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Top Tips to Help Seniors with Surgery Recovery at Home

Phoenix, AZ home care

Help your older loved ones with surgery recovery at home.

When an older adult is facing a surgical procedure, and the subsequent surgery recovery, it can be a time of stress and anxiety, both for the senior herself and her loved ones. The best course of action to ensure peace of mind and as comfortable an experience as possible is through taking proactive measures before the operation, eliminating a post-op rush to get the home in order.

The Phoenix, AZ home care team at Nightingale Homecare suggest the following steps family caregivers can take now to ease surgery recovery when the time comes:

  1. Learn about hospital delirium. Some degree of confusion is quite common in older adults following surgery, and can be quite unsettling for family members who are unaware of this condition. Post-operative delirium occurs most frequently in seniors who have been heavily sedated and/or on a ventilator, and can last for months, causing memory and cognitive problems and hallucinations. Talk with your senior loved one’s surgeon before surgery about this possibility, and how to prevent it.
  2. Make a list, and check it twice. Ask a member of the senior’s medical team if any medical equipment or assistive devices will be necessary or simply helpful during the surgery recovery process, and make arrangements to have those items ready in the senior’s home. This might include a wheelchair or walker, a hospital bed, a bedside commode, and more. You can also find out if it’s possible to pick up any medications the senior will need before the surgery.
  3. Prepare the home. Take a walk through the senior’s home to address any safety concerns, such as ensuring there are clear pathways in the areas the senior will be ambulating, ensuring there are grab bars near the toilet and shower/tub, removing throw rugs and other fall hazards, and arranging helpful items where the senior will be able to easily access them, such as a phone, TV remote control, reading materials, etc. Fill the fridge and pantry with nutritious food choices, and if possible, prepare some meals in advance to store in the freezer for easy reheating.
  4. Reach out to others. Caring for a senior loved one post-surgery is often more than one person can handle alone. Enlist other family members, friends, and neighbors to take shifts in caring for the senior, to help with housework and laundry, to run errands, or simply to provide friendly companionship.

Nightingale Homecare offers a wide range of in-home care services to help seniors with surgery recovery, from non-medical needs such as help around the home and with meals, to highly skilled medical care from our team of registered nurses, and so much more. Allow our Phoenix, AZ home care experts to make surgery recovery a smoother process for your senior loved one by calling us at (602) 504-1555.

 

Cultivating Empathy as a Caregiver

Learn to be a more empathetic family caregiver with these tips.

If you ask parents, educators and researchers what are the most important traits to encourage in a child’s development, you would undoubtedly receive a variety of responses, but two of the top responses would likely be kindness and empathy. Yet one study reported that less than 2% of our interactions include a “sincere acknowledgement of the other.”

One of the more heartbreaking calls we receive at Nightingale Homecare is when a caregiver calls to request our service, stating that he or she is failing to feel empathy toward a loved one in need – often the result of “caregiver burnout.”

Empathy is an especially important skill for caregivers. Studies have shown that caregiver empathy plays a critical role in forging a strong patient-caregiver relationship while developing a deep level of rapport and trust. Practiced empathy also plays an important role in increasing patient treatment adherence and reducing accidents. Improving your empathy and kindness can also have huge positive effects on every other relationship!

Empathy Defined

Most people would define empathy as the ability to have a sense of understanding and compassion for another person, while being able to sense what the other person is experiencing; i.e., “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” According to author Daniel Goleman, who wrote the book Emotional Intelligence, empathy is:

  1. Understanding the emotional makeup of a person, and
  2. Treating that person according to his or her emotional reactions

Treating people with empathy and responding to their emotions includes high levels of compassion and tolerance. Fortunately, there are tools for practicing this response towards others.

Active Listening

One of the key elements to conveying empathy and compassion toward another human being is to actively listen.

The steps are as follows:

  • Concentrate on not speaking while the other person is speaking
  • Pay attention to the words and emotion
  • Look directly into the person’s eyes while he or she is speaking
  • Listen, do not be thinking of preparing a reply
  • Pay attention to the person’s behaviors and body language
  • Let the person know you are listening; for example, shaking your head or squeezing his or her hand in reassurance
  • When the person stops speaking, try to paraphrase or translate what you heard and reflect on this
  • Try to recognize the individual’s feelings; for example, “You sound upset and frustrated”

Some other key elements to keep in mind while actively listening are:

  • Do not interrupt
  • Do not change the subject
  • Do not voice disapproval

Controlling the Urge to Help

During active listening, it’s important to control your urge to jump in and help or offer advice while the person is expressing feelings and emotions. Simply be present in the conversation. It is a difficult urge to control, as most of us responding to an upset person give advice, words of encouragement or comfort. While well-intentioned, these responses interfere with the person talking because our verbalizations result from our thinking about how to help and what the person’s words mean to us, rather than thinking about what the person’s words mean to him or her.

Controlling the Urge to Talk

Research on conversations has found that the person not talking usually starts talking about nine-tenths of a second after the other person stops. Developing the ability to wait, listen, and encourage the other to talk without interrupting is a critical skill. It can be developed by intentional awareness and with practice. Being more aware of opportunities to switch from talking to listening expands your consciousness and choice, which will help increase your flexibility and ease in using empathy effectively.

Can Empathy Be Faked?

It may be necessary while you are caregiving to act empathetically to achieve a positive outcome, even when you feel apathetic toward a loved one. When caring for a difficult loved one, you will still need to act empathetic in order to establish the rapport necessary to encourage the delivery of care. What is interesting with this approach is that often you will begin to feel true empathy toward a difficult loved one as a result of “acting” empathetic. The old adage “fake it till you make it” rings true.

Random Acts of Kindness

In the meantime, along with your empathy practice, throw in some random acts of kindness. This will help develop your empathy skills and you will begin to notice the world is a little better because of it, and the people around you will begin to model your kindness. It’s infectious!

Here are some fun activities that you can do to celebrate kindness:

  • Compliment the first three people you talk to
  • Write a hand-written note to a friend
  • Say good morning to the person next to you on the elevator(bus/subway/street)
  • Spend 10 minutes picking up litter in a park or your neighborhood
  • Place uplifting notes in library books, on restroom mirrors, on someone’s locker or computer screen
  • Hold up inspiring signs during rush hour
  • Leave a generous tip
  • Send flowers to a friend

If you run out of kindness ideas, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has lots of them on their website.

Empathy is one of the primary building blocks of social intelligence. Often, stress, self-absorption, lack of time and caregiver burnout can kill efforts to practice empathy. Knowing what your barriers are to showing empathy and exploring ways to overcome them can help you develop this much-needed skill that is vital to caring for a loved one in need.

And know that Nightingale Homecare’s compassionate and highly skilled providers of home care in Paradise Valley and the surrounding area are always on hand to help with the professional respite care that allows family members to take as much or as little time as desired for self-care – enabling you to return to caring for your loved one refreshed and renewed. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!

Is Your Senior Loved One Struggling in These 5 Areas? If So, Home Care Can Help!

senior caregiver

Find out if your senior loved one can benefit from an in-home senior caregiver from Nightingale Homecare.

As your loved one ages, there may come a time when you question if he or she may benefit from the assistance of an in-home senior caregiver.  It will be important for you to be observant to the warning signs that care may be needed, as seniors are often hesitant to raise the subject of home care. Initiating home care services, however, will not only help maximize your loved one’s independence at home, it will also help him or her to maintain safety. Keep on the alert for the following indicators that your loved one may be in need of home care services:

  • Physical Changes: A decline in physical health can increase the risk of your loved one falling or suffering other serious injury. Look for changes such as difficulty walking, maintaining balance and unsteadiness. If your loved one appears to be in a frail condition, it can be dangerous for the senior to do even the simplest tasks, so home care may be necessary.
  • Inattention to Personal Hygiene: Those individuals who neglect personal hygiene may have a strong body odor, unkempt or unclean hair, obvious inattention to oral care or soiled clothing. While often elderly individuals would like to keep clean, it may have become too difficult to complete the daily tasks to do so. Having in-home care ensures that your loved one can safely maintain a regular hygiene schedule, which improves health and wellbeing.
  • Lack of Nourishment: Your loved one may have lost the ability to regularly prepare food at mealtimes due to lack of energy or other physical conditions. Getting to the grocery store to purchase fresh, healthy foods can be a challenge. You may notice the refrigerator and cupboards may not be stocked, or there may be many items that have passed their expiration date. Not eating properly can lead to lack of nourishment and dehydration, which causes cognitive issues, depression and other health concerns. In-home assistance can provide your loved one with help grocery shopping and preparing meals as well as providing a companion to sit down with at mealtimes, which will help make eating more appealing.
  • Inability to Manage Medications: Taking the prescribed dosage of medicine is essential to maintaining health, especially for elderly individuals with chronic or ongoing medical issues. Many times, seniors are prescribed a number of different medications with different dosage schedules. Prescriptions and dosages can easily become mixed up, which can lead to missing or overdosing on medications. When this happens, severe health problems can occur. In-home care ensures that your loved one stays on his or her prescribed medication schedule.
  • Lack of Household Upkeep: When visiting with your loved one, look for things such as stacks of dirty dishes and laundry, overflowing trashcans and appliances that have been left turned on. If the living spaces are dirty and more cluttered than the person would normally allow, this is a sign some extra help may be needed to keep up with the demands of managing a home. Home care assistance will ensure that your loved one’s living spaces are regularly cleaned and clutter-free.

If you notice any signs that your elder loved one may be having a hard time completing daily activities, including those not listed above, the help of an in-home senior caregiver could be the answer. Not only will this make your loved one’s life a lot easier, it will also bring you peace of mind knowing your loved one is well taken care of.

Take the first step in improving quality of life for your senior loved one by contacting Nightingale Homecare to request a free in-home consultation or to ask any questions about our professional in-home care services for seniors. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more and to see if our services are available in your area!

Family Caregivers: Make Mini-Vacations One of Your Resolutions This Year!

senior caregivers

From enjoying a night out with friends to going for a walk in the woods, find out why mini-vacations are beneficial for family caregivers.

Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition, but for many of us, keeping those resolutions can be a challenge. If better self-care is one of your New Year’s resolutions, and you’re a caregiver, it’s important not to let this particular goal slide. Being a family caregiver is a stressful job, and self-care is vital for mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. With the support of Phoenix, AZ home care services, family caregivers can have plenty of mini-vacations to help make 2019 a healthier and happier year.

What’s a mini-vacation, you ask? For those with multiple obligations – caregiving, kids, and a fulltime job, to name just a few – and very little time to travel, mini-vacations can be a lifeline to some much needed rest and relaxation. If you’re in need of some inspiration for a mini-vacation from your caregiving duties, the senior caregivers at Nightingale Homecare have compiled the following list:

  1. Get a massage: As we’ve said, caregiving can be stressful, and often people carry that stress in their necks, shoulders, and backs. What better way to get some me-time and relief than booking a massage at a local day spa?
  2. Go for a hike: Spending time outside in nature can lead to some significant health benefits. In fact, going for a walk in the woods has been shown to improve short term memory, reduce blood pressure, eliminate fatigue, and combat anxiety and depression. Choose your favorite local park or hiking trail and spend the day just enjoying nature.
  3. Pick up a once-loved activity: Whether it’s knitting, playing guitar, or painting, returning to an activity you once loved can be healing. Consider taking a day or a weekend to drag out your arts and crafts supplies or dust off an old instrument and start playing again.
  4. Treat yourself (and perhaps a date) to a new restaurant: You may not be able to travel to Italy at the moment, but you can try out that new Italian place everyone’s raving about! Take a friend or loved one with you for some good food and conversation.
  5. Enjoy a show: A dark, quiet movie theater is always a good way to relax, but for something a little different, get tickets to a live performance. Whether it’s a concert from a band you love or a play at your local community theater, being part of the action can help you remember to embrace life outside of your caregiving, work, and family obligations.

Making time for ourselves is difficult today, especially for family caregivers. However, self-care is an important part of our health. If you are caring for a loved one and need respite care, contact the Phoenix, AZ home care experts at Nightingale Homecare. We can give you the time you need to rest and enjoy life while ensuring your loved one is safe, happy, and healthy.

Posted in Blog, Caregiving, Family Caregivers on January 9th, 2019 · Comments Off on Family Caregivers: Make Mini-Vacations One of Your Resolutions This Year!

Remove the Taboo: How to Care for Incontinence

Phoenix Caregivers

The Phoenix caregivers at Nightingale Homecare share incontinence tips.

The topic of senior incontinence is one most of us would prefer to avoid; yet when it impacts a loved one, it’s important to bring the issue to the surface in a way that affords the older adult the utmost dignity and respect, while ensuring they receive the help they need. The professional Phoenix caregivers at Nightingale Homecare share some helpful suggestions for both discussing incontinence concerns with a senior loved one, and minimizing its effects.

Communication Tips:

  • Recognize that there’s a problem. While your first instinct may be to sweep the issue under the rug and act as if nothing’s wrong, denying the issue of incontinence due to embarrassment won’t allow the senior to get the help he or she needs.
  • Broach the subject. Honesty is always the best policy, and facing the issue head-on allows both the senior and yourself the relief of having the subject out in the open so that it can be addressed. Admit any discomfort or embarrassment you may be feeling, but let the senior know that you’re in this together and will find the answers needed to help.
  • Know that it’s not the senior’s fault. Family caregivers may feel as though the senior is being spiteful or intentional in having accidents, but it’s important to realize that in the vast majority of cases, it’s simply not within the senior’s control.

Once you’ve opened up and discussed the situation with the senior, it’s important to schedule an appointment for the senior with his or her doctor to determine the root cause. Incontinence is not a normal result of aging. While the physician is diagnosing and determining a treatment plan, these tactics can be helpful as well in minimizing accidents:

Incontinence Management Tips:

  • Stick to a schedule. Using the toilet on a regular, scheduled basis can be extremely helpful. Track the number of times the senior needs to urinate over several days, and at what times of day, and use that information to set up a schedule to visit the restroom preemptively.
  • Remove triggers. Certain types of foods and drinks consumed, such as those with caffeine, acid, or alcohol, can cause irritation to the bladder and trigger incontinence problems. Try modifying the senior’s diet to eliminate these triggers.
  • Stay hydrated. Many seniors attempt to limit their fluid intake in an attempt to prevent incontinence; yet this actually has the reverse affect, and can result in a variety of other health complications. Ensure the senior drinks plenty of water throughout the day, reducing fluids only in the evening to prevent overnight accidents.

For more help in managing senior incontinence from Nightingale Homecare’s expert Phoenix caregivers and registered nurses, contact us any time. We can offer advice on the best incontinence products to help seniors feel comfortable and remain independent, provide transportation to medical appointments, ensure the senior maintains a healthy diet and stays hydrated, and so much more. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our customized in-home care solutions for seniors.