Topic: Calendar

Fight the flu

Colder weather comes with boots, sweaters, scarves and sniffles as cold and flu season arrives.

During this time of year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is reminding members of the community of the importance of getting an annual flu shot.

Influenza is a serious lung disease caused by a virus, which spreads from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache and sore throat.

Although many are only sick for a few days, thousands die each year. The virus can make anyone ill – most deaths are in people over age 50 and it is also particularly dangerous for young children. Serious complications, such as pneumonia can lead to hospitalization.

“The flu is a very real health risk. The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your children and the people around you – particularly those with compromised immune systems – is to get your flu shot,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotion Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “There are a lot of myths that exist surrounding the flu shot, but the reality is that it is a safe, effective way to reduce your risk of getting the flu and to help you recover more quickly if you do get sick.”

Everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu shot, particularly those with a chronic condition, caregivers of those at high-risk, students and those in institutional settings, residents of long-term care facilities and pregnant women.

Other important tips for flu prevention include regular hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough by coughing into your elbow, disinfecting surfaces in your home and workspace, and eating well along with drinking enough water.

The vaccine will prevent most strains of the flu and though it isn’t 100% effective as the virus changes frequently, it will decrease the severity of the illness if you do get the flu. The vaccine is developed yearly based on the strains expected to be most prevalent and it takes one to two weeks to take effect, but will protect you for several months.

There are vaccines specifically for those over age 65 designed to create a stronger immune response, so ask your doctor for more information.

The vaccine cannot cause the flu, but it will not prevent other illnesses you may contract around the time of receiving the vaccine, and it can cause some side effects – including temporary fever or aches – though most people have no reaction at all.

VNACHCH will host public flu clinics the following dates, times and locations:

Tuesday, Oct. 8
Woodbridge Center
4 Meetinghoue Lane Woodbridge
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 10
Miller Senior Center
2901 Dixwell Ave. Hamden
9 to noon

Friday, Oct. 11
St. George Church (in the Church Hall)
33 Whitfield St. Guilford
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 15
Joyce Budrow Senior Center
189 Pool Rd. North Haven
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 17
Madison Senior Center (in Library)
29 Bradley Rd. Madison
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Managing Pain

How well do you understand Palliative Care?

September is Pain Management Month, a good time to consider how important pain management is in the lives of those living with a chronic illness.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer a palliative care program focused on quality of life that is beneficial for anyone suffering from side effects of curative treatments or simply those in need of pain or symptom management.

Common misconceptions about palliative care include that a person must be in the hospital to receive it or that pain and suffering is just part of a chronic illness.

Palliative care is aimed at controlling symptoms so patients are more comfortable and able to stay out of the hospital. It is helpful to those struggling to cope as an illness progresses and those suffering from a variety of causes of discomfort and pain.

Shortness of breath, the inability to move around freely, loss of appetite and nausea, confusion about one’s treatment plan or worry about the future, and a loss of interest in hobbies that comes with depression or frustration resulting from an illness are all things causes of discomfort and pain that palliative care can help improve.

Palliative care teams include registered nurses, home health aides, spiritual counselors, social workers and rehabilitation therapists.

Pain does not have to be accepted as part of chronic illness, nor is it always part of dying once an illness progresses. There are many ways pain can be managed. In addition to providing symptom control medically, our program can help lower stress on patients and families, which aids the process of getting pain under control.

Many confuse palliative care with hospice care, and believe that they must be dying or end their curative treatment to receive a palliative care referral.

Palliative care can be engaged at any point during an illness and is not the same as hospice care. Unlike with hospice services, patients receiving palliative care can continue curative treatments and do not need to be considered terminally ill.

Engaging palliative care does not mean you will die sooner, it simply means you will continue to live with the support of trained professionals who can help ensure you have the best quality of life possible.

Starting the Hospice conversation

No one is ever fully prepared to have a conversation about death. It’s sad and difficult for loved ones of a person reaching the end-of-life as well as for that person’s physician who has been focused on helping that person recover or improve.

No one wants to hear, “There is nothing more that can be done,” and with hospice as an option that statement is never true. A cure might not be possible, but it’s important each individual faced with that reality know that there is still more life ahead.

The best thing for the people we love is for them to have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible – and when a cure is no longer possible, hospice is available to offer care and support.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer symptom management while also supporting the social and spiritual needs of people helping them to live their best possible lives in the time remaining.

The best way to broach the topic of hospice with a loved one is to put all the cards on the table and have an honest discussion about the person’s prognosis and the complications of their current condition, such as frequent ER visits and hospital stays, side effects of their illness or treatment such as infections, pain and shortness of breath, and the overall stress and fear they are feeling.

It’s important for a person considering hospice care to know what their options are and that they will not be alone. Focus on the following points:

  • There is not a cure for your condition, so let’s focus on the things we can control and that includes
    making sure you make the most of the time you have left
  • The hospice team will help you to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible for as
    long as possible so you can have the best possible quality of life
  • Because of hospice, you’ll have better control of your symptoms and be able to stay at home with us
  • Your doctor is still part of the team and we can reach out if we need him/her
  • You aren’t going to live as long as we all want, but we’ll be able to enjoy the time we have with you

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is happy to sit down with families and help them have this conversation or have it with their loved ones for them. No one should walk the end of life journey along, and we are proud to be here to support patients and their loved ones every step of the way.

For more information call 866.474.5230 or visit our Hospice page.

Keep Moving Forward

 

Tips for those living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers

 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be frightening, but understanding what you can do to be proactive with your health will make a big difference.

April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a good time to acknowledge that Parkinson’s impacts each person differently and cases of progression vary, but no matter your situation, there are important lifestyle choices that can help you manage symptoms and help you attain maximum quality of life.

“We hear a lot of patients say, ‘I don’t need therapy yet’, or ‘I’m not ready for that class yet’, but the reality is you shouldn’t wait to get worse to focus on getting better. Although there is no cure, improvement is possible and you can delay the progression,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “We can be here from the start to help you keep moving so you can achieve a high degree of wellness throughout the stages of Parkinson’s disease.”

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has a proven track record of success treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. The non-profit agency’s homecare program offers research-based exercise developed specifically for those with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. It is effective for all stages, from early onset to later stages.

The agency also offers twice weekly exercise classes with a nominal $6 fee to attend and a free weekly dance class tailored to Parkinson’s patients. Fall risk assessments are also available. Balance issues caused by Parkinson’s puts patients at an increased risk for falls, so an assessment can be a critical component of the effort to keep you safe at home. Free support groups for those living with the disease and their caregivers are held monthly and VNACHCH staff members are always available to offer suggestions to those looking to live their best life despite their diagnosis.

To read more about the VNACHCH Parkinson’s programs, click here.

Keep moving

Regular exercise and stretching is important to help those living with Parkinson’s increase flexibility, attain better balance, improve coordination and add muscle strength. Tai Chi, walking, dancing and stretching are all important ways movement can be incorporated into one’s daily routine. Group classes can provide support and guidance along with a team mentality which helps to lessen anxiety and depression.

Eat, sleep and be well

Proper sleep and nutrition are critical to achieving the best level of wellness for anyone. Those with Parkinson’s may struggle to get the most restful sleep, but sticking to a bedtime schedule and an exercise routine can help. Keep daytime naps brief, avoid caffeine, get plenty of natural light during the day and keep screens out of the bedroom and pets off your bed. The most comfortable environment will lead to the most restful sleep.

Make sure you plan meals around incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into our diet while limiting fats, sugar, sodium and alcohol. Stay hydrated and get plenty of calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D to ward off bone density loss and other Parkinson’s symptoms.

Look for support, care for your caregivers

Attending a support group can help those with a Parkinson’s disease to feel camaraderie rather than loneliness that often comes with any medical diagnosis. It’s also important to have strong caregivers in your corner.

That being said, caregivers can only provide the support you need if they also make sure to care for themselves. Encourage your loved ones to attend a caregiver support group and take occasional time for themselves.

Help to educate them about your disease and be open about your frustrations coping with symptoms, your limitations that mean you will require help and what things you’d like to try doing on your own. Have as many open and honest communications as possible about your wishes while you are in early stages of Parkinson’s, and provide clear direction about how you want to be treated and have your affairs handled after the onset of later stages.

Your support team should also include therapists who can help manage symptoms and even improve your condition.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice clinicians certified in LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD deliver physical, occupational and speech therapy in intense and complex standardized treatment sessions with repetitions of core movements used in daily living. Clinicians conduct 16 sessions per month with patients as part of this research-based treatment that leads to documented gains in motor functioning, trunk rotation, balance and quality of life, as well as long term improvements in speech and voice quality.

LIFETIME Care at Home earns Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award

LIFETIME Care at Home, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, is once again a recipient of the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award.

This award – the most prestigious award in the home care industry – is given annually only to providers who achieved top client and caregiver satisfaction scores in Home Care Pulse rankings and those who earned both the Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice distinctions.

Home Care Pulse is the home care industry’s leading firm in satisfaction research and quality assurance.

A minimum of 10 percent of a provider’s client base must be interviewed monthly and providers must rank in the 50th percentile in two or more caregiver satisfaction categories in the region to earn the Provider and Employer of Choice distinctions.

In addition to those honors, Leader in Excellence award winners must score in the 90th percentile in at least 10 out of 14 combined client and caregiver satisfaction categories. LIFETIME Care at Home scored in the 90th percentile in 13 out of 14 categories.

This data is collected by monthly telephone surveys to rate performance of providers as compared to others in each region and on a national level. Providers must also complete a minimum of two client and two caregiver satisfaction interviews per month during the previous year.

“The title of Leader in Excellence is only give to the select providers who have set a high standard of care and who have achieved top scores,” Home Care Pulse CEO Erik Madsen wrote in a letter notifying LIFETIME Care at Home of its honor. “Your agency has ranked among these few providers, and has proved itself to be among the best in the nation.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is a private in-home, nonmedical care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through daily challenges of living more confidently. It is one of only six providers in the state of Connecticut to earn the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award and one of only two such providers outside of Fairfield county.

It is among only 180 providers in the nation to be given the Leader in Excellence Award, and among 794 Providers of Choice and 508 Employers of Choice nationwide.

“We are honored to be recognized for the second consecutive year as a Leader in Excellence Award winner by Home Care Pulse and the Best of Home Care awards,” said LIFETIME Care at Home Executive Director Guy Tommasi. “We appreciate the trust our clients and caregivers place in us each day and we will continue our efforts to provide the most exceptional service clients can hope for when they allow our staff to come into their home.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is an important part of the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice continuum of care, integrated as part of a larger team to help address home care needs quicker and more completely than other alternatives.

LIFETIME Care at Home staff provide insight into care solutions and create more stable living situations for the clients the agency serves.

To learn more, visit lifetimecareathome.com.

VNACHCH releases annual report

This year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice sought to paint a true picture of the value of its services with the agency’s annual report.

In partnership with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme, the home healthcare agency depicted patient and staff testimonials through works of art. Inspired by the quote, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art,” VNACHCH asked a few of its clients, caregivers and staff members to select artwork from the museum collection that spoke to them about living well – the very thing VNACHCH endeavors to make possible for all individuals it serves.

Ann Freeman, whose husband, Michael, was a VNACHCH Hospice patient in the last year, chose a painting of the Maine coastline that spoke to her about the years she and her husband spent visiting Maine and other oceanside locations together.

VNACHCH nurse Patty Tsou chose a painting that reminded her of Ireland and evoked the feeling of a “hopeful start to a new day” for her, stirring in her a feeling of connection to her mother, who also was a nurse.

Images of those who provided testimonials posing among the museum’s artwork fill the pages of the annual report, which also tells the story of an agency holding steady in winds of fiscal struggle prompted by state budget cuts and a changing healthcare landscape. The report outlines the agency goals for the future, it’s focus on excellence in patient care, and the many ways donor support is needed and appreciated.

“We are proud of our continued commitment to our mission to help patients live their best lives, and would like to express sincere gratitude to the Florence Griswold Museum and its staff for their willingness to share the beauty of art with us so we can share the beauty of our own stories with the community,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay.

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR2018_WEB.

To learn more about ways to give to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, click here. 

Upcoming Program helps people Dodge Diabetes

GUILFORD – Prevention is a critical piece of the puzzle of health and wellness.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, a local nonprofit devoted to helping its home healthcare patients and all members of the 35 communities it serves to achieve their best quality of life, believes in the importance of prevention and healthcare education.

That is why it will once again host its yearlong program, Dodge Diabetes, beginning Thursday, Sept. 27.

One in three American adults has prediabetes. Those with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as many with prediabetes do within five years if they do not lose weight or increase their physical activity level. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.

People are most likely to have prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they are 45 years of age or older, are overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are physically active fewer than three times per week or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

The best, controllable way to prevent diabetes is to lose weight through exercise and smart eating habits. Dodge Diabetes focuses on education in these areas to help individuals cut their risk of developing diabetes in half. Participants will learn how to make healthy food choices, add physical activity into their day, cope with stress, handle obstacles and overcome barriers to stay on track or get back on track when needed, track progress, stay motivated and set goals.

The program is based on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevent T2, a successful, evidence-based lifestyle change program. Prevent T2 is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

A total of 26 classes will be held throughout the next year on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Wellness Center of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Guilford office. For the first four months, the class meets every Thursday, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.

“We are thrilled to be offering for the second year a life-changing, year-long Diabetes prevention program,” said Kathleen Eagle, RN, Health Promotion Supervisor at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “It can be difficult to incorporate changes into your lifestyle, but we are here to provide the tools people need to avoid this potentially devastating chronic illness. This supportive environment will help participants to see they are not alone in their quest to achieve the best possible quality of life. We look forward to providing this forum for participants to learn from one another and from our expert staff.”

The first class of Dodge Diabetes will meet at VNA Community Healthcare, 753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m..; cost is $195 for the full 12 month program. Contact Kathleen for details: 866.474.5230 or keagle@vna-commh.org.

Comfort in Motion bereavement support group begins

 

NORTH BRANFORD – Great comfort can be found in simply taking a walk with a friend.

That is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will once again hold its Comfort in Motion bereavement support group. The upcoming series will take place for eight weeks beginning Thursday, Sept. 27 and ending Thursday, Nov. 15. Sessions are held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

This unique bereavement support group – the only one of its kind in the state – is facilitated by a trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Bereavement volunteer.

Those grieving the loss of a loved one are invited to gather with others to walk and talk in a supportive setting while getting some exercise. Meet at the main entrance of Evergreen Woods, 88 Notch Hill Rd., North Branford.

Casual socializing takes place after the walk in the “Club Room” at Evergreen Woods.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Family Caregiver Support Network Coordinator Jo Ann Begley believes in the impact she has seen this group have on those who have lost someone close to them.

“There is this synergy you can just see among these people who didn’t know each other at first,” she said. “It’s beautiful to watch them support each other.”

To learn more call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helpline at 1.866.474.5230.