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!
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.
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:
Learn everything you need to know about taking vital signs at home from Nightingale Homecare.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who has a medical condition that requires monitoring, chances are his or her physician has asked you to keep an eye on a measurement or two in order to detect a change in condition. Learning to monitor vital signs is a necessity for caregivers of people with chronic conditions.
Checking vital signs is an important skill to learn, because it tells us how the person’s body is functioning, helping us to monitor current conditions and alerting us to changes in health status. It can also give us clues to possible medical conditions that have yet to be diagnosed. The four main vital signs that are measured to give us an overview of your loved one’s health status are:
Heart rate (pulse)
Our team of experts in home care Paradise Valley, AZ at Nightingale Homecare shares the following instructions on how to correctly monitor vital signs:
No individual has the exact same temperature reading throughout the day, as body temperature naturally fluctuates. Normal body temperature measured orally ranges from 97.6 to 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit (36.4 to 37.5 degrees Celsius) for a healthy adult. Of course, normal temperature variation depends on recent activity, food and fluid intake, time of day, etc.
Body temperature may be abnormal due to fever (high temperature) or hypothermia (low temperature). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a fever is indicated when body temperature rises one degree or more over the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia is defined as a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are four different ways to measure body temperature:
Orally: At Nightingale, we ask that our caregivers and clinicians use a digital thermometer to measure oral temperature over glass thermometers due to safety reasons. If you do not have this piece of equipment to monitor your loved one’s temperature, you should make the investment; they are inexpensive and reliable.
Rectally: If your loved one’s doctor asks you to take a rectal temperature, you should use a digital thermometer over a glass thermometer for safety reasons. Rectal temperatures tend to be 0.5 to 0.7 degrees F higher than when taken by mouth.
Axillary: Temperatures can be taken under the arm using a digital thermometer. Temperatures taken by this route tend to be 0.3 to 0.4 degrees F lower than those temperatures taken by mouth.
By ear: A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the ear drum, which reflects the body’s core temperature (the temperature of the internal organs). An ear temperature is between 0.5 -1.0 degrees F higher than an oral temperature.
By skin: A special thermometer can quickly measure the temperature of the skin on the forehead. A skin temperature is between 0.5 -1.0 degrees F lower than an oral temperature.
Taking Body Temperature Using a Digital Thermometer:
Wash your hands.
Cover thermometer mouth tip with a clean plastic shield.
Press button to set the thermometer.
Place the thermometer under the tongue and instruct your loved one to close his or her lips around the probe.
Wait several minutes and remove thermometer when beeping indicates the reading is complete.
If you are taking a record for your loved one’s physician, write down the temperature, including the date, time and method used as follows: “O” for oral, “R” for rectal, “E” for ear, “A” for axillary.
Remove the plastic shield.
Clean and sterilize the thermometer following manufacturer’s instructions, or with an alcohol prep pad wiping from the top to the tip.
Note: Oral thermometers are not indicated for some individuals, such as those with a history of seizures, or people unable to close their mouth fully. Digital thermometers can be used to take an axillary temperature by being placed under the armpit, against dry skin, and following the instructions noted above.
Pulse rate, also called heart rate, indicates the number of times the heart beats per minute. As the heart pushes blood through the arteries, the arteries expand and contract with the flow of the blood. Taking a pulse not only measures the heart rate, but also can give us information on the strength and rhythm of the heart.
Normal pulse for healthy adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. The pulse rate may fluctuate and increase with exercise, illness, room temperature, injury, and emotions. It is not uncommon for athletes, who do a lot of cardiovascular conditioning, to have a heart rate of nearly 40 beats per minute and experience no problems.
Taking a Pulse Rate:
Wash your hands.
Make sure that your loved one is at rest before you begin.
The easiest place to find a pulse to measure is at the radial artery found on the inside of the wrist at the base of the thumb. Alternatively, you can find the pulse on the inside of the elbow (brachial artery), or neck (carotid artery).
Note: If you use the neck, be sure not to press too hard, and never press on the pulses on both sides of the lower neck at the same time to prevent blocking blood flow to the brain.
Use your first and second fingertips (never the thumb, because it has a pulse and will interfere with an accurate assessment of your loved one’s heart rate) to press firmly but gently on the wrist (or otherwise) until you feel a pulse
With an analog clock or watch, wait until the second hand is on the 12 to begin counting.
Begin counting the beats of the pulse
Count pulse for 60 seconds until the second hand returns to the 12. Or, you may also count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to calculate beats per minute. Note: The physician may request for you to take the loved one’s heart rate for a full minute, if he/she has an irregular heart rate.
When counting, do not watch the clock continuously, but concentrate on the beats of the pulse.
If your loved one’s physician asks for a record, write down the heart rate, including the date, time, and if you notice any irregularities.
Respiration rate, also referred to as breathing rate, is the number of breaths taken over a minute. This measurement is always taken when the person is at rest and involves how many times the chest rises per minute. One respiration count is equal to the chest rising (inhaling) and falling (exhaling) once. The normal range for an adult is 12 to 20 respirations per minute. Factors like age, fever, agitation, activity, illness and sleeping can alter breathing and therefore the respiratory rate. When a person is acutely ill, respiratory rate fluctuations and patterns are monitored as a warning sign for further decline.
Taking Respiratory Rate:
You can keep your fingers on the radial pulse after you have stopped counting pulse rate, and use the next minute to count the person’s respiratory rate.
With an analog clock or watch, wait until the second hand is on the 12 to begin counting.
Count breaths (inhale + exhale = 1 respiration) for one minute. You may also count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to calculate breaths per minute.
If your loved one’s doctor wants a record, write down respiration rate, noting any observations (such as irregularity, increased effort or wheezing).
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls during contraction and relaxation of the heart. Each time the heart beats, it pushes blood into the arteries, resulting in the highest (top) number of pressure reading. This is called “systolic.” The bottom number, lowest reading or “diastolic” is when the heart is totally relaxed before the next beat. The blood pressure measurement is recorded in millimeters of mercury or mm Hg and written as systolic/diastolic.
A blood pressure reading identifies how effectively the oxygenating blood is moving through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. In healthy adults, the systolic pressure should be less than 130 and the diastolic pressure should be less than 85. High pressure is called hypertension and low pressure is called hypotension. Many health conditions can affect blood pressure. Cardiac patients, and those afflicted with hypertension, are instructed to monitor their blood pressure, as it can directly lead to life-altering conditions like heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
At Nightingale, all of our staff use manual or android cuffs, as electronic blood pressure machines can be unreliable and false readings could lead to devastating consequences for your loved one. You will need to have a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff with inflatable balloon (sphygmomanometer) with a numbered pressure gauge called a digital monitor or aneroid monitor.
Before you measure your loved one’s blood pressure:
The American Heart Association recommends the following guidelines for home blood pressure monitoring:
Have your loved one refrain from smoking or drinking coffee for 30 minutes before taking blood pressure.
Have your loved one go to the bathroom before the test.
Your loved one should relax for 5 minutes before taking the measurement.
Taking Blood Pressure
Have your loved one sit with the back supported (he or she shouldn’t sit on a couch or soft chair). Your loved one’s feet should be on the floor and uncrossed.
Wash your hands.
Place your loved one’s arm on a solid flat surface (like a table) with the upper part of the arm at heart level.
Place fingers on the underside of the elbow to locate the pulse (called the brachial pulse).
Wrap and fasten the deflated cuff snugly around the upper arm at least one inch above where you felt the strong and steady brachial pulse.
Position the stethoscope diaphragm directly over the brachial pulse and insert the earpieces.
Turn the knob on the air pump clockwise to close the valve.
Pump air, inflating the arm cuff until the dial pointer reaches 170.
Gently turn the knob on the air pump counter-clockwise to open the valve and deflate the cuff.
As the dial pointer falls, watch the number and listen for a thumping sound.
Note the number shown where the first thump is heard (systolic pressure).
Note the number shown where the last thump is heard (diastolic pressure).
Deflate and remove cuff.
If your loved one’s doctor asked you to take multiple readings during one sitting, take the readings one minute apart and record all the results.
It is best to take blood pressure at the same time every day.
If your loved one’s doctor asks for a record, write down the date, time, and blood pressure reading.
When blood pressure reaches a systolic (top number) of 180 or higher OR diastolic (bottom number) of 110 or higher, this could require emergency medical treatment, so call your loved one’s doctor for further instruction.
Properly monitoring vital signs can be a challenge, which is why we recommend letting Nightingale Homecare’s professional home health care staff take care of it for you! Our team of experts in home care Paradise Valley, AZ is highly skilled in a wide range of both medical and non-medical home care services, ensuring that older adults live their safest and healthiest lives possible, in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more and to find out if our services are available in your area.
A Nightingale representative would be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange for home care that is custom-fit to your needs.