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Enhance Senior Safety in the Bathroom with These Tips

Surprise home care

Nightingale’s Surprise home care experts offer tips on how to enhance senior safety at home.

Bathrooms can be a scary place for the elderly, especially those at risk for falls. Getting in and out of a slippery tub can be physically challenging and pose a high risk of injury. Additionally, your loved one may struggle to safely get on and off of the toilet. Navigating a small space that is often wet or cluttered can put your loved one at further risk. Arthritis, old fractures or other issues with joints and the back can complicate these simple tasks even more.

However, all it takes is just a few preventative measures to turn your loved one’s bathroom into a safe place while reducing the risk of falls and injury. The Surprise home health care team at Nightingale Homecare outlines the following steps to improved safety:

  • Non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone appliqués in and around the tub are an excellent way to reduce the risk of injuries. To ensure a safe transfer, place one mat on the tub’s bottom prior to the bath, and one outside the tub for stepping out onto.
  • Shower chairs, placed inside the tub or shower, can also ensure more secure bath mobility. Make sure the shower chair has non-slip rubber tips for maximum safety.
  • Grab bars provide additional support for getting in and out of bathtubs, or for raising and lowering the body once in the water. Place institutional-grade stainless steel bars all around the tub: a vertical U-shaped bar above the faucet assists in entering and exiting the tub, while a horizontal bar at the foot end and on the back wall allow the bather to safely get in and out of a seated position. Installation of a steel bar by the toilet can also provide stability and leverage. Towel bars should never be used as support bars as they are not sturdy enough to hold the pressure and weight needed to adequately support your loved one, and may cause further injury.
  • Providing your loved one with a raised toilet seat that elevates the toiled 5 – 7 inches can make all the difference. Some options are available with handlebars that improve the ease of getting on and off the toilet even more.
  • Avoid using a mat in the bathroom outside of getting in and out of the tub or shower. When used, look for mats with suction tips and remove them after use. Mats and rugs can be a tripping hazard and lead to falls and injury.
  • Ensure floors are clean and dry and free from clutter. This can go a long way in improving safety in the bathroom.

To ensure all possible safety measures are in place, look to Nightingale Homecare to provide a professional occupational therapy evaluation and fall risk assessment. We’re also on hand to provide a helping hand in the bathroom, always with the utmost respect and dignity, to improve safety even further, as well as a wide range of customized Surprise home health care services.

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 for additional resources or to schedule a free in-home assessment and help keep your senior loved ones safe and secure!

Is It Time to Say “Hit the Road” to Senior Driving?

One of our greatest freedoms is having the ability to pick up and go whenever and wherever we’d like, and when the time comes that driving is no longer safe for older adults, this loss of independence can be devastating. In fact, we often hear from seniors that it’s one of the most difficult transitions to accept. But how can you determine when it’s the appropriate time for your older loved one to give up the car keys – and what’s the best way to handle such a sensitive topic? The professional senior care team at Nightingale Homecare, the top Paradise Valley home care agency, has advice for both questions.

Warning Signs

There are some key red flags to watch for to help determine if your senior loved one is still safe behind the wheel – and if other drivers and pedestrians are safe as well. Take a short ride with your senior loved one driving, and take note if any of the following are observed:

  • Is the senior driving too fast or too slow?
  • Is he comfortable and confident with driving?
  • Is he staying in the correct lane without swerving or crossing over the center line?
  • Does he seem distracted or confused?
  • Is his response time delayed?
  • Are there any near-misses?
  • Does he bump the curb when backing up or making a right turn?
  • How adept is he in merging or changing lanes?
  • Are there any dents/dings on the car?

If answers to these questions raise concern, it’s time to have “the talk.” Typically, this is most effective when introduced prior to any driving concerns, to give the senior time to get used to the idea of giving up driving and to come up with a plan for meeting transportation needs when the time comes. However, if the discussion has not yet been broached and safety concerns such as those outlined above are noticed, it’s crucial to address the subject immediately.

The Talk

It’s common for older adults to balk at the idea of giving up the keys, or to defend their driving skills, placing the blame on poor weather conditions, other drivers, or any number of other influencers. It’s important to handle the matter with compassion and empathy. Imagine that the tables were turned, and how you would feel in losing the freedom to drive.

We recommend first talking with your older loved one’s physician, and if possible, raising the topic during an appointment with the doctor. This allows for the senior to hear from a trusted, professional third party, who can outline any medical concerns that may be coming into play (medication side effects, reduced vision, cognitive functioning) while preventing the senior from viewing you as the “bad guy.” Together, you can then put a plan in place to maintain freedom and independence. If it’s important for the senior to keep a weekly hair appointment on Tuesday mornings, garden club meetings on Friday afternoons, and religious services each weekend, arrange for a dependable person, or perhaps rotating volunteers, to help her continue with her schedule.

You can always call on Nightingale Homecare, the premier Paradise Valley home care agency, for senior driving assistance. We provide safe, escorted transportation in accordance with each individual’s requested schedule and destinations, allowing for ongoing independence and control. When the time comes for your senior loved one to seek an alternative to driving, call us at (602) 504-1555.

The Dangers of Ageism and What We Can All Do to Stop It

sun city home careAt Nightingale Homecare, a premier Sun City home care agency, we truly value and respect older adults. The wisdom they’ve gained throughout their lives is priceless, and we have so much to learn by making time to listen to the stories and lessons they have to share.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for our country as a whole. While many societies across the world celebrate and embrace their elderly population, sadly, America discriminates. “Ageism” exists throughout our society, including in our health care system; it works to deny our elderly population proper medical care and preventative treatment, ultimately affecting not just the elderly, but those who love and care for them.

Dr. Robert Butler, who coined the term “ageism” and later became the founding director of the National Institute on Aging, wrote a Pulitzer-prize winning book in 1976 on being old in America: Why Survive? Being Old in America. Dr. Butler defined ageism as “a deep and profound prejudice against the elderly which is found to some degree in all of us…ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different from themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings.”

Adults 65 and older made up just over 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2013, and are expected to grow to nearly 22 percent by 2040. The number of people aged 85 and older is forecast to triple from 6 million in 2013 to over 14 million in 2040. Even with our population aging rapidly, only about 10% of U.S. medical schools require work in geriatric medicine. The American Geriatrics Society reports there are only about 7,600 physicians nationwide certified as geriatric specialists, not nearly enough to meet the current demand of our aging population, let alone the future demand.

Although every American over age 65 has the benefit of a federally funded health care system (Medicare), it doesn’t always ensure quality, timely health care. Ageism in America seems to play a role in the elderly being denied high quality care and preventative care. This needs to be recognized and opposed for the benefit of not just the elderly, but for those who care for them and the entire health care system.

Ageism also appears to play a role in the psychology of elder adults themselves; often contributing to individuals underestimating their own physical and mental capacity. This can lead to premature loss of independence, early disability, depression and even death. A recent study published by the American Psychological Association found that elders with positive perceptions of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with negative images of growing older.

Within the health care system, it is common for practitioners to view many serious and treatable conditions as “just a part of aging.” With this, opportunity is lost to treat, prevent and improve the lives of millions of elderly people. Not only are the elderly under-treated or not treated at all, they are also over-treated for conditions when practitioners do not take into account other chronic diseases the elder may have, and metabolic changes with aging. One of the reasons for over- and under-treatment is lack of communication between the physician and the older patient. Many older patients complain that their physicians do not talk directly with them, they are often talked down to, or communication is between the elder’s caregiver and physician and the patient is often left out of the conversation entirely.

Unless the attitudes that prevail on how we view our elderly change, we will all likely discover that the quality of our health care decreases as we age. We need to all start changing any unpleasant perceptions of what it means to grow old and embrace what it really is: a normal process of living that doesn’t always mean dependence, decline and disability. Changing our thinking towards the elderly ensures that our elders are not isolated from society and viewed as contributors to it.

To learn more about a partnership with senior care professionals who provide the utmost respect for our community’s elderly residents, contact the top Sun City home care agency, Nightingale Homecare. We’re committed to enhancing independence and self-worth in each senior we care for, improving overall quality of life, in addition to safety and security. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Senior Chest Pain: Scottsdale Home Health Care Experts Share What It Could Mean

Scottsdale Home Health Care When your elder loved one experiences pain in the chest, it is always a cause for concern. The elderly are at far greater risk for experiencing a myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack, so getting a diagnosis and treatment at the first onset is critical. Although chest pain is often associated with a heart issue, there may be a variety of reasons why your loved one is experiencing pain in the chest. Chest pains can also be a sign of lung, bone, muscle, nerve or gastrointestinal trouble.

The Scottsdale home health care team at Nightingale Homecare offers the following helpful information to help you understand the causes of chest pain, and how to help your senior loved one best describe what he or she is feeling in order to get the appropriate help.

Some more common causes of chest pain that do involve the heart:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocarditis: inflammation of the middle heart wall
  • Endocarditis: inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart

Some other causes of chest pain that do not involve the heart include:

  • Gastric reflux, heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleruitis – inflammation of the lung lining
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Muscle strain
  • Fractured ribs
  • Shingles
  • Anxiety or stress

The most important thing to consider while narrowing down the cause of chest pain is to pay attention to the quality, intensity, duration and location of the pain along with other accompanying symptoms. Pain presents in a variety of ways; sometimes it’s described as crushing, burning, stabbing, dull, etc. Often pain will radiate from one localized site to another. Other symptoms may accompany chest pain, such as shortness of breath, sweating or nausea. All of these signs can help your loved one’s health practitioner determine the cause of the pain.

Often, the pain experienced from gastric reflux is mistaken for a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. It is important to track your loved one’s symptoms and get immediate medical attention to get a correct diagnosis.

Some differences between heartburn and heart pain include:

  • Heartburn is usually a burning chest pain while heart pain is generally a crushing chest pain.
  • Heart pain is usually accompanied by difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness and fainting.
  • Heartburn brings on a sour taste in the mouth and is often relieved by antacids, while ischemic heart pain is eased by nitrate medication.
  • Heart pain tends to radiate down the left arm, to the neck, jaw or abdomen.
  • Heart pain can be brought on by physical activity and psychological stress, while heartburn worsens after eating.

Your loved one may not react to pain in a typical way, and it is best not to try to diagnose, but to seek immediate professional medical advice and treatment armed with pain and symptom tracking.

For more tips on keeping your senior loved ones safe and healthy, or to learn more about how our Scottsdale home health care services can improve quality of life for seniors, contact the senior care professionals from Nightingale Homecare at (602) 504-1555.

Start the New Year on a Positive Note!

New YearAfter all the holiday visiting subsides, the gifts are unwrapped and put away, and the New Year has been rung in, for many older adults, the return to everyday life can bring with it feelings of sadness and depression. However, there are some simple steps we can take to help senior loved ones experience renewed joy. Try these tips from the Arizona home health care team at Nightingale Homecare:

  • Maintain connections. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can settle in when family members, who may have spent additional time with a senior over the holidays, fade away into their own busy lives once again. Help your senior loved one stay connected when frequent in-person visits aren’t possible. Teach the senior to use social-enhancing technology such as Skype and emailing, or assist with writing letters and cards. Joining in on activities, classes and groups or volunteering within the community is also a great way to form new friendships and stay active and engaged. Check out the local community college, senior center, fitness center, place of worship, or a charitable organization as a good starting point.
  • Watch the diet. Holiday eating can have an unhealthy impact on all of us! Resolving to implement a healthier pattern of eating at the onset of the New Year will help seniors not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Certain foods have been shown to enhance mood, such as those containing vitamin B and zinc (such as bananas) and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are great examples. It’s also a good idea for seniors to take the opportunity to kick bad habits such as smoking cigarettes or abusing alcohol, which can also affect our mood.
  • Get moving. Physical health has been linked to mental health, and for seniors who are less able to stay active due to chronic illness, frailty, or struggles with mobility, it can be challenging to stay physically fit. There are, however, a variety of solutions, from chair exercises to water aerobics to even just a simple, slow-paced walk outdoors. Check with the senior’s doctor for an appropriate exercise regimen to help strengthen the heart and muscles, and the older adult will reap the added benefit of an emotional boost as well.

Nightingale Homecare’s Arizona home health care professionals are also on hand to enhance quality of life and overall wellbeing for seniors. We can provide friendly companionship to brighten each day, transportation to activities and exercise programs, healthy meal preparation, and a full range of skilled nursing care services to ensure older adults are living life to the fullest!

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our customized Arizona home health care solutions for seniors.