LifeQuest

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How to Spot a Stroke

July 14th, 2017

Submitted by: Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison

It cannot be overstated enough – every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. There is, however, an easy way to learn and remember the early warning signs of a stroke. Use the acronym “BEFAST.” If one or more of the symptoms is present – seek immediate medical attention. The sooner treatment is started the greater the chance of minimizing permanent neurological damage.

Balance     Loss of balance, dizziness or headache.
Eyes           Blurred vision, loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Face           One side of the face is drooping. Try to smile – if the face looks “lopsided.”
Arms         Arm or leg weakness or numbness. Feeling “uncoordinated.”
Speech      Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to you.
Time         Time to call 911 immediately for an ambulance. Never drive yourself to the
                  hospital.

Adopting a Dog or Cat Later in Life

July 5th, 2017

Submitted by:     Christine Stone, RN   Clinical Liaison LifeQuest (and cat lover) 

I LOVE my cat. I can’t imagine living without a cat (pet) – – their companionship and unconditional love is irreplaceable.

It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely or depressed when they retire. Their children have moved away or they’ve lost a spouse or close friends.   The American Humane Society states studies show pets help seniors overcome loneliness and depression by providing affection, company and entertainment.   Pets also provide much-needed mental and stimulation, and pets can also help their owners to remain physically active.

Seniors who adopt pets may also feel a sense of purpose (the “need to be needed”) when helping animals who might not have anywhere to live. This is particularly true with older companion animals which may not appeal to younger families with children. Mature pets are a great fit for seniors.   Adult pets may already be housetrained or litter box trained.

A dog or a cat? Which to choose?

Nothing against dogs, but a cat may be a better fit to a senior’s lifestyle. Cats are usually less active and don’t need to be walked or played with as much as dogs.   Cats are often content to spend hours sleeping on their owner’s lap.   I joke that my cat “sleeps 23 hours per day.” This is probably an exaggeration – but not by much!   Small dogs that can be active in the house might be a good choice – especially for seniors with mobility issues. Keep in mind that a larger dog would need to be walked and exercised several time a day. Small dogs and cats are easily transported to and from the veterinarian,

Other considerations:

Seniors who frequently travel or have medical care issues that require them to be away from home for extended periods of time should carefully weigh the benefits of adopting a pet.   It’s a good idea to have a pet care “back up plan.” Make sure a child, friend or neighbor knows about the pet and has a key to the house or apartment.

Also make sure there’s adequate money to care for the pet – food (and cat litter), medicines and vaccinations, veterinary bills.

Pets and companion animals bring joy to their owners – no matter what age. Careful choice of your pet will certainly bring years of happiness to you and your chosen “best friend.”

Driving at Night

May 31st, 2017

Driving at Night – Some Solutions and Suggestions
Christine Stone, RN

Clinical Liaison, LifeQuest
Does it seem like driving at night is getting harder and harder?   The problem may NOT just be with your eyes.
Yes, older eyes need more illumination to see. It can take up to 10 minutes longer than younger eyes to recover from the so-called “bleaching effect” caused by the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
Rather than limiting your nighttime driving, some solutions and suggestions include:

  • Asking your optometrist about night driving glasses. These will help reduce glare and increase contrast.
  • When cars approach, get to the far right and look at the lines in the road, rather than at the oncoming headlights.
  • Have your mechanic check the headlights on your car. Most standard car headlights fail to adequately illuminate to road ahead of you.   The plastic cover on the headlights could be foggy or scratched. This could interfere with the headlight clarity.
  • Don’t hesitate to use your high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic.  

Carbon Monoxide – The Invisible Killer

May 3rd, 2017

Christine Stone, RN May 3, 2017
Clinical Liaison for Lifequest Nursing Home

Carbon Monoxide – also known as CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without specialized equipment. For that reason, it’s been called “The Invisible Killer.”   About 400 people die each year from CO2 poisoning. Another 200,000 people are sickened and require hospital treatment.

CO2 can be produced by fuel-powered devices in the home – like stoves, furnaces, water heaters, dryers, broilers, and lanterns, wood-burning stoves, charcoal grills, and generators.   Ask yourself: do you have any of these in your home or apartment? If your answer is “Yes”, then please read on.

The reason CO2 is so dangerous is that it replaces oxygen in your blood.   When you breathe in CO2 in an enclosed or poorly ventilated space, your body becomes “starved” for oxygen in less than three minutes.   Cells will begin to die, and permanent damage begins.

This all sounds very dire, but there is an easy, relatively inexpensive solution.   Much like a smoke detector, the CO2 detector sounds an alarm when unsafe levels of the gas are detected. CO2 detectors can be battery operated or can connect directly into electric outlets.   In many states and counties, CO2 detectors are required by law, and should be placed on each level of the home (including basement, attic, garage and other work rooms). At minimum, there should be a CO2 detector placed outside each bedroom.

Other steps to keep your family safe include:

  • Check the CO2 detectors monthly to make sure they’re working and have functional batteries. Keep an extra supply of fresh batteries on hand.
  • When using the fireplace, keep the damper wide open and keep it open until the ashes have completely cooled.
  • Never use your gas stove or oven to heat a room.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house. Generators should be kept outside at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Never use a charcoal or propane grill inside the house.

Know the signs and symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion

If you suspect that you or a family member has CO2 poisoning – immediately go outside for fresh air and then call 911.

KEEPING THE HAPPY IN “HAPPY HOLIDAY’S”

November 30th, 2016

By Wendy Hildenbrandt
December 2016

For all the joy the holidays bring, the season can also deliver a hefty helping of stress-only to be magnified when families have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness. Many of the elements people look most forward to such as large gatherings of people, twinkling holiday lights, piles of presents, a break from everyday routines can be over-stimulating for people with the illness and overwhelming for caregivers.

BUT TAKE HEART! THERE AE SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO ADAPT THE CELEBRATIONS SO THEY ARE CALM AND ENJOYABLE FOR EVERYONE

Be Open
Inform family and friends of your loved ones condition so they know what to expect, as well as recognize that get-togethers might need to change or be more flexible to accommodate the situation. Include younger children in the discussion-to an appropriate degree so they better understand why a loved one may be acting differently.

Celebrate in Small Doses
Since changes in routine, noise and crowds can increase confusion and upset individuals with dementia, opt for several smaller gatherings instead of having one huge one. These “small dose” parties can extend the celebration, offering more opportunities for socialization-a key factor in improving quality of life for people with the disease.

Be realistic About Traveling
With the excess traffic on the road and large crowds at transportation hubs this time of the year, as well as your loved ones mental and possibly physical decline, traveling to holiday gatherings may no longer be possible. Ask the doctor what is doable and make arrangements accordingly (e.g., bringing a companion).

Bring the Party to the Person
For families with loved ones living in long-term care residences, coordinate social calls to help ensure the holiday season is filled with visits from special guests. Find out whether visitors can attend the facility’s holiday events. Also ask whether talented family members- a grandchild who sings, for example can spread some holiday cheer at the event. In addition, some settings have a private dining area where resident’s families can gather.

Unlock Memories
Plan holiday related activities in which your loved one can participate and that may help recall memories. Was your mom the “Queen of Cookies” in her prime? Invite her to help cut and decorate cookies or roll out pie crust, for example. Other activities that can stir up happy memoires and appeal to family members of all ages include listening to music, looking through photo albums and giving handmade, personal gifts.

Your Flu IQ!

September 22nd, 2016

By Christine Stone, RN, BSN

Just like clockwork, the influenza virus starts showing up every October. And it makes millions of people miserable until sometime in May.   Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue.   These are all annoying in and of themselves. But did you know that flu can be deadly?   Each year the flu and related symptoms send 200,000 plus people to the hospital. And if left untreated some people can die!   It’s estimated that 400,000+ deaths have been prevented thanks to the flu vaccine (between 2005 – 2014).

So What Can You Do?

It’s easy – get the flu shot!   It’s the single best way to protect yourself.   Even if you do get the flu (yes it is possible!) your symptoms will be much less severe and serious.

How Does The Flu Shot Work?

The vaccine triggers your system to produce flu-fighting antibodies.   This year (2016) there is high-dose vaccine which is 24 percent more effective. The high dose vaccine is recommended for those over age 65.

If you are one of the many people who fear needles, ask your doctor about an option for a “jet injector” which delivers the vaccine via a narrow stream of liquid.   Call your doctor’s office ahead of time to see if they provide this option.

“I Got The Flu AFTER Receiving the Flu Shot”

Is this possible? Unfortunately yes it’s possible, but NOT a good enough reason to NOT get a flu shot. Why?

  1. You may have already been exposed to the flu virus BEFORE receiving the flu shot.
  2. You may have become ill from other (non-flu) viruses or bacteria which cause cold-like symptoms or GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms.
  3. The protection from the flu shot can vary widely depending in your general health and age.

Who Should NOT Get the Flu Shot?

Any person with a severe egg allergy should not receive the flu shot.

What Else Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your hands – frequently. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a good quality hand sanitizer.  Look for hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Keep a bottles of hand sanitizer in your car, in your purse, and around your house.
  2. Use the sanitizing wipes provided in supermarkets to cleanse the handle of the shopping cart.   Keep a package of sanitizing wipes at your desk or work station.   Wipe down your phone and keyboard first thing before beginning your work day.
  3. Stay away from sick people.   People with the flu are contagious for 5 – 7 days after getting sick. Sick people should NOT go out in public until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
  4. Stop touching your face!   Studies have shown that the average person touches their face (mouth and nose) 3 – 4 times per hour.   When you touching a contaminated surface (doors, handles, doorknobs) then touch your face, you’re hanging out a “welcome sign” for flu viruses and other bacteria.
  5. If you think a friend or co-worker is sick, express your concern and suggest they go home and take care of themselves.

Finally, always check with your primary health care provider to make sure you should receive the flu shot.

If you’re worried about the cost, more than likely it will be covered by your medical insurance.

Just about every hospital, pharmacy and supermarket will be providing FREE flu shots through the fall months. Check your local newspaper for listings of locations, dates and times of free immunizations.   And if by some chance you didn’t get your shot in the fall, January is not too late to protect yourself against the flu for the new year!

Today we said goodbye!

September 14th, 2016

By Elise  Adler

Today we said goodbye to Mabel (C.N.A) after 27 years of dedicated service. Mabel’s dedication to the residents at LifeQuest has been unwavering to say the least. You could always hear Mable’s kind words of encouragement and love to each of her residents as you walked through the halls of LifeQuest. Fellow employees lovingly referred to Mabel over the years as “Mother Mabel”.mabel-1

We will miss her smile and her great sense of humor, we are honored to have worked alongside you Mabel, we wish you good health and happiness always. You will be missed

It’s A Matter of Balance….(and we’re not talking about your checking account!)

July 25th, 2016

By Christine Stone, RN, BSN

As if we need another reason to go kicking and screaming into our older years…….

Our sense of balance is affected as we age which can increase our risk for falls and fractured bones. Yikes!   Why does this happen and what can we do about it?   Read on…..

Think about it – – our vision diminishes as we age and we don’t see things as clearly as we once did.   We have more problems with night vision and depth perception – driving at night is especially challenging.   The loss of these visual cues can affect our balance and increase the risk of a trip and fall.

The inner ear has a very complex system (called “vestibular”) which helps us sense where the body is in space: Are we standing upright or lying down or bending over?   The vestibular system is connected to parts of our brain which also help regulate our balance.   When working properly it helps us correct our position if we feel ourselves falling over or losing balance.   As we age, cells in the vestibular system diminish. This in turn affects our ability to self-correct our balance quickly enough.

Changes in blood pressure (BP) – especially dips when we suddenly stand up can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, blurry vision, and even fainting.

We lose muscle mass and strength, and our reflexes and coordination slow as we age. This can cause stumbling and decreased reaction time.

Some health conditions can cause problems with balance.   They include, but not limited to, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.  Medications can cause blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, or could damage the inner ear – triggering balance issues.

What can we do to minimize problems with balance?

  • Always wear glasses or have corrective vision or cataract surgery.
  • Stand up slowly from a sitting position.
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or two before standing up from a lying down position.
  • Keep your home free of clutter to minimize the chance of trip and fall accidents.
  • Exercise to rebuild muscles strength and power.   If you start to trip/fall, muscle strength and power will help you react faster.   You don’t need to go to a gym. Talk to your health care provider for a list of exercises you can do right in the comfort of your home.

Safe Ways to Dispose of Unused Drugs

June 22nd, 2016

By: Christine Stone, RN, BSN

If you’re like most people, you probably have unused or expired medications in your closet.   What do you usually do with those medications?   Again, if you’re like most people, you probably just flush them down the toilet or pour them down the drain. Easy enough, right?   Think again.

Drugs can get into our water supply in a variety ways.   Households, hospitals, nursing homes, and even some pharmaceutical companies pour drugs down the drain.   Manufacturing companies regularly dump by-products into rivers and streams. Farms and ranches give animals antibiotic and hormone-laced feed.   And ALL of these toxins are landing in our water supply.

Sewage and water treatment plants are able to remove harmful bacteria and some other impurities from our drinking water, but they are NOT equipped to filter out drugs. As a result, some pharmaceutical pollution does wind up in our drinking water.   It’s possible that ingesting even very small amounts of these drugs could, over time, affect your health.   Pretty scary, right?

The drugs being poured down the drain are affecting the fish.   For example water sources polluted with hormones such as estrogen (birth control pills) are producing fish with both male and female characteristics.   This is having a negative impact on the fishes’ ability to reproduce.

New guidelines encourage responsible drug disposal for hospitals and nursing homes.   Companies are also under closer scrutiny of their use and disposal of chemicals.

What can YOU do?

  • Do not flush unused medicines or pour down the drain. Instead, throw medications into the trash.   Medications disposed of this way will be incinerated or buried in landfills.   Not ideal, but better than pouring down the drain.
  • Do not buy medications in bulk (large quantities).
  • Use your community’s drug take back program. Take back programs are organized by state and local government, and some private institutions including pharmacy chains. There are over 6,000 such locations around the United States.   These programs allow you to drop off your unused drugs for proper disposal.   I recommend that you first remove any personal identification from the medication containers.   In my community, drugs can be dropped off at the township building – no questions asked.

In summary, we don’t know the full level of harm to humans from the current levels of drugs in our drinking water. But why contribute to the likely pollution?   I urge you adopt the easy recommendations listed above.   It’s one of the many ways you can help your fellow man, and also a few fish!

A very Special Day to say Goodbye!

June 10th, 2016

By Elise Adler

A year and a half ago a kind gentle man named Mr. F came to LifeQuest needing our care. After countless hours of Physical Therapy and loving nursing care we are happy to say he is on his way home today, “there is no place like home” he often reminded us.

Staff with mr f1It was a long difficult road but Mr F. and his lovely wife tackled each daily challenge with a positive attitude that is truly indescribable. Those of us who witnessed their bond of true love are still in awe of them.

Today we said good-bye to our special friends. They will be missed and thought of each day but the happiness Staff with mr f 2we feel for them will linger in our hearts and last a lifetime. We were so pleased to see them go home today hand and hand together for the next chapter our lives. We wish them much love and happiness.

Thank you to the team at LifeQuest who not only cared for Mr. F but to all of the employees and Residents who treated Mr. and Mrs. F like family!

We are all blessed to have know them…