Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What are HIV and AIDS?

Article re-posted from http://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/what-hiv-aids

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that gradually attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. If a person becomes infected with HIV, they will find it harder to fight off infections and diseases. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell and makes copies of itself inside them. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.1
There are many different strains of HIV – someone who is infected may carry various different strains in their body. These are classified into types, with lots of groups and subtypes. The two main types are:
  • HIV-1: the most common type found worldwide
  • HIV-2: this is found mainly in Western Africa, with some cases in India and Europe.

Basic facts about HIV

  • HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
  • If left untreated, it can take around 10 to 15 years for AIDS to develop, which is when HIV has severely damaged the immune system.
  • With early diagnosis and effective antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life.
  • HIV is found in the following body fluids of an infected person: semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids and breast milk.
  • HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
  • According to UK statistics, the most common way for someone to become infected with HIV is by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom.2
  • You can also risk infection by using infected needles, syringes or other drug-taking equipment (blood transmission), or from mother-to-child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.3

What is AIDS?

AIDS is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus.4 It is when a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off many infections, and develops when the HIV infection is very advanced. This is the last stage of HIV infection where the body can no longer defend itself and may develop various diseases, infections and if left untreated, death.
There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, with the right treatment and support, people can live long and healthy lives with HIV. To do this, it is especially important to take treatment correctly and deal with any possible side-effects.

Basic facts about AIDS

  • AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
  • AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV.
  • Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of other health conditions including: pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus. 
  • There is also an increased risk of developing other life-limiting conditions, including cancer and brain illnesses. 
  • CD4 count refers to the number of T-helper cells in a cubic millilitre of blood. When a person’s CD4 count drops below 200 cells per millilitre of blood, they are said to have AIDS.5
- See more at: http://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/what-hiv-aids#sthash.EEa8CIVK.dpuf

Holiday Stress Busters

Appropriately enough, December is National. Stress-Free Holidays Month. Here are some helpful hints to reduce stress during what should be a fun and relaxing time.

  • Recognize the signs of stress, such as irritability and anxiety. Avoid these by putting yourself in control of things instead of just letting them happen.
  • Allow yourself to say “No”. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do during this busy month. Don't feel obligated to attend every holiday party or make 1,000 cookies from scratch for your church group.
  • Watch your diet. It's very easy during this time to overindulge in holiday treats. Sugar overload will make you sluggish, and the stimulating effect of caffeine may make you overanxious.
  • Exercise. Not only will it combat those extra calories you're consuming, it will also relieve tension and provide relaxation.   

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flu Season is Here

Flu season is here and now is the time to make sure members of your congregation are protected from flu and the serious complications that can accompany it.

Last flu season over 54,000 Missourian’s tested positive for the flu.  Each flu season is different, which can affect how well the flu vaccine works.  However, studies have shown that annual flu vaccination can decrease hospitalizations and complications from the flu.  Annual flu vaccination is important especially for people at higher risk of complications from the flu.  Individuals at high risk of complications of from the flu include:
·         Children under five years of age;
·         Pregnant women;
·         Individuals 65 years of age and older;
·         American Indians and Alaskan Natives;
·         Individuals who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities;
·         Individuals who live with or care for those at higher risk for complications from flu; and
·         Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions who are at a higher risk for developing flu related complications.

Please talk with members of your congregation about getting the vaccine now.  By getting the flu vaccine now, individuals are not only protecting themselves from the flu, but are less likely to spread the virus to family members, co-workers and others. 

Please consider printing and providing the attached as a bulletin insert to give to your members or including the information in publications.  This fact sheet and other resources developed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are available to you at no cost and can be ordered at health.mo.gov/immunizations or by calling 573.751.6124

Missouri Immunization News
Bureau of Immunizations
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
930 Wildwood Drive, PO Box 570
Jefferson City, MO  65102-0570
Phone: 573-751-6124

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Be Prepared

We at At Home Care strive to always be proactive rather than reactive. We stress to each of our clients and attendants how important it is to be ready for an emergency. If you’re as ready for an emergency as you can be, you will be able to handle the situation much better and your outcome will be a lot more positive.

When you mention the word “emergency”, most of the time we think of weather related disasters. But emergencies can include much more. A fire in your home is an emergency. But a fire next door that can spread to your home is also an emergency. An auto accident is an emergency. But if you’re stuck in traffic as a result of someone else’s auto accident on a day when it is literally freezing outside, that is an emergency too. What if all heck has broken out in your neighborhood and it’s not safe to leave your home or you have to leave quickly? That is definitely an emergency that St. Louis knows about all too well.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month and it is only fitting to talk about preparing an emergency/ disaster kit. You definitely should have a kit ready in your home. Your car is another great place and if you don’t have one at work, one day, you may wish you did.

Here’s a list of items that you should have in your kit:

Home and Work
·    Water- 1 gallon per person for at least 3 days
·    Food- At least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget the manual can opener. And definitely don’t for the formula for the baby.
·    Battery powered radio
·    Flashlight with extra batteries
·    First aid kit
·    Whistle to signal for help
·    Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
·    Solar charger for your cell phone
·    Prescription medications for at least 3 days
·    Cash
·    Pet food and water for your pet
·    Important papers like insurance, banking info and identification in a waterproof container
·    A blanket or sleeping bag for each household member
·    A complete change of clothing. Consider how cold it can get in your area
·    Matches in a waterproof container
·    Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
·    Paper and pencil/ pen
·    Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

·    Jumper Cables
·    Flashlight with extra batteries
·    Fist aid kit and enough prescription medications for a day
·    Non perishable food items
·    Water
·    AM/FM radio so you can hear traffic reports
·    Cat litter or sand for tire traction and a shovel for if you get stuck in snow
·    Warm clothes, gloves, hat, boots and jacket
·    Blankets
·    Ice scrapper
·    Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

Make sure each member of your household or work place knows what is in the kit and where the kit is. We hope you NEVER have to use the kit. But if you do, you’ll be glad you took the time to be prepared.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Speak Up! Speak Out!

Events in life sometimes cause change in your ability to perform certain tasks. Where it normally would have taken you only 15 minutes to wash your dishes, may now take you an hour. Perhaps it’s because you can’t stand as long, so you take breaks. Or you just don’t move as fast. Or maybe it’s because arthritis prevents you from grasping. Or maybe you find yourself not just washing the dishes but also cleaning broken glass because you continually drop and break dishes.

Are you starting to notice that you’re not as efficient as you once where in other areas of life. It’s okay and it’s actually good that you recognize the change. The fact that you recognize the change means that you can get help before it’s too late. You may be saying “too late for what??? I’m not going to get arrested for letting my laundry pile up. There are no citations for a dirty bathroom. Nobody cares if my dishes pile up.” But we do.

We, at At Home Care recognize when a situation is becoming a problem. Dirty dishes can lead to bacteria growth, which leads to disease and infection. If you don’t have clean clothes to wear, you might not go out; which causes you to feel alienated which can lead to loneliness and depression.  

Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t let pride prevent you from getting the help you need so you can continue to be independent. Of course At Home Care is concerned with keeping up the care of your home so you can safely remain at home. But this principle applies to other areas of life too; such as financing education, improving a sporting skill or simply staying on schedule.

Once you realize that you have a deficiency in any area that you can not correct on your own, speak up and speak out. Let someone know so you can be helped. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heart Death???

A heart attack is heart death! Technically it’s a depletion of oxygen to your heart and your heart slowly dies. That’s really serious isn't it? Heart attacks are serious. They can kill you.

You’ll know you’re having a heart attack when you have chest pain, jaw discomfort, pain or discomfort in your neck and/or shortness of breath. The pain can be sharp, dull, intolerable or mild. If you or someone around you experiences any of these symptoms get help right away.
·    Call 9-1-1
·    Start CPR. (But call 9-1-1 before you start CPR)
·    If you haven’t been trained in CPR but have an idea of how to do it, try to administer CPR anyway. The person is already dead; you can’t make it any worse.

We would love it if you were more proactive rather than reactive. So to prevent a heart attack, you can:
·    Know your body and your family history. Find out what is normal for you and your family.
·    Increase your activity. It doesn't have to be anything major. Choose to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
·    Decrease your salt intake. Breads, canned goods and pork have lots of hidden sodium.

·    Get Regular check ups.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Economics Of The Aging Process

Aging isn’t easy. The desire to live at home independently is natural and a human right.  But as one’s physical ability to perform daily household chores diminishes and circumstances change, it’s good to be aware of all the home care services available that might be of help. Many times, personal decisions to seek home care services are made suddenly or after an emergency. The drastic changes can make the adjustment more difficult and painful. The choices to receive home care services are always a personal and unique one.
Home Care is generally categorized by services such as Personal Care, Homemaker Services, Chore Worker Services and Consumer Directed Services. Personal Care Services are medically oriented tasks provided as an alternative to nursing facility care, that are designed to meet the maintenance needs of individuals with chronic health conditions. Homemaker services are generally when household tasks are provided. Chore services are short-term, intermittent tasks necessary to maintain a clean, sanitary and safe home environment. Consumer-Directed Services (CDS) provide assistance with personal care, homemaker and chore services. The services are rendered by a family member or a caregiver hired by the individual needing the care through the Medicaid Home and Community Based programs. Many times these services are provided for the entire course of the individuals remaining days of life.
Long term care costs are expensive. Some average costs for long-term care in the United States (in 2010) were:
  • $87,600 annually for a private room in a nursing home
  • $3,293 per month for care in an assisted living facility (for a one-bedroom unit)
  • $21 per hour for a home health aide or attendant
  • $19 per hour for homemaker services
  • $67 per day for services in an adult day health care center
However, advanced financial planning helps ensure that you are able to live out your health care wishes the way you want them.  Most forms of private insurance do not cover non-medical custodial services or personal care services. If they do cover long-term care services, it is typically only for skilled, short-term, medically necessary care.  However, Medicaid and Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pensionwill cover personal care and non-medical custodial services such as light housekeeping or meal preparation.
To be eligible for Medicaid you must meet certain requirements, including having income and assets that do not exceed the income levels. The person must be permanently and totally disabled, or is 65 years of age or older, or is 18 years of age or older and is determined by law to be blind (vision less than 5/200). The income and asset limits vary state to state. In Missouri, the person must have a net income less than $827 per month for an individual or $1115 for a couple. If monthly income exceeds this amount, the participant may become eligible when their incurred medical expenses exceed their monthly income. There are many different eligibility groups in the Medicaid program; each one has its own set of requirements. An individual may apply for medical assistance at the Family Support Division (FSD) in the county which the person resides. At Home Care will also aide in the application completion process prior to submission to the FSD office.
The Aid and Attendance Pension program provides cash to eligible veterans and with disabilities and their surviving spouses to purchase personal care assistance and homemaker services. The cash is a supplement of up to $25,440 to the eligible veteran’s pension benefits. To be eligible for Aid and Attendance Pension, the Veteran or Surviving Spouse of a veteran who served 90 days or more on active duty, with at least one day of service during a period of war must have had an honorable discharge. The applicant must have a medical condition not related to military service requiring assistance with activities of daily living. There are also income and assets requirements.
As an individual seeks to obtain more information about home care or long term care, thoughts of choosing the home provider should not be taken lightly. A look at the individual’s culture, family structure, the families’ ability to provide the care themselves and the expectations of the provider must be addressed when making a choice. While the conversation about seeking additional help may not be easy, it is better to have this discussion sooner than later. If the opportunity allows, one should to bring the discussion of long term care before the individual needing care has reached the level of incapacity.  Many people have a fear of the unknown. A caregiver in the home may be also viewed by many as intrusive. However, a reduction of feelings of loneliness can provide a sense of safety. The fear tends to subside when one truly understands that the home care can help an elderly person remain in their own home versus a nursing home. If there are questions about the home care, hearing feedback from an unbiased third party such as At Home Care can help a loved one realize the additional care is needed. Just remember to respect your loved one’s need for independence and involve them in all of their health care decisions.

Woman To Watch: Carlita Vasser, At Home Care St. Louis

Women have shown the world that they are major contenders in the business world.      “As business owners, women in 2007 had a major impact on the nation’s economy, employing more than 7.6 million workers,” said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg. “In addition, the businesses they owned equally with men added another 8.1 million workers. Furthermore, businesses where women were owners or half-owners numbered 12.4 million firms, representing 45.7 percent of all firms.”  The 2012 census report on women-owned businesses is due to come out in 2015.  We expect these percentages to be even more favorable towards women. 
Insight2Incite Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with one such pioneering female entrepreneur, Carlita Vasser.  Carlita is the owner of At Home Care St. Louis, a comprehensive home care that offers a combination of home care and community-based services.  Since 2007, Carlita has successfully made At Home Care St. Louis a major contender in the home care industry.  However, according to Carlita, “As a woman, it hasn’t been easy.  But my experiences over these years have made me and my business stronger.”  Here’s why.
Tell us about your business.  What’s the history?  What inspired you to start this business?
At Home Care is a comprehensive in home care agency that offers a combination of home care and community-based services. We provide personal care, home maker services and nursing visits. At Home Care works to keep disabled and or seniors living at home with independence. The difference with At Home Care versus other companies is our strong community resource advocacy program.

We have an office in St. Louis and one in Hannibal. At Home Care covers 10 counties. Our main payer sources are Medicaid and Veterans Administration.

I was a nurse consultant and new business startup agent for various in home care and consumer directed service agencies in the country. I help start up several of my competitors.  I saw the pros and cons of running an agency. I also noticed the lack of great experienced and professional customer service.
I set the standards for excellence within At Home Care very high because of this knowledge.

What experience did you have going into business?
I have been a Registered Nurse for 20 years. I have been approved by the Missouri Board of Nursing and selected by National Council State Board of Nursing to participate on the NCLEXรข panel of subject matter expert in home care, community nursing and long term care several times. The NCLEX is a global test that all nurses are required to pass prior to receiving a nursing license.  I have worked within the home care arena for over 15 years.
Did anyone tell you not to do this?   How did you handle the naysayers?
I did have some unhappy ex-clients.   I even have lost negative friends along the way.  However, I have always been a determined and fearless servant of God. This is my personal ministry.   My mother passed away from lung cancer 2 days prior to the opening day of At Home Care. I knew that I had to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and it would work out for the greater good, and it has. He even helped me turn a few clients into the best mentors and cheerleaders.  I am truly grateful for them.
How much did it cost to get started and where did you get the money?
I invested my savings to get the business started.  
If you could do it all again:
Would you?  
Being a nurse is who I am; it is my heart.  I was born to be a servant for God and to serve others.
What would you do differently?
Do not have fear. When God is leading you, follow him. He moved so fast that I had to catch up to him.  Before I could even get all of my ducks lined up in a row, I had clients.
What advice would you give other women that want to start businesses?
I would tell them just to take one step everyday towards their goal.  Be prepared for the challenges but look at them as a much needed tool. 
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
As a woman, the most significant barrier in female leadership is allowing the whole-self authenticity. I was a senior level executive for a corporation and it was frowned upon to bring your whole self with transparency to work. Women do not compartmentalize their lives. Therefore, family and work are carried with them every day and everywhere.
As a woman, do you think it is easier to be married and start a business or unmarried?  Please explain.
I can speak only as a single woman with children. Both of my daughters have encouraged me through this wonderful journey. It is difficult when there are only 24 hours in a day and they want 25. However, they want At Home Care to be successful just as much as I do. My household understands the mission and vision of At Home Care.  Therefore, they are compassionate and caring too. 
Do you put in more or less hours than you had anticipated?  
When I started working on the business development of At Home Care, I understood that I would endure long hours. However, if you do what you love, you will never work again a day in your life.
Since 85% of all businesses close within 5 years, what makes you think yours will survive?  
This is not a business to me. It is a part of my testimony, my ministry. I have already beaten the odds. I have been in this business for over 14 years.  
How do you think your business will change in 10 years?
I believe that At Home Care will only grow. I have a few additional projects that will aide in providing additional resources and services for the community.
Do you have any additional advice that you would like to share with other aspiring women that are currently in business or that want to someday start their own businesses?
Make sure that you have a true entrepreneurial spirit.  Owning your own business is not a race but a journey. Slow down, embrace the challenges and enjoy the memories.