Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Speech Therapy: Can It Help Stroke Victims?

Strokes occur when the blood flow to the brain is cut off, either from a blood clot or the rupture of a blood vessel. When this happens, the brain cells that are deprived of oxygen and other nutrients delivered by the blood die. In many cases, this results in speech impairment for stroke victims. Home care professionals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, know that restoring speech is not an easy task for many seniors who have suffered from a stroke; however, speech therapy can assist them in regaining their ability to communicate verbally.

Finding the Right Form of Therapy
Like all therapeutic fields, you may find that the practice of speech therapy can be performed following different philosophies. For instance, some professionals believe that short yet intensive sessions are more effective than traditional ones. Additionally, the way in which professionals approach the actual exercises conducted throughout a session can vary. For this reason, the first step toward recovering the communication capabilities of your senior is to find the right therapist for the job. Your loved one's physician should be able to recommend a therapist who can help your senior achieve their verbal communication goals.

Understanding the Nature of the Process
Ultimately, speech therapy can work; however, the extent to which it can restore your loved one's speaking capabilities will be determined by how much damage the stroke caused to their brain. As such, it is important that your family makes small, realistic goals while your senior is going through the therapeutic process. By expecting too much out of the therapy, you could discourage your senior and cause them to become frustrated, angry, or bitter. The best approach is to celebrate each success and move one step at a time in terms of goal-setting.

Understand the Difference between Short-Term and Long-Term Success
Therapy will, essentially, help restore the ability of your loved one to speak. This entails a great deal of work regarding the rebuilding of damaged brain tissue. The brain is a flexible, adaptable organ, to be sure, but it is not always possible to completely restore speaking abilities if a stroke has caused too much destruction. For this reason, it is important to maintain clear communication with your loved one's therapist regarding their progress.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter Weather: How to Keep Your Senior Safe Behind the Wheel

Winter weather can present a wide range of challenges to drivers. Icy roads, freezing rain, and other unique features of the colder months can create dangerous driving conditions. This is particularly true for seniors, who may have impaired vision or slower reflexes. As such, it is crucial that you assist your elderly loved one in staying safe this winter by following these tips.

  1. Make sure your senior's car is in tip top shape. Take the vehicle in for an inspection to make sure that the brakes and other important parts are capable of handling winter weather. Because being able to stop quickly on frozen roads may be required of your loved one, it is essential to ensure that their car can stand up to that challenge.
  2. Check your senior's car's tires. When navigating the roads, they will need a thick tread to stick to the asphalt. Depending upon your senior's needs, you may invest in winter tires to ensure that they are as safe as possible when traveling on their own.
  3. Pour winter wiper fluid into your loved one's car to ensure that they are able to defrost their windshield effectively. Even if they do not receive a great deal of snow in their area, frozen windshields can pose a major threat—especially if your loved one already suffers from impaired vision.
  4. If you are worried about your senior driving during the winter season, try to provide transportation as frequently as possible. For instance, you may accompany your elderly loved one to the grocery store or on other errands to minimize the amount of driving they must do. This will also allow you to spend quality time with your senior, so you both may come to cherish these errands and the time they allow you to spend together.
As a caregiver, your first priority is the wellbeing of your elderly loved one. Providing home care to your senior may not always be easy, but going the extra mile to ensure that they have access to safe vehicles during the winter months—or even driving them to their destinations yourself—is the best way to help your loved one stay safe this season.

Monday, December 10, 2012

High Blood Pressure: How Can It Be Treated?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that commonly ails elderly individuals. The good news is that there are many ways in which your senior can combat this issue if it occurs. From lifestyle changes to medications, your elderly loved one can try a variety of treatment options that will assist in restoring blood pressure levels to within a healthy range.

Lifestyle Changes: Improving Blood Pressure without the Use of Pharmaceuticals
The first course of action your senior's doctor will probably want to take is to see if your loved one can lower their blood pressure naturally. There are several ways in which they can attempt to do this, including:

  • Improving dietary intake: Limiting the consumption of sodium can help in lowering blood pressure levels. Additionally, maintaining a well-rounded diet is the best way to keep the systems of the body working optimally. As such, a nutritious meal plan can assist in promoting overall health, in addition to lowering blood pressure.
  • Engaging in physical activity: Exercise is an important aspect of any healthy lifestyle. In fact, incorporating exercise into their daily schedule is a great way for seniors to maintain healthy blood pressure and other levels. Working out is also a wonderful way to maintain a healthy weight, which is another way in which elderly individuals can improve their blood pressure levels.
  • Kicking the habit: Smoking is linked to high blood pressure, which is why quitting smoking is a great way for seniors to improve their health and blood pressure levels.

Medications: When Lifestyle Changes Are Not Enough
For some seniors, making the previously listed changes in their lifestyle is enough to get high blood pressure levels in check; for others, the assistance of a medication is necessary to achieve healthy blood pressure. The market offers several different medications to be used for this purpose, and your senior's doctor will prescribe one based on their personal medical history.

Treating high blood pressure is a relatively common objective for seniors; however, this does not mean that it is not a serious issue. High blood pressure can lead to numerous medical complications, so it is crucial that you help your elderly loved one in achieving healthy levels.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Home Safety: Winterizing Your Senior's Property

During the winter months seniors face a variety of challenges that are sparked by cold weather. To ensure that these challenges do not compromise the safety of your elderly loved one, it is important to ensure that their homes are winterized and able to withstand the harsh weather that this season may produce. Here are a few tips to assist you in making sure that your senior's house is safe and secure during the upcoming colder months.

  1. Check the heating system. An effective heater is an integral part of keeping your loved one comfortable as cooler weather approaches. The health of elderly individuals is a bit more vulnerable to environmental changes than that of younger people, so it is important that the living area is kept at the right temperature. Make sure that the system is running and that the filter is clean. Additionally, close the vents in any rooms that your loved one does not use so that all of the heat is directed toward their living area.
  2. Ensure that the home is properly insulated. Having the right insulation in the attic is very important, as hot air rises and you do not want all of your senior's warm air to escape out of the top of their home. If necessary, have new insulation installed to keep heating costs down and create a more comfortable living environment for your loved one.
  3. Check outdoor spigots. If any of these fixtures are left running, even if they are just dripping, they can create dangerous patches of ice. If these ice patches are located in certain spots, they can cause your elderly loved one to slip and fall. Make sure that all spigots are off and that there are no leaks in the pipes or fixtures.
  4. Search your senior's house for any drafts. Check the windows and doors for broken seals and other issues.
Winterizing your loved one's home will allow you to create a safer living space for your senior. These are just a few of the ways in which you can make sure their house is secure; you may also want to consult with a local home improvement professional regarding ways in which you can improve the safety of your loved one's property this season.