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Phoenix Senior Care Experts Share the Best Assistive Devices to Ease Life at Home

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices help seniors enhance quality of life at home.

As we age, physical and self-care abilities may gradually decline, often making simple tasks and activities challenging. Tasks such as getting out of a chair, walking across the room, or buttoning a shirt can be difficult. There are a wide range of assistive devices that can make these tasks easier, while providing the added benefit of increasing independence and improving confidence, mobility and safety.

Assistive devices are specifically designed to aid people who have difficulty performing activities of daily living, including mobility, dressing, feeding, toileting, bathing and grooming. Our Phoenix senior care experts have compiled a list of recommended assistive devices that can help the seniors you love enjoy a higher quality of life in the comfort of home.

Walker: Walkers are used by individuals who can bear weight but need support on both sides. The walker top frame should be even with the person’s hips. The walker should be directly in front of the individual, as he or she places both hands on the handgrips, stands erect, and slightly flexes the elbows, walking normally and looking ahead.

Walking Cane: Canes are used by a person who needs assistance with balance, but is able to walk without much difficulty. The top of the cane should be even with the person’s hip bone, and held with the hand opposite the weak leg, standing erect with elbows slightly flexed. A caregiver should be positioned on the person’s weaker side.

Wheelchair or Electric Buggy: For people whose symptoms greatly limit or eliminate walking for any distance, a wheelchair or electric buggy can provide quality of life, allowing the person to go out to do some shopping, go to appointments or visit friends and family.

Wheelchair Ramp: A wheelchair ramp makes it easy to get into and out of the home, either on a wheelchair or while walking to limit negotiating stairs.

Stair Lift: Stairways in the home can present a risk for people who are vulnerable to slips and falls. Not only are stairs difficult to maneuver for people with restricted mobility, but the severity of an injury suffered is much greater than one that would result from a fall on a level surface. Stair lifts offer a means of getting safely up and down stairs independently.

Grab Bars: Grab bars are invaluable in helping seniors maintain balance, and should be placed in hallways, near the person’s bedside, along stairwells, in bathrooms, etc. Grab bars are relatively straightforward to fit and can be made reasonably unobtrusive, but they can make a major difference in a senior’s ability to get around the home. 

Raised Toilet Seat: A raised toilet seat will make it easier to sit down, get up, and maintain balance while using the toilet.

Commode: A commode placed next to the senior’s bed or chair will limit the distance from bed or chair to the toilet and reduce the possibility of a fall. 

Shower Bench or Board: A shower bench or board will allow the person to sit while showering and avoid falling in the shower. Consider a hand-held shower head, too.

Shower Caddy: A shower caddy, placed at an appropriate height, will reduce the risk of accidents in the shower as a person reaches to get shampoo and soaps.

Long-Handled Sponge: A long-handled sponge in the shower enables a person to reach difficult places, helping to maintain balance and prevent injury.

Walk-in Shower: If a person’s mobility is limited, a conventional bath or shower presents a major challenge along with the risk of serious injury from any resulting fall. Installing a walk-in shower in the existing bathroom is a wonderful option that will improve safety.

Hip Protectors: Hip protectors are padded accessories which can be worn as a belt or incorporated into underwear. The idea is to protect or the person’s hip bones from some of the impact of a fall. 

Reaching Aids: There are a range of assistive devices on the market which help a person who is unsteady on his or her feet to reach for an item safely, without stretching or over-balancing.

Nightlights: Place nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms and dark hallways to prevent falls.

Seat Lift: If your loved one struggles with standing up from a chair, a seat lift will eliminate that struggle and will reduce the risk of a fall. A seat lift raises the person from a sitting position, gradually and steadily, up to a standing position

Video Doorbell: A video doorbell allows the senior to see and communicate with people at the door before getting up.

Fall Detector: A fall detector is essential to have access to immediate assistance in the event of a fall.

Power Failure Alarm: This type of alarm will alert the senior when power is lost and provide emergency lighting.

Automatic Swing Door Opener: This type of door opener is extremely helpful, enabling the individual to open doors hands-free.

Voice-Activated Lights: These lights can be turned on and off without getting up.

Mattress Lift:  A mattress lift helps seniors get in and out of bed with ease.

Sound Amplifier: For those with hearing difficulties, a sound amplifier will help the person to hear conversations or the television.

Dressing Stick: This device helps eliminate reaching and bending, which can cause falls, while allowing increased independence in dressing.

Stocking Aid, Long-Handle Shoehorn, Zipper Pulls and Button Hooks: These are wonderful for people with impaired limb function, allowing for maximum independence in dressing.

Contact the Phoenix senior care professionals at Nightingale Homecare for help with obtaining these or other assistive devices, and for in-home care services to enhance safety, socialization, comfort, and engagement in life for a senior you love!

Take a Deep Breath and Ensure Healthy Lungs in Seniors with These Tips

Healthy Lungs

Help the seniors you love maintain healthy lungs.

It’s Healthy Lung Month, and the Scottsdale respite care experts at Nightingale Homecare want to make sure older adults maintain healthy lungs throughout aging! As we grow older, changes to all of the organs that impact breathing – lungs, muscles, and bones – can cause decline in lung function. These additional aging-related lung changes can affect seniors:

  • A weakened diaphragm, which can make it harder to inhale and exhale when exercising
  • Less sensitivity to foreign particles that can enter the airways, which means seniors may not have the urge to cough, allowing these particles to damage the lungs
  • The bones in the ribcage are thinner and altered in shape, making it more difficult for the lungs to expand and contract
  • Alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) may lose their shape
  • The immune system is weaker, making older adults more susceptible to infections that can lead to pneumonia

Changes such as these can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue; but there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to protect the lungs:

  1. Quit smoking – or never start. Smoking causes significant damage to the lungs, and it’s crucial for older adults (and all of us!) to refrain from engaging in this dangerous habit. The American Lung Association offers help for those who want to quit.
  2. Stay active. Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen both the lungs and chest muscles. It’s also important to avoid spending too much time lying in bed, which causes fluids and mucous to settle in the lungs.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess body fat causes strain on the diaphragm, making it more difficult for the lungs to fully expand.
  4. Get vaccinated. All seniors should receive an annual flu shot, and ensure they’re up to date on pneumonia vaccinations.
  5. Avoid air pollutants. Healthy lungs can quickly deteriorate into damaged ones by breathing secondhand smoke, chemicals, and outdoor air pollution.
  6. Get routine checkups. Even when a senior is in the best of health, annual doctor visits (or as often as recommended by the physician) are crucial to maintaining good health, and to catching conditions such as lung disease early.

Let Nightingale Homecare’s home health care team help keep the seniors you love healthy and well! We offer a full range of skilled nursing, professional non-medical, in-home therapy, and many other home health care services that can address current needs and proactively plan for any potential concerns in the years to come.

Call us at (602) 504-1555 and request a complimentary in-home consultation. One of our registered nurses will perform an assessment to determine how to help seniors maintain healthy lungs and an overall healthier quality of life, while continuing to live safely and comfortably at home.

It’s a Balancing Act: What You Need to Know About Senior Balance

Balance

Mature couple in warrior yoga position. Side view. Horizontal.

Most people take good balance for granted and don’t even think twice about activities such as walking from a sidewalk onto the grass, leaning over to tie their shoes, or getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

However, for people who have poor balance, normal activities can be extremely challenging and often dangerous. Symptoms that accompany impaired balance can include dizziness, vertigo, visual problems, hearing problems, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty with concentration and memory. And balance problems often become prevalent in older adults, for a variety of reasons – medication side effects, chronic health conditions, ambulation problems, and more.

Balance is the ability to maintain your body’s center of mass over its base of support.  A properly functioning balance system allows us to see clearly while moving, determine direction and speed of movement, and make necessary adjustments to maintain stability and posture during different conditions and activities without conscious thought.

Balance relies on a complex set of body’s systems, including the following sensory input: 

  • Eyes

Our eyes help us adjust our body’s position and movement, so we can move around obstacles in our path.

  • Vestibular system

Nerve receptors in the inner ear are sensitive to movements and help control motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation.

  • Proprioception or touch

Receptors called “proprioceptors” in the skin, joints, ligaments, and muscles receive signals indicating the position and movement of your body.

All three of these information sources send signals to the brain. The signals sent to the brain are then sorted and integrated with learned motions. For example, we know how to navigate an icy sidewalk and adjust our movements due to our learned memory.

You need sensory input, integration of that input, motor control, and muscle strength to maintain stability, during both purposeful movements, such as lifting yourself out of a chair, and reflexive ones, such as recovery from a trip over a curb. Injury, disease, neurological disorders, certain medications, and advancing age can affect all the systems involved in balance.

Nightingale’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is designed to help patients with imbalance, vertigo, dizziness, or movement sensitivity related to many different conditions. The inner ear, or vestibular system, plays an integral role in the control of posture and balance.  Deficits in the vestibular system may result in decreased independence, loss of balance, the inability to perform activities of daily living, in addition to increasing the patient’s fall risk.

Contact Nightingale Homecare, top providers of the elderly care Sun City and the surrounding area have to offer, to find out how we can help you or a senior loved one improve balance and enjoy the highest possible quality of life! Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request resources specific to the challenges you’re facing, or to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.

Debunking Common Senior Psychotherapy Misconceptions

Senior Psychotherapy

It’s important to learn the facts behind these senior psychotherapy myths.

Change can be hard for all of us, but consider for a moment the depth of change experienced in aging. The elderly encounter changes in health, in self-identity, in their roles and responsibilities and relationships with others. Loss of friends and loved ones becomes more common, along with loss of physical ability and sometimes mental acuity.

One of the best ways to adapt to change is through counseling; yet sadly, senior psychotherapy is disproportionately underutilized. In fact, as few as 3% of licensed psychotherapists have received specialized training in geriatric counseling. There are three main myths surrounding counseling for the elderly that our Scottsdale respite care experts want to debunk in order to help more families consider seeking psychological care for the seniors they love:

Myth #1: The elderly are too “set in their ways” to benefit from counseling.

Some of the many beautiful qualities that develop as we age include increased wisdom, maturity, character, and authenticity. While some older adults may exhibit some measure of stubbornness, it’s often a defense mechanism, indicating an underlying issue that should be addressed. A professional counselor can help the senior gently peel away the layers of pain and loss to uncover the root of the problem and provide effective coping skills.

Myth #2: Because the elderly are nearing the end of life, senior psychotherapy isn’t worth the time invested.

The truth is, none of us know how many days we have left to live – and yet we all should have the opportunity to live each of those days to the fullest. Every older adult has a rich history, a story to tell, and struggles that have either been overcome or are continuing to hinder their ability to experience the inner peace and joy they deserve; and senior psychotherapy is a great way to help the elderly come to an acceptance of their past and to set and achieve future goals.

Myth #3: The difficulties experienced by some older adults are insurmountable – and counseling won’t help.

Even with debilitating, chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, a trusted, professional psychotherapist can meet the senior in his or her own reality, providing comfort, reduced feelings of isolation, and ability-appropriate mechanisms to achieve a higher quality of life.

At Nightingale Homecare, we believe in a holistic, whole-person approach to care that addresses both the physical and emotional needs of seniors. Our experienced Scottsdale respite care team is on hand to help families find the resources they need, including senior psychotherapy care, in addition to our full range of in-home services such as:

  • Skilled nursing care:
    • Wound care
    • Blood draws
    • IV services
    • Tube feedings
    • And more
  • Personal care:
    • Companionship
    • Meal planning and preparation
    • Light housekeeping
    • Medication reminders
    • And more
  • In-home therapy:
    • Speech therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Physical therapy
    • Nutrition counseling
    • And more
  • Highly specialized dementia care
  • And many others

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 and let us help a senior you love enjoy a better life each day, right in the comfort of home.

Posted in Aging Issues, Senior Health on October 9th, 2019 · Comments Off on Debunking Common Senior Psychotherapy Misconceptions

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.