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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 ensure ultimate safety, however, is by partnering with Nightingale Homecare. As the top providers of senior home care in Phoenix and the surrounding area, 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.

Fall Risk Prevention Checklist from Nightingale’s Professional Caregivers in Phoenix

Fall Risk Prevention

Fall risk prevention is easier with this handy checklist.

Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home. Many of them are seriously injured, or worse. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among those 65 and older. Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. Many falls can be prevented by making simple environmental, personal and lifestyle changes.

This checklist from the Phoenix home health care agencies families trust at Nightingale Homecare will help you find and fix hazards in your home. The checklist details hazards found in each room of your home and identifies what you can do to correct the hazards. Your home health care team can also assess your specific risk of falling and suggest ways to prevent falls.

FLOORS 

When you walk through a room, are floor surfaces uneven?

  • Repair uneven surfaces in the home. 

When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture, paper, boxes or clutter?

  • Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
  • Remove boxes and clutter to open up passageways.

Do you have throw rugs on the floor?

  • Remove the rugs or use double sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
  • Check rugs and mats periodically to see if backing or tape needs to be replaced. 

Are floors waxed?

  • Do not wax floors; it makes them more slippery. If floors must be waxed, use non-slip wax.

Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords?

  • Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall. If needed, have an electrician put in more outlets.
  • Arrange furniture so that outlets are near lamps and appliances to eliminate the use of extension cords.

STEPS AND STAIRS

Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs?

  • Pick up things on the stairs.
  • Always keep objects off the stairs.

Are some steps broken or uneven?

  • Fix loose or uneven steps.
  • Even small differences in steps’ surfaces or riser heights can lead to falls.

Are you missing a light over the stairway?

  • Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the light fixture.
  • Reduce glare through indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures.

Do you have only one light switch for your stairs?

  • Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Is the carpet or flooring on the steps loose or torn?

  • Make sure the carpet or flooring is firmly attached to every step. You can also attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs, or paint the stairs with non-skid paint.

Are the handrails loose or broken or only on one side of the stairs?

  • Fix loose handrails or put in new ones.
  • Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and go the length of the stairs.

Are stair steps difficult to see?

  • Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps so you can see the stairs

better.

  • Apply non-skid and colored tape on the outer edges of the steps.

Evaluate stair access; would a ramp or stair glide/stair lift be appropriate?

  • Install stair ramp or stair glide/lift as appropriate.

FLOOR PLAN LAYOUT

Is it possible to modify the living areas of the home?

  • Consider modifying the layout of the home to keep all living areas to one level of the home.

KITCHEN 

Are the things you use most often on high shelves?

  • Move items in your cabinets to lower shelves, about waist level.
  • Install shelves and cupboards at an easy-to-reach level.
  • Use a pole reaching device to access items on higher shelves.

BATHROOMS

Is the tub or shower floor slippery?

  • Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the tub or shower floor.
  • Use a shower chair or shower board with a hand-held shower head while showering.

Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub, or up from the toilet?

  • Have a handyman who is qualified put in grab bars next to the tub and toilet.

BEDROOMS

Is the light near the bed hard to reach?

  • Place a lamp close to the bed where it is easy to reach.

Is there something sturdy to hold onto next to the bed to help you get out of bed?

  • Place a heavy piece of furniture next to the bed.
  • Have a qualified handyman install a grab rail onto the wall.
  • Use a cane or walker for support.

Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? 

  • Install a nightlight so you can see where you are walking.
  • Keep a flashlight near the bed.
  • Evaluate and add lighting throughout the home
  • Put in brighter bulbs. Use lamp shades to reduce glare.

CHAIRS AND TABLES

Are chairs and tables sturdy, without casters?

  • Avoid tripod or pedestal tables. Tables should have four sturdy legs.
  • Remove casters from chairs and tables.

Are frequently used chairs equipped with arm rests and high backs?

  • Using arm rests makes it easier to sit down into or to stand up from a chair. High backs provide support for the neck and also provide support when transferring weight.

Are frequently used chairs high enough to ensure ease in standing?

  • Place firm cushions in chairs with low seats.
  • Consider using a chair lift to help you get in and out of the chair.

At Nightingale Homecare, we’re dedicated to fall risk prevention. We are always pleased to provide a safety assessment of the home for the seniors we serve and our Paces fall prevention program offers seniors additional protection from falls. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request an in-home consultation to learn more ways we’re helping seniors as a top-rated Phoenix home health agency serving the surrounding areas.

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.

Vision Changes & Fall Risk: Scottsdale Respite Care Experts Share Tips

Vision Changes

Most seniors experience vision change, making them twice as likely to experience multiple falls as those with normal vision.

People with vision loss are almost twice as likely to experience multiple falls as those with normal vision. For those with vision loss, everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or navigating crowded spaces can be a source of anxiety. Limited vision also may mean risking a fall away from home, leading many to become homebound and isolated.

Changes in Vision as We Age

Most seniors experience the following normal vision changes that are associated with the aging process. In addition, there are age-related eye conditions that will result in vision impairment.

  • Increased need for light:
    • This is a result of a smaller pupil and aging lens. A senior requires four to ten times more light than a younger person.
  • Reduced visual acuity:
    • After age 60, our ability to see clearly declines. This makes it hard to see steps, or you may not be able discern a curb at the end of a sidewalk. If you have reduced visual acuity, you may be more sensitive to glare.
  • Increased sensitivity to glare:
    • Even though you may need a brighter light source than a younger person, your vision can be reduced by glare. Examples include sunlight shining through a window then reflecting off shiny surfaces, glass tables, waxed floors, or bright light from unshielded bulbs.
  • Difficulty adapting to light and dark:
    • You may not be able to adjust to different light levels, especially in low light. This makes walking to the bathroom at night a significant fall risk.
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity:
    • A loss of sensitivity to detect contrast effects your ability to recognize objects or faces, textures and patterns.
  • Decreased depth perception:
    • You may find it difficult to determine how close or how far away an object is. This makes the detection of how high or low a step is very difficult. You may have trouble estimating the height of a step and misplace your foot, leading to a trip or fall. You may think that carpet is uneven and alter your balance and walking to accommodate the misperception. It also makes it difficult to perceive objects in areas of shadows, low light or bright lights.
  • Seeing spots that block central vision due to age-related macular degeneration:
    • This makes it hard to detect obstacles in your path, and difficult to walk across streets or a parking lot.
  • Decreased visual field due to glaucoma:
    • Your peripheral vision is very important to driving or walking. If you have peripheral field loss and are looking straight ahead, your lack of peripheral vision will not alert you to dangers coming at you. People with peripheral vision loss also experience night blindness, meaning vision might okay during day but impaired at night.
  • Visual changes due to medications:
    • Evaluate all medications with your health care team when you notice changes in vision. Even medications you have been on long-term may be affecting your vision.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Falls Due to Vision Changes

You want to be able to move about confidently and safely and to detect dangerous obstacles such as tripping hazards, stairs, curbs, moving vehicles, or people in enough time to react safely.

View Falls as Controllable

For those with vision loss, falling may be inevitable. Knowing this keeps many feeling like it’s too risky to leave the house. Learning how to recover from a fall unassisted can help alleviate fear and regain the confidence to leave the house again.

The Scottsdale respite care experts at Nightingale Homecare suggest the following:

Correct Visual Problems

  • Get an annual eye exam.
  • Correct problems with new glasses and keep them clean at all times.

Optimize Lighting

  • Optimal lighting conditions include more than one light source in a room and higher wattage light bulbs.
  • Use even lighting throughout home.
  • Install night lights to navigate in dark rooms and hallways.
  • Use natural light from windows.
  • Give yourself extra time to adjust when going from a well-lit to a dimly-lit room. 

Reduce Glare

  • Pause to adjust to the change between dark to bright environments.
  • Do not wax your floors.
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors.
  • Avoid directly facing the sun.
  • Cover bulbs with a shade.

Improve Contrast

  • Stairs: Use bright, non-skid paint or tape to contrast the edge of each step.
  • Floors: Use colored tape across thresholds when floors are of different heights.
  • Furniture and Carpeting: Remove clutter and keep pathways clear. Selecting contrasting colors or patterns in furniture and flooring can help. 

Improve Bathroom Safety

  • Install grab bars.
  • Use brightly colored rugs that are secure on the floor with rubber non-skid backings. 

Low Vision Rehabilitation Evaluation

Studies show that people start losing independence when their corrected visual acuity drops to 20/60 or worse. Most health insurances cover low vision rehabilitation examinations. A low vision specialist can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, prescribe appropriate low vision aids, recommend non-optical adaptive devices, and help you learn how to use them.

Finding a Low Vision Specialist

To find a low vision specialist near you, go to www.whatislowvision.org and click on “find a low vision specialist.”

If You Do Not Have Insurance Coverage

EyeCare America, a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), has several programs designed to meet the needs of those who don’t have vision insurance. To find out more about EyeCare America’s programs, call (877) 887-6327. If you are eligible, you will receive the name of a volunteer eye doctor in your community, along with instructions for making an appointment.

Contact Nightingale Homecare for additional resources related to vision changes and aging, or to schedule a free in-home consultation to discover more ways we can help!

Strike a Pose! Try These Types of Yoga for Elderly Adults to Help Seniors Thrive

September is National Yoga Awareness Month, and the benefits of yoga, regardless of a person’s age, are phenomenal. Yoga for elderly adults, when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise, has been shown to minimize hypertension, strengthen bones, and help with weight loss. It may even reverse heart disease, according to one study.

Yoga for elderly

Yoga for elderly adults can be extremely beneficial.

At Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality senior care Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding area have to offer, we love helping the older adults in our care engage in ability-appropriate yoga. In addition to enhanced physical health, yoga for elderly adults can also improve memory, boost the senior’s mood and outlook, and reduce anxiety.

Here are a few great senior-friendly yoga exercises to try at home with your loved one (after receiving approval from his or her doctor):

  • Half Chair at the Wall: Stand about 12” from a wall, with the back touching the wall. Lift the arms forward and up over the head, facing the palms toward each other, and then slowly bend the knees and squat towards the floor, until a seated position is achieved about halfway to the floor. Hold while taking five breaths, and then stand and repeat.
  • Warrior: Stand and place feet hip-width apart, while the right foot is held still, bend the right knee to a right angle, and shift the left foot back about 3 feet, pointing the left toes out to the side. Raise the arms straight up near the ears and look up. Hold for three breaths, return to standing straight on both legs, and repeat.
  • Cobbler’s Pose: From a seated position with legs spread out and the spine straight, bend the knees and bring the feet up toward the pelvis area, with soles touching. Press the elbows against the thighs, coaxing them closer to the floor (without causing any discomfort or pain).
  • Alternate-Nostril Breathing: Place the tips of the right index and middle fingers between the eyebrows, and then place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring and pinky fingers on the left nostril. While pressing the thumb against the right nostril, breathe in through the left nostril. Alternate for the next breath, and repeat for five minutes.

Let Nightingale Homecare help the seniors in your life maximize health and quality of life! Our care team is always available to provide the encouragement and motivation for older adults to engage in yoga and other exercise programs, along with a wide range of personalized medical and non-medical in-home care services. To learn more about our services in senior care in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding areas, call us at (602) 504-1555 at any time!