3 Steps You Can Take TODAY That Will Help Your Heart Health

3 Steps You Can Take TODAY That Will Help Your Heart Health

3 Steps

The most significant and controllable factor for heart disease is your lifestyle. Your heart is a muscle and if not taken care of properly it can atrophy and become weaker, increasing your chances of heart disease. Below are a few quick steps that can enact today to start improving your heart health.

1: Start a Low Fat and Cholesterol Diet

A diet high in fats and cholesterol is linked to heart disease and related conditions. So the first step is to cut out these types of food and limit your intake. These types of foods result in an increase in the production of cholesterol in your bloodstream which can build up and narrow arteries. Foods that should be avoided/limited are foods such as red meats, processed meats, full-fat dairy, baked goods, and fried foods. Also, it is best to avoid large amounts of salt because it increases blood pressure, putting more strain on your heart. We suggest purchasing low-sodium alternatives and refraining from adding additional salt to your food. 

2: Increase Your Physical Activity

A second step is to increase your physical activity as not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. It also increases your chances of developing other medical conditions that are risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The general goal per the mayo clinic is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day This doesn’t have to be high-intensity training at your local gym, just simply walking for a little bit each day (broken up into 10-minute walks or more manageable times). If you can and have a membership, going to your local pool or community center can be a great way to get this exercise in. 

3: Stop Smoking and Decrease Your Alcohol Intake

There are also two major habits that you or your loved one can reduce/stop to greatly impact your heart health.  The first is drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure levels and can put you at risk for heart disease. You should limit your alcohol consumption to about one or two drinks per day maximum. Furthermore, alcohol leads to an increase in levels of triglycerides which are fatty substances in the blood linked to heart disease. The second habit is tobacco use. The smoke and nicotine cause damage to your heart and arteries which can be extremely difficult to undo. Secondhand smoke also increases your risk of heart disease. Changing these behaviors can greatly decrease your risk of heart disease. 

With just a few simple steps you can take great strides toward improving your heart health. These changes don’t have to be dramatic and all happen immediately, you can start by taking a short walk today (even a safe path within your home works well). The goal is to do better today than you did yesterday and make small impactful improvements. 

7 Things You Should Know About Heart Disease

7 Things You Should Know About Heart Disease

Heart Disease

The words heart disease and heart health are thrown around a lot when it comes to discussing one's health. There are lots of fears and questions surrounding it and rightfully so. According to the CDC, one in every four deaths in the United States is from heart disease. Furthermore, it is the number one killer for adults in the United States. When someone you love or yourself is diagnosed with one of these diseases you may experience shock, fear, and confusion. Heart disease is known as a silent killer for a reason and it lives up to that name well. So in this article, we will be covering 7 things you should know about heart disease. 

1. What Causes Heart Disease?

The three key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. High blood pressure puts increased strain on your heart as it pumps blood throughout your body. HBP can weaken your heart to the point where it can’t properly push blood to the rest of your body. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver or found in different foods we eat. When extra cholesterol is made or digested it builds up in the walls of our arteries which leads to a narrowing and decreased blood flow to important parts of the body. Both of these risk factors are difficult to detect due to their lack of external symptoms but can be monitored via blood pressure cuffs and blood testing respectively. The final key risk factor, Tobacco use, can increase your risk of heart disease for a variety of reasons. Cigarette smoke damages the heart and blood vessels, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry throughout your body.

2. What Are Some of The Common Types of Heart Disease?

  • Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscles that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Chambers become enlarged resulting in suboptimal blood flow throughout the body. Cardiomyopathy is typically caused by viral infections in the heart or genetics. 
  • Congenital Heart Disease is a broad term for a wide range of heart birth defects that develop before birth. This can include defective vessels, leaky valves, and even holes in the heart. Serious cases require a heart transplant but in other cases, less invasive surgeries or treatments can be done. These conditions are relatively rare with less than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. 
  • Coronary Artery Disease, also often called atherosclerotic heart disease, is the damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels. This is often caused by the buildup of fat deposits called plaque that restricts the blood flow to and from the heart. The disease is very common with around 3 million cases in the U.S. per year. 
  • Heart Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. This is caused by a malfunction of the heart's electrical field which will cause it to beat too fast, too slow, or out of rhythm. The most common type is Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). This condition affects around 3 million Americans per year. Minor cases can be harder to detect due to a lack of symptoms while more serious cases are treated with procedures, implants, or medication. 
  • Heart Failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, is a chronic condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood properly. This is due to either stiff and thickening of chambers or the stretching and thinning of chambers in the heart. It is a chronic heart condition that is common with more than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. 
  • Heart Valve Disease occurs when the valves in the heart do not function properly. Though there are several different types of heart valve diseases the two most common are valvular stenosis which occurs when the valve does not fully open due to stiff or fused leaflets. The other is valvular insufficiency which is when a valve does not close tightly, often called a “leaky valve”. These conditions affect about 5 million Americans according to the American Heart Association. 
  • Pericardial Disease is the inflammation of any layers of the pericardium, a thin tissue sac that surrounds the heart. The pericardial is broken down into three layers, the visceral pericardium which is the inner layer that envelops the heat, the middle fluid layer that separates the upper and lower layers, then the parietal pericardium is the outer, fibrous tissue. Symptoms include chest pains, increased heart rate, and a low-grade fever. 

3. What Are The Common Sings of Heart Disease?

Unlike many other diseases, heart disease can be hard to detect due to its lack of present symptoms. However, the three most common signs/symptoms of heart disease are 

  • Arrhythmia
  • Heart Attacks
  • Heart Failure. 

Arrhythmia is simply the improper beating of the heart which is due to electrical impulses in the heart not working properly. They are extremely common with over 3 million cases in the United States alone (Mayo Foundation, 2021).  A common type of Arrhythmia is Atrial Fibrillation, also called A-Fib. Atrial Fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart. The heart's upper chambers (atria) beat out of sync with the lower chambers(ventricles) giving the condition its name. Those with Arrhythmia often feel a fluttering sensation in their chest or palpitations. 

The next common symptom is a heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction. Heart attacks happen when part of the heart does not get enough blood. Symptoms include tightness or pain in the chest, Heartburn, nausea, and vomiting are also common symptoms. Along with dizziness, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath. Heart attacks can be deadly and it is best to get to the emergency room if you or a loved one is experiencing such symptoms. 

The final symptom is heart failure which is when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in the body. When someone is experiencing heart failure they will often have symptoms such as shortness of breath both during daily activities and lying down. Unexpected weight gain with swelling in areas such as feet, ankles, legs, and stomach is also a common symptom. Additionally general feelings of tiredness or weakness. 

4. What Behaviors Increase The Risk of Heart Disease?

The biggest and most controllable factor for heart disease is your lifestyle. Eating a diet that is high in fats and cholesterol is linked to heart disease and related conditions. These types of foods result in an increase in the production of cholesterol in your bloodstream which can build up and narrow arteries.  Also, it is best to avoid large amounts of salt due to it increasing blood pressure. Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. It also increases your chances of developing other medical conditions that are risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Next, drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure levels and put you at risk for heart disease. It is suggested that you limit your alcohol consumption to about one or two drinks per day maximum. Furthermore, alcohol leads to an increase in levels of triglycerides which are fatty substances in the blood linked to heart disease. As mentioned in number one tobacco use is a huge and final risk when it comes to heart disease. The smoke and nicotine cause damage to your heart and arteries which can be extremely difficult to undo. Secondhand smoke also increases your risk of heart disease. Changing these behaviors can greatly decrease your risk of heart disease. 

5. Are Genetics A Risk Factor?

Genetics can play a role in developing heart disease however there are often other risk factors at play. If you have a family history of heart disease it is important to evaluate whether they shared a common environment or similar unhealthy lifestyle choices. Now when heredity and unhealthy living choices combine there is an increase in risk for heart disease but it is unlikely to develop just on heredity alone.

6. What Are The Treamtents For Heart Disease?

Treatments for heart disease vary depending on the condition and severity of it. Common treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, stents, pacemakers, and ablation. 

  • Angioplasty is a procedure that uses very little cutting to open up a blocked artery by the heart. 
  • Cardioversion is done in two different ways. One is a procedure in which a machine sends electrical energy to the heart muscle in an attempt to get your heart beating in a proper rhythm. For less serious cases medication may be prescribed or given through an IV to help slow or quicken your heartbeat. 
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is the repeated compression of a patient’s chest, performed in an attempt to restore the blood circulation and breathing of a person who has suffered cardiac arrest. 
  • Drug-Eluting Stents is a small metal mesh coil that is placed in a blocked coronary artery. This coil is coated in medication to help reopen an artery and keep it open. 
  • External Counterpulsation (EECP) is a non-invasive treatment that lowers the number and intensity of angina episodes. Treatment is administered through pairs of inflatable cuffs applied in certain areas of the body. 
  • Heart Bypass Surgery is when a surgeon takes blood vessels from another part of a patient's body and goes around a blocked artery. This allows for more blood and oxygen flow to the heart. 
  • A Heart Transplant is a surgical transplant procedure performed on patients with end-stage heart failure or severe coronary artery disease. The diseased or failing heart is removed from the body and a healthy donor's heart is then put in place.
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators are small battery-powered devices placed in the chest to detect and stop irregular heartbeats. The ICD continuously monitors the heartbeat and delivers electric shocks to restore a regular heart rhythm. 
  • Stents are small mesh tubes that hold open passages in the body such as weak or narrow arteries. 
  • Ventricular Assist Device is a device that is implanted in your chest to help pump blood from your lower heart chambers to the rest of your body. 

7. Can Heart Disease Be Cured?

Heart disease cannot be cured but treatments such as the above can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chances of problems such as heart attacks. The best treatments are to make lifestyle changes and prevent your risk of heart disease. Regular exercise and decreasing your intake of unhealthy, especially fatty, foods is the best way to prevent heart disease. 


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 1). Heart arrhythmia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-arrhythmia/symptoms-causes/syc-20350668?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=abstract&utm_content=Cardiac-arrhythmia&utm_campaign=Knowledge-panel 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 27). About heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm 


Matthew Laming

Client Relations Specialist at GLHCU. Graduate of Northwood University. General Geek and Nerd Enthusiast.

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    The 9 Most Common Questions About Hypertension

    The 9 Most Common Questions About Hypertension

    What does hypertension mean?

    Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. Now just having high blood pressure randomly does not count as hypertension, your blood pressure needs to be higher consistently when measured. There is a 10 mm Hg threshold however where if someone falls within this normal range they are considered to be elevated and at risk for hypertension but not having the condition itself. 

    Why is hypertension called the silent killer?

    Hypertension is considered a silent killer since it is often undetected or unmonitored. Yes, blood pressure cuffs can be used to track one’s blood pressure but often individuals don’t pay it much mind. Furthermore, symptoms often don’t appear until the condition is critical. 

    Are Hypertension and Blood Pressure the same?

    They are not the same. Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure your circulating blood has against the wall of blood vessels. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted when blood is ejected into arteries while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted within arteries between heartbeats. Furthermore, the two types of common blood pressure conditions are hypertension and hypotension. As mentioned before hypertension is when your blood pressure is too high while hypotension is when your blood pressure is too low which can create its own issues. 

    How is Hypertension diagnosed?

    Hypertension is diagnosed via recorded blood pressure levels. Per the CDC normal blood pressure for an adult is close to 120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic. If the measurement is in the 120 to 139 mm Hg systolic and 80-89 mm Hg range the blood pressure is considered elevated and at risk for hypertension. Finally, if an individual has a consistent blood pressure reading of 140 mm Hg systolic and 90 mm Hg diastolic they are considered to have hypertension. Proper diagnosis will come from a medical professional. 

    What causes hypertension?

    The causes are a variety of effects over time. Things such as unhealthy lifestyle choices and other medical conditions can lead to the development of hypertension. Living a sedimentary lifestyle and eating unhealthy are two common and controllable causes of high blood pressure. 

    Where does hypertension occur?

    Hypertension occurs thought the body, anywhere there are blood vessels. However, the damage caused by high blood pressure often affects more than just the arteries. It can also damage the heart, brain, kidneys, and even eyes. 

    How does Hypertension affect the body?

    There are a few different ways hypertension can affect the body. First arteries can be damaged and impacted by high blood pressure which causes them to “have trouble supplying blood to the heart” resulting in “chest pain, irregular heart rhythms or a heart attack”(Mayo Clinic, 2022). Next, the increased difficulty moving blood forces “the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body” which “causes the lower left heart chamber to thicken”(Mayo Clinic, 2022). A thickened ventricle will increase your risk of things such as heart attacks, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. 


    Next high blood pressure can affect the brain. “Studies suggest that high blood pressure can lead to mild cognitive impairment” stronger than what is typically experienced in old age (Mayo Clinic, 2022). In more serious cases “narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain” leading to vascular dementia (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Hypertension can also affect the brain when damaged blood vessels “narrow, rupture or leak” resulting in brain cells losing oxygen and nutrients and therefore causing a stroke (Mayo Clinic, 2022). This can also happen when blood clots form in the arteries near the brain. Finally, it can cause a transient ischemic attack which is a “brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to the brain” (Mayo Clinic, 2022). This is often caused by hardened arteries or blood clots.  


    When it comes to your kidneys there are two different kidney conditions caused by high blood pressure. The first is kidney scarring which is when “tiny blood vessels within the kidney become scared and unable to effectively filter fluid and waste for the blood” (Mayo Clinic, 2022). This often leads to the second condition kidney failure of which high blood pressure is one of the most common causes.  The “damaged blood vessels prevent kidneys from effectively filtering waste from the blood, allowing dangerous levels of fluid and water to collect”. 


    Finally, high blood pressure can cause damage to your eyes. Hypertension can cause “damage to the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye” which can lead to “bleeding in the eye, blurred vision, and complete loss of vision” (Mayo Clinic, 2022). High blood pressure can also lead to fluid build-up under the retina often called choroidopathy. This can result in distorted vision and scarring of the retina. Finally “blocked blood flow can damage the optic nerve” leading to bleeding in the eye or vision loss. 

    When is hypertension dangerous?

    Hypertension can be dangerous at any time if not handled properly and changes are not made to your lifestyle. However, the higher the blood pressure the more dangerous it can become, and if your blood pressure ever reads over 180/110 you must seek medical attention right away since this is considered a hypertensive crisis. 

    Can hypertension be cured?

    There is currently no cure for hypertension however steps can be taken to lower your blood pressure over time. These include lifestyle changes, medication, and other controllable factors that often result in high blood pressure. This is more effective when done early and with more mild cases. We have created a list of these steps for your convince in a handy guide. Just click the button below. 



    Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, January 14). How high blood pressure can affect the body. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868#:~:text=High%20blood%20pressure%20forces%20the,failure%20and%20sudden%20cardiac%20death. 


    Looking to lower your high blood pressure but don't know where to start? We got you covered. Just click the button below to get access to our FREE ebook on the topic.

    What is VA Aide and Attendance?

    What is Aide and Attendance?

    The United States Department of Veteran Affairs offers in-home services to this county's veteran who has been wounded or could use extra help around the home due to their service. Once a veteran is deemed eligible, they contract with a company such as ourselves to provide that one on one care. Caregivers can aid a veteran in various daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. They can also help prepare meals and perform minor house cleaning tasks. However, there are some limitations on what caregivers can do for a veteran these include handling medication, anything involving cutting (hair or nails), and wound care. These tasks are often reserved for nurses only due to legal stipulations. These HHAs are provided to a veteran through a contracted organization (such as our own) and the VA either pay the company directly or in some cases will give you reimbursement for services you paid for. The organization and the veteran or veteran loved one will work together to set up a schedule for caregivers to come into the home, based on the allotted hours of care the VA has recommended. There are also instances where respite care will be provided as well. This type of care gives the veteran’s primary caregiver a break to do errands or other personal tasks. These hours are often over a yearly period and can be used at the veteran’s wish, as long as they do not exceed their allotted respite hours.

    Ok if I get services, what services am I eligible for? 

    HHA services often include helping a veteran with:

    • Bathing
    • Getting Dressed
    • Grooming
    • Meal Preparation
    • Feeding
    • Moving from place to place
    • Going to appointments
    • Using the bathroom

    That’s interesting but how do I know if I am eligible for these services?

    Home Health Aide services are part of a veterans VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package, therefore all that are enrolled are eligible if they meet the VA’s clinical need for the service. This is evaluated by a VA doctor who can prescribe HHA services. This often is often prescribed for veterans who are not able to take care of themselves anymore and need help doing the particular tasks mentioned above. A copay may be charged based on a veteran’s VA service-connected disability status. Service-connected disabilities are often the lead reason HHA services are prescribed but those with age-related debilities can also be eligible. So contact your veteran’s primary VA physician today.

    Clinton County Circuit Court Rules Against Retroactive Policies

    New Auto No-Fault Court Ruling:
    Kuhlgert (Ostendorf) v State Farm: Clinton County Circuit Court Case No. 21-12102-NF; Judge Shannon Schlegel

    On Friday, May 13, 2022, Clinton County Circuit Court Judge Shannon Schlegel issued
    an important decision regarding the retroactive applicability of the recently enacted legislative changes to Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Insurance Law. Specifically, in a ruling from the bench, Judge Schlegel held that the new fee schedule limitations contained in MCL 500.3157(7), enacted in 2019, cannot be retroactively applied to patients who purchased auto no-fault insurance policies and sustained injury prior to the effective date of the new provisions. Therefore, insurance companies cannot enforce these new fee schedule provisions to limit the level of reimbursements to medical providers who render services after July 1, 2021 to such previously injured patients.

    In so ruling, Judge Schlegel held that the no-fault insurance policies purchased by such patients required the payment of “all reasonable charges” for reasonably necessary products, services, and accommodations for an injured person’s care, recovery, or rehabilitation, and insurers had the duty to pay those benefits without regard to any government “fee schedules.” Accordingly, the Court held that any effort to apply the new fee schedules to such patients injured prior to the new law would constitute an illegal attempt to retroactively enforce benefit reductions because the contractual right of those patients had “legally vested” as of the date of their injury. In reaching its decision, the Court relied on the recent decision of the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of Buhl v City of Oak Park, 507 Mich 236 (2021), which case sets forth four (4) factors that should be utilized to determine when legislation can be retroactively applied. Judge Schlegel ruled that all of those factors established that retroactive application of the new benefit cuts was not proper. Her decision came in the case of Kuhlgert (Ostendorf) v State Farm, Case No. 21-12102-NF, where the Plaintiff was represented by George Sinas, Catherine Tucker, and Lauren Kissel of the Sinas Dramis Law Firm in Lansing.

    Judge Schlegel is the fifth Michigan Circuit Judge to reach the conclusion that the benefit limitations set forth in the new 2019 no-fault law cannot be retroactively enforced as to patients who purchased auto insurance policies and were injured prior to the effective date of the new legislation. The other judges so ruling in these earlier cases were: Genesee County Circuit Court Judge F. Kay Behm in the case of Melrose v Nationwide Mutual Ins Co, Case No. 19-113455-NF; Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark A. Trusock in the case of Advisacare Healthcare Solutions, Inc v Progressive Marathon Ins Co, Case No. 21-1118-NF; Calhoun County Circuit Judge Sarah S. Lincoln in the case of Thomason v Allstate Ins Co, Case No. 2011-281-NF; and Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Archie C. Brown in the case of Gedda v State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins Co, Case No. 22-152-NF.

    Source: CPAN Press Release Dated 5-17-2022

    Top 10 Questions (+1 Bonus Question) You Have to Ask Before Hiring a Home Health Care Company

    When many people begin their search for a home health care agency they are often inexperienced and can easily get lost with all of the different duties that have been thrust upon them. Between trying to care for their loved ones and maintaining their home life it is hard to do the research needed to find the right kind of care for a loved one. That is where this small, handy list of questions can come in and help. We have compiled a list of 10 questions that we are often asked when interviewed as a home care company plus a bonus question we feel is essential to ask every company you work with! We at GLHCU have also added a reason why you should ask each question and our responses to them. 

    1) What is your agency's plan for if a caregiver calls off?


    Why ask this question: It is important to know if the agency has a backup plan. Caregiver call-offs are inevitable, even the best caregivers have to call in from time to time. Most companies will have a caregiver or two who are a good fit for the home as back up and hopefully, they have trained with your loved one or been to the home before. It is also a good time to ask how many caregivers they have in the area or which caregivers they have in mind for your home. This question is also essential because if the company does not have a back up they may require you or another loved one to stay with the client instead. 


    Our Response: It is always our goal to have a backup plan if a caregiver is unable to make a shift.  We have multiple caregivers across the state who can fill a variety of shifts. We also don't take a case unless we have the needed caregivers and backup caregivers ready to work (Typically 2 for cases with fewer hours, all the way up to 6 caregivers for a 24/7 case). We then continue to hire in the area to build up a pool of local caregivers who can pick up a shift whenever needed. As a last resort, we have proven caregivers who are willing to travel further to help out our clients in need. Though these caregivers would prefer to work closer to their homes, they are often ready and willing to help out at a moment's notice.


    2) How do you provide credible caregivers?


    Why ask this question: In-home care is a very personal service and sometimes your loved one is in a very vulnerable state due to their condition(s). You are not just having someone come and provide a service but also trusting them to take care of your loved one. With all of these factors, a company must provide credible caregivers. Ask them about their vetting process and how they make sure your loved one is safe with these people in their home. Yes, they may say that they do a background check and drug screen, but how in-depth is it? Some checks are limited to a county while others are for the whole country. Also, some drug tests only test for a few items while others test for a large variety. You do not want someone in your loved one’s home who has a behavior pattern of stealing or is continually under the influence of some drug. 


    Our Response: Though not all of our caregivers are licensed, such as CNA or MA, most of our caregivers have years of experience in the field. Before we hire anyone we conduct a full reference check. This includes calling their previous employment and personal references. We also only hire caregivers that pass a national background check, sex offender registry check, the office of inspector general check, and finally, a 13-panel drug test. All of these checks are done yearly and we do reserve the right to randomly drug test if needed. We also verify all caregivers have a valid driver's license and auto insurance.


    3) How do I know if my caregiver is working the hours they are supposed to, and how can I get status updates on the services they are providing to my loved ones?


    Why ask the question: This is especially important when a loved one does not live with you or care is provided when you are not in the home. It can often be hard to know if your loved one is getting the proper care or even if the caregiver was there. Now, most companies will have some form of the way for caregivers to clock in and out but the systems vary in reliability and detail. Most programs do require a call in from a preselected line or some even are GPS enabled and limit clock in/out to a specific range of the address. Also, a proper company will have signed documentation of what they are doing for your loved one. These records should be available to family members or some even leave a carbon copy in the home upon request. 


    Our Response: We schedule our caregivers a month in advance and provide a schedule to the household/family every month. Our system also has a family portal. This is where you can monitor the care of your loved one. This portal has a live schedule, a feed of what tasks have and have not been completed in the home, and the option to add notes or special tasks. All communication in the portal goes directly to our staff who can answer any questions you may have about your loved one and their care. Our caregivers are required to clock in and out either via a smartphone with GPS tracking or our telephony system. This is all to make sure that your loved one gets the care they need. Finally, all of our caregivers are required to fill out a home visit record/note that details their shift. 


    4) Can I get a caregiver who has experience with a specific disease or disability?


    Why ask the question: The same reason you would not ask someone who can’t cook to cater your wedding. Yes, they can do it, but you may all be eating grilled cheese and tomato soup. All jokes aside, it is important to ask this question if you have someone with a specific disease or disability (Including but not limited to Dementia, Parkinson’s, and Traumatic Brain Injury). Yes someone without experience with a specific disease can still care for someone who needs the specialized help, but they often lack the tools those who have experience can call upon. 


    Our Response: Absolutely! We make sure to match up a caregiver's experience with the home. For example, a client with dementia will receive a caregiver with dementia experience. If a caregiver needs a refresher or has limited experience with a disease we make sure they are fully trained by our Nursing Supervisor before they are sent to the home. 


    5) How quickly will a provider be able to respond in an emergency?


    Why ask the question: Emergencies happen. Whether it is a medical emergency for the patient or a natural disaster, a care company should always have some form of a plan. If they do, you may even want to request a copy of their procedures. Most companies will have a plan they can produce for you within a few hours. Most companies will have some form of on-call but if you have an important medical question you may be SOL if they don’t have a nurse available. 


    Our Response: In the case of a medical emergency, the client, caregiver, or family should call 911 before contacting us. However, we have a 24/7 on-call staff that can answer any questions you have or any other issues that may arise. This includes situations such as if a caregiver does not show up or you have an important schedule change. On top of that, we have a licensed nurse who can answer any medical questions at a moment’s notice. We work hard to make sure that you are kept up to date and your loved one is cared for, even after "normal" business hours. On top of that, we have a what to do in case of an emergency sheet in every one of our binders in a client’s home, so our caregivers can reference it if they are ever lost on how to act.


    6) Can your agency provide any references?


    Why should you ask this question: Established companies should be able to provide a list of references. If they aren’t able to, it may be a concern. Yes, HIPPA laws will prevent them from just giving you a list of current clients, but those that have been providing quality care for a while should at least have a few people who have volunteered to be referenced for potential clients. These references should easily be able to answer any of your questions about the company and receiving services from them. A bonus would be clients who have similar conditions to your loved ones. 


    Our Response: Absolutely, we have a few different clients who have offered to be a reference for us and our caregivers. They have offered to talk to others about the services we provide and their experience as a client of our company. 


    7) How do the agency train and monitor caregivers? Does the agency provide continuing education?


    Why ask the question: Training can be crucial for new caregivers entering the field and therefore crucial to the care of your loved one. Newer caregivers will need training on basics and most companies should have some form of a training program, especially one put on by a nurse. This is where caregivers can pick up on skills such as taking manual blood pressures, using a gait belt, and more. On top of that, a company should have a continuing education program to help their caregivers and nurses stay up to date on their training and advancements in the field. 


    Our Response: We currently have a training program in place for all of our employees run by our head registered nurse. There she walks our caregivers through all of the essential tasks they should know how to do before going out into the field. If there is a more specific skill a caregiver has to learn before entering a home for work, she will teach them one on one until they have a solid grasp on how to do it. Some training may even take place in the home to get a caregiver familiar with the tools in the home and the client. Continuing education is provided for our licensed caregivers and nurses. They complete modules online to further their education and stay on top of advances.


    8) What resources does the agency provide for financial assistance, if needed? For instance, is a payment plan available?


    Why ask the question: Getting care for a loved one can be a little expensive depending on the level of care, the company, and a few other factors. That is why it is important to ask if companies have a way to financially assist you. This can include what type of insurance they take if any fees apply if a client is not able to pay their bill on time due to financial issues and if payment plans are available. You may also want to ask how flexible the company is on hours and days, if the financial burden is too much could you decrease hours without penalty?


    Our Response: We work with a wide variety of insurances, claims adjusters, and payer sources to make in-home care more affordable for our clients. Our billing department is always happy and willing to help in any way possible. If the client is a veteran, we work with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and provide informative literature about the different benefits a veteran or surviving spouse can receive. If your loved one needs care due to an auto accident or has a long-term care insurance policy, we work hard with insurance and claim adjusters to make sure your loved one’s care is paid for. We take all the hassle of such by working directly with those companies and providing supporting documentation so your loved one gets continued care.


    9) Will you receive a written care plan before service begins?


    Why ask the question: The care plan should include details about medical equipment, specific care needs, and responsibilities of the aide or agency. It should also contain input from the doctor, and be updated frequently. Care plans are meant to be a resource for all aids coming into the home and often also contain what tasks are asked of the caregiver. These should also include emergency contact information and be easily accessed by a caregiver. 


    Our Response: Though we do not typically send a plan of care to relatives before starting care, one is always in the binder we keep in each home. We will gladly send one upon request. After an initial assessment, the information will be put into our scheduling system and a plan of care will be created and sent to the home before care starts. Our caregivers have access to this before they go to their shifts and are advised to read over it before starting their shifts. These care plans are updated yearly or if a major change happens in a client’s life or needed care. These plans of care also have emergency contact information at the top so a caregiver can contact you in case of a medical emergency. 




    10) How are problems addressed and resolved? Whom can you or another family member contact with requests, questions, or complaints? Will the agency work directly with you or your loved one, family members, and health care providers?


    Why ask the question: This is essential because communication is key. Problems can arise with such a personal service. Some family members, yourself, or the client may not be happy with the way services are currently being provided. You may also not like a certain caregiver or there may be a conflict between the client and caregiver. If such problems arise it is important to know who you need to talk with to resolve these issues. It is also key to know how such problems are resolved. Do they just get put in a book and dismissed or are they fully investigated and properly resolved. Some companies may even just say you have to deal with it. As far as working with others, a good home care company should be communicating with all individuals involved. This communication has to be clear and speedy to solve any problems and make sure your loved one gets the best care. 


    Our Response: As far as any employee and client conflicts we have a few different approaches. The most common one is if a client does not want a caregiver back or the caregiver wishes to not return then we mark so in our system and take said caregiver off the schedule. In more serious cases the authorities may need to be involved and a dissolvent of the relationship may need to take place (whether caregiver to company or client to the company). We never want to put your loved one or our caregivers in harm's way. All such requests or complaints will be directed toward or office staff who will handle the situation. If you have questions about a specific topic, we provide a list of our employees and their specialty at the time of a client opening. Therefore you are educated on who to contact with your questions or we at the office can direct your call as well. All medical questions will be answered by our on-call registered nurse who will update you and the plan of care as needed. Finally, our scheduling system allows you to have access to what is going on in the home while our caregivers are there. Our caregivers can leave notes on how the shift went and if there was any cause for concern with the client. These notes are available in the client portal and if there is a change in the client's condition, our nurse and office staff are immediately notified through our system or the caregiver often calls to let us know. This information is all relayed to those involved in the client’s care.  


    Bonus Questions: Why was your company founded?


    Why ask the question: This can give you an idea of the people behind the company and its story. Some people are just in it for the money, plain and simple while others have a solid reason behind why they decided to start a company and provide care to others. These stories are often more than just they like to help others or like working with the elderly. Those who are in it for the money often make less empathetic decisions and care more about the profit than the client and caregivers. However, those who have a solid reason to be in business are typically the ones who go above and beyond because they were in your shoes once or currently still are.


    Our Response:  For over 30 years Matt & Beth have been the caregivers for their handicapped son. They've had to deal with companies that provided caregivers & nurses that were unreliable and unskilled. That's why they created Great Lakes Home Care Unlimited 7 years ago. They knew others deserved better care and to be treated like family. We understand what it is like to be in your shoes and have to care for a loved one. It is the reason we get up and work hard to give people the kind of care they deserve, every day!