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10 June, 2021
Make Home Safer: Easy Ways to Prevent Common Senior Accidents
Should you be concerned about at-home senior injuries?According to the CDC, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries every year. Less than half of seniors report their falls to their doctors. The effects of a bad fall or home accident can be devastating. Twenty-five percent of senior falls cause injury to more than one part of the body (compared to an average sixteen percent among other age groups). Accidents can cause broken bones or head injuries. One in five falls among women aged 55 and over requires hospital treatment. Although most falls do not result in a serious injury, being unable to get back up can cause pressure sores and hypothermia while they’re stuck in one place waiting for help. Besides, the senior can become afraid of falling again. This fear may cause your loved one to cut down on their everyday activities, causing themselves to become weaker and increasing their chances of getting injured. The good news is that you can easily prevent the most common senior home accidents by making small changes to your elderly loved one’s home environment. “After my mom fell and broke her wrist, I took the time to declutter her home. Now she feels much safer, and I’m calmer knowing there is less of a chance she’ll fall again.”
Who is most at risk for home accidents?Most at-home senior accidents are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a senior has, the greater their chances of getting injured at home. The main risk factors for getting injured at home include: ● Lower body weakness ● Difficulties with walking and balance ● Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants (some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet) ● Vision problems ● Foot pain ● Poor footwear ● Home hazards or dangers ● Vitamin D deficiency ● Calcium deficiency ● A history of previous falls
The 9 Most Common (and Avoidable) Senior Home AccidentsThe following nine injury types are most common for seniors living at home: 1. Falls 2. Burns 3. Choking 4. Medication overdose or improper medication 5. Bedsores 6. Infections 7. Lacerations 8. Sprains 9. Joint dislocation
Make Your Senior’s Home Environment Safer in 5 MinutesYou can make a home safer for older adults in as little as five minutes. Here are some ways you can make your elderly loved one’s home safer and help them navigate their homes with confidence:
Kitchen:● Install induction stoves (rather than gas or electric) ● Purchase a one-cup boiler ● Install a stove with an automatic shut off ● Purchase a cooktop fire-suppressor and quickly install it using magnets ● Purchase a jar opener and safety can opener ● Place the things they use most often on the lower shelves (about waist high) ● Label containers and storage areas clearly
Sitting Room/Lounge:● Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, clutter, or electric cables ● Check if the senior and their walker/wheelchair can easily navigate the room (if not, rearrange the furniture to allow easy navigation) ● Purchase a chair raiser ● Replace carpet with cushioned non-slip flooring
Bedroom:● Use risers to increase the height of the bed ● Ensure drawer handles offer easy access ● Place an easy-to-reach lamp close to the bed ● Light the path from their bed to the bathroom (ideally with two-way switches that glow in the dark) “We placed lightbulbs along the path from my dad’s bed to the bathroom. He says it’s the best gift we’ve ever given him!”
Bathroom:● Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet (if there are grab bars already, make sure they are tight and in good condition) ● Install a higher toilet seat ● Put down non-slip mats with anti-skid backing (or replace the bathroom tiles with a non-slip surface) ● Install walk-in showers and baths
Stairs:● Remove items lying on the stairs ● Ensure there are no upturned carpet edges ● Put railings on both sides of stairs (or tighten existing railings) ● Repair or remove damaged or worn carpet ● Repair uneven steps or broken steps ● Look at stairlift options
Floors:● Get rid of things they could trip over (upturned carpet edges, clutter, electric cables, etc) ● Avoid repetitive carpet patterns (they may produce optical illusions)
In General:● Make thresholds between rooms easy to walk over by installing anti-slip ramps ● Light their home with more or brighter light bulbs (ideally with lighting that simulates daylight because it’s most effective and can improve moods) ● Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home “I'm amazed at the difference a few small changes could make! We put my grandmother’s microwave on the counter, and bought her a walker with a tray so she can bring her food to the table. It’s much safer and it gives her more independence.”
Simple Changes A Senior Can Make to Avoid AccidentsIn order to prevent injuries, your elderly loved one should: ● Wear well-fitting footwear ● Get out of bed and chairs slowly so as not to become dizzy ● Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines to see if any might make them dizzy or sleepy ● Ask their doctor about taking vitamin D supplements ● Exercise to make their lower body stronger and improve balance ● Avoid leaving items lying around on the floor or stairs ● Have a 'grabber' that helps pick things up off the floor without having to bend down ● Clean up spills immediately to prevent slipping on them ● Keep two walking sticks, one at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom ● Use the microwave to cook or heat food more rather than the oven or stove (if the microwave is easily accessible) ● Learn what to do if they have a fall or other accident ● Do not dry clothes on heaters ● Clean lint from the clothes dryer once a month (or ask a friend or family member to do it for them) ● Turn the cold water on first when filling the bathtub ● Use the rear burners when cooking on the stove top, and turn the panhandles away from the front of the cooker “Last year my dad fell while trying to pick up a sweater from the floor. We bought him a new ‘grabber’ and he uses it all the time now! He can pick things up easily without fear of falling.” “My great aunt insisted on frying her own food. It used to be okay, but her arthritis was getting worse and making it harder for her to do things with her hands. When she got a small burn we spoke to her gently about the risks. Now she uses an air-fryer and loves the health benefits, too!”
Make Your Senior’s Home Safer TodayYou can implement the above tips today to make your senior loved one's home as safe as possible. If you’re looking for a caregiver or professional to help your elderly loved one navigate their home as safely as possible, contact Community Home Health Care at 845-425-6555 or contact us through our site.
7 May, 2021
7 Practical Stress Relief Techniques for Caregivers (And Their Seniors)
Stress is Normal, But...Our bodies were made to experience and react to stress. Feeling occasional stress is normal and a sign that your reflexes are functioning properly. Cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine, the stress hormones, get us to act quickly when faced with danger and often save our lives. However, these hormones are helpful only for immediate, short-term challenges. Prolonged stress can have negative effects on our health. Chronic stress (when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the nervous system doesn’t get a chance to relax) can cause ● Headaches ● Insomnia ● Depression ● Irritability ● High blood pressure and blood sugar ● Decreased immune function ● Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes (For information on the causes of chronic stress and how to recognize the signs in your loved one, read our article, Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers.) Here’s a list of simple, practical things that can relieve stress for yourself or for your loved one.
#1: ExercisePutting physical “stress” on your body can actually reduce mental stress. Exercising regularly lowers your body’s stress hormone levels and encourages the release of endorphins. (Endorphins are the hormones that improve your mood, naturally.) Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep. This can be helpful to those whose stress is affecting their sleep. Find an exercise style that suits your physical capabilities and that you enjoy. There are so many options to choose from, such as walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, yoga, pilates, and more! Yoga is known to be particularly soothing and relaxing, as it has a meditative effect. According to studies, yoga can enhance your mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs. You can work out on your own when you have time off, join a class, or have senior-and-caregiver exercise time! Put on your workout clothes and get going!
#2: MusicWho doesn’t love the sound of music? Music can help relieve stress, especially classical, slow compositions. It can slow your heart rate and pulse, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your levels of stress hormones. Music also acts as a distraction, making it easier for you to relax, sleep, or meditate. Whether you’re a senior or a caregiver, you can find music you love and listen to it whenever you can. Listen to music before you go to bed, when you’re washing dishes, walking the dog, or driving. Find ways to incorporate the music you enjoy into your everyday life.
#3: ArtIt’s time to get in touch with your inner artist! Adult coloring books with intricate geometric patterns have recently become a popular stress-relief tool, and for good reason. Research shows that painting, coloring, beading, and similar activities can have a meditative effect on your mental state. Getting creative and becoming deeply engrossed in the activity at hand can help you relax and relieve your stress. Seniors and their caregivers can benefit from getting creative together or during the caregiver’s off time. At the end, you’ll have something beautiful to show for it! Now, where should we hang the newest painting...
#4: ConnectionFeeling overwhelmed? Get a hug from a loved one. Social support and meaningful connections can help relieve your stress, whether you’re a senior or a caregiver. It can give you a sense of belonging and value. In addition, the positive physical contact of family and friends can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. You can also talk with family and friends and the phone or over video calls. If no one is available for a cuddle or a call, even interacting with a pet can have stress-relieving effects.
#5: Deep BreathingTake a deep breath in through your nose, Now let it out, slowly, from your mouth. Simply focusing on your breathing or changing your breathing pattern can make a huge difference to your overall stress levels. You can take just three to five minutes during a stressful meeting or in a crowded space to focus on and slow your breathing to help you relax. There are many breathing techniques and patterns. Here’s a simple one: Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly expand with air. Count slowly to four as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your mouth as you count to four again. You can practice this technique anywhere, anytime. And no one has to know that you’re doing it. Breathing exercises could be key to reducing your stress.
#6: A Healthy DietTake a good look at what you’re feeding your body. (If you have a hard time keeping track of your diet, consider starting a food journal and write down what and when you eat.) The first thing to do is reduce your caffeine consumption. Caffeine is okay and even helpful in small amounts, but large amounts of caffeine may worsen stress symptoms in people already prone to stress and anxiety. Emotional eating and eating lots of sugars and fats can provide a temporary feeling of relief. Yet in the long-term, it only adds to your stress. Refined carbs (white bread, pastries, potato chips, etc) can cause a spike in your blood sugar. When your blood sugar subsequently crashes, you may experience more stress. The good news? Specific foods like salmon, eggs, avocado, yogurt, dark chocolate, almonds, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance. So go ahead and add plenty of those to your diet!
#7: Laughter“Laughter is the best medicine.” Research has proven this correct time and time again. Laughter relaxes your tense muscles and relieves your nervous system’s stress response. Laughter also enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Watch comedy shows, spend time with people who make you laugh, and simply find the humor in everyday life. This is one prescription you don’t have to pick up at the drugstore!
When You’re Feeling BlueStress is a part of life. But when it becomes chronic, you need to take control and implement stress-relieving techniques. Seniors and caregivers are more prone to stress than other groups of people. Feeling stressed out? Here’s a quick round-up of the above: 1. Go for a brisk walk. 2. Play classical music. 3. Take out a coloring book. 4. Hug a loved one. 5. Do deep breathing exercise for five minutes. 6. Eat some salmon, eggs, avocado, yogurt, dark chocolate, almonds, or walnuts. 7. Listen to a comedian you like.
Reach OutLooking for more helpful resources? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides. Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical assistance, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.
15 April, 2021
Malnutrition in Seniors (How to Spot it + How You Can Help)
16% of Americans 65+ consume fewer than 1000 calories per day — that means a whopping number of seniors are at high risk for undernutrition (Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). As we age, our bodies begin needing fewer calories, and more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients. Seniors are particularly susceptible to malnutrition because they have different dietary needs than younger adults and few people are aware of these differences. The good news? You can take practical steps to keep your loved one from being a part of that frighteningly large group of malnourished seniors. People often assume that nutritional deficiencies are an inevitable consequence of aging and that intervention doesn’t make much of a difference. Read on to learn how you can help your loved one get the nutrition they need.Read More
Your Body Needs NutrientsMalnutrition means that a person’s body is not getting the fuel or nutrients it needs to function properly. The two main parts of malnutrition are 1. Not eating enough 2. Not receiving enough nutrients Even a person who eats three meals a day still may not be getting proper nutrition. For example, an ounce of almonds gives you 3.5 grams of fibre, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 37% of your daily vitamin E, 32% of your daily Manganese, 20% of your daily Magnesium, and a nice amount of copper, vitamin B2 and phosphorus! Compare that to an ounce of popcorn - 2.8 grams of fibre, 2.6 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 0.1% of your daily Vitamin A, 0.1% of your daily Vitamin C, 0.3% of your daily Calcium, and 4.4% of your daily Iron. Eating properly means considering both the quantity and quality of the foods you consume.
The ConsequencesWhen a person, and especially an elderly person, does not give their body the nutrition it needs to function, they’ll suffer serious consequences. Malnutrition can cause ● Longer recovery times from wounds and illness ● Reduced muscle and tissue mass ● Decreased mobility and stamina (due to muscle wasting) ● Breathing difficulties ● An increased risk of chest infection and respiratory failure ● Slower immune response (which increases the risk of getting infections, and increases the length of time that it takes to recover from infection) ● Difficulty staying warm, increasing the risk of hypothermia ● Increased hospital admissions ● More visits to the GP All the above health problems can be avoided, or at least decreased, if your elderly loved one gets proper nutrition.
Causes of Malnutrition in SeniorsSeniors are one of the most at-risk groups for malnutrition due to their aging bodies and changing life circumstances. Your loved one may be malnourished because of ● Difficulty getting food (either due to lack of budget, or problems leaving the house and getting to the store independently). ● Dementia ● Living alone, without social interaction at mealtime ● Medication side-effects that suppress appetite or create bitter tastes ● Restricted diets such as low sodium or low-fat diets ● Depression or lack of interest in cooking ● Trouble swallowing ● Trouble eating (due to sore gums or poor dental health)
How to Spot Senior MalnutritionDo you suspect your loved one may be suffering from malnutrition? The following signs and symptoms can clue you in, especially if your loved one is hiding their habits from you to save you from worrying. ● Low body weight or (unintentional) weight loss ● Clothes that don’t fit like they used to ● Depression and lack of energy ● Concerns with memory ● Not remembering what or when they last ate ● Frequent illnesses ● Dry, cracked skin and slow healing bruises or wounds ● Old, expired food in the fridge ● Troubles chewing or swallowing ● Muscle weakness ● Falls
13 Ways You Can HelpSo you’ve identified that the senior in your care is malnourished or at risk of being malnourished. Here are 13 practical steps you can take to help them get the nutrients they need and be as healthy as possible. (Different solutions will work for different people, so choose a few that work for you and your loved one!) 1. Prepare meals for them (especially easy to eat and swallow such as soups, yogurt, smoothies, and other soft foods.) 2. Pick up groceries for them or have groceries delivered to their house (and if necessary help put them away). 3. Plan easy-to-make meals with them and make sure they have the necessary ingredients and utensils. 4. Order them a meal delivery program. 5. Make sure they have healthy snacks to eat between meals (prepared fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and proteins). 6. Ask their doctor about removing or substantially modifying their dietary restrictions. 7. Talk to their doctor about nutritional supplements like prepared shakes or drinks. 8. Help them get regular physical activity (this can improve appetite and strengthen their body). 9. Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs to encourage their interest in eating. 10. Arrange a visit with a registered dietitian. 11. Improve protein intake by adding meat, peanut butter, or protein powder to their diet. 12. Ask their doctor about limiting medications that aggravate nutritional problems. 13. Encourage family members, friends, or a caregiver to be present at mealtime (and to assist in the feeding if necessary).
Every Bit CountsThe key in helping seniors get the nutrients they need is identifying what foods and nutrients they need and getting those foods and nutrients to them and into their bodies. Every bit of improvement in your elderly loved one’s diet has a huge positive impact on their health. It’s never too late to begin implementing solutions and speaking to their practitioner.
Reach OutLooking for more helpful resources for helping your loved one? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides. Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical help, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.
8 March, 2021
Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers
Understanding StressBefore we deal with managing stress, let’s understand what stress really is. The definition of stress is your body’s response to a situation that requires action. In simpler terms, stress is how you react to challenging or threatening situations. The causes of stress are called ‘stressors,’ which are defined by Wikipedia as “a chemical or biological agent, environmental condition, external stimulus or an event seen as causing stress to an organism.” A stressor can be anything that an individual might consider demanding, challenging, or threatening to his safety. In response to stressors, the hypothalamus, the “control tower” in your brain, tells your body to release stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine) which increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure and boost energy supplies. This puts you in ‘fight or flight’ mode, ready to deal with oncoming danger. This biochemical mechanism helps us deal with challenges and demands. For example, we need our stress response when trapped in a burning building, facing a fear (like dogs or public speaking), or losing our job. The stress hormones get us to act and often save our lives. However, these hormones are helpful only for immediate, short-term challenges.
The Effects of Chronic StressWhen our bodies keep firing off cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine every day, and several times a day, it begins to take a toll on our health. Chronic stress may cause symptoms such as: ● Headaches ● Insomnia ● Depression ● Irritability ● High blood pressure ● High blood sugar ● Decreased immune function ● Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes All of the above are serious health risks, especially for seniors. As we age, our bodies become less resilient and more prone to health issues. We must be on the lookout for signs of stress in our aging loved ones.
Signs of Stress in SeniorsAs a caregiver, you are uniquely positioned to look out for signs of stress and implement stress management strategies early on. You know your loved one’s routines and habits and can tell if something changes. Here are a few concerning signs to watch out for: ● Changes in eating habits (eating too much or not enough) ● Weight gain or weight loss ● Changes in mood (increased irritability, anxiety, sadness, indifference, or even unusual elation or overactivity) ● Difficulties with short-term memory ● Difficulties with concentration and decision-making ● Problems sleeping ● Physical discomfort (headaches, stomach problems, headaches, or chest pains) ● Withdrawal and isolation ● Less attention to personal hygiene, grooming, and self-care ● Low energy and fatigue
Common Causes of Stress in SeniorsIf you notice some signs of stress in your loved one, the first step is to identify the cause, or the ‘stressor’. What is causing them to feel stressed? The following is a list of possible stressors for your aging loved one: ● Changes in lifestyle and financial status after retirement ● Healthcare expenses ● Responsibilities involved in caring for others (grandchildren, or a sick spouse) ● Death of relatives or close friends ● Deterioration of physical abilities (loss of hearing, vision, memory, etc.) ● Chronic illness ● Worries for not being able to live independently and becoming a burden on family members ● Worries for institutionalization This list is not exhaustive. It’s up to you as the caregiver to identify causes of stress in your elderly loved one’s life and schedule. As you know their usual circumstances, you can identify situations and changes that are potential stressors. Once you identify the source of your elderly loved one’s stress, you can a) come up with solutions that lessen or dissolve that challenge, and b) encourage general stress-relieving activities.
Strategies to Help a Senior Manage StressThere are two general approaches to managing stress: ● dealing with the source ● holistic stress relief Introducing solutions to the stressors is the next step after identifying the source. You can give your loved ones back their feeling of control and empower them. For example, if the source of stress is financial burdens, you can come up with a financial plan, speak to an accountant or financial advisor, or look into various insurances. Some solutions to consider: ● Re-evaluate diet and nutrition ● Speak to a geriatric doctor about health concerns ● Get more and better rest ● Keep busy with interesting and varied activities and socializing ● Organize and clean up their living space However, sometimes the cause of stress cannot be reduced at the source. In addition to managing stress at the source, you can reduce your eating loved one’s stress by incorporating stress-relieving activities into their routine. These activities help promote peace of mind, relaxation, and positivity. Here are some ideas to try out and discover which are best for your loved one’s lifestyle and personality: ● Yoga ● Exercise, like walking or swimming ● Meditation ● Creative hobbies (sewing, writing, painting, gardening, etc) ● Getting outside (sunshine, fresh air, and nature do wonders for our peace of mind) ● Playing with a pet or grandchild ● Keeping a gratitude journal ● Attending classes or courses
ConclusionStress management is so important for our overall well-being, and you have the opportunity to help someone you care about lessen their stress. Now that you better understand what stress is, its effects, what causes it, and how to manage it, you can help the senior in your care become happier and healthier. You can even help your senior loved one by leading by example and managing your own stress with the above tools. (Caregivers have a lot of responsibility and are prone to stress and burnout.) As you work toward relieving stress, remember to celebrate each small step you take in the right direction. Take stock of how far you’ve come on your journey towards a happier, stress-free life. Every bit of stress relief has a huge positive impact on our health. It’s never too late to begin implementing stress-management techniques. Looking for more helpful resources for helping your loved one? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides. Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical assistance, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.
3 February, 2021
8 Essential Things To Do Before Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
You’ve decided it’s time to hire an in-home caregiver for your aging loved one — now what? How do you choose the right caregiver? Caring for an aging loved-one can be an overwhelming job - emotionally, physically, and financially. To help you, we’ve put together a list of eight things to take care of before you hire an in-home caregiver.Read More
- Evaluate your specific needs.
- Basic functioning (dressing, eating, bathing, etc.)
- Social interaction and companionship
- Taking medication or dealing with medical emergencies
- Grocery shopping and meal preparation
- Housekeeping (laundry,dishes, sweeping, etc.)
- Inform everyone involved in the decision.
- Figure out your budget.
- Decide between a senior’s facility and home care.
- Discuss personality and personal preferences.
- Create a backup plan.
- Create a job description for the interview.
- Talk to people.
14 January, 2021
Connections are vital for every human being. These connections may be even more important for older adults, who may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. In addition, many of these older adults may also experience negative effects on their physical, mental, and emotional health when these connections crumble. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the importance of social distancing has made maintaining these connections much more challenging. One way to maintain connections is via online tools, and caregivers can play a vital role in maintaining and fostering these connections.Read More
The Importance of ConnectionsConnections with family and friends can have myriad positive impacts on seniors. Some of these benefits are relatively obvious, but other pluses do not always get the same degree of attention. What are some of the most important benefits:
- Connected seniors often live longer, and their quality of life may be dramatically better, from both physical and mental health perspectives.
- Connections can increase a person's sense of belonging in a community, leading to a positive spike in their self-esteem. This can generate a wide range of spillover benefits.
- Connections can also dramatically reduce the risk that an older adult will be abused. Seniors that are alone or those that have a small social network are at the greatest risk of being abused because they are less likely to report it.
Connecting Seniors in the Covid-19 EraAs noted above, connections are vital to maintaining an older adult's physical and mental health. But, these connections are even more complicated during the Covid-19 global pandemic. Older adults are uniquely vulnerable to poor outcomes with a Covid-19 infection. Upwards of 90 percent of individuals who have died from Covid-19 have been over the age of 55, and most of these older adults have lived in congregate facilities, such as nursing homes. These harsh medical realities mean that it is simply not advisable, at present, for connections to be made through in-person activities. So, if in-person activities and meetings cannot happen, then what is the best approach? The best approach is using the Internet to foster connections.
Using Technology to CollaborateThere are many different ways that older adults can connect to family and friends with technology. For example, they can up their connections by regularly e-mailing and texting with friends and family members. Also, instead of merely calling loved ones, older adults can arrange Zoom phone calls that can include a large circle of people, or they can even FaceTime, with an Apple product, so that they get video images. These tools can help people feel more connected to their loved ones. However, these are not the only technological options available. Increasingly, churches and other organizations have set up online options, often via Zoom, where people can feel connected without attending an event in person. However, even though all of the approaches outlined above are great and extremely beneficial to people who participate, there is a hiccup with this approach.
What is the Hiccup?In this case, the hiccup is relatively straightforward. Many older adults are not technologically savvy. New technology may intimidate them, and they may also have physical or cognitive challenges that make some tools very complicated or frustrating. Plus, this frustration may mean that the older adult withdraws and does not adopt these new approaches.
How Can Caregivers Help Seniors Connect Online?Without assistance, many older adults quickly become frustrated with new technology and ultimately give up. This is where caregivers can and should step into the process and help navigate the natural hiccups that may occur. The amount of navigation needed by the caregiver may vary depending on factors, such as: how technologically savvy the person is, what types of technology the person had previously used, and any medical issues that the person may have?
#1 One-time TutorialsFor a relatively technologically savvy older adult, the caregiver may only have to give a one-time tutorial to get the older adult started on something like Zoom. It may also be beneficial to leave a clearly spelled out instruction sheet that the person can refer back to later if they have questions!
#2 Ongoing TutorialsSuppose the older adult is less technologically savvy or is struggling with a range of health issues. In that case, it may be necessary for the caregiver to take a more active role in connecting the person online. The caregiver may need to set up an online email account, as well as establishing passwords that both they and the person that they are caring for will know. Sometimes, simply setting up the account will be enough. In other cases, the caregiver may need to sit next to the older adult while they are Zooming, stepping in to correct any technological glitches that may occur.
#3 Determining Technological NeedsAnother critical issue to remember is that successfully connecting a senior online is not merely about teaching a person how to use a new technology or application. It may also be necessary to purchase the essential tools for the senior. For example, Zoom can be used via a smartphone. But, many people find it easier to use on a laptop computer. The caregiver can play an integral role in determining what technology needs to be purchased and communicating these needs with other family members. It is also crucial for the caregiver to navigate this entire process with compassion. Remember, it can be scary and intimidating for an older adult to feel like they need to learn a wide range of new skills. To minimize these feelings, the caregiver may want to involve the older adult in the purchasing process, asking them about their preferences from a limited range of options. It may also be beneficial at times for the caregiver to step back and allow the person that they are caring for the opportunity to succeed via trial and error. Finding the correct balance between independence and help can be challenging. It may depend to a large degree on both people’s personality types. Some people may embrace receiving help, whereas others could potentially find the help frustrating or even insulting.
Get Connected With A CaregiverConnections are integral in helping older adults maintain a high quality of life, from both a physical and emotional perspective. In years past, connections were relatively easy to establish. But, Covid-19 and its self-isolation requirements have thrown a wrench into this. So, creative solutions need to be carved out. One solution is to use new technology, such as Zoom, to connect individuals via the Internet remotely. If you're looking for a caregiver to help your loved one navigate technological solutions so they can stay connected, contact Community Home Health Care at 845-425-6555. You can also visit our website at https://old.commhealthcare.com/home/.
2 December, 2020
Safely Celebrating Holidays in Covid Times
One of the most devastating impacts of Covid-19 has been the sense of isolation that it has created. Many people report that they feel starved for physical touch, even a simple hug. This isolation has been especially challenging for older adults who have missed meaningful interactions with their children and grandchildren. Yet, the people who most miss these interactions -- older adults -- are also the individuals who are most at risk for developing severe consequences if they develop Covid-19 infections. Therefore, it is vitally important to think about creative ways to spend time together during the holidays without actually being together in person.Read More
Celebrate Remote: This Is More Important Than EverOur country's skyrocketing Covid-19 cases underscore the urgency and importance of this task. According to the latest statistics from The New York Times, new Covid-19 cases have soared to more than 175,000 cases per day in the week before Thanksgiving. In addition, in the weeks to come, many of these newly diagnosed cases will result in hospitalizations and even deaths, and the numbers are likely to be even more staggering, risking overwhelming the medical system.
Technology: A Critical Tool for Staying ConnectedTechnology is perhaps the most essential tool that we have to address and minimize isolation in a socially distanced world. One of the most popular ways to bridge the physical distance is via Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that can link together many different users via video. Most people find Zoom extremely intuitive and user friendly, and even better, Zoom works on devices ranging from phones to tablets and computers. If you have an older family member who is struggling with Zoom, there are tutorials that you can walk them through. Zoom is not the only technology tool that you should check out to help your family stay connected during these challenging times. For people who like Apple products, Facetime can be a great way to change a simple phone call into a video that gives you a more complete picture of your loved one's day-to-day life. And don't forget social media platforms. Sharing photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram can also help minimize the risk of social isolation for our older family members.
Using Technology during the HolidaysThe technology tools mentioned above can help bridge the social isolation gap that many older Americans experience at any time of the year. In addition, these tools may be especially important as people think about creative ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays while keeping friends and family members as safe as possible. Below is a list of five activities that you can do remotely that will also engage your older family members in the holiday spirit:
#1 Game Night Can Be a Fun OptionThink about your holiday traditions. What games did you like to play in the Christmas season? Arrange a virtual game night where you can play these games remotely, but together. You can make almost any game work in a virtual format but make sure to select games that work for all age groups.
#2 Host a Festive Sing-AlongDecide on a night devoted to singing your favorite Christmas carol, from Frosty the Snowman to Silent Night. You do not have to be a great singer to make this a fun event. It is all about the Christmas spirit and coming together virtually for a virtual Zoom singalong.
#3 Some Holiday Events Can Be Geared towards AdultsFor the adults in the family, you can have a virtual wine tasting event before your Christmas celebration so you can taste test some options for your holiday meal. You can even arrange to have the same wines delivered to everyone who is participating in the event. Make sure to include both red and white wines.
#4 We Can Still Enjoy Our Favorite Cooking TraditionsMany people's favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas memories are focused in the kitchen, basting the turkey and baking delicious pumpkin pies. This year not everyone can be crowded together into one kitchen. However, you can prepare the same foods using time tested family recipes in an extended Zoom session. This is also a great time to share some of your favorite holiday memories.
#5 Think Outside the Box with a Virtual Escape RoomFor people looking for a way to test their wits, a virtual escape room for all family members could be a great activity. Many different companies are offering these adventure options, and you can check one out for more information.
Additional Factors to ConsiderOther activities are also easy to transition to a virtual format. Don’t forget to set up your Zoom call on Christmas morning so that grandparents can see their grandkids opening their favorite new toys. And before that, Christmas wish lists can also be sent electronically to family members. When deciding on activities for your family members, it is important to consider various factors, including: any physical/cognitive limitations that people may have, the age range of participants, the budget that you have, and activities that are particularly interesting. You want to make these activities as inclusive as possible. Feel free to think outside of the box to bring the most joy you can to this challenging holiday period and to make new memories! Also, if your older loved one has a caregiver they can be a great resource in planning activities and ensuring that they are accessible to everyone. And, don’t forget to include these members of your extended family in these activities.
Reach Out to Community Home Health CarePerhaps not surprisingly, many older Americans have struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. These individuals have struggled with the worst Covid outcomes of any demographic group, for a wide variety of reasons, and they have also been doubly impacted by social isolation. Many older Americans have been in strict quarantine for the last nine months to reduce their risk of contracting Covid and they increasingly report feeling depressed and anxious. Fortunately, family members can help bridge some of these gaps using Zoom and other technology tools. But, it may be necessary to look for additional help, both during the holiday season and moving forward. For information about the support that we offer at Community Home Health Care, visit our website. Our team of dedicated healthcare professionals is able to provide a wide range of services, meeting the unique needs of your loved ones. And, we pride ourselves on flexibility, recognizing that needs may change over time.
17 November, 2020
How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Appointments
Many people find doctor visits to be a stressful experience. Their blood pressure may skyrocket and they may have a tendency to forget all of the questions that they had before their appointment. This often leads to frustration and the sense that an expensive appointment was a waste of time and money. No one wants this to happen to them. This leaves the question: What steps can you take to ensure that you make the most of your doctor appointment? Therefore, we’ve come up with numerous recommendations and which you’ll find laid out below.Read More
#1 Have Moral Support with YouOften people go to doctor’s appointments alone, for a variety of reasons. For example, it may be difficult to coordinate appointment times with other family members and friends. Also, some people may be uncomfortable discussing very personal issues in front of other people. But, despite these reservations, it can be very helpful to have someone you trust with you. A trusted friend, a family member, and even a caregiver can help reassure you and ensure that you are as calm as possible during the appointment. Also, this person can take notes for you and prompt you to ask some of the important questions that you may have.
#2 Be PreparedYou are the expert on your own body and how you feel at any point in time, therefore, you know the issues that concern you. Before your appointment, write down any questions that you might have and it may also be helpful to do research your symptoms. This does not mean that you are self-diagnosing. Instead, you are equipping yourself with information to ask informed questions and have a better understanding of what your doctor is talking about. Part of being prepared also means writing down all of your symptoms, so that you don’t forget any critical pieces of information during the appointment. For example, if you are visiting a GI specialist, it may be helpful to record in a notebook or tablet when you have experienced vomiting or diarrhea. You should also indicate if these episodes were linked to the food that you ate.
#3 Be Honest and TransparentThe best way for your doctor to be able to help you is if he or she knows all of the details about your health and lifestyle. Part of being transparent is sharing all of your symptoms, even if you find some of these symptoms embarrassing or personal. Some people struggle to discuss different bodily functions. Remind yourself that your doctor is a well-trained professional and that your doctor is not judging you. He or she wants to help you to the best of his or her ability. Honesty also extends to providing truthful information about various lifestyle choices, particularly when they ask questions about your smoking or drinking history.
#4 Full Information Also Involves Your MedicationAgain, transparency and honesty are important so that your provider can give you the best possible care. Most doctors keep your medication list as part of your electronic medical record. But, if you are seeing a new doctor or if there have been changes in your medication list, make sure to bring an updated list with you to your appointment. This is important for various reasons. First, in some cases, the medication itself can cause troubling symptoms. If the doctor knows your medication list, he or she may be able to determine if your symptoms are linked to medication. Also, some drugs can badly interact with other drugs, causing a cavalcade of problems. To safely prescribe medication, a doctor needs to know what other medications you regularly take. In addition, it is important that you share more than just your prescription medication list. You also need to tell them about any over-the-counter medications and supplements that you may be taking.
#5 Leave With InformationIt is important that you leave your appointment with information, preferably printed out information. This endnote or recap should provide you with an overview of the issues that you and your provider discussed. When possible, it should specifically outline the next steps in the treatment of your condition, such as suggested diagnostic labs or a follow-up appointment with a specialist. The summary should also offer information about any new medications that have been prescribed or changes in your existing medication list. This information can be very helpful when you get home.
#6 And Finally, Be On TimeTry to get to your appointment approximately 15 minutes before it is scheduled to start. This is important for several reasons. First, if you are rushing to get there, this will increase your stress level. A stressed patient is less likely to remember all of their questions and concerns. Second, doctors’ schedules for the day are often jam-packed with patients. Getting there on time shows that you respect your provider and his or her time. Also, if you are late, then the amount of time that you have for your appointment may be cut short, which may mean that you do not have time to raise all of your concerns.
In ConclusionDoctors’ appointments are undoubtedly stressful and this stress may be even higher if you are dealing with a serious health condition. Unfortunately, stress can get in the way of you getting the most out of your appointment and we know that’s not what you want. Therefore, by taking the steps that were highlighted above, you can maximize your appointments. And, ideally, this will help you be as healthy as you can possibly be. In addition, Community Home Health Care is here to help. We have Personal Care Aides and Home Care Aides that can drive you to and from your appointment. They can also accompany you throughout the appointment to write down information and ensure you ask your doctor questions about any concerns you have. If it’s an Aide that you’ve worked with for a while, they may even be able to chime in about changes they’ve noticed. If you’re looking for more information about home care, visit our website or call us at (845) 425-6555.
1 October, 2020
Many older Americans report that one of the hardest things about the Covid-19 pandemic is the sense of isolation and not being able to directly touch and interact with their grandkids. To remain safe, many grandparents have had to stop in-person visits with their grandchildren. However, thanks to technology, there are ways to connect with the grandkids virtually. Below, we will explore some of these ideas, recognizing that different methods may work better for some people. It ultimately depends on how technologically savvy they are. In addition, it is important to remember that these tips may come in handy after the pandemic has resolved itself, as more and more families live in geographically spread out areas.Read More