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STOP! Home Care Experts Recommend This Quick Stoplight Self-Assessment for COVID-19

Home Care

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:

· ·      COUGH · · ·      DIARRHEA
· ·      SORE THROAT · · ·      VOMITING
· ·      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.
  • I have unrelieved chest pain.
  • I have confusion.

Contact the Phoenix in home care team at Nightingale Homecare for more resources to help protect yourself and those you love from COVID-19 and other illnesses, and to learn more about our professional, customized home care services for seniors, available throughout Phoenix and the surrounding area.

New Year, New You: Exercises to Overcome a Sedentary Lifestyle

exercises for seniors

Try these exercises for seniors to improve overall health.

Staying physically active, regardless of age, is vital for all of us, and although it can be challenging for older adults who are impacted by chronic health conditions or other effects of aging, there are a number of ways to work around these challenges to maximize health.

Prior to starting any new exercise program, be sure to consult with the senior’s primary care physician and any other specialists to receive approval and recommendations. Also bear in mind that small beginnings are still great beginnings! Even just a few minutes of activity repeated several times over the course of each day can make a big impact, and is a wonderful starting point from which to increase over time.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of respite care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, our focus is always on helping seniors thrive and live life to their fullest potential. To that end, we’ve compiled some exercises for seniors that can help overcome a sedentary lifestyle and start the new year off right:

  • Aerobic Activities: If possible, these activities are a wonderful way to strengthen the heart as well as a variety of muscle groups:
    • Swimming and water aerobics
    • Dancing
    • Bowling
    • Walking
    • Tai Chi
  • Resistance Activities: Utilizing resistance bands can be helpful in strengthening and toning muscles. Even as little as one day per week of strength training helps seniors prevent the risk of falls and other injuries, while enhancing independence.
  • Flexibility Activities: Stretching gives flexibility a boost, while allowing for enhanced range of motion. Yoga classes are often the perfect choice for low-impact flexibility exercises.
  • Alzheimer’s Activities: Even when Alzheimer’s disease is a factor, there are a wide range of physical activities that can be tried, and as the disease progresses, simply provide extra supervision and modifications as appropriate. For example, repetition is often a comfort to those with dementia, so try incorporating daily activities like folding laundry, riding a stationary bicycle, and walking to improve the senior’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

Motivating seniors to adhere to an ongoing exercise program is key. These suggestions can help make exercising something enjoyable that the senior can look forward to:

  • Keep it a team effort. It’s always better to exercise with a friend or loved one.
  • Play fun, upbeat music while exercising.
  • Designate set times each day for exercise, making it a priority.
  • Offer incentives and rewards for reaching goals to help keep the senior – and yourself! – motivated.

Contact Nightingale Homecare for a trusted partner in creating and implementing an ideal exercise plan for a senior you love! Our fully trained and experienced care team is always available to provide the support and encouragement to make each day the best it can be for the older adults we have the honor of serving. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 and arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

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.

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!

Take a Deep Breath and Ensure Healthy Lungs in Seniors with These Tips

Healthy Lungs

Help the seniors you love maintain healthy lungs.

It’s Healthy Lung Month, and the Scottsdale respite care experts at Nightingale Homecare want to make sure older adults maintain healthy lungs throughout aging! As we grow older, changes to all of the organs that impact breathing – lungs, muscles, and bones – can cause decline in lung function. These additional aging-related lung changes can affect seniors:

  • A weakened diaphragm, which can make it harder to inhale and exhale when exercising
  • Less sensitivity to foreign particles that can enter the airways, which means seniors may not have the urge to cough, allowing these particles to damage the lungs
  • The bones in the ribcage are thinner and altered in shape, making it more difficult for the lungs to expand and contract
  • Alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) may lose their shape
  • The immune system is weaker, making older adults more susceptible to infections that can lead to pneumonia

Changes such as these can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue; but there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to protect the lungs:

  1. Quit smoking – or never start. Smoking causes significant damage to the lungs, and it’s crucial for older adults (and all of us!) to refrain from engaging in this dangerous habit. The American Lung Association offers help for those who want to quit.
  2. Stay active. Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen both the lungs and chest muscles. It’s also important to avoid spending too much time lying in bed, which causes fluids and mucous to settle in the lungs.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess body fat causes strain on the diaphragm, making it more difficult for the lungs to fully expand.
  4. Get vaccinated. All seniors should receive an annual flu shot, and ensure they’re up to date on pneumonia vaccinations.
  5. Avoid air pollutants. Healthy lungs can quickly deteriorate into damaged ones by breathing secondhand smoke, chemicals, and outdoor air pollution.
  6. Get routine checkups. Even when a senior is in the best of health, annual doctor visits (or as often as recommended by the physician) are crucial to maintaining good health, and to catching conditions such as lung disease early.

Let Nightingale Homecare’s home health care team help keep the seniors you love healthy and well! We offer a full range of skilled nursing, professional non-medical, in-home therapy, and many other home health care services that can address current needs and proactively plan for any potential concerns in the years to come.

Call us at (602) 504-1555 and request a complimentary in-home consultation. One of our registered nurses will perform an assessment to determine how to help seniors maintain healthy lungs and an overall healthier quality of life, while continuing to live safely and comfortably at home.