Golden Heart Senior Care provides weekly news and information for family caregivers and seniors nationwide. Read our articles on our senior care blog! Providing the highest quality care is what your loved ones deserve. Golden Heart Senior Care delivers the compassionate senior care services that matter most.
Many seniors with dementia move in with their adult children for safety reasons. As the disease progresses, it’s certainly wise for someone to be with the older adult at all hours of the day. However, do you know if your house is safe for someone with dementia? There are lots of steps that can help to make your home safer for a senior with dementia, like the ones listed below.
Make the Stove Safe
Seniors with dementia may attempt to cook for themselves, then forget to turn the stove off. Or, they may be unsuccessful at lighting a gas burner and leave the gas running. These kinds of accidents can be prevented by installing a hidden gas valve that you can shut off easily or a circuit breaker to turn off the electricity to an electric oven. You could also remove the knobs from the stove.
Take Locks Off Interior Doors
Remove the locks from bathroom and bedroom doors to prevent the older adult from locking themselves in a room and you out. If you must have locks on inside doors, consider moving them to the tops of the doors where the older adult isn’t likely to see them.
Get Rid of Fake Food
If you have decorations that look like food, such as wax fruit or magnets that look like candy, put them away where the senior cannot see them. Dementia alters perceptions and they may mistake the fake food for real food, causing them to choke.
Use a Baby Monitor
Baby monitors work well for keeping tabs on an older adult through the overnight hours. They allow you to hear if the senior gets up during the night or calls out for help. You can also get one with a video option so you can see what the senior is doing.
Even when you take all the appropriate steps to safety proof your home, leaving an older adult with dementia alone still isn’t a good idea. However, it can be impossible for family caregivers to be with them all the time. Contacting an elderly care agency to hire in-home help can make life with dementia easier for both the older adult and their family caregivers. An elderly care provider can stay with the senior while family members go to work or just take some time for themselves. Elderly care providers can keep the senior safe, offer enjoyable activities, and assist with things around the house, as well as many other things.
Barbara is worried about changes she has noticed with her elderly father. Her father, Lyle, was always a vibrant person. Even in his advancing age, Lyle was fiercely independent who bristled at the idea of needing a caregiver. There were very few days where Lyle was not out socializing with friends or attending events at his church. He always talked about his workout buddies and how getting out of the house really made him feel better. That has appeared to change in the last two months or so. When visiting one day, Barbara observed her dad’s hands shaking. She thought Lyle might be cold, so she turned up the heat, with no change. Where Lyle was once boisterous and gregarious, his speech has become quieter and much slower than before. Barbara saw her dad’s movements and activity levels slow down as well. After telling Lyle’s physician about his changing conditions, the doctor said Lyle might be exhibiting the first signs of Parkinson’s Disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a nervous system disorder that affects the body’s ability to move by breaking down nerve cells in the brain. These cells govern the production of dopamine which regulates brain functions. When dopamine levels drop, abnormal brain activity happens, including irregular body motions such as tremors. Other symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are slowed movement, including speech; problems chewing, swallowing, and eating; impaired posture and balance; and incontinence. In some cases, symptoms of dementia can develop in elders with the disease.
How caregivers can benefit seniors with Parkinson’s Disease
Barbara knew her dad Lyle met several of the risk factors for Parkinson’s Disease – he was over 60 years old, male, and had a close relative that had the disease – so she made an appointment for her dad to be seen by his physician. The doctor told them that in fact, this was the very early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Lyle was concerned that he would lose his independence; he has watched the progression of the disease deteriorate the health of two friends. The doctor acknowledged that Parkinson’s Disease is progressive and that her dad may one day need assistance with daily tasks, but available treatments slow the progression of the disease and will allow Lyle to maximize his current independence.
Barbara became stressed thinking about how to care for her father as the disease developed. Lyle’s doctor suggested researching into services provided by home health caregivers, who are trained to assist with daily life activities such as:
Dressing and undressing
Mobility issues, including reducing trip hazards
Light housekeeping and laundry
Remaining socially active
The doctor suggested to Barbara that it would be best for her to hire home care providers prior to symptoms worsening. This way, the senior care provider could help her father manage the process of Parkinson’s Disease step by step, while understanding how to help Lyle retain his independence at each step. Although Barbara and Lyle are still concerned for the future, they both understand more about the future they are facing and how to successfully manage it.
Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055
Head injuries, broken bones, bruises, and lacerations are all risks of falling. Each year, over 800,000 men and women end up hospitalized after a fall. Around 3 million seniors have to go to the emergency room after a fall.
Per CDC statistics, an elderly adult falls and suffers critical injuries every 20 minutes. While 25 percent of those 65 or older fall each year, not even half of those who fall tell their doctor. Do you know if your parent has fallen?
If the injuries are not visible, you may never know. The best way to keep your parents from falling is by taking preventative measures and knowing where falls are more likely to occur.
Most Falls Happen at Home
Around 75 percent of falls happen at home. The majority of those falls happen on the same level and during the afternoon. Outside the home, people are more likely to fall in a garden or on the home’s sidewalk. Falls on stairs are less common than a fall that involves tripping while walking inside or outside the home.
One of the best ways to keep your parent from falling is by making sure they keep their muscles and joints strong. Regular fitness routines help here. Make sure they’re getting a minimum of 30 minutes a day of moderate activity. Yoga, Tai Chi, and strength training are good options.
Look for some of the reasons people trip. If a piece of living room furniture is sticking out, your mom or dad is more likely to catch a toe or hit a shin bone and end up tripping and falling. If there are electrical cords laying out in an area where people walk, there’s a higher risk of getting tangled and tripping. Clutter on the floor is another factor.
Arrange Bone Density Screenings if Your Parents Haven’t Had One Done
If your mom and dad haven’t been assessed for bone density, make sure they are. Talk to their doctor about the test. If bones are showing signs of thinning, it’s best to seek treatment early. If osteoporosis is present, chances are higher that a bone will break during a fall.
After one fall, the odds are higher that a senior will fall again within the next year. Make sure your parent is supported at home. Home care aides can handle the driving while your parent heals following a fall. The caregiver can arrange follow-up care and bring your parent to and from those appointments.
Home care services help seniors stay independent. Call now to discuss other ways to keep your parent from falling.
Anxiety doesn’t always have a defined cause. Especially when your senior’s health is getting worse, she may experience anxiety about not knowing what’s going to happen next. She might also be anxious about driving, about visiting her doctor, or over things she can’t explain at all. Here’s how you can help.
Occupy Her Hands and Her Brain
Sometimes people with anxiety find that activities that occupy both hands and brain work really well against anxiety. Puzzles, games, card games, and other similar activities can all be effective. Give some of them a try and see whether they’re something your senior enjoys. She might also enjoy playing active video games that use sensors to “see” her body movements.
Practice Meditative Techniques
Meditation sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It doesn’t require any special equipment or training to try. Your senior might enjoy using a guided meditation through an app or even through videos readily available on the Internet. If she’s not interested in guided meditations, using a timer can be just as effective.
Try Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are like meditation light. Lots of people find it to be very difficult to learn how to meditate, but breathing exercises are a different situation entirely. The idea with breathing exercises is to gradually lengthen and deepen each breath. This helps your senior to slow down her heart rate and to clear her mind. The big benefit is that as she gets much better at these types of exercises she can use them in the middle of extremely anxious situations to calm down immediately.
Use Exercise to Release Excess Energy
Lots of people who are anxious find that fidgeting is an effective technique to manage their feelings because they’re burning off excess energy as they fidget. Regular exercise can do the same for your senior, especially if she’s got a lot of energy in general. Make sure that you talk to her doctor about whether exercise is okay for her or not before she starts a new exercise plan, though.
If your elderly family member isn’t experiencing results from these activities, her doctor may be able to find other potential causes. Talk to her doctor about what else might be effective. You might also want to consider hiring senior care providers. They can take care of tasks around the house so your senior can focus on taking care of her emotional well-being.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider senior care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.
When an older adult has circulation problems, it can cause a multitude of complications, including fatigue, edema (swelling), and tingling sensation in their hands and feet. When poor circulation isn’t treated, it could even lead to amputation. There are a lot of things that can cause circulation problems. Research suggests that one of them could be a lack of sleep.
About the Study
Scientists have known that there is a connection between poor sleep and bad circulation. However, until recently, they didn’t know what made poor sleep affect circulation. The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder. The researchers took blood samples from 24 people between 44 and 62 years of age who were all in good health. The participants answered questions about their sleep habits. 12 of them said they slept from 7 to 8.5 hours per night. The other 12 only got 5 to 6.8 hours of sleep per night.
To find out how sleep habits impacted circulation, the scientists tested the level of a certain kind of molecule called micro RNA, or miRNA, in the participants’ blood. The level of miRNA in people who slept less than 7 hours each night was 40 to 60 percent lower than in people who slept more. Lack of these molecules can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Based on the study, getting more sleep can improve your aging relative’s circulation. However, there are other ways they can get their blood pumping more efficiently as well. Some things that can improve circulation are:
Move More: Physical activity gets the heart pumping and moves blood through the body. Aerobic exercise is best, but even getting up to walk around for a while makes a difference.
Quit Smoking: The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products damages arteries and makes blood thicker, so it’s harder for it to move through blood vessels.
Lower Blood Pressure: If your aging relative has high blood pressure, lowering it can protect circulation. High blood pressure can cause blood vessels to get harder and stiffer, a condition called arteriosclerosis.
Stay Hydrated: Blood is comprised of about 50 percent water. Drinking more water helps keep blood moving.
If your older family member has problems with circulation, home care can help them to improve it. Home care providers can increase the senior’s physical activity throughout the day by taking them for short walks and encouraging them to participate in activities around the house. Home care providers can also assist with managing blood pressure by reminding seniors to take their medications.
If you have an older family member that was recently diagnosed with dementia, you may wonder what to expect in the future. A recent diagnosis likely means that the senior is currently in the early stages of the disease. The next stage of the disease is the middle stage, which can be the longest of the three stages. Knowing what to expect during the middle stage of dementia can help you to be prepared for what comes next.
What is the Middle Stage of Dementia Like?
This is the stage in which older adults become more reliant on caregivers for assistance. The changes can be difficult to deal with as the senior may become frustrated by what they are no longer able to do. Their behavior may change so that they do things you don’t expect, like refusing to take a bath. Some specific things you may see during the middle stage are:
Behavior Changes: This may include depression, anxiety, saying or doing the same thing over and over, aggression, and wandering.
Communication Problems: The senior will have increasing problems with communicating. They may have more trouble finding the right words to say, they may be unable to concentrate on a conversation, or rely more on non-verbal communication.
Trouble with Daily Care: The older adult will need more help with daily care like dressing and eating.
Driving: The senior will not be able to safely drive anymore. They may make unsafe decisions or get lost.
Safety Issues: It can be unsafe for older adults in the middle stage to be left alone.
Tips for Caregiving During the Middle Stage
The transition from the early stage to the middle stage can be challenging. Because the older adult will require more assistance, the time commitment from family caregivers is greater. Some tips for taking care of a senior during the middle stages are:
Encourage Independence: Resist the temptation to do everything for the senior. Allow them to continue doing as much as they can on their own. You may have to help them get started with some activities, but there may still be many things they can do for themselves.
Find a Caregiver Class: Some hospitals and other organizations occasionally offer classes and seminars to help family caregivers gain the skills they need to care for someone with dementia. Watch for a class in your area and sign up if you’re able.
Change the Way You Communicate: Communicating effectively during the middle stage requires some changes to the way you speak. Try using simpler sentences and asking questions that offer a choice between two things instead of open-ended questions.
Because of the increased care needs, the middle stage of dementia is a good time to involve elderly care. An elderly care provider can take on some of the responsibilities, filling in gaps in the care calendar when family caregivers cannot be there. Elderly care providers can even take overnight shifts.
It’s a harsh reality that our parents get older and often end up needing our help with day to day tasks. Sometimes they need help suddenly, such as when they become ill or injured. Other times, the need for help creeps up slowly. Either way, it can be hard to know where to start when you realize an elderly parent needs help. Having some concrete steps you can take can remove some of the confusion from the situation and make it less overwhelming. Below are some tips for where to start when a parent needs help.
Make a List of Needs
Think about what kind of help your parent actually needs and make a list. If you’re having trouble coming up with specifics, think about the following areas:
Meet with Family Members
If you have siblings or other family members who should be involved in your parent’s care, arrange a meeting with them to talk about what needs to be done. Getting everyone on the same page can make dividing up the work and arranging a schedule much easier. While discussing who will do what, take the time to consider what you can reasonably take on.
Take Care of Paperwork
Depending on the kinds of care your parent needs, there may be some legal paperwork involved. For example, if you need access to their medical information, you’ll need HIPAA release forms. You might also need a durable power of attorney, a living will, or other documents.
Involve Your Parent
If your parent is capable of joining in on the conversation about their care, include them. Trying to force them to accept help isn’t likely to be successful. You may need to ease them into the idea by starting slowly, offering help with just a few crucial tasks at first. They should be allowed to make decisions about the kind of care they want for as long as they are able.
Consider Using Elderly Care
Taking care of an elderly parent can be time consuming and could easily overwhelm you, especially if you don’t have other family members to help. Contacting an elderly care agency can be an important step in making sure your parent gets the help they need without taking on more than you can handle. Elderly care providers can come to your parent’s home as often as need during the week. They can assist with personal care, household tasks, and can even offer your parent transportation.
The typical Western diet includes lots of red meat, processed foods, and full fat dairy products. In the past, eating that way may have been seen as a mark of prosperity. Today, though, people are beginning to recognize that a Western diet can lead to health problems and obesity. As a result, researchers are examining the health impacts of other kinds of diets, such as a plant-based diet. In fact, a new study suggests that eating a plant-based diet might reduce the risk of developing heart failure.
The Impact of a Plant-Based Diet
The study was led by Dr. Kyla Lara, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She and her research team examined how five different eating patterns affected heart failure risk in people who had a history of heart disease.
The researchers looked at information gathered about more than 16,000 people through the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. As part of the study, participants responded to a survey about the way they ate. Using the information, the doctors grouped them by eating patterns, one of which was plant-based diets. Another eating pattern that was significant to the study was the “Southern” eating pattern, which included lots of fried foods, processed meats, and added fats.
Dr. Lara’s team followed the participants for an average of 8.7 years. During that time, 363 participants were hospitalized for heart failure for their first time. The results of the study indicated that eating a Southern diet led to obesity, which raised heart failure risk. In comparison, people who ate a plant-based diet had a 41 percent lower risk of developing heart failure.
Switching to a Plant-Based Diet
If your aging relative currently eats a diet that includes lots of red meat, fat, and processed foods, replacing unhealthy foods with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can make a difference in their health. You don’t have to completely eliminate red meat or other foods they love. Instead, try replacing some servings of red meat with other forms of protein, like fish, beans, or soy-based proteins like tofu. You can also encourage them to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables by making them easily available for snacks. Wash and cut up containers of them to keep in the refrigerator. Keeping healthy dips on hand can make them want to eat more as well.
Senior care can assist with making a change in an older adult’s diet. Sometimes part of the problem is that unhealthy foods are easier and more convenient for seniors who don’t like cooking or have trouble doing it for themselves. A senior care provider can prepare meals for the older adult so that they don’t have to worry about cooking. Senior care providers can cook dishes that use healthy ingredients and are low in fat and salt.
It’s tough sometimes to make sure that your senior is eating the right foods for her. Without the proper nutrition, your elderly family member’s health can go downhill very quickly. The problem often revolves around difficulties with cooking or even shopping for healthy food choices. You might need to step in and be the one to handle meals for your senior and these options can help you.
Try Your Hand in the Kitchen
With the right time and confidence in your own cooking abilities, you might find that cooking meals for her yourself is rewarding. You’ll know exactly what is in each dish and you’ll be able to help your elderly family member adjust and control every single nutritional value that you need or want to have in hand. You can also enlist the help of friends and family to cook meals.
Local Meal Services Are an Option
If you check with your local agency for the aging, you’ll likely find that they know of or offer themselves some type of meal delivery service. There may be requirements for signing up. Usually these work by having volunteer staff members delivering hot meals at specific times.
Meal Delivery Services Also Work
Subscription services for meal delivery are also an idea. Some of these are a little more complicated, though. They frequently allow you to choose a specific type of diet as well as a specific number of meals per week or per month. Then they ship the meals to your elderly family member for her to heat up and eat whenever she’s ready. Some of these services offer complete meals already prepared and in need of heating, while others offer raw ingredients that need to be cooked.
Home Care Providers Offer a Personalized Touch
Hiring home care providers to do the cooking for your senior brings everything down to a much more personal level. If you aren’t able to do the cooking for your senior, this might be the next best option. You’ll also know just what’s going into the meals that your elderly family member is eating and she’ll have companionship at the same time.
Getting the right mix of nutrients into your senior’s diet might feel impossible, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re not able to cook for her yourself, there are lots of other options that can help both of you to improve her existing situation.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider home care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.
Arthritis pain is something that can truly debilitate your senior. Depending on how many joints are affected, your senior may be in constant pain no matter what she’s trying to do. Her doctor can put together an arthritis treatment plan for her and it’s likely to consist of one or more of these treatments and possibly others, as well.
When diagnosed with arthritis, your senior’s doctor may recommend exercise as part of her treatment plan. Exercise strengthens her muscles and can help to lubricate the joints as they move. One place to start with exercise could be physical therapy, especially if your elderly family member has old injuries which are affecting her now.
What your senior eats matters a lot. Lots of fruits and vegetables combined with lean proteins gives her body the fuel and the nutrients that she needs in order to stay as healthy as possible. Reducing salt intake can help, because sometimes excess fluid buildup can contribute to joint inflammation.
Ice and Heat
Many people with arthritis experience not only pain but also swelling in their joints. Using a combination of ice and heat for a few minutes each day can help to relieve both pain and swelling. Be sure to talk to your senior’s doctor about how long to leave both ice and heat in place and how to use both as safely as possible.
Braces, Canes, and Other Tools
Assistive devices aren’t always the most popular choice, but they can support your senior and her joints. Talk to her doctor before using a splint or a brace to make sure it’s necessary and that it’s properly fitted. Using a cane or even a walker helps to keep your senior as stable as possible while she’s walking, which can prevent a fall due to arthritis pain.
There are a host of medications your elderly family member might be prescribed by her doctor. Some deal with pain, some manage inflammation, while others are able to deal with both of them. Many of the medications your senior may take could be available over-the-counter. Sometimes other medications, like muscle relaxers, can also help.
Your senior might not think about massage as something that helps her joints, since arthritis pain involves primarily the joints. But your senior’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments all support her joints and help them to move properly. Using massage helps to relax those soft tissue areas and improve blood flow to those areas.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.