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Bring the Whole Family Together with These Creative Holiday Ideas

Creative Holiday Ideas

Try these creative holiday ideas to get the whole family involved.

The holiday season can be filled with joy and time spent with those we love the most; yet for many older adults, this time of year may be anything but merry and bright. The grief felt over loved ones lost, memories of past holidays, health concerns and more can lead to feelings of wistfulness, loneliness, and longing.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and the surrounding area, we care deeply about ensuring that older adults feel a part of holiday celebrations and can enjoy them to the fullest. These creative holiday ideas can help the whole family experience the beauty and joy of the holiday season together:

  • Put out a request to all family members for copies of their favorite recipes, and compile them into a family cookbook, providing copies to each person. Choose several of the recipes to make together, and then enjoy the delicious results!
  • Pile into the car and take a ride through the neighborhood in which your loved one grew up. Or, take an evening drive together around his or her current neighborhood to ooh and ahh over the holiday lights.
  • Don’t forget to decorate! Your older loved one may be reluctant to set out holiday decorations, particularly if living alone or experiencing health or mobility difficulties. Come together with the family to help the senior make his or her home festive, taking time to reminisce over cherished older ornaments.
  • Set aside a day of pampering with a ladies’ trip to the local spa for hair and nail treatment, and perhaps even a massage.

It’s important as well to take into consideration holiday safety concerns for older adults, for a variety of reasons: fall risks are elevated with all of the extra holiday decorations in place, changes to diet, and a disruption to routine, particularly for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, which can cause stress. These safety tips can help:

  • Walk through the home to assess for any extension cords or other obstacles in walking areas that could contribute to fall risk.
  • Ensure there is sufficient lighting for the senior to clearly see to navigate between rooms. Often, holiday lighting is more subdued, which can be difficult for older eyes.
  • If noise and activity levels become overwhelming, designate a quiet room where the senior can go to rest and relax.
  • Choose a family member to serve as the senior’s companion during holiday get-togethers, to make sure his or her needs are fully met throughout the event.

The goal is to create new and lasting memories for the entire family  while enjoying quality time together. And, Nightingale Homecare is always on hand to make the holiday season the very best it can be for the seniors you love! We offer a full range of both skilled nursing and non-medical assistance to help older adults thrive and enjoy life to the fullest. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 and discover how we can help with the most trusted in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and the surrounding areas – throughout the holiday season, and all year long.

ALS 101: What to Expect in Each Stage, and How Phoenix Senior Care Can Help

ALS

Know what to expect throughout the progression of ALS.

A diagnosis of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) brings with it numerous questions and concerns: for the person receiving the diagnosis, as well as his or her loved ones. What caused this disease? What symptoms should be expected now, and how will they change as the disease progresses? Where can we find the help and support we’ll need?

As many as 30,000 Americans are currently battling the effects of ALS, and another nearly 6,000 new diagnoses are made each year. And while the actual cause of the disease is still unclear, some research is pointing to complicated risk factors. For instance, veterans who were in service during the Gulf War have been diagnosed twice as often as others.

While each individual can be impacted by ALS uniquely, the way the disease tends to progress often follows a path of three main stages. Learning about each of these stages can help those with ALS and those who provide care for them implement the most appropriate plan of care. Nightingale Homecare, the Phoenix senior care experts, shares the key points you need to know:

Beginning Stages

In the early stages of ALS…

  • The most pronounced symptoms are often noticed in only one certain area of the body
  • More mild symptoms can affect more than that one particular area
  • For some ALS patients, the first muscles to be impacted are those required for speaking, swallowing and/or breathing

Potential Symptoms:

  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • A weaker grip
  • Stumbling

Mid Stages

In the middle stages of ALS…

  • Certain muscles may experience paralysis, while others are either weakened or completely unaffected
  • Symptoms of the disease become more widespread
  • Twitching may become apparent

 Potential Symptoms:

  • Problems with standing up independently
  • Problems with eating and swallowing, with a heightened possibility of choking
  • Problems with breathing, in particular when lying down
  • Uncontrolled and inappropriate crying or laughter, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)

Advanced Stages

In the final stages of ALS…

  • The ALS patient now requires full assistance to care for his/her needs
  • The ability to speak is often lost
  • The person can no longer eat or drink by mouth

Possible Symptoms:

  • The majority of voluntary muscles are paralyzed
  • Breathing becomes extremely difficult, leading to fatigue, confusion, headaches and susceptibility to pneumonia
  • Mobility is now significantly impacted

There is help for those with ALS and the families who love them! Contact Nightingale Homecare’s Phoenix senior care team for both skilled and non-medical assistance, right in the comfort of home. Just a few of the many services that make life more comfortable for ALS patients include:

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home consultation to talk with us about the challenges you’re facing, and to discover how we can help.

Elderly Care Scottsdale: The Importance of Hydration for Seniors

Importance of Hydration for Seniors

Learn more about the importance of hydration for seniors.

The importance of hydration for seniors cannot be overstressed. In an older loved one, dehydration can occur rapidly and be life-threatening. Many older people often are not as quick to feel thirst as younger people are, so they may not be drinking enough fluids to begin with. This, combined with health concerns that might cause your loved one to reduce her fluid intake, puts the older person at high risk for dehydration.

When you are caring for an elder loved one, offer a drink of water every time you interact with him or her, and make sure she always has fresh water within reach. However, be aware that even when offered water, many older people will say, “I’m not thirsty” or, “I’ve already had too much to drink today.” You may need to be persistent in encouraging your loved one to regularly drink water.

Fluid Balance

Fluid balance occurs when the amount of fluids a person takes in equals the amount of fluids the person loses. Each day, we lose fluid in the form of urine, sweat, bowel movements and breath vapor. To maintain a state of fluid balance, we must take in enough fluid each day to equal, or balance, these losses. When fluid balance is not maintained, your loved one may develop either dehydration (too little fluid in the body) or edema (too muc  h fluid in the body).

Dehydration

Dehydration can result from conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever or severe blood loss. A very common cause of dehydration, however, is simply not drinking enough fluids. Many elderly people have conditions that put them at risk for becoming dehydrated. For example, a person who has problems with mobility or other disabilities may have a difficult time getting up to get a drink. Your loved one may also cut back on fluids because she is trying to reduce the number of times she needs to get up and go to the bathroom, or she is afraid that she will not be able to make it to the bathroom in time. Some seniors who are incontinent may also reduce their fluid intake because they think this will lower their risk for having an episode of incontinence. However, it is important to know that decreasing fluid intake does not decrease incontinence, nor does it decrease trips to the bathroom. In fact, the opposite may be true. As the urine becomes more concentrated, it irritates the bladder and may increase the urge to urinate, resulting in the need to urinate more frequently.

As your loved one’s caregiver, you will play an important role in helping to ensure that she takes in enough fluids. Here are some tips to encourage fluids:

  • Frequently offer fluids that your loved one likes at the temperature she prefers.
  • Encourage her to drink plenty of fluids with each meal.
  • Frequently provide your loved one with a pitcher of clean, fresh water. Encourage her to drink each time you enter the room.
  • Be sure she has a clean drinking glass or cup within easy reach. Refill the glass if she cannot do it. A drinking straw or a plastic water bottle with a screw-on lid and a straw may make it easier for some people to drink independently.
  • If she frequently refuses beverages, offer fluid-rich foods instead, such as ice cream, popsicles, gelatin or fruit.

If your loved one becomes dehydrated, her physician may give an order to “encourage fluids” or “push fluids.” This means that she should be urged to drink as much fluid as possible. Encourage her to drink each time you enter the room and again on your way out. Keep a record of the amount of fluid your loved one drinks and record the total for the day on the flow sheet for her physician and for your reference.

Be on the Lookout! 

Dehydration is a serious condition. If you suspect that your loved one is dehydrated, contact her physician immediately. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Poor skin turgor (the skin does not return to its normal shape when gently squeezed or pinched)
  • Passing of small amounts of dark-colored urine
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Very dry skin or chapped lips
  • Elevated temperature

Edema

Edema, or the state of retaining too much water, can result from medical conditions (such as chronic heart failure or kidney disease) that make it hard for the body to rid itself of excess water. Your loved one’s physician may place restrictions on the amount of fluid she is allowed to have each day.

When you are caring for a loved one and fluid restrictions are in place, the physician will tell you how much fluid she is allowed to have over the course of the day. Offer small amounts of fluid at regular intervals. This will help to prevent your loved one from becoming too thirsty.

Measuring and Recording Fluid Intake

When orders to encourage or restrict fluids are in place, you will need to measure and record your loved one’s fluid intake. A person’s fluid intake includes all of the liquids she drinks, as well as foods that are primarily liquid (such as soups) or that are liquid at body temperature (such as ice cream or popsicles).

Although in everyday life fluids are usually measured in ounces (oz), in health care, fluids are measured and recorded in milliliters (ml) or cubic centimeters (cc). A milliliter (ml) is equal to a cubic centimeter (cc). One ounce equals 30 milliliters or 30 cubic centimeters.

With prepackaged items, printed information on the container indicates how much it holds. For example, a small prepackaged milk container contains 8 ounces, or 240 ml (remember, there are 30 ml in an ounce). In other cases, you will need to determine how much fluid the container holds. When you are caring for your loved one and need to measure fluid intake, you can determine the amount of fluid your cups, glasses and bowls hold by filling them with water and then pouring the water into a measuring cup.

To measure and record fluid intake, observe how much fluid your loved one consumes at each meal and in between meals. For example, if she had 8 oz (240 ml) of milk, 4 oz (120 ml) of coffee and 12 oz (360 ml) of soup with lunch, you would record her fluid intake at lunch time as 720 ml. Then, if she had another 8 oz (240 ml) of tea in between lunch and dinner, you would record her fluid intake as 240 ml.

Sometimes your loved one may not consume all of the fluid in the container. In this case, estimate how much of the total was consumed. For example, if she only drank about half of her coffee at lunch, you would estimate the amount to be 2 oz (60 ml) instead of the full 4 oz (120 ml).

Remember the Importance of Hydration for Seniors – Nightingale Homecare Can Help!

As the top providers of elderly care Scottsdale and the surrounding area offer, our home health care team is always here to provide the resources you need to help older loved ones remain hydrated and healthy. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our professional in-home care services  and the importance of hydration for seniors.

The Role of the Caregiver in Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention

Learn how a caregiver can help with fall prevention for seniors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older will fall. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma and can even increase the risk of early death.” The good news is that falls can be prevented!

With Nightingale’s falls prevention program, Paces, each of our patients is screened for fall risk at the time of admission to care. If the risk is significant, our professional clinicians work together to develop a customized fall reduction plan that addresses all of the unique factors that contribute to that patient’s risk. The family caregiver also plays a significant role in ensuring that his or her loved one is safe at home.   

There are many factors that increase the risk of falling. The more of these risk factors a person has, the higher the chance that he or she will fall. This is why the professional home health Scottsdale providers at  Nightingale Homecare perform a very detailed fall risk evaluation of each patient. We want to uncover every risk factor, so that we can discuss the risk with each patient and his or her caregivers and create the most successful fall prevention plan.

Some of the Factors That Can Increase the Risk of Falling

  • Problems walking or moving around, regardless of the cause
  • Weakness
  • Balance problems
  • Vision problems
  • Sensory problems, including lack of sensation in the feet (neuropathy)
  • Medications that cause drowsiness, dizziness or low blood pressure
  • Urinary urgency or incontinence
  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Wearing certain types of shoes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Problems with thinking, problem solving or decision making
  • Improper use of walkers, canes or other assistive devices
  • Not having the house set up to allow safe activities of daily living; for example, having to reach too high or stoop too low for frequently used items
  • Having cluttered stairways and walkways, poorly lit rooms, unsecure carpets, damaged floors and other issues within and outside the home

Caregiver Observations: Your Loved One

The following is a list of observations to watch for in your loved one while you are caring for him or her.

  • State of Mind
    • Is your loved one confused, anxious or depressed?
    • Does your loved one make decisions that jeopardize his/her safety?
  • Vision and Hearing
    • Is your loved one using glasses and/or hearing aids consistently and appropriately?
  • Strength, Mobility and Balance
    • Does your loved one get up safely?
    • Does your loved one lean on furniture and walls while walking?
    • Does your loved one wear long robes or other clothing that could be tripped on?
    • Is your loved one wearing safe footwear?
    • Does your loved one get dizzy or light-headed when getting up?
    • Does your loved one have to hurry to get to the bathroom to avoid having an “accident”?
    • Does your loved one move too quickly?
    • Does your loved one reach for objects that are too low or too high or seem to lose his/her balance when reaching?
    • Does your loved one have any new bruises, scrapes or skin tears?

Caregiver Observations: The Environment

Pay special attention to your loved one’s environment, and note the issues that may lead to a fall.

  • Is there enough light for your loved one to see effectively?
  • Is there anything on the floor your loved one could trip on?
    • Scatter rugs
    • Wires/electrical cords
    • Oxygen tubing
    • Furniture
    • Pets
    • Clutter
  • Are there uneven surfaces, loose tiles, torn carpet?
  • Is your loved one sitting on a firm chair that has arms?
  • Is your loved one using his/her walker/cane at all times and in a safe manner?
  • Does your loved one have frequently used items within reach in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom?
  • Does your loved one have grab bars, non-skid bathmat and a shower/tub chair?

What to Do with Your Observations?

When you notice problems that will increase your loved one’s fall risk, there are things you can do immediately to help reduce the risk and keep your loved one safe in his or her home.

When problems are observed, take the following actions:

  • Notify your loved one’s physician about your concern
  • Remind your loved one to wear his/her glasses and hearing aids – make sure the glasses are clean and find out if the hearing aids work
  • Remind the person to do his/her exercises, and provide assistance
  • Remind the person to use assistive devices and show him/her how if reinforcement is needed (an occupational and physical therapist evaluation can help with this)
  • Remind your loved one about which footwear is safest and help him/her choose and apply the safest footwear
  • Remind your loved one of the risk for falling if clutter, cords or other trip hazards are visible; move these items out of the way
  • Remind your loved one that a sturdy chair with arms is safest for him/her to sit in; help the person select the safest chair available and make sure it is accessible
  • Consider an occupational therapist evaluation to determine any supplies that your loved one needs but does not have, such as incontinence products, non-skid slippers, non-skid bathmat, etc.
  • Report any changes in behavior, ability or status to your loved one’s physician immediately, including:
    • Eating habits
    • Changes in ability to move around
    • Increases in shortness of breath
    • Skin changes

At Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality home health Scottsdale families trust, we’re always on hand to perform an in-home safety evaluation, to provide you with additional resources and recommendations to enhance safety, and to improve overall health and wellbeing with our personalized, professional home care services for seniors. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 any time to learn more!

More Than a Band-Aid: Why Senior Wound Healing Can be a Challenge

Scottsdale senior home care

Senior wound healing is often difficult for older adults.

Remember as a child scraping your knee on the playground, when all it took was a hug from mom and a band-aid to have you back up on your feet, good as new? A senior wound, however, achieving complete healing is often a much more complicated process, for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Less skin elasticity. The natural process of reduced elasticity in the skin as we grow older makes it harder for skin to heal – in fact, the U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that senior wound healing can take up to four times as long in comparison to younger people.
  • Longer inflammatory response time. Our blood vessels expand when a wound occurs, so that white blood cells and nutrients can more quickly reach the wound area. Yet this inflammatory response is markedly slower in the elderly.
  • Diabetic effects. Those with diabetes (and over 11 million seniors in the U.S. are diabetics) often experience problems with hardened arteries and narrowed blood vessels, both of which can contribute to delayed wound healing. Additionally, neuropathy can inhibit a diabetic from sensing the pain of a wound, enabling it to worsen.

Interestingly, there is one key factor that helps older adults experience enhanced wound healing: regular exercise. Ohio State University conducted a recent study among healthy seniors between the ages of 55 and 77 in which some engaged in regular physical activity, while the others did not. A small puncture wound was then given to each senior, and the healing process was monitored. Those who had participated in the exercise program healed a full ten days faster than those who did not.

At Nightingale Homecare, our Scottsdale senior home care experts are proficient in senior wound healing, and offer a specialized wound and ostomy care program to provide better management and faster healing of wounds, ostomies, and other skin problems such as:

  • Surgical wounds
  • Bed sores
  • Diabetic, arterial, or venous stasis ulcers
  • Colostomies
  • Urostomies
  • Fistulas
  • Incontinence skin concerns
  • And more

We are familiar with the best products for specific types of wounds, and incorporate additional measures to expedite healing, such as ensuring seniors are receiving proper nutrition and hydration, relieving pressure, and preventing infection.

Contact Nightingale Homecare any time for more tips and resources related to effective wound healing for seniors, or to arrange for a free in-home consultation with one of our Scottsdale senior home care professionals to find out how we can help your loved one more heal more quickly and get back to enjoying life! You can reach us at (602) 504-1555.