We solve one of the most difficult challenges facing families today...caring for loved ones requiring in-home companion care and personal assistance.
Helping the Elderly Overcome the Winter Blues
The winter months bring more than cold temperatures; they often usher in a wave of winter blues. Many seniors experience varying degrees of depression due to lack of sunshine and limited
activities throughout the winter season. Seniors are at a higher risk for depression due to a combination of factors, which include lack of mobility and minimal contact with other people. Fortunately, our team of caregivers at Visiting Angels have some tips to help prevent the winter blues.
If a loved one seems a little down this winter, it's a good idea to make an extra effort tto spend some additional time with him or her. As caregivers, it's easy to underestimate the power of communication and connection with those around us. Sometimes a simple afternoon spent with the person you're caring for listening to music, playing cards or looking at photo albums can drastically improve their mental well-being.  
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a serious condition that may require professional care. SAD is caused by lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter months. If you are concerned an elderly friend or relative is experiencing extreme SAD or is depressed, it's important that you take them to a doctor. Home remedies can only go so far when it comes to strong cases of winter depression.  
Daily diet plays an important role in those experiencing the winter blues. According to a study undertaken by a team from the College of Education at the University of Georgia,
a vitamin D deficiency may affect mental health. Choosing a healthy, vitamin-rich diet is one of the ways to help your loved one beat the winter blues. Foods such as salmon, eggs, fortified breakfast cereal, and even mushrooms are ideal for helping boost your loved one's vitamin D level. The elderly care providers from Visiting Angels can help your loved one shop for and prepare meals that are rich in vitamin D.  
As we begin to experience the effects of winter, it's important to assist seniors who struggle with winter depression. If you are concerned about a loved one's mental or physical health, we encourage you to make an appointment with their doctor. If you or your loved one needs the help of an elderly care provider, please call us. Our caring and friendly elderly care providers can help you navigate the challenges of getting through another cold winter.

How to Communicate with Your Loved One Who Has Parkinson's
If you are caring for a loved one with Parkinson's disease, you are probably familiar with two of the hallmark physical symptoms: tremors and impaired gait.
Unfortunately, the disease also affects a person's ability to communicate, which can be frustrating for both caregivers and your loved one with Parkinson's.
As with many aspects of caregiving, the more you know, the better you can handle challenges. Improving communication with people who have Parkinson's is possible.
The Physical Effects
Experts in the field of Parkinson's advise that it is very individualistic, so physical symptoms can vary widely from person to person. In general, Parkinson's disease often affects speech. People with Parkinson's may have softer voices that sound hoarse or blurred. Some people with the disease begin to speak rapidly and may stutter.
Another manifestation of the disease is lack of facial expression, This can make it appear as though a person with Parkinson's isn't listening or engaged. The nuanced "body language" part of communication can be limited by decreased facial expression and the ability to make hand gestures due to tremors or decreased muscle control.
People with Parkinson's may often lose their train of thought. Hallucinations can sometimes be symptoms of the disease or a side effect of medication and can also impede comprehension and make conversation very difficult.  
Strategies for Caregivers
While your approach to communication will need to change as the disease progresses, there are ways to help you maintain a relationship with your loved one:
  • Focus. When talking with a person who has Parkinson', try to maintain eye contact. Sit down if necessary to be at eye level. Parkinson's can make it difficult for someone with the disease to talk while doing something else (like walking), so conversations may require a concentrated effort from both parties. Group communication may be overwhelming for someone who requires a bit more time to form a response. One-on-one conversations are more manageable.
  • Keep it simple. Ask "yes" or "no" questions and avoid complicated sentences. If you are talking about other people, use names instead of pronouns to help clarify the conversation. Make it clear when you change subjects.
  • Time it. Medications used to treat the disease can cause "on" and "off" times for patients. Take advantage of your loved one's "on" times to talk ans let him or her know how much he or she is valued.
  • Be patient. Avoid finishing your loved one's sentences. Finding the words can be difficult for a person with Parkinson's, but interjecting can add to his or her frustration.
  • Use new tools. Parkinson's can take a toll on handwriting as well, so written communication may be difficult. Amplification systems are available that use a small, wearable microphone to make a person's voice louder (this can be especially helpful if you as a caregiver have hearing loss). Some systems include a receiver that the caregiver can wear, making it easier to communicate from separate rooms. Video calling services, like FaceTime or Skype, can help caregivers who aren't close by monitor their loved one's overall condition.
Don't Go In It Alone
Communication challenges can make both caregivers and their loved ones with Parkinson's feel very isolated. Reach out to professionals to help you manage the responsibilities of care.  
  • Professional Caregivers. As a family caregiver, you need to take breaks. Consider a professional caregiver who can visit your loved one in his or her own home, providing safety and social stimulation for your loved one and the opportunity for you to step away and pursue your own interests. This is never easy, but you must remember that your frame of mind is important in communication. Although a person with Parkinson's may seem disengaged, he or she can still sense your feelings by your tone of voice. Respite can allow you to refocus and avoid dangerous caregiver burnout.
  • Speech-language pathologists. Professional speech or language therapy can help people with Parkinson's strengthen their voices and improve the pace of speaking. Experts recommend meeting with a speech therapist as soon as possible after a Parkinson's diagnosis to set baseline measurements and evaluate speech and swallowing ability.
  • Occupational therapists. Therapy in this field can help people with Parkinson's who would like to use a computer or electronic device to communicate. An occupational therapist may also have recommendations for improving handwriting. 
Your Voice Counts  
As you work to hear your loved one with Parkinson's, make sure your voice is heard, too.
Caregiving is stressful. Be sure to discuss your needs, feelings and fears with family, a trusted friend or a mental health counselor. Ask questions about the disease and take advantage of information provided by medical professionals. a local support group for caregivers can provide additional tried-and-true methods of communicating with people with Parkinson's. Online, try tapping into information from the Michael J. Fox FoundationPartners in Parkinson's, or the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.  



Bill Gates to Invest in Alzheimer's Research

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is ready for his next endeavor: joining the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there is no treatment to stop Alzheimer's, let alone slow its progression. Gates invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public research partnership focused on some of the more novel ideas about what drives the brain disease, such as looking at a brain cell's immune system.