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Relieving Caregiving Stress with Gratitude

Caregiving Stress

Focusing on what we’re thankful for is a great way to relieve stress.

“There’s always, always something to be thankful for!”

This quote, attributed to Rhonda Byrne, is a popular one this time of year, as we turn our thoughts to all of our blessings in the season of Thanksgiving. And, it may just help to relive caregiving stress.

For family caregivers, a heightened level of stress can cause negativity to creep in, magnifying problems and challenges and making it difficult to shift focus to gratitude. Still, research shows that those who practice gratitude are happier, protected from depression, sleep better, have a boosted immune system, and have healthier relationships, in addition to reduced stress.

So how, in the midst of caregiving, can you begin to experience the benefits of gratefulness? We have some tips to help.

What IS Gratitude?

Actually, it’s important to know what gratitude is NOT. It’s not a matter of ignoring difficulties and denying that we have negative feelings as a result of them. It is about tuning in to the positive aspects of life that are present in the midst of the problems. It’s a matter of perspective, and realizing that as bad as things may seem to be, there are glimmers of light shining through the darkness.

Benefits of Gratitude

Choosing to pay attention to even the smallest thing for which we’re grateful actually trains our brain to improve our level of optimism. It breaks the downward spiral of negativity, which improves overall quality of life and wellness in a variety of ways – including allowing us to provide a higher level of care for the seniors we love.

How to Begin Living More Gratefully

One of the best ways to begin experiencing the benefits of gratitude is by keeping a journal – which may feel intimidating at first; who has time for journaling while caregiving? But it doesn’t have to be elaborate or wordy; a simple spiral-bound notebook and a sentence or two each day is all it takes. The key is being consistent, to create a new habit and routine of being thankful.

Designate a few minutes at a set time each day, whenever it works best for you, and simply sit down in a quiet place and think about one or two aspects of life that you’re most thankful for at that moment. It can be as simple as a beautiful sunrise, a warm bath at the end of the day, or a phone call with a friend. Write it down in your journal, or draw a quick sketch if you prefer.

Then at the end of each week, or whenever your stress level is elevated, read back through your journal entries to help shift your perspective.

Know that our experts in home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and nearby areas are always here to partner with you to ensure you have plenty of time available to rest and recharge. Our respite care services are the perfect solution to caregiving stress, allowing you to take much-needed time to yourself while knowing your senior loved one is receiving the very best care. Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!

3 Superfoods for Seniors to Include on The Thanksgiving Table This Year

Superfoods for Seniors

A diet that includes superfoods provides health and nutritional benefits for seniors.

Thanksgiving dinner is typically full of rich, high-fat foods that can be unhealthy if eaten frequently in large quantities. So, while it’s okay to eat traditional Thanksgiving foods such as mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie in moderation, it’s also a great time to try incorporating some “superfoods” into your holiday dinner, and throughout the rest of the year.

Superfoods are foods that are primarily plant-based, but also include some fish and dairy. Because they are nutritionally dense, with high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and healthy fats, they have been shown to be beneficial for one’s health, helping fuel the body so that it can fight against chronic diseases and other nutrient deficiencies.

Recent long-term research studies have shown that there are several nutrients that should be regularly included in the diet of older adults who are at risk for heart disease, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease. These superfoods for seniors are nutritional powerhouses that provide a variety of long-term benefits, and include:

  1. Salmon and other fatty fish. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel, are high in protein and low in saturated fat and calories. With high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acid (DHA), which optimizes triglyceride levels that carry fat in a person’s blood stream, salmon (and other fatty fish) helps to reduce the low density LDL (bad) cholesterol, while improving the high HDL (good) cholesterol that fights deposits in the arteries. An additional benefit: there is strong evidence linking DHA to helping prevent memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.
  2. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts. Research has shown that eating one ounce daily of nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, or hazelnuts may reduce the risk of heart disease. Just one handful of almonds each day provides the recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids and 35% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E. A study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that vitamin E may help protect people from Alzheimer’s disease. The only downside to nuts is that they are high in calories and oftentimes, salt. To help ensure a proper proportion, purchase nuts in their shells, as cracking open the nuts takes time, and slows down the eating process.
  3. Carrots. According to researchers, people who have diets rich in vitamin A and other anti-oxidants over several years have reduced incidents of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study links diets rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc to a reduction of diminished eyesight in older adults. The human body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, making carrots a healthy choice that provides many benefits. In fact, just one 7.5-inch carrot provides 230% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. To make carrots softer and easier to chew without losing valuable nutrients, try microwaving or lightly steaming them.

This Thanksgiving, why not try a new recipe such as this salmon and carrot dinner that uses superfoods as the primary ingredients. Or, try searching online for recipes that incorporate other superfoods for seniors such as: dark leafy greens, berries, green tea, legumes, olive oil and a variety of others. Including these as part of a senior’s diet can provide long-term health benefits, especially when combined with a regular program of physician-approved exercise.

At Nightingale Home Care, our caregivers love working with seniors to keep them healthy, active and engaged. We can help plan and prepare nutritious meals and snacks that incorporate superfoods for seniors, provide companionship and motivation for regular exercise, as well as a variety of other tasks to ensure the senior you love is living life to the fullest.

Reach out to us today at (602) 504-1555 to schedule a free in-home consultation and to learn more about our top-rated home care in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding areas.

Fear No More! Tips to Reduce Fearfulness in Dementia

Fearfulness in Dementia

Help seniors with dementia overcome fearfulness and anxiety with these tips.

While lighthearted fear goes hand-in-hand with the Halloween season, for a senior with dementia, it’s no laughing matter. Fear and anxiety are common in dementia, and difficult for family members to help manage. Fearfulness in dementia can be the result of:

  • A recent move to a new living environment
  • Guests in the home
  • A hospitalization
  • A new caregiver
  • Simply trying to maneuver through a world that feels unfamiliar and disorienting

The dementia care experts at Nightingale Homecare offer the following helpful tips if a senior you love is feeling fearful:

  • First, talk with the senior’s primary care physician to rule out any medication side effects or other health-related reasons for heightened anxiety.
  • Ensure the home environment is as stress-free and calming as possible, following soothing routines and providing the senior with items that provide comfort (such as a favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, etc.).
  • Reduce distractions, such as keeping the TV turned off or at a low volume, and avoiding news programs or other shows that may contain disturbing scenes.
  • Help the senior stay physically active through taking walks, dancing, exercising, or engaging in plenty of enjoyable activities together.
  • Listen to the senior’s concerns respectfully and without judgment. Ask for permission to help and offer reassurances; i.e., “Is it OK if I help you? I am right here with you and you are safe.”

It’s important to realize that your own expression of emotions and tone of voice can either comfort or exacerbate the anxiety the senior is feeling, so maintaining a calm, controlled voice, using slow, deliberate motions without rushing or expressing alarm, anger, or criticism can go a long way towards helping the senior relax.

It’s also a great idea to surround yourself with the support you need to provide the best care for your loved one while ensuring plenty of time for your own self-care. Find a local (or online) Alzheimer’s support group, and partner with Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of Phoenix care at home (and throughout the surrounding areas). Our dementia care team is highly skilled and experienced in effectively diffusing difficult behaviors in dementia, and are happy to provide reliable, trusted respite care that allows family caregivers the chance to step away, rest and recharge.

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 and request a free in-home consultation to share with us the challenges and concerns your loved one is facing, and to let us share with you how we can help with professional, personalized home care services.

Reduce Anxiety and Build Cognitive Functioning with These Fun Activities for Seniors

Activities for Seniors

These activities for seniors help improve wellbeing in a variety of ways.

During the pandemic, as we’ve all had to find more at-home activities to enjoy, the benefits of crafts have become more apparent. In fact, activities for seniors such as crafting have been shown to improve social, cognitive, and motor skills, while reducing anxiety and stress. Not only that, but they bring enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment, meaning, and purpose, especially when created to share with someone else.

Our experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding areas have compiled some great activities to try:

Cookies in a Jar

Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? Get the whole family together and enjoy putting together these mason jar cookie mixes to share with friends and neighbors. Gather together a 1-quart canning jar for each mix, and then layer in the following ingredients, in the order they’re listed:

  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp. salt

Then create a label for each jar with the following instructions for the recipient to use in baking the cookies:

  • Empty cookie mix into large mixing bowl, blending together with your hands.
  • Soften 1 ½ sticks of butter and add to the bowl, along with 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  • Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and placed 2” apart on sprayed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 11 – 13 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy!

Memory Quilts

For senior sewers, there’s nothing more precious than a memory quilt, created from pieces of clothing that tell a story. For instance, a quilt could be prepared for someone who has always loved sports, made with pieces of jerseys from their favorite teams, or from teams they played on themselves over the years. Wash, iron, cut, and stitch the fabric together according to the more detailed instructions provided here.

Tin Can Lanterns

These are a lovely way to repurpose all of those used cans that were destined for the recycle bin, and make fun and unique gifts for kids and adults alike. Here’s all you need to get started:

  • Empty cans of any size (coffee cans work great)
  • A permanent marker
  • Hammer and nails of varying sizes, OR, a cordless drill
  • Wire for hanging, and wire-cutter pliers
  • Tea light candles (battery-operated candles if desired for safety)

Then follow these instructions:

  • Determine the design you want to place on the can, and draw it in dots with the permanent marker.
  • Hammer nails one by one over the marker dots, or, use the cordless drill
  • Be sure to include two holes on opposite sides at the top of the can, and then hook a piece of wire through each hole to make a hanger.
  • Add a tea light candle to the finished can, turn off the lights, and enjoy!

At Nightingale Homecare, the experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding area, we love helping the older adults enjoy life to the fullest, and are always here with more creative ideas and activities for seniors. We’d be happy to spend an afternoon creating crafts such as these with a senior you love! Just give us a call any time at (602) 504-1555 to get started!

Senior Isolation: How to Stay Safe While Staying Connected

Senior Isolation

Help loved ones overcome senior isolation with these tips.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been paramount to seniors’ physical health to stay isolated; yet we know that senior isolation carries with it a number of serious health concerns as well. The challenge has been balancing both the physical and emotional needs of older adults, and for many, the answer has been found in technology, allowing for social interactions during a time of quarantine.

Yet technology brings with it a challenge in and of itself. As many as one in three seniors have never used and do not have access to the internet at home; and for those who do, half need assistance with setting up and utilizing a new app or device.

Our aging care professionals offer the following tech tips to help the seniors you love stay connected in order to prevent senior isolation:

  • Ensure seniors are equipped with the tools they need. Many older desktop computers lack cameras, speakers, and necessary software to access programs like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. Decide if your loved one would be most comfortable with a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, and find a version without all the bells and whistles, making it more user-friendly.
  • Download apps according to interests. The sheer number of options available in the great worldwide web can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to select a handful of apps or sites that the senior will especially enjoy to play games, stream movies and music, learn a new skill or hobby, and to contact family and friends.
  • Instruct the senior and maintain a patient attitude. Remember how it felt when you first learned to drive, or speak another language, or solve an algebraic equation? Keep those feelings in mind as you teach an older loved one how to get around on a new digital device. It will be especially challenging trying to remotely provide instruction over the phone, so stay calm and patient and allow as much time as needed for the senior to grow comfortable with his or her new technology.
  • Explain the risk of scams. Senior scams are rampant, and scammers are extremely savvy in what they do, making it difficult for many to detect until it’s too late. Talk with your loved one about setting boundaries, such as never giving out credit card or other personal information over the internet (unless it’s through a known and trusted site).
  • Partner with Nightingale Homecare! Our team of senior care experts are always available to help the older adults we serve learn new technology, connect virtually with loved ones, and recommend appropriate and engaging activities seniors can do online.

Nightingale Homecare, the leaders in home care assistance in Peoria and the surrounding areas in Arizona, helps prevent senior isolation for older adults in our community each and every day. We offer friendly companionship to engage in a variety of activities at home, such as conversations, games and cards, exercise programs, arts and crafts, and so much more, according to each person’s interests and always in adherence to safety guidelines. We also provide a full range of home health care services to meet the medical and non-medical needs of seniors, right at home.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!