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New Year, New You: Exercises to Overcome a Sedentary Lifestyle

exercises for seniors

Try these exercises for seniors to improve overall health.

Staying physically active, regardless of age, is vital for all of us, and although it can be challenging for older adults who are impacted by chronic health conditions or other effects of aging, there are a number of ways to work around these challenges to maximize health.

Prior to starting any new exercise program, be sure to consult with the senior’s primary care physician and any other specialists to receive approval and recommendations. Also bear in mind that small beginnings are still great beginnings! Even just a few minutes of activity repeated several times over the course of each day can make a big impact, and is a wonderful starting point from which to increase over time.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of respite care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, our focus is always on helping seniors thrive and live life to their fullest potential. To that end, we’ve compiled some exercises for seniors that can help overcome a sedentary lifestyle and start the new year off right:

  • Aerobic Activities: If possible, these activities are a wonderful way to strengthen the heart as well as a variety of muscle groups:
    • Swimming and water aerobics
    • Dancing
    • Bowling
    • Walking
    • Tai Chi
  • Resistance Activities: Utilizing resistance bands can be helpful in strengthening and toning muscles. Even as little as one day per week of strength training helps seniors prevent the risk of falls and other injuries, while enhancing independence.
  • Flexibility Activities: Stretching gives flexibility a boost, while allowing for enhanced range of motion. Yoga classes are often the perfect choice for low-impact flexibility exercises.
  • Alzheimer’s Activities: Even when Alzheimer’s disease is a factor, there are a wide range of physical activities that can be tried, and as the disease progresses, simply provide extra supervision and modifications as appropriate. For example, repetition is often a comfort to those with dementia, so try incorporating daily activities like folding laundry, riding a stationary bicycle, and walking to improve the senior’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

Motivating seniors to adhere to an ongoing exercise program is key. These suggestions can help make exercising something enjoyable that the senior can look forward to:

  • Keep it a team effort. It’s always better to exercise with a friend or loved one.
  • Play fun, upbeat music while exercising.
  • Designate set times each day for exercise, making it a priority.
  • Offer incentives and rewards for reaching goals to help keep the senior – and yourself! – motivated.

Contact Nightingale Homecare for a trusted partner in creating and implementing an ideal exercise plan for a senior you love! Our fully trained and experienced care team is always available to provide the support and encouragement to make each day the best it can be for the older adults we have the honor of serving. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 and arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

Don’t Let Hearing Loss Stand in the Way! Try These Communication Tips

Hearing Loss

Try these tips to help seniors with hearing loss feel part of the conversation.

One out of every three seniors over age 65, and a full half of those age 75 and older are encumbered by some degree of hearing loss, leading to difficulties with participating in conversations and causing feelings of isolation. It’s important for all of us to recognize the challenges created by hearing loss, and to make a concerted effort to ensure that older adults with hearing impairments can remain engaged with those around them.

As the top Phoenix home care agency, the home care experts at Nightingale Homecare suggest always facing the person with hearing loss when speaking to him or her, and speaking slowly and clearly. And there are steps the seniors themselves can take as well:

  • Be sure to let family and friends, and others you encounter at events, know about your hearing loss, to allow them to make accommodations to help keep you in the conversation.
  • Position yourself so that you’re looking into the faces of those who are speaking.
  • Minimize noise and any other background disruptions; move to a quieter location if these factors are out of your control.
  • Ask that those speaking repeat themselves as needed, or repeat back to them whatever part of the conversation that you heard, with the request for the person to repeat the rest. (For instance, “Who did you say visited you last weekend?”)
  • Keep in mind facts that you know about the person speaking, to offer clues about the conversation, such as the person’s interests or habits.
  • Stay updated on current news and events.
  • Get plenty of rest before attending an event where you will be listening to a lot of conversations.

It’s also helpful to bear in mind that hearing aids have progressed, and can now often compensate for a large portion of hearing loss problems in those with diminished hearing. Surgery may also be something for the senior to consider. Consult with your loved one’s hearing specialist to find out if there are any new treatment options that may help, and contact Nightingale Homecare as well. We’re pleased to provide trusted, compassionate, in-home care for seniors with hearing loss, empowering older adults to remain active and engaged.

Our home health care staff are always available to accompany seniors on outings and assist with conversational difficulties, and to serve as a friendly companion to ensure seniors with hearing loss never feel left out. As a top-rated Phoenix home care agency, we also offer a full range of both skilled nursing and non-medical in-home care services, customized to each person’s unique needs. Call us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home assessment to learn more, and to find out if services are available in your area.

Are You at Risk for Postural Hypotension?

Postural Hypotension

Postural hypotension can lead to falls and other health concerns.

Postural hypotension — also called “orthostatic hypotension”— is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down. “Postural” means change with standing and “hypotension” means low blood pressure.

With postural hypotension, your blood pressure drops too low when you stand up. Postural hypotension can make you feel nauseated, dizzy or lightheaded, and maybe even cause you to faint.

Postural hypotension may be mild and last for less than a few seconds to minutes. However, long-lasting postural hypotension can signal more-serious problems, so it’s important to see a doctor if you frequently feel lightheaded when standing up.

Occasional (acute) postural hypotension is usually caused by something obvious, such as dehydration or lengthy bed rest, and is easily treated. Chronic postural hypotension is usually a sign of another health problem, so treatment will vary.

It is important to follow up with your physician if this condition is experienced, because a drop in blood pressure when you stand up can affect how much blood  gets to the brain. It can disturb your balance and make you feel dizzy and fatigued. It can also cause you to fall and get hurt.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is lightheadedness or dizziness when you stand up after sitting or lying down.

Some people do not feel dizziness, so you may not even realize it’s a problem unless you are checked for it. Symptoms usually last less than a few minutes.

Postural hypotension signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy after standing up
  • Blurry vision
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis includes:

  • Your nurse or therapist will check your blood pressure 2 ways: after lying quietly for five minutes, and again after you stand up.
  • If the top number of the blood pressure drops more than 20 points or is less than 90 when you stand up, then you have some postural hypotension.

Management of the condition can include: 

  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day (unless your physician has restricted your fluids).
  • Get up slowly; clench your fists and flex your calves and ankles 10 times before getting up. This helps raise your blood pressure a little before you get up.
  • Sit at the edge of the bed for several minutes taking deep, slow breaths while flexing your calves/ankles before getting up to walk.
  • Have an assistive device, such as a cane or walker handy.
  • Discuss your medications with your physician and home health care team to determine if you are on a medication that may be causing the problem. Your health care team can determine if any medications can be adjusted.
  • Wear compression stockings.

Those experiencing postural hypotension can enhance safety and independence by engaging the services of a professional home health caregiver, such as those provided by Nightingale Homecare. We can help with safe ambulation and transfers, provide necessary assistance when sitting or standing up to prevent falls, help monitor medications to ensure they’re taken exactly as prescribed, perform blood pressure checks and other vital sign monitoring, and so much more. Contact our top-rated Phoenix home care agency at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation to learn more.

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.

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!