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
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!
Try these tips to help seniors with hearing loss feel part of the conversation.
One out of every three seniors over age 65, and a full half of those age 75 and older are encumbered by some degree of hearing loss, leading to difficulties with participating in conversations and causing feelings of isolation. It’s important for all of us to recognize the challenges created by hearing loss, and to make a concerted effort to ensure that older adults with hearing impairments can remain engaged with those around them.
As the top Scottsdale, AZ home health care agency, the home care experts at Nightingale Homecare suggest always facing the person with hearing loss when speaking to him or her, and speaking slowly and clearly. And there are steps the seniors themselves can take as well:
Be sure to let family and friends, and others you encounter at events, know about your hearing loss, to allow them to make accommodations to help keep you in the conversation.
Position yourself so that you’re looking into the faces of those who are speaking.
Minimize noise and any other background disruptions; move to a quieter location if these factors are out of your control.
Ask that those speaking repeat themselves as needed, or repeat back to them whatever part of the conversation that you heard, with the request for the person to repeat the rest. (For instance, “Who did you say visited you last weekend?”)
Keep in mind facts that you know about the person speaking, to offer clues about the conversation, such as the person’s interests or habits.
Stay updated on current news and events.
Get plenty of rest before attending an event where you will be listening to a lot of conversations.
It’s also helpful to bear in mind that hearing aids have progressed, and can now often compensate for a large portion of hearing loss problems in those with diminished hearing. Surgery may also be something for the senior to consider. Consult with your loved one’s hearing specialist to find out if there are any new treatment options that may help, and contact Nightingale Homecare as well. We’re pleased to provide trusted, compassionate, in-home care for seniors with hearing loss, empowering older adults to remain active and engaged.
Our home health care staff are always available to accompany seniors on outings and assist with conversational difficulties, and to serve as a friendly companion to ensure seniors with hearing loss never feel left out. As a top-rated Scottsdale, AZ home health care agency, we also offer a full range of both skilled nursing and non-medical in-home care services, customized to each person’s unique needs. Call us at (602) 504-1555 for a free in-home assessment to learn more, and to find out if services are available in your area.
Mature couple in warrior yoga position. Side view. Horizontal.
Most people take good balance for granted and don’t even think twice about activities such as walking from a sidewalk onto the grass, leaning over to tie their shoes, or getting out of bed in the middle of the night.
However, for people who have poor balance, normal activities can be extremely challenging and often dangerous. Symptoms that accompany impaired balance can include dizziness, vertigo, visual problems, hearing problems, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty with concentration and memory. And balance problems often become prevalent in older adults, for a variety of reasons – medication side effects, chronic health conditions, ambulation problems, and more.
Balance is the ability to maintain your body’s center of mass over its base of support. A properly functioning balance system allows us to see clearly while moving, determine direction and speed of movement, and make necessary adjustments to maintain stability and posture during different conditions and activities without conscious thought.
Balance relies on a complex set of body’s systems, including the following sensory input:
Our eyes help us adjust our body’s position and movement, so we can move around obstacles in our path.
Nerve receptors in the inner ear are sensitive to movements and help control motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation.
Proprioception or touch
Receptors called “proprioceptors” in the skin, joints, ligaments, and muscles receive signals indicating the position and movement of your body.
All three of these information sources send signals to the brain. The signals sent to the brain are then sorted and integrated with learned motions. For example, we know how to navigate an icy sidewalk and adjust our movements due to our learned memory.
You need sensory input, integration of that input, motor control, and muscle strength to maintain stability, during both purposeful movements, such as lifting yourself out of a chair, and reflexive ones, such as recovery from a trip over a curb. Injury, disease, neurological disorders, certain medications, and advancing age can affect all the systems involved in balance.
Nightingale’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is designed to help patients with imbalance, vertigo, dizziness, or movement sensitivity related to many different conditions. The inner ear, or vestibular system, plays an integral role in the control of posture and balance. Deficits in the vestibular system may result in decreased independence, loss of balance, the inability to perform activities of daily living, in addition to increasing the patient’s fall risk.
It’s important to learn the facts behind these senior psychotherapy myths.
Change can be hard for all of us, but consider for a moment the depth of change experienced in aging. The elderly encounter changes in health, in self-identity, in their roles and responsibilities and relationships with others. Loss of friends and loved ones becomes more common, along with loss of physical ability and sometimes mental acuity.
One of the best ways to adapt to change is through counseling; yet sadly, senior psychotherapy is disproportionately underutilized. In fact, as few as 3% of licensed psychotherapists have received specialized training in geriatric counseling. There are three main myths surrounding counseling for the elderly that our Phoenix home health agency wants to debunk in order to help more families consider seeking psychological care for the seniors they love:
Myth #1: The elderly are too “set in their ways” to benefit from counseling.
Some of the many beautiful qualities that develop as we age include increased wisdom, maturity, character, and authenticity. While some older adults may exhibit some measure of stubbornness, it’s often a defense mechanism, indicating an underlying issue that should be addressed. A professional counselor can help the senior gently peel away the layers of pain and loss to uncover the root of the problem and provide effective coping skills.
Myth #2: Because the elderly are nearing the end of life, senior psychotherapy isn’t worth the time invested.
The truth is, none of us know how many days we have left to live – and yet we all should have the opportunity to live each of those days to the fullest. Every older adult has a rich history, a story to tell, and struggles that have either been overcome or are continuing to hinder their ability to experience the inner peace and joy they deserve; and senior psychotherapy is a great way to help the elderly come to an acceptance of their past and to set and achieve future goals.
Myth #3: The difficulties experienced by some older adults are insurmountable – and counseling won’t help.
Even with debilitating, chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, a trusted, professional psychotherapist can meet the senior in his or her own reality, providing comfort, reduced feelings of isolation, and ability-appropriate mechanisms to achieve a higher quality of life.
At Nightingale Homecare, we believe in a holistic, whole-person approach to care that addresses both the physical and emotional needs of seniors. Our experienced Phoenix respite care team is on hand to help families find the resources they need, including senior psychotherapy care, in addition to our full range of in-home services such as:
Proper oral care is crucial for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Learn tips here.
Maintaining good oral health is essential to everyone’s wellbeing. For a person struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, daily attention to oral health can prevent problems like painful cavities, infections, digestive problems and eating difficulties. Your loved one may not be able to express the pain of a toothache or gum problems, and without proper attention, this can lead to tooth decay, untreated lesions, possible abscess and serious health complications.
When a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, attention to oral care often gets overlooked. As the disease progresses, those with memory challenges need varying levels of support to keep up with their oral hygiene routine. In the early stages of the disease, your loved one may just need reminders on how to brush and why it is important; however, as the disease progresses, your hands-on attention to this important daily routine is critical in maintaining your loved one’s oral health and overall wellbeing.
Try these tips to help ensure your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease maintains healthy teeth and gums, courtesy of the professionals in in-home care Paradise Valley, AZ seniors need and trust at Nightingale Homecare:
Keep the teeth and mouth clean. Very gently brush the person’s teeth, gums, tongue and roof of the mouth at least twice a day, with the last brushing after the evening meal (see below for instructions).
Try different types of toothbrushes. Experiment until you find the right choice for your loved one. You may find that a children’s toothbrush works best, as the head is smaller and the bristles are softer. You may also want to try a long handled or angled brush, which can be easier to use than a standard toothbrush. Be cautious with using an electric toothbrush on a person with Alzheimer’s disease, as this can create fear and agitation.
Floss regularly. Take the time to floss daily. Flossing can be distressing to a person with Alzheimer’s, so try using a “proxabrush” to clean between teeth. A Waterpic is another option, if the person can tolerate it, which is gentler on the gums and much easier than trying to manipulate string floss. As when using an electric toothbrush, remember to proceed slowly and calmly, letting your loved one know what you are going to do next. Monitor the water temperature, pressure setting and the angle of the nozzle while working. Instead of using only water in the reservoir of the appliance, add a small amount of anti-cavity mouthwash.
Be aware of potential mouth pain. Investigate any signs of mouth discomfort during mealtime. Refusing to eat or strained facial expressions while eating may indicate mouth pain or dentures that don’t fit properly.
Monitor sugar intake. As we know, sugar can cause tooth decay, especially when it’s frequently eaten. If your loved one with dementia is in need of a snack, try to avoid giving too many sugary foods. Tooth-friendly foods and snacks include:
Bread with sugar-free spreads
Crackers and cheese
Pita bread with hummus
Keep your loved one hydrated. Proper hydration helps keep the mouth moist and inhibits bacterial growth. Saliva is meant to serve this purpose, but may older adults suffer from dry mouth caused by a wide range of medications. There are several over-the-counter mouth rinses specifically for dry mouth that aid in keeping the mouth moist. The last step to any meal should be using water to wash everything away.
Timing foods for oral care. Offering fruit at the end of each meal can go a long way in helping break down the sugar and starch from a meal. Crunchy fruits and veggies help remove plaque from the teeth.
Brushing Your Loved One’s Teeth
Everyone should have their mouth cleaned twice a day, so make sure your loved one continues to keep up this routine, and provide assistance when needed. You may find that some days you can just direct the steps, and other days you may have to actually perform the care. Keep these pointers in mind as you accomplish the task of brushing.
Provide short, simple and clear instructions, broken into steps, such as, “Hold your toothbrush. Now put toothpaste on the brush.”
Use a “watch me” technique. Hold a toothbrush and demonstrate to your loved one what to do.
You may need to guide by putting your hand over the person’s hand, gently guiding the brush.
If your loved one seems agitated or uncooperative, postpone brushing until later in the day.
Observe your loved one for signs of discomfort: grimacing, bleeding gums or sensitivity to hot or cold. These are signs your loved one may need to see the dentist.
If you need to brush your loved one’s teeth:
Support the person’s jaw to keep the teeth together to help clean the outer surfaces of the teeth.
Encourage the senior to open wide to help you clean the inside and biting surfaces of the teeth.
Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Use gentle, circular movements, paying extra attention to the area where the tooth meets the gum.
Encourage your loved one to spit out the toothpaste rather than rinse it out. The fluoride in the toothpaste will continue to protect their teeth.
Clean the teeth from the outer surfaces to the biting surfaces and finally to the inner surfaces.
Replace the toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months.
If you notice your loved one’s gums are bleeding, this means there is some residual plaque in the mouth, which is irritating the gums. Continue to brush the person’s teeth, but if the bleeding continues more than a week, make an appointment with a dentist.
Dealing with Dentures
Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease have dentures, and it’s important to ensure they are cleaned daily and replaced when necessary. Follow these tips to ensure your loved one’s dentures are cared for:
Rinse dentures with plain water after meals and brush them daily to remove food particles.
Clean dentures with a special denture brush and denture paste or non-perfumed liquid soap and water to remove all food and plaque deposits.
Each night, remove the dentures and soak in a denture cleanser or mouthwash.
Ensure your loved one cleans remaining teeth and/or gums before going to bed. Use a soft-bristled brush or moistened gauze if there are no natural teeth.
Most dental insurance plans cover a teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) every six months. Since it can be extremely difficult getting a person living with Alzheimer’s disease to comply with brushing and flossing twice a day, you may want to consider increasing dental visits to every three months. This can help combat plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. Additional cleanings also help to prevent serious gum conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis, which contribute to decay and tooth loss.
As the disease progresses, those with Alzheimer’s/dementia may become increasingly agitated and noncompliant during cleanings. Finding the right dentist with experience working with the elderly and persons with dementia is critical. Difficult dementia behaviors and diminishing capacity will eventually make regular cleanings too traumatic for your loved one. At that point, assisting your loved one with flossing, brushing and rinsing as often as possible is the best way to maintain oral health.
If providing oral care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (or meeting any other care needs) is overwhelming, please know that you always have a trusted partner in care with Nightingale Homecare. As the top provider of in-home care Paradise Valley, AZ and the surrounding area has to offer, we can provide a full range of professional Alzheimer’s care services through our specialized Connections Dementia Care program. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.
A Nightingale representative would be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange for home care that is custom-fit to your needs.