To keep our clients and caregivers safe, we strictly follow public health guidelines related to COVID-19.

Blog Archives

Take Steps to Better Senior Health: Exercises for Any Ability Level

Portrait of a smiling senior woman lifting dumbbells during a workout session in her living room at home

One of the keys to senior health is staying physically active.

It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions for good reason: exercising more has numerous benefits for all of us, regardless of age or ability level. As one of the leading caregiver agencies in Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas, we at Nightingale Homecare encourage all of the seniors in our care (with doctors’ approval, of course) to stay as physically active as possible and to achieve maximum health and wellbeing. Just some of the many ways exercise is good for senior health include:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Better blood sugar management
  • Lower levels of lipids in the blood
  • Enhanced joint and bone health
  • Preserved cognitive functioning
  • A healthier immune system
  • A boost in metabolism and better GI functioning
  • More confidence
  • The release of endorphins that help improve mood
  • And so much more

Many older adults, however, experience a decline in physical activity throughout aging, and while it’s true that some exercises may not be realistic or safe for some seniors to engage in, there are plenty of modifications that can be made and alternative activities with equal health benefits.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Aerobics:

Cardio exercise is extremely important for heart and lung health. The typical recommendation is 30 minutes per day, but it’s perfectly fine to break this 30-minute period into smaller chunks throughout the day. Water exercises are low-impact and a great choice for many seniors; check with the local YMCA or senior center for classes specifically geared toward older adults.

Strength/Resistance:

Strength and resistance training help strengthen the bones and improve balance, which can prevent falls. These types of exercises can be done two or three times each week for maximum benefit, and can include simple, repetitive motions with small weights or resistance bands. Even a bottle of water or can of soup lifted up and down with each arm for two or three sets of ten can help build endurance.

Stretching:

Warming up and cooling down with stretching exercises helps prevent any stiffness or soreness in muscles after exercising, and also helps seniors maintain flexibility. Yoga and Pilates exercises are great ways to isolate different muscle groups to focus on and to develop a strong core, leading to better balance and posture. The YMCA or senior center can again be helpful, offering these types of classes specifically for older adults.

Our aging care experts love nothing more than helping the seniors in our care enjoy life to the fullest and to remain as healthy, safe, and independent as possible. One of the many ways we can help is by providing the motivation, encouragement, and support to enjoy staying physically active. We’ll even exercise right along with your senior loved one – it’s always more fun with a friend!

We’re also on hand to provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, to prepare healthy meals, run errands, and so much more that leads to an overall better quality of life.

Contact us and ask for your free in-home consultation to find out more about our customized in-home care services for seniors. You can reach us any time at (602) 505-1555.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Startling Link Between Dementia and Nutrition

Dementia and Nutrition

It’s important to understand the link between dementia and nutrition.

We are what we eat, as the saying goes, and that’s shown to be the case with certain types of foods and an increased risk for dementia – and with others that may actually improve cognitive functioning. While many of us are resolving to live a healthier lifestyle in 2021, we can also help the seniors in our care maximize wellness by understanding the link between dementia and nutrition, and adjusting dietary habits accordingly.

Why It Matters

A diet high in processed foods, carbs, and sugar produces toxins in our bodies that cause inflammation and plaque buildup in the brain. A senior who consumes too many of these types of foods while limiting fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins may be experiencing impaired cognitive functioning as a result, as the brain isn’t receiving the right type of fuel it needs.

Foods to Avoid

Many popular go-to food choices, unfortunately, are on the list of those linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, including:

  • White sugar, rice, bread, cakes, and pasta, which increase insulin levels and send toxins to the brain
  • Processed meats and cheeses: bacon, smoked meats, mozzarella sticks, American cheese, etc. which build up the proteins linked to Alzheimer’s
  • Beer, which contains the nitrites that are also linked to Alzheimer’s
  • Microwavable popcorn, which contains a chemical, diacetyl, that is linked to an increased level of amyloid plaques in the brain

Foods to Enjoy

It’s not easy to create and stick to new dietary habits, but replacing the foods above with the recommendations below will lead to better health outcomes for the seniors you love – and for yourself. All of the following are linked to improved memory and overall cognitive functioning:

  • Cold-water fish, such as salmon
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Dark-skinned fruits and berries
  • Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate

If the thought of overhauling a senior loved one’s diet is overwhelming, let us help! As one of the top-rated caregiver agencies in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding areas, the aging care experts at Nightingale Homecare are trained, experienced, and skilled in planning and preparing meals that are both nutritious and delicious, in accordance with any dietary restrictions or recommendations.

Not only that, but our caregivers are adept in creative Alzheimer’s care techniques, understanding and effectively managing some of the more challenging aspects of the disease, while helping seniors engage in meaningful, enjoyable pastimes and activities to make each day the very best it can be.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our customized home care services for seniors, and to request a free in-home consultation to let us get to know you and the challenges you’re facing. We’ll be happy to create an ideal solution for your particular circumstances – from just a little support for a few hours each week, up through and including full-time, live-in care.

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 with our home care assistance in Peoria and surrounding areas.

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!

Coping with Chronic Stress from COVID-19

Chronic Stress

Find help for dealing with chronic stress in seniors related to COVID-19.

The arrival of COVID-19 has forced our country to face a major crisis.

Although Americans of all ages are experiencing the stress associated with the outbreak, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) estimates that nearly 28 percent, or 14 million older Americans, live alone and are especially vulnerable to stress. NIA studies have shown that isolation and loneliness can increase existing physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. During the pandemic, the effects of those conditions increase for seniors due to even higher levels of isolation and loneliness, as well as the fear of severe illness if they do contract the virus.

Unlike a stressful event that has an identifiable beginning and end, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing and often changing event that has the potential to cause chronic stress in an individual. Chronic stress related to the pandemic can disturb all the major systems in the body. The body reacts to chronic stress differently, with the individual maintaining a constant state of alertness, despite there being no imminent danger.

Caregivers and family members can help support elder loved ones by understanding chronic stress and its effects on seniors, and then help loved ones engage in self-care activities that promote a sense of safety and security.

Things to Watch For

Monitoring for signs of chronic stress is critical in ensuring that you or your loved one gets help when needed. According to the CDC, stress during an outbreak such as COVID-19 can result in:

  • Fear and worry about a person’s own health and/or the health of loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcoholtobacco, or other drugs

What You Can Do

Reassure yourself and/or your loved one that although we cannot control the virus, we can take steps necessary to control our emotional and physical reaction to it. Below are some tips for you and/or your loved one if experiencing the stress of social isolation and fear related to the pandemic.

Take Up A New Hobby or Re-Activate an Old One: This helps to create a sense of purpose. It can be something like growing a garden, cooking, sewing, reading, scrapbooking, completing puzzles, or other activities.

Stay Active: The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for seniors. Getting outdoors and walking or participating in an age-appropriate workout are examples of moderate activities. Due to the sometimes extreme temperatures experienced in Arizona, be sure and plan outdoor activities for the coolest parts of the day. Wear a cloth face mask and practice social distancing while outdoors, and be sure and check with a health care provider before starting any exercise program. Physical activity will help physical and mental well-being.

Take Breaks from the Media: Reading, watching and listening to news about the pandemic can increase anxiety. It is important to stay informed, but limit the amount of time spent watching the news and stick to credible news sources.

Eat Well: Plan meals to ensure the proper number of calories and nutrients. The USDA website is a great source of information for planning healthy meals. Click on this link to explore recommendations.

Stay Connected to Your Community: Religious organizations, libraries, senior groups and families are finding creative ways that people can stay connected. Look into Skype, Zoom, and virtual services online and make some calls to find out about what is going on.

Get Rest: There are loads of recommendations for getting the sleep you need, but you need to put those tips into practice…and that takes practice! Check out the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s recommendations by clicking on this link.

Maintain a Routine: Routines help improve sleeping, eating and emotional and physical health.

Manage Medications and Self-Monitor: It is important that medications and chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are well managed during isolation, especially during the pandemic. Health care providers should be consulted for any challenges with managing medications or illnesses. Many doctors can now conduct telehealth visits, allowing seniors to get care without ever leaving home.

Meditate: Deep breathing, stretching and meditating can help calm the spirit. Mindful Magazine offers an excellent online guide to meditation. Click on this link to explore. Another exceptional provider of meditation and mindfulness is HeadSpace. Check them out by clicking this link.

Managing Your Mental Health

If you and/or your loved one already have mental health or substance abuse issues, you may find it more difficult to cope with those struggles during the pandemic. Don’t be surprised if you experience some depression during this time. It’s important to recognize that this isn’t a sign of weakness, and there is success in treatment. Look for these signs that you may be experiencing depression:

  • Sadness or feelings of despair
  • Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Fixation on death; thoughts of suicide
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed movement or speech
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness)
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing
  • Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene)
  • Worsening pain, such as arthritis, headaches

Many support groups are holding online meetings to help provide support. Check out these online support groups:

If you feel you or someone in your household may harm themselves or someone else:

    • Toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
    • The OnlineChatSuicidePreventionHotline is free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
    • Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224 

If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety:

    • Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

If you need to find treatment or mental health providers in your area:

If you notice your own or your loved one’s stress reactions are interfering with life for longer than a week, call your health care provider. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, or feel like you could harm yourself or others, call 911.

Remember, Nightingale caregivers are always available to support our vulnerable elders with any home care need. We’re proud to be rated as the top provider of senior care in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding areas. Call us to arrange for your customized home care at 602-504-1555.