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Balancing Act: Lifestyle Changes that Can Improve Balance & Prevent Falls

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Improve balance and prevent falls with these tips from our Scottsdale home care experts.

From adulthood onward, all of life can seem like a balancing act. We balance work, family, friends, community, etc. But then there comes a time later in life when, for the sake of our safety and independence, we have to consider our actual balance. As we age, our bodies naturally change, and there are many things that can affect a senior’s balance, including:

  • Low vision
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Medications
  • And more

Luckily, there are several simple, common-sense lifestyle changes that can help seniors improve balance and prevent falls.

Exercise

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and research shows that following a regular exercise routine can help older adults build muscle tone that can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. Consider working the following types of exercise into your daily routine:

  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Water aerobics
  • Strength and resistance training

Adjust your diet

Generally, eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding alcohol in excess is key for a healthy lifestyle. However, some seniors may need to make adjustments to their diets in order to get the nutrition needed to improve balance. For example, seniors who have low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of having balance problems, falling down, and breaking bones.

Additionally, if the senior has a condition like Meniere’s disease that affects the inner ear, his or her doctor may suggest dietary changes such as:

  • Avoiding caffeine as caffeine may make symptoms like tinnitus worse
  • Eating six small meals daily rather than three large ones
  • Reducing daily salt intake to less than 1,500 mg, to reduce fluid retention
  • Avoiding monosodium glutamate (MSG), as it may cause fluid retention

Use corrective devices as needed

Often, poor balance is caused by physical changes in the body, such as reduced vision, hearing or mobility. Hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses can help reduce symptoms of dizziness and disequilibrium, and seniors should get treatment for cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration if needed.

Also, walking aids, such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, can help seniors live safely and independently when they are properly used.

If a dizzy spell occurs…

It may not always be possible to prevent a dizzy spell, even if you take all the precautions listed above. In order to prevent loss of balance when feeling dizzy, follow these steps:

  • Sit or lie down as soon as you feel dizzy
  • Move slowly and try not to change the position of your head
  • Rest as much as you can and don’t try to go back to your regular activities before you are ready
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid exposure to things that may cause sinus congestion
  • Try to manage your stress and anxiety levels

At Nightingale Homecare, we strive to help seniors stay safe, happy, and healthy in the comfort of home by offering a full range of Scottsdale home care services that can allow them to live the lives they want. To help ensure the home is a safe place, we are always happy to provide a home safety assessment and make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of falls in the home. Additionally, our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates the expertise of our professional therapists, dieticians, social workers, home health aides and others to provide a well-rounded fall prevention plan that can be implemented to enhance safety even further.

Contact our Scottsdale home care team today to learn more about how we can help seniors prevent falls in the home.

Posted in Blog, Senior Health, Senior Safety on December 5th, 2018 · Comments Off on Balancing Act: Lifestyle Changes that Can Improve Balance & Prevent Falls

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: Are You at Risk?

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Are you at risk for infection from antibiotic resistant bacteria?

Antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as multiple drug resistant organisms (MDROs), are germs that have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics over the years due to overuse of antibiotics – when antibiotics are taken longer than necessary, or taken when they are not needed. These MDROs then develop and can go on to infect others.

New MDROs are constantly developing. They are mainly found in hospitals and long-term care facilities, typically affecting the elderly and patients who are severely ill.

MDROs are commonly spread from patient to patient at the hands of a healthcare worker, or when people come in contact with an infected person, such as touching a draining wound.  These germs can also be spread when a patient comes in contact with an object contaminated with the organism, such as on bedrails or IV poles.

So, are you at risk? The care team at Nightingale Homecare, your local in home senior care experts, identifies the top risk factors of becoming infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria:

  • People on long-term use of antibiotics
  • People with a severe illness or underlying disease such as diabetes, kidney disease or wounds
  • People who have invasive procedures such as dialysis, catheter insertions, drain tube insertions or IV therapy
  • People who have had repeated hospitalizations or a long hospital stay
  • People who are elderly or immune-suppressed

Serious MDROs have developed from common skin and intestinal organisms which have developed antibiotic resistance:

  • Staphylococcus aureus germs, including:
    • MRSA: Methicillin-resistant staph aureus
    • CA-MRSA: Community-acquired MRSA
    • VISA: Vancomycin intermediate-resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare)
    • VRSA: Vancomycin resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare, most difficult to treat)
  • Enterococcus germs, a family of intestinal organisms, including:
    • VRE: Vancomycin resistant enterococcus

All the organisms above can be spread by direct or indirect contact. To avoid the spread, follow these precautions:

  • In general, contact precautions should be used when patients have been identified with one of the MDROs listed above
  • Full long-sleeved isolation gowns should be worn by all those caring for the infected patient
  • You will need to assure that clothes do not come in contact with items that would likely contain a lot of germs (e.g., bathroom, bed linens)
  • The most important part of contact precautions is appropriate hand washing and wearing gloves

Contact precautions are indicated as long has the patient has symptoms (e.g. unhealed
infected wound, watery stools several times a day).

MDROs are difficult to treat because they do not respond to many common antibiotics, even the most powerful ones. There are some antibiotics that can help control MDROs in most people, and the doctor will try to find the best antibiotic for the MDRO.

To help lessen the impact of antibiotic resistant bacteria, everyone should advocate for antibiotic best practices and antibiotic stewardship. Only use an antibiotic for a true bacterial infection. A lot of infections are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, and use of antibiotics in these instances can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistant organisms.

For more information visit the CDC Antibiotic Resistance website or contact your local in home senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare any time at (602) 504-1555.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Bathing with Dementia

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Learn how to overcome the challenges of bathing with dementia.

One of the more common challenges facing those living with dementia is the issue of bathing and personal care. As the top providers of senior home care Phoenix families need, our dementia caregivers are faced with this challenge on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are tactics you can employ that will turn bathing into a less challenging experience for you, and a more comfortable one for your elder loved one.

Bathing is an intimate experience; the person with dementia may experience it as threatening, embarrassing, or painful, and may exhibit behaviors to express those feelings, such as resisting, screaming, and even hitting. The behaviors occur because the person does not clearly understand the purpose of bathing and may react to unpleasant aspects such as lack of modesty, feeling cold or experiencing discomfort.

Resistance to bathing begins in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease, when the person has the cognitive capacity of about three years of age. This is important to remember when the person gets upset with bathing. Ask yourself: would a three-year-old get upset with the manner in which I am bathing this person with Alzheimer’s disease? If the answer is yes, then you need to find another strategy!

Effective Dementia Bathing Tips:

  • Do everything you can in advance to make the process easier, such as:
    • Increase the temperature of the room
    • Reduce overhead lighting
    • Make sure bath towels, and if possible, a terry cloth robe are nearby
    • Provide familiar soap (the type and brand the patient has used in the past)
    • Test the temperature of the water
  • Help the person feel in control. Allow the person to decide if he or she prefers a bath vs. a shower, and at what time of day the bath is preferred.
  • Create a safe and pleasing atmosphere. Provide non-slip adhesives on the floor surface and grab bars in the bathtub to prevent falls and provide security. Provide a pleasant, clean aroma and indirect lighting.
  • Respect the person’s dignity. Allow the person to hold a towel in front of the body, both in and out of the shower if desired. This may ease anxiety.
  • Don’t worry about the frequency of bathing. It may not be necessary to bathe every day. Sponge baths can be effective between showers and baths.
  • Be gentle. The person’s skin may be very sensitive, so avoid scrubbing and pat skin dry instead of rubbing.
  • Be flexible. The person may experience the most difficulty when attempting to shower or shampoo the hair. If this is the case, avoid spraying water on the person’s head; use a washcloth to soap and rinse hair, reducing the amount of water on the person’s face.

For more help in easing the challenges of bathing for your loved one with dementia, call on the expert in-home care team at Nightingale Homecare. Our specialized dementia care program, Connections, provides compassionate and creative solutions for some of the more difficult aspects of dementia, including personal hygiene, and we are always available to assist family caregivers to ensure their loved ones receive the highest possible quality care at all times. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

How to Know if You Have Pre-Diabetes & What You Can Do About It

professional Phoenix caregivers If you were at risk for a serious chronic illness like diabetes, chances are you’d know it, right? Turns out, you might not. According to the CDC, one in three Americans has pre-diabetes, and most, 90% in fact, don’t even know it. Because November is National Diabetes Month, our professional Phoenix caregivers want to give you the heads up on how to know if you have pre-diabetes and what you can do about it if you do.

What is pre-diabetes?

Because it often doesn’t present with any symptoms, many people don’t know that pre-diabetes exists or how serious it is to their health. In fact, pre-diabetes frequently goes undetected for years until a person experiences a major health problem caused by elevated blood sugar levels that put the person at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So, how can you know if you’re at risk for pre-diabetes?

It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for pre-diabetes, but certain lifestyle and hereditary factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Having a close family member (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
  • A previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Being of African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American, Pacific Islander, and/or Asian American race

What can you do now to prevent diabetes?

If you have pre-diabetes or are at risk for the disease, there is good news. The steps for prevention are basic, healthy lifestyle choices that you can start making now.

Step 1: Start exercising. A simple thirty minutes a day, five times a week of brisk walking or a similar activity is recommended to help increase your physical activity.

Step 2: Reduce your weight if you are overweight. A modest weight loss of five to seven percent can make a significant difference.

Step 3: Eat better and smarter to help lower blood sugar. Eat a variety of foods—particularly whole grains and fruits and vegetables, limit serving sizes so you don’t overeat and eat regular meals and small snacks.

Step 4: Find support. Making lifestyle changes to support your health, while important, can often feel daunting, so it’s vital to find support to help keep you on the healthy path. Nightingale’s professional Phoenix caregivers can help support your healthy lifestyle changes by shopping for and preparing nutritious meals that meet your unique dietary needs and encouraging and supporting you in exercise programs recommended by your doctor.

Additionally, our Pathlink Chronic Disease Management program is known for improving outcomes and decreasing re-hospitalizations for patients with a wide variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes, through improved health literacy, self-management skills, and more.

If you or a loved one has pre-diabetes, our dedicated Phoenix caregivers can help. Call us at (602) 504-1555, or contact us online to let us know how we can help, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

The Elderly Mental Health Concern We’d Rather Not Think About: Senior Suicide

senior home care Phoenix

Learn the signs of senior suicide and how to help.

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of gender, background or age.However, while the elderly account for just 13% of the population, they account for nearly 16% of all suicides. The statistics are shocking, especially knowing the elderly are the fastest growing segment of our population, making this elderly mental health concern – senior suicide – a public health priority.

Caucasian men aged 65 to 84 are at an even higher risk, accounting for 14.9 out of every 100,000 suicide deaths – and the number rises even higher in men over aged 85. It is estimated that suicide deaths in the elderly may be under-reported by over 40%.

These figures do not include the “silent suicides” – deaths from self-starvation, dehydration, accidents and overdoses. The elderly also have a higher than average rate of completing a suicide, as they are often deaths by firearms, hanging and drowning. And, there is a higher incidence of double suicide involving a spouse among the elderly population.

Senior suicide is often the result of an untreated elderly mental health condition. Although common, suicidal thoughts should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.Health care providers often report that the elderly have an exceedingly difficult time in talking with others, especially mental health professionals, about their feelings or challenges. This is largely due to the stigma surrounding mental health issues and makes missed detection the biggest contributor in the high suicide rates among the elderly.

Those at Risk

It is very difficult to identify individuals at risk for suicide, even for professionals. However, there are some risk factors to keep in mind:

  • Being a white male over the age of 65
  • Prolonged, chronic or terminal illness
  • Pain, especially if pain is severe, chronic
  • Depression
  • Alcohol abuse and/or dependence
  • Financial difficulties
  • Recent loss of a spouse, loved one, or pet
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Physical, social and emotional Isolation/loneliness
  • Loss of role or stature in family or community
  • Recent change in living situation or employment status or productive activities

Warning Signs

The following are common warning signs that an elderly person may be contemplating suicide:

  • Crying and sad mood; typical signs of depression
  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Feeling trapped in a situation and unable to see a way out
  • Statements about death and suicide
  • Statements about being a burden
  • Reading material about death and suicide
  • Statements of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness
  • Disruption of sleep patterns (insomnia or over-sleeping)
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Giving away possessions
  • Increased alcohol or prescription drug use
  • Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders
  • Stockpiling medications
  • Sudden interest in firearms
  • Withdrawal of social interactions or elaborate good-byes
  • Rush to complete or revise a will

How to Help

As many as 50% to 75% of elders considering suicide will give someone a warning sign. However, not everyone who is considering suicide will say something, and not everyone who threatens suicide will make an attempt, though every threat of suicide should be taken seriously. Remaining aware of the risk factors and warning signs and talking openly to your loved one about your concerns are critical in preventing elder suicide.

It is also important to identify the mental health professionals in the community who can provide assistance. Remember, you never have to be alone in seeking help for your loved one, and if you are unsure whether your loved one is immediately at risk for suicide, get help by taking the individual to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment.

One great resource is the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line for elder adults in crisis: 800-971-0016. Their trained professionals are available to support seniors who are struggling with depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts. The Veteran’s Crisis Line is also available toll-free 24 hours a day for senior veterans and their families to receive counselling and support: 800-273-8255.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of senior home care Phoenix families trust, we offer a program devoted to elderly mental health and safety: Transitions. Our team of experts (nurses, social workers, and therapists) can provide an assessment to determine if depression, anxiety, coping skills and other emotional concerns are in place, and determine what resources would be most beneficial. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 any time to learn more.

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