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Fostering Freedom: How to Help Seniors Stay Independent Throughout Aging

Sun City home health care

Discover how to help seniors stay independent and safe.

It’s a common struggle among family caregivers: deciding when to step in and help, and when to step back and allow an older loved one to accomplish as much as possible independently. It requires a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, we need to ensure safety is never compromised; yet on the other hand, we never want to do anything to damage a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem.

So the question becomes, how can we help seniors stay independent, while ensuring safety? The Sun City home health care experts at Nightingale Homecare have several key recommendations:

  1. Remember: You’re a team! Changing the mindset from working for a senior to working with a senior can make a world of difference in your approach. Talk with the older adult in an open and honest way about the challenges and concerns he or she is facing, and how you can best provide needed support. Naturally, these needs will change over time; and when cognitive issues come into play, communication strategies will need to be modified as well. But we all appreciate being asked for our input, and to know that value is placed on our feelings.
  2. Allow time before jumping in to help seniors. It may seem more efficient to take care of tasks yourself, but doing so may be at the expense of your loved one’s self-image. Instead, factor in plenty of extra time for tasks, allowing the senior ample opportunities to tackle them independently whenever possible.
  3. Focus on the senior’s strengths. If certain tasks prove to be too challenging for your loved one, shift the focus to those he or she is able to manage more easily. For instance, if preparing an entire meal is too difficult, ask the senior to manage creating her special dessert recipe while you work on the main course.
  4. Remind the senior that helpful workarounds are a positive. A senior may balk at the idea of using a walker or wheelchair initially, or in having grab bars installed in the bathroom. And many times older adults are resistant to the idea of needing someone to help with everyday activities that they’ve been managing their entire lives. Providing a reminder that assistance and home modifications are empowering, allowing the senior to accomplish more independently and to remain in the comfort of home throughout aging, can be beneficial.

At Nightingale Homecare, it’s our mission to deliver the highest quality in-home care help for seniors with the respect and dignity that allow for maximum independence and autonomy at all times. Never coming in and taking over, we work together with seniors and their families to develop a plan of care that addresses all needs – including those for personal freedom. Contact our Sun City home health care team at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation and discover how we can improve life for a senior you love.

The Changing Face of Parkinson’s Disease

Phoenix senior care

Discover the 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease and the changes that may occur in each from the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the number of Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is predicted to cross the one million mark by next year – impacting more than those with MS, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined. In fact, there are already more than ten million people with the disease worldwide.

As such, it’s likely that most of us either already are or will be closely acquainted with someone managing the disease; so it’s important for all of us to better understand how the disease progresses, and what changes might be encountered in each stage. Our Phoenix senior care team has the information you need:

Stage 1

In the beginning stage of Parkinson’s disease, patients typically begin to experience mild tremors on one side of the body, as well as barely perceptible changes to posture, ambulation, and/or facial expressions.

Stage 2

As the disease begins to progress to Stage 2, tremors may become apparent on both sides of the body, along with rigidity and more noticeable changes to posture and ambulation. During this phase, patients can usually still manage daily life independently, although with a bit more difficulty.

Stage 3

Balance and coordination issues are common in this stage, leading to slowed movements and increased risk of falls. Activities of daily living (ADLs) such as getting dressed and eating may require a little assistance – or may simply take more time to complete independently.

Stage 4 

In the fourth stage of the disease, there is a markedly greater level of impairment, and many daily tasks will require assistance, including help with walking and other forms of movement.

Stage 5

In the fifth and final stage of Parkinson’s disease, many patients will need a wheelchair for mobility, as impairment of motor skills advances and there is increased difficulty with standing, walking, and managing daily activities. Hallucinations are also common in this stage.

If you or a senior loved one is managing the effects of Parkinson’s disease, our Phoenix senior care team is on hand to help with personalized services adapted to meet needs both now and as the disease progresses in the future.

Our Journeys Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder program is staffed by BIG and LOUD certified therapists with specialized expertise in improving quality of life for those challenged by movement difficulties such as those experienced in Parkinson’s disease.

  • Our BIG program utilizes a proven exercise approach in which patients learn techniques to make bigger movements that lead to more normalized movement patterns; and
  • Our LOUD program helps patients improve quality and volume of speech, leading to more confident and effective conversation abilities and socialization.

We also work with Parkinson’s patients to improve swallowing, facial muscle control, balance, fine motor skills, fall prevention, and much more.

Call the expert Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our specialty Parkinson’s care program, or any of our other in-home senior care services.

Top Family Caregiver Responsibility: Managing Activities of Daily Living

senior care Phoenix, AZ

Family caregiver tips: learn the ins and outs of ADLs.

Activities of daily living, often termed ADLs, include the basic skills typically needed to manage the physical needs of a person. Providing assistance with the activities of daily living for someone in your care is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a family caregiver. It can be challenging, and you may feel awkward at times, but becoming informed on these vital tasks will help to make it easier.

The ability to perform ADLs is dependent on cognitive, motor and perceptual abilities. Assisting someone with their ADLs comes down to knowing how you can help. Understanding what your loved one’s level of function is in the following five areas of ADLs will help you determine what level of care or assistance you will be providing.

GROOMING, BATHING AND PERSONAL HYGIENE

Grooming, bathing and hygiene are very personal activities. It will be important for you to provide as much privacy and independence as possible during these activities. Minimizing how physically exposed your loved one is during a task can help him or her feel more comfortable. You may wrap a towel around private parts and uncover only during cleaning.

A specific task may be done more quickly if you just do it yourself, but you should always try to let the person you are caring for perform the task whenever possible – although only if it is safe to do so. Your loved one may be able to take a bath independently and may just need your help to wash his or her back. Remember to take your lead from the person as to how much or how little to help.

DRESSING

Make certain your loved one has clean, dry clothing available to wear. Pick out a couple of clothing options and allow him or her to choose the desired outfit for the day, when possible. Make sure the choices you have selected are in good repair and weather-appropriate. Allowing your loved one to choose what to wear encourages independence and minimizes the hassle for your loved one of choosing between too many options.

TOILETING

If your loved one requires assistance with toileting, it can be an uncomfortable or embarrassing task for both of you. Try to be very matter-of-fact when talking about toileting and provide toileting assistance in the same way you would provide any other kind of help.

Your loved one may feel a big loss of privacy and independence. You can help to keep his or her dignity intact by allowing as much privacy as possible. For example, if the senior is able to use the toilet independently, help the senior to get settled, and then leave the room and wait outside the door until you are called back in to help.

Your loved one may require extra assistance in clean-up. Again, approach matter-of-factly and provide quick but thorough clean-up. As you spend more time with your loved one, it will become part of the regular routine, making it easier for both of you.

Keep a regular bathroom schedule to ensure there are no accidents. In between bathroom breaks, look for signs your loved one may need to use the restroom.

TRANSFERING AND AMBULATING

Keeping safety at the top of mind when you assist a loved one with transferring or ambulating is a priority. It may be necessary to use a gait belt, transfer board or Hoyer lift to help your loved one move from point A to point B. An assistive device, such as a walker, cane or wheelchair, may be necessary. You will need to be familiar with all of these devices in order to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one. Keep in mind, your loved one’s tolerance level may change from day to day or hour to hour, so you will need to be prepared for the potential that your loved one may experience weakness in the middle of a transfer or while walking. Keep this in the back of your mind at all times so that you can safely assist your loved one to rest during the activity. Your loved one’s physical therapist can help create an exercise plan tailored to his or her physical limitations and strength in order to help regain or maintain mobility. 

EATING

Your loved one may have challenges with any or all of the tasks associated with eating: shopping, preparing, and eating food. As a caregiver, you will be responsible for ensuring all of these needs are managed and met. Check with your loved one’s physician regarding any dietary restrictions or considerations. It will be important to ensure your loved one receives the necessary food and fluids to maintain strength and nutrition. If you are ever uncertain about your loved one’s nutritional needs or if you are concerned about his or her nutrition and hydration status, speak with the physician about getting a dietician consultation.

If meeting all of your loved ones ADL needs seems overwhelming, never fear – Nightingale Homecare is here! We offer a wide range of highly personalized in-home care services for seniors, from meeting personal care needs, help with household tasks and running errands, and companionship, to specialized dementia care, skilled nursing care, and so much more. Contact us for the best senior care Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding area have to offer at (602) 504-1555.

Posted in Aging Issues, Family Caregivers on June 19th, 2019 · Comments Off on Top Family Caregiver Responsibility: Managing Activities of Daily Living

Lower Your Cholesterol with These Tips from the Phoenix Senior Care Experts!

Phoenix Senior Care

Take these steps to lower your cholesterol.

If your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is creeping upward, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve it before trying cholesterol-lowering medication. And if you already take medication, the tips below can actually improve the cholesterol-lowering qualities of your medication.

It’s helpful to understand what cholesterol is, and how it can affect your health. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver and has several important functions. It helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is necessary in the production of several hormones. But, like anything else…too much of it can create problems.

Cholesterol is transported in the body by molecules called “lipoproteins” which carry cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. Lipoproteins levels in the blood are used to determine cholesterol levels. You may have heard that low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad. This type of lipoprotein carries cholesterol to deposit it on blood vessel walls, leading to clogged arteries, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure and heart attack. So, it is important to lower this level. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good lipoproteins, helping to carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and preventing artery-clogging disease. So, it is important to raise this level.

Your hereditary influence is something you won’t be able to change, but how you manage other high-risk influences can make a difference. Listed below are lifestyle changes that can help you lower your cholesterol while improving health and quality of life, courtesy of the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:

WATCH YOUR FATS

  1. Focus on Monounsaturated Fats

Your doctor may recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, but often a diet low in fats can reduce not only your harmful LDLs, but may also reduce the beneficial HDLs. In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats will reduce harmful LDLs but also protect higher levels of healthy HDLs. A few good sources of monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil and olives
  • Avocado
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews
  • Canola oil
  1. Use Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats

Studies show that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some good sources are:

  • Fish oil supplements
  • Seafood with high fatty content: salmon, mackerel, herring, bluefin and albacore tuna
  • Seeds and tree nuts (not peanuts)
  1. Eliminate Trans Fats

Trans fats are handled differently by the body than other fats. They can increase total cholesterol and LDLs, and also decrease the beneficial HDLs. Use of trans fats leads to heart attack and stroke. In the US, food companies are required to list trans fats on nutrition labels. However, they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their label says “0 grams.” Read further on the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, avoid it, as it contains trans fat! Foods that contain trans fat include:

  • Margarine
  • Store-bought cookies and crackers
  • Fried fast food
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Non-dairy creamer

INCREASE SOLUABLE FIBER 

Soluble fiber actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by increasing probiotics or “good bacteria” in your intestine. These bacteria will reduce harmful lipoproteins and LDLs. The best sources for soluble fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Peas and lentils
  • Fruit: apples and pears
  • Oats and whole grains: not the quick-cooking oats, which have the fiber processed out
  • Fiber supplements like psyllium

ADD WHEY PROTEIN 

Whey protein found in dairy products can help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. Foods containing whey protein include:

  • Milk
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whey protein powder

AVOID SUGAR 

If you see sugar, corn syrup or any word containing “ose” at the top of the ingredient list, avoid it.

EXERCISE

Moderate exercise every day can not only combat obesity, it can also help raise good cholesterol levels. Be sure and check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 times a week. Some exercises to consider:

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a bike
  • Resistance exercise
  • An exercise class
  • Playing a favorite sport

QUIT SMOKING

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by changing the way cholesterol is handled in the body and results in the faster development of clogged arteries. Quitting smoking helps improve your HDL cholesterol levels. This will lower your blood pressure, improve your liver function, and reduce your risk of heart and lung disease.

LOSE WEIGHT

Carrying a few extra pounds contributes to high blood cholesterol. Weight loss will reduce your total cholesterol by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver.

As mentioned, sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol to optimal levels. If your doctor orders medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed along with continuing your lifestyle changes.

Call on the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare for more healthy living tips, and for the professional in-home care assistance that ensures older adults are living life to the fullest! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

When Is Speech Therapy Right for a Senior?

Scottsdale home care

The Scottsdale home care experts share 5 conditions that can be improved with speech therapy.

The ability to communicate effectively is crucial to our feelings of independence and self-esteem, and for older adults, there are certain diagnoses that can inhibit the ability to speak clearly. Even the most social and outgoing senior can become reclusive and refrain from joining in conversations when speech difficulties are in place.

To help seniors gain back their confidence, we at Nightingale Homecare are pleased to provide professional in-home speech therapy services, in addition to our full range of medical and non-medical Scottsdale home care services. Since May is designated as Better Hearing & Speech Month, what better time to highlight the benefits a speech therapist can provide?

Just a few of the conditions that can be improved with speech therapy include:

  • Apraxia: Often resulting from a stroke, apraxia is diagnosed in seniors who use words in an incorrect sequence. It can also cause difficulty in puckering the lips. A speech therapist will help older adults speak at a slower pace, allowing for more time to form words together correctly, and to practice repeating sounds in a particular order to master forming those sounds together into words.
  • Dysarthria: Common in Parkinson’s disease, dysarthria results from weakened or paralyzed muscles. Speech therapy helps seniors through breathing techniques, articulation exercises, and adopting a slower speech pattern.
  • Aphasia: When a senior leaves words out of sentences when speaking, it’s typically a result of one of several types of aphasia. Recovery is possible within a period of months as speech therapists help the senior with concentration exercises and to re-learn how to appropriately respond to verbal/vocal cues.
  • Dysphagia: Dysphagia results from difficulties with swallowing, which can occur commonly in seniors due to changes in aging such as reduced saliva production, breathing changes, and dental issues. The speech therapist will help with modifications to eating and drinking to overcome these challenges.
  • Dementia: With the progression of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, communication becomes increasingly difficult. Speech therapy focuses on minimizing distractions, speaking more slowly, and utilizing nonverbal cues to maximize speaking ability to the greatest extent possible.

If a senior loved one struggles with any of these conditions, Nightingale Homecare’s speech therapists are available to provide an in-depth evaluation, create a personalized treatment plan, and work with the senior to improve functionality. Call our Scottsdale home care team at (602) 504-1555 to arrange for a free in-home consultation or to request additional resources to help improve quality of life for the older adults in your life.