All posts by Always Best Care

Sunny Days: The Importance of Vitamin D for Seniors


Did you know that your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium? Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, therefore vitamin D is essential too, especially for seniors. One of the easiest ways to get this vitamin is from the sun. The body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. As little as 10 minutes a day a few times per week can make a big difference.

Vitamin D also supports a variety of other functions such as:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Reducing cancer risk
  • Boosting mental health and reducing depression

As you age, your body may have a harder time producing and absorbing vitamin D, meaning taking steps to ensure an adequate supply is even more important, whether from the sun or other sources. Vitamin D deficiency can leave you feeling tired, cause muscle or bone pain, and increase risk of bone fractures or tooth decay.

Food Sources of Vitamin D

Although this vitamin only occurs naturally in a limited number of foods, there are other options that are fortified with it, such as milk, orange juice, yogurt, and certain cereals. You can also incorporate some of these foods into your diet:

  • White mushrooms
  • Canned tuna fish
  • Cooked salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Cod liver oil
  • Egg yolks

Read the labels carefully to see how much vitamin D you are getting per serving. Adults aged 71 and older should aim for 15 to 20 micrograms or 800 IU per day.

Other Sources of Vitamin D

Nature: As previously noted, exposure to the sun is a great way to stimulate vitamin D production. While sunscreen is important for protecting against skin cancer, it can also interfere with vitamin D. Aim to spend a few minutes outdoors without sunscreen during times when it is not too hot, then apply it before continuing on with your outside activities.

UV Lamp: For days when the weather is not ideal, consider using a UV lamp. This mimics natural sunlight and can not only help with vitamin D production, but also reduce risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Supplement: If you believe you are not getting enough vitamin D each day, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can show whether you have a deficiency. Your doctor may recommend taking a daily supplement or multivitamin to boost your vitamin D levels. Make sure that they do not interfere with other medications you are currently taking.

Protect Your Health

Partnering with an in-home caregiver can help seniors stay on top of their health. A caregiver can assist with planning and preparing meals and shopping for ingredients to naturally incorporate foods with vitamin D as part of a well-balanced diet. They can also share a meal together to provide companionship and encourage eating.

Caregivers can also be good workout buddies, accompanying seniors on walks or light exercise outside. Having someone to talk to and walk with can help them stay accountable and make sure they are safely getting outdoors. If vitamin D supplements are recommended, an in-home caregiver can offer medication reminders so doses are not missed.

Contact Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a care consultation and learn more about the benefits of in-home care for seniors who prefer to age in place.

Improving Communication When a Loved One has Aphasia


Not being able to effectively communicate can be frustrating. There are more than 2 million Americans living with aphasia, a communication disorder that can stem from a brain injury, infection, or neurological disorder. Seniors with conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease may develop aphasia, as well as those who have experienced a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Aphasia does not affect their intelligence, but rather their ability to produce and process language, both spoken and written.

Symptoms of Aphasia

There are several types of aphasia that all present slightly differently. Some people may have trouble finding the right words, but they understand what is said to them. Some people may be able to speak fluently even if some words are jumbled but have trouble processing what others say.

Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty finding the correct words for familiar people, places, or objects.
  • Dropping words from sentences.
  • Making up words or using an incorrect word in a sentence.
  • Trouble expressing themselves in writing.
  • Challenges understanding conversations.

These symptoms can be frustrating for not just seniors, but their families as well. Fortunately, there are several ways to overcome some of these challenges and improve communication.

Improving Communication

One of the first things to remember is to be patient. Don’t rush the person or try to speak for them. This can make your aging parent even more upset or agitated. Give them time to try to express themselves. You can use context clues, body language, and facial expressions to try to figure out what they are saying even if they mix up or forget some of the words.

  • Use pictures. Create a book of picture cards with familiar people, places, and objects they might need or want. You can continue adding new pictures so they have more specific ways to communicate what they want. Give them a few pictures to choose from when making a decision, or let them flip through the book.
  • Use a white board. If they communicate better in writing versus speaking, keep a dry erase board handy. It can be used in many ways. They may write while you speak, you may write while they speak, or you both may write. It just depends on their needs and abilities.
  • Use a communication device. You can get simple apps or devices where seniors can tap on a picture or phrase, and it is automatically read aloud. You can also program in your own images and words to tailor it to their needs. Some software has a text to speech feature where they can type out what they want to say, then the program will verbalize it.
  • Use Sign Language. When spoken word isn’t working, use signed words instead. Everyone in the family can learn the alphabet and basic signs to facilitate improved communication. There are plenty of instructional videos, books, and classes that can help.

Find what works best for your family and your aging parent. As aphasia progresses, seniors’ communication preferences and abilities may change. Be flexible and open to trying different approaches. Work with an in-home caregiver who can support your loved one’s needs as they age in place and understands how to communicate with seniors who have aphasia. This connection and support can make seniors feel more comfortable and independent.

Contact Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a care consultation and learn more about how in-home care can benefit seniors with aphasia.

Houston Franchisee Expands Always Best Care Business With Acquisition of West Houston Territory


Local Entrepreneur Guido Cubellis Building on Success with Award-Winning Senior Care Services

Always Best Care Senior Services, one of the leading senior care franchise systems in the United States, announced today that franchisee Guido Cubellis is the new owner of the West Houston franchise. Always Best Care of West Houston has been serving the communities of Galleria, Westchase District, Bunker Hill, Memorial City and Spring Branch since 2011. This is the second Houston-area territory acquisition for Cubellis, who purchased Always Best Care of Greater Fort Bend County and Katy, Texas, in 2017.

“Guido came to us with an established background in healthcare administration and a desire to build a home care business for the seniors in his community,” said Jake Brown, President and CEO of Always Best Care. “Over the past five years, he not only succeeded in creating a strong caregiving team and office staff in Southwest Houston but also seized an opportunity to grow his business by acquiring this neighboring territory. Guido’s knowledge paired with the Always Best Care business model is a dynamic duo.”

A resident of Houston for over two decades, Cubellis has developed relationships with physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, social workers and senior communities through his experience in the medical field in Fort Bend County. Prior to joining the Always Best Care family in 2017, he worked in healthcare administration for more than 25 years and earned two master’s degrees in Health Administration and Business Administration. Cubellis knows firsthand the importance of having a resource like Always Best Care after watching his grandmother develop Alzheimer’s and his father have a stroke, leading both to need caregivers.

“Always Best Care combines national strength and standards with local accessibility and personal service,” said Cubellis. “Our goal is to join families in their journey and provide the absolute best care plan for their loved one. Our entire team has our clients’ best interests at heart, and we’ll ensure that exceptional service and care is provided to all family members.”

Always Best Care is one of the nation’s leading providers of non-medical in-home care and assisted living referral services, with skilled home health care in limited markets. The company delivers its services through an international network of more than 225 independently owned and operated franchise territories throughout the United States and Canada. By working with case managers, social workers, discharge planners, doctors, and families, Always Best Care franchise owners provide affordable, comprehensive solutions that can be specifically matched to meet a client’s particular physical or social needs.

For additional information on services available through Always Best Care of West Houston, or for a free evaluation, please call (832) 460-2000 or visit www.AlwaysBestCareWestHouston.com.

 

About Always Best Care             

Founded in 1996, Always Best Care Senior Services is based on the belief that having the right people for

the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care has been assisting seniors with a wide range of conditions and personal needs for over 25 years and currently provides thousands of hours of care every year. Franchise opportunities are available to individuals interested in leveraging the company’s clear strategy and proven track record for delivering affordable, dependable service to seniors in their local areas.

Always Best Care also offers exclusive programs such as Always in Touch, Balance Tracking System and remote patient monitoring.  For more information regarding Always Best Care’s solutions, visit www.alwaysbestcare.com.

Always Best Care Honors Award-winning Franchise Owners and Caregivers at Annual Conference


Always Best Care recently held its annual conference March 10-13 at the Hard Rock Hotel in sunny San Diego. A highlight of the event was the California Sprit Dinner Cruise and awards ceremony, where the senior services brand honored all of the franchisees and caregivers who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to their work and the people they serve over the past year.

The 2021 Always Best Care award winners include:

National Caregiver of the Year – Tanya Johnson, Always Best Care of Baton Rouge, LA
One caregiver of the year and two finalists demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their delivery of care to the client and their family, while shining as Always Best Care employees.  Second runner up was Wendy McDonald from Always Best Care of Wallingford, CT. First runner up was Trina Brooks from Always Best Care of Baton Rouge, LA.

Franchisee of the Year – Carrie Bianco from Torrance, CA
To win franchisee of the year, the franchise owner must have been operating for a minimum of 3 years with revenues exceeding a minimum of $2 Million. We also consider overall incremental dollar growth year over year, operational excellence of the franchise, participation in FSO Initiatives and more. In her first full calendar year, Carrie Bianco quickly grew and has been growing exponentially ever since.  She knows how to scale a team and motivate employees…all while always giving back her time and talent to others in the system.  Carrie is the first to volunteer for any new initiative or opportunity to improve the business. Her list includes participation in the Franchise Advisory Council and in the Performance Group program since its inception in 2017. Her business grew over 32% last year, which resulted in the highest dollar amount of growth for any franchisee.

Rising Star Rookie of the Year – Steve Kelly from Oakville, Ontario
To earn Rookie of the Year status, new franchise owners must be the fastest out of the gate after they complete ABCUniversity. These owners started gaining traction, virtually from day one. This year’s winner, Steve Kelly, continues to challenge the status quo.  He is always looking for ways to bring visibility to his brand and to grow revenue for his agency.  He continues to build on his caregiver program and he even looks for new opportunities to add sales and profits to his franchise.  He has also quickly scaled his agency with an office staff to help him get to the next level, all while taking a peek at the club report each month to compare himself to the other newbies. That competitive streak paid off, with Steve billing more than his peers in his first 12 months.

Team Member of the Year – Jenny Singleton, HR Manager at Always Best Care of Fleming Island, FL
To win this award, Jenny demonstrated excellence in overall work performance and promoting positive morale in her office. She also worked to improve herself and develop others while providing a tangible contribution to the bottom line for her local franchise. Under Jenny’s leadership, HR files were cleaned and organized. She took over the weekly COVID testing of caregivers, as well as the scheduling of quarantining and re-testing of COVID+ or exposed caregivers and clients. Jenny revamped caregiver ads and helped hire three new RNs to meet growing needs. She streamlined the hiring process and orientation to onboard new hires faster.  And, with the increased number of caregivers, Always Best Care of Fleming Island was able to land in the #8 spot for the national Incentive Trip Challenge with a whopping 95% increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021.

Senior Community Referrals Award – Dan Barbee, Always Best Care of Roseville, CA
One of the services that gives franchisees an opportunity to work with more clients and earn additional revenue is the Senior Community Referrals service.  This is an area that focuses heavily on having an understanding of the local senior communities in the market in order to refer clients needing this type of care. Dan has won this award every year since his arrival in 2016.

Home Health Agency of the Year – Neil Golli, Always Best Care of Middleburg Heights, OH
Always Best Care of Middleburg Heights is the skilled home health care franchise with the highest revenue in this category. In the last three years, Neil and his team have served well over 500 clients. This is uncommon for a certified skilled care agency to service as many clients as Neil and his team does!

Top Revenue Producer – Bryant Greene from Always Best Care of Philadelphia, PA
Bryant is a franchise owner who continues to operate not just as a leader within the Always Best Care system but in the industry at large.  From the very first day he opened his agency, he has always had a big heart and a fondness to give back to his local community, as well as his staff and caregivers – all while operating multi-million-dollar franchises in two states.  Bryant regularly takes time to speak with franchisees, seasoned and new, and he has always welcomed franchisees to visit him any time. This award recognizes his efforts as the top revenue producer based on last year and all the years prior.

Community Marketing AwardSamantha Loy from Always Best Care of Burlington and Chapel Hill, NC
Samantha works with Community Resources such as promoting COVID resources in the community, COVID testing, and vaccine clinics.  She takes time to acknowledge community leaders such as the police, fire fighters and healthcare workers; participates in holiday festivals, charitable events and local radio shows; promotes community resources for women by working with the local Women’s Resource Center and regularly participates in blood drives and provides opportunities for her staff to donate blood.

 

Franchise Owners with the Largest Percentage Sales Increase

Tier Five Award Winner – Ken and Erica Crawford from St. Paul, MN
Grew their revenue by 555% over the previous year.

Tier Four Award Winner – Phil Morgan and Sarah Diener from Lexington, KY
Grew their revenues by 57% over the previous year.

Tier Three Award Winner – Angela Encarnacion from San Bruno, CA
Grew her revenue by a 95% increase over the previous year.

Tier Two Award Winner – Rick, Brenda, and Pat Downey of Bristol, CT
Increased their revenue over the previous year by 90%.

Tier One Award Winner – Dan Barbee of Roseville, CA
Increased revenue by 48% over the prior year.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month: What You Need to Know


April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and a great time to go over some of the basics of this disease that affects nearly one million Americans. The more you know, the more alert you can be for early warning signs and the better care you can provide for loved ones with Parkinson’s. Although there is currently no cure, there are ways to manage symptoms.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no known cause. Over time, neurons in the brain that produce dopamine diminish. As dopamine levels decrease, it often causes movement issues such as muscle stiffness, slowed movement, poor balance, and tremors. It typically develops after age 50, but Young Onset Parkinson’s disease can occur as well. The condition is more prevalent in men than women but affects both genders.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

While researchers have many theories, they have not targeted a specific cause of the disease. They believe that it may be a combination of genetics, environment, and other risk factors such as age and gender.

What are Common Symptoms?

Symptoms and their severity vary from person to person, especially as the disease progresses, but here are some things to look out for:

  • Tremors in the hands, arms, legs, or jaw
  • Slow movement, also known as bradykinesia
  • Stiffness in the body or limbs, which is sometimes attributed to arthritis
  • Balance issues
  • Small handwriting (micrographia)
  • Gait changes such as shuffling the feet or taking quick, small steps
  • Stooped posture

There can also be non-movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as:

  • Softer speaking voice
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of smell
  • Depression or anxiety

Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to discuss any change you notice with your doctor.

How is Parkinson’s treated?

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s yet, but many patients are prescribed dopaminergic medications to try to balance dopamine levels and control symptoms. Physical, occupational, and aquatic therapy can also be beneficial to strengthen muscles, improve coordination and balance, increase mobility, and maintain independence.

A speech therapist can work with individuals on communication challenges that often accompany Parkinson’s. Seniors can support the verbal communication they do have, enhance nonverbal skills, and learn to use alternative communication devices. Speech therapy can also help with any swallowing issues.

Staying active plays an integral role in managing Parkinson’s as well. Incorporating a variety of exercises that work on strength, agility, flexibility, balance, and endurance can all be beneficial. A personal trainer or physical therapist can help create an appropriate exercise routine.

How Can In-Home Care Support Seniors with Parkinson’s?

An in-home caregiver can be a valuable resource to support seniors in maintaining their safety and independence. As the disease progresses, a caregiver can assist with activities that become more difficult such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, dressing, grooming, writing, navigating the home, and going out into the community. They can provide companionship for socialization as well as staying active and engaging in regular exercise.

In addition, home care agencies can conduct home safety assessments to recommend modifications or changes to reduce fall risk and improve overall safety. This can enable seniors to continue aging in place and maintaining as much independence as possible. Learn more about how Always Best Care can support individuals with Parkinson’s disease by contacting us at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation.