Aker Kasten Blog

Protect Yourself From Legal Liabilities When Hiring Boca Raton Home Health Caregivers

by: John Aker | September 25th, 2017

Boca Raton Home Health CaregiversAker Kasten Home Health Care of Boca Raton has joined forces with a national movement to educate the public on risks—including legal liabilities—associated with employing a caregiver versus hiring an agency that provides caregivers.

The Health Care Financing Administration estimates more than 7.6 million Americans require in-home care due to acute illness, long-term health conditions, permanent disability, or terminal illness. Yet despite the large number of people requiring care at home, the private duty home care industry remains mostly unregulated and the quality of care between providers can vary greatly. Often people do not realize that by employing a caregiver through a Florida registry, clients become responsible for taxes and worker’s compensation.

Choices in Home Care

  1. Registries, also known as referral services or nursing registries, match independent contractors to clients and patients. These workers are not employed by the registry as employees; instead the registry serves as a middle man to match independent workers to clients seeking home care.
  2. Private duty agencies, like Aker Kasten Home Health Care, provide caregivers who are employed, bonded, insured and licensed. Such agencies do the accounting/bookwork, background checks, provide training, supervision and discipline, carry insurance, and ensure shifts are covered.


Quality Care versus Cost

At first glance, the hourly rate for a registry caregiver might seem substantially lower than an agency employed caregiver, but does not include the additional client expenses of worker’s compensation and taxes. An agency’s hourly fee does include the required taxes and worker’s compensation payments because the agency fully employs its caregivers.

Important questions to ask when hiring a caregiver:

  • How long has the agency been providing private duty home care?
  • Is there a care professional who works with the client and family to develop an individualized plan of care?
  • How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?
  • How often are caregiver services monitored?
  • Does the agency employ a full time nurse, social worker, or other qualified professional to make regular visits to the client’s home?
  • Who employs the caregiver?
  • How does the agency screen and select caregivers prior to an assignment?
  • Are references checked and are criminal background, driver’s licenses and drug screens conducted on all employees?
  • Does the agency manage all payroll and employee related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in their employment practices, such as: withholding appropriate taxes, providing worker’s compensation, and other benefits?
  • Do they also use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person and pays the mandated taxes and withholdings in this case?

If an independent home care provider is hired, the person who hired him or her becomes the legal employer—taking on payroll, tax liabilities, and worker-related injuries. Many consumers are caught unaware of these employer-related obligations and find themselves paying back-taxes and penalties.

An educated public will understand the differences between registries and agencies and realize the legal liabilities associated with employing a caregiver. Interested in learning more about our home health care services in Boca Raton and the surrounding areas? Contact us today!

Education About Alzheimer’s Care Can Lead to Better Quality of Life

by: John Aker | August 22nd, 2017

Alzheimer's CareThe number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is growing in epidemic proportions, yet despite over 100 years of research, its definitive cause is not yet known and a cure remains elusive. Researchers are currently studying, among other things. factors such as diet, genes, and cardiovascular health to determine risk factors and overall disease development. However, researchers believe that for most people, there probably is not one single cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but rather a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. What is certain is that family caregiver education about the disease and its effects, as well as learning certain Alzheimer’s caregiving techniques, while preserving a family caregiver’s own wellbeing, can greatly improve the quality of life for persons with Alzheimer’s.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful, but there are many tips to help in the journey. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, oftentimes the person with Alzheimer’s cannot express how he or she feels with words and instead communicates feelings through behavior. Successfully dealing with problem behaviors in persons with Alzheimer’s disease begins by first identifying the cause or “trigger” of the behavior. Questions to think about include: What happened just before the behavior started? Where did the behavior happen? What happened right after the behavior? It is important to react calmly and reassuringly. Then to help avoid that behavior trigger or potential stressor in the future, the environment or caregiving atmosphere can be modified accordingly. Below are some common behavior triggers for those with Alzheimer’s and tips to sensitively manage those behaviors.

Trouble communicating. A person with Alzheimer’s may become agitated if he or she cannot figure out what you are saying or can’t find the right words to tell you what he or she wants. The agitated actions call out the emotions that the person is feeling inside. Respond to the emotion that is being communicated rather than the behavior. When giving instructions, break down what you are asking into one simple step at a time.

Unfamiliar Environment. A move to a different care environment, a change of caregivers, or being in an unrecognizable location can cause troubling behaviors. Persons may act nervous and upset—picking at clothes, wringing hands, crying, and making accusations or using repetitive speech. Repetition is thought to convey how the person is seeking security and familiarity. Do not try to reason or correct; rather, listen to what is troubling the person and try to understand his or her reality. A calm listener can have a calming effect on the behavior.

Over-stimulating Environment. Too many people, too much noise, garish colors in the environment, shadowy rooms or excessive clutter can also lead to agitation, hallucinations or aggressive behavior. Stay calm and at an arm’s length if safety is a concern. Provide reassurance and encourage the person to go with you to another place where it is well lit, quiet and calming. Always try to remain visible to the person with Alzheimer’s, and be careful not to approach from a path that isn’t in full view so as to avoid any surprises.

Physical Discomfort. Physical discomfort may come about due to illness, medication side effects or other factors, but the person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate about the discomfort and may try to get the message across through behavior. So, check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder or tiredness. Also check to see if clothes are too tight or too loose. If medication side effects are the suspected cause of discomfort, contact the physician. Urinary tract infections are a particularly problematic issue, so check for that possibility if the change is acute and sudden.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are medications that can help to control some symptoms such as depression, aggression or hallucinations. It’s always important to discuss the pros and cons of medication with a doctor before making a decision regarding treatment—and be sure to consider the possible side effects of over-the-counter drugs to avoid reactions with other medicines.

Caring for the Caregiver

Frustration with tasks, tiredness, boredom and engaging with a stressed-out or agitated caregiver are also known triggers. Suggesting rest, activity and reassurance to care recipients, and respite care for caregivers, are positive ways to respond to needs.

It’s ok to accept help.

Caring for a parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s can seem an overwhelming task, and asking for care assistance leaves many feeling guilty. The mental strain alone that Alzheimer’s care demands makes it one of the most difficult conditions for which to provide care. Caregiver burnout can be inevitable without assistance.

Allowing a caregiver permission to accept help will alleviate stress and make for a more loving and supporting caregiver. To learn more about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, contact Aker Kasten Home Health Care. We provide home health care throughout Palm Beach County.

Tips to Cope with Caregiving & Senior Diabetes

by: John Aker | June 27th, 2017

Senior DiabetesSenior diabetes is known to raise the risk of a number of major health problems, including heart disease and kidney failure. More recently, studies have also linked diabetes to speedier mental decline and dementia in seniors.

Age is one of the most significant factors in the risk for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association found that 23.1% of seniors over the age of 60 have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that can be positively affected by caregiving, so an understanding of the risks, treatments and even prevention are essential in protecting your loved one.

Diabetes in seniors can manifest itself differently than what you might traditionally associate with the disease in younger people. For instance, one of the scariest side effects of diabetes in seniors is heart disease. Others can include kidney failure, eye complications such as blindness or glaucoma, foot and skin complications, deterioration of mental health, high blood pressure, arterial disease & stroke.

Living with senior diabetes is really a question of making good life management choices and as a caregiver, you can strongly influence many of those lifestyle choices. Learning what works best is much of the battle against diabetes. Aker Kasten Home Health Care recommends the following:

  • Food Choices are #1 – First and foremost, the most important part of managing diabetes is diet. Caregivers are most likely responsible for shopping or meals, so understanding what foods are good for diabetes and what foods should be avoided can make all the difference. High-carbohydrate foods, such as breads, pastas, potatoes, chips, candy and desserts are foods that will increase blood sugar levels. Keeping track of blood sugar is crucial – higher blood sugar can lead to stroke and heart attack.
  • Get Moving – Exercise is the second most important step to controlling diabetes. Depending on the senior’s ability, any type of exercise is helpful. Running, walking, tennis, golf, gardening – even yoga – provide wonderful benefits for the heart, muscles and mental health. Make sure to check with the doctor prior to beginning any new exercise program. Find out what the senior enjoys and try and incorporate that into a daily routine.
  • Be Aware – The third tip in managing diabetes in seniors is to regularly check for signs of complications. Be aware that seniors don’t always express difficulties or symptoms. If dementia is in play or even a little bit of denial, you won’t necessarily hear complaints. As a caregiver of a senior with diabetes, keeping your eyes and ears open is key.

Make sure to check the senior’s feet for infection, as neuropathy is a frequent problem with diabetics and loss of feeling can be common, causing unreported open sores or lack of circulation. Also be sure to check skin frequently for signs of fungus, infection and even boils. Finally, it is important to medically monitor with blood sugar tests and journals, and ensure that the senior has enough tests and supplies.

Diabetes does not have to be scary for a senior and definitely not for family caregivers. For more tips or information, please contact the home health care experts in Boca Raton, Aker Kasten Home Health Care at 561.955.6010.

How a Personal Care Aide Can Help One Live Well with Multiple Sclerosis

by: John Aker | March 1st, 2017

Personal Care AideMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system which currently affects approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. In recognition of National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness month, we would like to offer some information for families. With a progressive disease like MS, education about the disease can lead to better management of symptoms.

Living With MS

People with MS typically don’t appear outwardly ill but that doesn’t mean the disease isn’t always present. In fact, 86% of MS sufferers list fatigue as the number one symptom of their disease. The exact mechanism of MS fatigue is not known, but studies suggest that changes in the brain caused by MS may require persons with MS to use five times more effort to complete a simple task than a person without MS, especially if aggravated by stress, activity, fever, and heat exposure.

MS fatigue is not just being tired — it is like having the flu without the other symptoms. Although MS fatigue is common and frustrating, there are things one can do to fight fatigue and increase energy.

A few hours a day of practical assistance from a professional personal care aide from Aker Kasten Home Health Care who is trained in MS care can save energy sources from being drained.

How Home Care Can Help

Nourishing a person’s mind, body and spirit are essential when helping a person with MS stay motivated and enabled. Due to the changeability of the disease, the type and degree of help needed will vary from person to person and may even vary from time to time for the same individual. As with any ailment that requires caregiving, family members can become burnt out or simply not know how to help. Turning to a professional personal care aide for some respite help can be extremely valuable to provide families with a break and some education. Here are a few of the ways a home health care agency can help.

MIND – Professional personal care aides can help family members with their understanding of MS and their ability to make lifestyle adjustments. For instance, they can help establish a daily routine, stressing the importance of limiting activities and taking regular rest periods to prevent fatigue and symptom exacerbations. They can also provide tips and techniques for easier bathing and dressing, assisting as needed.

BODY – Physical limitations play a big part in the caregiving role for MS. It is important to know how to address these. A personal care aide will help with all of these:

  • If the MS patient is on bed rest, maintaining proper body alignment when positioning
  • Protecting skin from friction, pressure, and excessive heat, moisture, or dryness
  • Assisting with body mechanics for good posture, alignment and improved gait
  • Encouraging daily exercise and assisting with physical therapy
  • Providing tasty, nourishing meals and assistance with eating if needed

SPIRIT – The power of mind over body is key in any disease, but really plays a big role in MS. Keeping spirits high will go a long way in managing the disease and making life more enjoyable. Personal care aides from a home health care agency are not only physical helpers but know tips/tricks to help lift spirits, such as:

  • Offering comfort measures, such as gentle massage and warm (not hot) baths
  • Encouraging independence by being sensitive to knowing when to take and then give back responsibility for tasks as symptoms come and go
  • Providing emotional support
  • Providing recommendations for devices designed to make daily activities more comfortable, such as built-up utensils, reaching devices, and sliding boards

Looking for more information?  There are many great online resources and support forums for family members to connect.  Here are a few favorites:

With various adjustments made along the way, most individuals with MS may look forward to a fulfilling and productive lifetime. A personal care aide experienced in MS care such as at Aker Kasten Home Health Care can help with interventions to fight MS fatigue. Contact Aker Kasten Home Health Care in Delray Beach and the surrounding area for more information on how our in-home personal care aides can make a person with MS feel enabled, motivated and connected to others.

Exercise for Older Adults: A Little Goes a Long Way Towards Maintaining Independence

by: John Aker | January 20th, 2017

Exercise for Older AdultsA healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and fitness is highly emphasized in today’s society, but when it comes to frail older adults, exercise and fitness are not necessarily health topics that come readily to mind.  However, the benefits of even moderate exercise for seniors are so great that it should not be overlooked. Recent studies suggest that senior citizens who exercise – even if they didn’t exercise when younger – tend to live longer, healthier, happier lives. This is due in no small part to a renewed or strengthened ability to perform daily activities independently and better fight through illnesses.

While some physical weakness may be a part of the natural aging process, functional decline is often the result of a sedentary lifestyle. The National Institute on Aging released startling statistics after a physical health study performed on elderly aged 75 and older that demonstrated the desperate need to improve the fitness health of frail seniors. The study revealed that 40 percent of the seniors studied could not walk two blocks; 32 percent could not climb 10 steps; 22 percent could not lift 10 pounds; and 7 percent could not walk across a small room.

There are some common misconceptions about physical activity and older adults. For example, the myth that frail adults are unable to exercise, or it’s not wise or safe to start an exercise program, or that there are no benefits that the frail elderly can gain from fitness. While it is always important to consult a physician before starting a new exercise regiment, the truth is that debilitation can oftentimes be minimized with regular exercise.

Besides the obvious benefit of increasing muscular strength and endurance which deteriorate through inactivity, the Office of Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services note that fitness can effectively produce many physiological benefits, including improving circulation to reduce high blood pressure, improving joint flexibility and range of motion, and improving respiratory ability and efficiency.

Exercise can help to prevent falls and fractured hips in the elderly. This is especially significant because 50 percent of seniors who fracture a hip never walk independently again, and many die from complications. Exercise also can fight the effects of brittle bones from osteoporosis by strengthening bone mass. Additionally, resistance training can increase strength in the knees and ankles, which will also help to prevent falls.

Exercise encourages a healthy digestive system. Regular activity naturally increases a poor appetite, which is a common problem with inactive seniors. Healthier appetites lead to healthier eating habits. Healthier eating habits lead to alleviation of digestive and bowel function issues common among the elderly, which in turn helps with sleeping difficulties.

Susceptibility to illness greatly increases with age; thus, a particularly important benefit of exercise for the frail elderly is an increased ability to fight off illness. Stress can deplete a senior’s natural ability to ward off sickness; however, exercise improves the autonomic nervous system’s ability to tolerate stress. Exercise can also enhance the immune system with a significant increase in serum immunoglobulin.

In addition to its physiological benefits, there are also many psychological benefits of exercise for the elderly. Exercise helps the elderly maintain a sense of autonomy over their aging bodies. Instead of feeling like victims to the aging process, they can take control with a regular exercise program and make progressive steps towards improving their physical health. Exercise has also been shown to channel energies into healthy and productive activity, which helps to reduce anxiety and tension and fight depression, as well as alleviate frustration, loneliness and hopelessness. Furthermore, it produces an increased sense of independence, which helps to foster self-esteem.

There is also evidence that exercise produces an enhancement of cognitive abilities. Improving circulation increases the amount of oxygen brought to the brain, enhancing mental alertness. Studies have also shown that non-strenuous physical exercise can help the elderly improve memory retrieval and visual-motor performance.

To receive these numerous benefits of exercise for the frail elderly, it does not take a large time commitment. The initial frequency of an exercise routine can be as short as 6 minutes, repeated throughout the day. Documented benefits in frail elders have resulted from as little as 30 cumulative minutes of exercise a week! The real commitment comes with a mental pledge to “keep at it.” Creating a routine for specific exercise times each day helps foster a longer-term commitment to the exercises.

Incorporating moderate activity and exercise into daily routine can be a challenge for some frail older adults, but there are many available resources to help with this important part of care. An exceptional home care agency such as Aker Kasten Home Health Care provides caregivers who understand how to work gently with seniors to encourage activities that help regain strength. For more information about encouraging exercise and activity for the elderly in West Palm Beach or anywhere in Palm Beach County, please contact Aker Kasten Home Health Care.

Simple Steps to Take at Home to Manage Common COPD Symptoms

by: John Aker | October 24th, 2016

 COPD SymptomsAccording to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, an estimated 12 million adults are currently diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and it’s estimated that another 12 million may be living with the disease without even knowing it. It’s also worth noting that COPD usually strikes in middle age, with smoking as the primary risk factor. Consistent exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals also presents a high risk factor.

One of the first warning signs of COPD is mild coughing with clear sputum, usually after waking in the morning. Other symptoms may also crop up with this progressive disease, including coughing that produces excessive mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. While there is no cure for COPD, there are some steps one can take at home to manage and effectively ease symptoms, cut the risk of complications, and improve quality of life.

5 Steps to Improve Home Air Quality for Symptom Relief

  1. The most important step a person can take to reduce COPD symptoms is to stop smoking. 85-90% of COPD deaths are caused by smoking.
  2. Because people with COPD are very sensitive to indoor air pollution, it is important to purify the air at home. Ventilate the home by opening windows and running exhaust fans. However, when outdoor air quality is poor or dust levels are high, keep windows closed.
  3. Minimize dust mites by washing bed linens weekly, keeping floors clean and removing dust-collecting clutter from the home.
  4. Reduce exposure to household chemicals such as paints, varnishes and cleaning products and limit the use of fragrant sprays, air fresheners, scented candles and perfumes.
  5. Install an indoor air filtration system. Make sure it has a HEPA filter and beware of systems that generate ozone but claim to filter the air.


5 Steps to Improve Diet for Symptom Management

  1. For a person with COPD, breathing burns ten times more calories than it does for a person without COPD. Eating larger meals early in the day when energy is highest will help a person gain the most calories and nutrients possible for the day.
  2. Fatigue sometimes stops a person with COPD from eating before he/she gets the calories and nutrients needed. Eating the most nutritious foods first ensures a healthier diet, even if a meal is not entirely eaten.
  3. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help a person with COPD meet daily caloric needs and feel less full, making it easier to breathe.
  4. Preparing meals sometimes uses up so much energy that a person with COPD then doesn’t have enough energy to eat the meal. Instead, have a family member, friend or a Boca Raton FL home care agency such as Aker Kasten Home Health Care, help with grocery shopping and/or meal preparation.
  5. Sodium can cause water retention, which makes it harder to breathe, so it is best to avoid foods that have more than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving. No-salt spices including garlic, oregano, basil, curry, onion, parsley, rosemary and lemon juice are all good alternatives.


Aker Kasten Home Health Care, a Boca Raton FL home care agency, is experienced at working with COPD patients and their family members to manage COPD symptoms and ensure that the home is a safe environment and free from irritants. In-home care helps sufferers manage COPD through education, exercise, nutritional support, psychological support and coping skills. Call Aker Kasten Home Health Care today at 561.955.6010 to learn more about managing COPD symptoms.

How to Adapt Alzheimer’s Care Strategies as it Progresses

by: John Aker | August 18th, 2016

Alzheimer’s Care StrategiesCaring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can feel like trying to solve a continuously evolving puzzle. As soon as you figure out the solution to one segment, you discover that the picture has changed, and you need to rethink your strategy.

Working with the puzzle of Alzheimer’s care requires ongoing education and a team approach, including professionals specially trained in the many facets of Alzheimer’s disease support. Aker Kasten Home Health Care in Boca Raton, FL offers the following tips, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, to assist families in adapting care strategies throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Early Stages: Family members can best assist a loved one with Alzheimer’s through planning together, providing a patient, calm listening ear and memory prompts when needed. Strategies include:
    • Be a care advocate for your loved one, providing emotional support and encouragement.
    • Help plan for the future.
    • Provide memory prompts, establish a daily routine, and help your loved one stay healthy and engaged in what he or she loves doing.
  • Middle Stages: Care strategies will be focused on flexibility, patience and daily structure with time for self-care for the caregiver. Strategies include:
    • Maintain daily routines and structure.
    • Enhance quality of life by doing simple activities together, such as gardening or walking.
    • Encourage as much independence as possible, but be ready to assist when needed.
  • Late Stages: Compassionate caregiving is focused on preserving the dignity and quality of life for your loved one while maintaining a safe, clean and healthy environment. Strategies include:
    • Stay connected and express caring through touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.
    • Assist with eating and toileting, and with relieving body pressure if your loved one is bedridden.
    • Be aware of non-verbal cues such as paleness, swelling, agitation or wincing facial expressions that can indicate pain.

The most important way to care for and support your loved one through the stages of Alzheimer’s is by taking care of yourself. Acknowledge that you can’t do it alone, and allow others the opportunity to help, making sure to take time away regularly to rest and recharge. Partnering with a professional home care agency experienced in dementia and Alzheimer’s care such as Aker Kasten Home Health Care, allows for a smoother journey through the process, benefiting both the care recipient and his or her family caregivers.  Contact Boca Raton’s best home health care agency, Aker Kasten Home Health Care at 561.955.6010.

Caregiver Stress Affecting Productivity & Profitability in Boca Raton Businesses

by: John Aker | June 26th, 2016


Boca Raton BusinessesBoca Raton companies are always concerned about the well-being of their employees. Many offer wellness coaches, gym facilities, stress management tactics and more. However, there is a silent undercurrent of stress for many employees that companies are likely unaware of that could be affecting performance and ultimately, the bottom line.

This silent stressor centers around the “sandwiched” employees: those that have their own nuclear family to care for and are also now in charge of an aging relative. Currently over 1 out of 4 households is involved in providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. Just over half of all caregivers for persons aged 50 and over are employed full-time, while simultaneously providing 20 hours or more of care per week.

Employed caregivers are more likely to miss work or come in late/leave early, experience a loss in productivity, take unpaid leave of absences or use personal or sick days to provide care, and are two to three times more likely to develop depression. All of these factors cut into morale and productivity in the workplace.

By recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress in an employee who is also caregiving for a senior or disabled person, steps can be taken to assist through a respite care benefits program or home care referral.


Why It Matters

According to MetLife, family members needing to care for loved ones 50 years or older cost American businesses as much as $29 billion each year. Another national study reported that companies without eldercare benefits stand to lose $2,500 a year per caregiving employee. Some evidence shows that:

  • Each caregiver loses on average 166 hours of productivity due to absenteeism and interruptions.
  • 20% of the caregiving employees will quit their jobs to provide care full-time.

The financial impact of all these factors combines to staggering dollar amounts. For example, a Boca Raton area company that employs 500 people loses over $1.8 million each year to unmanaged eldercare – equal to about 15% of their salary budget. Bottom line, family caregivers need help, and more and more companies are looking to provide it.


Employer ROI

For any Boca Raton company to create a new program, there needs to be a business case for it. Will helping employees stressed with caregiving benefit the company? The answer is yes. The most valuable return on investment for an eldercare program is employee retention. The time, money and valuable expertise that are lost when employees leave is far more costly. Benefits typically offered include:

  • Work time flexibility
  • Financial assistance
  • Phone- or Internet-based resources and referrals
  • Face-to-face consulting
  • Educational activities like on-site seminars and health fair kiosks


Web Resources for Family Caregivers in the Workplace:

Aker Kasten Home Health Care works with many Boca Raton area companies to assist in advising family caregivers. We have compiled the following list of resources for employers to begin the process of learning about the benefits of eldercare programs or referrals.

With the graying of the Boomer generation, these trends pose an urgent need for Boca Raton businesses to plan for the needs of their working family caregivers. A strong support network is always going to be the greatest protection against stress. Through an eldercare benefits or referral program, businesses can help alleviate some of the responsibilities and pressures of family caregiving.

For further information about our eldercare resources and respite care programs, please contact us today!

Aker Kasten Home Health Care Urges You to Act F.A.S.T to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Stroke

by: John Aker | April 26th, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of individuals across America will experience a stroke this year. Still, despite the fact that stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a top cause of adult disability, many remain uneducated as to its causes and methods for prevention. Even more alarming is the fact that many individuals fail to recognize a stroke when experiencing symptoms. Aker Kasten Home Health Care of Boca Raton understands the importance of stroke education. We encourage the general public to become more aware about stroke risk factors, methods for prevention and symptom recognition. Aker Kasten Home Health Care knows that acting F.A.S.T is the key to reducing the side effects of stroke.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. As part of a national public education movement Aker Kasten Home Health Care encourages F.A.S.T thinking when you are unsure if a loved one has experienced a stroke.

Face- Ask the person to smile. Does one side of his face droop?
Arms- Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech- Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he repeat the sentence correctly? Are his words slurred?
If any of these answers are YES then…
Time is of essence! Call 911 right away or get to a hospital as fast as possible!

Quick Facts about Stroke
Symptoms of a stroke include…

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, an arm, or a leg – especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion or trouble speaking and understanding.
  • Trouble seeing from one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

What is a stroke?
A stroke is the result of interrupted blood flow to an area of the brain and can cause brain damage. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability. Abilities impacted usually include speech, movement, and memory.

How do you reduce your risk of a stroke?
According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), 80% of strokes are preventable through careful attention to these ten steps:

  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat).
  • Stop smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Know your cholesterol numbers.
  • Control diabetes.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat a lower sodium, lower fat diet.
  • Find out if you have circulation problems.
  • Be aware of stroke symptoms.

Life after a stroke
There are ways to make life easier if your abilities are impacted due to stroke.

  • Dressing can be made easier by selecting clothes with front fasteners and replacing buttons, zippers, and laces with Velcro fasters. There are also several dressing aids available, such as long-handled shoe horns on Internet sites and in health supply stores.
  • Special utensils such as flatware with built-up handles which are easier to grasp and rocker knives for cutting food with one hand can help people with physically-impaired arms and hands.
  • Helpful bathroom devices include, among others, grab bars in shower or tub, raised toilet seat, tub bench, electric razor and toothbrush and flip-top toothpaste tube.

Need more information?
Contact Aker Kasten Home Health Care at 561.955.6010 for information on recovering at home with help. We are a Boca Raton based home care agency servicing all of Palm Beach County and offering care for individuals who have suffered from a stroke as well as advice and guidance for friends and family who serve as caregivers. Those living with a stroke may still remain comfortable within their own home with the proper care and assistance.

We urge the public to become educated about strokes and offer ourselves as a helpful resource for all who wish to learn more about the disease.

Additional Resource:
National Stroke Association is the leading national non-profit organization devoting all of its efforts and resources to stroke. NSA provides the most up-to-date information on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for stroke survivors and their families. For more information on NSA visit www.stroke.org.

How Will You Celebrate Spring’s Arrival in Florida?

by: John Aker | March 12th, 2015

March may come in like a lion or a lamb.

Florida home care

via www.123friendster.com

But regardless of the weather when it arrives, March contains many special days you may want to celebrate. Some of the notable days this month include:

  • Purim (March 5)
  • Daylight Saving Time Beginning (March 8)
  • International Women’s Day (March 8)
  • World Kidney Day (March 12)
  • The Ides of March (March 15)–any Shakespeare fans remember the warning, Beware the Ides of March?
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)
  • First Day of Spring (March 20)
  • Palm Sunday (March 29)
  • National Doctors’ Day (March 30)

This month has also been claimed for:

National Nutrition Month

American Red Cross Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Women’s History Month

Many of these observations are important and some are also quite fun. The weather across the county is in the process of warming and SPRING is just around the corner. Spring is a powerful season–it seems to compel us to consider what is coming!  New leaves on the trees and buds on the flower buses remind us that we, too–despite our numeric age–can start anew and be refreshed.

Admittedly, it may be a bit difficult to be impressed visually by the arrival of spring when you live in Florida. But take a moment to reflect on that new life that spring offers and make an effort to renew yourself. We are never too old to try and we are wise enough now to know what we want for ourselves and what we want to share with those around us. Celebrate spring this year–do something to refresh your mind and body.

The reason various organizations claim a ‘national month’ is to raise awareness of their cause and many of them attempt to deliver a torrent of educational materials which will urge us to take action, whether it be to improve or adopt new healthier habits or become involved by donating our time, talents, or treasury to further their work to help others. If you are already healthy and want to renew your spirit this spring, check out the website of one of these organizations above and educate and refresh your mind. You may learn something new and you may determine to partner with one of these organizations. Learning and giving back are two great ways to celebrate spring!

Another way to celebrate Spring is to choose just one little healthy habit to re-commit to doing every day. Your in-home caregiver can assist you in setting a goal and recording your efforts. Think of a reward you’ll grant yourself when you meet your goal (a scoop of frozen yogurt?) and keep a diary of your progress allowing your caregiver to cheer you on to victory.

Maybe you want to become more agile, like the tree branches swaying in the breeze, displaying their shiny new green leaves.  Or simply enjoy the scenery and sunshine–try to get outside each day for 15 minutes to soak up some natural Vitamin D from the sun. You could also enjoy taking time to phone an old friend or a grandchild once a week–that will be a spring gift for both of you.

Even enjoying healthier meals and snacks can have a big impact from little effort. Ask your home health aide to help you plan menus and shop for healthy foods and treats. Nutritious snacks like fruits or whole grain toast can be an easy, enjoyable addition to your daily routine. Try to drink more water during the day than you think you need–that can aide digestion and prevent dehydration.

Strive to sit less and walk a bit more. Many doctors are fond of the saying, Motion is lotion for the joints. You don’t have to walk for miles, just a bit extra will help:

  • ask your caregiver to park three spaces further from the entrance to the grocery store;
  • or accompany you on a walk to your mailbox;
  • or do some range of motion exercises at home.

Mark each bit of exercise on the calendar. And enjoy the satisfaction of your achievement!

How will you welcome spring this year? How will you be refreshed and renewed? Let us know if you’ve been inspired. We would love to know how we can encourage you this spring and throughout the rest of the year–tell us now!

If you’d like to celebrate spring by researching Florida home care options for yourself or a loved one, contact us today!