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Balancing Act: Lifestyle Changes that Can Improve Balance & Prevent Falls

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Improve balance and prevent falls with these tips from our Scottsdale home care experts.

From adulthood onward, all of life can seem like a balancing act. We balance work, family, friends, community, etc. But then there comes a time later in life when, for the sake of our safety and independence, we have to consider our actual balance. As we age, our bodies naturally change, and there are many things that can affect a senior’s balance, including:

  • Low vision
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Medications
  • And more

Luckily, there are several simple, common-sense lifestyle changes that can help seniors improve balance and prevent falls.

Exercise

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and research shows that following a regular exercise routine can help older adults build muscle tone that can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. Consider working the following types of exercise into your daily routine:

  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Water aerobics
  • Strength and resistance training

Adjust your diet

Generally, eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding alcohol in excess is key for a healthy lifestyle. However, some seniors may need to make adjustments to their diets in order to get the nutrition needed to improve balance. For example, seniors who have low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of having balance problems, falling down, and breaking bones.

Additionally, if the senior has a condition like Meniere’s disease that affects the inner ear, his or her doctor may suggest dietary changes such as:

  • Avoiding caffeine as caffeine may make symptoms like tinnitus worse
  • Eating six small meals daily rather than three large ones
  • Reducing daily salt intake to less than 1,500 mg, to reduce fluid retention
  • Avoiding monosodium glutamate (MSG), as it may cause fluid retention

Use corrective devices as needed

Often, poor balance is caused by physical changes in the body, such as reduced vision, hearing or mobility. Hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses can help reduce symptoms of dizziness and disequilibrium, and seniors should get treatment for cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration if needed.

Also, walking aids, such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, can help seniors live safely and independently when they are properly used.

If a dizzy spell occurs…

It may not always be possible to prevent a dizzy spell, even if you take all the precautions listed above. In order to prevent loss of balance when feeling dizzy, follow these steps:

  • Sit or lie down as soon as you feel dizzy
  • Move slowly and try not to change the position of your head
  • Rest as much as you can and don’t try to go back to your regular activities before you are ready
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid exposure to things that may cause sinus congestion
  • Try to manage your stress and anxiety levels

At Nightingale Homecare, we strive to help seniors stay safe, happy, and healthy in the comfort of home by offering a full range of Scottsdale home care services that can allow them to live the lives they want. To help ensure the home is a safe place, we are always happy to provide a home safety assessment and make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of falls in the home. Additionally, our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates the expertise of our professional therapists, dieticians, social workers, home health aides and others to provide a well-rounded fall prevention plan that can be implemented to enhance safety even further.

Contact our Scottsdale home care team today to learn more about how we can help seniors prevent falls in the home.

Posted in Blog, Senior Health, Senior Safety on December 5th, 2018 · Comments Off on Balancing Act: Lifestyle Changes that Can Improve Balance & Prevent Falls

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: Are You at Risk?

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Are you at risk for infection from antibiotic resistant bacteria?

Antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as multiple drug resistant organisms (MDROs), are germs that have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics over the years due to overuse of antibiotics – when antibiotics are taken longer than necessary, or taken when they are not needed. These MDROs then develop and can go on to infect others.

New MDROs are constantly developing. They are mainly found in hospitals and long-term care facilities, typically affecting the elderly and patients who are severely ill.

MDROs are commonly spread from patient to patient at the hands of a healthcare worker, or when people come in contact with an infected person, such as touching a draining wound.  These germs can also be spread when a patient comes in contact with an object contaminated with the organism, such as on bedrails or IV poles.

So, are you at risk? The care team at Nightingale Homecare, your local in home senior care experts, identifies the top risk factors of becoming infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria:

  • People on long-term use of antibiotics
  • People with a severe illness or underlying disease such as diabetes, kidney disease or wounds
  • People who have invasive procedures such as dialysis, catheter insertions, drain tube insertions or IV therapy
  • People who have had repeated hospitalizations or a long hospital stay
  • People who are elderly or immune-suppressed

Serious MDROs have developed from common skin and intestinal organisms which have developed antibiotic resistance:

  • Staphylococcus aureus germs, including:
    • MRSA: Methicillin-resistant staph aureus
    • CA-MRSA: Community-acquired MRSA
    • VISA: Vancomycin intermediate-resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare)
    • VRSA: Vancomycin resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare, most difficult to treat)
  • Enterococcus germs, a family of intestinal organisms, including:
    • VRE: Vancomycin resistant enterococcus

All the organisms above can be spread by direct or indirect contact. To avoid the spread, follow these precautions:

  • In general, contact precautions should be used when patients have been identified with one of the MDROs listed above
  • Full long-sleeved isolation gowns should be worn by all those caring for the infected patient
  • You will need to assure that clothes do not come in contact with items that would likely contain a lot of germs (e.g., bathroom, bed linens)
  • The most important part of contact precautions is appropriate hand washing and wearing gloves

Contact precautions are indicated as long has the patient has symptoms (e.g. unhealed
infected wound, watery stools several times a day).

MDROs are difficult to treat because they do not respond to many common antibiotics, even the most powerful ones. There are some antibiotics that can help control MDROs in most people, and the doctor will try to find the best antibiotic for the MDRO.

To help lessen the impact of antibiotic resistant bacteria, everyone should advocate for antibiotic best practices and antibiotic stewardship. Only use an antibiotic for a true bacterial infection. A lot of infections are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, and use of antibiotics in these instances can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistant organisms.

For more information visit the CDC Antibiotic Resistance website or contact your local in home senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare any time at (602) 504-1555.

The Elderly Mental Health Concern We’d Rather Not Think About: Senior Suicide

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Learn the signs of senior suicide and how to help.

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of gender, background or age.However, while the elderly account for just 13% of the population, they account for nearly 16% of all suicides. The statistics are shocking, especially knowing the elderly are the fastest growing segment of our population, making this elderly mental health concern – senior suicide – a public health priority.

Caucasian men aged 65 to 84 are at an even higher risk, accounting for 14.9 out of every 100,000 suicide deaths – and the number rises even higher in men over aged 85. It is estimated that suicide deaths in the elderly may be under-reported by over 40%.

These figures do not include the “silent suicides” – deaths from self-starvation, dehydration, accidents and overdoses. The elderly also have a higher than average rate of completing a suicide, as they are often deaths by firearms, hanging and drowning. And, there is a higher incidence of double suicide involving a spouse among the elderly population.

Senior suicide is often the result of an untreated elderly mental health condition. Although common, suicidal thoughts should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.Health care providers often report that the elderly have an exceedingly difficult time in talking with others, especially mental health professionals, about their feelings or challenges. This is largely due to the stigma surrounding mental health issues and makes missed detection the biggest contributor in the high suicide rates among the elderly.

Those at Risk

It is very difficult to identify individuals at risk for suicide, even for professionals. However, there are some risk factors to keep in mind:

  • Being a white male over the age of 65
  • Prolonged, chronic or terminal illness
  • Pain, especially if pain is severe, chronic
  • Depression
  • Alcohol abuse and/or dependence
  • Financial difficulties
  • Recent loss of a spouse, loved one, or pet
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Physical, social and emotional Isolation/loneliness
  • Loss of role or stature in family or community
  • Recent change in living situation or employment status or productive activities

Warning Signs

The following are common warning signs that an elderly person may be contemplating suicide:

  • Crying and sad mood; typical signs of depression
  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Feeling trapped in a situation and unable to see a way out
  • Statements about death and suicide
  • Statements about being a burden
  • Reading material about death and suicide
  • Statements of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness
  • Disruption of sleep patterns (insomnia or over-sleeping)
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Giving away possessions
  • Increased alcohol or prescription drug use
  • Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders
  • Stockpiling medications
  • Sudden interest in firearms
  • Withdrawal of social interactions or elaborate good-byes
  • Rush to complete or revise a will

How to Help

As many as 50% to 75% of elders considering suicide will give someone a warning sign. However, not everyone who is considering suicide will say something, and not everyone who threatens suicide will make an attempt, though every threat of suicide should be taken seriously. Remaining aware of the risk factors and warning signs and talking openly to your loved one about your concerns are critical in preventing elder suicide.

It is also important to identify the mental health professionals in the community who can provide assistance. Remember, you never have to be alone in seeking help for your loved one, and if you are unsure whether your loved one is immediately at risk for suicide, get help by taking the individual to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment.

One great resource is the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line for elder adults in crisis: 800-971-0016. Their trained professionals are available to support seniors who are struggling with depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts. The Veteran’s Crisis Line is also available toll-free 24 hours a day for senior veterans and their families to receive counselling and support: 800-273-8255.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of senior home care Phoenix families trust, we offer a program devoted to elderly mental health and safety: Transitions. Our team of experts (nurses, social workers, and therapists) can provide an assessment to determine if depression, anxiety, coping skills and other emotional concerns are in place, and determine what resources would be most beneficial. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 any time to learn more.

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5 Key Factors That Can Indicate a Need for Senior Home Care

Phoenix home careAccording to a recent study, senior citizens fear moving out of their homes and into a nursing home more than they fear death. The study, “Aging in Place in America,” also found that the adult children of seniors also fear for their parents. Specifically, they express concern about their parents entering a nursing home and suffering a decline in their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Another key finding of the study is that nearly 90% of seniors want to “age in place,” meaning to grow older without having to move from their homes. Sadly, more than half (53%) are not confident about their ability to accomplish this. Although seniors living at home are determined to maintain their independence and stay home, they report that they often do not receive the support they need from their children or other caregivers in order to accomplish this goal safely. In addition, our elder loved ones may hesitate to approach the subject of needing help, specifically because they fear losing independence and don’t want to be the cause of any stress for their adult children. For these reasons, it is important that you be on the lookout for signs, so you know the right time to provide your loved ones with a little extra attention from an agency specializing in elderly home care, like the Phoenix home care specialists at Nightingale Homecare.

If you notice any of the following signs with your loved one, it may be the time to consider home care:

  • Physical Changes. A decline in physical health can increase the risk of your loved one falling or suffering other serious injury. Look for changes, such as difficulty walking, maintaining balance and unsteadiness. If your loved one appears to be in a frail condition, it can be dangerous for him or her to do even the simplest tasks.
  • Inattention to Personal Hygiene. Those individuals who neglect personal hygiene may have a strong body odor, unkempt or unclean hair, obvious inattention to oral care or soiled clothing. While these elderly individuals would like to keep clean, it may have become too difficult to complete the daily tasks to do so. Having in-home care ensures that your loved one can safely maintain a regular hygiene schedule, which improves his or her health and wellbeing.
  • Lack of Nourishment. Your loved one may have lost the ability to regularly prepare food at mealtimes due to lack of energy or other physical conditions. Getting to the grocery store weekly to purchase fresh, healthy foods can be a challenge, meaning the refrigerator and cupboards may not be stocked or there may be many items that have passed their expiration date. Not eating properly can lead to lack of nourishment and dehydration, which causes cognitive issues, depression and other health concerns. A home care agency will provide your loved one with help grocery shopping and preparing meals as well as providing a companion to sit down with at mealtimes, which may make eating more enjoyable.
  • Inability to Manage Medications. Taking the prescribed dosage of medicine is essential to maintaining health, especially for elderly individuals, with chronic or ongoing medical issues. Many times, the elderly are prescribed a number of different medications with different dosage schedules. Prescriptions and dosages can easily become mixed up or forgotten, which can lead to missing or overdosing on medications. When this happens, severe health problems can occur. Professional home care can ensure that your loved one stays on his or her prescribed medication schedule.
  • Lack of Attention to Household Upkeep. When visiting with your loved one, look for things such as stacks of dirty dishes and laundry, overflowing trashcans, and appliances that have been left turned on. If the living spaces are dirty and more cluttered than the person would normally allow, this is a sign that he or she needs some extra help keeping up with the demands of managing a home. Home care assistance will make sure that your loved one lives in a space that is regularly cleaned and clutter-free.

For a trusted, professional partner in care to help your senior loved ones remain safe, comfortable, and healthy at home, contact Nightingale Homecare’s Phoenix home care experts any time at (602) 504-1555.

Ensure Senior Safety and Comfort at Home with These Tips

Phoenix live-in home health care When asked, most senior adults agree that they would prefer to age in their own homes and maintain as much independence as possible. And yet, most homes are not equipped to meet the needs of an older adult, leaving many unsafe. Unsafe homes lead to accidents or falls, resulting in over 2.3 million accidents involving seniors in their homes per year! Nearly one third of the senior population falls each year, with more than 70% of those occurring in their own home.

With Nightingale Homecare as your partner for Phoenix live-in home health care or other in-home care services, your home care nurse or therapist will help identify potential hazards and make recommendations to keep you safe in your home. Therapists will also provide treatments and exercises to reduce fall risk by focusing on strengthening, balance, ambulation training with or without an assistive device, and energy conservation. Training to help keep you safe while getting ready for the day by bathing and dressing is also a priority.

Here are some general home safety tips your therapist or nurse will review with you to help ensure safety:

  • Keep all your pathways clear of clutter and pets.
  • Install smoke detectors.
  • Keep emergency numbers within reach of your telephone.
  • Keep fire extinguishers serviced and throughout your home.
  • Use medications safety.
  • Make sure that loose cords, such as telephone wires, are tucked under furniture and out of the way.
  • Rearrange furniture to keep walkways clear.
  • Remove all throw rugs or secure tightly to the floor and ensure there are no edges that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Check all furniture for stability and ensure unsteady furniture is removed or repaired.
  • Don’t walk over or around cords or wires.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords and don’t place them over walkways.
  • Lift up feet when walking and walk with proper equipment as prescribed (cane, walker, crutches, gait belt).
  • Install automatic nightlights that turn on when the room is dark so that pathways are lit if you get up in the night.
  • Make sure to use chemicals according to the directions on the package, and make sure that the containers are properly sealed when not in use. Drain cleaners, bleaches and strong acids can be dangerous if mixed, causing explosions or dangerous gasses.

At Nightingale Homecare, it’s our goal to help seniors achieve their desire to remain in the comfort of home through a full range of Phoenix live-in home health care or hourly care services. We’re always happy to provide a home safety assessment to make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of falls and other accidents. Additionally, our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates the expertise of our professional therapists, dieticians, social workers, home health aides and others to provide a well-rounded fall prevention plan that can be implemented to enhance safety even further.

Make home the safe haven it’s intended to be with a little help from your care partners at Nightingale Homecare! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!