OT Celebrates 100 Years!

Occupational therapy celebrates an epic birthday this year—one hundred years! OT professionals have been providing treatment for clients using meaningful occupations to reach therapeutic goals for an entire century. At Covell Care, we are especially thankful for the pioneers of OT because our business is richly embedded with the philosophies and roots of this unique profession.
Occupational therapy is based on the theory that all of us wake up every day with the desire to interact in meaningful tasks (aka occupations) and we are the skilled professionals that help people maximize what they can do.
Did you know that a recent outcome study showed that OT was the only spending category that reduced hospital re-admissions for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction. (Rogers, Bai, Lavin, & Anderson, 2016). That’s worth celebrating! 
We just received an email today from one of the Covell OT’s that one of his clients is now using his arm when he couldn’t move the shoulder at all when services began. He can even throw a ball now!
Another one of his clients improved so much in his abilities to manage his walker and safety issues that he can do housework and beat our OT in putt-putt golf!
One of my clients feared baking in her kitchen due to cognitive changes she has experienced because of multiple sclerosis. Guess what she did this week? Made a vanilla-apple-cream cake without making any mistakes.
These are the things that matter to our clients and we are the blessed therapists that can help them reach their goals. Think about your day and routine and what’s important to you. Anything from the mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or taking a shower to the special moments like taking your daughter to her first day of school or baking your famed Christmas cookies… what if you couldn’t do them? You would want someone to help you. That person is likely an OT.
Covell Care is often confused for a traditional home care agency because we provide so many of our treatments in the clients’ homes. But, we also provide services at the golf course, the grocery store, the city bus stop, local coffee shops, fast food restaurants. We provide services where people live because it matters SO much to the therapeutic process. We do this because when I established the business, I knew our clients needed to be seen wherever they lived, worked and played. Therefore, all of our services are available outside of a clinic setting. PT, SLP, counseling, massage, personal training, driving rehabilitation, care management. This is based on my training as an OT and understanding the critical role of being in your natural environment for rehabilitation.
It is so awesome and exciting to be part of a profession that continues to grow in research, treatment effectiveness and creativity. We are thrilled to be advancing the profession along with the thousands of OT professionals around the globe. Our innovative model has earned us recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Association and makes traditional healthcare companies wonder what category we fit in. OT is at our roots and we will continue celebrating and helping our clients live, work and play to the best of their abilities through context based, creative, sound treatment interventions.

Going Beyond Continuing Education Credits

Last week someone asked me about our monthly education program called Clinicians and Comrades. She asked me if it was free. I said yes. She asked if we give continuing education credits and I said yes. With eyebrows raised she asked me why we did this. I smiled and said, “Because I believe in education no matter how long someone’s worked in their field and I believe in my heart that learning together helps us all work better together, too.” But, there’s more to it than that.

Most licensed clinicians are required by their state and/or national organizations to maintain a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain their credentials. In my opinion, this should be simply eyed as a technicality. If you are a clinician, you need to continue learning for the sake of the clients you treat and the teams you lead.
Governing agencies are requiring a certain level of new learning to help the respective field stay viable, current and ethical while ensuring practicing clinicians are credible and current. Hopefully, if you are a clinician, you are requiring more from yourself to be the best clinician you can be and that means learning new research, treatment techniques, understanding changing theories and best outcome strategies for clients.
There are countless seminars, webinars, online continuing education classes, conferences around the country for clinicians to access. Clinicians and Comrades provides education from our local colleagues which changes the dynamic of what we learn.
For example, this last week we learned about Cancer Harbors and how to help clients navigate life after cancer treatments. And we are learning how to do this in our own community. Not in Cleveland or Orlando where other classes may be held. Another session we learned about driving rehabilitation. We took turns on a computerized assessment that the instructor led us through that she uses in real time with her clients. She helped us know how to access this, what to look for, how to help clients in our community. Not in Chicago or even Denver.
We are more than clinicians with licenses. We are helping other people live fuller lives and we need to connect with our community, gather helpful, evidenced-based and practical strategies to maximize our time with clients and learn from on another. If you are only gathering continuing education credits because you are required to, think again. Your knowledge impacts people’s lives. The more you know, the more you grow. And together we can be a more powerful community.
Blog written by Krista Covell-Pierson, OTR, BCB-PMD & owner of Covell Care.

6 Benefits of Exercise on Alzheimer’s Disease

Blog post provided by guest blogger and OT student Sarah Belancio with Colorado State University. 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and effects approximately 5.4 million Americans (Rao et al., 2014).  Not only does it impact an individual’s memory, but their ability to independently perform activities of daily living (ADL). This puts them at an increased risk for falls, caregiver burden, and decline in quality of life. Research shows that exercise can have benefits beyond physical strength for people with AD.

Here are 6 ways exercise can benefit people with AD:

  • Exercise can significantly improve ADL performance. Research shows exercise can improve the ability to complete self-care tasks such as dressing, showering, and grooming. This is because exercise can improve range of motion, endurance, balance, strength, and cognition. All of which contribute to one’s ability to independently complete activities of daily living.
  • Exercise is related to an overall improvement in cognitive function. Exercise has been shown to improve sustained attention, visual memory, and frontal cognitive function in people with AD.
  • Exercise improves physical function. Not surprisingly, exercise can improve one’s strength, agility, balance, and flexibility, which helps an individual perform physical functions required to maintain independence in activities of daily living.
  • Exercise can have a positive effect on behavior and mood. Research shows exercises can decrease the rate of depression for individuals with AD and their caregivers. It can also decrease behaviors commonly associated with AD such as aggravation and wandering.
  • Physical activity increase cardiorespiratory capacity. Increase in cardiorespiratory capacity promotes a slower decline in cognition.
  • Exercise can reduce the risk of falls and injuries associated with AD. Improvements in physical and cognitive function decreases the risk of falls.

 With the baby boomer generation reaching old age, increases in the number of people diagnoses with AD will be seen.  Thus, it’s important to know that exercise can be one way to improve physical and cognitive function in this population and significantly improve performance in ADLs and in quality of life for both the individual and their caregivers. Exercises do not have to be strenuous. Physical activity can include strength training, balance training, aerobics, walking exercises and more.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and personal training are some of the services offered at Covell Care that can help assist someone with these types of exercises and training. To learn more about Covell Care’s one on one personal training and group fitness classes contact us at 970-204-4331.

Why Hire a Private Care Manager

Of all the services Covell Care provides, Geriatric Care Management creates the most questions. Families don’t understand what a private care manager does. People have met care managers in other settings like hospitals and home care agencies and think all care managers do the same thing. Think again.

Geriatric Care Managers (also may be referred to as an Aging Life Care Professional) wear a multitude of hats when working with Covell Care clients. They may sit down with families and review concerns, plans for the future and give expert advice and guidance while breaking it down into tangible steps. Care managers may be tethered to a family throughout their loved one’s life through aging, dementia, disease progression, hospital stays and even hospice. The relationships between families and care managers are deeply personal on both sides. There is very little red tape in hiring a care manager because insurance rules and regulations do not limit all that a care manager can do. It can be incredibly powerful to remember that because insurance doesn’t pay for a service you can still receive it.

As anyone that is involved in the aging process with a loved one knows, the experience can be overwhelming, stressful and possibly the hardest thing a person will experience. There are so many moving parts in the aging process. You may have to tend to a loved one’s medical needs, physical changes and hardships, medication regimes, memory loss, personality changes, pain, recovery from surgery, safety concerns, incontinence, quality of life, adding ramps, grab bars, shower seats to the house, arranging appointments and maybe unexpected trips to the ER. The list can feel endless. On top of all of the moving parts, our current healthcare system is far from simple and navigating the system is harder than ever. A Geriatric Care Manager can co-pilot this process with a family offering emotional support, expert guidance, simplifying the most complex of situations and advocate for a family and their loved one throughout it all.

During a recent personal experience, I was reminded not only of the benefits of working with a care manager but really how imperative it actually can be.

About a month ago my husband and I flew home from vacation in Europe. Upon our return, my husband began to experience severe pain in his lower rib area. Within 24 hours of being home we were in the ER where a radiologist discovered my husband’s lungs contained multiple blood clots–also known as pulmonary embolisms. His pain stemmed from the damage the clots were causing inside the lungs and after multiple medications designed to curb the pain, one finally worked and he could rest. My husband was admitted to the hospital for 4 days. During that time, it was also discovered that he had two blood clots in his right leg. Because of the pain medication, my husband’s thinking was not clear and he relied on me to talk with the docs. As he improved, he continued to wear oxygen during the day and night to support his lungs.

I participated in monitoring the saturation of the oxygen by using the hospital’s pulse oximeter–a machine that simply measures how much oxygen is in your blood (the goal in Colorado should be always over 90%) and how many beats per minute the heart is beating. Throughout the 4 days, my husband could maintain good saturations without the oxygen when he was up and walking around. When he would rest, his lungs would then breathe more shallow and his oxygen saturations would drop below 90%.

Once we were given discharge orders from the hospital we headed home–without oxygen and without an order to receive it. I used my home oxygen monitor and discovered he was continuing to drop as low as 68% once we were home–this is not an acceptable oxygen level for anyone.

What followed next was incredibly stressful. We called his on-call doctor to report the findings. Because the hospital record did not indicate oxygen levels had dropped the doctor would not write orders for home oxygen. The records at the hospital were incorrect and no matter what I explained, the doctor wouldn’t budge. So, I called the hospitalist and received the same information. I called the nurse that took care of my husband in the hospital and she was certainly frustrated that oxygen had not been ordered but her hands were tied. I called the on-call doctor again. I took my husband to the ER and explained he would not drop below 90% unless he fell asleep–and he obviously wouldn’t be sleeping in the ER bed. No oxygen was ordered. I called the oxygen company. Nothing could be done without the doctor’s order. I was frustrated to tears. Because the health care providers were not helping (this all happened over a weekend) I knew we had a doctor’s appointment on Monday so we propped him up on pillows to help elevate the chest and lungs creating a better chance for him to breathe better at night and I woke him up every 1-2 hours. By the time Monday had come, I was as tired as he was.

What would have happened if I didn’t have a health care background? My husband would have continued to sleep every night dropping into those low numbers which can lead to passing out and not being able to wake up, long-term impairments and longer healing time for the lungs and potential other harmful–possibly fatal– issues. Luckily, we knew how to work towards getting a resolution and jumped through hoop after hoop.

These are the types of things a care manager can step in and help with. If I would have had a care manager in place would we have even made it out of the hospital without the order for O2?  More than likely, a care manager would have ensured all the I’s were dotted and T’s crossed and the oxygen would have been ordered without all the headaches (we did receive the home oxygen unit on Monday!). A care manager could have stayed at the hospital with him waiting for the doctor when I had to go to work for a few hours to see clients of my own. I ended up missing the doctor’s visit and my husband had forgotten to ask several of the questions about the medications. Once I returned, the doctor was on to the next patients and didn’t return to repeat the information. That extra, knowledgeable, patient advocate would have really helped! The second night my husband was in the hospital the nurses wanted us to do education about his injectable medication at 10pm. Because of the jet lag, the previous late night and early mornings I was so tired I don’t remember driving home that night. A care manager could have potentially arrived at that 10pm time to participate in the education on my behalf. The list goes on and on. And this is only for a 4 day hospital stay. Can you imagine all the things that can go haywire with longer stays?

I share this experience with you to help frame where the Geriatric Care Manager could potentially fit into your life. Not only in the hospital for more acute issues but in the day-to-day. Hiring a care manager will make things easier and even make things better overall because details won’t get missed or forgotten. The pressure can ease up from you being the one-and-only person to keep it all together. Less stress. Less tears. More sleep. More time. More clarity.

To find out more about what a care manager can do for you and your family call our main line at 970-204-4331.


Cycling for Seniors

July is quickly approaching and if you are an avid cyclist you know what kicks off every July…the Tour de France. Yes, the tour brings together the world’s biggest athletes on the roads of France and what does that mean to those of you reading this blog.

That’s easy. Cycling is a sport that can be enjoyed throughout life and you do not have to be a professional to reap the benefits. One of the best things you can do to guard against heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions is hop on your bike. A decent bike ride about 3 times per week can give you all the health benefits of a gym membership. And for most a bike ride is fun and relaxing, not a chore!

According to a paper ‘Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review’ a correlation between commuter cycling and all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, and cancer morbidity among middle-aged to elderly subjects. It seems like cycling contributes to a better level of health.

So get out there this summer on your bike. It’s a win, win!