When you retire, you finally have all the time in the world to get out and do the things you love instead of sitting at a desk all day.

But did you know jumping back into your favorite hobbies or finding a new adventure to try can power your brain to ward off memory loss and dementia? When seniors keep their minds and bodies active, they actually create new neural pathways in the brain to help keep it agile for years to come.

Here are a few fun-filled activities with memory-boosting benefits:

  1. Move to the music. If you ever wanted to learn to play an instrument, now is the perfect time! A study by the University of Montreal found music lessons can improve brain function and memory as well as make players more alert. If you’re more of the listening type, turn on an operatic aria or catch your favorite band live—music is a powerful stimulus that engages memory even in dementia patients.
  2. Lace up your sneakers. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, especially if it’s done outside, offers numerous health advantages, including reduced stress and improved cognitive function. When you take a walk, meet a friend for a game of tennis or join a senior softball team, that physical activity gives your brain a shot of oxygen by increasing your heart rate and blood flow.
  3. Give to others. Volunteering is an excellent way to use those skills you may have put on hold since retiring. For instance, cleaning cages and walking dogs at an animal shelter puts different muscles to work and speeds up your reaction time while serving on their board of directors stimulates your reasoning, problem-solving and organizational abilities. Plus, the socialization that comes with activities like volunteering is critical—researchers found those seniors who maintain their social networks delay or prevent cognitive impairment.
  4. Try something new. Whether you join a computer class, take dance lessons or try yoga for the first time, leaving your comfort zone improves your memory in the long term. Said one researcher from the University of Texas at Dallas, “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.”
  5. Put your mind to work. Even if mobility issues leave you confined to your home, you can rouse your memory in a variety of ways. Play thinking games, like chess, Scrabble or Risk, against an opponent. Balance your reading lists with fiction books that encourage you to use your imagination and non-fiction books that require deep concentration. If you’re a smartphone addict, choose games and apps like Words With Friends that have both a social and competitive component.
  6. Train your brain. Forcing your brain to do activities it usually doesn’t is similar to improving your muscle tone with new exercises. Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, closing your eyes while getting dressed and even shaking up your morning schedule alters the brain’s structure, causing it to adapt and respond in new ways to different experiences.

One of the biggest risk factors for memory loss and dementia is a sedentary lifestyle. By switching your recliner for a bike and your TV for a book, you can help prevent the cognitive decline that threatens the independence of so many seniors in their golden years. For additional brain-boosting games, apps and ideas, visit the AARP Staying Sharp website.

Lunes, 23 Agosto 2021 07:11

Seven Foods That Slow Down Memory Loss

Seven Foods to Stock Up on to Slow Down Memory Loss

When we reach middle age, memory loss can leave us hanging at the worst moments. We always seem to misplace our car keys as we’re running late for an appointment. Or, we’re stuck playing a mental game of Guess Who? when we run into someone familiar at the grocery store, but just can’t recall how we know them.

While we can’t completely stop age-related memory loss from occurring, we can slow it down and minimize its side effects. And one of the best ways to build up our brain is by eating a balanced diet—in fact, researchers found that the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, lean protein and essential fatty acids, is associated with improved cognition and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are some of those memory-boosting foods to always keep in your kitchen:

  • Fatty, oily fish – Switch out fast-food fried fish, which is loaded with trans-fat that can negatively affect your brain function, for baked or broiled salmon, trout, mackerel or herring. These healthier options are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, the foundation of brain and nerve cell development.
  • Avocados – Speaking of good fats, the monosaturated fat in avocados helps promote healthy blood flow to the brain, prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure, all of which reduce your risk of memory loss. And because they’re packed with fiber and protein, they keep you full so you can avoid that mid-day brain fog.
  • Blueberries – All berries are powerful forgetfulness fighters, but blueberries are armed with antioxidants that help protect the brain against free radicals that damage living cells. Studies show that when seniors snacked on blueberries, they better recalled words, saw improvements in their mobility, and noticed improved cognition when fatigued.
  • Leafy, green vegetables – Spinach, broccoli and collard greens all help improve memory, but it’s kale that’s been crowned the king of all superfoods. Filled with vitamins, including vitamins C, B6, B12, and folic acid, nutrient-dense kale helps fight off brain atrophy and shrinkage, most notably in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus which are significantly impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Herbal tea – When our mind feels cloudy, we immediately reach for a shot of coffee. Instead, fight off fatigue with tea. Chamomile tea, for instance, treats insomnia at night, which also boosts your ability to focus in the hours after you wake up, while peppermint tea improves both your short-term and long-term memory.
  • Turmeric – All those visits to your local Indian restaurant not only fill your curry cravings, but they may also slow down age-related forgetfulness. Studies show curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its golden color, improves memory and mood in seniors with mild memory loss. It’s also packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Nuts – The variety of nut products available makes preventing memory loss delicious. Snack on a handful of hazelnuts to get a powerful dose of omega-3. Slather a spoonful of vitamin E-rich almond butter on apple slices. Or, toss some chopped walnuts into your salad for a satisfying crunch and a shot of antioxidants.

Altering your diet is a critical step in protecting your brain health, but it’s not a cure-all. If you find yourself mixing up or forgetting common words, getting lost while driving, experiencing changes in your mood for no reason, or having trouble completing daily tasks, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to diagnose any underlying conditions that may be affecting your memory.

For those members of the Greatest Generation and their children, the Baby Boomers who are entering their own golden years, Memorial Day holds a special place in their hearts. If they didn’t serve themselves, there’s a good chance their spouse or their parent did. In fact, 50 percent of U.S. veterans are age 65 or older.

Giving the seniors in your family the chance to honor those service members who have passed can make Memorial Day even more meaningful to them. Between the BBQs, the baseball games and pool time, it’s important to recognize what this day is truly about, especially with those who it touches the most. Here are six ways to help your loved one honor the holiday:

  1. Attend a memorial service. Many houses of worship, senior centers, cemeteries, and landmarks will host special ceremonies on Memorial Day to recognize the fallen. For instance, here in the St. Louis region, Jefferson Barracks National Ceremony features a sea of flags gracing 200,000 headstones and hosts a memorial service in its chapel. Or, visit Soldiers Memorial Military Museum for a flag and remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m.
  2. Volunteer in a loved one’s honor. Seniors can memorialize their loved ones by being of service to other veterans and current military families. Join your parent or grandparent in putting care packages together for overseas troops through Operation Gratitude, donating to the Honor Flight Network to help veterans visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C., or visiting with veterans at your local VA hospital.
  3. Join a parade. If your loved one can leave the house, observe the holiday with marching bands, floats and flags. The Alton Memorial Day Parade, held since 1868 in Alton, Ill., is the nation’s oldest consecutive parade honoring the military. To find the best viewing location for a senior with mobility issues, contact the hosts at 618-462-7527 for recommendations. If your loved one can’t leave home, turn on the National Memorial Day Parade from D.C., which can be live streamed or viewed on KSDK.
  4. Share your loved one’s story. If the senior in your life is willing, gather your family together for your own memorial service at home. Encourage your loved one to share photos of and stories about their friends and families who served. Ask questions about what life was like for them during wartime. And if you can, record the experience or create a memory book so you have a record for future generations of your family.
  5. Go on a picnic. Memorial Day is synonymous with outdoors and BBQs! Pack up a basket of your loved one’s all-American favorites, like fried chicken, hot dogs and apple pie, and head to a local park. For those seniors who may be experiencing the blues this holiday, time outside can help them relax, ease their anxiety and lower their stress level.
  6. Focus on flowers. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, a time when the public would decorate the graves of the fallen with flowers. Encourage your loved one to pick out a bouquet or wreath online through your local flower shop and join them as they lay it at their loved one’s final resting place. You can also purchase a second bouquet for an unadorned gravesite or sponsor a thank you bouquet for $15 through the Memorial Day Foundation to be placed at a national war memorial.

With most World War II veterans and their spouses now in their late 80s and 90s, it’s more vital than ever to recognize their experiences and capture their stories, whether you celebrate the holiday with them at a special event or in the comfort of home. We at AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis thank those seniors we serve for their service and honor the sacrifices they and their families made to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

Lunes, 23 Agosto 2021 07:09

Take a Stand Against Stroke

Seniors in St. Louis need home health care services for any number of reasons, but one of the most preventable is stroke. Each year, 795,000 Americans will suffer a stroke, and for the thousands who do survive, the road to recovery can be a long one as many patients work to overcome limited mobility, speech and swallowing impairments, and memory loss.

May is Stroke Awareness Month, making it the perfect time for a quick refresher on protecting yourself and your loved ones against this devastating blockage to the brain and what you can do if you suspect someone is suffering a stroke in order to save their life.

Going on the defense

Although age, race and family history can all increase your chance of a stroke, 90 percent of risk factors can be thwarted by following a healthy lifestyle and properly managing—or even overcoming—chronic health conditions. While the risk for stroke doubles each decade after age 55, you’re never too young to start taking steps to protect yourself.

  • Get your blood pressure under control. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause your brain’s blood vessels to narrow or rupture as well as cause blood clots to form in your arteries. Try to maintain a blood pressure of less than 135/85 through daily exercise, healthy eating, and if needed, medication.
  • Treat your heart well. An irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation, makes you five times more likely to experience a stroke by causing clots to form in the heart which then travel to the brain. With almost 10 percent of seniors over age 65 diagnosed with AFib, treatment, including the use of blood thinners, is critical to your health.
  • Take care of your mental health. Many people manage stress and depression through unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking and overeating, which ups their risk factors for stroke. In fact, people who experience depression are 29 percent more likely to suffer a stroke. Make time each day for self-care, whether that’s yoga, meditation or a walk outside, and schedule a session with a mental health professional if life feels out of your control.
  • Keep your blood sugar in check. Your risk of stroke goes up 150 percent if you are diagnosed with diabetes. Properly managing your blood glucose levels, adhering to medication, and following a doctor-approved diet can help stop diabetes from taking that dangerous next step.
  • Snuff out your cigarette. From the moment you take your last puff and put the pack down for good, you reduce your stroke risk. According to the World Health Organization, within 20 minutes of cessation, your blood pressure drops, and within five years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
  • Curb the cholesterol. Just as cholesterol build-up in your blood vessels can put you at risk of a heart attack, it can also lead to a blockage in the brain. To keep cholesterol levels in control, swap the saturated fats in red meat and dairy for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and omega-rich fish. A healthcare provider may also prescribe medication until your cholesterol can be fully controlled by diet.

Know the signs of stroke and the steps to take

Because stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of short- and long-term disability in seniors, knowing the signs of an attack and what do to in the heat of the moment can be life-saving. Getting a victim care within three hours of the first symptoms can significantly improve their chance of recovery.

The National Stroke Association has created F-A-S-T, an easy-to-remember acronym you can use to jump into action at the first sign of a stroke, whether in a loved one or in yourself:

  • FACE – Does one side of the face droop when the person smiles?
  • ARMS – When the person lifts both arms, does one arm drift back down?
  • SPEECH – Is the person’s speech slurred or does it sound odd?
  • TIME – If you see any of these signs in yourself or someone else, call 911 right away.

Being aware of the signs of a stroke could make a big difference – it could even save a life!

When it comes to one’s healing, health and happiness, houseplants are a pretty powerful force, especially for those who spend a great deal at time in the home or are homebound.

No longer just pretty décor, plants, ferns and flowers have found their way into many seniors’ overall care plans. While their main job is to help make breathing easier for patients by removing toxins from the air and upping oxygen levels, the additional advantages they offer can improve a senior’s overall quality of life:

  • Plants can lower one’s anxiety when recovering from an illness or surgery
  • Tending to living things helps empower seniors, especially those who are dependent on others
  • Researchers from NASA found indoor plants can improve concentration and productivity up to 15 percent
  • Plants help lower blood pressure and decrease one’s risk of colds and coughs
  • Gardening therapy, even on a small scale, can lower a senior’s risk of dementia by up to 36 percent

If your aging loved one is unable to participate in the activities they once enjoyed, growing and taking care of houseplants is a hobby that almost anyone can do, even with limited mobility. And the health benefits make it worthwhile for anyone, not just senior citizens.

Finding low-maintenance houseplants

Studies show that houseplants can give seniors a sense of control and boost their self-esteem as they watch their plants grow and thrive. Therefore, it’s important for you and your loved one to choose plants together and select ones that are indoor-friendly for best results. A few good options include:

Succulents – While they may be the plants of choice for trendy Millennials, succulents, like aloe, jade plants and hens-and-chicks, are ideal for anyone working on their green thumb since many are simple to care for. Seniors can easily maintain a few plants or create an indoor succulent garden.

Peace lily – The peace lily requires a living space that mimics its home in the rainforest—a warm environment, lots of water and little light. When properly cared for, its white blooms make it a beautiful accent to any home. However, it can be poisonous to pets, so use caution in a home with cats or dogs.

Devil’s ivy – Otherwise known as a pothos plant, devil’s ivy gives your loved one creative control over how they want their plant displayed. Depending on how it’s planted and cared for, devil’s ivy can climb up a trellis, sit in a traditional flower pot on a shelf or table, or flow down from a hanging basket.

African violets – For those who prefer colorful flowers to ferns and ivy, African violets add a pop of pink, purple or yellow year-round. Just be sure to avoid watering the leaves and flowers to prevent discoloration and set them next to a west- or south-facing window so they can soak up the sunshine!

Snake plant – The snake plant, also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue, adds visual interest to a room with its vertical leaves that reach for the sky and its snake-like stripes. Best of all, it requires little care—just keep out of direct light and water only when the soil is dry.

Other easy-to-care-for houseplant varieties include peperomia, spider plants, English ivy, asparagus fern, and calathea. To find the ideal plant for your loved one’s home, talk with a St. Louis garden store or other local plant expert. They’ll not only provide recommendations for hearty plants, but will also share tips for keeping them their healthiest in the months to come.

Springtime has finally arrived. We are all so excited to see new growth in the grass, trees, and flowers, not to mention sunshine and warmer weather! Unfortunately, the bright beauty of spring comes with a price: allergies. Mold, pollen, and ragweed are not only a problem outside, but they’re also sneaky little troublemakers, always finding a way to slip into a house undetected. In fact, 67 percent of indoor pollen concentration is due to the pollen outside.

For the elderly and those facing serious lung and pulmonary disorders, allergies can mean more than itchy eyes and a runny nose—they can trigger life-threatening conditions, including chest tightness, asthma attacks and shortness of breath. In St. Louis where we’re known for our allergies as much as our Arch, having your defense up is critical to your health, as well as your aging loved ones.

Keep allergens outside where they belong by following a few simple tips this spring:

  1. Slip off your shoes. In the spring, allergens can latch on to your clothes and shoes the moment you step outside, especially if you take a stroll through the yard. Before anyone enters the home, ask them to take off their shoes and keep them on the porch so they don’t track pollen throughout the house. Also request that jackets be hung by the front door.
  2. Run the air conditioner. While it may cost you more in utility bills, an air conditioner is an essential tool in battling allergies. Running the AC instead of opening windows keeps allergens outside and balances indoor humidity levels to stop mold and dust mites from multiplying. For best results, if the air conditioner uses a standard air filter, switch it for a certified HEPA one, which traps 99% of allergens. Be sure to replace the filter every one to two months.
  3. Put the washing machine to work. During allergy season, your washer should be in overdrive mode. At least once a week, wash and dry sheets, pillowcases and comforters on the highest setting to kill off dust mites. To rid the home of mold, wash rugs, especially those in the bathroom, once a week along with shower curtains.
  4. Give each room a clean sweep. Before giving any furniture a good cleaning, ask your allergy sufferer to leave the room so they’re not affected by the dust and dander that are stirred up. Dust with a cloth dampened with a hypoallergenic dust spray or water, and immediately follow up with a quick drive around the room using a HEPA vacuum.
  5. Snack on smart foods. Occasionally, some allergy sufferers experience “oral allergy syndrome” when the body mistakes fruit and vegetable proteins for pollen during allergy season. If your loved one has a reaction when eating certain produce, skip the raw versions for cooked, baked or canned options. On the flip side, certain foods like kiwi, pineapple and kefir all have allergy-fighting vitamins or enzymes that can relieve certain symptoms.
  6. Get the right diagnosis and the right care. Due to the variety of health issues many seniors experience, their allergies are often misdiagnosed. For others, the medications they take, such as beta-blockers, can intensify allergy symptoms. Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider before trying any over-the-counter drugs to be sure that the cough and shortness of breath are caused by allergies and not something more serious.

Starting with these six steps can have you well on the way to stopping spring allergies. If you or your loved one is still coughing, sniffling and itching, it might be time to dig deeper into where these sneaky little allergens are hiding. Of course, if relief cannot be found, be certain to schedule that physician appointment. We wish you a happy, healthy spring!

Often times, individuals with chronic illness must also cope with the isolation of being homebound. Issues with mobility, vulnerability to infection or cognitive impairment may prevent participation in activities that were once held dear. The resulting loneliness can be almost as painful as the chronic illness itself, affecting both the patient and the family members or friends who serve as caregivers.

Finding joy in the everyday can mean the difference between heartache and happiness. While your loved one may not be able to take a run in the park or go to church every week like they used to, there’s still fun to be had and new things to experience. These activities have been proven to help lift the spirits and improve overall wellness:

  1. Get your hearts pumping. Just a few minutes of daily exercise strengthens muscle tone, improves balance, and increases blood flow to the brain. Try stretching with an exercise band or doing arm curls with light hand weights. If mobility is an issue, YouTube offers a variety of yoga sessions that can be done from the comfort of a chair. Of course, it’s critical to get a doctor’s clearance before beginning a new exercise regimen.
  2. Crank up the tunes. Did you know that Elvis, Sinatra, and Beyoncé all have healing powers? According to studies, our favorite tunes release naturally-produced opioids in the brain that minimize discomfort. Researchers found that when chronically ill patients listened to music twice a day, their physical pain, anxiety, and depression were all reduced. For Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, hearing a song from the past can temporarily reawaken memories and increase engagement in the environment.
  3. Arrange a visit from Fido and Fluffy. According to a study from the University of Virginia, when we pet a dog or cat, our brain focuses on the touch, not on pain in another area of our body. What’s more amazing is that even stuffed animals can reduce anxiety or agitation in patients with dementia!
  4. Keep learning. The Louis County Public Library Homebound Service delivers books, magazines and CDs at no cost. What a wonderful opportunity to promote a healthy brain for free.
  5. Pick up a paintbrush. Painting, drawing and sculpting all improve motor skills. What’s more, art provides a venue for expressing a wide range of emotions and gives a sense of control.
  6. Get social. For those with minimal social support, reducing loneliness may require a bit more effort. There are, however, resources available to help with this. The VA Volunteer Caregiver Support Program in St. Louis, for instance, connects homebound veterans to volunteers who can visit once a week. The Louis County Older Resident Program Care Calls has volunteers available to talk by phone or in person.
  7. Lend a helping hand. Many chronically ill or elderly patients feel they can no longer contribute, but every skill, talent or hobby should be considered as a way to give back. Consider knitting booties for patients in hospital oncology wards, packing care boxes for service members, creating fleece blankets for children in foster care, or even playing with kids across the world with The Granny Cloud!

If you or a loved one has a condition that requires you to stay home much of the time, don’t allow isolation to exacerbate your condition. Consider these small steps that may improve your daily life, health, and well-being!

When you spend your days caring for a partner or relative, you tend to forget someone who needs just as much love and support.

As a caregiver, you deserve a little me-time each day to de-stress and recharge. But a lack of time, others’ needs and even guilt may hold you back from practicing the self-care we all require for our overall physical and mental health.

According to AARP, 22 percent of caregivers say their health has declined due to stress. And when stress is long-term and toxic, it can lead to a higher risk of depression, obesity and life-threatening illnesses. That’s why fitting in a few minutes to take a walk or read a book isn’t selfish or indulgent—those few minutes can prevent the burnout that affects your ability to care for your loved one.

So how can you fit in self-care?

  1. Take a breath. Meditation doesn’t have to be as existential as you think. You can practice breath awareness in just 10 minutes each day. Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for five counts and breathe out through your mouth for another five. As you breathe, begin to repeat supportive mantras in your mind – “I am strong.” “I will be kind to myself.” “I am the best caregiver I can be.”
  2. Whip on your walking shoes. Studies show that even five minutes of exercise can lower your depression and anxiety by producing stress-fighting endorphins. And when you take that exercise outdoors, the benefits are even greater since nature reduces one’s fatigue, cortisol levels and blood pressure. If you can’t get outside, step on a treadmill or pop in a yoga DVD. Once you restart your exercise routine, you’ll also notice that your sleep is more restful, even when life feels overwhelming.
  3. Get social. With everything you’re managing, maintaining relationships with friends and other family members can fall to the wayside. To prevent caregiver isolation, spend time with those important to you, even if it’s just a few minutes for coffee or a phone call. And because many people simply don’t face the same obstacles you do, consider reaching out to a support group as well. Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri offers a searchable database of caregiver support groups in St. Louis that focus on everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer.
  4. Rediscover your passions. While you may not be able to dedicate the time you once did, pick up the hobbies you’ve had to push to the side. If you love gardening, for instance, but don’t have time for a full garden, plant an herb garden or a flower bed. If you always loved reading, skip the laundry and catch up on that new bestseller while your loved one is sleeping. Or, try a new hobby like journaling, which helps you focus on the feelings you’re facing each day.
  5. Load up on your vitamins and nutrients. When life gets busy, we often grab a quick meal over the sink or skip a meal altogether. However, when under stress, your body needs proper nutrition to fight it off. Make time for three balanced meals each day and focus on healthy stress-killing foods that are easy to grab and prepare, like nuts, salmon, oatmeal, avocados, green tea, and dark chocolate.
  6. Lean on others. Whether you need an afternoon off to relax and recoup or need someone to stay the night so you can get some sleep, a St Louis home care company like AccuCare can partner your loved one with a dedicated, professional caregiver. Even just a few hours of respite care in the hands of someone you trust can make your stress levels and revigorate you for the challenges ahead.

The experienced staff at AccuCare understands the struggles caregivers face and is here to support you at every step. Contact us today to learn how our care team can take some of your stress off your shoulders and give you the break you need to be a better caregiver overall.

Lunes, 23 Agosto 2021 07:03

Eight Things We Love About Caregivers

For many people, Valentine’s Day is when you show the special person in your life just how much you care for them. However, as a round-the-clock caregiver, you demonstrate true love each and every day, giving your whole heart and full attention to the person who needs you the most.

This holiday, we want to celebrate you and everything you do to keep your loved one home with you. Here are just a few reasons why caregivers like you are so amazing in our eyes:

  1. The number of you helping others. Right now in the U.S., there are more than 34 million of you who provide unpaid care to a loved one over age 50, and 4 million professionals working in the home health care field, including the dedicated home health care staff at AccuCare in St. Louis.
  2. Your burgeoning medical skills. Years ago, you may never have pictured yourself adjusting your partner’s nasal cannula or giving insulin shots to your parent. But by working with your loved one’s nurses and healthcare providers, you’ve become an extension of their medical team at home, helping keep them out of the hospital and the nursing home.
  3. When you take a break for yourself. Practicing self-care is as important to your loved one as it is for you. When you go out for coffee with friends or take a walk outside by yourself, that time outside of the house helps you decompress and relax, which lowers your stress and risk of related health issues, such as high blood pressure and reduced immunity.
  4. Your role as an advocate. In many cases, you’re not just your loved one’s caregiver – you’re their voice at medical appointments and their coordinator of care. Addressing medical concerns with providers, handling paperwork and insurance claims, and researching healthcare options add an extra level of stress to your already busy life, but you do it so well!
  5. Your resiliency in the face of adversity. Even when your back hurts from lifting your partner out of bed or when your days are consumed with doctor appointments, your patience, compassion and perseverance inspire everyone around you. And when you do break down or become angry, know that those tears are a sign of strength, and not one of failure.
  6. Your sense of humor. Even on the darkest days, a laugh can provide a ray of light. To those who don’t understand the trials you face each day, they may be in shock when you joke about bedpans or medication, but for those of us who do, bonding over a shared experience through humor can reduce stress for everyone.
  7. Your stiff upper lip. In the past, you may have been frustrated by friends who gave unsolicited advice about your family. Now, when someone offers critiques or “helpful” suggestions, you just let that judgment roll off your back. You’re doing an incredible job, and only you, your loved one’s medical team and those close to you know exactly what your loved one needs.
  8. When you ask for help! According to AARP, only 15 percent of caregivers receive respite care. It’s critical to ask a relative to sit with your loved one or to look into an adult day care option so you can get an afternoon to yourself. If your loved one’s condition becomes more critical or you’re unable to provide the care they need at home, reach out to the team at AccuCare who can deliver high-quality home health care 24 hours a day.

At AccuCare, we appreciate how much you take on as a caregiver. That’s why we’re here for you when you need us, offering experienced professionals and custom care plans to help your loved one stay at home for as long as possible. To learn more, contact us today.

AccuCare owner Jacque Phillips was recently interviewed on the podcast Mich Mash! Listen to her story and some of the great insights she has into helping people live a better life.

Mich: Right?

Jacque: Sometimes you just need a little touch to remain independent.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: Sometimes you need somebody just to heat up your dinner and cut up your food. But you can do everything else, or go grocery shopping. Just very simple, little things. Sometimes just getting dressed.

Mich: Yeah, right, and we-

Jacque: So-

Mich: We don’t … like you don’t know until you get there that wow, this is really a difficult thing for me.

Jacque: Yes.

Mich: You know?

Jacque: And I realize it every year I get older, I’m like, wow, why did I think when I was 22 this was never going to happen?

Mich: I know, I think we’re in denial-

Jacque: Yeah.

Mich: About it all times. Yes, no, I’m with you, I get it. I do the same thing.

Jacque: But now I go into clients’ homes and they’re 95, and I’m like going … that’s my next stop.

Mich: I’m going to get there someday.

Jacque: I better do what I can do right now.

Mich: But you so know the right people to help you out, so-

Jacque: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

Mich: But your staff is … I mean, you’ve had staff that have been there forever and a day, right?

Jacque: Yes.

Mich: You take a lot of pride in your staff, and acknowledging them and their awesomeness.

Jacque: Yes, I have a lot that have been with me for 10 or 15 years.

Mich: That is so cool.

Jacque: Yeah, it’s great-

Mich: So-

Jacque: They care.

Mich: When should people reach out to you?

Jacque: Usually … it’s usually a family member, sometimes it’s a spouse, sometimes it’s a child, an adult child. When they have concerns about safety. That usually is the trigger point.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: Or if there’s been an accident or an incident where they end up being hospitalized, their loved one ends up being hospitalized, then it’s like, I can’t come home and do what I was doing. So maybe it’s a short term recovery thing, or maybe it’s just a little bit of help at home, and then it ends up expanding and being 24 hours, seven days a week.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: It’s all different, everybody’s an individual, everybody has their own personal life, and what we do is very personal. It’s very personal. And it’s just important that we respect everybody that we take care of. We allow them to continue to have dignity, and as much independence as possible while remaining safe.

Mich: Right. So … and then a little piece of mind to the families, or family members. And that has to really help, you know, we see these people that are now taking care of their parents, as an example, and they get fatigued, there’s a caregiver fatigue. So it’s … I mean, what an awesome thing to know that there’s someone I can call and get a break.

Jacque: Oh, yes. It’s … you definitely need … we call it rest, but care.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: You need a break, and I really try to work with the caregivers, because they feel guilty if they leave for five minutes. They don’t want to leave their loved one alone. But they also feel stuck. And basically, I just feel this way in life. If you can’t keep your own bucket, or your own soul fulfilled by taking care of yourself, you won’t have anything left to give to others.

Mich: Right, yeah.

Jacque: So it’s like they have to get a little break to go … even get their nails done, or just have a break to walk in the park.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: Just be themselves, and be with themselves instead of always worrying about being the caregiver.

Mich: So one of the things I know … you know, and like we hear so much about it is Alzheimer’s. And that has got to be a really difficult thing for a caregiver to deal with.

Jacque: It’s extremely difficult. As a caregiver, but even more as a caregiver loved one.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: Because there’s lots of times they don’t recognize you, it’s a lot of repetitive thing, there’s a total cognitive disconnect. And you can say things and it doesn’t connect.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: So it just is very sad, very emotionally difficult to deal with, and I don’t know if you’ve been in an emotional situation. For me, it’s more draining than the hardest physical workout I’ve ever done.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: The emotional pull and push of having a loved one that is … suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: We get a combination of both, and they kind of overlap, but Alzheimer’s is something very specific. Dementia, they all fall … kind of follow a lot of the same ways, which are cognitive decline.

Mich: And it’s kind of like they have to say goodbye to their loved one while they’re still alive.

Jacque: Yes, yes.

Mich: You know? We talk to … yeah.

Jacque: Yeah.

Mich: That’s-

Jacque: My mom was … lived a lot longer than she was with it, so it was like, okay, this is not my mom. I mean, it’s physically my mom-

Mich: Right.

Jacque: But mentally, it’s not my mom.

Mich: But I was … my grandmother was-

Jacque: So I learned a lot, yes.

Mich: Yeah, and it was just … you know, at one point I was like, this isn’t my grandma.

Jacque: Right.

Mich: I just didn’t … they didn’t feel … it looked like my grandma, but just didn’t feel like my grandma.

Jacque: No.

Mich: And she was doing things that grandma doesn’t do, so-

Jacque: Didn’t act like your grandma, yeah.

Mich: Yeah, you know, and it was … so that was my grandma, but watching my mom go through dealing with that, it’s just heartbreaking.

Jacque: Very heartbreaking.

Mich: You know.

Jacque: It’s so difficult.

Mich: So you were saying … we were talking about the difference between like Medicare, Medicaid, you know, you’re up on all that. What … enlighten us on that.

Jacque: I think for laypeople it’s hard to understand, but … it’s just, it’s very simple and I just want to kind of go through real quickly. So Medicaid is when you don’t have much money, you have to have less than $20,000.00 in assets. And there’s certain care that can be had through that, a lot of care, and when people call me I try to educate them so that they can get the proper care and head them in the right direction to either get Medicaid certified, or … or to access the services.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: Because they’ll have caregivers come in, help clean your house, they’ll … I mean, they’ll-

Mich: Wow.

Jacque: Take care of you, and there’s a fair amount of Medicaid services you can get, which are free. So just because you don’t have money, you’re not stuck.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: There are some limitations, of course. That’s Medicaid. Medicare is basically … there are always exceptions. Medicare is if you’re over 65, doesn’t matter how much money or what socioeconomic bracket you’re in, you can qualify for Medicare services. But they’re short term acute. It’s basically, there has to be an incident, accident, you have to have a hospitalization, some reason to get into an acute setting, where you need … or just a new diagnosis as a diabetic.

Mich: Okay.

Jacque: So you need to be taught something by a nurse, or you need some physical therapy because you’ve broken your leg, or had a hip replaced.

Mich: Gotcha.

Jacque: So that’s short term acute, they come in, they visit, they do some teaching. They teach your caregiver, who might be your spouse, or a loved on to help care for you. That’s short term. Usually if it’s not anything serious it’s about a six week duration.

Mich: Okay.

Jacque: Sometimes it doesn’t even last that long. So that’s Medicare. And then I say an offshoot of kind of Medicare is Hospice, because it follows some of the same rules of Medicare, but the key thing is it doesn’t have to be an accident or injury, it has to be basically … you’re probably going to die within six months.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: And we’ve had people graduate from Hospice. They all the sudden did a turn around, and they’re alive-

Mich: Wow.

Jacque: And it’s eight or nine months in, and the Hospice is like, “We can no longer justify these services.” And those are free services too, those are paid for by the government-

Mich: Okay.

Jacque: When it’s not shut down.

Mich: Yeah, right. Oh-

Jacque: It’s still paid for by the government, but I-

Mich: Right.

Jacque: And I don’t do any of those services. We will help with the Hospice services and fill in with the Medicare services if there’s something they don’t cover, we’re just private pay.

Mich: Gotcha.

Jacque: You have to pay out of pocket. But we will work side by side with Medicare and Hospice, and do every day. To fill in the little gaps.

Mich: Right. And so you can kind of help guide people a little bit-

Jacque: Oh, yes.

Mich: Like this is what is going to be covered-

Jacque: Right.

Mich: You can do the following things, you have rights to this-

Jacque: Sure.

Mich: And then we’ll do this part.

Jacque: Sure.

Mich: Very cool.

Jacque: Yes. And I like to let them know what other services are out there.

Mich: Right.

Jacque: And if there’s something I can’t help them with, I like to … you know, give a recommendation of people that I’ve checked out that are good people.

Mich: So you’re very successful at this, ma’am. But when did you know? What was your hundredth monkey moment? When was the time you went, “Yep, this is what I’m doing?”

Jacque: Well, I searched for about a year, I was working in a big hospital as a nurse on a floor, and going up the chain of command and becoming assistant head nurse, and acting head nurse, and I was just like … this is really not about the patient, or making the patient better, or being proactive at all. It’s really a big business.

Mich: Yeah.

Jacque: And I understand it has to be, but I was like, I need to do something that’s more impactful, that makes me feel better, and fulfilled by being able to give what I can give and use my knowledge to help make people have a better life. The best life they can have. So I kind of thought about that, and interviewed for jobs for over a year, and then I left my big hospital job and started working for a home healthcare company, which was a national company, and I started their private duty side of that company. And I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. So, and then while I was working there, probably within the first six months, I hired a nursing supervisor who later became my business partner. She’s like, “We can do this ourselves.” I’m like, “Yeah, we sure can, we can probably do a better job of it.”

Mich: Right.

Jacque: So … I was there for not much over a year, and then started out on our own. I started when I was 26, my first company, with a business partner.

Mich: Wow.

Jacque: Yeah.

Mich: That’s awesome.

Jacque: Yeah.

Mich: And so then you just knew, “I want to do this differently and better.”

Jacque: Sure.

Mich: “And so I’m going to start … ” which, that’s the mother of invention, right?

Jacque: Right.

Mich: Usually you say, “I know a better way to do this.”

Jacque: Yes. And I feel like I could do a better job for them, and then it was way more fulfilling for me, because I was passionate about doing the best I could.

Mich: And I mean, I’ve seen the testimonials. I mean, people … you are doing right by people. You do exactly what you say you’re going to do, and you don’t disappoint. So thank you for that.

Jacque: Yeah. Well, I’m not perfect. I’m a nurse, I’m a caregiver. I love taking care of people. I’ve learned over the years I have to take care of myself as well.

Mich: Yes.

Jacque: But … I just love doing what I’m doing, and I think passion just shows through, and I … you have to worry about the money, but the money really follows if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about.

Mich: Right, right.

Jacque: If you’re doing it from your heart, it works. So …

Mich: So where can people find you?

Jacque: We are on Old Olive Street Road in Creve Coeur, but most importantly it’s Accucare.com. A-C-C-U-C-A-R-E dot com. Or my phone number is 314-692-0020, which is answered 24/7.

Mich: Awesome.

Jacque: And people [crosstalk 00:11:33].

Mich: And you have a great Facebook page.

Jacque: Oh, yeah, thank you.

Mich: Say, “And find us on Facebook,” come like the Facebook page.

Jacque: Okay, find us on Facebook, come like our Facebook page. Yes, and LinkedIn, and all those good things that … I don’t know about.

Mich: All that crazy social media stuff, right?

Jacque: All that crazy social media stuff, Mich, that you are so great at.

Mich: Well, you guys are great, it’s fun to work with you. And I mean, I love … I love people that … I mean, that understand, you know, that it is … we need to represent you well, and you guys give us a lot of great information, and it’s wonderful, so thank you.

Jacque: You’re welcome. There’s so much education we can help people with, and you’re helping, being a great conduit to do that.

Mich: Aw, thanks. Well, everybody out there, we’ve been visiting with Jacque Phillips with Accucare, thank you so much for what you do.

Jacque: You’re welcome.

Mich: All right. See you all next time on 100th Monkey Business.

Jacque: Bye bye.

Latest News


Tel: 314-692-0020

Fax: 314.692.0012

Email: info@accucare.com