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.
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 ensure ultimate safety, however, is by partnering with Nightingale Homecare. As the top providers of senior home care in Phoenix and the surrounding area, 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.
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.
If your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is creeping upward, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve it before trying cholesterol-lowering medication. And if you already take medication, the tips below can actually improve the cholesterol-lowering qualities of your medication.
It’s helpful to understand what cholesterol is, and how it can affect your health. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver and has several important functions. It helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is necessary in the production of several hormones. But, like anything else…too much of it can create problems.
Cholesterol is transported in the body by molecules called “lipoproteins” which carry cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. Lipoproteins levels in the blood are used to determine cholesterol levels. You may have heard that low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad. This type of lipoprotein carries cholesterol to deposit it on blood vessel walls, leading to clogged arteries, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure and heart attack. So, it is important to lower this level. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good lipoproteins, helping to carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and preventing artery-clogging disease. So, it is important to raise this level.
Your hereditary influence is something you won’t be able to change, but how you manage other high-risk influences can make a difference. Listed below are lifestyle changes that can help you lower your cholesterol while improving health and quality of life, courtesy of the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:
WATCH YOUR FATS
Focus on Monounsaturated Fats
Your doctor may recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, but often a diet low in fats can reduce not only your harmful LDLs, but may also reduce the beneficial HDLs. In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats will reduce harmful LDLs but also protect higher levels of healthy HDLs. A few good sources of monounsaturated fats:
Olive oil and olives
Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews
Use Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats
Studies show that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some good sources are:
Fish oil supplements
Seafood with high fatty content: salmon, mackerel, herring, bluefin and albacore tuna
Seeds and tree nuts (not peanuts)
Eliminate Trans Fats
Trans fats are handled differently by the body than other fats. They can increase total cholesterol and LDLs, and also decrease the beneficial HDLs. Use of trans fats leads to heart attack and stroke. In the US, food companies are required to list trans fats on nutrition labels. However, they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their label says “0 grams.” Read further on the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, avoid it, as it contains trans fat! Foods that contain trans fat include:
Store-bought cookies and crackers
Fried fast food
INCREASE SOLUABLE FIBER
Soluble fiber actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by increasing probiotics or “good bacteria” in your intestine. These bacteria will reduce harmful lipoproteins and LDLs. The best sources for soluble fiber include:
Peas and lentils
Fruit: apples and pears
Oats and whole grains: not the quick-cooking oats, which have the fiber processed out
Fiber supplements like psyllium
ADD WHEY PROTEIN
Whey protein found in dairy products can help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. Foods containing whey protein include:
Whey protein powder
If you see sugar, corn syrup or any word containing “ose” at the top of the ingredient list, avoid it.
Moderate exercise every day can not only combat obesity, it can also help raise good cholesterol levels. Be sure and check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 times a week. Some exercises to consider:
Riding a bike
An exercise class
Playing a favorite sport
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by changing the way cholesterol is handled in the body and results in the faster development of clogged arteries. Quitting smoking helps improve your HDL cholesterol levels. This will lower your blood pressure, improve your liver function, and reduce your risk of heart and lung disease.
Carrying a few extra pounds contributes to high blood cholesterol. Weight loss will reduce your total cholesterol by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver.
As mentioned, sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol to optimal levels. If your doctor orders medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed along with continuing your lifestyle changes.
Call on the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare for more healthy living tips, and for the professional in-home care assistance that ensures older adults are living life to the fullest! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.
Discover how urinary tract infections can display differently in older adults.
Chances are, your elderly parent or grandparent has experienced a urinary tract infection, or “UTI,” at some point during his or her life. In a healthy adult, a UTI can be an annoyance, but is generally pretty straightforward in symptoms and in treatment. The hallmark signs of a UTI are burning pain with urination, frequency of urination, back pain, fever, and cloudy, foul-smelling urine. When UTIs are diagnosed early, antibiotics and fluids are prescribed and recovery lasts just a few days. Yet, the presence of a UTI in an elderly, frail person can be deceptive, and left undetected, can potentially lead to hospitalization and even death.
A UTI generally refers to a bacterial infection in any of the four parts of the urinary tract system: urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. An un-checked UTI can eventually migrate into the circulatory system, resulting in sepsis. This is why early detection is so critical.
In the elderly population, UTI’s are the most common, yet often most hidden infection they can suffer from. Because elders often lack the normal symptoms of a UTI, the infection may become septic before an infection is even suspected or diagnosed. This is why a UTI in an elder requires immediate attention and treatment. So, if you are caring for an elder loved one, it will be important to differentiate a UTI from other illness and get your loved one immediate medical attention in order to eliminate the infection.
Causes and Risk Factors
Most often, about 85% of the time, a UTI is caused by Escherichia coli, or E. coli bacteria. This bacteria is naturally found in the GI tract, but especially for women, E. coli can easily sneak into the urinary tract. Although women have a higher risk for developing UTIs and generally acquire them much more frequently, men are much more likely to develop severe UTIs, requiring hospitalization. It is important to note the common causes and risks associated for developing a UTI:
Poor hygiene habits
Wiping back-to-front after a bowel movement
Wearing soiled underwear
Wearing incontinent briefs
Not urinating frequently enough
Not relaxing and emptying the bladder with urination
Post-menopausal thinning and weakening of the urinary tract (in women)
Enlarged prostate, leading to retention of urine in the bladder (in men)
Seniors in general are more susceptible to UTIs due to the above mentioned factors; however, the biggest culprit to developing UTIs is a weakened immune system. Your loved one may also have a diminished ability to take care of herself/himself for physical and cognitive reasons. These factors lead to decreased attention to hygiene overall. Seniors also tend to limit their fluid intake in an effort to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience caused by bladder control issues. As urine pools in the bladder longer, it leads to urinary retention and a greater incidence of infection.
If your loved one wears incontinent briefs, there’s a very high probability of developing a UTI. No matter how often briefs are changed, fecal matter can enter the urinary tract very easily, even with minimal contact.
Signs and Symptoms
Detecting the symptoms of a UTI in an elder can be tricky. Your loved one may show all of the classic signs, yet often, because the immune system is not functioning optimally, the normal symptoms we have all come to know are not exhibited. Along with the more typical signs, be alert for these signs and symptoms:
Poor motor skills
Shortness of breath
Blood in urine
Fever and chills
Nausea and vomiting
Confusion and UTIs
The symptom of confusion deserves special mention, as this is a frequent sign in an elder suffering from a UTI. Confusion will usually come on abruptly with a UTI, or for those already experiencing memory challenges, will increase dramatically. An infection will weigh down the immune system and lead to an increase in temperature and brain inflammation, which then leads to dehydration. The combination of these factors leads to mental changes in an elder with a UTI. The most important take-away from this: if your elder loved one show signs of a sudden increase in confusion, seek urgent medical attention to rule out a possible UTI or another cause.
UTIs and Dementia
As noted, with the onset of a UTI, confusion can increase rapidly in your loved one living with dementia. It can also worsen other behaviors such as agitation, hallucinations, insomnia and aggression. You may also notice sundowning symptoms becoming worse. It may be even more difficult to narrow down the cause when your loved one has difficulty communicating other symptoms. If you notice your loved one’s symptoms suddenly accelerating, it is better to be safe than sorry, and seek immediate medical attention.
Treatment and Prevention
The good news is, once diagnosed by a simple urine test, treatment of a UTI in an elder is relatively straightforward. The majority of UTIs are treated with fluids and antibiotics. Once the infection is cured, prevention should be the primary focus. Here are some simple tips to encourage urinary tract health:
Stay hydrated: water is best, but any fluids your loved one enjoys should be offered
Bladder training: encourage toileting to empty the bladder every two hours
Offer a bedside commode or bedpan, if the person is worried about incontinence
Practice good perineal hygiene: wipe from front to back, clean the perineal area with soap and water and pat dry
If incontinence briefs are used, change frequently and clean the perineum between each change
If a catheter is necessary, clean around the insertion site twice daily, and after each bowel movement, with soap and water and pat dry
Wear and change loose, breathable cotton underwear daily and when soiled
Provide clean linens and towels; even a drop of urine or stool on linens should be changed
Avoid perfumed soaps, deodorants, toilet papers and douches
Provide wet wipes to make clean-up easier after toileting
The Scottsdale senior home care professionals at Nightingale Homecare are always on hand to provide education, helpful resources, and hands-on assistance in the comfort of home to help older adults remain healthy, comfortable, safe, and thriving. Call us any time 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.