Urinary Tract Infections

Younger people tend to empty their bladder completely upon urination, which helps to keep bacteria from accumulating within the bladder. But elderly men and women experience a weakening of the muscles of the bladder. Poor bladder emptying and incontinence can lead to UTIs according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The typical signs and symptoms of a UTI include:

Urine that appears cloudy; bloody

urine; foul-smelling or strong

urine odor; frequent or urgent need

to urinate; pain or burning with

urination; pressure in the lower

pelvis; low-grade fever; night

sweats, shaking, or chills.

Due to the effects of aging, seniors often don’t exhibit any of the common symptoms – or don’t express them to their caregivers. Elderly people with a serious urinary tract infection won’t necessarily have a fever because their immune system is unable to mount a response to infection.

UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to NIH, because symptoms include:

confusion, or delirium-like

state; agitation; hallucinations; other

behavioral changes; poor motor

skills or dizziness; falling.

Sometimes, these are the only symptoms of a UTI that show

up in the elderly—no pain, no fever, no other typical symptoms of a UTI.


Why Do the Elderly Develop UTIs?

According to NIH, the following conditions make the elderly more susceptible to UTIs:

Diabetes; urinary retention (unable

to empty the bladder,

even if your loved one has just

used the bathroom); use of

a urinary catheter; bowel

incontinence; enlarged prostate;

immobility (for example, those who

must lie in bed for extended periods

of time); surgery of any area

around the bladder; kidney stones.


How to Reduce Risk of UTIs

People with incontinence are more at risk for UTIs because of the close contact that adult briefs have with their skin, which can reintroduce bacteria into the bladder. Some recommendations to help reduce this risk include the following:

Change the briefs frequently;

encourage front-to-back cleansing;

keep the genital area clean; set

reminder timers for those who are

memory-impaired to try to use the

bathroom instead of the adult brief.


Other ways to reduce the

chance of UTIs:

Drink plenty of fluids

(2 to 4 quarts each day);

avoid caffeine and alcohol

because these irritate the bladder;

always wipe from front to back (for

women); wear cotton-cloth

underwear, and change them least

once a day.


If you think your elderly parent might have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor right away.


Caregiver Tips on Communicating with a Physician

If you are serving as a family caregiver then you are most likely taking on the household chores, shopping, transportation, and personal care for you and your loved one. Plus you may also be the person to administer medications, injections, and medical treatment for yourself or a loved one. At some point in time, most family caregivers need to ask for advice about medications and medical treatments.

While family caregivers will discuss their loved one’s care with the physician, the family caregiver seldom talks about their own health, which is equally important. Creating a relationship with a physician that addresses the health needs of both your loved one and yourself is vital. The responsibility of this partnership ideally is shared between you, the physician, and other healthcare staff. However, it will often fall to you to be assertive, using good communication skills, to ensure that both your loved one’s and your own needs are met. Here are a few tips to help you communicate with your physician.

Prepare a list of questions. Write down your questions and concerns before your next medical appointment. Write down the most important questions or concerns first. This way, you won’t forget to ask about something that was important to you. Remember to try and make your questions specific and brief, your doctor may have limited time. Once you’re at your appointment, ask your most important questions first.

Use “I” statements. Doctors may use medical language that is normal for them but may be unfamiliar to you. If you’re having trouble understanding your doctor, say, “I don’t understand.” This will be much more effective than saying, “You’re being unclear.”

Be assertive. If you don’t know or understand something, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. If you feel the question has not been answered in a way you understand,  you may want to ask your doctor or nurse if there is another time that the two of you can discuss it in more detail. Ask your doctor how you can reach him or her, whether by phone or email, outside of office hours in case you have additional questions.

If something is unclear, try repeating it back to your doctor. This is effective in clarifying what is being said. You might start with the words, “So you mean I should…”or “So I think you are suggesting that…” If you understand better with visual aids, ask your doctor to write down what is being recommended.

Do not be embarrassed. Health issues can be hard to talk about, but it is important that your doctor has all the information so he can recommend the best possible care.

Do not wait to be asked. If your doctor does not specifically ask for information you think is important, tell him.





Faith Plants the Seed…Love Makes It Grow

By Missy Athmer, Dvegetable-basketirector of Marketing – It’s spring! And that means it’s time to grab a trowel and plant some seeds on a sunny day!

Gardening is a wonderful way to re-connect and build on relationships with a loved one who has dementia. Although a large vegetable garden may be too much to manage, patio container gardens seem to be an ideal solution.

Planters are a great way to bring nature onto your patio or even up high on your balcony. Pots come in a variety of styles and sizes, and they can enhance or fit into a small space. While you ponder your pot vegetable garden or floral paradise, here are a few things to consider.

You may want to purchase plastic or fiberglass garden pots. They are more affordable and easy to maintain, plus they come in a variety of colors and sizes. Just be sure to provide proper drainage so the plant roots don’t drown. You can cluster the pots around your patio or balcony to create touches of color and lush greenery. Along with the flowers, you can plant some vegetables and maybe even some herbs! Who doesn’t like the taste of fresh leaf lettuce or a juicy ripe tomato?

Don’t forget to consider how much shade and the sun your area will receive before deciding on what types of plants you’d like to grow. If possible, add some furniture so you can relax and enjoy your miniature oasis. Let your loved one help plant and harvest. Then create a favorite dish or clip a few flowers for your dining room table. Your loved one will have a sense of accomplishment. The sights, smells, and tastes will evoke memories or emotions about the past, giving you both something to enjoy and talk about! Now get growing!!


It’s A Brain Disease

By Gail J. Shaw,
Home Services Care Coordinator – 

The 2015 AlShe would love a phone call, a shared cup of coffee or just a little bit of your timezheimer’s Association fact sheet states someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds and goes on to state in 2050, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds. So, in the time it takes to scramble your morning eggs, someone will develop Alzheimer’s.

Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary defines memory as the mental faculty of storing past experiences and recalling them at will.  We have come to understand Alzheimer’s and related dementias not only causes one to loss their memory but also there is the loss of social skills, intellect and they may show emotional and behavior changes.

Alzheimer’s/dementia is considered a brain disease. Plaques and tangles form in the brain and starts the process which will compromise the brain. We now know Alzheimer’s has a set circuit that it follows through the brain. As it travels through the brain, the brain becomes more and more damaged.

In the beginning stage, it first affects the area of the brain that handles the memory, learning, thinking and planning. One may not really be too aware that something is starting at this point. There is very little impact on one’s daily life.

In the mild to moderate Alzheimer’s stage, more plaques and tangles are formed.  Speaking, understanding speech, perception and judgement will be affected.  There may also be changes in one’s personality and behavior issues. Individuals will become more confused and their daily lives will start to be affected by their memory loss. This is the beginning of the person’s decline in remembering loved ones. This stage is when the majority of individuals are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Some will be able to understand they have memory loss.  Others may never be able to understand they have Alzheimer’s. This is due to either not being advised they have the disease or because that part of the brain has been so compromised the individual does not have the ability to understand.

By the final stage of Alzheimer’s, the brain is seriously compromised and has taken a physical toll on the body. Individuals will not be able to care for themselves, communicate and even know their own family members. They will be totally depended on someone to care for all their needs.

Not understanding memory loss can be frustrating for both the caregiver and the person with memory loss at any stage.  St. John’s Community Care works with family caregivers and our employees to help each to better understand memory loss. This is accomplished through training, workshops, support groups and printed materials. The outcome of these educational endeavors improves one’s working knowledge of how to care for someone with memory loss and helps to create a less stressful working relationship between the caregiver and the one experiencing memory loss.

If you or someone you know feels they are experiencing memory loss, consider contacting St. John’s Community Care. We can provide assistance and education on how to handle memory loss issues, direct you to appropriate support groups and/or work with you to get in-home to care to relieve caregiving duties and stress.

You’re not alone when it comes to facing the journey of living with memory loss or caring for a loved one who has memory loss. Together, we can make a positive difference in the life of someone living with this devastating brain disease.


Cardinals Reminiscence League


Cardinal Poster - All Dates

Cardinals Reminiscence League Expanding to Serve More People with Memory Loss – Next Session Will Be Held on Thursday, April 21.
St. John’s Community Care partners with Alzheimer’s Association to host new program

Edwardsville – In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, St. John’s Community Care is proud to announce a new program for people with memory loss: Cardinals Reminiscence League (CRL). CRL builds on the reminiscence therapy concept that memorabilia and other prompts can be used to stimulate conversations about shared memories of past experiences. Individuals with mild memory loss or in the early stages of dementia meet to share pleasant baseball memories in hopes of enhancing their mood and communication skills.

St. John’s Community Care will provide this free program, launched and supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, to those with Alzheimer’s and related dementia, as well as their care partners.

“We are extremely happy to be able to offer this valuable program in Edwardsville. Cardinal Reminiscence League is a bold, optimistic and innovative approach to aid people with memory loss. Programs like this are a vision for how we can change the way we think and care for people with memory loss,”  said Nancy Berry, Executive Director for St. John’s Community Care.

“The Alzheimer’s Association has had success hosting the Cardinals Reminiscence League and is excited to partner with St. John’s Community Care to expand this group and reach more people,” said Stephanie Rohlfs-Young, Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter Vice President of Programs.

The CRL program was originally developed in 2011 as a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter, Saint Louis University, St. Louis Veterans Administration (VA), St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization and the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame Museum.

The program is the brainchild of John Morley, M.D., director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University.  Dr. Morley was inspired by the Football Reminiscence Partnership of Scotland, where soccer is more than a pastime. Much like Cardinals baseball, it is a passion.

“Individuals with dementia and a caregiver are invited to participate. We have seen a high level of interest over the years,” said Rohlfs-Young. “It’s a true testament to how beneficial the program is and how St. Louisans love their team!”

Visit www.alz.org/stl/CRL to learn more about Cardinals Reminiscence League and the participating locations.

For more information about St. John’s Community Care visit, www.stjohnscc.org or call 618-656-7090.
For more information about Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/stl or call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world leader in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.  The St. Louis Chapter serves 38 counties in eastern Missouri and western Illinois, providing comprehensive care and support programs.  The Alzheimer’s Association mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. For additional information about the disease, family support or research, visit the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter web site at www.alz.org/stl, or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.


About St. John’s Community Care

St. John’s Community Care has been the leader in aging and dementia care support services and resources in our community since 1985. St. John’s is an outreach ministry of St. John Evangelical United Church of Christ in Collinsville, IL. For much of the past 30 years, St. John’s Community Care has focused on ways to help families care for an aging or disabled loved one, with special efforts for those experiencing memory loss or dementia. For additional information about services or programs, visit St. John’s Community Care web site at www.stjohnscc.org, or call 618-344-5008.


Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle

By Patti Haddick, Director of Home Services – The holidays are stressful for any adult but when you add the stress of caring for a loved one, it can be overwhelming. Stressed-is-Desserts-Magnet-C117500 There are decorations to put up, cookies to bake, gifts to buy, and if you add taking care of a frail loved one, it seems unmanageable.  Even looking for ways to redistribute the responsibilities is just one more cause for stress in a caregiver’s life.

After wearing the hat of being a caregiver for my mother in her final years, I can now see how much stress I was under.  But I was hesitant to give it up since I had always baked the pies for Thanksgiving, tried to put some thought into the Christmas presents I was buying, picked out and decorated a real tree every year, and on and on.  Looking back I see how unrealistic these expectations were and that I was the one causing my own overabundance of stress during the holidays.

The last couple of years I realized that  my expectations of the holidays were making me crazy, so I made some changes.  I no longer made several types of cookies.  I baked chocolate chip for my son and my mother and oatmeal for myself and as a gift for my cousin.  I put up the ceramic tree Mom had lovingly made years ago, which definitely saved time but still gave the home a warm holiday feeling.  I started buying gifts as I discovered them through the year instead of waiting to find “the perfect gift”.

As a family caregiver you too can find a few ways to make the holidays a little easier.  Maybe you can scale back your shopping, baking, and decorating expectations.  A cookie exchange can be a help.  Bake one type of cookie and have friends or family members bake others and share with each other.

Get other family members or friends involved in decorating the house on a smaller scale.  Your loved one gets to visit with all the family who come to help.  This scaling- back can also be an unforeseen blessing for a loved one with dementia who might find lots of blinking lights and motion-activated decorations overstimulating.

Gift cards and cash can help alleviate some of the shopping stress.  How many times have you received a gift that does not fit you or your style and ends up in a closet or drawer?   Do you know anyone that will turn down a gift card or a greeting card with a check or cash in it?

Making just these small changes can put you on the road to a less stressful holiday season.  Just remember, that if family can’t help with these preparations, St. John’s Community Care can.  In the past St. John’s Caregivers have helped mix and bake Christmas cookies, cleaned homes before the holiday, and even put up and decorated the Christmas tree.  If you want to go shopping, Caregivers can keep your loved one safe and warm at home while you are gone.  St. John’s Caregivers are also willing to come in and cook the turkey and trimmings a day or two ahead, using your family recipes, so all that’s left for you is to warm it up and enjoy the good feelings of the holiday season.  Call 344-5008 to discuss how St. John’s can help lessen the holiday stress for you and your loved one.







What Is Dementia?

umbrella-resized-600Written by: Gail Shaw, Care Coordinator -What do an umbrella and dementia have in common? One of the definitions under the word umbrella, in the Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary, defines an umbrella as something that encompasses many different elements or groups. Dementia encompasses many different diseases under it. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and vascular disease to just name a few. The list really does go on and on.
The question “what is dementia” comes up frequently during conversations with family caregivers, who are finding themselves on the journey of caring for a loved one with memory loss. These caregivers are told their loved one has dementia or dementia-like Alzheimer’s. It then becomes very confusing, especially if the physician giving the diagnosis doesn’t take the time to explain what the patient will be facing and what the family caregiver needs to look into to be able to care for this individual.
First thing everyone should know is that dementia does not mean you are crazy. Many people have grown up thinking dementia or oldtimers (as some call it) means you’re crazy. They may have witnessed first-hand a grandparent, aunt, uncle or maybe a parent acting strange or forgetful. They probably were embarrassed by this person’s behavior and actions and they do not want to be thought of as being crazy like their relative.
The truth is, we didn’t really have a clear understanding of dementia or the other diseases under the dementia umbrella until the last few decades. A wealth of knowledge has been gained, but we still have much to learn on each of the diseases which cause memory loss. Hopefully, in the near future there will be answers. Many researchers are working tirelessly to find answers to the cause and prevention of all dementias.
What we do know about dementia is that it is a disease that affects the brain. It is very important that people know it is a progressive brain disease. There are many types of dementia and they produce loss of memory, social skills, intellect, emotional and behavior changes. There are different kinds of medications and behavioral therapies to help the individual who is experiencing any of the above mentioned situations.
Here at St. John’s Community Care we developed a poster showing an umbrella with some of the more common dementias listed. It was created out of the need to help explain dementia and the diseases it encompasses to family caregivers attending our support groups. It has been a great tool to open up conversation on the topic of memory loss, types of dementias and why it is important to know with which type of dementia with which a loved one has been diagnosed by their physician.
If you know someone who has been diagnosed with memory loss or you are concerned about their possible memory loss, then it is best to get a diagnosis and educate yourself on that particular type of dementia. You may want to consider attending a support group to gain insight and understanding on memory loss and how other cope.
St. John’s Community Care is a trusted agency for advice, education and programs that assist family caregivers and their family member experiencing memory loss. It’s not a journey you have to take by yourself. Please call us to see how we may be able to help you.
618-344-5008 or email info@stjohnscc.org


6 Signs Your Elderly Parent Shouldn’t Be Living Alone

Aging INSIGHT with Patti Haddick, Home Services Director
By Missy Athmer   – 

Holidays are approaching. Visits to the family homestead will bring many warm feelings and also realization that your mom and dad can no longer live as independently as they used to.
We all want our parents to have the security and independence of living in woman at doortheir own home. Many older people find it difficult to admit that living alone is no longer easy. This is why it is so important for family members to be aware of the signs that all is not well so help can be offered when needed. It might not necessarily be time for your parent to move out of their home if you start seeing these signs, but it could indicate that they need some extra help.
New Health Issues: A fall, illness or other health problem can be a wake up call for you and your parent, particularly if they are experiencing a slow recovery. Coming home from the hospital or rehab is a good time to discuss options for them to have assistance while recovering.
Daily Tasks Are Challenging: Difficulty coping with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, cooking, and doing laundry might indicate your parent needs some practical help.
Changes In Gait Or Walking: You may notice your parent shuffling feet, holding on to things or looking increasingly frail. Their appearance has changed—losing or gaining weight—it might be a sign they need more help.
Loneliness: Loss of spouse or friends. If your parent appears lonely when you talk, if they have not been participating in activities they once enjoyed, they may benefit from having a Caregiver visit regularly or attending our Adult Day Program.
Poorly Maintained House: Difficulty keeping up with the housework or unable to change bedding and do the laundry might indicate that your parent needs more help.
An Unhealthy Diet: The kitchen is usually a good indicator of your parent’s ability to cope. If it is not clean and a variety of fresh food choices are not available, it might indicate that your parent needs help with shopping or cooking.
These are just a few of the signs that might indicate your loved ones needs assistance to remain independent. If we can help provide resources or Caregiver assistance, call 618-344-5008.

Best Kept Secret



Aging INSIGHT with Stacey Rhodes, Adult Day Program Director By Missy Athmer

An Adult Day Program with specialized care can be the perfect way for your loved one to get the care, supervision and social interaction that they need while you get the time that you need to work or meet other family obligations.


If you are caring for a loved one challenged with arthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, traumatic brain injury or multiple sclerosis, we offer Adult Day Programs in Collinsville and Edwardsville. Your loved one will receive a personalized care plan filled with fun interactive activities that are implemented by trained staff and our RN. If you’re on the fence about enrolling your elderly loved one in Adult Day Program, we would encourage you to come for a tour. Here are a few reasons why: We know that one of the things people miss the most once they retire or become ill is a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. Spending day after day at home alone waiting for family or friends to come by can be isolating and can leave your loved one at risk of developing depression. Enrolling your adult loved one in an adult day program can restore a sense of purpose to their lives and give them a reason to be excited about getting up every day.

Older adults need mental stimulation and often they don’t get enough. Activities, crafts, games, special entertainment, and just being around other people can help your loved one exercise their mental muscles so that they will stay sharp and alert longer. Studies have shown individuals that don’t get enough social interaction lose their mental faculties at a much faster rate than those that have social relationships.

Many older adults are capable of staying in their own homes longer if they have periods of supervision. It’s being alone 24 hours a day that makes them more likely to have an accident in the home. Getting out of the house and being in a supervised setting with others gives them a sense of belonging and chance to remain independent longer.

Adult Day Program benefits health & nutrition. We have an RN on staff at each of our locations. They ensure your loved one is monitored and given prescription drugs when required. When your loved ones are attending an adult day program you can be confident that they are getting at least one hot nutritious meal each day, plus snacks!

Respite for you ‐ Don’t feel guilty about needing time for yourself. It is not healthy for you to be the only support for your elderly loved one, especially if you have a job or a family of your own at home that needs you. It’s ok to say that you need time for yourself. The adult day services option can give you the opportunity to work all day without having to stress about whether or not your elderly loved one is safe. The Adult Day Program also gives you the freedom to take care of any errands or other family obligations that you have. Or you can just take time for yourself and sleep, relax or spend time with friends to restore your own mental and physical health.

Don’t wait another day – we don’t want you to say “I wish I would have known sooner”. Come uncover this secret for yourself and help your loved one remain independent longer!

The Maze of Long-Term Care Insurance – We can be a Beacon of Hope




By Patti Haddick, Director of Home Services – The wave of the future for many has come to include Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance. Even in the recent past there are forward thinking people who have, over the years, paid into LTC insurance policies. They are now able to reap the benefits of these policies and St. John’s Home Services can help. To tap into these benefits the policy holder must meet two requirements: Eligibility Requirements and the Deductible Period.

Eligibility means that the policyholder must need assistance with a required number of Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) or have cognitive impairment.   Assistance with ADL’s means help with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, feeding, walking or transferring. Housework, laundry, and cooking are not ADL’s but can be part of the care plan as long as the policyholder also meets the ADL requirement.

The Deductible Period, which can vary from policy to policy, is marked in time not a dollar amount. Most insurance companies have you choose a 30, 60, or 90 day deductible at the time you purchase the policy. Usually the higher the number of days for the deductible, the lower the cost of the policy. During this deductible period you would be responsible for paying the Home Services bill. One caveat is that the Deductible Period is days of service not consecutive days. This means that if you have a 30 day deductible period and you use home services two days per week it will take 15 weeks to meet that deductible and then the LTC insurance should start covering.

Be aware that most policies also have a dollar limit as to how much they will cover per day. If the policy specifies coverage of $150 per day, then you would be responsible for any cost over that for home services.

All these specifications can look daunting to a senior or their family member who is trying to arrange for home care, usually during a time of crisis and stress. That is where St. John’s Home Services Care Coordinators can be of assistance. As a Home Services provider we have worked with a number of insurance companies to provide non-medical home care covered by LTC insurance plans.

LTC insurance usually requires that the provider be licensed, as St. John’s is through IL Department of Public Health, and have a Plan of Care. Our Care Coordinators visit a client before we start services and design a Plan of Care specific to that client’s needs and wants. LTC will ask for daily notes of the ADL’s with which the Caregivers are providing assistance. This can be documented on a form provided by the insurance company but many have accepted St. John’s Caregiver’s Daily Progress Notes which are written for each and every client we serve.

Sometimes there is a set number of days for which care can be provided and then the client will be reevaluated to see if they still meet the ADL assistance requirement. This will then determine whether the client is eligible for continued payment through the LTC Insurance.

All of these stipulations can be very confusing, especially in times of crisis, so let St. John’s Care Coordinators walk you through the steps. If you currently have a LTC insurance policy and would like to access its benefits, please call St. John’s Home Services at 344-5008. We would be happy to help you navigate the maze of Long-Term Care Insurance.

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