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Posts Tagged “Elder Care Phoenix”

When Mom Isn’t Mom: What to Expect with Dementia Related Personality Changes

What to Expect with Dementia

Understanding what to expect with dementia means being ready for personality changes.

For her whole adult life, Mom has been quiet, reserved, and kind to everyone. Her friends and family have always known they could count on her to provide wise advice without judgment or condescension. Yet suddenly, since her dementia has begun to progress, it’s as though a switch has been flipped. Mom has become belligerent, angry, and rude. What happened? Is this what to expect with dementia?

Unfortunately, personality and behavioral changes such as this are quite common in someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They’re part of the natural progression of the disease’s impact on brain cells. Other changes you may notice include:

  • Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies
  • Anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Pacing and wandering
  • Hiding items, or thinking others have hidden things from them
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors
  • Hitting you or others
  • Misinterpreting reality, including seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

The first step if you notice any of these changes in a senior loved one is to schedule a checkup with the doctor. There are a variety of other health conditions that could be causing the changes, so it’s important to rule those out first.

If it’s determined that the changes are dementia-related, there are ways to help manage them more effectively:

  • Limit distractions. Turn down (or off) the TV or radio, and limit time spent with groups of people talking, all of which can add to confusion and frustration.
  • Make simple alterations to the home accordingly. If looking in the mirror frightens the senior, take down or cover mirrors. If a comforter with busy patterns leads the senior to believe there are bugs crawling on it, replace it with a solid colored one.
  • Avoid asking open-ended questions. Phrase your statements and questions simply, giving a choice of two answers. For instance, “It’s time for lunch. Would you like tuna or chicken today?”
  • Create and adhere to a daily schedule and routine.
  • Pay attention to what the senior may be feeling, rather than what is being said. Someone with dementia who is lashing out angrily may actually be feeling fear or worry. Offer reassurance that the person you are there to help, and that he or she is safe.
  • Never argue or correct someone with dementia. If you find yourself becoming angry or upset, step away for a few minutes (if it’s safe to do so) to calm down; or try deep breathing and counting slowly to ten.

Knowing what to expect with dementia and how to provide the best care for someone you love isn’t easy. A trusted, professional care partner, like Nightingale Homecare, can help tremendously with education, resources, and respite care services.

With Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and surrounding areas, you’re never alone. Call us at (602) 505-1555 to learn more about the ways we can make life better for a senior you love with dementia and allow you a healthy life balance as well.

The Holidays Look a Little Different This Year: Holidays with Seniors During the Pandemic

Holidays with Seniors

Celebrating the holidays with seniors this year requires careful planning and consideration.

Back in March, when the words “pandemic” and “COVID-19” just began to creep into our vocabulary, we had no idea that by the holiday season, we’d still be right in the thick of isolating, social distancing, and doing whatever we can to keep ourselves and each other safe. Yet here we are, and it’s important to carefully think through the risks associated with celebrating the holidays with seniors this year.

At the heart of the quandary lies the knowledge that both COVID-19 and isolation from loved ones bring serious, potentially life-threatening risks to older adults. Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus explains, “There’s no easy answer here, just like with everything else. It’s not about safe or unsafe. It’s about figuring out how to balance various risks and keeping risks as low as possible.”

And while we’ve learned to avoid super-spreader events, experts warn that the recent spike in infections has been attributed in large part to transmissions within home gatherings.

So how can you make the best decision for your family this holiday season? Here’s what you need to know:

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently redefined “close contact” as it relates to the spread of infection to 15 minutes of cumulative exposure during a 24-hour period, within six feet of others (as opposed to the former 15 consecutive minute definition).
  • Although these guidelines reference maintaining social distancing of six feet, it is believed that aerosol transmission can occur at much greater distances – there’s nothing magic about the six-foot figure.
  • Family members considering air travel (or other public transportation) are, of course, at a greater risk of exposure to the virus, and can still transmit the virus to others, even if they remain asymptomatic. The safest course to follow would be to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, and then get tested – an incredibly difficult protocol to follow.

As a result of these factors, the CDC’s official holiday celebration guidelines encourage people to stay at home with those already living in the same household, which raises the issue of senior isolation and the serious emotional and physical toll it can take on older adults.

Dr. Anthony Fauci explains, “There are some families who are so frustrated with not seeing each other for so long, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to take the risk. My mental health of seeing my children or grandchildren is so important to me that I’m going to take the risk.’”

If a senior you love expresses these types of feelings, and is experiencing the negative impact of isolation, you’ll need to carefully consider the risks vs. the benefits of getting together. In that case, face coverings, social distancing, and handwashing are necessary, and time spent together should be limited. Outdoor visits are also preferred.

The holiday season of 2020 may not be the Normal Rockwell celebration we’d wish for, but know that Nightingale Homecare, the leading Phoenix home health agency, is here to help make it as merry and bright as possible for the seniors you love. Contact us to learn more about how we can help alleviate isolation for seniors, coordinate the technology necessary for contactless visits with a senior loved one, and so much more.

You can reach us any time at (602) 504-1555 to discover the measures we’re taking to keep seniors safe, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to answer any questions you may have about our in-home care services.

Long-Distance Caregiving: How to Continue to Help After the Holidays

Long-Distance Caregiving

Long-distance caregiving is easier with these tips.

During holiday visiting, families often uncover concerns with a senior loved one that hadn’t been apparent through shorter visits or over the phone. And for family members who live at a distance, it can be quite a challenge to head back home, feeling helpless to know exactly how to help.

If this describes your situation, Nightingale Homecare, your trusted Phoenix home care agency has some helpful suggestions to provide you with peace of mind, and your loved one with the help he or she needs.

Planning

When it’s not possible to simply drive across town to help an older loved one, it’s helpful to hold family meetings regarding the potential “what ifs” that might arise, such as:

  • Living preferences according to who may be able to help in the event of an injury or illness. Roleplay some scenarios, such as if the senior experienced a broken hip following a fall and needed rehabilitative care.
  • Determining factors that will indicate that it’s time to consider care options. What might that look like?
  • Finances and other resources required and available for caregiving, including how much time family members can afford to miss from work for caregiving tasks.
  • Advance directives and wills: it is important that all paperwork is in order, and that family members impacted maintain a copy.

Monitoring

Living at a distance from a senior loved one makes it easy to put off the uncomfortable task of assessing the older adult’s health and wellbeing; yet, it is important to ensure these things are evaluated on a regular basis.

  • Obtain the name and contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician, and stay in touch with the office.
  • Ensure that there is a signed HIPAA Release of Information Form filed at each of your loved one’s doctors’ offices so you can communicate freely with each physician (and keep a copy for yourself).
  • Call your loved one regularly to check in and offer help with resolving or preventing any problems.
  • Maintain a list of other potential resources in your loved one’s neighborhood: neighbors, friends from church, other local family members who can be part of the support network. Make sure these contacts know that you are part of the long-distance caregiving team and have your contact information.

Traveling

Difficult issues are bound to occur, and often at a moment’s notice. It may not be feasible to travel home for each issue, so determine in advance when you will travel and when to call on other resources for help.

  • Determine if a situation is a true medical or care crisis. In your decision-making process, consult with your loved one’s doctor, social worker, or nurse for details and to get their opinions on whether you should be there.
  • Is there someone locally available who can help resolve the problem, or check in on the situation?
  • It’s perfectly fine if you prefer to visit just to put your mind at rest. If staying at home will cause you to worry, then it may be best to go.

Nightingale Homecare Can Help

Engaging the services of Nightingale Homecare, the top-rated Phoenix home care agency, is the perfect solution for long-distance caregiving needs. Providing as much or as little assistance as needed, and offering a full range of both medical and non-medical care, families know they can trust our care professionals to pay close attention to their loved ones’ needs, and to catch any concerns immediately, allowing them to be addressed before they become a more serious problem. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Pain and Fall Risk: The Dangerous Link You Need to Be Aware of

Fall Risk

Discover the dangerous link between pain and fall risk for seniors.

Studies show that individuals who experience chronic pain are more likely to have fallen in the last 12 months, and are more likely to fall again in the future. Some studies have shown that the use of pain medication and other treatments can provide some protection against falls in patients with chronic pain, and therefore, pain appears to be a “modifiable risk factor” for falls. The reduction of pain appears to not only improve people’s quality of life, but also reduces their risk of falls.

Several factors that account for the risk of falls among chronic pain patients, include:

  • Loss of movement and reflexes
  • Medication side effects
  • Osteoporosis
  • Age-related changes
  • Sensory losses

The Reality of Pain

  • All pain is real: Pain is not imaginary. It is whatever the person in pain is experiencing.
  • Chronic pain is complex: Ongoing pain can affect all aspects of your life, including your relationships with others. Pain itself can be affected by many things, such as hunger, activity, sleep, mood, and stress.
  • Chronic pain is common: Diabetes is one of the more common medical conditions, but estimates are that five times more people suffer from pain than from diabetes.

Pain Management

As you know, the management of chronic pain and reduction of fall risk can feel like a balancing act! Effective pain management aims to reduce your level of pain while increasing your quality of life, without increasing your fall risk.

Pain management at home has several general aspects: 

  • Assessment: Your home health care team will gather information on your pain and other conditions that may affect it. The team will also help you evaluate your home and lifestyle for safety risks to limit the potential for a fall.
  • Management plan: You, your physician and your home health care team will work together to create a plan based on your goals. Staying safe and accident-free will be a top priority.
  • Follow-up: Your home health care team will evaluate the plan and see how well interventions and strategies are working for you, then work with your physician to make changes as needed.
  • Self-help activities: Effective pain management often involves your willingness to help yourself. It’s very important that you take an active approach to managing your pain.
  • Persistence: Chronic pain management requires your persistence to work to find the right approach for you. It will mean learning new skills and relying on inner strength that you may not have realized you have! Your home health care team will be with you all the way!

Combining Techniques and Approaches

Studies show that the most effective pain management with fall risk safety as an equal priority comes from combining multiple techniques and approaches. You will need to take into account your whole person – mind, body and spirit – when looking at the approach that is best for you. Chronic pain can take all sorts of turns, and the approach that works one day may not work the next, so it’s good to regularly evaluate what works and what doesn’t work. Effective pain management includes the following three areas.

  • Medical treatments: These include: injections, tens unit, medication and physical therapy.
  • Self-care: This is probably the most important component of pain management, because often it makes other treatments more effective. Self-care techniques are often free and you can do them on your own. Examples include stretching, reading, exercise and stress reduction.
  • The mind-body connection: Examples include meditation and counseling.

Tracking Your Pain

Pain can be affected by many things in your life, and it’s different for everyone. Your home health care team records a pain snapshot at each visit, but only you can track it day by day to discover patterns and help you identify what works and what doesn’t. Tracking your pain can also help you identify what triggers your pain. Once you have that information, you can avoid the triggers, change them, or plan ahead for them if they’re unavoidable. Tracking your pain will also provide insight into which self-care activities are the best pain relievers. Your home health care team can get you started with a pain journal that will help you record your pain, the measures you have taken to reduce the pain, and the results.

If pain and fall risk have made you inactive and your life feels restricted, try these tips: 

  • Ask your physician or physical therapist to evaluate your mobility and suggest an activity plan. You may be surprised. Some activities you’re nervous about may be just fine for you! Your physical and occupational therapist can help you perform the activities safely. The home health care team can also recommend assistive devices to increase your activity and independence.
  • Start gradually and stretch yourself a bit.
  • Choose one or two activities you’d like to be able to do and make that your goal. For example, taking a walk, sitting at a desk to work for a period of time, or completing some housework or cooking.
  • Decide how long you can do the activity: You might only be able to walk for 10 minutes to start.
  • Do your activity both on good and bad days.
  • Add a bit more time each week. For example, the next week, walk for 12 minutes daily.
  • Find new ways to be active: If an activity you used to enjoy is no longer possible, find an alternative. A gym workout may no longer be suitable for you, but you can try gentle movements in a swimming pool or a tai chi class. These activities can help improve your balance, while reducing your fall risk.
  • Give yourself rewards. Find healthy ways to reward yourself when you meet your goals.
  • Remember to rest. It can help to schedule periods of rest and downtime into your day. Treat them as appointments so you don’t overlook rest.

For more helpful tips, or to schedule a free in-home consultation to see how our in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and the surrounding area can help improve health and quality of life for yourself or a senior you love, contact Nightingale Homecare at (602) 504-1555.

ALS 101: What to Expect in Each Stage, and How Phoenix Senior Care Can Help

ALS

Know what to expect throughout the progression of ALS.

A diagnosis of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) brings with it numerous questions and concerns: for the person receiving the diagnosis, as well as his or her loved ones. What caused this disease? What symptoms should be expected now, and how will they change as the disease progresses? Where can we find the help and support we’ll need?

As many as 30,000 Americans are currently battling the effects of ALS, and another nearly 6,000 new diagnoses are made each year. And while the actual cause of the disease is still unclear, some research is pointing to complicated risk factors. For instance, veterans who were in service during the Gulf War have been diagnosed twice as often as others.

While each individual can be impacted by ALS uniquely, the way the disease tends to progress often follows a path of three main stages. Learning about each of these stages can help those with ALS and those who provide care for them implement the most appropriate plan of care. Nightingale Homecare, the Phoenix senior care experts, shares the key points you need to know:

Beginning Stages

In the early stages of ALS…

  • The most pronounced symptoms are often noticed in only one certain area of the body
  • More mild symptoms can affect more than that one particular area
  • For some ALS patients, the first muscles to be impacted are those required for speaking, swallowing and/or breathing

Potential Symptoms:

  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • A weaker grip
  • Stumbling

Mid Stages

In the middle stages of ALS…

  • Certain muscles may experience paralysis, while others are either weakened or completely unaffected
  • Symptoms of the disease become more widespread
  • Twitching may become apparent

 Potential Symptoms:

  • Problems with standing up independently
  • Problems with eating and swallowing, with a heightened possibility of choking
  • Problems with breathing, in particular when lying down
  • Uncontrolled and inappropriate crying or laughter, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)

Advanced Stages

In the final stages of ALS…

  • The ALS patient now requires full assistance to care for his/her needs
  • The ability to speak is often lost
  • The person can no longer eat or drink by mouth

Possible Symptoms:

  • The majority of voluntary muscles are paralyzed
  • Breathing becomes extremely difficult, leading to fatigue, confusion, headaches and susceptibility to pneumonia
  • Mobility is now significantly impacted

There is help for those with ALS and the families who love them! Contact Nightingale Homecare’s Phoenix senior care team for both skilled and non-medical assistance, right in the comfort of home. Just a few of the many services that make life more comfortable for ALS patients include:

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home consultation to talk with us about the challenges you’re facing, and to discover how we can help.