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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!

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.

Activities for Seniors to Pass the Time at Home

Activities for Seniors

Try these activities for seniors this summer.

Oh, the long, hot days of summer! In Arizona, it starts early and goes late. Often, our elders remain indoors during most of the summer months, and more recently, with COVID-19 lurking, seniors with underlying conditions are stuck inside even more so than usual.

It may be a nice time to discover a new activity, or reacquaint with an old hobby! Here are some ideas to either do on your own, with a friend or neighbor, or to encourage an elder loved one to consider to allay boredom and the same old thing every day.

When you add an activity to your day or to the day of a senior you love, you might consider this approach:

  • Focus on enjoyment, not achievement.
  • Determine what time of day is best for the activity.
  • Be flexible and patient with yourself if it’s something new.
  • Minimize distractions.

If you choose an outside activity, make sure it’s early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid extreme temperatures. Outdoor activities can be relaxing and fulfilling. It’s always great to get a change of scenery and enjoy fresh air.

The following are ideas for outside activities:

  • Plant some flowers or herbs in small pots.
  • Pull old plants and weeds from the garden.
  • Take a walk and identify the flowers and plants with a book on plants along the way.
  • Check on your garden daily for new sprouts or ripe vegetables. This can also lead to other activities such as picking and preparing what has grown in the garden.
  • Put a birdbath and feeders out in the yard, so you can watch the birds out the window.
  • Have your meal or snack outside.
  • Read a book or poetry in the shade outside.
  • Play a game of horseshoes.
  • Sit on the porch noticing all the activity, colors, and scents. Wave to the neighbors!

Indoor activities:

  • Sew something for a friend.
  • Take up embroidery or knitting.
  • Call an old friend who would be surprised to hear from you, and catch up.
  • Learn how to Zoom or FaceTime, and suggest a family “gathering.”
  • Read a new book indoors in a quiet spot, with a nice cup of tea.
  • Find a poem or prayer you’d like to memorize and spend several minutes a day reciting it.
  • Pull out old music and listen and reminisce.
  • Find a new radio program or podcast you’d like to listen to.
  • Pull out your old photo albums and just reminisce, or reorganize them.
  • Gather together some paints or colored pencils and create some artwork.
  • Write a letter to an old friend or family member.
  • Make a memory book or a personal scrapbook.
  • Organize drawers or cupboards.
  • Find a new recipe and make something special.
  • Make cookies.
  • Get a handbook for dice games and play.
  • Pull out a once-loved board or card game and play…or learn a new one!
  • Watch an old musical.
  • Make apple pie or cobbler from scratch. See who can peel the longest unbroken peel!
  • Soak and massage your feet, or a friend’s. Paint your toenails if desired!
  • Plan a happy hour for yourself with music and salsa and chips and margarita mix.
  • Put up maps of the state, country and world and mark all the places you’ve been and where you’d like to go.
  • Write down your family timeline and history….births, deaths, moves, marriages,
  • Write down your favorite childhood memories, your memories as an adult and things you have learned about life.
  • Polish and shine your shoes.
  • Make birthday card collages for friends from old magazines and photos.
  • Put on some favorite, irresistible music and MOVE! (You don’t have to call it dancing!)
  • Sing favorite hymns and carols.
  • Blow up an inflatable punch ball and use it as indoor balloon volleyball.
  • Learn simple exercises you can do in a chair.
  • Experiment with aromatherapy and essential oils. Try new ones and notice what they do to your mood. Remember, don’t apply them directly to your skin. Always use in lotions or diluted in infusers, and don’t use for extended periods. Here are some ideas on essential oils to influence mood.Invigorating: Peppermint, rosemary, lemon

    Relaxing: Chamomile, marjoram, ylang-ylang

    Sedating: Lavender, juniper, sandalwood

    Mentally clarifying: Clary sage, fennel, basil

    Depression-lifting: Grapefruit, rose

    Immunity-strengthening: Bergamot, tea tree, cajuput

    Anxiety-lifting: Orange, jasmine, frankincense

For more recommendations of fun activities for seniors, call on the aging care pros at Nightingale Homecare! We’d love to provide the friendly companionship for older adults, along with plenty of creative and engaging ideas that make each day the best it can be. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about how our experts in home care in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding area can help a senior you love.

Keeping Seniors Safe at Home During the Pandemic: Grocery Shopping Tips

Keeping Seniors Safe at Home

It’s best for older adults who are more vulnerable to avoid high-traffic areas such as grocery stores.

Experts say that people should avoid crowded places because of COVID-19, and the CDC is asking that elders with underlying health conditions stay home entirely. This can make it a challenge when seniors are in need of groceries. To help, we’ve provided details on several helpful solutions; and know that Nightingale caregivers are always available to assist our clients in getting necessary items.

The following grocery and meal-delivery services are available to assist anyone in getting their groceries by ordering online, including:

If Your Groceries Are Delivered

Even if a grocery store or warehouse is thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, the delivery person needs to take the same precautions to prevent the spread of a virus to you. While these companies might recommend that deliverers wash their hands often, practice other hygiene measures, and stay home when they’re feeling sick, they can’t monitor whether drivers are actually taking those precautions. So, follow these steps when ordering deliveries:

  • Avoid a direct hand-off.Arrange to have the items delivered to your doorstep instead of handing them off inside your home.
  • Tip electronically.One benefit of ordering deliveries online or via an app is that you don’t have to hand the delivery person money. Opportunities to tip the delivery person are included in most of the delivery apps and online ordering systems.
  • Wash your hands and countertops. Follow the instructions below for unpacking and preparing your food.
  • Order earlier than you usually do.Though it’s not a direct health or safety issue, you may find that you have to wait longer for the items you need, so plan in advance for those items.

Picking up Pre-Packaged Groceries

The steps are basically the same for this option as for delivery. If you’ve ordered your groceries and go to pick them up and are having someone put the groceries in your car in a parking lot, consider opening your car door or trunk yourself rather than having the person touch the door handle. If you can pay and tip on a supermarket’s app, do that rather than handing over cash or a credit card. Be sure to wear a mask if you step outside your car or come within six feet of the delivery person. Use your hand sanitizer if you are touching any surfaces and wash your hands immediately upon returning home.

Buying Groceries in the Store

Only shop if you absolutely need to, and never go out if you are feeling sick. If you must go out to get groceries, keep yourself safe and follow these tips:

  • Wear a mask. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering while you are out. Avoid touching your mask and make sure you sanitize your hands immediately after removing it.
  • Avoid touching your face. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet away from all other people at all times. Most stores have outlined these distances in check-out lines. If someone coughs or sneezes, do not walk through the area where they coughed or sneezed. Remember while you are shopping down the aisles, always keep your distance.
  • Go shopping at a time that’s less busy.If you look online and type in the store’s name and location in a  Google search, a box will pop up showing when foot traffic there is highest. Many stores now offer times when only elders can enter the store, avoiding younger people who may unknowingly carry the virus. You must still keep your distance from others while shopping, staying at least 6 feet away at all times.
  • Disinfect your shopping cart. Most grocery stores have disinfectant wipes available, or have procedures to disinfect the carts before and after use. Shop only at stores that observe these precautions.
  • Take germicide and hand sanitizer with you.Be prepared to use your own disinfectant if the carts are not routinely disinfected. Use hand sanitizer after paying and after leaving the store. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you return home.
  • Reusable bags.If you use reusable grocery bags, it is recommended to leave them in your car or the garage for at least a week, or wipe them down thoroughly with a germicide before re-use.
  • Use a credit or debit card. Avoid handing over bills or receiving change into your hand. Also, use your own pen to sign receipts. If you can, use a virtual payment system like Apple Pay so that you don’t have to open your wallet at all.

Unpacking and Preparing Your Food

Once you have your groceries inside your home, you must take precautions when putting them away and preparing them. Contact with food packaging and food isn’t thought to spread the virus, so there is no need to carry out any special disinfecting procedures on the food or packaging, but following these steps is important:

  • Drop your groceries at the door. Once you arrive home, drop your groceries at the door and go directly to wash your hands. Then, move them to your counter to unpack them. After unpacking, wash your hands again.
  • Wash your produce. Don’t use disinfectants on food, as this can pose other health risks. Instead, rub your fruit and vegetables under clear, running water, and scrub those with hard skin. This can help remove not only pesticides, but also potential viruses.
  • Wash counters, and other surfaces you’ve touched. Use a disinfectant wipe or spray to clean all surfaces.
  • Eating your food. Currently, there is no data to show that COVID-19 is spread by consuming food, so the risk of getting the virus from your food is considered low.

The ideal way to keep seniors safe at home, however, is by partnering with Nightingale Homecare. As the top providers of Phoenix care at home, our professional caregivers are trained and experienced in safety procedures to reduce the risk to seniors of contracting COVID-19 or other viruses. Let us take care of running errands such as grocery shopping for a senior you love! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our trusted home care services in Phoenix and the surrounding areas .

New Year, New You: Exercises for Seniors 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 senior care in Glendale, AZ 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 about our professional senior care in Glendale, AZ and the surrounding areas!