Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Outdoor Activities for the Elderly: Getting Your Senior Outside

For seniors who have mobility limitations or who suffer from certain injuries or illnesses, staying indoors is often the routine in order to minimize their discomfort. But eldercare professionals assert that, if your senior can get outside, there are so many benefits to soaking in a bit of sun that it is well worth the effort to spend some time out of doors. When providing care for elderly individuals, though, you may find it difficult to come up with ways to spend time outside. Below are some activities that homecare professionals believe will help you and your elderly loved one to enjoy time spent out of the house.

Going for a Walk
If your senior is able, going for a stroll through the neighborhood or a nearby park is a wonderful option. For elderly individuals who have mobility limitations, it is a good idea to find a park with a paved walkway so you can push them in their wheelchair. The beauty of the natural surroundings and the simple pleasure of the fresh air will both serve to reinvigorate your senior and allow them to enjoy time spent in a new location.

When friends or family come to visit, seniors normally sit in the living room or kitchen with their loved ones while catching up on one another's lives. Instead of staying indoors, try moving out to the porch or backyard. Additionally, a nearby park with benches and a great view of a lake or pond is a wonderful option.

Elderly individuals who enjoy gardening will certainly love getting out in the yard and getting their hands dirty. As seniors get older they may have difficulty lifting heavy bags of soil and completing other tasks, so make sure a friend or family member is available to help them and keep them company. Additionally, make certain that your loved one has access to all of the resources they need, like knee pads and a hat, to keep them comfortable while enjoying this hobby.

There are so many different ways that seniors can spend time in the great outdoors no matter their mobility limitations. These are just a few of the activities that your loved one may enjoy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

At-Home Exercises to Keep Your Senior in Shape

Eldercare professionals understand that, when it comes to caring for your senior, one of the most important responsibilities that you hold is to keep them active and as physically fit as possible. For elderly individuals who have limited mobility this can prove challenging, but it is not impossible! When it comes to homecare, Chapel Hill professionals know that there are many ways in which you can work exercise into your senior's schedule.

One important note to make before diving into the different exercise tips for your senior is, when providing care for elderly individuals, make sure that you understand their physical limitations. Home care professionals understand that improving health takes effort and exercises should challenge your loved one; however, don't push them so far that they suffer from an injury.
  • Walking: If your senior is able, try to go for a 30 minute walk each day. During nice weather, take a stroll around the block or neighborhood. If there are any parks nearby, drive to these locations and enjoy the great outdoors while spending quality time with your senior and getting in some cardio. When it's too hot or cold outside, or if it is raining or snowing, take the exercise indoors by walking around the mall. 
  • Encourage hobbies: Gardening, shuffleboard, and other popular hobbies are wonderful sources of exercise, as seniors are able to get their bodies moving while enjoying their activity. If there is an interest group within the community, encourage your elderly loved one to join and enjoy both the physical activity and socialization that this group can provide. 
  • Stretch daily: Stretching is an important aspect of physical fitness that is often overlooked. It is essential that seniors are able to maintain a certain degree of flexibility in order to prevent limited range of motion. Try daily stretches to get your senior moving in the morning and help them unwind and relax before bed. 
  • Physical therapy: If your loved one has certain injuries or illnesses that prevent basic exercise, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. This professional should be able to provide you and your elderly loved one with a list of exercises that they can perform at home. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Costs of Caregiving

Care for elderly individuals can take many forms. For instance, your senior may need minimal care, so you may stop in a couple of times a week to help out with a few household chores. Or your loved one may need more extensive care requiring the continual assistance of an eldercare professional. When it comes to home care, Chapel Hill senior care providers are able to offer a wide range of services that may prove beneficial to your senior; however, it is important that you weigh the costs associated with each of these options—both those that are financial and personal in nature.

Caring for Your Loved One on Your Own
If you are providing home care for your loved one, it is important that you realize just how much time and energy you are putting into the task and how much of an impact this can have on your life. Depending upon the amount of time that you spend with your senior, the cost that this responsibility carries can range from minimal to extreme. If you spend a couple of afternoons per week with your elderly loved one to help them keep a clean house and make sure that any minor household repairs and other tasks are done, you probably benefit a great deal from the arrangement. The quality time that you get to spend with your senior is certainly well worth the task of driving to their home for an hour or two every few days if they live nearby.

If your elderly loved one needs more substantial care, though, it may prove highly costly. Many family members quit their jobs or reduce their working hours to better support the needs of their seniors. Additionally, caring for an elderly loved one around the clock can lead to time spent away from your own children, friends, and other aspects of your life.

Hiring the Professionals
In situations in which seniors need extensive care, hiring home care professionals is a great option. The prices associated with doing so vary depending upon the extent of the care needed and other considerations, such as insurance and other healthcare coverage. But the peace of mind of knowing that your loved one is secure and in good hands is priceless.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Living Alone: What Is the Danger?

Living alone is something that countless individuals do, as they often prefer having their own space to sharing a place with a roommate or moving in with family members. For numerous seniors, aging in place means living at home, oftentimes alone, throughout their golden years. But the truth is that elderly individuals may have a difficult time carrying out certain activities of daily living as they get older, which can make it quite dangerous for them to live alone. In terms of home care, Always Best Care Chapel Hill-Durham professionals know that an eldercare provider is a wonderful asset to seniors who would like to continue living with the highest degree of independence possible.

What Are the Dangers Your Senior Faces?
Any in home care agency will tell you that there are many risks that seniors must overcome in order to maintain their safety while living alone. Below are a few of the dangers that independent living may present:

  • If seniors fall or suffer from any other kind of injury or illness they may not gain access to the medical attention that they need, as no one will know of their predicament. 
  • Meal preparation is a difficult task for many elderly individuals, who may face malnourishment and dehydration if they are not able to cook healthy meals and access clean drinking water. 
  • Maintaining a home requires a lot of physical activity, including yard work, cleaning, and making small repairs. Many seniors may injure themselves trying to keep up with the needs of their property. 
  • Should an emergency occur, such as a flood or fire, seniors who have limited mobility may not be able to get out of the house in time. 

These are just some of the many dangers that seniors face when living alone; however, the good news is that home care professionals can help your loved one retain the lifestyle they want without compromising their safety.

Calling in the Help of a Professional
Eldercare professionals can provide seniors with a high degree of support, as they assist with activities of daily living (dressing, cleaning, meal preparation, personal grooming, etc.) and take care of the responsibilities that might pose a challenge for seniors. Additionally, their companionship means that seniors have someone near in case of emergency, which is incredibly important.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Mobility Technology is Changing Aging

The vast majorities of seniors, an estimated 90%, report that they want to age in place and stay in their homes as long as possible.1  This should come as no surprise; most people have spent decades working on their homes, raising children there, and creating memories.  Why would anyone want to abandon the place where they feel safest and most comfortable right at a time when physical ailments and mobility challenges are leaving them feeling vulnerable?

No one, no matter what age, likes to feel more dependent on others.  In seniors, this unwillingness to confront the reality of decreased mobility can often result in preventable injuries.  In fact, falls are the most common cause of death among those over the age of 65.2  Fortunately, there are simple and affordable solutions available on the market that can increase safety and mobility for seniors and allow them to live independently in their own homes.

Stair Lifts
One of the biggest obstacles for seniors with mobility challenges can be tackling the stairs of their multi-level house.  Many people end up abandoning the upper levels of their home altogether and settle for living on the first floor.  Installing a stair lift, which can range in price from around $1,250 - $3,000, can instantly allow seniors full access to all areas of their home.  Some models are especially designed for do-it-yourself installation, which helps keep cost down.

In addition, there are outdoor stair lift options that can reduce the risk of slipping and falling on outdoor surfaces.  If you have been leaving the house less and less often because you are afraid of porch stairs or other outdoor mobility obstacles, a weather-proof outdoor stair lift can help you safely reach your vehicle or even just get back out to your garden.  Investing in an indoor or outdoor stair lift might be just the tool to prevent falls and allow you to age in place more comfortably and they only cost a fraction of what it would to relocate or hire a home aide.

Safe Bathing Solutions
Improving safety and accessibility in the bathroom can be another vital component that will allow you or your loved one to comfortably age in place.  For many, the biggest challenge is being able to safely access their tub or shower.  Tub ledges can present a real obstacle to anyone with limited mobility and when you combine that with wet, slippery tile surfaces, the risk for a nasty fall only increases.

In addition to grab bars, shower seats, and other simple bathroom solutions, there are also more substantial solutions that can increase your safety.  Bathroom conversion and replacement kits can either modify your existing tub to make it more accessible or offer a whole new tub that can provide access to those who are ambulatory or wheelchair bound.  There are a wide variety of sizes, styles, and price ranges available to fit your physical challenges, architectural limitations, and budgetary needs.

Bath lifts are another great option on the market that can help you safely enter and exit your tub.  Some models are designed to simply lower you into and raise you out of your tub in order to eliminate unnecessary strain.  More advanced models feature seats that will actually rotate you over the ledge of your tub before lowering you in, essentially taking all the work and danger out of entering and exiting your tub.

Lift Chairs
Another great tool that can allow seniors to age gracefully and remain independent is a lift chair.  These simple devices combine a comfortable recliner with a lift mechanism that can smoothly and gently lower you into and raise you out of a seated position.  This is the perfect solution for those who have trouble sitting or standing.  In addition to the convenient lift feature, these chairs also come in a variety of recline positions that allow the user to rest comfortably and enjoy pressure relief on achy muscles and joints.  Some people even find that they are able to enjoy more rejuvenating rest when they sleep in their lift chair.

Mobility technology is becoming more innovative and affordable, which is in turn making it increasingly feasible for seniors to age in place and maintain their independence.  When combined with in-home care services, seniors can experience enjoy an affordable solutions to their mobility challenges without having to leave their homes and more into a nursing home.  A comprehensive treatment place can not only ease the burden on caregivers and family members, it can also provide user friendly tools that can improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of seniors.

If you are interested in aging in place technology and mobility devices, here are some helpful resources:

Amy M. Blitchok is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in issues related to seniors, aging in place, and mobility and disability equipment.  One of her goals is to disseminate important information in the hopes of helping to improve the quality of life for seniors, their families, and caregivers.  You can read more of her work at  Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments.
1 “Falls Among Older Adults:  An Overview.”  Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Sept 2012.  Web.  7 May 2013.  

2 “Falls Among Older Adults.” 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bringing Elderly Parents Home from the Hospital

After a stay in the hospital, your elderly loved one may need a bit of assistance transitioning back to life in their own home. Whether they live with you or live independently, it is important that you understand the kind of eldercare that they will require. Below are a few tips for helping your loved one to settle into their home without compromising their health or safety.

  1. Talk to your loved one's doctors before they come home to ensure that you understand the degree of care that your senior will need. Depending upon the severity of their condition or the recovery period associated with their hospital stay, you may need to think about homecare services if your loved one needs more attention than you can provide. 
  2. Make sure that the living space your loved one returns to is comfortable. Before picking your senior up from the hospital, take the time to tidy their home. Vacuuming, straightening up odds and ends, and dusting can go far in creating a more comfortable living space in which your senior can recover. 
  3. Remember that care for elderly individuals entails more than simply sitting with them throughout the day—particularly if they are recovering from surgery or an injury. Think about the extent to which you can care for your senior and call upon homecare professionals to help fill any gaps in care that you cannot provide. For instance, if your loved one is not able to walk, you may need help lifting your senior during bathing and dressing routines. 
  4. Make certain that your senior has transportation to all of their follow-up appointments with their doctor. It is crucial to their recovery that they receive ongoing medical care if necessary. If you are spearheading efforts to assist your senior in the healing process, call upon friends, family members, and professionals to assist you in ensuring that your senior is able to make all doctor's appointments. 

Bringing your senior home from the hospital can be overwhelming, as you certainly do hold a great deal of responsibility when helping your loved one through the healing process. But with the right approach—and assistance from eldercare professionals—you can provide the care that your loved one needs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stroke Recovery: Tips for Helping Your Loved One Heal

Strokes take place when the blood supply is cut off from the brain, resulting in damage to the areas of the brain that are impacted by the event. Blood flow may be interrupted due to the blockage of an artery or the bursting of a blood vessel, known as a brain hemorrhage. The kind of therapy that is available to seniors who have suffered a stroke depends upon the severity and location of the damage that is caused; however, rehabilitation is the most common way in which medical professionals assist elderly individuals in healing after a stroke.

Setting Realistic Expectations
In terms of your role helping your senior to recover, the first tip to keep in mind is to maintain realistic expectations. The brain is a very resilient organ that can bounce back from many forms of damage, but cutting off the blood supply to certain areas of the brain can result in permanent effects. According to the National Stroke Association:1

  • Recovery with minor permanent damage is expected for 25 percent of stroke victims. 
  • Nearly complete recovery is expected for 10 percent of seniors who suffer from a stroke. 
  • Moderate to severe permanent damage, resulting in the need for special care, is expected for 40 percent of seniors who experience a stroke. 
  • Care in a long-term facility or by a home care professional is necessary for an expected 10 percent of stroke victims. 

After your loved one has a stroke, it is important to speak with their doctor to determine the best rehabilitation strategy and to discuss the expected results of this treatment. Having realistic expectations is essential in measuring your loved one's progress and supporting their needs.

Acting as a Support System
Depending upon the damage that a stroke causes, seniors may require assistance with activities of daily living. From grooming to meal preparation, making certain that your loved one has access to the support that they need is imperative. You might find it best to hire a senior care professional. Elder care providers are trained to offer the help your senior needs while assisting them in maintaining a safe living environment and the highest possible quality of life.