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.
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
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
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 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.
Get the facts on mesothelioma and asbestos from Nightingale Home Care.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few misconceptions regarding mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive disease caused by asbestos exposure. Some people ask, “Is mesothelioma contagious?” Others believe the disease is linked to smoking.
These incorrect assessments range from how people develop mesothelioma to where the disease forms within the body. Other mesothelioma myths include the demographics affected by mesothelioma, the amount of asbestos exposure needed to develop the sickness and the legality of using the substance in the United States.
Below are some common myths and misconceptions about mesothelioma and asbestos, as well as the realities of the disease:
Myth 1: Smoking Is Linked to Mesothelioma
Smoking is not linked to mesothelioma. The act does not cause or increase your risk of developing the disease. The disease forms along the mesothelium, which is a lining that covers three specific areas of your body: the lungs (pleura), abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and heart (pericardium). Inhaling harmful smoke causes lung cancer specifically. While mesothelioma can spread to and affect one or both of the lungs, it does not form in the lung.
Myth 2: Mesothelioma Is a Lung Cancer
Pleural mesothelioma shares the closest resemblance to lung cancer, but even this form of mesothelioma is not lung cancer. The disease forms in the pleura, which is a protective membrane that separates the lungs from your chest wall. Pleural mesothelioma can metastasize to the lungs but does not form there, which excludes it from being considered lung cancer.
Since mesothelioma and lung cancer share similar traits — and can appear in the same areas of the body — some doctors may misdiagnose mesothelioma as lung cancer.
Myth 3: Mesothelioma Only Affects the Lungs
Mesothelioma affects much more than just the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma forms in the lining around the abdominal cavity, which includes many organs. Your diaphragm, heart, appendix, intestines, colon, pancreas, gallbladder, liver and testicles may also be at risk when mesothelioma forms.
Myth 4: Mesothelioma Is Contagious
Mesothelioma is not contagious. It cannot spread from human contact or germs. The only scientifically proven cause of mesothelioma is exposure to the mineral known as asbestos. Therefore, if you are a mesothelioma patient, you do not need to worry about coughing and giving the disease to others.
Myth 5: Mesothelioma Only Affects the Elderly
Mesothelioma is not limited to a specific age — or any demographic. However, the disease does have higher incidence rates in older people. The latency period, which is the amount of time a disease takes to develop, is between 20 and 50 years for mesothelioma. Therefore, the disease doesn’t manifest until people get older.
Myth 6: You Must Work With Asbestos to Develop Mesothelioma
Occupational exposure to asbestos is the most likely way to develop mesothelioma. However, there are other avenues to ingesting or inhaling the mineral.
You could live near an asbestos mine or asbestos processing plant. These instances are known as environmental exposure.
You also could have consistent interaction with someone who worked with asbestos. Maybe you were the wife of an insulation worker and regularly washed his work clothes. Asbestos fibers can stick to shirts or pants, putting anyone who touches the clothes at risk. This is an example of secondhand exposure.
Another possibility is exposure due to using cosmetics or beauty products. Even household appliances such as hair dryers included asbestos for many years.
Myth 7: The Larger the Amount of Your Asbestos Exposure, the More Likely a Person Is to Get Mesothelioma
There is no proven correlation between the quantity of asbestos exposure and the risk of developing mesothelioma. A person who works one day in a construction or insulation job — both industries which relied on asbestos for much of the 20th century — could find out 30 or 40 years later they have the disease. The only variable is whether or not asbestos fibers entered your body, were not expelled, lodged into the mesothelium and caused cellular mutation.
Myth 8: Asbestos Is Banned in the United States
Asbestos is not banned in the United States. As of June 2019, only the state of New Jersey has banned the sale and use of asbestos in products — and the state’s government only recently passed the law. Politicians and activist groups have tried to get asbestos banned in the U.S., but the Environmental Protection Agency only has restrictions in place currently.
Myth No. 9: Mesothelioma Only Affects Men
Mesothelioma does affect men more than women, but that’s largely because men are more likely to work in jobs that include asbestos. Most people who have pleural mesothelioma are men, but the gender divide for peritoneal mesothelioma is close to a 50-50 split.
Myth 10: Mesothelioma Is Untreatable and Always Has a Poor Prognosis
Mesothelioma is treatable. The options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The recommended strategy involves a combination of two or all three, which is called a multimodal treatment approach. Surgery is the most effective treatment method as it removes most or all of the tumors from the body.
While mesothelioma is aggressive, the prognosis isn’t always discouraging. Depending on the type of the disease and stage, some patients live up to five years following their diagnosis. Early detection usually leads to a longer life expectancy — because the tumors are more likely to be removed when the cancer has yet to spread far from the point of origin.
In short, there is hope if you have mesothelioma. Treatment methods are improving, more specialists are emerging and additional information is made available with each year.
Use this COVID-19 self-assessment tool from the home care team at Nightingale.
Nightingale Homecare is dedicated to ensuring our patients’ safety and good health during the COVID-19, or “coronavirus” pandemic. Anyone can get the virus and may have mild or severe symptoms. However, if you are an elder adult with underlying conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, hypertension or diabetes, you are considered to be at higher risk for developing more severe complications from the virus, and need to be particularly cautious.
Of course, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, so it is important to stay away from people who are sick, or may unknowingly have the virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person who are in close contact, or through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
People with pre-existing conditions are encouraged by the CDC to stay home whenever possible and to go out only for medical care. If you do venture out, do so with a cloth face covering, avoid crowds, and stay at least six feet from others at all times. It is especially important to use hand sanitizer while out and to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after being in a public place.
While home, you should pay special attention to your hand hygiene, especially after blowing your nose or coughing, and avoid touching your face, nose and mouth. It is also important to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily: tables, counters, doorknobs, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, and light switches.
Anyone who does come into your home should always self-screen, and not come in if they are feeling sick, have a temperature, or have been recently exposed to anyone with, or suspected of having, COVID-19. In addition, your guests should wear a cloth face covering, practice good hand hygiene, and stay at least six feet from you at all times.
All of Nightingale’s patients are asked to self-screen for the virus daily. To self-screen effectively, you must know the symptoms associated with COVID-19. The following is a list of known symptoms of COVID-19:
· SORE THROAT
· SHORTNESS OF BREATH
· NEW CONFUSION
· LOSS OF TASTE/SMELL
· CHEST PAINS
· BLUE COLOR IN LIPS, FACE OR EXTREMITIES
· TEMPERATURE > 100.4
· SHAKING WITH CHILLS
· MUSCLE ACHES
At Nightingale Homecare, we ask all our patients to go through the following self-checks daily. We use a tool called a stoplight self-assessment, and patients are asked to evaluate if they are in the GREEN, YELLOW or RED ZONE.
THE GREEN ZONE
If you can affirm all of the statements below, you would be considered to be in the GREEN ZONE, and would not need to do anything other than monitor for symptoms that may develop and continue taking precautions.
I am breathing easily.
I have no fever or chills.
I am not coughing, wheezing, or experiencing chest tightness or shortness of breath.
I do not have a sore throat.
I am able to maintain my normal activity level.
I am alert without confusion or unusual fatigue.
I have no loss of smell or taste.
I have no diarrhea or stomach upset.
I have no color changes in my face or extremities.
THE YELLOW ZONE
If you note any of the following symptoms, you would be in the YELLOW ZONE, and you would need to contact your health care provider right away.
I am coughing more than usual, or have a sore throat.
I have a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit when taken orally (or a tympanic recording), or 99.4 under the arm (or temporally).
I have loss of smell or taste.
I have diarrhea or vomiting.
THE RED ZONE
If you affirm any of the following statements, you would be in the RED ZONE and would require immediate, emergency medical attention:
I am experiencing unrelieved shortness of breath.
I have a persistent cough.
I have a fever over 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit when taken orally (or a tympanic recording), or 100.4 under the arm (or temporally).
I have a change in the color of my skin, nails, or lips to gray or blue.
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:
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 .
A Nightingale representative would be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange for home care that is custom-fit to your needs.