Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming! Allow the experts at Nightingale Homecare to help.

Blog Archives

The Holidays Look a Little Different This Year: Holidays with Seniors During the Pandemic

Holidays with Seniors

Celebrating the holidays with seniors this year requires careful planning and consideration.

Back in March, when the words “pandemic” and “COVID-19” just began to creep into our vocabulary, we had no idea that by the holiday season, we’d still be right in the thick of isolating, social distancing, and doing whatever we can to keep ourselves and each other safe. Yet here we are, and it’s important to carefully think through the risks associated with celebrating the holidays with seniors this year.

At the heart of the quandary lies the knowledge that both COVID-19 and isolation from loved ones bring serious, potentially life-threatening risks to older adults. Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus explains, “There’s no easy answer here, just like with everything else. It’s not about safe or unsafe. It’s about figuring out how to balance various risks and keeping risks as low as possible.”

And while we’ve learned to avoid super-spreader events, experts warn that the recent spike in infections has been attributed in large part to transmissions within home gatherings.

So how can you make the best decision for your family this holiday season? Here’s what you need to know:

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently redefined “close contact” as it relates to the spread of infection to 15 minutes of cumulative exposure during a 24-hour period, within six feet of others (as opposed to the former 15 consecutive minute definition).
  • Although these guidelines reference maintaining social distancing of six feet, it is believed that aerosol transmission can occur at much greater distances – there’s nothing magic about the six-foot figure.
  • Family members considering air travel (or other public transportation) are, of course, at a greater risk of exposure to the virus, and can still transmit the virus to others, even if they remain asymptomatic. The safest course to follow would be to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, and then get tested – an incredibly difficult protocol to follow.

As a result of these factors, the CDC’s official holiday celebration guidelines encourage people to stay at home with those already living in the same household, which raises the issue of senior isolation and the serious emotional and physical toll it can take on older adults.

Dr. Anthony Fauci explains, “There are some families who are so frustrated with not seeing each other for so long, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to take the risk. My mental health of seeing my children or grandchildren is so important to me that I’m going to take the risk.’”

If a senior you love expresses these types of feelings, and is experiencing the negative impact of isolation, you’ll need to carefully consider the risks vs. the benefits of getting together. In that case, face coverings, social distancing, and handwashing are necessary, and time spent together should be limited. Outdoor visits are also preferred.

The holiday season of 2020 may not be the Normal Rockwell celebration we’d wish for, but know that Nightingale Homecare, the leading Phoenix home health agency, is here to help make it as merry and bright as possible for the seniors you love. Contact us to learn more about how we can help alleviate isolation for seniors, coordinate the technology necessary for contactless visits with a senior loved one, and so much more.

You can reach us any time at (602) 504-1555 to discover the measures we’re taking to keep seniors safe, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to answer any questions you may have about our in-home care services.

Relieving Caregiving Stress with Gratitude

Caregiving Stress

Focusing on what we’re thankful for is a great way to relieve stress.

“There’s always, always something to be thankful for!”

This quote, attributed to Rhonda Byrne, is a popular one this time of year, as we turn our thoughts to all of our blessings in the season of Thanksgiving. And, it may just help to relive caregiving stress.

For family caregivers, a heightened level of stress can cause negativity to creep in, magnifying problems and challenges and making it difficult to shift focus to gratitude. Still, research shows that those who practice gratitude are happier, protected from depression, sleep better, have a boosted immune system, and have healthier relationships, in addition to reduced stress.

So how, in the midst of caregiving, can you begin to experience the benefits of gratefulness? We have some tips to help.

What IS Gratitude?

Actually, it’s important to know what gratitude is NOT. It’s not a matter of ignoring difficulties and denying that we have negative feelings as a result of them. It is about tuning in to the positive aspects of life that are present in the midst of the problems. It’s a matter of perspective, and realizing that as bad as things may seem to be, there are glimmers of light shining through the darkness.

Benefits of Gratitude

Choosing to pay attention to even the smallest thing for which we’re grateful actually trains our brain to improve our level of optimism. It breaks the downward spiral of negativity, which improves overall quality of life and wellness in a variety of ways – including allowing us to provide a higher level of care for the seniors we love.

How to Begin Living More Gratefully

One of the best ways to begin experiencing the benefits of gratitude is by keeping a journal – which may feel intimidating at first; who has time for journaling while caregiving? But it doesn’t have to be elaborate or wordy; a simple spiral-bound notebook and a sentence or two each day is all it takes. The key is being consistent, to create a new habit and routine of being thankful.

Designate a few minutes at a set time each day, whenever it works best for you, and simply sit down in a quiet place and think about one or two aspects of life that you’re most thankful for at that moment. It can be as simple as a beautiful sunrise, a warm bath at the end of the day, or a phone call with a friend. Write it down in your journal, or draw a quick sketch if you prefer.

Then at the end of each week, or whenever your stress level is elevated, read back through your journal entries to help shift your perspective.

Know that our experts in home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and nearby areas are always here to partner with you to ensure you have plenty of time available to rest and recharge. Our respite care services are the perfect solution to caregiving stress, allowing you to take much-needed time to yourself while knowing your senior loved one is receiving the very best care. Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!

Reduce Anxiety and Build Cognitive Functioning with These Fun Activities for Seniors

Activities for Seniors

These activities for seniors help improve wellbeing in a variety of ways.

During the pandemic, as we’ve all had to find more at-home activities to enjoy, the benefits of crafts have become more apparent. In fact, activities for seniors such as crafting have been shown to improve social, cognitive, and motor skills, while reducing anxiety and stress. Not only that, but they bring enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment, meaning, and purpose, especially when created to share with someone else.

Our experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding areas have compiled some great activities to try:

Cookies in a Jar

Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? Get the whole family together and enjoy putting together these mason jar cookie mixes to share with friends and neighbors. Gather together a 1-quart canning jar for each mix, and then layer in the following ingredients, in the order they’re listed:

  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp. salt

Then create a label for each jar with the following instructions for the recipient to use in baking the cookies:

  • Empty cookie mix into large mixing bowl, blending together with your hands.
  • Soften 1 ½ sticks of butter and add to the bowl, along with 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  • Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and placed 2” apart on sprayed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 11 – 13 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy!

Memory Quilts

For senior sewers, there’s nothing more precious than a memory quilt, created from pieces of clothing that tell a story. For instance, a quilt could be prepared for someone who has always loved sports, made with pieces of jerseys from their favorite teams, or from teams they played on themselves over the years. Wash, iron, cut, and stitch the fabric together according to the more detailed instructions provided here.

Tin Can Lanterns

These are a lovely way to repurpose all of those used cans that were destined for the recycle bin, and make fun and unique gifts for kids and adults alike. Here’s all you need to get started:

  • Empty cans of any size (coffee cans work great)
  • A permanent marker
  • Hammer and nails of varying sizes, OR, a cordless drill
  • Wire for hanging, and wire-cutter pliers
  • Tea light candles (battery-operated candles if desired for safety)

Then follow these instructions:

  • Determine the design you want to place on the can, and draw it in dots with the permanent marker.
  • Hammer nails one by one over the marker dots, or, use the cordless drill
  • Be sure to include two holes on opposite sides at the top of the can, and then hook a piece of wire through each hole to make a hanger.
  • Add a tea light candle to the finished can, turn off the lights, and enjoy!

At Nightingale Homecare, the experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding area, we love helping the older adults enjoy life to the fullest, and are always here with more creative ideas and activities for seniors. We’d be happy to spend an afternoon creating crafts such as these with a senior you love! Just give us a call any time at (602) 504-1555 to get started!

Senior Isolation: How to Stay Safe While Staying Connected

Senior Isolation

Help loved ones overcome senior isolation with these tips.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been paramount to seniors’ physical health to stay isolated; yet we know that senior isolation carries with it a number of serious health concerns as well. The challenge has been balancing both the physical and emotional needs of older adults, and for many, the answer has been found in technology, allowing for social interactions during a time of quarantine.

Yet technology brings with it a challenge in and of itself. As many as one in three seniors have never used and do not have access to the internet at home; and for those who do, half need assistance with setting up and utilizing a new app or device.

Our aging care professionals offer the following tech tips to help the seniors you love stay connected in order to prevent senior isolation:

  • Ensure seniors are equipped with the tools they need. Many older desktop computers lack cameras, speakers, and necessary software to access programs like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. Decide if your loved one would be most comfortable with a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, and find a version without all the bells and whistles, making it more user-friendly.
  • Download apps according to interests. The sheer number of options available in the great worldwide web can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to select a handful of apps or sites that the senior will especially enjoy to play games, stream movies and music, learn a new skill or hobby, and to contact family and friends.
  • Instruct the senior and maintain a patient attitude. Remember how it felt when you first learned to drive, or speak another language, or solve an algebraic equation? Keep those feelings in mind as you teach an older loved one how to get around on a new digital device. It will be especially challenging trying to remotely provide instruction over the phone, so stay calm and patient and allow as much time as needed for the senior to grow comfortable with his or her new technology.
  • Explain the risk of scams. Senior scams are rampant, and scammers are extremely savvy in what they do, making it difficult for many to detect until it’s too late. Talk with your loved one about setting boundaries, such as never giving out credit card or other personal information over the internet (unless it’s through a known and trusted site).
  • Partner with Nightingale Homecare! Our team of senior care experts are always available to help the older adults we serve learn new technology, connect virtually with loved ones, and recommend appropriate and engaging activities seniors can do online.

Nightingale Homecare, the leaders in home care assistance in Peoria and the surrounding areas in Arizona, helps prevent senior isolation for older adults in our community each and every day. We offer friendly companionship to engage in a variety of activities at home, such as conversations, games and cards, exercise programs, arts and crafts, and so much more, according to each person’s interests and always in adherence to safety guidelines. We also provide a full range of home health care services to meet the medical and non-medical needs of seniors, right at home.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!

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.