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Posts Tagged “Senior Homecare”

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.

Senior Education: It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New!

Senior Education

Senior education and lifelong learning provide a wealth of benefits.

Remember how that first day back to school felt? Wearing a new outfit, cracking open a new textbook to Page 1, writing that first word with a perfectly sharpened new pencil? The anticipation of learning something new can – and should – resound with us for a lifetime. Maintaining a lifestyle of learning throughout aging can impact older adults in a variety of significant ways, making it worth exploring with the seniors in your life.

For one thing, finding meaning and purpose in life is crucial for us all, and especially vital in our senior years, when we need to reshape our identity after years of a fulfilling career, taking care of family, and engaging in hobbies and activities that may no longer be appealing or possible due to health conditions or the general effects of aging. It can be a helpful exercise to sit down with your senior loved ones and ask something like, “If there was one thing you wish you knew more about, what would it be?” or, “If you could have studied something different in school, what would you have wanted to learn?” With that information in hand, you can explore opportunities to make that dream a reality!

We also know that lifelong learning raises a senior’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth, while creating new opportunities for socialization – something that is imperative to overall health and wellbeing, and often a problem for older adults who feel isolated and lonely. Whether learning is in-person or online, seniors gain a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people with a similar interest, fostering the chance for friendships to blossom.

And while seniors may at first balk at the idea of becoming a student once again, believing that all of the other students will be so much younger, research shows that 40% of students in a study of ten courses were actually over the age of 56.

Once a senior is on board with the idea of pursuing educational opportunities, a simple Google search will reveal classes that are available either in your local area or online. Then, let our team of aging care specialists help!

At Nightingale Homecare, the leaders in senior home care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, we’re always available to help older adults set and achieve new goals in a variety of ways:

  • Transportation to in-person classes
  • Help with setting up and accessing online learning programs
  • Companionship to offer motivation and encouragement
  • Even taking care of housework and meals so seniors can study!

Contact our senior care team at (602) 504-1555 to get started on a brighter future for a senior you love!

Keeping Seniors Safe at Home During the Pandemic: Grocery Shopping Tips

Keeping Seniors Safe 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:

If Your Groceries Are Delivered

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 keep seniors safe at home, however, is by partnering with Nightingale Homecare. As the top providers of Phoenix care at home, 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 about our trusted home care services in Phoenix and the surrounding areas .

It’s a Balancing Act: What You Need to Know About Senior Balance

senior balance - phoenix senior home care

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: 

  • Eyes

Our eyes help us adjust our body’s position and movement, so we can move around obstacles in our path.

  • Vestibular system

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.

Contact Nightingale Homecare, Phoenix senior home care professionals, to find out how we can help you or a senior loved one improve balance and enjoy the highest possible quality of life! Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request resources specific to the challenges you’re facing with senior balance, or to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.

Debunking Common Senior Psychotherapy Misconceptions

Senior Psychotherapy

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:

  • Skilled nursing care:
    • Wound care
    • Blood draws
    • IV services
    • Tube feedings
    • And more
  • Personal care:
    • Companionship
    • Meal planning and preparation
    • Light housekeeping
    • Medication reminders
    • And more
  • In-home therapy:
    • Speech therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Physical therapy
    • Nutrition counseling
    • And more
  • Highly specialized dementia care
  • And many others

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 and let us help a senior you love enjoy a better life each day, right in the comfort of home.

Posted in Aging Issues, Senior Health on October 9th, 2019 · Comments Off on Debunking Common Senior Psychotherapy Misconceptions