Angel News
April 2009
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Resources: Living With and Caring for Cancer: Don't Go it Alone
In This Issue
Got Milk? Got Brains.

Oxford researchers say that milk is one of the best sources of vitamin B12--a vitamin that may help protect against the brain shrinkage linked to dementia. In a new study, they found that elderly patients who had a vitamin B12 deficiency had twice as much brain shrinkage as patients with higher levels.

The study's authors are conducting clinical trials to see if drinking milk can protect against memory loss, but in the meantime they say that drinking two glasses per day can bring vitamin B12 levels into a normal range.

Find out more here.
Depressed Older Adults Have Higher Health Care Costs

A recent NIMH-funded analysis indicates that among Medicare participants with diabetes or congestive heart failure, those who also suffer from depression have significantly higher health care costs than their counterparts who do not have co-existing depression. The majority of participants had diabetes. Many had congestive heart failure. About 20 percent had both. Participants with diagnosed depression spent significantly more money in nearly every health care cost category, including home health care, skilled nursing facility costs, outpatient care, inpatient care, physician charges, and medical equipment.

Read the full article here.
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The phrase "April showers bring May flowers" reassures us that, even with a dark sky looming, goodness lies before us. As care providers, this is something our team at Visiting Angels of Burlington and Mercer Counties believes firsthand. For even as a dark cloud of poor health or age may loom over, attentive, gentle and sensitive caregiving may follow. This April, we at Visiting Angels of Burlington and Mercer Counties encourage our readers to think of the "May flowers" coming ahead in all of our lives. Whatever hardships we might be feeling individually, there is sure to be a sense of joy around the next corner.

Below you'll find the most recent and relevant elder care, aging and home care related news. We strive to educate our friends and contacts (and that means you!) on all the information that is essential to know. We hope you will receive this newsletter in the spirit of community in which it is sent.

Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties

Health Care Spending: Ouch!

2009 marks the largest one-year increase in total health care spending since CMS began tracking health care spending in 1960. That amount is 17.6% of the gross domestic product, a full percentage point higher than 2008. Overall U.S. health care spending will reach $2.5 trillion in 2009, a 5.5% increase from 2008, when health care spending increased by 6.1%, according to a CMS report in the journal Health Affairs.

The report also estimates growth rates for overall health spending in 2008 of 7.2% for hospitals, 6.2% for physician and clinical services, 9.1% for home health care, and 4.6% for nursing homes.

Listen to more about increased health care spending here.

An abstract is available here, along with a link to the full study which is available for purchase.
Take Your Meds, Maude...

Now a Web-based home medication management system provides reminders to seniors who live independently to take their medications. This system was designed and developed by a nurse who came up with the idea while working as a nurse manager on a rehabilitation floor at a life care center.

The negative potential of "poly-pharmacy," the use of multiple medications by a patient, and improper drug interaction all can lead to hospitalization, which further taxes an overburdened health care system. Taking medications properly as part of a daily routine is one way to keep seniors in their homes longer and keep them out of the hospital and nursing homes.

The Med-Assist plan includes as many as six reminders in a day, verification that seniors took their pills, follow-up if there's no answer, compliance tracking, a current medication list for doctors' appointments, the cell phone number of a nurse on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and an option for asking health-related questions with an automatic call to the doctor's office. The calls can also remind seniors to check their blood sugar levels.

Anyone can sign up for this national service here, which includes a link to a free trial.
Turn Off the TV and Get a Hobby

The findings of a new study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle in April show that crafts and other activities which exercise the brain, including reading novels and computer games, can all have a protective effect on the mind and help prevent memory loss. By contrast, the research also found that watching television for hours on end significantly increased the chance of suffering from problems.

Previous studies have shown that those with mentally demanding jobs and high levels of education were less likely to suffer the memory problems associated with the condition. Researchers found that those with stimulating occupations were less at risk, even when they had physical damage to their brain cells.
Read more here.

What's Happening at Visiting Angels

"Fall Prevention" Lunch & Learn at Traditions at Hamiltion Crossing

We are delighted to have been asked  to return to "Traditions at Hamilton Crossing", a community for active adults 55 and better in Hamilton, NJ, to present our seminar entitled "Fall Prevention: What Can You Do?"

Nora de Cárdenas and Rudy Tervooren, Co-Owners & Directors of Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties, led a dynamic, interactive session with the residents on March 30th.. Nora and Rudy started the seminar by explaining that while falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging, the risk of being seriously injured in a fall does increase as we age.

In the younger, healthier senior population, "environmental risk factors" are more important to focus on, such as stairs and floors obstacles. For the older, sick senior population, falls are often associated with "biological risk factors", such as chronic health conditions (e.g. arthritis/ cardiac disease) and vision or mobility problems; and "behavioral risk factors", such as medication side effects/interactions or alcohol use.

Through demonstrations and handout materials, residents at Traditions at Hamilton Crossing now have information that can help them significantly reduce their risk factors for falls.

If you would like to receive a free "Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults", or are interested in having Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties present a "Fall Prevention Seminar" at your facility or company, simply contact Nora de Cárdenas at 609-883-8188.

"Maintaining Independence" Lunch & Learn at RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness
Nora de Cárdenas, J.D., of Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties, will be presenting a "Lunch & Learn" entitled "Maintaining Independence" at the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness, together with Eileen Doremus, BSW, Executive Director of the Mercer County Office on Aging.  
Eileen will explore memory loss versus dementia and Nora assessment tools and care plans that allow seniors to "age in place".

To register call 609-584-5900 or register online at Fee: $5. Lunch Included.

Nora's Latest Eldercare News Article

Family caregivers, and those counseling families on elder care issues, will definitely want to read Nora's latest elder/homecare news column entitled "Tough Economic Times Calls for Money-Saving Caregiving Tips". With the dynamics of caring for an aging loved one being stressful in its own right, Nora provides numerous resources and tips to help ease the added personal and financial squeeze on families during these tough economic times.

All Nora's elder/homecare news columns are also available on:
·    Our Web site under "Nora's News Column";
·    Burlington County Woman newspaper site; and
·    Mercer County Woman site.

April's Web-based Eldercare Theme:
"When Cancer Strikes, Call in a Strong Support System"

For those living with cancer, attentive and focused home care can help. There's no need to go it alone.

A trusted, certified home caregiver can provide some extra encouragement - help the patient stick with a demanding treatment plan, provide nutritious meals that fit with requests for eating and encourage rest.

This month our Web site offers the following downloadable handouts:

  • Chemotherapy Questions: A useful list of questions to ask your doctor about your treatment.
  • Getting Help With Your Caregiving Responsibilities: Having a support system is part of taking care of both your loved one and yourself. This handout helps you consider which tasks you will do on your own, and which you will need help with.
  • How To Help Someone Diagnosed With Cancer: No two people who get cancer ever react identically, nor do their family and friends. Each person must be allowed to cope with cancer in their own way. This handout provides tips on how you can support the person in whatever way necessary.

For this and other educational resources about in-home care, and about many age- and disease-related issues, visit our Web site at
Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties:
About Our Care

Visiting Angels of Burlington & Mercer Counties is a New Jersey-licensed, non-medical home care company committed to going well beyond the "industry standard" to provide an exceptional level of security, comfort and peace of mind to our clients and their loved ones. Our "Angels", all certified home health professionals, are ready to provide compassionate and dependable assistance with the activities of everyday living to seniors, the disabled, those recovering from surgery and to those who are simply frail. Our services include such simple tasks as light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands and shopping to more personal tasks such as hygiene assistance, bathing, dressing and grooming.
Visiting Angels' in-home care helps make it possible for seniors and adults with special needs to continue to live at home and maintain the independence of their daily routines and familiar surroundings, for as long as they can do so safely. We truly understand how challenging and alien the entire home care selection process can be ... and we are experienced in working with families; with loved ones "resistant" to receiving care; and with third-parties payors (such as insurance companies and the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs) to help insure that the best interests of the family and their loved ones are met. Visiting Angels' services help families spend more mutually-rewarding and meaningful time with their loved ones and also helps provide comfort and peace of mind to those who face the challenge of long-distance caregiving.
For more information, please visit our website,; call us at 609-883-8188; or contact us by email at