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Fall Risk Prevention Checklist from Nightingale’s Professional Caregivers in Phoenix

Fall Risk Prevention

Fall risk prevention is easier with this handy checklist.

Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home. Many of them are seriously injured, or worse. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among those 65 and older. Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. Many falls can be prevented by making simple environmental, personal and lifestyle changes.

This checklist from the Phoenix home health care agencies families trust at Nightingale Homecare will help you find and fix hazards in your home. The checklist details hazards found in each room of your home and identifies what you can do to correct the hazards. Your home health care team can also assess your specific risk of falling and suggest ways to prevent falls.

FLOORS 

When you walk through a room, are floor surfaces uneven?

  • Repair uneven surfaces in the home. 

When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture, paper, boxes or clutter?

  • Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
  • Remove boxes and clutter to open up passageways.

Do you have throw rugs on the floor?

  • Remove the rugs or use double sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
  • Check rugs and mats periodically to see if backing or tape needs to be replaced. 

Are floors waxed?

  • Do not wax floors; it makes them more slippery. If floors must be waxed, use non-slip wax.

Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords?

  • Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall. If needed, have an electrician put in more outlets.
  • Arrange furniture so that outlets are near lamps and appliances to eliminate the use of extension cords.

STEPS AND STAIRS

Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs?

  • Pick up things on the stairs.
  • Always keep objects off the stairs.

Are some steps broken or uneven?

  • Fix loose or uneven steps.
  • Even small differences in steps’ surfaces or riser heights can lead to falls.

Are you missing a light over the stairway?

  • Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the light fixture.
  • Reduce glare through indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures.

Do you have only one light switch for your stairs?

  • Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Is the carpet or flooring on the steps loose or torn?

  • Make sure the carpet or flooring is firmly attached to every step. You can also attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs, or paint the stairs with non-skid paint.

Are the handrails loose or broken or only on one side of the stairs?

  • Fix loose handrails or put in new ones.
  • Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and go the length of the stairs.

Are stair steps difficult to see?

  • Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps so you can see the stairs

better.

  • Apply non-skid and colored tape on the outer edges of the steps.

Evaluate stair access; would a ramp or stair glide/stair lift be appropriate?

  • Install stair ramp or stair glide/lift as appropriate.

FLOOR PLAN LAYOUT

Is it possible to modify the living areas of the home?

  • Consider modifying the layout of the home to keep all living areas to one level of the home.

KITCHEN 

Are the things you use most often on high shelves?

  • Move items in your cabinets to lower shelves, about waist level.
  • Install shelves and cupboards at an easy-to-reach level.
  • Use a pole reaching device to access items on higher shelves.

BATHROOMS

Is the tub or shower floor slippery?

  • Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the tub or shower floor.
  • Use a shower chair or shower board with a hand-held shower head while showering.

Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub, or up from the toilet?

  • Have a handyman who is qualified put in grab bars next to the tub and toilet.

BEDROOMS

Is the light near the bed hard to reach?

  • Place a lamp close to the bed where it is easy to reach.

Is there something sturdy to hold onto next to the bed to help you get out of bed?

  • Place a heavy piece of furniture next to the bed.
  • Have a qualified handyman install a grab rail onto the wall.
  • Use a cane or walker for support.

Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? 

  • Install a nightlight so you can see where you are walking.
  • Keep a flashlight near the bed.
  • Evaluate and add lighting throughout the home
  • Put in brighter bulbs. Use lamp shades to reduce glare.

CHAIRS AND TABLES

Are chairs and tables sturdy, without casters?

  • Avoid tripod or pedestal tables. Tables should have four sturdy legs.
  • Remove casters from chairs and tables.

Are frequently used chairs equipped with arm rests and high backs?

  • Using arm rests makes it easier to sit down into or to stand up from a chair. High backs provide support for the neck and also provide support when transferring weight.

Are frequently used chairs high enough to ensure ease in standing?

  • Place firm cushions in chairs with low seats.
  • Consider using a chair lift to help you get in and out of the chair.

At Nightingale Homecare, we’re dedicated to fall risk prevention. We are always pleased to provide a safety assessment of the home for the seniors we serve and our Paces fall prevention program offers seniors additional protection from falls. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request an in-home consultation to learn more ways we’re helping seniors as a top-rated Phoenix home health agency serving the surrounding areas.

Long-Distance Caregiving: How to Continue to Help After the Holidays

Long-Distance Caregiving

Long-distance caregiving is easier with these tips.

During holiday visiting, families often uncover concerns with a senior loved one that hadn’t been apparent through shorter visits or over the phone. And for family members who live at a distance, it can be quite a challenge to head back home, feeling helpless to know exactly how to help.

If this describes your situation, Nightingale Homecare, your trusted Phoenix home care agency has some helpful suggestions to provide you with peace of mind, and your loved one with the help he or she needs.

Planning

When it’s not possible to simply drive across town to help an older loved one, it’s helpful to hold family meetings regarding the potential “what ifs” that might arise, such as:

  • Living preferences according to who may be able to help in the event of an injury or illness. Roleplay some scenarios, such as if the senior experienced a broken hip following a fall and needed rehabilitative care.
  • Determining factors that will indicate that it’s time to consider care options. What might that look like?
  • Finances and other resources required and available for caregiving, including how much time family members can afford to miss from work for caregiving tasks.
  • Advance directives and wills: it is important that all paperwork is in order, and that family members impacted maintain a copy.

Monitoring

Living at a distance from a senior loved one makes it easy to put off the uncomfortable task of assessing the older adult’s health and wellbeing; yet, it is important to ensure these things are evaluated on a regular basis.

  • Obtain the name and contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician, and stay in touch with the office.
  • Ensure that there is a signed HIPAA Release of Information Form filed at each of your loved one’s doctors’ offices so you can communicate freely with each physician (and keep a copy for yourself).
  • Call your loved one regularly to check in and offer help with resolving or preventing any problems.
  • Maintain a list of other potential resources in your loved one’s neighborhood: neighbors, friends from church, other local family members who can be part of the support network. Make sure these contacts know that you are part of the long-distance caregiving team and have your contact information.

Traveling

Difficult issues are bound to occur, and often at a moment’s notice. It may not be feasible to travel home for each issue, so determine in advance when you will travel and when to call on other resources for help.

  • Determine if a situation is a true medical or care crisis. In your decision-making process, consult with your loved one’s doctor, social worker, or nurse for details and to get their opinions on whether you should be there.
  • Is there someone locally available who can help resolve the problem, or check in on the situation?
  • It’s perfectly fine if you prefer to visit just to put your mind at rest. If staying at home will cause you to worry, then it may be best to go.

Nightingale Homecare Can Help

Engaging the services of Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated Phoenix home care agency, is the perfect solution for long-distance caregiving needs. Providing as much or as little assistance as needed, and offering a full range of both medical and non-medical care, families know they can trust our care professionals to pay close attention to their loved ones’ needs, and to catch any concerns immediately, allowing them to be addressed before they become a more serious problem. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

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 home care Glendale, AZ and the surrounding area communities depend on, 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 home care in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding areas – throughout the holiday season, and all year long.

Pain and Fall Risk: The Dangerous Link You Need to Be Aware of

Fall Risk

Discover the dangerous link between pain and fall risk for seniors.

Studies show that individuals who experience chronic pain are more likely to have fallen in the last 12 months, and are more likely to fall again in the future. Some studies have shown that the use of pain medication and other treatments can provide some protection against falls in patients with chronic pain, and therefore, pain appears to be a “modifiable risk factor” for falls. The reduction of pain appears to not only improve people’s quality of life, but also reduces their risk of falls.

Several factors that account for the risk of falls among chronic pain patients, include:

  • Loss of movement and reflexes
  • Medication side effects
  • Osteoporosis
  • Age-related changes
  • Sensory losses

The Reality of Pain

  • All pain is real: Pain is not imaginary. It is whatever the person in pain is experiencing.
  • Chronic pain is complex: Ongoing pain can affect all aspects of your life, including your relationships with others. Pain itself can be affected by many things, such as hunger, activity, sleep, mood, and stress.
  • Chronic pain is common: Diabetes is one of the more common medical conditions, but estimates are that five times more people suffer from pain than from diabetes.

Pain Management

As you know, the management of chronic pain and reduction of fall risk can feel like a balancing act! Effective pain management aims to reduce your level of pain while increasing your quality of life, without increasing your fall risk.

Pain management at home has several general aspects: 

  • Assessment: Your home health care team will gather information on your pain and other conditions that may affect it. The team will also help you evaluate your home and lifestyle for safety risks to limit the potential for a fall.
  • Management plan: You, your physician and your home health care team will work together to create a plan based on your goals. Staying safe and accident-free will be a top priority.
  • Follow-up: Your home health care team will evaluate the plan and see how well interventions and strategies are working for you, then work with your physician to make changes as needed.
  • Self-help activities: Effective pain management often involves your willingness to help yourself. It’s very important that you take an active approach to managing your pain.
  • Persistence: Chronic pain management requires your persistence to work to find the right approach for you. It will mean learning new skills and relying on inner strength that you may not have realized you have! Your home health care team will be with you all the way!

Combining Techniques and Approaches

Studies show that the most effective pain management with fall risk safety as an equal priority comes from combining multiple techniques and approaches. You will need to take into account your whole person – mind, body and spirit – when looking at the approach that is best for you. Chronic pain can take all sorts of turns, and the approach that works one day may not work the next, so it’s good to regularly evaluate what works and what doesn’t work. Effective pain management includes the following three areas.

  • Medical treatments: These include: injections, tens unit, medication and physical therapy.
  • Self-care: This is probably the most important component of pain management, because often it makes other treatments more effective. Self-care techniques are often free and you can do them on your own. Examples include stretching, reading, exercise and stress reduction.
  • The mind-body connection: Examples include meditation and counseling.

Tracking Your Pain

Pain can be affected by many things in your life, and it’s different for everyone. Your home health care team records a pain snapshot at each visit, but only you can track it day by day to discover patterns and help you identify what works and what doesn’t. Tracking your pain can also help you identify what triggers your pain. Once you have that information, you can avoid the triggers, change them, or plan ahead for them if they’re unavoidable. Tracking your pain will also provide insight into which self-care activities are the best pain relievers. Your home health care team can get you started with a pain journal that will help you record your pain, the measures you have taken to reduce the pain, and the results.

If pain and fall risk have made you inactive and your life feels restricted, try these tips: 

  • Ask your physician or physical therapist to evaluate your mobility and suggest an activity plan. You may be surprised. Some activities you’re nervous about may be just fine for you! Your physical and occupational therapist can help you perform the activities safely. The home health care team can also recommend assistive devices to increase your activity and independence.
  • Start gradually and stretch yourself a bit.
  • Choose one or two activities you’d like to be able to do and make that your goal. For example, taking a walk, sitting at a desk to work for a period of time, or completing some housework or cooking.
  • Decide how long you can do the activity: You might only be able to walk for 10 minutes to start.
  • Do your activity both on good and bad days.
  • Add a bit more time each week. For example, the next week, walk for 12 minutes daily.
  • Find new ways to be active: If an activity you used to enjoy is no longer possible, find an alternative. A gym workout may no longer be suitable for you, but you can try gentle movements in a swimming pool or a tai chi class. These activities can help improve your balance, while reducing your fall risk.
  • Give yourself rewards. Find healthy ways to reward yourself when you meet your goals.
  • Remember to rest. It can help to schedule periods of rest and downtime into your day. Treat them as appointments so you don’t overlook rest.

For more helpful tips, or to schedule a free in-home consultation to see how our in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and the surrounding area can help improve health and quality of life for yourself or a senior you love, contact Nightingale Homecare at (602) 504-1555.

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.