Monday, July 29, 2013

What Do 2013 Senior Health Rankings Mean for the Future?

The United Health Foundation releases yearly health rankings as a way to measure the wellbeing of the general population, encourage states to improve their health programs, and help medical and other professionals in preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. The 2013 senior report provides insight regarding the overall wellbeing of elderly individuals.1 Senior care professionals believe that the state of North Carolina, which is ranked 29th in the country in terms of overall elderly health, should look to this report as a resource to assist home care providers in improving the quality of life of their patients.

North Carolina: An Overview
At 29th in the country, it is clear that there are a few things that the individuals in the state of North Carolina can do to improve the overall health of the area's elderly population. Four of the issues that the report takes into consideration are obesity, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity. The scores for North Carolina are as follows:

  • Obesity: A total of 24 to 27 percent of seniors have a body mass index, or BMI, of 30.0 or higher.
  • Smoking: Eight to 10 percent of the senior population of North Carolina smokes. 
  • Diabetes: In total, 81 to 87 percent of the seniors enrolled in Medicare in the state of North Carolina have diabetes. 
  • Physical inactivity: Of the seniors in the state, 24 to 29 percent report that they do not engage in regular physical activity. 

While all of these issues require attention, elder care professionals are particularly concerned about the high percentage of seniors who have diabetes within the state. Ultimately, the goal is to use this information to improve healthcare standards, including education and treatment options.

Looking to the Future
Home care professionals are encouraged to use these statistics to focus on the needs of their patients and, as a result, help them achieve a higher degree of health. Education plays a key role in this initiative, as learning about the best ways to prevent diabetes, manage weight, and stay active is imperative in reducing the number of seniors who are affected by obesity, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Planning a Trip with Elderly Parents

Eldercare professionals know that traveling with seniors is not always easy, particularly if your loved one has limited mobility or a health condition. But this doesn't mean that your senior cannot enjoy a family vacation! With the right planning, homecare providers know that you can take your elderly loved one on a trip to remember.

Discuss the Needs of Your Senior
Consider the challenges that your elderly loved one will face during the travel experience. For instance, a senior who has limited mobility may need access to a wheelchair or walker. Additionally, an elderly individual who has a health condition that requires a high degree of attention may need all of the services that homecare professionals offer while on the road.

When thinking about the challenges that your family will face when traveling with your senior, write down any concerns that you have and make sure that you address all of them before leaving so that you can create the best experience possible for your loved one.

Staying Organized
Ultimately, taking an organized approach to packing and planning can make all the difference in terms of the positivity of your experience. First and foremost, make sure that your elderly loved one has all of the things they will need for the trip packed in a way that will allow them to access these items easily. This includes medications, entertainment (books, crosswords, etc.), clothing, personal hygiene items, and more.

Another aspect of staying organized that is important in this situation is having an itinerary that will allow your senior to enjoy their travels. For instance, you will certainly want to have all transportation booked ahead of time to minimize the need to wait for cabs or shuttles. Go ahead and book transportation to and from the airport, train station, or other transportation hub to make getting to and from the hotel as easy as possible. Additionally, you will want to make certain that all of the venues that you visit are accessible to your senior if they require a wheelchair.

Bring Assistance
Depending upon the needs of your senior and the nature of your trip, it might prove beneficial to bring a home care professional along. Speak with your eldercare provider to determine if this is the right decision for your loved one.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Home Modifications to Allow Your Senior to Age in Place Safely

At home care organizations, the safety and security of seniors is the top priority. As such, the home care, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, professionals who are responsible for the wellbeing of elderly individuals are dedicated to helping create a living environment that is suitable for seniors who wish to age in place without compromising their health or safety.

One of the main concerns that families have when their loved ones decide that they want to continue to live in their own home instead of move into a nursing or assisted living facility is that the house is not tailored to their needs. In home care agency professionals encourage you to take the following tips into consideration.

  • Build a ramp or handrail leading to the front and back doors. Eldercare professionals realize that one of the challenges that seniors face is the task of getting in and out of their homes. Many houses have steep steps or unlevel ground leading to the door, and this can prove exceptionally dangerous for seniors who have limited mobility. Building a ramp will make the task much easier, but installing a sturdy handrail is effective if your elderly loved one is able to walk. 
  • Improve safety in the bathroom. The bathroom is a dangerous area for seniors because there are so many slick surfaces. For instance, elderly individuals may slip and fall when in the shower or when trying to walk across slippery tiles. Additionally, the physical action of stepping into and out of the shower can cause seniors to lose their balance. Modify this room with handrails and nonslip floor coverings to keep your elderly loved one safe. 
  • Create pathways throughout the home. If your elderly loved one is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, it may prove difficult to open doors or navigate rooms that have a great deal of furniture in them. Make sure that their pathways are clear and allow them to access all of the rooms in their home with minimal difficulty. For instance, you might remove doors between the kitchen and living room or dining room or rearrange furniture to create a wider walkway. 

These tips should help you to make some of the modifications necessary to create a safe environment for your senior.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's the Latest in Alzheimer's Research?

Eldercare professionals are continually learning more about Alzheimer's disease and how it can impact seniors through the work of medical researchers. Research regarding Alzheimer's disease—encompassing topics pertaining to detection, treatment, prevention, and finding a cure—has been pursued by healthcare professionals for decades. Today, Alzheimer's care providers are more educated than ever before regarding the needs of their elderly patients; however, there is still much to learn about this condition and how it affects seniors. Below are several different developments in Alzheimer's disease research, policy development, and more, as reported by the Alzheimer's Association.

  • The National Alzheimer's Plan has been updated to create a timeline for Alzheimer's research efforts, create milestones regarding treatment and prevention, develop educational materials for general practitioners, organize an expert panel to focus on the later phases of the condition, and enhance efforts regarding public awareness and engagement pertaining to disease prevention. 
  • The Alzheimer's Association supported the reintroduction of the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act (HOPE standing for Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education). This is a program that is targeted at improving the timeliness and accuracy of diagnoses related to dementia. Additionally, it is focused on assisting elderly individuals and their loved ones in accessing the support and information they need. 
  • President Barack Obama has dedicated $100 million of the FY 2014 budget to Alzheimer's disease research and awareness programs. These funds will drive the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease as well as many initiatives that have been established to fight and learn more about this condition. While financial concerns have certainly limited such budgetary allowances on a national scale, this is an investment in future financial security because the cost of Alzheimer's has risen to $203 billion each year. 
  • The Obama Administration has supported Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN. This is an initiative that aims to map the brain in order to better understand its functions—and the diseases, like Alzheimer's, that can interrupt the healthy activity of the human brain. 

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition, and healthcare professionals are striving to learn as much as they can about this illness in order to better prevent, diagnose, and treat it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food Safety for Seniors Aging in Place

Home care professionals understand that, for many seniors, food safety is a major issue. This is particularly true if your elderly loved one is aging in place and retaining the highest level of independence possible. Home Care, Durham, North Carolina, providers encourage you to understand the key issues regarding food safety—and to make sure that you address these concerns within your senior's home. As such, eldercare professionals have provided the following information to assist you in ensuring that your loved one has access to fresh, healthy foods that will support their physical wellbeing.

  • Each week, quickly inventory the foods that your senior has in their pantry, refrigerator, and cabinets. Make sure that any expired or spoiled food is thrown away so that your loved one doesn't accidentally consume foods that can make them sick. 
  • After grocery shopping, see to it that all food items are stored properly. For instance, it is important that fresh fruits and veggies are refrigerated to expand their shelf life. Additionally, meat should be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer to avoid cross contamination and spoiling. If your loved one is challenged by this task, as it can require prep work, plan to help them with their shopping and to put away their groceries afterward. By washing fruits and veggies, freezing meats, and organizing items, you can greatly assist your senior in keeping their kitchen stocked with nutritious foods. 
  • Leftovers are wonderful for seniors, as they reduce the amount of cooking they have to do; however, it is crucial that you make sure that your elderly loved one is able to save their food properly. Make certain that they have containers that seal so that their food stays good longer. 
  • Cooking food properly is key when maintaining food safety. Make certain that your loved one knows how to cook different meats to keep them from getting sick. If necessary, have a family member, friend, or home care professional on hand to help with this task. 

Food safety is a major concern for seniors because eating foods that are not properly stored or prepared can result in illness. As such, it is a wonderful idea to talk to your loved one about their food safety needs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cookout Ideas: Enjoying the Summer with Your Senior

When you think of summer, you may see images of a family enjoying time together outside. Grilling out while the younger generations play in the pool or run through the sprinklers is common across America, and there is nothing more relaxing and rewarding than an afternoon or evening spent grilling out with your family. The truth is, though, that the simple cookout can become quite complex when you are also in charge of the wellbeing of your elderly loved one. Eldercare professionals know that it can be difficult to ensure that your senior is safe and healthy in the heat while hosting a cookout for family and friends. As such, eldercare Chapel Hill professionals have provided the following cookout ideas to help you balance all of your responsibilities.

Celebrate Inside
One of the major concerns regarding seniors and cookouts is the heat, as it can become extremely hot due to both the weather and the grill itself. As such, why not move the party indoors? Indoor grills, such as a George Foreman grill, are wonderful alternatives if the heat is just too much for your senior. Additionally, other guests may appreciate the ability to enjoy one another's company in a more comfortable setting.

Create Airflow
If you are going to go forward with a traditional outdoor cookout, make sure that your senior has access to moving air. One of the things that makes the hot, sticky months of summer uncomfortable is the need for air circulation. Bring a fan outside on the patio so that your elderly loved one can stay cool while enjoying the festivities. If you have an air conditioned space that bridges the outdoors and the in (such as a Florida or sun room), have guests relax in this area instead.

Keep Hydrated
Oftentimes, guests at cookouts are served sodas and other beverages, but the heat requires seniors to stay hydrated. Make sure that your loved one drinks plenty of water at the party.
Providing care for elderly loved ones is a major responsibility—but it is one that is extremely rewarding. As such, it is important that you do everything in your power to ensure that your senior has a wonderful summer!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Caring for Your Senior's Social Wellness

July is social wellness month, which means that it is a wonderful time to consider the social aspect of your senior's life. Studies have shown that depression, feelings of isolation, and loneliness can all stem from a lack of social activity, meaning that it is extremely important for elderly individuals to remain engaged in their community and spend time with friends and family members. Home care Chapel Hill professionals know that this is not always easy, particularly if your senior is facing medical conditions or other limitations that restrict their mobility. But with these tips, you can care for elderly socialization needs.

Ensure that your loved one has access to reliable transportation. 
Whether you personal drive your senior to their social events, hire an eldercare professional to do so, or call upon friends and family, it is crucial that your loved one is not stuck in their home. For many seniors, the inability to drive themselves to community centers, book clubs, sewing groups, etc. is the primary reason why they experience a decline in social activity. Talk to your senior about the events that they would like to attend and ensure that they have a ride to and from these gatherings.

Encourage your elderly loved one to join an interest group. 
For many seniors, the sad reality is that they have outlived many of their friends and even family members. As such, they may experience a dwindling in their social group, which can become depressing. To keep your senior's spirits up, encourage them to join an interest group in order to meet new people and engage in their favorite activities. Walking, book, cooking, and sewing clubs are highly popular. Additionally, taking classes at the local senior center is a wonderful way to stay socially active while learning new skills and making new friends.

Depression is a common concern for seniors, as they may feel isolated as they continue to age. Whether your elderly loved one is aging in place independently or calls upon the assistance of professional home care providers, it is crucial that you take the time to ensure that all of their needs are being met—including those pertaining to their social activity.

Enjoying Fourth of July Celebrations with Your Senior

The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday among many individuals, and it is a wonderful time to celebrate with your family! If you are providing eldercare for your loved one, or if they are benefitting from the services of a homecare professional and are able to attend your party, it is important to keep a few key pieces of information in mind in terms of creating a fun event that everyone can enjoy. Below are some tips from to help you plan a successful celebration that meets your senior's needs.
  1. Consider any dietary guidelines that your loved one must follow and make sure that you serve foods that your senior can eat. 
  2. Ensure that there is comfortable seating for your elderly loved one. While picnic benches are par for the course at Fourth of July celebrations, your senior needs a more supportive chair with a back. 
  3. If the party is to be held outside, arrange the seating beneath a tree to keep your senior cool. If necessary, use umbrellas to create a shaded seating area that will be comfortable for everyone. 
  4. Help your senior pick out an outfit that is appropriate for the weather and keep a light sweater on hand in case they get chilly after the sun goes down. 
  5. Remember to protect your loved one's skin with sunscreen to prevent burning. 
  6. Assist your senior in finding a place to rest where they are still part of the party but are not too close to the grill, playing children, etc. 
  7. Keep your elderly loved one hydrated, particularly if you are celebrating outside. Make sure that your loved one always has access to fresh, cool drinking water. 
  8. If your loved one has issues with incontinence, make certain that they can easily access the restroom and that you have a predetermined signal for when they will need assistance doing so. 
The Fourth of July is, for many families and groups of friends, a wonderful time to get together and celebrate. While these parties are certainly a great deal of fun, it is important that you care for elderly needs of your senior while enjoying the festivities.