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The Role of Your Home Health Care Team

senior care Phoenix

Discover the roles of each home health care team member.

You may have questions about the home health care professionals sent to your senior loved one’s home and the role that each one plays in his or her recovery. While not every senior will receive every type of service, allhome care professional services are ordered by the doctor who is overseeing care at home, and all professional home visitors will be in close communication with each other and with the doctor. Nightingale Homecare, providers of the top rated senior care Phoenix AZ families need, breaks down the details on each of the types of home health care professionals who may visit your senior loved one:

What is the role of the nurse?

If a registered nurse is involved in your loved one’s care, you can expect him/her to do a thorough review of any medications the senior is on, and provide instruction regarding those medications. If necessary, the nurse might organize medications in a medication cassette or “pill box” to make it easier to keep things straight. Nurses will also monitor and treat any wounds, change wound dressings if necessary, administer intravenous (IV) medications or certain injections, change catheters, help manage pain, and evaluate vital signs and disease symptoms. The RN will also teach the senior and family members how to provide self-care. Nurses play a big role in helping provide understanding of specific illnesses and how to best manage these illnesses to prevent hospitalizations.

What is the role of the physical therapist?

If a physical therapist is part of your senior loved one’s home health care team, she/he will evaluate how the senior is moving and functioning in the home and develop an exercise program designed specifically to help the senior regain mobility and function. Physical therapists can work on strength, mobility, balance and coordination. They also play a big role in looking at the home environment and making recommendations to prevent falls and injuries. They make sure the senior is using the correct mobility equipment, such as walkers or canes, and that the way the senior is moving around is safe. They teach both the senior and his or her caregivers how to safely transfer if help is needed in going between the bed and a chair. Therapists are also required to check vital signs to make sure the senior is well enough to receive therapy.

What is the role of the occupational therapist?

The occupational therapist will evaluate how the senior is doing with activities of daily living, such as bathing, getting dressed, getting meals and tending to the home. They take a close look at how any problems with movement, muscle weakness, sensation, vision, hearing, breathing and thinking might be affecting activities of daily living. They have a lot of knowledge about special devices that can make activities of daily living easier for those experiencing challenges. They also make recommendations for how minor changes at home, such as moving things around, can make activities of daily living manageable.

What is the role of the speech therapist?

A speech therapist will focus on problems the senior may be having with memory, problem solving, swallowing, speaking, and/or understanding speech. She/he will develop a personalized plan to address specific problems in these areas.
What is the role of the social worker? The social worker will evaluate whether there are any community programs or services that could assist the senior with any physical, financial or emotional challenges. Social workers are skilled at helping people cope with stress and improve difficult family situations. They are also very knowledgeable about different types of housing and how much support is available in different housing environments. They are available to help in figuring out how to plan for the future needs of someone whose health is declining.

What is the role of the dietician?

A dietician will look closely at the senior’s medical diagnosis, eating patterns and nutritional status. She/he will develop an eating plan that works for the senior and that follows any medical instructions. She/he will also help with planning meals and provide tips for shopping and cooking. Sometimes dieticians are called in to work with patients who have severe issues with weight gain or weight loss, diseases that affect their nutritional status or dietary needs, and patients that have to be fed through a tube.

What is the role of the home health aide?

Home health aides work under the strict direction of the nurse or therapist, following a care plan that is developed by the professionals involved in the senior’s care. She/he will help with personal care, such as bathing/showering and getting dressed and ready for the day. The home health aide can also tidy up after providing personal care and help with any exercises that the therapist has ordered. Home health aide visits are limited to the amount of time it takes to provide personal care services. Home health aide visits usually are provided one to three times a week, depending on each individual’s circumstances.  The number of visits your senior loved one receives is determined by Medicare criteria and will be explained by the nurse or therapist. If the senior needs more help than what the home health aide can provide under Medicare guidelines, Nightingale will be happy to talk with you about options to consider. We are experts with in-home supportive care services and have helped many people that are having difficulty managing at home.

We’d love to talk with you to share more details on how our full team of home health care professionals can work together to keep your senior loved one safe, healthy and thriving at home. As the top providers of senior care Phoenix AZ families rely on, Nightingale Homecare is here for you! Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.


Top Phoenix Home Care Agency Shares Tips to Better Manage Wandering in Alzheimer’s

Top Phoenix home care agency

Providing a comfortable and safe home environment for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is key to improving the person’s emotional and physical wellbeing. This goal can be challenging, especially for those families who have a loved one who wanders due to dementia. The Phoenix home care agency team at Nightingale Homecare understands firsthand how difficult it can be to effectively manage behaviors such as wandering, and is here to help!

An individual with dementia is likely to wander at some point during the disease – as many as three out of every four patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is an incredibly stressful behavior for loved ones to deal with because of the safety implications associated with wandering.

The first approach to dealing with wandering is to identify the reason behind the wandering.  There may be a number of causes, including:

  • Medication side effects
  • Stress
  • Confusion related to time
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Inability to recognize familiar people, places and objects
  • Fear arising from the misinterpretation of sights and sounds
  • Desire to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or looking after a child

There are some things you can do to reduce wandering in your loved one:

  • Encourage movement and exercise. This tends to reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness and can have a dramatic effect on wandering.
  • Involve your loved one in productive daily activities such as folding laundry or preparing dinner. This can keep your loved one occupied and provide opportunity for meaningful tasks.
  • Remind your loved one he is in the right place and reassure him if he articulates feelings that he may be lost, abandoned, or disoriented. This kind of reassurance from a trusted loved one or caregiver can be invaluable in calming your loved one and preventing wandering behavior.

If you continue to notice wandering behaviors, there are some things you can do to protect your loved one:

  • Enroll your loved one in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program.
  • Notify all your neighbors of your loved one’s condition and keep a list of their names and phone numbers.
  • Keep your home safe and secure by installing deadbolt locks on exterior doors and limiting access to potentially dangerous areas of your home.
  • Be mindful that your loved one may not only wander by foot but also by other modes of transportation, so limit access to cars or other transportation.
  • Be sure and keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses of the local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control as well as the Safe Return help line.

Although it may seem overwhelming to proactively address any potential hazards, in the long run, it’s well worth it to know that your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is safe. And you don’t have to figure it all out alone! The staff of Nightingale Homecare is uniquely qualified to provide Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss care through our Connections program, using the unique approach taught by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson through her “Alzheimer’s Whisperer®” methods. Alzheimer’s Whisperers enter the client’s world and manage the challenging behaviors associated with dementia in a way that is gentle, creative and highly effective. These skills are not only practiced and known by our trained caregivers, but also taught to the families of our dementia clients by the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare.

Contact the Alzheimer’s care experts at the top Phoenix home care agency, Nightingale Homecare, at (602) 504-1555 for more helpful tips to make life safer and more comfortable for your loved one with dementia, or for professional, compassionate, hands-on assistance with all of his or her care needs.

Bon Voyage! How to Have the Best Possible Travel Experience with Seniors

Travel with SeniorsTraveling with an elderly parent can be stressful if the journey isn’t planned, but there are many steps you can take to make the trip memorable and enjoyable for all! Whether it’s a flight to visit family and friends, or to travel to a fun destination, the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare offers these tips to make the most of your adventure:


Your loved one’s doctor should give approval prior to any travel, especially when there are travel restrictions related to a medical condition that may be affected by travel and activity. It will be important to have physician notes to support the need for travel insurance, which you should consider prior to any travel with an elder. Ask the doctor for a note if your loved one may set off security alarms or metal detectors at the airport due to artificial implants such as knees or hips. It’s also a good idea to ask the doctor for back-up written prescriptions, to avoid missed doses if your loved one loses his or her filled prescriptions, or if travel plans are extended.

Prior to going on any trip, it will be important to find the most direct flights to reach the destination. Avoid traveling at night as it will disrupt sleep schedules. Take some time to check flight times and layovers and ask for disabled seats to make travel easier. Don’t forget to check for senior discounts when you travel, as many airlines now offer them. Airports and airplane travel can become wearisome, so booking the best available flight will be important.

Book hotels on the lower floor with wheelchair access, if necessary. Check out the amenities of the hotel such as shuttle services and tours that are handicapped assessable. It may be important to book adjacent, separate rooms to allow your loved one the opportunity for privacy and adequate rest.


Taking some time to thoroughly plan your loved one’s packing can save a lot of unnecessary time and frustration. Make a list of all prescriptions and medical supplies in advance and make sure they are packed in a carry-on bag, in case your loved one is separated from his/her check-on bag. Take this list, extra written prescriptions, and physician medical statements with you. Ensure also that your loved one has copies of all insurance cards and contact information in his/her carry-on bag. Consider making another copy of all these documents to include in your bag as a back-up. Equally important is to carry a list of all emergency contact information, including your loved one’s physician and family and friends. It’s important not to rely on the numbers saved in a phone, just in case it is lost or damaged while traveling. Other items to remember are comfortable shoes and a travel pillow for long flights. Make sure your loved one packs an extra set of eyewear. It would be a shame to miss seeing the sights if a pair of glasses breaks along the way!


Once the big day has arrived, there are some additional steps you can take to ease a long travel day. Arrive about two hours prior to your flight to allow for lines and to keep you from feeling rushed. Consider asking for shuttle or wheelchair service to the gate. This can save a lot of energy and time and is typically a free service; however, don’t forget the tip! Plan to have a light snack at the airport, and use the restroom before boarding the flight. Encourage your loved one to leave the purse or wallet at home and opt instead for a money belt hidden under clothing. This will not only free up hands, but prevent a lost or stolen wallet.

It’s a good idea to add medication and treatment schedules to an alarm on your phone while traveling with an elder. Between time changes and activities, important medications can get missed if you aren’t on your toes.

Remember long flights put your elder loved one at risk for blood clots. It’s important to keep the legs moving frequently to improve blood flow. If your loved one isn’t at risk for balance problems, a stroll up and down the aisle is a good way to keep moving. If you are confined to the seat, encourage exercise to the calves by extending the legs straight out and flexing the ankles by moving toes toward you. If possible, ask your loved one to pull each knee up toward the chest and with hands for support, hold it there for about 15 seconds, then lower the leg and repeat. If your loved one has a history of blood clots and is on blood thinners, he/she may need compression stockings for the flight. Most importantly, know the symptoms of blood clots and consult a doctor immediately at the first sign:

  1. Swelling
  2. Pain or tenderness
  3. Skin that is warm to the touch
  4. Redness of the skin


It may be tempting to hit the ground running and go visit family or take in the sights; however, travel can take its toll with fatigue and dehydration in the elderly. Consider taking some time to enjoy a refreshing drink, have a snack, and take a rest, especially when your loved one is accustomed to napping. It’s usually best to avoid a full itinerary and pace yourselves with frequent rest periods. Most importantly, ask your loved one what he or she feels up to doing. Even if you go solo on a few activities, your loved one will appreciate your account of the events over a meal together!

Keep in mind too that the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare are always available to accompany seniors on trips, and are skilled in ensuring all of a senior’s needs are fully met every step of the way. Contact us at 602) 504-1555 to learn more!

Top Tips for Responding to Caregiver Criticism

caregiver criticism The holiday season is a wonderful time for families to reconnect and spend quality time together, catching up on the ups and downs of life. But for those providing care for a senior loved one, the holidays can also serve as an opportunity for other family members to critique the level of care being provided, which can naturally result in feelings of defensiveness and frustration.

If you find yourself engaging in conversations in which the quality of your caregiving role is being questioned, the following tips, courtesy of the Arizona home health care professionals at Nightingale Homecare, can help:

  • Turn the tables. The stress of being on the receiving end of caregiving criticism can be lessened by turning the conversation to how the other person would suggest handling the situation if he or she were in your shoes. You then have the choice of taking the person’s recommendations or not, but either way, the discussion can then turn to a less difficult topic.
  • Try active listening. The art of active listening provides the benefit of letting the person speaking to you know that he or she has been heard while also sharing, in a non-confrontational way, how hurtful a particular comment may have been, as the person speaking hears it repeated back. Use “I” statements to share how something made you feel. An example might be a family member stating, “I don’t have time to help with Dad’s care,” with an appropriate response being, “I feel that my time is less valued than yours when you say you don’t have time to help with Dad’s care.”
  • Remain assertive. It’s ok to stand up for yourself – politely and maturely, of course – when a critical comment oversteps your boundaries. For instance, if someone accuses you of not caring enough to make sure the senior wears a matching outfit, you can clarify that you do care very much, explaining that the senior insists on wearing particular pieces of clothing and is most comfortable when wearing them.

Providing care for a senior loved one at home is challenging on its own, and additionally stressful when coupled with criticism from others. Partnering with a professional in-home care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, can help ease the tension for family caregivers by assisting with a full range of senior care services as needed, keeping older adults safe and thriving at home and allowing family members a much-needed break in providing care.

We’d love to talk with you about how our Arizona home health care services can help your senior loved one. Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to schedule a free in-home consultation to learn more.


Caring for the Caregiver: How to Provide Better Care for Your Loved One by Taking Care of Yourself

Caregiver Respite CareWe all know that caring for a loved one comes with challenges; more stress and less self-care time. But often things can be so hectic, caregivers end up putting their own health at risk. If you are the primary caregiver for an elder loved one, these tips can help you stay at optimum health in order to better care for your loved one.

Healthy Eating

With a lifestyle that’s continually on the go, the food we eat is critically important for good health. Resisting the temptation to settle for fast food and taking some time to menu-plan for the week can help you stay on track. You can even involve your loved one in assisting with some safe steps in the meal preparation. Look for seasonal vegetables and do some Internet searches on quick preparation for healthy meals. Stick to shopping around the perimeter of the market (where more fresh and healthy foods are located) and avoid prepared foods that are often loaded with unhealthy calories. If time is an issue, consider ordering your groceries or have a personal chef or another family member prepare several healthy meals to keep on hand during the week. Nix the chips and instead keep carrot sticks, yogurt and apple slices available for quick snacks.


You may think that all your moving and dashing about all day gives you plenty of exercise, but this kind of activity often leaves you exhausted and more stressed. Exercise, whether it be a daily walk, yoga, or hitting it at the gym, provides you with necessary stress relief and deep breathing that will lead to sustained health benefits and improved relaxation and rest. Carving out 20 minutes to an hour every day to commit to exercise may be challenging, but is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and combat stress.


We realize that living with an elder loved one is much more than a 9-5 commitment, and often sleep is interrupted due to your loved one’s care needs. Having a consistent bedtime routine for your loved one and for yourself can lead to more rest-filled nights for both of you. Things like avoiding TV and other electronics, avoiding alcohol, taking a long bath, turning on relaxing music, meditating and/or prayer help many people feel more rested and ready for sleep, especially when practiced routinely. If you and your loved one miss out on sleep during night-time hours, consider a 30-minute nap during the day. Many times, that’s all it takes to help restore us for the rest of the day ahead.

Make Time for You

Self-care and time for yourself is imperative to maintain a healthy outlook and reduce caregiver burnout. It doesn’t have to be a day-long spa treatment, although it can be! Self-care should be consistent to allow you to recharge. It can include lunch with friends, journaling, meditating, taking up a hobby, or just activities that make you laugh, cry and feel. When our days are filled with the commitment of taking care of others, taking time to connect with yourself is a necessity.

The best way family caregivers can ensure that time is carved out for self-care is by enlisting the help of a trusted home care agency, like Nightingale Homecare. Our respite care services fill in the gaps with compassionate, experienced care for seniors, allowing their loved ones a much needed break to recharge. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about how our professional Phoenix caregivers can help improve quality of life – for the seniors you love, and for you!


Posted in Blog, Caregiving, Family Caregivers, Phoenix on October 18th, 2017 · Comments Off on Caring for the Caregiver: How to Provide Better Care for Your Loved One by Taking Care of Yourself