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New Year, New You: Exercises to Overcome a Sedentary Lifestyle

exercises for seniors

Try these exercises for seniors to improve overall health.

Staying physically active, regardless of age, is vital for all of us, and although it can be challenging for older adults who are impacted by chronic health conditions or other effects of aging, there are a number of ways to work around these challenges to maximize health.

Prior to starting any new exercise program, be sure to consult with the senior’s primary care physician and any other specialists to receive approval and recommendations. Also bear in mind that small beginnings are still great beginnings! Even just a few minutes of activity repeated several times over the course of each day can make a big impact, and is a wonderful starting point from which to increase over time.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of respite care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, our focus is always on helping seniors thrive and live life to their fullest potential. To that end, we’ve compiled some exercises for seniors that can help overcome a sedentary lifestyle and start the new year off right:

  • Aerobic Activities: If possible, these activities are a wonderful way to strengthen the heart as well as a variety of muscle groups:
    • Swimming and water aerobics
    • Dancing
    • Bowling
    • Walking
    • Tai Chi
  • Resistance Activities: Utilizing resistance bands can be helpful in strengthening and toning muscles. Even as little as one day per week of strength training helps seniors prevent the risk of falls and other injuries, while enhancing independence.
  • Flexibility Activities: Stretching gives flexibility a boost, while allowing for enhanced range of motion. Yoga classes are often the perfect choice for low-impact flexibility exercises.
  • Alzheimer’s Activities: Even when Alzheimer’s disease is a factor, there are a wide range of physical activities that can be tried, and as the disease progresses, simply provide extra supervision and modifications as appropriate. For example, repetition is often a comfort to those with dementia, so try incorporating daily activities like folding laundry, riding a stationary bicycle, and walking to improve the senior’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

Motivating seniors to adhere to an ongoing exercise program is key. These suggestions can help make exercising something enjoyable that the senior can look forward to:

  • Keep it a team effort. It’s always better to exercise with a friend or loved one.
  • Play fun, upbeat music while exercising.
  • Designate set times each day for exercise, making it a priority.
  • Offer incentives and rewards for reaching goals to help keep the senior – and yourself! – motivated.

Contact Nightingale Homecare for a trusted partner in creating and implementing an ideal exercise plan for a senior you love! Our fully trained and experienced care team is always available to provide the support and encouragement to make each day the best it can be for the older adults we have the honor of serving. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 and arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

Fall Risk Prevention Checklist from Nightingale’s Professional Caregivers in Phoenix

Fall Risk Prevention

Fall risk prevention is easier with this handy checklist.

Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home. Many of them are seriously injured, or worse. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among those 65 and older. Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. Many falls can be prevented by making simple environmental, personal and lifestyle changes.

This checklist from the caregivers Phoenix families trust at Nightingale Homecare will help you find and fix hazards in your home. The checklist details hazards found in each room of your home and identifies what you can do to correct the hazards. Your home health care team can also assess your specific risk of falling and suggest ways to prevent falls.

FLOORS 

When you walk through a room, are floor surfaces uneven?

  • Repair uneven surfaces in the home. 

When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture, paper, boxes or clutter?

  • Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
  • Remove boxes and clutter to open up passageways.

Do you have throw rugs on the floor?

  • Remove the rugs or use double sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
  • Check rugs and mats periodically to see if backing or tape needs to be replaced. 

Are floors waxed?

  • Do not wax floors; it makes them more slippery. If floors must be waxed, use non-slip wax.

Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords?

  • Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall. If needed, have an electrician put in more outlets.
  • Arrange furniture so that outlets are near lamps and appliances to eliminate the use of extension cords.

STEPS AND STAIRS

Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs?

  • Pick up things on the stairs.
  • Always keep objects off the stairs.

Are some steps broken or uneven?

  • Fix loose or uneven steps.
  • Even small differences in steps’ surfaces or riser heights can lead to falls.

Are you missing a light over the stairway?

  • Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the light fixture.
  • Reduce glare through indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures.

Do you have only one light switch for your stairs?

  • Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Is the carpet or flooring on the steps loose or torn?

  • Make sure the carpet or flooring is firmly attached to every step. You can also attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs, or paint the stairs with non-skid paint.

Are the handrails loose or broken or only on one side of the stairs?

  • Fix loose handrails or put in new ones.
  • Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and go the length of the stairs.

Are stair steps difficult to see?

  • Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps so you can see the stairs

better.

  • Apply non-skid and colored tape on the outer edges of the steps.

Evaluate stair access; would a ramp or stair glide/stair lift be appropriate?

  • Install stair ramp or stair glide/lift as appropriate.

FLOOR PLAN LAYOUT

Is it possible to modify the living areas of the home?

  • Consider modifying the layout of the home to keep all living areas to one level of the home.

KITCHEN 

Are the things you use most often on high shelves?

  • Move items in your cabinets to lower shelves, about waist level.
  • Install shelves and cupboards at an easy-to-reach level.
  • Use a pole reaching device to access items on higher shelves.

BATHROOMS

Is the tub or shower floor slippery?

  • Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the tub or shower floor.
  • Use a shower chair or shower board with a hand-held shower head while showering.

Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub, or up from the toilet?

  • Have a handyman who is qualified put in grab bars next to the tub and toilet.

BEDROOMS

Is the light near the bed hard to reach?

  • Place a lamp close to the bed where it is easy to reach.

Is there something sturdy to hold onto next to the bed to help you get out of bed?

  • Place a heavy piece of furniture next to the bed.
  • Have a qualified handyman install a grab rail onto the wall.
  • Use a cane or walker for support.

Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? 

  • Install a nightlight so you can see where you are walking.
  • Keep a flashlight near the bed.
  • Evaluate and add lighting throughout the home
  • Put in brighter bulbs. Use lamp shades to reduce glare.

CHAIRS AND TABLES

Are chairs and tables sturdy, without casters?

  • Avoid tripod or pedestal tables. Tables should have four sturdy legs.
  • Remove casters from chairs and tables.

Are frequently used chairs equipped with arm rests and high backs?

  • Using arm rests makes it easier to sit down into or to stand up from a chair. High backs provide support for the neck and also provide support when transferring weight.

Are frequently used chairs high enough to ensure ease in standing?

  • Place firm cushions in chairs with low seats.
  • Consider using a chair lift to help you get in and out of the chair.

At Nightingale Homecare, we’re dedicated to fall risk prevention. We are always pleased to provide a safety assessment of the home for the seniors we serve and our Paces fall prevention program offers seniors additional protection from falls. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request an in-home consultation to learn more ways we’re helping seniors throughout Phoenix and the surrounding areas remain safe, comfortable, and thriving, right in the comfort of home.

Long-Distance Caregiving: How to Continue to Help After the Holidays

Long-Distance Caregiving

Long-distance caregiving is easier with these tips.

During holiday visiting, families often uncover concerns with a senior loved one that hadn’t been apparent through shorter visits or over the phone. And for family members who live at a distance, it can be quite a challenge to head back home, feeling helpless to know exactly how to help.

If this describes your situation, Nightingale Homecare, your trusted Phoenix home care agency has some helpful suggestions to provide you with peace of mind, and your loved one with the help he or she needs.

Planning

When it’s not possible to simply drive across town to help an older loved one, it’s helpful to hold family meetings regarding the potential “what ifs” that might arise, such as:

  • Living preferences according to who may be able to help in the event of an injury or illness. Roleplay some scenarios, such as if the senior experienced a broken hip following a fall and needed rehabilitative care.
  • Determining factors that will indicate that it’s time to consider care options. What might that look like?
  • Finances and other resources required and available for caregiving, including how much time family members can afford to miss from work for caregiving tasks.
  • Advance directives and wills: it is important that all paperwork is in order, and that family members impacted maintain a copy.

Monitoring

Living at a distance from a senior loved one makes it easy to put off the uncomfortable task of assessing the older adult’s health and wellbeing; yet, it is important to ensure these things are evaluated on a regular basis.

  • Obtain the name and contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician, and stay in touch with the office.
  • Ensure that there is a signed HIPAA Release of Information Form filed at each of your loved one’s doctors’ offices so you can communicate freely with each physician (and keep a copy for yourself).
  • Call your loved one regularly to check in and offer help with resolving or preventing any problems.
  • Maintain a list of other potential resources in your loved one’s neighborhood: neighbors, friends from church, other local family members who can be part of the support network. Make sure these contacts know that you are part of the long-distance caregiving team and have your contact information.

Traveling

Difficult issues are bound to occur, and often at a moment’s notice. It may not be feasible to travel home for each issue, so determine in advance when you will travel and when to call on other resources for help.

  • Determine if a situation is a true medical or care crisis. In your decision-making process, consult with your loved one’s doctor, social worker, or nurse for details and to get their opinions on whether you should be there.
  • Is there someone locally available who can help resolve the problem, or check in on the situation?
  • It’s perfectly fine if you prefer to visit just to put your mind at rest. If staying at home will cause you to worry, then it may be best to go.

Nightingale Homecare Can Help

Engaging the services of Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated Phoenix home care agency, is the perfect solution for long-distance caregiving needs. Providing as much or as little assistance as needed, and offering a full range of both medical and non-medical care, families know they can trust our care professionals to pay close attention to their loved ones’ needs, and to catch any concerns immediately, allowing them to be addressed before they become a more serious problem. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Maintaining Independence in Dementia

Dementia

Learn how to help someone with dementia maintain independence.

A common concern for older adults, especially for those who are adjusting to a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, is the fear of losing independence. Yet thankfully, there are a number of simple techniques you can use to foster as much independence as possible in your loved one throughout the progression of the disease.

Using memory prompting strategies early on can help your loved one develop patterns of behavior that can maximize safety and independence, as well self-confidence. The most important rule is to avoid taking over activities for the person with dementia. Instead, encourage the continuation of activities and personal care tasks, even if these take longer or are messier, such as allowing your loved one to feed herself.

Consider these additional tips from the dementia care team at Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality respite care in Sun City, AZ and the surrounding area:

Use Routines

Having a routine is one of the best memory prompts. Patterns of behavior become an aid to memory and help a person with dementia feel secure and less anxious, too.

Write It Down

Your loved one should use a daily diary for as long as possible, to write down the everyday tasks, household duties and activities that she has arranged or wants to do. She can also use them for thoughts and ideas. Family members or caregivers can add in activities or ‘must do’s’ on the list as well.

Use Bulletin Boards

Your loved one can pin reminders, timetables, ideas, schedules, and lists to bulletin boards, which provide great visual reminders. Helpers or caregivers can also put reminders of activities that she has scheduled, the date and day, and an inspiring verse or phrase.

Use Labels to Remind and Identify

Put labels on things to remind your loved one where things are stored, identify possessions, or accomplish specific tasks.

Consistently Use Address and Personal Phone Books

Keep your loved one’s phone and address book by the phone with important numbers written prominently on one page. She can also keep a notebook right by the phone to keep track of who she called, when the call was made, and what the conversation was about.

Make Use of Technology

Consider setting up electronic prompt services such as texts or reminders in your loved one’s phone calendar. These types of services can be used for reminders and cues of things that need to be done, such as taking medications or attending an important social gathering or meeting.

Organize Important Objects Together

Attempt to get your loved one into the habit of putting keys, money and glasses in the same place. This can help her keep track of these items more easily.

Use Clocks with Date Displays

Having clocks with date displays in every room helps your loved one identify the time and date of the day and can trigger her memory for activities that are scheduled at certain times. Frequent reminders of the day, date and time will increase orientation. 

Read Daily Newspapers, News Sites, or Social Media Pages

News sites not only keep your loved one in touch with current events but also act as a reminder for the day of the week. Staying up-to-date on current events can provide cognitive stimulation and allow her to more relevantly interact with others. Interestingly, some research found that older adults who spent time on Facebook demonstrated improvements in their memory.

Make Changes in the Bathroom

Using a raised toiled seat with contrasting colors will help your loved one stay independent longer in using the toilet. Install grab bars in the bathroom and hand-held shower handles as well.

Make Dressing and Undressing Easy

Use of clothing that is easy to get on and off without zippers or buttons make all the difference. Choose clothing items with elastic waistbands and replace buttons and snaps with Velcro. Speak with your Nightingale Homecare team about adaptive devices to help make dressing/undressing easier for everyone.

The goal for each of us is to maintain autonomy throughout aging, and that goal doesn’t change with a dementia diagnosis. Our specialized Connections dementia care program is a great place to start to help a senior loved one with dementia to live life to the fullest. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

Don’t Let Hearing Loss Stand in the Way! Try These Communication Tips

Hearing Loss

Try these tips to help seniors with hearing loss feel part of the conversation.

One out of every three seniors over age 65, and a full half of those age 75 and older are encumbered by some degree of hearing loss, leading to difficulties with participating in conversations and causing feelings of isolation. It’s important for all of us to recognize the challenges created by hearing loss, and to make a concerted effort to ensure that older adults with hearing impairments can remain engaged with those around them.

As the top Phoenix home care agency, the home care experts at Nightingale Homecare suggest always facing the person with hearing loss when speaking to him or her, and speaking slowly and clearly. And there are steps the seniors themselves can take as well:

  • Be sure to let family and friends, and others you encounter at events, know about your hearing loss, to allow them to make accommodations to help keep you in the conversation.
  • Position yourself so that you’re looking into the faces of those who are speaking.
  • Minimize noise and any other background disruptions; move to a quieter location if these factors are out of your control.
  • Ask that those speaking repeat themselves as needed, or repeat back to them whatever part of the conversation that you heard, with the request for the person to repeat the rest. (For instance, “Who did you say visited you last weekend?”)
  • Keep in mind facts that you know about the person speaking, to offer clues about the conversation, such as the person’s interests or habits.
  • Stay updated on current news and events.
  • Get plenty of rest before attending an event where you will be listening to a lot of conversations.

It’s also helpful to bear in mind that hearing aids have progressed, and can now often compensate for a large portion of hearing loss problems in those with diminished hearing. Surgery may also be something for the senior to consider. Consult with your loved one’s hearing specialist to find out if there are any new treatment options that may help, and contact Nightingale Homecare as well. We’re pleased to provide trusted, compassionate, in-home care for seniors with hearing loss, empowering older adults to remain active and engaged.

Our home health care staff are always available to accompany seniors on outings and assist with conversational difficulties, and to serve as a friendly companion to ensure seniors with hearing loss never feel left out. As a top-rated Phoenix home care agency, we also offer a full range of both skilled nursing and non-medical in-home care services, customized to each person’s unique needs. Call us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home assessment to learn more, and to find out if services are available in your area.