2017

Festive occasions and gatherings celebrate the season while the sights and sounds of the holidays help to brighten the gray days of December.  Traditional foods and delicious treats enliven winter’s typical fare.  And, perhaps most important, the special times spent with friends and family bring joyous memories to last long after the season ends.

At the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., our staff and volunteers understand that home takes on greater meaning as the holidays approach.  We work together to keep you or your loved one at home, not only during the holidays, but all year long.   We work together to ensure you have the medical care and support you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – including weekends and holidays.    Whether your care includes treatment following a hospitalization, comfort for an advanced illness, or services to maintain your independence, you can rely on our dedicated staff to help you share those important holiday celebrations.  As this month of holiday traditions unfolds, remember that, regardless of the season, we’re committed to your care – in the comfort of your home.

All of us at Home Health Foundation wish you a holiday season filled with joy and togetherness.

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Grief and the “year of firsts”

Published December 1, 2017

The “year of firsts” includes all those special occasions and holidays that take place during the first year of grieving the loss of a loved one. This includes birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and, of course, the winter holiday season. In fact, getting though the winter holidays can be one of the most difficult and painful parts of your grief journey.

Books, magazines and newspapers are all full of advice about grief and what you should or should not do during the holidays. Friends and family who want to be helpful, may also rally around you with a host of well-meaning activities and invitations to keep you busy. But, this grief journey is YOUR journey. How you choose to celebrate the holidays during the first year of your loss is very personal.

As the season begins, one approach is to acknowledge that the holidays will be difficult and then decide on the activities you will participate in and those you may want to decline. The key is to attend the events that you really want to, not those to which you feel obligated. And, set realistic expectations on your time and energy. You can cut back on holiday decorations and entertaining, or skip them all together if the tasks are just too painful this year.

Another way to ease the pain of loss is to take advantage of support services and memorial events in your community. Merrimack Valley Hospice is hosting their annual Candles of Remembrance on Wednesday, December, 6th, at 6:00 p.m. at Renaissance Golf Club, at 377 Kenoza Street in Haverhill. The evening includes a brief memorial service and outdoor candle lighting ceremony. In addition, they are offering a series of grief workshops on the first and third Tuesday in December at St. Michael’s Parish at 196 Main Street in North Andover from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. More information on both of these events is on the main page of our website by clicking here.

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays after the death of a loved one. The best way to cope this year is to plan ahead, get support from others and take it easy.

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A holiday message from the CEO

Published November 1, 2017

For many of us, November is the beginning of the holiday season with the familiar traditions of food, family and friends. At the agencies of Home Health Foundation, tradition extends far beyond the holiday season. Caring for our community has been at the heart of our service since the agency’s inception in 1895. Through the years we have maintained a tradition of excellence – exceeding our high standards for quality care, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. While home health care has changed dramatically and continues to evolve, our mission and vision have remained consistent – to lead the way in community health through innovation, service excellence and compassionate care.

With November’s focus on tradition, it is highly appropriate that it’s also National Home Care and Hospice Month, the perfect time to honor our nurses, therapists, social workers, aides and others who play a critical role in the lives of patients and families in their care. The depth and breadth of the services provided by our dedicated staff is, quite literally, unmatched by any other home health and hospice provider in our region. This month is also a fitting time to thank our partners in care. With the increasing complexity of health care today, we could not have the significant impact we do without the collaborative relationships we share with many healthcare partners, area hospitals, physician groups, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers and more. The many ways we all collaborate strengthen our organizations and the region as a whole, and brings value and quality to the patient care experience.

As Thanksgiving draws near, I hope you have an opportunity to gather with friends and family. Have a wonderful holiday and an enjoyable start to this season of traditions.

 

 
 
Karen Gomes, RN, MS, CPHQ

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Choosing the best option for physical therapy at home

Published October 18, 2017

During the month of October, National Physical Therapy Month, we recognize the dedicated and committed physical therapists and physical therapy assistants at Home Health VNA.  These highly skilled professionals use their unique talent and experience to help patients restore, regain and maintain overall health and fitness or return to independence at home.  Our physical therapy staff teaches patients about their condition, symptoms and the different exercises to do at home, between visits, to help them strengthen and stretch muscles to restore function and alleviate pain.  And, they provide empathy, support and encouragement during, what can sometimes be, the longest part of their treatment regimen.

Physical therapy can help patients recuperate after knee, hip or other surgery, alleviate pain from chronic conditions like arthritis and recover from an illness or injury.  The personalized care patients receive at home can actually enhance the progress of healing.  Because patients are able to perform exercises and receive targeted therapy in the stress-free environment of their own home, with one-on-one attention, sessions can be more focused and intensive.  With fewer distractions, patients can concentrate on learning the techniques they will need to practice each day to ensure progress and healing. Physical therapy can also help patients stay flexible and fit as they age, maintaining health and preventing injuries from happening in the first place.

If your doctor or hospital discharge planner recommends home physical therapy, remember to ask for Home Health VNA – your best option for physical therapy at home.

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September is Healthy Aging Month

Published September 6, 2017

People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many seniors live active and healthy lives well into their 70’s, 80’s and beyond.  Staying healthy as you age involves a combination of factors including a healthy diet, regular exercise and social engagement.

September is Healthy Aging Month a great time to celebrate aging and make some lifestyle changes to help you enjoy a long and happy life.

  • Transform your diet. Local farms stands are brimming with fresh, local fruits and vegetables.  If there’s not a farm stand in your community, visit Mann Orchards in Methuen. They have a great variety of local produce and healthy prepared pies and soups.
  • Continue your education. Check your local high school or college for afternoon or early evening enrichment classes.  Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill has a life-long learning program that includes study and discussion groups as well as a self-governing book club.
  • Lend a helping hand. Volunteering provides an opportunity to give back to your community.  You will also meet new people and may learn a new skill.  Check VolunteerMatch.org for a list of agencies looking for assistance.  Or learn about the many meaningful volunteer opportunities at Merrimack Valley Hospice by clicking here.
  • Stay active. Physical activity improves your overall health and well-being.  Many local senior centers have exercise programs that can help you build strength and endurance at any age.  For example, the Andover Senior Center offers Zumba, Tai Chi and Yoga, and the Lowell Senior Center offers line dancing and a variety of exercise programs throughout the week.

Make a commitment this month to eat better, learn more, help others and take an active path to a healthier way of living!

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Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly

Published August 3, 2017

With temperatures on the rise during the month of August, it’s important to remember the risk of dehydration, especially among the elderly.  As people age, several changes in the body can make dehydration more likely to occur and harder to notice until it’s too late.  In fact, dehydration in the elderly is more common than in younger people because the ability to conserve water and to detect thirst reduces as we age.   In addition, some common medications taken by the elderly reduce fluids in the body.  Those medications, combined with heat related fluid loss, can further increase the risk of dehydration.

No matter the reason, it’s important to recognize the common signs of dehydration in the elderly which can include dizziness, headache, dry mouth, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, weakness and fatigue.

What can you do to prevent dehydration?

  1. Keep a glass of cool water handy throughout the day and stock a variety of non-caffeinated, low sugar drinks in the fridge.
  2. Encourage the elderly to drink an 8 ounce glass of water every time they take medications.
  3. In extreme heat, make sure fans and air conditioning are available or encourage the elderly to move to a cool location, such as a local senior center or mall.
  4. Suggest a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which have a high water content.

Do not take dehydration lightly as it can have serious consequences.  If you recognize the signs of dehydration, provide fluids such as cool water and seek immediate medical assistance.

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Even caregivers need a vacation…

Published June 1, 2017

The beautiful days of summer have arrived and with them thoughts of a vacation. Whether you are planning some relaxing day trips to our local beaches, or an exotic trip abroad, you owe it to yourself to find time to get away. If providing care at home to an elderly family member has you wondering how to fit in time with friends and family, Kind Connections, a private care program of HomeCare, Inc., can help. A vacation, no matter how brief, will leave you rested and refreshed.

Kind Connections’ reliable, caring and expertly trained staff can help you take that important summer vacation by providing the help your family member will need to be safe and comfortable at home. Services are available on an hourly or daily basis and can include personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, companionship, medication reminders and much more. Don’t need all those services? For more independent elders, Kind Connections can provide a daily, one-hour monitoring and check-in visit. That daily visit could be just the reassurance your family member will need and allow you the peace of mind to relax and have some fun.

Now, dust off your luggage, grab your beach chair, and call Kind Connections at 1-800-333-4799. You can also see a full list of services here.

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May is the perfect time to focus on fitness

Published May 15, 2017

Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age, and it doesn’t get easier as you get older. May, with cool mornings and comfortable days, is the perfect time to get moving outside for a more active lifestyle. Becoming more active is not about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years!  

Exercise has many physical and mental health benefits.  For example, being more active improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn can reduce your risk of a fall.  And, people who exercise tend to have better blood pressure, bone density and a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Even a modest walking program or simple exercise routine can help boost your energy, reduce stress, manage pain and improve your overall sense of well-being.

Are you ready to begin?  Although starting an exercise regimen is a healthy decision, it’s important to be safe.  Start by talking to your doctor about a plan that will work best for your age and health status, especially if you have a preexisting condition.  Start slowly and build your routine over time.  For example, if you’ve committed to a walking program,begin with a 20 minute walk around your neighborhood or other safe walking area.  Gradually increase to 30 or even 40 minutes as you feel comfortable and are not tired or out of breath.  Do you hate to exercise?  Call a friend.  Exercising together may keep you both motivated.  Remember, you’re never too old to get moving to improve your health.   

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Celebrating National Nurses Week

Published May 3, 2017

Please join the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., as we celebrate National Nurses Week, which is held every year May 6 through 12. The purpose of National Nurses Week is to raise public awareness of the value of nursing and to help educate the public about the vital roles nurses play in meeting the health care needs of individuals and families in our communities.

Home care and hospice nurses exemplify innovation, purpose and dedication. Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, our nurses ensure that all of their patients are cared for and safe. This type of commitment to quality care and compassion for those in need is both heartwarming and inspiring.

Being a home care nurse is a very special calling. Using some of the most advanced technology available and with the highest clinical standards, home care nurses provide a full spectrum of medical care, combining critical thinking, assessment and teaching in a variety of settings across our region. They also work in the community providing immunizations and preventive health education and screenings to keep the residents of our communities healthy and safe. And, they work in our offices providing support, leadership and guidance. All of our nurses have a passion for their work, constantly striving, learning and caring.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we honor nurses everywhere and especially recognize the contributions of the more than 260 nurses at the Home Health Foundation.

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The benefits of volunteering

Published April 26, 2017

Do you want to stay active and engaged? Would you like to make a difference in someone’s life?   Become a volunteer!

Today, with work, childcare and other responsibilities, it can be hard to find the time to volunteer.  However, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take too much time out of your busy lifestyle.  Just a few hours a week can provide much needed services and support for individuals and families in your community.

At Merrimack Valley Hospice, our volunteers play a vital role as part of the hospice team, filling needs that range from direct contact with patients to providing office and fundraising support for our organization.  Some volunteers serve as friendly visitors for patients and their families, providing companionship, respite, errands and other support. Others have unique skills such as Reiki, a complementary healing therapy that is used for relaxation and stress reduction.  All describe their volunteer work as an intensely rewarding experience, emotionally meaningful and deeply gratifying.

Volunteers work in private homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the Merrimack Valley, Southern New Hampshire and York County, Maine as well as at Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill, MA.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Merrimack Valley Hospice, including screening requirements, visit www.homehealthfoundation.org/volunteers/

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What’s holding you back from “Having the Conversation” about advance care planning and end-of-life care?

Published April 5, 2017

Sunday, April 16, is National Healthcare Decisions Day.  This special day is designated to inspire, educate and empower everyone about the importance of advance care planning.

Talking about death might be uncomfortable, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen. It’s important that you take the time to have a thoughtful conversation with family members and loved ones about your end-of-life healthcare decisions, and to complete an advanced directive. By having these conversations and documenting your wishes in an advanced directive, your health care decisions will be respected by health care professionals and your personal wishes will be honored.  By having a thoughtful conversation, you can provide useful guidance to loved ones, family members and health care providers so that your wishes will be honored in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

Although no one knows if they will ever lose the ability to speak for themselves, everyone can take steps to make sure that they will still receive health care that supports their goals for how they want to live their lives. Advance care planning is a highly empowering process. It helps to ensure you get the type of care you want — whether that’s the most aggressive care possible or comfort care only — in even the hardest to imagine of situations.

One of the first steps in the process is to select a health care proxy.  A health care proxy (also called a health care agent or Power of Attorney for Health Care) is the person you choose to make health care decisions for you if you’re too sick to make them for yourself. Your proxy can talk with your doctors, consult your medical records, and make decisions about tests, procedures, and other treatment.   Begin by asking yourself: who will speak for me and respect my health care choices if I’m unable to do so?

For more information on National Health Care Decisions Day, visit www.nhdd.org.  For your Conversation Starter Kit created by the Conversation Project and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement click here here, or call 978-552-4186.

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March-ing toward better nutrition

Published March 8, 2017

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to focus on eating well to help keep your body strong, your mind sharp, and your energy level up, as you age.   In fact, your daily food choices can make an important difference in your health and in how you look and feel. Good nutrition from a balanced diet boosts immunity, fights illness-causing toxins and helps you maintain a healthy weight.   Eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits and may reduce the risk of some chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and anemia.

No matter your age or you current eating habits, you can improve your diet without giving up the foods you love.  But, with the tremendous amount of information available about what to eat and what not to eat, deciding how to modify your diet can be confusing.  Instead of a complete overhaul, make small changes.  You’re more likely to be successful if you take things one step at a time.  For example:

  • Switch to 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread
  • Eliminate sugar sweetened drinks from you diet and reach for sparkling water or herb tea
  • Switch to fat free or low fat (1%) milk
  • Watch your sodium.  Remove the salt shaker from your table and add herbs to season foods.
  • Make fruit your go-to food for a health snack or dessert
  • Reduce your intake of red meat and choose more fish and lean poultry

If it seems overwhelming, remember that every change in life begins with a single step. Taking one small step toward a healthier diet today can help you reap big rewards tomorrow.

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February is National Heart Month

Published February 1, 2017

You’re never too young, or too old, to take care of your heart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The month of February is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing people’s knowledge about prevention. So this month, take some time to educate yourself on the dangers of heart disease and get on track to better heart health.

Although certain health conditions and your lifestyle can put you at higher risk for developing heart disease, you can still make healthy choices to better manage your disease and related symptoms.  Here are some tips to get started.

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.  Take the salt shaker off the table and add herbs to boost the flavor of your favorite foods.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home or have it checked regularly at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.  High blood pressure has no symptoms but can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Keep an eye on your blood sugar and cholesterol.  Ask your doctor about the optimal levels for your age group and learn how to reach and maintain those levels.
  • Get active. People who don’t exercise are more likely to get heart disease, than people who are active.  Can’t get to the senior center or gym?  Even a walk around your home or neighborhood can help.  Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you aren’t active now.
  • Make sure you schedule a regular check-up with your doctor to talk about heart health and determine your risk for developing heart disease.

If you do have heart disease, Home Health VNA has programs and services that might be able to help you manage your disease.  Learn more about them here.

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Tips to stay safe and secure this winter

Published January 4, 2017

During the winter months, ice, snow and cold temperatures can make life challenging for everyone.  Slippery sidewalks and cold weather can be especially dangerous to the elderly.  A fall on the ice or a bout with the flu can have serious, even life threatening consequences.    And, when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season ends, the long, grey days of January and February can be isolating.   So this winter, it’s important for the elderly and their caregivers to take extra precautions to stay safe, healthy and engaged. Here are some tips.

  1. Keep an emergency kit stocked and easily accessible with water, a flashlight, batteries and blankets. Make sure you have at least a seven-day supply of medications and a three-day supply of non-perishable food on hand.
  2. Watch the temperature. Make sure the inside temperature is at least 68 degrees to prevent hypothermia.
  3. Stay inside during bad weather, but get together with friends or family when possible to stay active and engaged. The local senior center will have lists of upcoming programs and community activities.
  4. Practice good nutrition. A balanced diet is even more important in winter, when everyone is less active.  Consider Meals on Wheels for nutritious meals delivered regularly to your door.
  5. Have a cell phone handy – and make sure it is charged. When a severe winter storm hits with power outages and phone lines down, a cell phone will keep everyone connected and can be a life saver in a medical emergency.

 
Finally, remember that the staff of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. will brave any weather to ensure our patients receive the care they need at home.  And, our expert “Snow Storm Soldiers” will even help by planning ahead when a storm is in the forecast, ensuring patients have food, medications and support they need to stay safe.  View all our services on this website or call 978-552-4186 for a brochure.

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A holiday message from John Albert, President and CEO

Published December 19, 2016

During this season of joy we are drawn to the traditions that make this holiday meaningful.  The sights and sounds, treats and feasts, and time spent with family and friends, seem to lighten winter’s gray.

At Home Health Foundation’s family of agencies, we know that “home” takes on greater meaning for patients as the holidays unfold. Receiving care at home is more personal and comforting.  It allows patients and their families to participate in important holiday traditions and celebrations while receiving the most advanced medical care and support services available.  And, we take great pride in our ability to provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays.  So as this holiday season unfolds, remember that we never waver in our commitment to care in the comfort and security of home.

From our family to yours, best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a joyous New Year.

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Finding grief support as the holidays approach

Published December 2, 2016

When someone has lost a loved one, holidays often magnify the feelings of grief; especially if this is the first holiday season since the loss.  Memories of good times, togetherness and traditional gatherings are reminders of their loss.  It can also be very painful for people who are grieving to watch others who are celebrating when sorrow makes participating in festivities overwhelming.

The first step in coping with grief at the holidays is to acknowledge that the season will be difficult and then to prepare in advance by making plans and gathering support.  Here are a few ways you can begin:

  • Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and that your pain will be triggered by all the festivities. Some people find that simply accepting that the holidays will be hard provides the strength to cope.
  • Decide in advance what events or engagements you want to attend and which ones you will eliminate. Share your plans with family and friends and let them know of intended changes in your holiday routine.
  • Surround yourself with people who care about you and support you. The holidays may be difficult but there will also be opportunities for joy.
  • Consider engaging friends and family in a new outing or activity, or create a new tradition.
  • Take care of yourself. Allow some time for solitude, reminiscing and grieving, but balance that time with activities that include others.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays.  For some, support groups can help by teaching specific coping skills and providing opportunities for people suffering a loss to share feelings with others who are also grieving.  Merrimack Valley Hospice offers several bereavement support groups during the holiday season.  All support groups are offered at convenient locations in and around the Merrimack Valley, are free of charge and open to the public. Click here for a list of support groups available.

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Make the most of a holiday visit

Published November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Day gatherings are a tradition cherished by the entire family – young and old.  It’s a time to catch up on family news, reminisce about old times and make plans for the future.   For some, spending time with aging parents or family members may also present an opportunity to detect changes in their health, state of mind or their home environment.   Spending the day, or several days, together may help you observe their home and lifestyle for subtle changes that could suggest additional assistance may be needed.

Here are 10 tips for making this holiday visit more productive.

  1. Do a home safety inspection. Make sure to test smoke alarms and check the house for loose wiring and improper lighting – especially in stairways and walkways.
  2. Take a look around the kitchen and arrange dishes and pans on convenient, easy-to-reach shelves.
  3. Assess the house for excess clutter, dust or other signs that assistance with housecleaning is needed.
  4. Check the refrigerator and pantry to ensure there’s enough food and other supplies – not just for the holiday visit but for several days.
  5. Install grab bars in the bathroom.
  6. Check the rooms for scatter rugs and uneven flooring that could cause a fall. Falls are one of the most dangerous problems for the elderly.
  7. Find out about local resources such as grocery delivery and transportation services that might be available in the community.
  8. Know where important papers, such as insurance cards and advance directives, are located.
  9. Get an updated medication list from their doctor or pharmacy.
  10. Identify one or two neighbors who would be willing to drop in occasionally. Exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses and encourage them to contact you if they have concerns.

 
If you think your aging parent or family member may need assistance or support, such as help with personal care, medication reminders or light housekeeping, Kind Connections, a program of HomeCare, Inc. can help.  The highly trained staff of Kind Connections are expert at helping elders remain safe and independent in their own home and community.  Look for more information on available services on this website, or call 978-552-4186 for a brochure.

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November – the month we give thanks

Published November 1, 2016

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many of us will be traveling far and wide, making our way home to spend quality time with friends and family.  And, while there is much to be thankful for, “home” may be the most important of all.  Perhaps that’s why November is also National Home Health and Hospice Month.  Care in the home allows patients and families to enjoy those important moments in life, big and small.   Home is not only the preferred choice of most patients, it also provides a higher sense of security and dignity.  Whether you need help to ensure your independent lifestyle, treatment and teaching to help you recuperate, or care as you face your journey’s end, you can count on our homecare professionals to bring medical expertise, compassion and support to your door.   And, as a trusted partner, we work with an extensive number of physicians, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to ensure your care is coordinated across any setting.  In fact, since 1895 we have dedicated ourselves to bringing vital medical care and support to the homes of patients and families throughout the region.

This month, as you give thanks for simple blessings, remember the home care and hospice professionals of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc.  We are committed, enthusiastic, caring and still make house calls, rain or shine, to bring care home.

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Preventing slips, trips and falls

Published September 28, 2016

As the fall season begins it’s time to focus on, well… falls.  Falls can take a serious toll on the quality of life and independence of elders.  They threaten their safety and independence and can generate enormous economic and personal cost.  Falls are leading cause of hip fractures, broken bones and head trauma to people over the age of 65, making the fall season the perfect time to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries.  Even a fall without injury can cause a heightened fear of falling and, as a result, reduced social engagement and isolation.

It is important to know that falling is not an inevitable result of aging.   In fact, many falls can be prevented with some common sense strategies.

  • Wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant soles.
  • Use a cane or walker to help improve your mobility.
  • Install handrails on both sides of stairways. And, always hold on.
  • Remove trip hazards and clutter from stairways and walkways.
  • Ensure you have adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors, especially on frequently traveled areas.
  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas.
  • Remove small rugs or use non-skid mats to keep them from slipping.
  • Review medications with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure side effects don’t increase your risk of a fall.

Don’t let a slip, trip or fall prevent you from an active and engaged lifestyle.

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The Season of Transitions

Published September 8, 2016

September signals a change in season as summer’s heat and humidity give way to cooler temperatures and dwindling daylight. It’s also a time of transitions, when vacation ends, school begins and the responsibilities of work and home return to a familiar routine. At Home Health VNA, transitions don’t just happen in September. They are a critical component of the care we provide 365 days a year.

When discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility, many patients believe that the toughest part of their recuperation is behind them. However, in reality, this transition home marks the beginning of an important stage in healing – one that involves skill, expertise, and care coordination. At Home Health VNA, we understand the ongoing challenges of recuperation. That’s why we work collaboratively with hospitals and other facilities throughout the region and begin planning your care at home well before you are discharged to home. And, using the most advanced treatments and innovative teaching methods, we’ll closely monitor your progress to help you achieve and maintain improved health.

For 120 years your home has been the center of our caring. It’s the place we proudly bring our expertise and medical talent each and every day. You can be confident that, if you need in-home nursing or rehabilitation, we’ll be at your door ready to meet all of your recovery needs. Ask for us by name.

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Take advantage of summer’s bounty

Published July 19, 2016

The hot and humid days of summer have arrived.  Soon your grocery store and farmers market will be filled with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, perfect for those times when cooking over a hot stove is less than appealing.

For the elderly, there are many benefits to eating fresh fruits and vegetables including increased energy, resistance to some diseases, faster recuperation from illness or injury, and better management of chronic health problems.    But a variety of different factors sometimes make it difficult for seniors to eat well, from changing taste buds to medication side effects, to a lack of interest in cooking for just one or two people. On top of that, older adults have different nutritional requirements. Though they require fewer calories, they need more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.

The new MyPlate for Older Adults, developed by Tufts University researchers, was designed to replace the USDA food pyramid.  It emphasizes the importance of bright colored vegetables including carrots, zucchini, summer squash and broccoli, as well as deep colored fruit such as plums, berries and melon – all readily available in July and August.  MyPlate also suggests eating foods high in water content to stay hydrated in summer such as lettuce, tomatoes, and watermelon.  The plate is divided into sections to illustrate that the average diet should contain 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% grains and 25% protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, and low-fat milk and cheese.  Using MyPlate as a guide can help elders choose foods with a variety of different flavors and textures to make eating interesting and nutritious without added calories.  To learn more visit http://hnrca.tufts.edu/myplate/.

Choosing healthy foods for a well-balanced diet is never better than in summer.  Eating well can help you stay healthy – and look and feel good – for years to come.

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Summer Safety Reminders

Published June 23, 2016

The beautiful and warm days of summer have finally arrived.  It’s time to get outdoors, visit with friends and family and enjoy some seasonal activities.   But before you head out, remember that summertime activity should be balanced with measures to stay cool and prevent heat-related issues.

Pace your outdoor activities.  If you are not accustomed to the hot weather, avoid strenuous activity or limit trips outdoors to early morning or evening.  Try to rest in shady areas especially if you become lightheaded, weak or faint.

Drink plenty of fluids.  During prolonged exposure to hot weather you will need to increase the amount of fluids you drink.  Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.  It’s best to drink water or juice throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Wear comfortable clothing.  Light-colored, loose fitting clothing will help you stay cool.  And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses!

Adjust your diet.  The foods you eat can also help you stay cool.  Salads, fruits and vegetables are easy to digest and often high in water content to help keep you hydrated.

Monitor those at risk.  People age 65 and older and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of developing heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion.  Develop a “buddy system” to check on elders or those considered high risk during periods of high heat.

Monitor your meds.  Increased sensitivity to sunlight is a side effect of many widely used prescription and over-the-counter drugs causing rapid sunburn, rashes or hives.  Other drugs can cause sensitivity to heat resulting in dehydration.  If you have any questions or concerns about your medications consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Summer is a wonderful time in New England.  Take some time to enjoy it – safely.

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Even caregivers need a vacation…

Published June 1, 2016

The beautiful days of summer have arrived and with them thoughts of a vacation.  Whether you are planning some relaxing day trips to our local beaches, or an exotic trip abroad, you owe it to yourself to find time to get away.   If providing care at home to an elderly family member has you wondering how to fit in time with friends and family, Kind Connections, a private care program of HomeCare, Inc. can help.  A vacation, no matter how brief, will leave you rested and refreshed.

Kind Connections’ reliable, caring and expertly trained staff can help you take that important summer vacation by providing the help your family member will need to be safe and comfortable at home.  Services are available on an hourly or daily basis and can include personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, companionship, medication reminders and much more.  Don’t need all those services?  For more independent elders, Kind Connections can provide a daily, one-hour monitoring and check-in visit.  That daily visit could be just the reassurance your family member will need and allow you the peace of mind to relax and have some fun.

Now, dust off your luggage, grab your golf clubs, and call Kind Connections at 1-800-333-4799.  You can also see a full list of services under the HomeCare, Inc. link on the main page of this website.

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Celebrating our partners in caring

Published May 6, 2016

Congratulations to our hospital and nursing home partners during National Hospital and National Nursing Home week!  Each year the second full week in May is designated as a time to honor the many hard working hospital and nursing home employees in our nation.   From physicians and nurses to administrators and volunteers, they make miracles happen, both large and small, and support the health of our communities through their dedication, commitment and compassion.

The agencies of the Home Health Foundation have a deep appreciation of the role these institutions and their employees play in the well-being of our community and are proud to join them in celebrating this special week.  Together, we partner on the care of thousands of patients every day, striving to help young and old manage their health, recuperate from illness or transition toward end of life.

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Celebrating National Nurses Week

Published May 1, 2016

Please join the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., as we celebrate National Nurses Week, which is held every year May 6 through 12. The purpose of National Nurses Week is to raise public awareness of the value of nursing and to help educate the public about the vital roles nurses play in meeting the health care needs of individuals and families in our communities.

Home care and hospice nurses exemplify innovation, purpose and dedication. Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, our nurses ensure that all of their patients are cared for and safe.  This type of commitment to quality care and compassion for those in need is both heartwarming and inspiring.

Being a home care nurse is a very special calling. Using some of the most advanced technology available and with the highest clinical standards, home care nurses provide a full spectrum of medical care, combining critical thinking, assessment and teaching in a variety of settings across our region. They also work in the community providing immunizations and preventive health education and screenings to keep the residents of our communities healthy and safe. And, they work in our offices providing support, leadership and guidance. All of our nurses have a passion for their work, constantly striving, learning and caring.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we honor nurses everywhere and especially recognize the contributions of the more than 227 nurses at the Home Health Foundation.

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Treasured Moments

Published March 31, 2016

Spring has arrived and the signs of change are all around us. Trees and flowers show their buds in parks and gardens and the days grow longer, brighter, and warmer.  With the arrival of spring, I’m reminded of all the seasons we New Englanders experience, and how they mirror the changing seasons of life.  Some, like spring, bring renewal.  Others bring changes that are more challenging to experience.

At Merrimack Valley Hospice, our goal is to support patients as they move through a profoundly meaningful and yet challenging season of their lives.  Hospice is a compassionate approach to end-of-life care that focuses on comfort and quality of life for patients with advanced illness, when cure is no longer possible.  It’s about honoring the time that remains by enjoying simple pleasures and treasured moments with family, friends and loved ones.

BarryHospiceFor Barry, a patient of Merrimack Valley Hospice, turning to hospice means enjoying the scones his wife bakes, joining his friends on walks through the neighborhood on his scooter, and watching his grandsons on the basketball court. In his last course of treatment for cancer, he found himself constantly feeling awful – unable to eat, not tasting what he did, so weakened and sick that the extra few months the treatment might bring him were not filled with the “life” he wanted to enjoy.

Deciding to set up hospice was a chance to focus on how he wanted to live and connecting to the resources that would help him do that. Today, his hospice nurse Lisa visits weekly, scheduling his care around his life. She’s adapted his medication delivery to a time that works best for he and his wife’s daily plans, arranged her nursing visits to fit into his schedule. And she is responsive to the concerns and needs whenever they arise. They work together to improve the quality of his life, understand his wishes and reach his goals.

“Some people wait too long to enjoy the benefits of hospice. I knew I wanted to get the most of life. Deciding on hospice, I chose how I wanted to live.”

To learn more about Merrimack Valley Hospice, as well as the affiliate agencies of Home Health Foundation, Home Health VNA and HomeCare, Inc., read our annual report here.

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Lessons from Track and Field

Published February 26, 2016

Watching a group of high school athletes practice for a track and field relay race, it’s fascinating to observe their focused attention as they pass the baton from one member of the team to the next while maintaining considerable running speed. Each athlete has a defined role in either passing or receiving the baton, yet they work together to complete a successful handoff. They clearly understand and leverage the value of teamwork.

What does track and field have to do with Home Health Foundation? Like the relay runners, our nurses, therapists, counselors and aides provide complex medical treatments and support, totally focused on the needs of each patient in their care. And, although there are many different roles within our organization, we work together as a team, maximizing our clinical expertise to help patients heal and recover, or transition to comfort measures when needs are more advanced. It’s teamwork that sets us apart, strengthening our ability to provide exceptional patient care.

Experience. Teamwork. For more information, explore all our services or call for a brochure 978-552-4186.

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February is American Heart Month

Published February 1, 2016

The beat goes on……

Did you know that the average adult heart beats 100,000 times a day, 3,600,000 times a year? Although it’s no bigger than your fist, your heart has the mighty job of pumping to keep blood flowing through miles of blood vessels to sustain your entire body.

When your heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, it’s referred to as heart failure, or sometimes, congestive heart failure. The term “heart failure” can sound frightening, but the name is misleading. The heart doesn’t “fail” in the sense that it suddenly stops, but it isn’t working as effectively as it should. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease), or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.

If you, or someone you know, have been diagnosed with heart failure, help is available. Whether you’re trying to manage early symptoms, or you’re struggling with an advanced stage of this progressive disease, our home health and hospice professionals have specialized programs to improve your quality of life. The Hearts at Home program of Home Health VNA can provide nursing care and teaching, rehabilitation, medication management, exercise tips, and educational materials to help you manage symptoms and feel better. The Cardiac Program of Merrimack Valley Hospice can offer medical and emotional support, along with a variety of comfort measures so you can live more fully at home.

Let us be your trusted partner, bringing all our resources together to guide you. For more information, visit the Hearts at Home or Cardiac Program sections of this website, or discuss a referral to a specific program with your doctor.

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Care you can always count on

Published December 31, 2015

Although this winter has been fairly mild, New England weather can change rapidly. Seasonal storms can vary greatly from rain or freezing rain, to wind-driven snow and biting cold. These changing conditions can be especially worrisome to patients who are recuperating at home from an illness or injury, or dealing with an advanced illness. They rely on our agencies to provide the care they need, even during the most challenging travel situations.

If you are receiving home health or hospice care from any of the agencies of the Home Health Foundation, you can be confident that our committed staff will brave any weather to be at your door ready to meet your needs. And, if a storm is forecast, they’ll help you plan ahead, ensuring you have an emergency plan in place that includes non-perishable food, water, medications and other supplies. All staff has been thoroughly trained in how to prepare for any emergency situation, so you can be assured you will receive the care you need without interruption.

With 120 years of winter weather experience, we are renowned for our dedication to patients and their families, and pride ourselves on our ability to provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Winter is no match for our determination and spirit of service to our patients.

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A holiday message of home from John Albert, President and CEO

Published December 15, 2015

December is a time for celebrations and festive holiday gatherings in the comfortable surroundings of home. Time spent together with friends and family brings joy that will last long after the season ends.

At Home Health Foundations family of agencies, we know that “home” takes on greater meaning for patients as the holidays unfold. Care at home allows you to receive even the most complex medical treatments without missing out on those important holiday traditions and special moments of cheer. It’s more personal and comforting. And, with our expert staff working together, it ensures you receive the highest quality, coordinated care, not only during the holidays, but every day.

So, whether you’ve just returned home from a hospital stay, spent several weeks recuperating at a skilled nursing facility, or recently learned of an advance illness, you can be sure that our gift of care at home will bring comfort and joy this holiday season, and all year long.

From our family to yours, best wishes for a holiday season filled with warmth and happiness.

 

 

 

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We pause and give thanks

Published November 6, 2015

The month of giving thanks is upon us. Since November is also National Home Health and Hospice Month, it’s also a perfect time to thank the dedicated professionals of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., who bring their skill and compassion to the door of so many in our community.

Being a home care or hospice professional requires an exceptional level of medical expertise. Our nurses, therapists, social workers, counselors and aides are renowned for the cutting-edge medical care and support services they provide in 110 cities and towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, they bravely travel throughout our service area to ensure that all our patients are cared for and safe. I’m very proud of all our home care and hospice staff, and honored to work side by side with them every day.

This month, as you travel far and wide to be with friends and family and give thanks for simple blessings, remember the home care and hospice professionals of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. They are committed, enthusiastic, caring and still make house calls, rain or shine, to bring care home.

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October is national physical therapy month

Published October 12, 2015

After illness or surgery, rehabilitation by a physical therapist is often essential for a successful recovery. National Physical Therapy Month is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the important role that physical therapists play in helping patients recuperate after an illness or injury, decrease pain, improve mobility and function and learn how to engage in safe and healthy activities.

The physical therapists of Home Health VNA are highly-skilled, licensed health care professionals who are expert at meeting all the rehabilitation needs of patients in the comfort of their own homes. Their focus is on helping patients with everyday activities – moving safely in and out of bed, getting up and down from a chair, walking or negotiating stairs, ramps and curves. They also provide a variety of treatments to help control or alleviate acute and chronic pain. And, they work with patients to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing exercise routines to help patients stay strong as they age. Their goal is to help patients achieve and maintain their best level of physical health possible.

One important factor in achieving and maintaining good health at any age is regular physical activity,” said Martha McClure PT, DPT, CLT, COS-C, physical therapist at Home Health VNA. “If you have never been active, starting a regular physical activity routine now may improve your endurance, strength and balance to prevent future health problems and help you heal more quickly if you become ill or injured.”

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Contact your doctor for a referral for a physical therapy evaluation. If you are already experiencing mobility problems that are stopping you from starting a regular physical activity program or are just not sure how to get started, physical therapists are uniquely qualified to assess your situation and help you to get started in the right direction!
  2. Be active at least 30 minutes per day and make it a habit for life. Regular exercise today is a great way to keep serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes out of your future.
  3. Start small. Pick an activity you enjoy and start with small, specific goals, such as “I will take three 10-minute walks this week.” Slowly increase the total amount of time and number of days you are active.
  4. Join a club. Many local senior centers have walking clubs and exercise programs geared specifically for older people who want to stay fit. Whatever the activity, doing things in a group will keep you accountable and provide opportunities for social interaction.

 
Much more information is available through the American Physical Association (APTA). In recognition of national physical therapy month, the APTA has launched “The AgeWell” campaign built around the idea that while some effects of aging are inevitable, many symptoms and conditions commonly associated with growing older can be delayed – and in some cases prevented – and that physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can play a vital role in transforming the aging process. Several resources are available to consumers including 9 Physical therapist tips to help you, tips for each decade as you age, and a podcast interview with a physical therapist at www.moveforwardpt.com.

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September is National Senior Center Month

Published September 9, 2015

There is a new catch phrase – 65 is the new 45 – and there’s good reason. Many of today’s seniors are healthy, active and living their retirement years with gusto.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month it’s important to note that like the new generation of people turning 65, senior centers have adapted and changed. Although many still offer meals, social events and volunteer opportunities, they now also offer activities geared for a “younger” senior such as Zumba, cooking classes, vacation tours, and biking groups.

For example, in Andover, the Center at Punchard offers Serenity Yoga and Nordic Walking. And, in Salem, New Hampshire, the Ingram Senior Center offers TaiChi and Reflexology along with bingo and card games.

Senior centers today are recognized as a focal point in the community, promoting active and healthy aging. They also serve as a resource for the entire community by providing information on aging and support services to assist family members who are caring for an older person.

Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. are proud to work collaboratively with many of our local senior centers offering exercise programs as well as health education and prevention workshops designed to teach seniors of every age how to stay healthy and active. We also provide health and wellness clinics and other services to help seniors monitor chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

During the month of September, we applaud the new and exciting opportunities available at senior centers across the region. It might just be time to check one out!

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Summer Heat and Safety

Published August 3, 2015

After one of the snowiest winters on record, the summer heat and humidity have arrived in full force. When the temperature outside gets uncomfortably hot and sticky, it is time to think about steps you can take to keep cool and prevent dehydration and other heat related illnesses. Many people, especially the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, are less likely to respond to changes in temperature and thus are more prone to medical complications in hot weather. This summer, please take the following steps to protect yourself from the heat:

  • Use an air conditioner to keep rooms cool. If air conditioning is not available, open windows on opposite ends of your home to create cross ventilations and increase air flow. Better yet, go to a cool mall, senior center, library or movie theater for a break from the heat.
  • Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing.
  • Wear a hat that covers your head and shades your face, and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun.
  • Eat small, more frequent meals and avoid high protein foods such as pasta and beans.
  • Avoid using your oven to cook – it will make your house hotter.
  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Drink plenty of water to make up for the loss of fluids due to sweat. Drink water regularly during the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. By the time you are feeling the effects of thirst, you are probably already dehydrated.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating, dizziness, headache, fatigue, muscle cramps and weak, rapid pulse. If you feel any of these symptoms get to a cool place, rest and drink cool water.

 
Finally, be a good neighbor. Remember to check on your elderly neighbors to ensure their health and safety, especially during prolonged periods of high heat.

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Vacation planning for the caregiver – HomeCare, Inc. can help.

Published June 9, 2015

Summer is just around the corner and with it thoughts of a vacation.

Vacations are important for everyone – they help to refresh and rejuvenate us. As a caregiver for an aging family member, taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your loved one. A short vacation from the responsibilities of care giving and associated stress can be helpful to both you and the person you care for. Whether you are planning some relaxing day trips to our beautiful local beaches, or an exotic trip abroad you might also be looking for a way to ensure that the needs and safety of your loved one are met while you are away. Private Care Services of HomeCare, Inc. is just a phone call away to help.

HomeCare, Inc.’s reliable, caring and expertly trained staff of home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and homemakers can help you get some time away by providing the help your loved one needs. Services are available on an hourly or daily basis and can include personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, companionship, medication reminders and much more.

Just looking for someone to make sure all is well? For those elders who are more independent, HomeCare, Inc. can provide a daily, one-hour monitoring and check-in visit. Our experienced home care professionals are trained to observe and communicate any health issues or concerns that they see while they are on their visit, so should something be “not-quite-right” they can connect with a nurse and you to ensure the right steps are taken.

HomeCare, Inc. can bring the reassurance needed so everyone has a chance to relax. Services are available throughout the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

Now, dust off your luggage, grab your golf clubs, and call Private Care Services of HomeCare, Inc at 1-800-333-4799.

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Celebrating our partners during National Hospital and National Nursing Home Week

Published May 12, 2015

Congratulations to our hospital and nursing home partners during National Hospital and National Nursing Home week!  Each year the second full week in May is designated as a time to honor the many hard working hospital and nursing home employees in our nation.   From physicians and nurses to administrators and volunteers, they make miracles happen, both large and small, and support the health of our communities through their dedication, commitment and compassion.

The agencies of the Home Health Foundation have a deep appreciation of the role these institutions and their employees play in the well being of our community and are proud to join them in celebrating this special week.  Together, we partner on the care of thousands of patients every day, striving to help young and old manage their health, recuperate from illness or transition toward end of life.   Our newly released Annual Report details many of these partners and highlights the ways we work together to further advance our commitment to patients and families in our region.

You can view a copy of the report on-line here.  You can also request a copy by calling 978-552-4188.

 

 

 

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Coordinated Care with HomeCare, Inc.

Published March 16, 2015

Patients receiving nursing or rehabilitative care from Home Health VNA often need extra help with non-medical services like dressing, bathing and light housekeeping.  These services are essential for comfort and well being, but Medicare coverage is limited. For this reason, contacting affiliate agency HomeCare, Inc. to supplement services not covered by Medicare is the smart choice.

Home Health VNA and HomeCare, Inc. work as a team to coordinate both medical care and non-medical services to maximize each patient’s Medicare home care benefit and reduce out-of-pocket expenses.  Some patients may need daily services for security and well-being; others may only need intermittent help two or three times a week to complement assistance provided by family members.  Whatever the need, HomeCare, Inc. will customize a plan for each patient and circumstance.

With HomeCare, Inc., patients can relax and focus on getting well and returning to independence.  The staff of HomeCare, Inc. is highly skilled and receives ongoing education and training.  They are also supervised by registered nurses, have had complete background checks and are fully insured.   It is comforting to know that when you choose any of the agencies of the Home Health Foundation, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice or HomeCare, Inc., you receive a level of skill and experience that is unsurpassed in this region.

Ready to get started?  For more information, visit the HomeCare, Inc. tab on the home page of our website or call 800-933-5593.

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Celebrating American Heart Month

Published February 13, 2015

The supermarkets and candy stores are brimming with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, but February is American Heart Month – a time to focus on the importance of heart health and lowering risks of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the US.

We care for many patients with chronic heart conditions and Home Health VNA is uniquely experienced to help these patients live full and happy lives with even the most advanced heart disease. With training, expertise and tools, we can guide support, and educate patients to help manage their heart disease and potentially prevent hospitalization.

Our “Learning to Live with Heart Failure” pathway is a tool our nurses use to help guide patient care, effectively teach about heart disease and medications needed in treatment, and provide tips for self management.

Telehealth plays a key role in the management of patients with heart disease, by closely monitoring their vital signs between nursing visits. Telehealth monitors a patient’s vital signs and alerts a Telehealth nurse if intervention such as a nursing visit is warranted. With careful monitoring, early intervention and proactive care, we keep these at-risk patients safe.

For more information on heart disease including prevention tips for you and your family visit the American Health Association at www.heart.org.

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When the weather outside is frightful…

Published December 5, 2014

Our New England weather can bring many challenges for older people, especially those that are homebound or have difficulty getting out due to ice and snow. Our most recent late November snow storm, with power outages and icy roads, is a reminder that cold weather can pose serious health and safety threats to the elderly. In addition, weather related isolation can make the winter months lonely. Although the holiday season can add some temporary excitement from visiting friends and family, the winter months can be especially difficult due to long periods of being indoors with little social contact. Winter can also affect nutrition in the elderly if weather prevents them from food shopping or if seasonal depression reduces appetite.

How can you help?

  • Make it a point to stop in to visit elderly neighbors during the winter. You may be the only friendly face your neighbor may see all day, or all week. Take a few moments to engage in some casual conversation, ask about their health and wellbeing.
  • Check the home temperature. The elderly are at significant risk of being too cold, which can be a sign of dehydration. Make sure the home is warm enough and the thermometer set for at least 68 degrees to prevent hypothermia.
  • Make sure your neighbor has enough food, especially if a snowstorm or cold weather is approaching. Dried, canned or pre-prepared foods should be on hand in case of a power outage.
  • Ask about picking up their groceries or medications during your next shopping trip.
  • Keep an eye out for symptoms of seasonal depression. Inactivity and isolation may result in depression when cold weather means fewer opportunities to socialize. Contact your local Council on Aging or Senior Center for help.

 
Finally make sure your elderly neighbors have family or friends nearby or an emergency plan for when more assistance is needed. The key to winter safety is for everyone to be prepared.

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Celebrating National Home Health and Hospice Month

Published November 3, 2014

During November the home care and hospice community honors the millions of nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who make a remarkable difference for the patients and families they serve. And we do too!

Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. are joining home health and hospice providers across the country this November to celebrate National Home Care & Hospice Month – a perfect time to pause and thank the dedicated professionals providing care to the patients of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. who work to help improve the health and welfare of patients and families in the region.

Being a home care or hospice professional is a very special calling. We applaud our trained nurses, therapists, aides, and supportive staff who bring their skill and compassion to the door of so many. Their efforts allow us to provide a full spectrum of medical care to wherever you call home.

Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, we travel throughout the 90 cities and towns of our service area to insure that all our patients are cared for and safe. This month as you begin to plan for the holidays, remember that it’s the home health and hospice professionals of Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc who still make house calls to bring care to your door.

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Adding Quality of Life with Palliative Care

Published October 17, 2014

Most breast cancer patients and their families feel strongly that treating the pain, symptoms and emotional distress associated with cancer management is as important as treating the disease itself.

Many patients experience debilitating symptoms, such as fatigue, pain and nausea, along with the stress of dealing with a serious illness, which has an impact on work and family.

Adding palliative care to breast cancer treatment can lessen symptoms and support the best possible quality of life for the patient, family and caregivers.

What is palliative care?

If you are confused by palliative care, you are not alone. Since it is a relatively new medical specialty, many people don’t know what it is or how it can help. Palliative care focuses on the relief of pain and other symptoms to improve quality of life.

Although often mistakenly associated with hospice care, palliative care can be prescribed at any stage of illness and can be just as important in breast cancer treatment as chemotherapy or surgery. “Patients with cancer, including breast cancer, do better when they feel better,” said Julie Bushey, RN, MSN, OCN, palliative care manager with Merrimack Valley Hospice.

“As a former oncology nurse for over 25 years, I understand the impact that symptoms of a cancer diagnosis and treatment may have,” she said. “With palliative care, patients typically experience improved relief from both physical and emotional symptoms, which translate to better quality of life, greater satisfaction with care, fewer emergency room visits, and reduced burden on the family and other caregivers.”

The palliative care team of Merrimack Valley Hospice includes physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers with extensive experience in pain and symptom management, as well as the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that often accompany a serious illness.

They offer patient-centered, problem-focused consultation and treatment recommendations in the comfort and privacy of the patient’s home, which helps to provide insight into the needs of the entire family unit. They work closely with the patient’s oncologist and primary care physician to manage what can be very difficult treatment side effects, such as fatigue, pain, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss. They can assist the patient and family with challenging medical decisions and help to coordinate care with other medical professionals. The palliative social worker can also assist the patient and family by providing a listening presence and teaching coping skills and techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety that may accompany the physical symptoms.

A typical palliative care visit could include:

  • A comprehensive patient assessment by a nurse practitioner,
  • Recommendations to manage complex pain and other symptoms,
  • Identification of the patient’s goals of care and recommendations to achieve those goals,
  • Referral to other community organizations, such as the American Cancer Society or to local breast cancer support groups,
  • Emotional support, education and counseling for the patient and family.

“A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, not only for the patient but the entire family,” Bushey said. “Our clinical team can help to alleviate physical symptoms while also counseling women on coping strategies to deal with the many emotional issues and day-to-day stress that can impact quality of life.” The goal of palliative care is to help reduce symptoms and to provide support for patients and their families.

For more information on the palliative care program of Merrimack Valley Hospice, call 1-800-475-8335.

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Transforming Lives One Patient at a Time

Published October 13, 2014

October, National Physical Therapy Month, is an exciting time for physical therapists nationally and at Home Health VNA.  During this month we recognize the unique restorative and therapeutic benefits that our physical therapists provide patients throughout our service area.  Whether patients are recuperating from an illness or injury, coping with chronic pain or needing assistance with balance and strength, our physical therapists transform lives one patient at a time.

The physical therapists at Home Health VNA use the latest in treatment technology and innovation to provide evidence based therapy in homes, apartments and residential communities.  They are trusted experts, restoring and improving function and motion, allowing patients to develop independence with daily activities in their own convenient and comfortable setting.   Their extensive education, clinical expertise and “hands on approach” help patients:

  • Regain strength, endurance and mobility for a better quality of life
  • Restore or increase coordination and balance
  • Reduce pain and stiffness
  • Retrain the body to do everyday tasks such as walking or transferring from bed to chair

Providing services in the home can give the therapist a direct glimpse into the real lives and real challenges of their patients – an advantage rarely available to community-based providers.  And, it can provide insight into the patient’s home environment allowing therapists to identify and correct issues that may adversely impact recuperation or that pose a fall risk such as dark stairways, throw rugs, clutter or improperly placed furniture.

If you or someone you know needs home physical therapy, trust the team at Home Health VNA.  For more information, visit the Rehabilitation/Orthopedic Services section of Home Health VNA.

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September is Healthy Aging Month

Published September 2, 2014

Every September young and old alike celebrate Healthy Aging Month – a national observance to call attention to the positive aspects of growing older.  This September, why not resolve to improve your health, pursue something new, or revive a favorite hobby or activity?

The agencies of the Home Health Foundation – Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice, and HomeCare, Inc. – celebrate healthy aging every day! As the leader in home health and hospice care in this region, we are committed to the health of the community and focused on teaching people the importance of staying healthy and active at any age. 

Our prevention and wellness clinics, educational programs, support groups and chronic disease self management classes held at many Council’s on Aging help people remain focused on taking charge of their health to achieve a better quality of life.  Our exercise programs are a great way socialize while building strength and endurance.  And, our nutritional programs focus on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables and portion control to maintain a healthy weight and feel great. 

Whether you need a complete health makeover, or just some minor changes to ensure a healthy and happy lifestyle as you age, it’s never too late to start.  If you would like more information about prevention and wellness clinics in your area, contact your local Council on Aging or call 978-552-4186. 

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July is National “Sandwich Generation” Month

Published July 9, 2014

As people get older and begin to lose their independence many will turn to their adult children for help and support. Yet for adult children already caring for children of their own, this new role of caregiver can be a difficult one to assume. It’s no wonder this group of people is known as the “Sandwich Generation” as they are literally ‘sandwiched’ between the pressures of raising a family, holding down a job and managing their parents growing social, medical and financial needs.

If you are juggling these multiple responsibilities, organization is critical. The key is to plan ahead. Start by gathering a list of important phone numbers such as doctors, pharmacy and lawyer. Make sure you have access to important legal documents such as power of attorney, will, health care directive, insurance and ID cards. Keep an accurate list of medications, including dose, and frequency. You can also:
 

  • Contact your local senior services, such as Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, for financial and medical planning
  • Have Social Security checks, pension and other income direct deposited into a joint checking or savings account
  • De-clutter the house especially stairs and walkways to prevent falls
  • Consider a personal emergency response system
  • Hire private care services through a reputable agency such as HomeCare, Inc.

 
Private care services such as personal care, meal preparation, medication reminders and more can greatly ease the burden of caregiving and reduce the stress associated with being part of the sandwich generation. The burden of caregiving is a large one, but with help it can also bring great joy and satisfaction to you and your aging parent.

More information on private care services is available in the HomeCare, Inc. link on this website or call 800-333-4799.
 
 

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Getting everything ready for vacation

Published June 11, 2014

Judy looked forward to her family’s beach vacation every July, but this year had been a tough one with her mother’s decline in mobility requiring a lot more attention and care-giving.

Her mom didn’t need 24-hour care, just someone to help get her going in the morning, prepare a meal or two, and get her ready for bed at night. Judy called HomeCare, Inc. Their caring staff arranged for a home care aide to come each morning and evening for the week the family was away. That way mom was safe and comfortable and Judy could relax and have time with her family knowing all was well at home.

If providing care at home to an elderly family member has you wondering how to fit in time with friends and family, Private Care Services of HomeCare, Inc. can help. A vacation, no matter how brief, will leave you rested and refreshed.

HomeCare, Inc.’s reliable and expertly trained staff can help you take a summer vacation by providing the help your family member will need to be safe and comfortable at home. Services are available on an hourly or daily basis and can include personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, companionship, medication reminders and much more. Don’t need all those services? For those elders more independent, HomeCare, Inc. can provide a daily, one-hour monitoring and check-in visit. That daily visit could be just the reassurance you need to relax and have some fun.

Services are available throughout the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
Now, dust off your luggage and call Private Care Services of HomeCare, Inc. at 1-800-333-4799. You can also click on “Arrange for Care” to fill out an express referral form and fax it to our referral department.
 
 

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Home Health VNA receives the 2014 Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Home Care Alliance

Published May 14, 2014

Home Health VNA announced today that it was the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Innovations Award from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. The award is in recognition of the agencies leadership in the development of the Merrimack Valley Health Information Exchange (MVHIE) Collaborative and the subsequent facilitation of the secure exchange of patient information with Collaborative members using the Massachusetts Health Care Information Exchange known as Mass HIway. The award was accepted by Peg Doherty, BSN, Vice President of Operations, at the Home Care Alliance Innovations Showcase and Star Awards event held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on April 29.

“This MVHIE project, under the leadership of Peg Doherty, is at the forefront of healthcare technology and innovation.” said John Albert MBA, FACHE, President and CEO of the Home Health Foundation. “Peg had the vision, commitment and strategic focus to bring the Collaborative together and to develop shared goals and a mission to improve patient care communications across the Collaborative using Mass HIway. This project has strengthened the relationship between Collaborative members and has the potential to transform patient care in ways that are efficient, effective and patient-centered.” The MVHIE Collaborative is currently the only HIE project in Massachusetts that is successfully organized and led by a VNA.

An HIE automates the transfer of health related information and provides access to, and retrieval of, patient data to authorized users in order to provide safe, efficient, effective and timely patient care. HIE is the next evolution of the healthcare communications exchange system.

The MVHIE Collaborative consists of Home Health Foundation, Lawrence General Hospital, Pentucket Medical Associates and Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. The goal of the Collaborative is to develop a mechanism to share information about mutual patients to ensure quality care and to reduce issues in care transitions experienced by providers and patients. In January, 2014 the MVHIE Collaborative successfully implemented the secure infrastructure necessary to connect MVHIE providers through their respective electronic medical records. This enabled the electronic transmission of patient care information across all Collaborative members using Mass HIway. Next steps in this initiative will be to expand implementation and implement an actionable discharge summary and, using MA HIway, share critical information on patients who have visited the Emergency Room in order to provide timely follow up care.

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National Nurses Week

Published May 6, 2014

Please join the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., as we celebrate National Nurses Week, which is held every year May 6 through 12. The purpose of National Nurses Week is to raise public awareness of the value of nursing and to help educate the public about the vital roles nurses play in meeting the health care needs of individuals and families in our communities.

Homecare and hospice nurses exemplify innovation, purpose and dedication. Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, our nurses insure that all of their patients are cared for and safe. It is this type of commitment to quality care and compassion for those in need that is both heartwarming and inspiring.

Being a home care nurse is a very special calling. Using some of the most advanced technology available and with the highest clinical standards, home care nurses provide a full spectrum of medical care, combining critical thinking, assessment and teaching in a variety of settings across our region. They also work in the community providing immunizations and preventive health education and screenings to keep the residents of our communities healthy and safe. And, they work in our offices providing support, leadership and guidance. All of our nurses have a passion for their work, constantly striving, learning and caring.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we honor nurses everywhere and especially recognize the contributions of the more than 260 nurses at the Home Health Foundation.

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NATIONAL HEALTHCARE DECISIONS DAY

Published April 17, 2014

April 16 marked National HealthCare Decisions Day. A day to inspire, educate and empower the public about the importance of advance care planning, before they are too ill to make personal and medical decisions themselves.
 
While this is an uncomfortable conversation for most people, making decisions ahead of time and putting your last wishes in writing brings peace of mind to families and loved ones. It helps to avoid the difficult situations that are so common when a person becomes seriously ill and the family is left to guess what their loved one would have wanted.
 
Over 70 percent of Americans have thought about end-of-life medical decisions and would like their treatment preferences to be honored; however, studies have shown that less than 20 percent of Americans have an advance directive in place. Of those who do have an advance directive, up to 75 percent of their physicians remain unaware of it. That means that only about one in 20 Americans are in position to feel secure that their personal and medical wishes will be respected if they lose the ability to directly control their own care.
 
Advance Directives are legal documents that designate a medical power of attorney and provide a physician with instructions for a patient’s care when the patient is no longer able to make or express his or her health care wishes. Maybe people may think drafting an Advance Directive is complicated. Maybe they don’t like dealing with lawyers or the costs associated with them. But advance care forms for every state are widely available on the Internet, at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s website or through the National Healthcare Decision Day website, among others. An Advance Health Care Directive doesn’t have to cost more than $10 – for a notary.
 
An easy way to get started working on your Advance Directive – or if you are helping a loved one with theirs – is filling out the “Five Wishes” questionnaire designed by the Aging with Dignity organization. The Five Wishes booklet is a 12-page checklist that asks those important questions about end-of-life planning.
 
The Five Wishes document lets your family and doctors know:
• Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
• The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
• How comfortable you want to be.
• How you want people to treat you.
• What you want your loved ones to know.
 
Setting up your Advanced Care Directive is a difficult decision, but more often than not, it is the ultimate in patient empowerment – to be prepared for the end of our lives. Take the month of April to prepare yourself and your family. It will take the burden off your loved ones to make difficult decisions when the time comes. Freedom from making heart-wrenching decisions is one of the best gifts you can give them.
 

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Living independently at home longer

Published January 16, 2014

Traveling home to visit parents over the holidays can be one of the most special experiences of the year. But going “over the river and through the woods” isn’t just a festive experience: it is a chance to see first-hand how mom and dad are doing and perhaps offer some assistance so they can stay in their own home longer.

Now that the holidays are over, are you thinking back on that visit with worry about the coming year? Were you surprised at the changes you observed in mom’s ability to take care of the house? Did dad seem confused at times and unsteady on his feet? Did they both lose weight? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, perhaps it’s time to look into private care services.

Many people think that hiring a private home health aide is a luxury. But having in-home help is a good option for people who need a little bit of extra assistance to remain safe and independent. For example, your parents could hire a home health aide to provide personal care as well as to assist with grocery shopping two or three times a week, prepare some light meals, and provide light housekeeping to keep the house tidy.
If you wish to explore private care as an option, HomeCare, Inc. is your local trusted agency. Private Care Service of HomeCare, Inc. is accredited by the Joint Commission, considered the gold standard for quality care. For more information or a full list of services available, visit their link on this website or call our referral department at 978-552-4444.

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There’s no place like home

Published December 18, 2013

A holiday message from John Albert, President and CEO.

It’s the time of year when many of us spend time at home with friends and family reflecting on the past year and planning for the new year ahead.    It’s also a time to think about what’s important in life and to give thanks for our many blessings.   As President and CEO of the Home Health Foundation family of agencies, Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., I’d like to share with you what I am most thankful for this holiday season;

I’m thankful for the trust our patients place in us.  Every day we are welcomed into patient homes in more than 100 cities and towns across our region.  Some patients have just returned from a hospital stay or spent several weeks at a skilled nursing facility.  Many are worried about their illness or injury.  Others are facing the news of a life-limiting illness.  All are relieved when our nurse or therapist arrives ready to heal, calm and reassure – with compassion and understanding. 

I admire and am indebted to the clinical and administrative staff who provide essential support, leadership and guidance in our 5 different locations. They have a passion for their work; constantly striving, learning and helping others.  I’m especially grateful for our hard working clinical staff who are committed to the highest quality care with for patients and families 365 days a year.  Even when New England weather presents blinding snow storms or torrential rain, our clinicians brave the elements and travel throughout the region to ensure that their patients receive the vital medical care they need.  This type of dedication to quality care is both heartwarming and inspiring.

A special thank you to the professional medical community who partner with us in the care of their patients.   Together we work to ensure all patients have the expert medical care and support they need in the comfort and security of home. 

Finally, I’d like to thank our many friends and supporters. Their philanthropic support of our agency ensures our ability to provide essential home health and hospice care to all patients and families in need.   

May the comfort of home and the closeness of family and friends renew your spirits and ensure a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

 

 

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Living Life to its Fullest

Published September 30, 2013

After many months of chemotherapy, it became apparent that treatment to slow the progression of Bob’s cancer was not working this time.   Having beaten cancer once before while in his 40’s, Bob was hopeful he could do it again.  But after a lengthy conversation with his doctor, Bob decided to make the most of the time he had left by living life to the fullest on his own terms.  Now, with the help of Merrimack Valley Hospice, he is hopeful for more golf games with his buddies, dances with his wife and walks with his children and grandchildren.

The admission nurse of Merrimack Valley Hospice met with Bob and his wife within hours of the referral from his doctor.  She discussed medications prescribed to help Bob with pain and other symptoms and reassured him that side effects were minimal and would not interfere with all he still wanted to accomplish.  She also described other services that were available to him and his family as his illness progressed including social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers.  Most importantly, she explained that although the road ahead would be difficult at times, he had a team of professionals from Merrimack Valley Hospice that would be there to help him every step of the way.

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Hope Blooms with Hospice

Published September 6, 2013

Anna didn’t want to go to the hospital anymore. After the last hospitalization, her 3rd in as many months, her doctor suggested hospice care. She wanted Anna to enjoy time with her children and grandchildren and focus on the things she loved. For Anna, her perennial garden was a labor of love she began almost 40 years ago when her children were small. She spent many happy hours there, and over the years it grew from a small patch of daylilies and irises to the showcase it is today. At home, with a view of her garden, was her choice for end-of-life care.

On this beautiful day Anna’s “Brilliant” pink Stonecrop are blooming in the early September sun. With support from the hospice team and her family around her, Anna talks of her choice for comfort care from Merrimack Valley Hospice. She tells them that the hospice medical director will make sure she has the medications she needs to be comfortable, the nurses will monitor her well being and a hospice aide will help her with meals and personal care. She explains that a social worker is available and she has asked that the chaplain visit. She knows she will enjoy that. “There may even be a volunteer to help get the garden ready for winter” she says with a smile.
Her family is quiet, thoughtful, with many mixed emotions. Finally her daughter says “fall has always been my favorite time in the garden. We’ll all be here with you to help with pruning and weeding. We’ll help get your garden ready for winter, and next summer, it will bloom again better than ever.”

With the support of Merrimack Valley Hospice, Anna will spend her days in the comfort of her home with her family around her.

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Journeys in hospice

Published August 23, 2013

The staff and volunteers of Merrimack Valley hospice are honored to care for and get to know hundreds of patients throughout our region.  Daily we witness how hospice care enriches people’s lives, allowing them to spend cherished time with family and friends.  In the coming months, we will use this blog to tell you about some of these special individuals – their personal stories, adventures, and the meaningful connections of their unique journeys.

After a 2 year battle with cancer, David was determined to have quality time with his wife and three young children in the home he loved.  David and his wife had scrimped and saved for 5 years to buy their dream home, and he was determined to stay there as long as possible.

Before his illness, David and his family spent several summers in a little cabin they rented on the coast of Maine. He loved swimming in the ocean and picnics on their small sandy beach. And, he delighted in watching his children run and play along the shoreline. 

A patient of Merrimack Valley Hospice for more than 4 months, David’s symptoms were mostly under control until this past summer, when his abdominal pain became too severe to manage.    He had difficulty sleeping and play time with his children…..time he cherished, became too painful.

David’s life changed when his hospice nurse referred him to Merrimack Valley Hospice House for pain and symptom management.  David spent a few days at the House, where the palliative care team managed his pain to make him more comfortable, help him sleep and regain his appetite.  His doctor, nurses and social worker spent time talking with him, answering questions about how to manage his illness at home and how to remain physically and emotionally strong as his illness progressed. 

David returned to the home he loved feeling stronger and more in control of his cancer.  Play time with his children resumed and he was able to participate in family activities including a summer outing to the beach.   

To learn more about Merrimack Valley Hospice House visit  http://www.homehealthfoundation.org/mvhh

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Summertime Food Safety

Published July 9, 2013

Summer is finally here. This is the time of year when gatherings with family and friends are most popular. However, the delicious summertime foods we yearn for all winter need extra special handling when the outside temperature turns warm. In fact, cases of food borne illness rise during the summer because bacteria thrive in warm temperatures. You keep food safe from the bacteria that cause food borne illness by following a few simple rules:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot soapy water before and after handling food, and before and after handling different types of food such as meat and fish or chicken.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer.
  • Store food at the proper temperature. Your refrigerator should be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. All perishable foods must be refrigerated.
  • Keep cold food cold. When you leave the supermarket, place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than a hot trunk. Refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Be sure to thoroughly clean cutting boards and utensils after each use.

For more information on food safety during the summer and while on vacation visit
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/summervacations.

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What Hospice Means to Caregivers

Published May 21, 2013

Hospice is “patient and family centered” care.  The goal of hospice is to relieve the patient’s pain and other symptoms, and to assist caregivers as they help to provide the best practical and supportive care possible.  

Caregivers who have helped a loved one through the end-of-life journey understand that it changes you. As a caregiver you go through the physical and emotional ups and downs of the illness or disease along with your loved one.  You will listen, support, encourage, comfort and help in countless ways.  The experience may be the most intense of your life but also one that can bring a deep sense of joy and satisfaction knowing you have helped make your loved one’s last days happier and more peaceful.  Remember that hospice is not about giving up hope, but of changing what it is hoped for – such as quality of life, special times with family and friends, or a peaceful death.

At Merrimack Valley Hospice, we understand the critical role that caregivers play in hospice care and we will help and guide you every step of the way.  Some ways we can help include:

  • Teach you techniques to help make your job easier
  • Provide equipment that may ease some burdens such as a hospital bed or wheelchair
  • Offer hospice aides to assist with personal care and light housekeeping
  • Give instruction on how to administer medications, change dressings and position your loved one for comfort
  • Provide bereavement and grief support for 2 years after the death of your loved one   

 
Other useful websites include:

www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving

www.caregiver.com

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Speech and language therapy after a stroke

Published April 1, 2013

In our last newspaper column ad, Dominic received a visit from a speech and language pathologist to help him with his slurred speech and swallowing difficulties. 

Speech and language therapy can help stroke survivors if they have communication and/or swallowing problems after a stroke.   It is estimated that one third of stroke survivors will have some level of communication difficulty and at least 40 percent will experience some problems swallowing.  Speech and language therapists assess patients with communication difficulties and help them overcome or adapt to a range of communication problems.  They also assess swallowing problems and advise on safe ways to eat and drink.  The goal of speech and language therapy is to help patients recover as much as possible so they can lead fulfilling, independent lives. 

For more information on a wide range of speech and swallowing disorders, including those affected by a stroke, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at www.asha.org/public/.

 

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Occupational Therapy after a Stroke

Published March 25, 2013

Occupational therapy is an important part of a patient’s recovery and rehabilitation after a stroke.  It involves relearning everyday activities (occupations) to enable patients to lead full and independent lives.  Occupational therapists help patients relearn or regain the ability to perform day-to-day tasks such as getting out of bed, showering, dressing and making meals, etc. when the right or left side of the body does not function as before the stroke.     

In home health care, occupational therapists work as part of a team which could include a nurse, physical, occupational and speech therapist and a home health aide.  As a part of this team, occupational therapist will assess the difficulties caused by the patient’s stroke including movement in the hands, arms and legs and any problems with sensation, vision and perception.  Depending on the needs of the patient, an occupational therapist may:

  • Suggest activities and exercises to improve abilities and independence
  • Use and adapt everyday activities as part of rehabilitation
  • Teach strategies and techniques to overcome difficult tasks
  • Provide aides and equipment to make the home safe
  • Teach and support family members to assist in therapy

For more information on occupational therapy, please visit the American Occupational Therapy Association website at www.aota.org.

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MYOMO: New therapy for stroke rehabilitation

Published March 18, 2013

In our last newspaper column ad, Dominic, our fictional patient who has right arm weakness from a recent stroke, uses new technology called MYOMO (short for My Own Motion). MYOMO is a neuro-robotic brace that fits like a sleeve on a person’s arm. Along with regular, routine physical and occupational therapy at home, MYOMO can help a stroke survivor begin using a weak or partially paralyzed arm for daily tasks that were not possible before, helping them to return to independence. The arm brace has sensors that sit on the skin’s surface and can detect even a very faint muscle signal. When a person with a weak or partially paralyzed arm tries to move their arm and a muscle signal fires, the robotics in MYOMO engage to assist in completing the desired movement thereby re-teaching arm movement. After several therapy sessions using MYOMO, patients have increased arm movement, muscle tone and arm mobility.

MYOMO has been clinically proven to aid a broad range of stroke survivors. Even those who had a stroke 20 years ago can benefit as long as a faint muscle signal remains. And, using MYOMO allows patients to participate in their rehabilitation in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

To request a referral on line click the link below.
https://www.secureform.homehealthfoundation.org/pfform/

You can also call our referral department at 1-800 552-4444.

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The Warning Signs of Stroke

Published March 1, 2013

Did you know that a stroke occurs about every 40 seconds effecting about 795,000 Americans each year.

A stroke is a type of brain injury caused by reduced blood flow to the brain when blood vessels are blocked by a clot or become too narrow for blood to get through…  For this reason it is important for everyone to know the warning signs.

Sometimes symptoms of stroke develop gradually.  However, if a person is having a stroke, they are more likely to have one or more sudden warning signs such as:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg especially on one side
  • Confusion or trouble understanding other people
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache that comes on for no known reason

When you can spot the signs, you’ll know quickly that you need to call 9-1-1 for help. This is important because the sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the sooner they’ll get treatment. And that can make a remarkable difference in their recovery.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke.

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness –  Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?  Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.”  Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

For additional information visit the American Stroke Association at www.strokeassociation.org

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Reducing winter loneliness in the elderly

Published February 25, 2013

The cold and snowy winter months can be challenging for many people.  A trip outside, even for a brief errand, can be both difficult and dangerous.  The winter can be especially treacherous for the elderly, who are at risk for broken bones from falls on ice, breathing problems caused by cold air, hypothermia and frost bite.  Many hold less body heat due to a slower metabolism and reduced physical activity, so they feel the cold more severely.  And, as people age, the ability to feel changes in temperature decreases, making it important for elders to monitor the house temperature and to dress in layers.

For the elderly, the winter months can also be long and lonely.  With the holidays over and family members back to work and family responsibilities, January and February can be especially lonely months for the elderly who find themselves homebound with fewer social activities and outside contact.   

So what can you do to help an elderly family member, friend or neighbor reduce the isolation and loneliness of winter?

  • Make it a New Year’s resolution to visit once a week for a meal, cup of coffee or just to socialize for an hour or two.
  • Encourage other family members to visit, call or e-mail on a regular basis.
  • Contact your local senior center or community center to check for opportunities for group meals, social programs and outings, or even friendly visitor programs. 
  • Buy, fill and hang a bird feeder in a backyard or attach it directly on a window.  Birding activity can be very entertaining and a great topic for conversation.
  • Check the local library for a mobile book loaning program, or offer to pick up and drop off books and magazines.
  • Send a letter.  An old-fashioned letter in today’s age of electronic communication can mean a lot to the elderly and bring a sense of anticipation while awaiting a mail delivery.  Enclose a couple of pictures for added enjoyment.
  • Plan an occasional outing for lunch, a trip to the barber or hairdresser, or for some shopping. 

Finally watch for signs of depression.  The elderly are at increased risk for depression due to life changes, medication and illness. 

Below are some links to senior centers and other agencies that you might use as a resource.

http://www.mass.gov/elders/

http://www.andoverseniorcenter.org/

http://www.haverhillusa.com/city-of-haverhill-citizens-center.html

http://www.cityofnewburyport.com/CouncilonAging.htm

http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/coa

http://townofsalem.org/departments/senior-services.html

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/

http://www.cdc.gov/

Wendy Drastal, RN

Wendy Drastal, RN, is Vice President, HomeCare, Inc., the leader in home care in the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.  Click here to learn more.

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Merrimack Valley Hospice House

Published February 9, 2013

In our recent newspaper column, Al, a patient receiving hospice care at home, is admitted to the Merrimack Valley Hospice House after his congestive heart failure symptoms become too difficult to manage at home.

So what is a hospice house?

A hospice house is a “home-like” residence for patients who, for a variety of reasons, can no longer receive hospice care at home.  Unlike a hospital or nursing home, a hospice house is designed with all the comfortable features of a private home, with sitting rooms, kitchens, dining areas, and other common areas for patients, family and loved ones.

Merrimack Valley Hospice House, located in Haverhill, MA, is an in-patient facility.   That means that most patients admitted to our House have pain or other symptoms that require an acute level of medical care not available at home. With warm colors, and a comfortable and serene atmosphere, Merrimack Valley Hospice House is designed to make patients, and their family and loved ones, feel welcomed and relaxed.  The very best medical experts ensure that every patient receives the care and support they need as they near the end-of-life.  And, bereavement support and counseling is offered to families and loved ones.

Currently the Hospice House has 14 private suites.  However, construction is currently underway to expand our House by 7 additional suites to ensure we can meet the needs of all patients and families who rely on us for quality end-of-life care.

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When to choose hospice?

Published February 4, 2013

If you have been following our newspaper column ads, you have been reading about Al, a typical patient who is now receiving care from Merrimack Valley Hospice.  Al has been battling congestive heart failure for several years and recently decided that hospice was his best option for care at this time.

When it is time for hospice?

Hospice care is appropriate for individuals facing a life-limiting illness and a prognosis of six months or less, if the disease follows its normal course.  Hospice services are available for patients of any age when it has been determined that curative treatment is no longer an option and the objective becomes an issue of pain and symptom management and quality-of-life.  Each situation is unique, but many patients receive hospice care in the comfort and familiar surroundings of their own homes or wherever they reside.

Upon admission to hospice, an interdisciplinary team of professionals all work together with the patient and the family to customize the patient’s plan of care.  The plan of care addresses all aspects of the patient’s terminal illness, from the patient and family’s physical, emotional and spiritual care to the provision of medications, medical equipment/supplies, and bereavement support.

To learn more about hospice, visit Merrimack Valley Hospice on this web site.

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What is hospice care?

Published January 28, 2013

In our recent newspaper articles, Al, a typical patient with congestive heart failure, has decided he no longer wants to pursue active treatment and has chosen to begin receiving care from Merrimack Valley Hospice.     

When a patient decides that curative treatment is no longer appropriate or effective, hospice care becomes the compassionate and dignified option.  Whenever possible, the patient receives care in his or her own home by a team of expertly trained hospice professionals.  All services are designed to meet the physical, emotional and social needs of the patient and the equally important needs of the family.  The hospice team consists of: 

  • Medical directors, board certified in hospice and palliative care, who follows each patients care and is available for consultation and home visits
  • Registered nurses who act as the patients care manager and provide expert pain and symptom control
  • Social workers who provide emotional support and counseling to the patient and family
  • Home health aides who provide personal care and other assistance such as light housekeeping and meal preparation.

 

In addition, Merrimack Valley Hospice can provide a variety of alternative therapies such as massage, Reiki, and the expressive therapies of music and art.  Bereavement and Volunteers services are available to families and caregivers.

Although every individual is different, experience has shown that early referrals to hospice are most beneficial to the patient both physically and emotionally.  Ultimately, the decision to choose hospice belongs to the patient.   For more information on all hospice has to offer, visit Merrimack Valley Hospice on this web site.

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Hire a Homemaker

Published January 16, 2013

Many people are affected by the cold and snowy winter months.  Getting outside, even for a brief errand, can be both difficult and dangerous.  The elderly are especially at risk for broken bones from falls on ice, breathing problems caused by cold air, hypothermia and frost bite.  Many elders hold less body heat due to a slower metabolism and reduced physical activity so they feel the cold more severely.  And, as people age, the ability to feel changes in temperature decreases, making it important for elders to monitor the house temperature and to dress in layers.

For the elderly, the winter months can also be long and lonely.  For many, hiring a home maker for even a few hours a day two or three times a week can help to make the winter months more enjoyable.   A homemaker can do the grocery shopping and prepare some nutritious meals, accompany an elder to trips to the doctor, dentist or hairdresser, provide light housekeeping, even walk the dog.  And the interaction with another person can be stimulating and entertaining.

If you are interested in hiring a homemaker, click here for more information on all the services available from HomeCare, Inc. and how you can get started.

You can contact our referral department either on-line or by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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The holidays are a time for – safety

Published December 13, 2012

The holidays are a great time to celebrate, spend time with loved ones, reflect and be thankful.  However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cosc.gov) each year approximately 12,800 people are treated in the ER for injuries related to holiday festivities, including falls and electrical shocks.  This year, make it a goal to be aware of safety issues and take precautions.  Here are 10 holiday safety tips for a safe holiday season.

  • Make sure artificial trees are labeled “fire resistant.”  For live trees, make sure they are kept fresh.  When purchasing the tree, the bottom should be sticky with resin and it should not loose many needles.   
  • Remember to keep a live tree watered.  Keep all trees away from fireplaces, vents and radiators.
  • Use flame-resistant decorations.
  • Inspect electric lights and decorations for damage or wear.  Cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires and loose connections may pose a fire or shock hazard.
  • Connect no more than three standard-size sets of lights together.
  • Make sure extension cords are used properly.  Throw away any cords that are frayed or have wires exposed.
  • To avoid trips and falls, make sure all cords and wires are away from foot traffic.
  • Do not leave lights on when unattended.  Turn off all lights before going to bed or going out for the evening.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work.  Be sure to install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home – especially near sleep areas.
  • Use the holidays as a time to discuss and implement a fire escape plan with your family.  Identify at least two exits from every room in the house.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

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Daniel’s Low Carbohydrate Apple Pie Recipe

Published November 21, 2012

Apple Pie with cinnamon kept low in carbohydrates by using Splenda

Ingredients

2 crust pies – ready to bake 10”

7 cups peeled apples slices (baking apples)

1 cup Splenda no calorie Sweetener, granulated

3 Tbsp cornstarch

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Set 1 pie crust into pie plate.

2.  Place apples in a large bowl.  Combine in a small bowl Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.  Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat.  Spoon apple mixture into pie crust.

3.  Place second crust over filling.  Seal edges, trim and flute.  Make small openings in crust to release steam.  Bake until top crust is golden, approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Additional information

Using Splenda will cut down the carbohydrates in this recipe without sacrificing taste.

Nutrition Facts

Makes 12 servings

Amount per serving

Calories 246.8

Total Carbs 30.7 g

Dietary fiber .09 g

Sugars 6.5 g

Total fat 13.4 g

Saturated fat 10.7 g

Potassium 58.6 mg

Protein 1.5 g

Sodium 235.1 mg

Dietary exchanges

2 ½  fat, ½ fruit, 1 ¼ other carbohydrate

Recipe courtesy D Life

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Counting Carbohydrates for Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Published November 16, 2012

If you have been reading our newspaper series “Journeys in Home Care” you have learned about the importance of meal planning and carbohydrate counting to manage your diabetes.  So what is carbohydrate counting?

Carbohydrates from the food you eat are broken down by the body into sugar to use for energy.  If you eat more carbohydrates than your body can use, your blood sugar can climb to an unhealthy level.  Keeping track of how many carbohydrates you eat – counting carbohydrates – and checking your blood sugar levels before and after meals will help you learn just how many you should eat throughout the day.

Counting carbohydrates doesn’t have to be difficult.  Use a carbohydrate counter to add up all the carbohydrates in the food you will be eating at a meal. Carbohydrate counters are available at your local pharmacy or book store.  You can also look at the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods.  That label will tell you total carbohydrates along with other important information such as total calories and serving size.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to help you with meal planning and carbohydrate counting.  They can review with you how many grams of carbohydrates per meal or snack you should eat.

Counting carbohydrates is a great meal planning method for people with diabetes. The more accurate you are at counting, the better you can be at managing your diabetes.

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Healthy eating with diabetes

Published November 13, 2012

Eating well with diabetes simply means following a nutritious meal plan that will help you control your blood sugar. Rather than thinking of it as restrictive, a diabetes diet is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and cholesterol, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, an eating plan for someone with diabetes is healthy for everyone. Your meal plan should not be a strict menu but will teach you how to make good decisions about the foods you should eat every day. Your doctor may suggest you see a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to guide you on changes to your diet that will help to control your blood sugar, lipids and weight. Your meal plan should include:

• Healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils and low fat dairy products

• Fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, as well as beans, peas and lentils

• Heart-healthy fish can be a good alternative to high-fat meats. For example, cod, tuna and halibut have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than meat or poultry. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which promote heart health. Avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury such as swordfish

• ‘Good’ fats such as avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives and canola, olive and peanut oil can help lower your cholesterol. Eat them sparingly, however, as all fats are high in calories
Be careful with alcohol. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially on an empty stomach, can lower your blood sugar level dangerously.

Next week: Counting carbohydrates

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The three main types of diabetes

Published October 26, 2012

In this blog we continue our discussion about diabetes with detail about the three major types.

Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent diabetes) is an auto immune disease in which certain proteins called antibodies destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  This type of diabetes accounts for 5 to10% of all people with the disease.  It can appear at any age but it is more common in children and young adults.  People with type 1 diabetes require multiple daily insulin injections.  Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Upset stomach and persistent nausea
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • More frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Unexplained weight loss

Type 2 diabetes (previously known as non-insulin dependent diabetes) is by far the most common form affecting 90-95% of all people with the disease.   It is also the type that may be controlled with diet and exercise.  However, people may also require diabetes medication.  Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to type 1 and include:

  • Increase thirst
  • More frequent urination
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Slow healing sores or abrasions
  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Unexplained weight loss

Gestational Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels that are recognized during pregnancy.  Almost all women have some degree of glucose intolerance as a result of hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy.   Unlike the other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes has no symptoms and is usually detected with a screening test.

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All About Diabetes

Published October 18, 2012

If you have begun following our column “Journeys in Home Care” in your local newspaper, you recently read about Daniel, a 77 year old retired teacher with diabetes and hypertension who was recently discharged from the hospital after becoming very ill due to a sharp rise in his blood sugar.

It seems almost everyone knows someone with diabetes.  An estimated 23.6 million people in the United States or 7.8% of the population have diabetes which is a life-long condition.   Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, non-healing wounds and even lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

So, what exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy.  Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies.  When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar” or “sugar diabetes.”

There are 3 main types of diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

If you or someone you know is having difficulty managing the symptoms of diabetes, call your doctor or health care professional.  To determine if you qualify for home health care services, contact our referral department at 800-333-4799 or refer on-line at:

https://www.secureform.homehealthfoundation.org/pfform/

Check back to this blog next week for more information about the types of diabetes and complications from the disease.

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Make your visits home worthwhile

Published September 4, 2012

With the end of summer, many of us must return to responsibilities we may have had a break from. As activities and commitments resume, we often find ourselves struggling to fit too many family and work responsibilities into a busy week.

If you are caring for aging parents, additional commitments may include trips to the grocery store, visits to the pharmacy, laundry and housecleaning … all in addition to your own household responsibilities.  Instead, wouldn’t it be nice to have time to visit with your parents, to have a few extra minutes to share the day’s events, the latest news of your family, or enjoy a meal together?  But how do you find the time to help your parents remain comfortable and safe in their own home without taking away from the precious time you need for your work, home and family?

A reputable home care agency, such as HomeCare, Inc., can provide a range of personal care and supportive services to help individuals of any age stay safe and comfortable at home. Medication reminders, meal preparation, errands, light housekeeping and more can be arranged on a set schedule or during times when your other commitments make it impossible for you to do yourself.

Knowing that a parent is able to shower, dress and have a wonderful start to the  day, that cupboards are filled with nutritious options, the sheets have been changed and the laundry is done, can bring peace of mind and a bit more time for yourself.  Just think of all the time you’ll have to visit, with more meaningful moments than the din of the vacuum cleaner or leaving to run errands.  You’ll find the precious time you spend together, well worth the visit.

All employees of HomeCare, Inc. who provide personal care are fully licensed and/or certified and have had a completed background check, so you can be sure that your loved one is in good hands.

For more information about setting up a custom “plan of care” for a parent or aging loved one, please call 1-800-933-5593.  You can also easily arrange for care by visiting the “Arrange for Care” section of this website.

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“Our only regret is that we did not call hospice sooner.”

Published August 22, 2012

This is the comment the staff of Merrimack Valley Hospice hear most often from the families of our patients.  If you, or your loved one, are faced with a life-limiting illness, find out now how hospice care can help.

Hospice is designed to improve quality of life by providing comfort care, including expert medical care, comprehensive pain and symptom management and emotional and spiritual support.  Early referral to hospice allows a relationship to develop between the patient, family and hospice team.  The sooner a patient is referred, the more hospice can do to help. Merrimack Valley Hospice can provide:

  • Physicians who follow each patient’s care closely and are available for consultation and home visits
  • Registered nurses who make regular home visits to provide pain and symptom management
  • Social workers who provide emotional support and counseling for the patient and the entire family
  • Chaplains who provide non-denominational spiritual support to the patient and family and can act as liaisons with the patient’s religious community
  • Home health aides who provide personal care and assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing
  • Volunteers who can provide a variety of important services for the patient and family including companionship and respite

 

Merrimack Valley Hospice can also provide a variety of alternative therapies such as massage, Reiki and the expressive therapies of art and music.

Hospice care can be provided in the patient’s home, apartment, nursing home, assisted living community, or in the Merrimack Valley Hospice House located in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

You have a choice in hospice providers.  Choose the best.  Merrimack Valley Hospice is the leader in providing end-of-life care to patients in the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire including the seacoast.  For more detailed information, visit Merrimack Valley Hospice on this website. To make a referral, visit the Arrange for Care section of this website.  You can even make a secure referral online.

To listen to our radio commercial, click on the icon here.

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Questions to ask when choosing a home care agency

Published August 3, 2012

Recently the Eagle Tribune published a list of important questions to ask before choosing a private-pay home care agency.  HomeCare, Inc., one of the largest, not-for-profit home care agencies in the region, is pleased to answer those questions to demonstrate how remarkably we measure up.  Remember, you have a choice in home care agencies… so choose the best.

 

1.  How long has the agency provided home services?

HomeCare, Inc. is an affiliate agency of Home Health VNA and Merrimack Valley Hospice.  The agency was founded in 1895 and has been providing services in patient homes for 117 years.   Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. form a full continuum of home health and hospice care in 90 cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

 

2.  How does the agency recruit, screen and train its workers?

All aides are recruited through usual media advertising.  Potential employees undergo an extensive screening process including one or more interviews, both written and skills testing, verification of training and certification, a criminal background check and Department of Public Health registry check.  All potential employees must also have a minimum of 2 references. Upon hire, all new aides complete a one week orientation (with preceptor oversight) before working independently in the home.

 

3.  Is the agency bonded?  Does it have dishonesty or malpractice insurance?

HomeCare, Inc. is fully insured with general and professional liability insurance.  We also carry fiduciary liability insurance.

 

4.  Will the agency provide references from people who have used the services?

HomeCare, Inc. has an extensive list of references from clients and family members who have relied on our services for many years.   In addition, professional references include those from Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, local councils on aging, hospitals, nursing homes, churches and other elder service agencies in our service area.

 

5.  Does the agency assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care that patients receive in their homes?

All home care aides are supervised by nurses who oversee the care plan of each client.  Aides are supervised weekly their first month of employment, monthly during the first quarter of employment and quarterly or as needed thereafter.  Nurse supervisors meet the aide in the home of the client and provide direct observation of all services provided to ensure the highest quality care delivered skillfully and with the utmost respect.  Unlike other agencies, HomeCare, Inc. has on-call services 24/7 for patient or family concerns.  All concerns from clients or families receive prompt and thorough attention and investigation.

 

6.   If you are dissatisfied with the caregiver, will the agency send someone else?  If so, how soon?

With 220 home health aides, HomeCare, Inc. makes every attempt to match clients with aides they think will be compatible.  Occasionally the match does not turn out as perfectly as we hoped.  In that case we immediately assign another aide.  Depending on the needs of the client, the new aide could be at the home within an hour, or for the next scheduled appointment.

 

7.  Can the agency provide a written plan of care that explains the service to be performed, days it will provide care and fees to be charged?  Are there extra charges for holidays, travel or supervision?

A written plan of care is developed by a HomeCare, Inc. registered nurse and presented to the client or family for approval.  The plan of care includes all services to be performed, the daily schedule and all fees to be charged.  There are no extra charges for supervision but there may be additional charges for 6 of the major holidays such as Christmas and New Years and for client related errands and transportation.  For example, we would charge usual and customary mileage for an aide to go from the client’s home to the grocery store and back.  All fees are explained and agreed upon in advance.

 

8.  What happens if the aide calls in sick?

Sickness happens in any profession, but with a large pool of aides, when one or more call out because of sickness we have others available as back up.  Our scheduling supervisors have years of experience and ensure that every client receives the services they have scheduled on time.   

 

9.  Will the agency always send the same aide?

The scheduling supervisors always strive for consistency and usually send the same aide to the client.  In this way the aides become familiar with the clients personality, routine, and ability. Sometimes, due to schedule changes for sickness or vacations, or because of the frequency of services, it is necessary to send more than one aide to provide scheduled services to the client. 

 

10.  Is the agency accredited by the Home Care Alliance?

HomeCare, Inc. is accredited by the Joint Commission. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting rigorous performance standards.  Overall, very few agencies seek this level of inspection.  No other private duty home care agency in this region is Joint Commission certified.

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Home Health Aides Support Recovery at Home

Published July 9, 2012

A hospitalization, whether planned or unplanned, can be a source of great stress and worry for both the patient, and the family who may be needed to help with care giving when the patient is discharged.  Using the services of a home health aide can often reduce the stress and help to support the patient’s recovery.  

After a stay in the hospital, some patients are discharged to a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home for therapy before returning home.  But many patients can now recuperate in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of their own home with the support of a home health aide.  Home health aides of today have been trained to successfully support a patient’s recovery by:

  • Cueing, motivating and supporting patients as they transition to independence
  • Encouraging medication compliance by providing medication reminders, taking the patient to the pharmacy or picking up prescriptions
  • Providing supervision and an extra measure of confidence as the patient resumes more activity and exercise
  • Ensuring that the home is a good recovery environment by performing housekeeping tasks such as laundry, meal preparation and light housekeeping
  • Assisting the patient with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and transferring from bed to chair
  • Providing an assessment of the home environment for hazards that might cause a fall such as scatter rugs, wires or floor clutter
  • Transporting and accompanying  the patient to the doctor, outpatient rehabilitation facility or other outside activities such as the hairdresser or barber
  • Supporting the patient’s family by providing peace of mind when family members must work, live at a distance or have childcare or other responsibilities that make it difficult to assist with care giving

The home health aides of HomeCare, Inc. have been specially trained to assist patients newly discharged from the hospital.  They can even visit the patient while still in the hospital to allow for a smooth and comfortable transition home.  To refer a patient, visit the “Arrange for Care” section of this website and fill out the secure on-line referral form.  We will be happy to follow up and provide all the details needed for a safe recuperation from the hospital.

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Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Published June 25, 2012

Today, there exists much confusion about the similarities and differences between palliative care and hospice, or end-of-life care.  Unlike hospice, palliative care can be initiated at any point during a patient’s illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.  Research demonstrates that palliative care improves symptom distress, quality of life, patient and family well being, and in some cases, survival rates.  Research also shows that palliative care can significantly reduce costs.  A 2008 research study published by the American Medical Association found that palliative care consultations in the hospital setting seems to “fundamentally shift” the course of care off the usual pathway and, in doing so, significantly reduces costs while improving quality of care.

As a formally recognized medical subspecialty, palliative medicine practitioners work in collaboration with other specialists to care for patients with serious or advanced illness.   They have expertise in pain and symptom management and the communication skills necessary to facilitate discussions with patients and families about treatment options and preferences as well as goals of care.

The palliative care program of Merrimack Valley Hospice, established in 2011, consists of:

  • Physicians board certified in hospice and palliative care
  • Nurse practitioners with extensive experience in pain and symptom management
  • Social workers who are knowledgeable about the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that often accompany a serious or life-threatening illness

Our palliative care physicians and nurse practitioners act as consultants providing advice, treatment options as well as aggressive pain and symptom management.  Together, the entire team works in collaboration with the patient’s physicians to ensure optimum care coordination.  Palliative care services are available to patients at home, in long-term care and assisted living facilities and in the hospital.  Patients can also receive palliative care while receiving skilled nursing and rehabilitation from Home Health VNA. 

To make a referral, contact our Referral Department at 1-800-333-4799 or refer on-line in the Arrange for Care section of this web site.

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MYOMO: New technology for stroke rehabilitation

Published June 5, 2012

In the United States more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year.   Approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive and require rehabilitation. The goals of rehabilitation are to help stroke patients become as independent as possible and to attain the best possible quality of life.
 
Even though rehabilitation does not “cure” the effects of stroke in that it does not reverse brain damage, rehabilitation can substantially help people achieve the best possible long-term outcome.  The importance rehabilitation after stroke cannot be overemphasized. Studies have shown that rehabilitation is responsible for most of the recovery experienced by patients after a stroke, and that without it, little or no improvement can be accomplished. Stroke rehabilitation provides a targeted and organized plan to re-learn functions lost in the shortest period of time possible.
 
Rehabilitation helps stroke survivors relearn skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged. There is a strong consensus among rehabilitation experts that the most important element in any rehabilitation program is carefully directed, well-focused, repetitive practice — the same kind of practice used by all people when they learn a new skill, such as playing the piano or pitching a baseball.
 
New technology has been developed to aid in rehabilitation of patients post stroke. The use of Myomo (short for My Own Motion) Mobility Systems, in addition to traditional physical and occupational therapy, can be an effective tool for stroke rehabilitation.  A wide variety of research studies show strong evidence that arm rehabilitation is most beneficial when an intense, task orientated therapy program is added to traditional therapy.
 
Myomo Mobility System is a neuro-robotic arm brace that fits like a sleeve on a person’s arm. The arm brace has sensors that sit on the skin’s surface and detect even a very faint muscle signal.  When a person with a weak or partially paralyzed arm tries to move their arm and a muscle signal fires, the robotics in the Myomo Mobility System engage to assist in completing the desired movement.  In helping achieve desired movement, the devise can be worn as a functional aid, used during exercise to maintain gains or applied as a rehabilitation devise that re-teaches arm movement to the brain.  It is intended to increase arm movement affected by a stroke or other brain injury. Along with regular, routine physical and occupational therapy at home, the Myomo Mobility System can help a stroke survivor begin using their arms for routine, daily tasks that were not possible before, helping them to return to independence.  Even those who have had a stroke many years ago can get some arm movements restored.
 
Is MYOMO right for you?  Patients must meet criteria for home rehabilitation therapy and have an order from their doctor. For more information, to find out if you qualify for MYOMO, or to make a referral, click on the Arrange for Care button on the home page or call 978-552-4444.

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We believe in your right to choose

Published May 17, 2012

Did you know that federal law clearly states that patients being discharged from the hospital have the right to choose their home health care provider?  Just as the hospital cannot select the doctor you should go to for your health care, or the pharmacy where you should fill your prescription, neither can they dictate the home health care agency you should choose.

 
Not all home health care agencies are the same, so it is important that you know the facts.  Home Health VNA is your local, not-for-profit agency providing exceptional nursing, rehabilitation and support services since 1895.  Over the years we have grown and now provide care in 90 cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.   Our home health care professionals are renowned for their advanced medical expertise and commitment to patients and families.  And, our broad array of specialty programs is designed to treat even the most complex conditions such as stroke, heart and lung disease and joint replacement.  Most importantly we take great pride in our reputation of providing extraordinary care.  In fact, Home Health VNA was honored to again be named among the Home Care Elite – one of the top agencies in the country for quality care and patient satisfaction.  Just last week two of our nurses were honored in the Boston Globe’s Salute to nurses as the best in the commonwealth.  We believe that distinction reflects the care provided by all our 278 nurses!

 
We believe in a patient’s right to choose – choose the best – Home Health VNA.

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