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The Heart and Hands of Home Care

A private, non-profit home health agency

Certified & Licensed Home Health Care

Care nurtures the human spirit as well as the human body…

 

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We also have a vast network of resources that allows us as your care partner to help you find services, programs and equipment you might need during your recovery process.
To learn more about our services click here.

 

Empower Yourself -
Become an Informed Partner in Your Care

 

Alzheimer’s

Devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s affects more than four million adults in the U.S. and is the most common form of dementia, a brain disorder characterized by impairment in thinking, memory and decision-making skills.  This disease usually develops in people 60 and older and is caused by plaque accumulation that kills nerve and brain cells, causing a decline in memory and cognitive abilities. 

There are up to 50 other causes of dementia, including neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, vascular disorders, traumatic brain injury, chronic alcohol use, and vitamin or hormone deficiencies.  Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but a variety of medications can improve the quality of life of some people with the disease; meanwhile, some forms of dementia can be effectively treated if the underlying cause is addressed. Your doctor will suggest lifestyle modifications—such as exercise and relaxation techniques—and may prescribe medications to try to slow the disorder’s progression and perhaps improve mental function. Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you adhere to this regimen and improve your ability to carry out everyday activities.  Our professional staff can work with you or a loved one to manage Alzheimer’s or dementia at home. Our services include:

  • Setting realistic goals for daily living and helping to prevent complications 
  • Helping you follow prescribed protocols, including taking medications, exercising, and adhering to a modified diet 
  • Evaluating your environment for safety issues and necessary resources, such as adaptive equipment
  • Providing you with a medical social worker who can help you cope more effectively with dementia and its emotional challenges

Cancer

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Although coping with cancer is a major challenge, 8.4 million cancer survivors are proof that this devastating disease can be treated successfully. Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you better understand your diagnosis so you can improve your ability to manage your disease, your medical treatment, and any side effects you experience.

Cancer occurs when cells grow faster than normal and without purpose. These out-of-control cells build up into masses, or tumors. Cancerous growths are often treated with surgery, chemotherapy (drug treatment), radiation (typically x-rays), and biotherapy or immunotherapy (using agents to make your immune system better able to find and destroy cancer cells). These forms of therapy may be used separately or in combination. Newer forms of treatment are being developed every day and may be available to you as well.

Cancer treatments often affect normal cells as well as cancer cells, so side effects are common. You may experience physical effects such as nausea, fatigue, pain, hair loss or changes in appetite or taste, as well as emotional effects such as anxiety or depression. Our nurses can help you manage your treatment and side effects, as well as help you lessen any problems that occur with your cancer or its treatment.

Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and learn to manage your symptoms and get the emotional and physical support you need. Our services include:

  • Helping you to monitor the effects of your treatments and medications
  • Helping you to manage complications or symptoms, including identifying problematic side effects that may require a doctor’s attention
  • Assisting with household chores if you experience fatigue as a result of your treatment

Chronic Pain

The truth is no one else can feel your pain. As a result, it can sometimes be hard for others to appreciate just how deeply chronic pain can affect the way you, or a loved one, feel and function. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, which typically lasts more than six months and can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health and quality of life. Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you understand and control chronic pain so you can live the best life possible. 

Chronic pain persists for weeks, months, sometimes years, as pain signals remain active in the nervous system, causing the pain to take on a life of its own. There may have been an initial cause (an injury, like a strained back, or an illness, like shingles) or there may be an ongoing cause of pain (headaches, arthritis, or cancer); the pain can also develop for no apparent reason. Whatever the cause, the fallout can be substantial, leading to fatigue, sleeplessness, changes in mood and immune function, and other ill effects.

Depending on whether the pain is mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, your doctor will suggest lifestyle modifications and prescribe medications, other treatments, and perhaps complementary medical therapies to reduce your pain. Our nurses and therapists can help you stick to your treatment plan so you can get the maximum help for the hurt—and resume your life.  Our services include:

  • Helping you to properly take medications and monitoring their effects
  • Helping you to make necessary lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, stress management, or other factors
  • Developing strategies to help you cope with your condition

 

Diabetes

Learning to manage your diabetes can help you reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney or nerve damage and vision problems. To get your diabetes under control, you’ll need to consider a number of factors, including adjusting your lifestyle, monitoring your blood sugar, and taking medications effectively. Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you with all of the steps involved in managing your diabetes, so you can reduce the risk of long-term consequences and feel better.

If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or your body doesn't respond well to insulin–an important hormone. Insulin helps your body move glucose from the foods you eat into your cells for fuel (energy). There are a variety of symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes, from fatigue to increased thirst and urination to slow wound healing. Blood sugar monitoring, healthy eating, exercise and taking doctor-prescribed medications properly are important steps in managing this chronic condition.

While you can’t change having a family history of diabetes, you can do something about other risk factors, such as being overweight or sedentary (inactive), and having high blood pressure or cholesterol abnormalities. If you or a loved one has diabetes, your doctor will suggest lifestyle modifications and may prescribe medications to control blood sugar levels.

Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and learn to manage diabetes at home. Our services include:

  • Teaching you to monitor your blood sugar levels and keep an effective record to track changes in your blood sugar throughout the day 
  • Teaching you how to manage your medication regimen, including insulin therapy (when relevant)
  • Helping you incorporate healthy lifestyle modifications, like meal planning and portion control, and getting regular exercise, to help control blood sugar levels
  • Helping you to recognize the signs and symptoms that should prompt you to seek emergency care

 

Heart Disease

Heart disease affects 81 million people and it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. The term heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease) includes many conditions that affect the heart’s ability to function normally, including congestive heart failure, congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, and coronary artery disease.

The most common cause of heart disease is a progressive build-up of fatty material on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart itself. Without an adequate blood supply, the heart simply doesn’t function properly.  You can do something about the risk factors that include being overweight or sedentary, smoking, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

Coronary artery disease is a chronic disease without a cure but it can be treated with lifestyle modifications, a variety of medications, surgery, and other procedures. Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and learn to manage heart disease at home. Our services include: 

  • Helping you to take medications properly and monitor their effects
  • Helping you to make necessary modifications to your diet to control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight 
  • Teaching you strategies to conserve energy
  • Teaching you to recognize the signs and symptoms that should prompt you to seek emergency care
  • Teaching you how to use a home blood pressure monitor and keep an effective log of your results

 

High Blood Pressure

Learning how to manage high blood pressure is essential for good health. You’ve probably heard that high blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vision problems.

Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure) and when it rests between beats (diastolic pressure). Blood pressure is necessary because it, along with your beating heart, keeps your blood circulating through the body, so it can provide your organs and tissues with the oxygen and nutrients they need. However, blood pressure that is high can be harmful because it makes the heart work too hard. Hardening of the arteries and thickening of the artery walls contribute to high blood pressure, though it can also be caused by other health problems.

While you can’t change a family history of hypertension, you can control other risk factors, such as being overweight or sedentary, smoking, consuming too much salt or alcohol, and letting stress get the upper hand on you. Your doctor will suggest lifestyle modifications and prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure.  Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you better understand high blood pressure, which affects one in three adults in the U.S., and monitor your condition at home so you can get it under control and improve your health.

 

Hip/Knee Replacement

If you or a loved one needs a hip or knee replacement, you might think the difficult part will be behind you once you’ve returned home. But what you do during the recovery period is critical to improving your strength and range of motion in the joint, as well as preventing blood clots, infections, and other complications from developing. Therapist and nurses from Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can monitor your condition at home and help you to better understand the recovery process and resume activities as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Joint replacement surgery involves replacing the ends of the bones and the cartilage in a damaged joint to relieve pain from arthritis, an injury, or another medical condition and restore the range of motion and strength you need to perform your daily activities.

As you recover from surgery, you’ll probably use a walker or crutches to walk and some of your movements may be restricted during the healing process. Doing physical therapy and following a prescribed exercise program can help you get the greatest benefit from your surgery. Your doctor will recommend precautions to take and prescribe medications to reduce pain and soreness.

Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and recover from joint replacement surgery at home. Our services include:

  • Helping you to follow your surgeon’s exercise recommendations
  • Addressing safety issues in your home, including the need for adaptive equipment, and assessing your ability to care for yourself
  • Handling wound and incision care to facilitate healing and prevent complications 
  • Improving your comfort at home during the healing process
  • Helping you to take medications to manage pain and monitor their effects

Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Finding out that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  After all, breathing is essential to life, and over time, COPD makes it difficult to breathe.

The two most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis, in which the airways leading to the lungs become inflamed and partially blocked with excess mucus, and emphysema, in which the air sacs in the lungs are damaged and trap air. Many people with COPD have a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and some may also have asthma. By any name, COPD can cause difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, weakness, and exhaustion.

The leading cause of COPD is smoking, though other risk factors include prolonged exposure to indoor or outdoor pollution and a history of early childhood lung infections. COPD can’t be cured, but your doctor can help you improve your symptoms and slow the damage to your lungs by suggesting lifestyle modifications and prescribing medications to allow air to travel more easily through the breathing passages.

Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and slow the effects of pulmonary disease at home. Our services include:

  • Teaching you how to manage your disease and take your medications properly
  • Determining how to address environmental triggers and prevent flare-ups of your condition
  • Helping you prevent complications, such as respiratory infections, malnutrition, and depression
  • Teaching you strategies to conserve energy
  • Helping you to recognize the signs and symptoms that should prompt you to seek emergency care

Stroke

If you or a loved one has experienced a stroke, the idea of going home from the hospital can be daunting. You may be worried about how you’ll manage with the limitations you’re experiencing. Depending on the part of the brain that was affected, your speech, movement, and memory may be impaired. Visiting Nurse Service of Ithaca and Tompkins County can help you monitor your condition at home and better understand the recovery process after a stroke, which affects more than 700,000 people in the U.S. each year.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery, disrupting blood and oxygen flow to the brain; a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, spilling blood into the brain. In both cases, brain cells die and the person experiencing the stroke can lose function in the part of the body that’s controlled by the affected area of the brain. Getting prompt medical attention can save a person’s life, reduce permanent brain damage, and increase the chances for a full recovery.

Risk factors such as smoking, being sedentary or overweight, consuming a high-sodium (high-salt) diet or too much alcohol can be controlled.  You can also improve other risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. If you’ve had a stroke, your doctor will suggest lifestyle modifications and prescribe medications to reduce your chances of having another one.

Our professional staff can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and enhance recovery from stroke at home. Our services include:

  • Helping you to take medications properly and monitoring their effects
  • Helping you to make necessary modifications to your diet to control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight 
  • Making your home safer based on your specific limitations to prevent complications, such as falls, and recommending necessary resources, including things for your home that can make it safer and easier to get around
  • Providing speech therapy to improve the ability to speak and swallow, as well as aid with memory and comprehension
  • Helping you with exercises and activities to maximize recovery at home
  • Helping you recognize the signs and symptoms that should prompt you to seek emergency care

Wounds

Whether your wound is a result of surgery, an injury or burn, diabetes, pressure ulcer problems or poor circulation, the wound requires special care. Proper wound care is critical to preventing infections and other serious complications.

Simply put, a wound is an opening or cut in the skin. Normally, healthy skin that is intact acts as a barrier that helps prevent germs or foreign material from entering your body. When there’s a break in the skin because of a wound, you become vulnerable to infection in the wound itself, as well as inside your body. How quickly a wound heals depends on several factors, including the size and depth of the wound, what caused it, how well you take care of it, your age, and the general state of your health.

Depending on the nature of the wound, your doctor will suggest the best ways to keep it clean and well dressed and may prescribe medications to ease the pain or prevent infection. Our nurses can help you follow your doctor’s recommendations and recover from a wound at home. Our services include:

  • Assessing the status of a wound and how well it’s healing
  • Wound cleansing and changing the wound dressings
  • Administering antibiotic therapy
  • Educating patients and caregivers on changing wound dressings, monitoring healing, managing pain and recognizing potential complications
  • Making recommendations for the necessary changes to your diet, activities, and other aspects of your life to facilitate recovery
  • Improving your comfort at home during the healing process. 

 


 

Creating Quality of Life

The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among our Elders.

  • Loneliness is the pain we feel when we want but cannot have companionship
  • Helplessness is the pain we feel when we always receive care and never give care
  • Boredom is the pain we feel when our lives lack variety and spontaneity

These are the plagues of the human spirit, not the body. These are plagues that can affect everyone on the care partner team, but our Elders are at a higher risk. There is nothing on the med cart for the plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Read more…

Empower Yourself - Become an Informed Partner in Your Care

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