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Support Without Stifling: Fostering Independence in Seniors

caregiver assisting independence in senior woman

Nightingale Homecare offers strategies for encouraging independence in seniors.

As the loved ones in your life get older, you may find yourself offering them extra care and support. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in providing for your loved ones that you forget the importance of fostering independence in seniors. A sense of independence and autonomy are essential to holistic wellbeing, especially in older adults. So how can you help the ones you love without stifling autonomy? We’ve gathered our top four tips for providing assistance while encouraging independence in seniors.

1. Communicate Early On

Planning out the kind of assistance you’ll be offering in advance with your loved one shows the senior that you value their input and respect their boundaries. Set aside some time to chat about how much help you can provide, and what sort of assistance the senior is open to receiving. This is a great time to get on the same page about the senior’s changing needs and talk honestly about future plans.

2. Pause Before Helping

It’s possible that the senior loved one in your life might only need help with a task once or twice, or may only need someone to come by the house to assist them very occasionally. Don’t assume that he or she needs intensive assistance all the time. Take a step back and observe your loved one’s needs, and consider discussing them with other members of your family. Be realistic about what the senior can still accomplish unaided in order to preserve his or her independence. Only offer assistance after you’ve taken this inventory.

3. Focus On What the Senior Can Still Do

Realistically, there’s probably still much a senior you love can accomplish by his or her self. Highlighting these skills and abilities is key to preserving independence in seniors while still offering assistance when necessary. Don’t do anything for a loved one that can be done on their own unless he or she is visibly struggling or asks for help.

4. Frame Help as Empowering

Asking for help can be intimidating for many people, especially when it’s paired with the emotional and physical challenges of getting older. Your loved one may feel a sense of embarrassment or shame around needing help, so be sure to frame your assistance in a positive light. Highlight your enthusiasm about helping the senior out, and encourage them to view accepting help as a way to further their own independence.

Nightingale Homecare can connect your family with a compassionate and highly trained caregiver, available to provide as little or as much assistance as the senior in your life requires. We carefully evaluate each senior’s needs during a free in-home assessment to ensure we’re providing just the right services. And we also provide respite care for family caregivers who find themselves in need of assistance as they care for their family member.

To learn more about partnering with a top-rated home care agency, reach out to us online or give us a call at (602) 504-1555. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and share with you why we’re the premiere provider of Phoenix care at home throughout the metropolitan area.

More Than Skin Deep: The Importance of Senior Skin Care

senior lady applying moisturizer to face

Learn the importance of senior skin care and how to help with common problems.

While a great deal of emphasis is placed on senior health, and for good reason, there is one area that’s less often stressed but equally important: senior skin care. Senior skin problems can be much more serious than simply dryness or flaking. Some of the top skin concerns for seniors, and how to prevent them, include:

Bruising

More fragile blood vessels in senior skin means a greater chance for extensive bruising, which can occur even in minor injuries or at times, when there’s been no injury at all.

You can ease the discomfort of bruises by placing a cold compress on the bruised area to reduce the inflammation and size of the bruise, and elevate the area if possible. Additionally, be aware of certain medications that can lead to more bruising, such as over the counter NSAIDs and prescribed blood thinners. Talk with the senior’s doctor if any bruising is noted while he or she is taking these medications.

Bed Sores

Pressure sores are common in seniors who are bedbound or who spend a lot of time in one position in a wheelchair, and can be extremely painful as well as enhance the risk for infection.

Prevent bed sores by repositioning a sedentary senior at least every two hours, especially relieving pressure on the senior’s heels, ankles, elbows, back, and tailbone. Foam or gel mattress toppers can also help.

Check the senior’s skin often, and if any pressure sores are noted, keep the wounds clean and dry, and talk with the doctor or a nurse from Nightingale Homecare for assistance with treatment.

Shingles

Shingles are an extremely painful and uncomfortable rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Signs of shingles include pain, numbness, tingling, or burning, along with blistering.

See the doctor immediately if shingles are suspected, as there are prescriptions medications that can help with pain and discomfort, as well as in accelerating the healing process. The best way to prevent shingles is through vaccination.

Skin Cancer

Seniors are particularly at risk for three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Watch for any changes in the skin, including moles that are asymmetrical, more than one color, have irregular edges, or have changed in any way. A doctor or dermatologist can perform regular skin exams to catch and treat skin cancer early.

Note as well that senior skin problems can arise from other serious health concerns, such as heart or liver disease, diabetes, malnutrition, and more.

Nightingale Homecare, the top provider of Phoenix in-home care, as well as throughout the surrounding area, is always here to help ensure seniors stay healthy, safe, and well, including monitoring a senior’s skin for any changes or concerns. Contact us for a free in-home consultation any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our home health care services for seniors.

Release Caregiver Stress Once and for All with These Tips

Caregiver Stress

Learn to overcome caregiver stress with a few simple tips.

Providing care for a senior you love is such a selfless endeavor. It’s incredibly rewarding to know you’re helping make life the best it can be, but it can also be incredibly stressful. It’s important to find ways to release caregiver stress in order to support your own wellbeing. Caregiver stress can arise for a variety of reasons:

  • The senior struggles with chronic health concerns
  • There are cognitive deficiencies, such as occur in dementia
  • A caregiver is dealing with the frustration of being unable to “make things better”
  • The caregiver is stretched too thin and unable to take time for self-care
  • And more

It’s crucial for family caregivers to prioritize regular, ongoing time away to reduce stress and make sure their own needs are met; but finding time to do so isn’t always easy.

At Nightingale Homecare, our aging care team is familiar with the stress family caregivers are facing. We’re here to help not just the seniors in our care, but the families who care for them. We want you to remain in the best possible health too! These recommendations can help you replace stress with peace, and achieve a healthier life balance:

  • Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing is an excellent tactic to instantly instill a sense of calm. Simply sit down in a comfortable position, breathe in through your nose while silently counting to five, and then breathe out through your nose, again for a count of five. Repeat until you feel more at peace. You can also work towards increasing the length of time of your breathing for up to a count of ten.
  • Practice intentional thinking. It’s easy to focus on the problems you are facing and to forget about the many positives that are occurring around us each day. Take time for a mental inventory of what you’re thankful for. This can help shift your perspective, even if what comes to mind seems small, such as a moment when your loved one smiled at you, the scent of the cake you’re baking, or the spring flowers beginning to peek up in the front yard.
  • Practice self-appreciation. The work you’re doing is so important. You are making a real and lasting difference in the life of someone else. Instead of reminding yourself of the mistakes you’re making along the way, acknowledge the things you’re doing right! Just as you would share your appreciation with a friend who did something kind, appreciate your own kindnesses as well.
  • Practice getting physical. Exercise produces endorphins that naturally provide a boost to your mental outlook and wellbeing. It may be hard to find time for an extensive workout, but breaking your exercise time up into smaller chunks throughout the day is still beneficial. Try choosing parking spaces that are farther from store entrances, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and hop onto a stationary bike to peddle away while talking with the senior in your care.
  • Practice partnering. Remind yourself that caregiving isn’t meant to be a solo responsibility. Partnering with a trusted home care provider, like Nightingale Homecare, is good for both you and your loved one. Our respite care services enable caregivers to have regular time away, and seniors enjoy socialization with a friendly, trained, and compassionate companion.

Contact Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of caregivers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, for a free in-home consultation. We’re always here to offer the resources you need to release caregiver stress and to enhance quality of life for older adults in the comfort of home.

When Mom Isn’t Mom: What to Expect with Dementia Related Personality Changes

What to Expect with Dementia

Understanding what to expect with dementia means being ready for personality changes.

For her whole adult life, Mom has been quiet, reserved, and kind to everyone. Her friends and family have always known they could count on her to provide wise advice without judgment or condescension. Yet suddenly, since her dementia has begun to progress, it’s as though a switch has been flipped. Mom has become belligerent, angry, and rude. What happened? Is this what to expect with dementia related personality changes?

Unfortunately, personality and behavioral changes such as this are quite common in someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They’re part of the natural progression of the disease’s impact on brain cells. Other dementia related personality changes you may notice include:

  • Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies
  • Anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Pacing and wandering
  • Hiding items, or thinking others have hidden things from them
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors
  • Hitting you or others
  • Misinterpreting reality, including seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

The first step if you notice any of these changes in a senior loved one is to schedule a checkup with the doctor. There are a variety of other health conditions that could be causing the changes, so it’s important to rule those out first.

If it’s determined that the changes are dementia-related, there are ways to help manage them more effectively:

  • Limit distractions. Turn down (or off) the TV or radio, and limit time spent with groups of people talking, all of which can add to confusion and frustration.
  • Make simple alterations to the home accordingly. If looking in the mirror frightens the senior, take down or cover mirrors. If a comforter with busy patterns leads the senior to believe there are bugs crawling on it, replace it with a solid colored one.
  • Avoid asking open-ended questions. Phrase your statements and questions simply, giving a choice of two answers. For instance, “It’s time for lunch. Would you like tuna or chicken today?”
  • Create and adhere to a daily schedule and routine.
  • Pay attention to what the senior may be feeling, rather than what is being said. Someone with dementia who is lashing out angrily may actually be feeling fear or worry. Offer reassurance that the person you are there to help, and that he or she is safe.
  • Never argue or correct someone with dementia. If you find yourself becoming angry or upset, step away for a few minutes (if it’s safe to do so) to calm down; or try deep breathing and counting slowly to ten.

Knowing what to expect with dementia and how to provide the best care for someone you love isn’t easy. A trusted, professional care partner, like Nightingale Homecare, can help tremendously with education, resources, and respite care services.

With Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of Phoenix care at home and care in the surrounding areas, you’re never alone. Call us at (602) 505-1555 to learn more about the ways we can make life better for a senior you love with dementia and allow you a healthy life balance as well.

Protect Seniors from Depression After A Heart Attack

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: depression after a heart attack. 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. Depression after a heart attack 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 and skilled in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ 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!