Home Nursing For Elderly with Mental Illness

Mental illness in the elderly has increased
dramatically to where 20% of adults aged 55
or older have experienced some type of mental
concern. The most common conditions
include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment,
and mood disorders. Significantly, depression
is the most prevalent mental health problem
among older adults. It is often associated
with distress, suffering and it can lead to
impairments in physical, mental, and social
Moreover, depressive disorders often adversely
affect the course and complicate the
treatment of chronic diseases. It is no wonder
then; older adults with depression visit the
doctor and emergency room more often, use
more medication, incur higher outpatient
charges, and stay longer in the hospitals.
Mental health issues are also often implicated
as a factor in cases of suicide.
As caregivers, first be aware of potential triggers
to mental health issues as listed by the
Geriatric mental health foundation. These are
alcohol or substance abuse, change of environment,
dementia causing illness, illness or
loss of a loved one, chronic disease, medication
interactions, physical disability, poor diet
and nutrition.
Secondly, caregivers should understand
symptoms of mental illness such as changes
in appearance or dressing, problems with
grooming and activities of daily living, confusion,
disorientation, alteration in ability
to make decisions, poor appetite, changes in
weight, depressed mood lasting longer than
2 weeks, feeling of worthlessness, in appropriate
guilt helplessness, suicidal thoughts,
memory loss especially short term , physical
problems that cannot otherwise be explained
like aches and constipation, social withdrawals,
loss of interest in things that used to be
enjoyable, difficulty handling finances, or
working with numbers, unexplained fatigue,
energy loss, or sleep changes.
Finally, caregivers should not hesitate to call
the attending physician or their home healthcare
team if a loved one is experiencing any
of these symptoms. Progressive Home Health
Psychiatric Care team is a great resource. We
offer Psychiatric Nursing Consultation, lab
draws and monitoring of blood level of psychotropic
drugs, assistance in transition from
hospital to home and mobilizing community
resources. Our Hospice team is also equipped
to deal with mental issues by always having
registered nurses, a licensed social worker,
grief counselors and spiritual support staff
available 24 hours a day 7 days per week. For
assistance or questions about mental illness in
the elderly, contact Dorothy McPherson RN.
Executive Director. Progressive Home Health
& Hospice at 316-691-5050.Week 34.jpg

The 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Every 4 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the most common cause of dementia, affecting over 40 million people worldwide. To the present day, no cure exists.

Alzheimer’s disease is a slow acting, fatal disease of the brain affecting one in ten people over the age of 65. No one is immune to this disease.

The progression, from mild forgetfulness to death, is slow and steady. The disease can span over an average of 8 to 10 years.

Alzheimer disease progresses in 7 stages.

The 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Stage 1: No Impairment

During this stage, Alzheimer’s disease is not detectable. Memory problems, nor are any other symptoms of dementia evident.

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline

The senior may notice minor memory problems, or lose things around the house. Although not to the point where the memory loss can be easily distinguished from normal age related memory loss. The senior will still do well on memory tests, and the disease is unlikely to be detected by physicians or loved ones.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline

At this stage, the friends and family members of the senior may begin to notice memory and cognitive problems. Performance on memory and cognitive tests are affected and physicians will be able to detect impaired cognitive function.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are apparent. Patients with stage four Alzheimer’s disease:

-Have difficulty with simple arithmetic like counting backwards.

-May forget details about their life histories.

-Have poor short term memory (may not recall what they ate for breakfast, for example).

-Inability to manage finance and pay bills.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

Patients begin to need help with many day to day activities. People in stage five of the disease may experience:

-Significant confusion.

-Inability to recall simple details about themselves, such as their own phone number.

-Difficulty dressing appropriately.

On the other hand, patients in stage five maintain a modicum of functionality. They typically can still bath and toilet independently. They also usually still know their family members and some detail about their personal histories, especially their childhood and youth.

Stage 6: Severe Decline

Patients will need constant supervision and frequently require professional care. Symptoms include:

-Confusion or unawareness of environment and surroundings.

-Major personality changes and potential behavior problems.

-The need for assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting and bathing.

-Inability to recognize faces except closest friends and relatives.

-Inability to remember most details of personal history.

Loss of bowel and bladder control.


Stages 7: Very Severe Decline

The final stage of Alzheimer’s disease is stage seven of the disease. Patients lose ability to respond to their environment or communicate. While they may still be able to utter words and phrases, they have no insight into their condition and need assistance with all activities of daily living. In the final stages of the illness, patients may lose their ability to swallow.

No matter what stage of the Alzheimer disease that your loved one is in, here at Progressive Home Health & Hospice we are here to answer your questions and provide care to your loved ones with dignity and compassion.

Progressive Home Health Care in Wichita Ks is delivered by professional nurses (RN/LPN) under a physician’s order. Our care plans target the needs of each client with a strong emphasis on positive patient outcomes and goals. Our home health services can be needed following a hospitalization or when dealing with an acute or chronic illness that requires ongoing monitoring by a professional.

Call us at 316-691-5050 with any questions.

Couple sitting with their teenage daughter and mother in-law on a couch


Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. During a stroke, the brain’s blood supply is interrupted, and leads to the death of brain tissue within minutes of the blockage.

There are two types of strokes.  The first type is what’s called an Ischemic stroke.This means that not enough blood is getting to the brain, because blood clots, or plaques, form inside the blood vessels. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body. When blood flow to your brain is blocked, your brain cells begin to die within a matter of minutes. Ischemic Strokes make up about 80% of strokes.

The second type of stroke is called Hemorrhagic stroke, or cerebral hemorrhage. This happens when a blood vessel ruptures and blood spills into the brain killing brain cells. It is usually caused by high blood pressure, or an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakened area of the blood vessel that balloons out and can rupture.

Strokes can have devastating effects.

When brain cells die during a stroke, some of the basic functions controlled by the brain are affected. These include paralysis, weakness, or numbness in parts of the body. Speech and communication problems, memory and vision loss may also occur. Personality may be affected too, in some cases.

Stroke Prevention

Almost all strokes are preventable. With the exception of advancing age, most risk factors for strokes can be controlled with lifestyle changes. Some of the risk factors for a stroke include:

High blood pressure
Physical inactivity
Poor diet

Stroke Symptoms:

A Stroke can happen suddenly. Here are some of the signs of a stroke:

Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

Sudden confusion
Trouble speaking
Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
Sudden loss of balance or coordination
Severe headache with no known cause

When you suspect someone has had a stroke, here are three questions you should ask:

Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?

If the answer to any of these questions is, yes, then time is critical. Call 911, or take the person to the hospital immediately.

The impact of the stroke may depend on how quickly you respond and get treatment. Always pay attention to these signs, and if you have any doubt, get medical attention immediately.

Here at Progressive Home Health & Hospice we provide care in the comfort of your home after a stroke, or any hospitalization. Our staff is available and ready to admit patients on weekends, evenings, holidays and at any other time.

At Progressive, we know our patients and their families may have questions about home health and hospice care. We can help put your mind at ease by answering questions, providing you with helpful resources and keeping you up-to-date on health-related news. Please contact us at 316-691-5050 in Kansas and 402-933-5836 in Nebraska.

At Progressive, People  Matter.

Understanding Parkinson_s Disease

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a gradual disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.

It starts when certain brain nerve cells gradually break down or die. Because it is gradual, it starts with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand and then progresses from there.

Parkinson’s Disease also causes stiffness and slowing of movement.

There’s no cure at the moment, but medications and other therapies can improve the symptoms and in some cases brain surgery is prescribed to improve the symptoms.


In the United States it’s estimated that anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million people, or more are living with Parkinson’s and at least 60,000 are diagnosed each year.

This makes Parkinson’s Disease one of the most common brain diseases, second only to Alzheimer’s disease.


Because Parkinson’s disease is a gradual disease that affects the nervous system, the early symptoms are mild and usually go unnoticed.

Some of the symptoms include:

Tremors: This is the most common symptom of Parkinson’s Disease. This begins at one of the fingers or a thumb and then progresses to the rest of the body.

Slow movement: This progresses over time, and shuffling gait is a characteristic noticed with people having Parkinson’s Disease.

Rigid muscles: This occurs in any part of the body and reduces range of motion, and increases the pain.

Slur or hesitant speech: The patient starts to speak with a monotone and may hesitate before they talk, or they might even have their slur when speaking, and over time they will lose the usual speech inflections.

Difficulty in writing: Their handwriting will become gradually smaller and the patient will have a lot of difficulty in writing.

Also, there will be a gradual decrease in automatic body movements, like arms swinging when walking, smiling etc.

Risk Factors:

Age is a known Parkinson’s Disease risk factor. The average age of diagnosis is 60 years old.  As the population gets older, more people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

Although most people tend to think of Parkinson’s as an older person’s disease but some get Parkinson’s disease earlier in their life. Michael J Fox, the famous actor, and Parkinson’s Disease advocate, was diagnosed at the age of 29.

Exposure to harmful toxins is a known risk factor. Farm workers who have had an ongoing exposure to pesticides are at an increased risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.

Family history: Having someone in your family with Parkinson’s disease increases your chance of getting the disease, however the chances are still small.

More males tend to get the disease than women.


Because at the moment there’s no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, managing the symptoms and helping the patient have a great life is very important.

Some of the common Parkinson’s Disease symptoms include:

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Thinking difficulties
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bladder and incontinence issues
  • Constipation
  • Smell dysfunction
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pain

Here at Progressive Home Health & Hospice we work very closely with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to individualize your plan of care and and manage your symptoms, so that you can sustain a high quality of living even after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. If you, or a family member have been diagnosed with this disease, give Progressive a call today, in Kansas 316-691-5050 and in Nebraska 402-933-5836.

Is There More to That Nagging Cough

Is There More to That Nagging Cough?

A nagging cough is often easily dismissed, but could actually be an early sign of COPD.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) almost 15.7 million Americans reported that they have been diagnosed with COPD making it the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2014.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is a group of irreversible (cannot be cured) lung diseases. The most common cause of COPD is first hand or second hand cigarette smoke.

COPD is an umbrella term which includes lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.They cause patients to be short of breath with activities and also have a chronic cough.

Chronic asthma is also included in COPD. Although asthma is known to be reversible, in some patients, it progresses and becomes irreversible. If you have COPD, you’ll have it for life as there is no cure for this disease.

Symptoms of COPD

You may have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, and not even realize it because often times the symptoms develop later. Major symptoms associated with COPD include

  • A persistent cough with mucus production that happens constantly during the day or night.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (A whistling sound you make while exhaling due to airway being compressed)
  • Chest tightness
  • Inability to take a good deep breath

 COPD Diagnosis

The earlier COPD is diagnosed, the better the patient outcomes, as the progression of the disease can be slowed.

COPD is diagnosed by a breathing test that measures lung function, called spirometry. Your doctor will get you to breathe, or blow into a machine as hard as you can and hold that breath as long as you can.

Also, in order to determine how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in your blood, your doctor will perform a blood test.

COPD Treatment

Because COPD has no cure, the current therapies simply make a patient feel better, or slow down the progression of their disease.

To control the condition and help you breathe more easily, you need to stop smoking, which can help stop the damage to your lungs. Also, you may have to stop being around cigarette smoke.

To help relieve COPD symptoms, you may breathe in a bronchodilator medicine through an inhaler to open up your airways, or take steroids to bring down the swelling in your lungs.

If you’re having trouble breathing, this is an emergency, so you must call 911. You could be admitted to the hospital for oxygen and medication to help your lungs.

During flare-ups, you may need to take antibiotics, because getting an infection can make your COPD worse.

Light exercise might help, but it may be difficult to exercise when you’re feeling out of breath. Your doctor, or respiratory therapist, might give you simple exercises to stay active and keep your lung muscles strong. Also, you can learn different ways to breathe, so that you can begin regular physical exercise.


By Anne-Marie Botek

The tasks of caring for an elderly loved one can add up quickly, leaving you exhausted and stressed out. Chances are, if you’ve been a caregiver for more than a few weeks you’ve experienced a certain degree of caregiver burnout.

Keep your eyes peeled for these six common signs of burnout. If you find yourself thinking or saying these things, you may want to seek help from your doctor and consider finding some respite care.

6 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  1. I just don’t feel like talking to or seeing anyone today—even my friends and family.
    If you discover that you consistently don’t want to interact with people, especially close family and friends, it could be a sign that caring for your elderly loved one is becoming too draining.
  2. I used to really enjoy reading mystery novels, but for some reason, even a thrilling ‘Whodunit’ doesn’t seem to hold my interest anymore.
    If your favorite hobbies and pastimes aren’t interesting to you anymore, it may indicate that you need a break from being a caregiver.
  3. Sometimes taking care of mom is too much—I feel like I want to end it all.
    Thoughts of suicide or hurting your elderly loved one are dangerous warning signs of extreme burnout and probable depression. You should immediately seek help from a mental health professional if you find yourself having violent thoughts.
  4. I’ve been eating weirdly lately.
    Abnormal eating patterns, whether it’s eating too much or not enough might be an indication of extreme stress.
  5. I’ve been sleeping weirdly lately.
    If you can’t seem to fall asleep at night, or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, you may be feeling the effects of too much caregiving responsibility.
  6. It’s been several weeks and I can’t seem to shake this cold.
    Stress can wreak havoc with your immune system. Illnesses that last longer than they should are a sign of reduced immune system functioning that could be due to your caregiving duties.


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