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Understanding the Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice

Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice

Learn the differences between palliative care and hospice.

Palliative care services are on the rise in hospitals and outpatient facilities, but many individuals and families don’t understand the differences between palliative care and hospice and so they miss the opportunities palliative care can provide. Some individuals are hesitant to use palliative care, erroneously believing that it’s the same as hospice. In fact, palliative care is a great option for people who are managing chronic health conditions and can significantly improve a senior’s quality of life.

While hospice offers tailored care for those in the last six months of life, palliative care focuses on the comfort of individuals dealing with serious health issues. Anyone can utilize palliative care without forgoing curative treatment, and palliative care prioritizes not only physical wellbeing, but emotional and spiritual health as well. Palliative care experts provide guidance through difficult medical decisions, recommend medications and therapies to help ease pain, and connect individuals in their care with chaplains as needed.

While palliative care has only been an approved medical specialty since 2007, now more than 70% of hospitals offer palliative care services. Some hospitals even offer outpatient palliative care so that patients can receive treatment and guidance in the comfort of their own homes. Patients and their families have benefitted from connecting with medical professionals who prioritize comfort.

Those who utilize palliative care benefit from tailored medications, a listening ear to help them identify, name, and manage symptoms, and supportive professionals like social workers and therapists to help them navigate the treatment process. Crucially, palliative care helps patients and families weigh complex medical decisions, ensuring that they make the most informed, compassionate choices regarding care.

Palliative care also helps lessen the strain on the healthcare system and is more cost-effective. Individuals who choose palliative care have fewer emergency hospitalizations and fewer unnecessary invasive procedures. As the Affordable Care Act and Medicare shift away from a fee-for-service model, palliative care is becoming more accessible. By choosing palliative care, many seniors are becoming more empowered to make educated decisions about their own treatment and receive care in the place they are most comfortable: home.

Nightingale Homecare can help seniors with serious and chronic illnesses live more comfortably at home, offering both non-medical and medical private home care. Our hand-picked highly-trained caregivers are happy to provide a number of in-home services, including:

  • Companionship and conversation
  • Help around the house
  • Assistance with personal care
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation to outings, social events, and doctor’s visits
  • And many other essential services to help your loved one thrive

If you’d like to learn more about our home care agency in Glendale AZ and the surrounding areas, or schedule a free in-home consultation, contact us online or give us a call at (602) 504-1555.  We look forward to offering your loved one the compassionate and professional services he or she deserves.

 

Can You Hear Me Now? Aging and Hearing Impairment

Aging and Hearing Impairment

These tips can help overcome challenges related to aging and hearing impairment.

“Can you repeat that please?”

“I wish you would speak up and stop mumbling!”

“I’m sorry; what was that you said?”

If you’re providing care for an older loved one who struggles with hearing problems, phrases like these are likely part of your daily conversations. And you’re far from alone, with as many as a third of seniors ages 65 – 74 experiencing hearing loss, and half of those over age 75. While aging and hearing impairment are a common pair, the repercussions can range from frustrating to dangerous. Missing out on conversations is hard enough, but a senior with hearing loss may not understand a doctor’s instructions, miss hearing alarms and doorbells, or be unable to hear a car horn honking an alert and be at risk for an accident.

Left untreated, many hearing problems can worsen. It’s important to check with the doctor if hearing loss is suspected, although bear in mind that a senior may become defensive or deny having a problem at all.

To gauge if a senior loved one is struggling with hearing, pay attention to the following:

  • Does the senior struggle with hearing what’s being said over the phone?
  • Is it hard for him/her to join in and follow along with conversations involving multiple people?
  • Is the TV turned up to an unusually loud volume?
  • Does the senior often ask others to repeat what has just been said?
  • Is the senior complaining of others mumbling?

The doctor can help uncover the cause for the senior’s hearing loss, and recommend options to help such as a hearing aid, assistive listening or alerting device, mobile apps, or a cochlear implant if the impairment is severe.

You can also help someone struggling with aging and hearing impairment by attempting to:

  • Minimize background noise and distractions when talking with the senior.
  • Use non-verbal cues as much as possible, such as hand gestures and facial expressions.
  • Speak to the senior face-to-face while maintaining eye contact.
  • Elevate your voice slightly, while never yelling at the person.
  • Speak at a normal pace – slowing down your speech doesn’t help.
  • Use different words if the person is unable to decipher what you’ve said.
  • Maintain patience. As frustrating as it may be to engage in a conversation with someone with hearing loss, it’s even more frustrating for the senior.

Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated provider of home health in Phoenix and surrounding areas, is always here to help as well. We offer a full range of both skilled and non-medical in-home care services that address and overcome a variety of challenges for seniors and the families who care for them.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to request free resources related to aging and hearing impairment, and to schedule a complimentary consultation in the comfort of home to learn more about how we can help.

Protect Seniors from Post-Heart Attack Depression

Post-Heart Attack Depression

Post-heart attack depression can be better managed with these tips.

Surviving a heart attack is cause for celebration – yet rather than joy, many seniors experience a surprising but common condition: post-heart attack depression. And by the same token, those with depression are more prone to having a heart attack later in life than those without mental health concerns.

Nightingale Homecare, the leading senior caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, is here to help older adults and those who care for them understand what to watch for and what steps can be taken to alleviate depression following a heart attack or other significant health scare.

A senior may be clinically depressed if the following red flags are noted:

  • Problems with falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling restless, apathetic, sad, hopeless, and/or worthless
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Lack of concentration

If a senior you love is exhibiting signs such as these, try the following:

  1. See the doctor. First and foremost, check in with the senior’s primary care physician for a depression assessment and recommended treatment. The earlier depression is diagnosed and treated, the better.
  2. Look into cardiac rehab services. Post-heart attack depression can be helped through learning and implementing lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising properly. Cardiac rehabilitation is often conducted in a group setting, allowing for social interaction with others who can empathize and understand what the senior is going through and provide necessary support.
  3. Ensure medication adherence. Not taking heart medications as directed can lead to depression – and someone who is depressed may not be motivated to take his or her meds, leading to a vicious cycle. Nightingale Homecare can help with medication reminders and management; contact us to learn more.
  4. Talk with a counselor. Professional counseling can be extremely beneficial for a depressed senior, providing the opportunity to work through the varied feelings that accompany surviving a traumatic event like a heart attack.
  5. Incorporate mind/body relaxation. Studies have shown that depression can be eased through the mindfulness, deep breathing, exercise and clearing of the mind through activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation/prayer, and deep breathing exercises.
  6. Stay social. The pandemic has made it challenging to maintain social connections, but isolation can have a tremendously negative impact on our mental health. If in-person get-togethers with friends and family aren’t possible, using technology such as Zoom and Skype to stay in touch can make a world of difference in a depressed person’s outlook.
  7. Explore antidepressant options. Antidepressants may be a temporary option to ease symptoms. Ask the doctor for a recommendation, and carefully consider the pros and cons (i.e., any potential negative side effects). It’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants typically take several weeks before their full impact is realized.

Let Nightingale Homecare’s compassionate, skilled, and experienced caregivers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas provide the assistance a senior with post-heart attack depression needs. We offer friendly companionship, planning and preparation of heart-healthy meals, motivation to stay physically active, help with ensuring medications are taken properly, and many other services, according to each person’s particular needs.

Call us today at (602) 505-1555 to get started on a brighter tomorrow for a senior you love!

Take Steps to Better Senior Health: Exercises for Any Ability Level

Portrait of a smiling senior woman lifting dumbbells during a workout session in her living room at home

One of the keys to senior health is staying physically active.

It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions for good reason: exercising more has numerous benefits for all of us, regardless of age or ability level. As one of the leading caregiver agencies in Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas, we at Nightingale Homecare encourage all of the seniors in our care (with doctors’ approval, of course) to stay as physically active as possible and to achieve maximum health and wellbeing. Just some of the many ways exercise is good for senior health include:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Better blood sugar management
  • Lower levels of lipids in the blood
  • Enhanced joint and bone health
  • Preserved cognitive functioning
  • A healthier immune system
  • A boost in metabolism and better GI functioning
  • More confidence
  • The release of endorphins that help improve mood
  • And so much more

Many older adults, however, experience a decline in physical activity throughout aging, and while it’s true that some exercises may not be realistic or safe for some seniors to engage in, there are plenty of modifications that can be made and alternative activities with equal health benefits.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Aerobics:

Cardio exercise is extremely important for heart and lung health. The typical recommendation is 30 minutes per day, but it’s perfectly fine to break this 30-minute period into smaller chunks throughout the day. Water exercises are low-impact and a great choice for many seniors; check with the local YMCA or senior center for classes specifically geared toward older adults.

Strength/Resistance:

Strength and resistance training help strengthen the bones and improve balance, which can prevent falls. These types of exercises can be done two or three times each week for maximum benefit, and can include simple, repetitive motions with small weights or resistance bands. Even a bottle of water or can of soup lifted up and down with each arm for two or three sets of ten can help build endurance.

Stretching:

Warming up and cooling down with stretching exercises helps prevent any stiffness or soreness in muscles after exercising, and also helps seniors maintain flexibility. Yoga and Pilates exercises are great ways to isolate different muscle groups to focus on and to develop a strong core, leading to better balance and posture. The YMCA or senior center can again be helpful, offering these types of classes specifically for older adults.

Our aging care experts love nothing more than helping the seniors in our care enjoy life to the fullest and to remain as healthy, safe, and independent as possible. One of the many ways we can help is by providing the motivation, encouragement, and support to enjoy staying physically active. We’ll even exercise right along with your senior loved one – it’s always more fun with a friend!

We’re also on hand to provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, to prepare healthy meals, run errands, and so much more that leads to an overall better quality of life.

Contact us and ask for your free in-home consultation to find out more about our customized in-home care services for seniors. You can reach us any time at (602) 505-1555.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect New Year’s Resolutions for Family Caregivers

Resolutions for Family Caregivers

New Year’s resolutions for family caregivers help make self-care a priority.

The dawning of a new year brings with it hope, optimism, and a chance to start fresh. For family caregivers, the new year is an ideal time to take stock of caregiving routines, making adjustments that benefit both you and a senior you love.

While there are countless instances of joy when caring for a senior, too often family caregivers place all their focus and energy on their caregiving responsibilities, leaving no time or energy for their own needs. Since the ability to provide effective care is directly linked to maintaining your own health and wellness, the new year is a perfect time to commit to making and keeping resolutions for family caregivers.

  • Ask for help. Reach out to family or close friends and ask for assistance with caregiving responsibilities. Think about ways in which those close to you can help with tasks such as bringing over a meal one night each week, managing finances, scheduling appointments, and more. Set up a recurring schedule so that you know you can count on assistance each week, thereby freeing you up to make and keep your own medical appointments, maintain an exercise routine, or have lunch with a friend.
  • Be present. Family caregiving requires not only physical stamina, but emotional stamina, too. All too often, family caregivers can feel drained by the emotion of caring for a senior loved one. They hope a situation will change, even when they’ve seen the same outcome time and again. Whether wishing for assistance from your siblings or hoping that your dad, who has Alzheimer’s, will stop asking the same question repeatedly, it’s important (and sometimes difficult) to accept things the way they are. In doing so, and in being fully present in reality, you can focus emotional energy on positive things, while at the same time caring for your emotional health.
  • Make self-care a daily priority. Set aside short blocks of time throughout the day to focus on self-care. Start your day with stretching, meditation or prayer. Take a brief walk around the block or simply sit outside and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes each afternoon. Connect with friends on the phone, read a book, or start streaming a new series in the evenings. Make “me time” a priority, even if it’s only for short periods of time each day.
  • Schedule routine breaks. Trying to take on all of the caregiving tasks day in and day out is a recipe for burnout. Partner with an in-home caregiver like Nightingale Homecare to schedule respite services so that you can take a break each week or plan a weekend away to indulge in some much-deserved R & R.

Let Nightingale Homecare help you keep your New Year’s resolutions by providing the trusted in-home care that families in Phoenix and the surroundings areas have turned to since 1994. In addition to respite care, our professional and highly-trained care team can customize a care plan designed especially for your loved one and can include:

  • Assisting with housekeeping and laundry
  • Planning and preparing healthy and nutritious meals
  • Providing transportation to social outings and medical or personal appointments
  • Engaging companionship to enhance socialization and reduce isolation
  • Helping with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and using the toilet
  • A full range of skilled nursing care services
  • And so much more

Reach out to Nightingale Homecare today at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about how our skilled and non-medical home care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas can help you and a senior you love live life to the fullest in 2021.