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Posts Tagged “Elder Care Phoenix”

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.

Phoenix Senior Care Experts Share the Best Assistive Devices to Ease Life at Home

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices help seniors enhance quality of life at home.

As we age, physical and self-care abilities may gradually decline, often making simple tasks and activities challenging. Tasks such as getting out of a chair, walking across the room, or buttoning a shirt can be difficult. There are a wide range of assistive devices that can make these tasks easier, while providing the added benefit of increasing independence and improving confidence, mobility and safety.

Assistive devices are specifically designed to aid people who have difficulty performing activities of daily living, including mobility, dressing, feeding, toileting, bathing and grooming. Our experts in home care in Phoenix, AZ have compiled a list of recommended assistive devices that can help the seniors you love enjoy a higher quality of life in the comfort of home.

Walker: Walkers are used by individuals who can bear weight but need support on both sides. The walker top frame should be even with the person’s hips. The walker should be directly in front of the individual, as he or she places both hands on the handgrips, stands erect, and slightly flexes the elbows, walking normally and looking ahead.

Walking Cane: Canes are used by a person who needs assistance with balance, but is able to walk without much difficulty. The top of the cane should be even with the person’s hip bone, and held with the hand opposite the weak leg, standing erect with elbows slightly flexed. A caregiver should be positioned on the person’s weaker side.

Wheelchair or Electric Buggy: For people whose symptoms greatly limit or eliminate walking for any distance, a wheelchair or electric buggy can provide quality of life, allowing the person to go out to do some shopping, go to appointments or visit friends and family.

Wheelchair Ramp: A wheelchair ramp makes it easy to get into and out of the home, either on a wheelchair or while walking to limit negotiating stairs.

Stair Lift: Stairways in the home can present a risk for people who are vulnerable to slips and falls. Not only are stairs difficult to maneuver for people with restricted mobility, but the severity of an injury suffered is much greater than one that would result from a fall on a level surface. Stair lifts offer a means of getting safely up and down stairs independently.

Grab Bars: Grab bars are invaluable in helping seniors maintain balance, and should be placed in hallways, near the person’s bedside, along stairwells, in bathrooms, etc. Grab bars are relatively straightforward to fit and can be made reasonably unobtrusive, but they can make a major difference in a senior’s ability to get around the home. 

Raised Toilet Seat: A raised toilet seat will make it easier to sit down, get up, and maintain balance while using the toilet.

Commode: A commode placed next to the senior’s bed or chair will limit the distance from bed or chair to the toilet and reduce the possibility of a fall. 

Shower Bench or Board: A shower bench or board will allow the person to sit while showering and avoid falling in the shower. Consider a hand-held shower head, too.

Shower Caddy: A shower caddy, placed at an appropriate height, will reduce the risk of accidents in the shower as a person reaches to get shampoo and soaps.

Long-Handled Sponge: A long-handled sponge in the shower enables a person to reach difficult places, helping to maintain balance and prevent injury.

Walk-in Shower: If a person’s mobility is limited, a conventional bath or shower presents a major challenge along with the risk of serious injury from any resulting fall. Installing a walk-in shower in the existing bathroom is a wonderful option that will improve safety.

Hip Protectors: Hip protectors are padded accessories which can be worn as a belt or incorporated into underwear. The idea is to protect or the person’s hip bones from some of the impact of a fall. 

Reaching Aids: There are a range of assistive devices on the market which help a person who is unsteady on his or her feet to reach for an item safely, without stretching or over-balancing.

Nightlights: Place nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms and dark hallways to prevent falls.

Seat Lift: If your loved one struggles with standing up from a chair, a seat lift will eliminate that struggle and will reduce the risk of a fall. A seat lift raises the person from a sitting position, gradually and steadily, up to a standing position

Video Doorbell: A video doorbell allows the senior to see and communicate with people at the door before getting up.

Fall Detector: A fall detector is essential to have access to immediate assistance in the event of a fall.

Power Failure Alarm: This type of alarm will alert the senior when power is lost and provide emergency lighting.

Automatic Swing Door Opener: This type of door opener is extremely helpful, enabling the individual to open doors hands-free.

Voice-Activated Lights: These lights can be turned on and off without getting up.

Mattress Lift:  A mattress lift helps seniors get in and out of bed with ease.

Sound Amplifier: For those with hearing difficulties, a sound amplifier will help the person to hear conversations or the television.

Dressing Stick: This device helps eliminate reaching and bending, which can cause falls, while allowing increased independence in dressing.

Stocking Aid, Long-Handle Shoehorn, Zipper Pulls and Button Hooks: These are wonderful for people with impaired limb function, allowing for maximum independence in dressing.

Contact the professionals in home care in Phoenix, AZ at Nightingale Homecare for help with obtaining these or other assistive devices, and for in-home care services to enhance safety, socialization, comfort, and engagement in life for a senior you love!

More Than a Band-Aid: Why Senior Wound Healing Can be a Challenge

Scottsdale senior home care

Senior wound healing is often difficult for older adults.

Remember as a child scraping your knee on the playground, when all it took was a hug from mom and a band-aid to have you back up on your feet, good as new? A senior wound, however, achieving complete healing is often a much more complicated process, for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Less skin elasticity. The natural process of reduced elasticity in the skin as we grow older makes it harder for skin to heal – in fact, the U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that senior wound healing can take up to four times as long in comparison to younger people.
  • Longer inflammatory response time. Our blood vessels expand when a wound occurs, so that white blood cells and nutrients can more quickly reach the wound area. Yet this inflammatory response is markedly slower in the elderly.
  • Diabetic effects. Those with diabetes (and over 11 million seniors in the U.S. are diabetics) often experience problems with hardened arteries and narrowed blood vessels, both of which can contribute to delayed wound healing. Additionally, neuropathy can inhibit a diabetic from sensing the pain of a wound, enabling it to worsen.

Interestingly, there is one key factor that helps older adults experience enhanced wound healing: regular exercise. Ohio State University conducted a recent study among healthy seniors between the ages of 55 and 77 in which some engaged in regular physical activity, while the others did not. A small puncture wound was then given to each senior, and the healing process was monitored. Those who had participated in the exercise program healed a full ten days faster than those who did not.

At Nightingale Homecare, our Scottsdale senior home care experts are proficient in senior wound healing, and offer a specialized wound and ostomy care program to provide better management and faster healing of wounds, ostomies, and other skin problems such as:

  • Surgical wounds
  • Bed sores
  • Diabetic, arterial, or venous stasis ulcers
  • Colostomies
  • Urostomies
  • Fistulas
  • Incontinence skin concerns
  • And more

We are familiar with the best products for specific types of wounds, and incorporate additional measures to expedite healing, such as ensuring seniors are receiving proper nutrition and hydration, relieving pressure, and preventing infection.

Contact Nightingale Homecare any time for more tips and resources related to effective wound healing for seniors, or to arrange for a free in-home consultation with one of our Scottsdale senior home care professionals to find out how we can help your loved one more heal more quickly and get back to enjoying life! You can reach us at (602) 504-1555.