Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Coping with Joint Problems in Seniors

Aging can come with aches and pains, especially if your older loved one has arthritis or other joint conditions. But there are many ways you can help them maintain their independence and live more comfortably. By putting emphasis on senior health care, you can assist your older parent, family member, or friend in managing their joint pain and continuing to enjoy the activities they love. Consider these key tips in assisting your loved one in maintaining a more comfortable, enjoyable lifestyle.
Medications. If your relative or friend is prescribed medications, specifically for a joint condition, take special care to ensure they are following the prescription instructions. Taking medications as prescribed can help reduce the pain. If your loved one only takes their medication when they are in pain, they may not be receiving the full effects of the prescription. Rather than taking on an as-needed basis, consider talking to them about taking the medication as directed. Some medicines need to be taken regularly to reduce the burden of pain and avoid exposing your loved one to more discomfort than necessary. 
Heat or cold packs. Depending on your loved one’s individual condition, a heat or cold pack may be able to provide a certain level of relief from joint pain. Talk with your loved one and his or her doctor about alternating between heat and cold applications. In many cases, this routine offers more relief and can be better tailored to individual needs.
Modifying activities. When joint pain strikes, your loved one may not be able to do the activities that they want or need to do. You can help provide senior care by assisting them in these activities or by finding ways to modify them. For example, if going up or down stairs has become too difficult, consider looking into stair lift rentals to make moving around the house easier. In other cases, arthritic hands might make it difficult to open door knobs or turn on light switches. There are many great aging-in-place alternatives like lever doorknobs and rocking light switches that can make it simpler to get around the house without overexerting joints. 
Diet. For some people, their weight might be worsening their joint conditions. Putting too much pressure on joints makes the body work harder to do simple activities, as extra weight can strain the joints. Consider if your loved one might benefit from a modified diet. Talk with them and their doctor about possible dietary changes your loved one can make to help relieve pressure on their joints and alleviate pain. 
Exercise. Like diet, changing an exercise routine should always be done under the care of a physician. In some cases, a physical activity routine might be able to help relieve pain. By building up muscle strength, your loved one may be able to reduce the pressure that is put on their joints. Stronger muscles can better support the body, meaning joints can work more efficiently and with much less stress.
Having joint pain doesn’t mean your older loved one has to stop doing the things they love. While some activities may need to be reduced or modified, there are many ways you can help a family member or friend continue to do their favorite hobbies, maintain their independence, and enjoy a more fulfilling lifestyle. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Addressing Muscle Atrophy in Seniors

An important part of healthful aging and continued independence for seniors is managing bone and muscle health. Sarcopenia, or the gradual loss of muscle mass, is common among older adults. This condition is potentially caused by many complex factors, often accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle. As your loved one ages, his or her:
-Hormone levels could change. Some hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone, and others may lose concentration in the body.
-Motor neurons can lose functionality. There is often an age-related reduction in the nerve cells that are responsible for communicating between the brain and muscles to stimulate body movement.
-Protein requirements may change. As your loved one ages, his or her body may be less able to synthesize proteins.
-Eating habits may not be sufficient. If a person does not eat enough calories or protein to maintain their muscle mass, they may end up losing strength. 
In combination, these factors are presumed to lead to sarcopenia. To help your older loved one maintain a high quality of life, you can help them stave off muscle loss, as well as falling, associated with the condition. When an older adult looses muscle strength, they are more inclined to fall and endure injuries, fractures, or long-term disability. But with proper senior care, you can help your elderly loved one stay safe and cope with aging-related muscle loss. 
Preventing and Managing Age-Related Muscle Loss
There are many things your family member or friend can do to stay healthy and prevent falls caused by muscle loss. One of the most important ways to do so is through physical activity and exercise. Before starting any regimen, you can work with your loved one and his or her doctor to find the right program for their individual needs and abilities. Target exercises can help your loved one maintain, and even improve their muscle and bone strength. 
Not only will resistance training help improve strength, but it is also suggested to positively influence hormone concentrations in the body, the neuromuscular system, and the rate of protein synthesis. Other research has revealed that a continually increasing resistance training program could improve protein synthesis rates in a mere two weeks. 
To help your loved one achieve the benefits of exercise with reduced risk of injury, you, your family member or friend, and his or her doctor should work together to define the best type of, frequency, and intensity for their exercise program. 
In addition to physical activity, nutrition plays a key role in staving off sarcopenia. A review paper by the International Osteoporosis Foundation revealed the importance of nutrition, and identified which types of factors can contribute to lost muscle mass. They also identified ways that nutrients can improve or maintain muscle mass, as well. 
Protein. Protein is a highly important part of muscle health. The review showed that consuming between one and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight each day is ideal for supporting bone and skeletal muscle health in the majority of older adults.
Vitamin D. You can help your older loved one increase their vitamin D levels by enjoying the outdoors together. Safe exposure to sunlight or proper supplementation can help support musculoskeletal health, as well.
Fruits and vegetables. It is no secret that natural, whole foods are the key to great nutrition. However, the study revealed that eating too many acid-producing foods, like cereal grains or meat, in conjunction with not eating enough alkalizing fruits and vegetables could be detrimental to musculoskeletal health. Under a doctor’s guidance, you can help your older loved one add more fruits and vegetables to their diet to find a good balance that supports bone and muscle health.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. Other research has suggested that folic acid and/or vitamin B12 could play a key role in enhancing muscle strength and function, too. 
Providing care for seniors is a highly individualized process. When helping your older loved ones to fight off the loss of muscle mass and maintain their strength, there are many things you can do. Work with your family member or friend, as well as their doctor here in Durham, to learn more about the best ways to stave off sarcopenia and help them stay healthy and happy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Latest Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care

While there is more work to be done in developing a medication for Alzheimer’s patients, scientists are now saying that a new medicine could be used to treat this condition, along with Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and many more. Alzheimer’s currently affects more than five million Americans, and British scientists might be developing new hope for them in the laboratory. 
In their tests on mice, the Medical Research Council discovered that all cell death within the brain caused by prion disease (neurodegenerative disorders) could actually be prevented. This discovery is hailed as a turning point in the search for controlling and even preventing Alzheimer’s. While this discovery is not poised to change the world of medicine immediately, it appears to be a hopeful benchmark.
The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit team, based out of the University of Leicester, honed in on brain cells’ natural defense mechanisms. When a virus affects the brain, it causes an accumulation of viral proteins. Cells respond to this build-up by stopping virtually all production of protein in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. 
However, a large number of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, involve the production of abnormal proteins. These can set off the same defenses, but often with more dangerous consequences. These proteins tend to stay put, and the brain cells stop production of protein for so long that the cells essentially starve to death. This process, which tends to repeat throughout the entire brain, can break down a person’s ability to move properly or recall memories, or lead to fatality. 
This whole process is suspected to happen in many different forms of neurodegeneration. In theory, safely disrupting the process could essentially treat countless neurodegenerative diseases with a single medication. The researchers who made the astounding discovery used a formula that prevented such defense mechanisms from starting. In turn, the compound stopped neurodegeneration altogether.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine, and revealed that mice who had prion disease experienced severe movement and memory problems. They tended to die within just 12 weeks. But those who were treated with the compound showed no signs of withered brain tissue at all. 
The fact that this compound entirely prevented the breakdown of tissue is a first in the field. While this formula is not ready for human treatment, the results showed that stopping neurodegeneration is even a possibility. 
In addition, the compound did come with side effects for mice. The pancreas was affected, resulting in the development of mild diabetes and weight loss. Any drug used on humans would be required to only act on the brain, but this news gives scientists a strong starting point from which to work. 
The Alzheimer’s Research UK charity reports that targeting a single mechanism, related to many neurodegenerative diseases, could lead to the creation of just one drug that has wide-reaching benefits. However, this particular compound is still in its very early stages.
Despite this discovery, much more research needs to be done to see how these findings would directly apply to diseases. With continued studies and testing, these compounds may have the unmatched potential of improving dementia care and Alzheimer’s care for patients, or preventing the disease altogether.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Senior-Friendly Travel Destinations

A travel spot that accommodates your older loved one’s interests, physical abilities, and budget doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are many fantastic senior-friendly travel spots that the whole family can enjoy. 
Unlike younger travelers, seniors are not as inclined to be satisfied with a buffet and basic lodging. Rather, they may have developed a taste for the finer things, and appreciate more elegant foods, drinks, and sights. Some senior-friendly destinations might offer foods from famous restaurants, vineyard tours, or exceptional attractions. In many cases, a senior-friendly spot might offer a rich cultural heritage and history that makes visiting worthwhile. 
In addition to having different tastes than younger travelers, your loved one may also have special needs that should be addressed before picking a destination. If that is the case, your travel spot should provide lots of mobile accessibility, accessibility to medical care, accessibility to new and old interests, and a positive sensory environment. 
Whether your loved one is a solo vacationer or you want to plan a trip you can take together, consider these fantastic destinations that are popular choices among older travelers of all styles and abilities.
Live Shows and Entertainment
Las Vegas. “Sin City” is not just for those seeking adventure or gambling. Rather, there are many amazing live shows, lots of shopping, endless dining, and incredible sights to see—and many expenses like lodging, eating, and entertainment are surprisingly budget friendly. 
Branson, Missouri. This hot spot is popular all year round, especially for senior vacationers. There are so many things to do and see, and they are all located fairly close together. You can play golf, explore museums, see the city’s famous shows, go shopping, and more. The music theaters and other popular attraction venues were originally built as an alternative to Las Vegas by providing affordable, wholesome entertainment options for the whole family. Plus, there are lots of things for kids to do if the whole family is traveling together. 
Thanks to specialized beach wheelchairs, boardwalks that go to the water’s edge, and beach mats, beaches are more wheelchair-friendly than ever before.
Hanauma Bay. In Honolulu, Hawaii, this beach loans beach wheelchairs at no charge for any visitors with mobility challenges. 
Ludington State Park. This beach in Ludington, Michigan, offers beach wheelchairs at Hamlin Lake, as well as at Lake Michigan beach houses. There is also a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. 
Theme Parks
If your elderly loved one would enjoy a destination that offers lots of positive sensory input, a theme park can provide just that. With lots of sights to see, fun rides to take, and endless paths to explore, these are ideal spots for many older travelers.
Disney World and Disney Land. Travelers of any age are likely to enjoy these world-class theme parks. Famous faces, rides that are known around the globe, and more, Disney World and Disney Land are a shoo-in for your next senior-friendly vacation.
Holiday World. This theme park, located in rural Indiana, is known as the most family-friendly theme park in the nation. Even more, it costs far less than other better-known parks, making it a great choice for those traveling on a budget.
When providing elder care to your loved one, make sure to work with them to find the best vacation for their needs and their style. Discuss their preferences and capabilities, and explore your options to learn which vacation will bring them the most enjoyment and make the greatest memories as you spend some quality time outside of Durham!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Important Fitness Tips for Seniors

An important part of senior care is helping your elderly loved one stay active as they age. Exercise and physical activity are a key component to a healthy lifestyle, and many studies have shown that exercise offers an array of health benefits that seniors can enjoy, simply by incorporating moderate physical activity into their daily life. It can prevent or help loved ones recover from falls, keep bones strong, and stave off weakness or strength loss that often accompanies aging. 
Exercise can also help your loved one stay fit and strong enough to continue doing the activities or hobbies they enjoy. But before starting a physical activity routine, it is important that your older relative or friend speak with their health care provider. A Durham physician can advise on which types of exercises are beneficial and which could do more harm than good. Your loved one should always get the approval of a doctor before starting a routine. 
A physical activity regimen for an older adult will likely look different than one for a younger person. But by modifying exercise, seniors can find activities that work for their bodies and discover new activities that suit their personalities. There are many exercises that can be done virtually anywhere, even in the home, which is essential for providing great home care for your loved one. A good routine should include endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. Consider these tips when working with your older loved one in choosing a physical activity program that suits their needs.
Strength. Lifting weights or using body weight is an important part of exercise. It helps to build muscle strength and keep your loved one better able to hold their balance and continue enjoying the activities they do daily. Improving strength will help them to move around the house, get out of bed, do grocery shopping, and complete many other everyday chores or activities they want or need to do.
Endurance. Cardiovascular endurance exercises refer to anything that will increase your loved one’s heart rate. Many older adults go for walks, take a bike ride, or go swimming to get their heart rate up. Some seniors may not be able to do cardiovascular exercise for more than a few minutes at a time. But with practice, they can build up their endurance and go for much longer. This is important, as many household activities require endurance. For example, gardening or going up and down stairs require cardiovascular strength, and a workout routine that focuses on endurance can make many of these daily activities easier and more enjoyable.
Balance. Focusing on balance is highly important for older adults. Such exercises can increase muscle strength in the core and legs. By improving balance, your loved one can better prevent falls, which could lead to major injury or even death. 
Stretching. Your older relative or friend can improve their flexibility by stretching regularly. It will increase their range of movement and reduce their risk of injury if they do fall. Even more, it will make daily activities easier because it will help your loved one move more freely and with less pain.
Remember that before starting any exercise routine, your older loved one should receive their doctor’s clearance. But you can help care for elderly family or friends by working with them and their physician to find the best routines for their individual needs, capabilities, and styles. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Checklists for Evaluating Assisted Living Facilities

When researching options for assisted living, Durham families can reach out to the city for guidance. Durham helps place seniors with assisted living facilities. But before taking the first seemingly great option that comes along, consider the specific needs and preferences of your loved one. Elder care is a highly personal service, and it is important to choose a facility wisely. A great fit will greatly enhance your loved one’s quality of life. 
It is important to note that assisted living can refer to a wide variety of services and settings. Some are bare-bones, while others provide more comprehensive care. Services may include housekeeping, cooking meals, reminding residents about medications, on-site assistance by nurses, and help with everyday activities like dressing and bathing. 
Deciding on a facility for a loved one can be a difficult task, and choosing the right one will require some effort. But by taking your family member’s needs and personality into consideration, you can work with them to find their ideal fit. Here are some important points to consider when evaluating your assisted living facility options.
-What is the baseline fee and what services are included?
-Are there additional charges for products or services?
-What upfront payments are required and are any of them refundable?
-What fees will continue to apply if your loved one is away from the facility, such as spending time in the hospital or a nursing home?
-When, why, and how frequently could fees change?
-Is there any financial assistance available?
-Will you need to purchase renters insurance?
-Who is responsible for cleaning, repairing, or replacing items if an accident occurs?
Personal Care
Ask each facility to describe how it can meet the care needs of your loved one. Consider how they cope with mental health conditions, incontinence, dementia, or other concerns. Also, address the possibility of changing needs if your loved one plans on residing at this facility for the long term.
Individual Needs
-How does the facility determine if it can cater to your loved one’s needs and what type of assessment is required to make this determination?
-What happens if your loved one’s needs change while living there? 
-Does the facility tailor schedules for dressing or bathing to meet resident preferences?
-How does each facility help residents retain their independence in terms of using the restroom, eating, or dressing?
-If a resident becomes difficult to manage, how does the staff handle the situation?
-How often are rooms cleaned?
-Is there a schedule to check up on residents’ well-being and whereabouts?
-How many staff members are on duty at all times?
-What are staff responsible for and what are their certifications and level of training?
-Is staff specially trained to help residents with mental health issues?
Health Care
-Does each facility develop a written plan for how it will care for your loved one? If so, how often is this plan updated?
-How closely can you, your family, and your loved one be involved in the care process? 
-Can you take action if you do not agree with the facility’s care plan?
-How intensely will the facility monitor your loved one’s health?
-Is a nurse on the staff, and what are his or her hours and duties?
-How quickly will your loved one receive medical attention if they do not feel well and what medical services are provided?
-When would the facility alert the family or doctor about medical concerns?
-What precautions are taken to ensure that your loved one receives the appropriate medications and how are the medications filled? 
-What costs are involved in medication treatments?
-Who reviews medication procedures and how frequently are reviews conducted?
Other Important Considerations
In addition to physical care, it is also important to consider factors contributing to your loved one’s well-being. For example, learn about any transportation that is provided to help them get to the places they want or need to go. In addition, ask about community or social activities. It is important that your family member is able to engage with others when they feel so inclined. Consider events like bingo, card games, crafts, or spiritual and religious gatherings. In addition, you should also learn as much as possible about:
Meals: When are they served, how are they served, and what is served?
Safety and choice: How is independence emphasized while also providing adequate safety and care?
Accessibility: Can a loved one with mobility issues safely and easily move around the facility?
When looking for the ideal facility for your loved one, take these factors into consideration. Work hand-in-hand with your relative to learn more about their preferences and remember their special needs. Together, you can find the perfect facility that will greatly improve their everyday life.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Getting Your Senior Ready for Summer Heat Waves

For great summer home care, Durham families should start by helping their older family and friends get ready for rising temperatures. The season is filled with cookouts, afternoons outside, and warm, sunny days. But summer also poses dangers, especially for older adults. Hot and humid weather can cause heat illnesses, and seniors are especially vulnerable. They may not adjust as efficiently to changing temperatures as young people, and prescriptions or medical conditions may interfere with proper temperature regulation. But by taking a few precautions, you can help provide great senior care to your loved ones and help them stay safe and comfortable all summer long. 
Because being outdoors is so enjoyable and great for a sense of well-being, you may not want to discourage your elderly loved one from avoiding it altogether. Rather, work with them to help them find ways to enjoy the season while reducing their risk of heat-related illnesses. 
If your older relative or friend lives on their own, make sure they are aware of the dangers this season. Talk to them about the warning signs that could signal they are experiencing heat-related illnesses and need medical attention immediately. 
Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is considered to be the most hazardous heat-related illness and can happen when the body is no longer able to regulate temperature. If heat stroke occurs, body temperature will rise quickly and the body will no longer be able to sweat and cool off. Body temperature can surpass 106 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. It could lead to permanent disability or even death if medical attention is not provided. Common symptoms of heat stroke include:
-Unusually high body temperature
-Strong and rapid pulse
-Hot, dry, red skin without perspiration
Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is milder than heat stroke, but is still an incredibly dangerous form of heat-related illness. It can develop over time, if your loved one is chronically exposed to hot temperatures, or is not properly hydrated. Some traditional symptoms of heat exhaustion may include:
-Pale skin
-Profuse sweating
-Tiredness or weakness
-Vomiting or nausea
-Cool, moist skin
-Weak and rapid pulse
-Shallow and quick breathing
How You Can Help Keep Your Loved One Safe
To support senior health and help your loved one avoid these conditions, advise them on ways to stay safe this season. Some great ways to protect against heat-related illnesses are:
-Drinking cool, non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages.
-Getting plenty of rest.
-Taking a cool bath, shower, or sponge bath. Help your loved one stay safe by making sure their showers or tubs are lined with non-skid stickers to prevent falls while cooling off. 
-Installing air conditioning in the home or advising your loved one on the nearest places that provide air conditioning. Consider the local movie theater, shopping mall, senior center, or library.
-Wearing loose fitting, lightly colored clothing.
-Avoiding strenuous activity while temperatures are high. 
In addition to teaching your loved one about these risk-reducing tips, you should also try to check in with them at least twice daily. Ask them about any signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, and remind them to increase their fluid intake.
By taking these steps and working with your elderly family members and friends, you can reduce their risks of heat-related illnesses and help them stay safe and comfortable this summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Celebrating Independence Day with Senior Relatives

This Fourth of July, reach out to your elderly family members and friends in Durham and invite them to join in on the celebration. With a few slight modifications, you can tailor your party to let everyone on the guest list enjoy their time. An important part of senior care is looking out for their well-being, and making sure they always feel welcome is a key step in doing just that. Independence Day is a great excuse to spend time with your family and friends, and enjoy food, warm weather, and fireworks together. But it may not always be easy for older adults who have limited mobility, dietary restrictions, or special needs. Consider these ideas to help your loved ones celebrate the holiday and have fun doing it, too.
Modify the Menu
A traditional cookout usually means hot dogs and hamburgers, macaroni salad, and other fatty, salty, or hard-to-eat foods. While these treats might be fine for younger guests, they are not always the best choice for older loved ones with dietary restrictions. Some foods might cause interactions with their medications, others can increase the risk of developing medical conditions, and some foods might just be too difficult to eat. By slightly altering your holiday menu or making sure to offer foods everyone can enjoy, you will make the celebration more welcoming and inviting. Consider opting for a fruit salad, rather than a potato salad, or serving grilled chicken instead of greasy burgers.
Bring the Party to Them
Some of your elderly loved ones can join you at the local parade or to see the holiday fireworks. But others may not be able to leave their homes or assisted living communities. That doesn’t mean they cannot celebrate with you! Family should take special care to include elderly relatives in the celebration by bringing the party to their loved ones. There are lots of senior-friendly ways you can celebrate together. For example, your whole family could make red, white, and blue treats or have a patriotic movie night together.
Plan in Advance
If your loved one can make it to the family cookout, it is important that you plan in advance. Consider putting out seating with backs so your older friend or relative can sit comfortably and safely. Also, try to provide ample shade where your loved one can escape from the sun but still join in on the fun. If he or she has mobility concerns, plan out an easy-to-navigate route for them to get from the house to the picnic. If they are in a wheelchair, make sure they are able to move around the party freely and without obstructions. In addition, make sure your loved one is wearing lightly colored and loose fitting clothes, has enough sunscreen, and is wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to stay safe during warm, sunny days.
Making sure your older friends and family feel welcome is an important part of elder care. This Fourth of July, consider these senior-friendly tips and do a little advance planning. By doing so, you can make sure they celebrate Independence Day comfortably, safely, and easily.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Healthiest Summer Foods for Seniors

Senior health starts with a great diet, and summer is the perfect time to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables. Durham farmers’ markets are filled with the season’s best foods that can give your elderly loved one the nutrients they need to feel great. Before planning your next meal, check out our summer’s best picks to help you and your family make the most of the season.
Watermelon. This fruit is great for hydration, especially on hot summer days. Your older family member or friend should pay close attention to staying hydrated this season, and watermelon is an easy and tasty way to do just that. Plus, it is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. Even more, it is a great source of lycopene, a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant. Watermelon also offers up L-citrulline, an amino acid that can help regulate blood pressure and arterial function.
Shrimp. As a barbecue favorite, shrimp contains lots of protein, it is low in fat, and it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the heart.  
Mangoes. Not only are they rich in vitamins, particularly vitamins C and A, but mangoes are also a fantastic source of fiber. Fiber is especially important in constipation relief, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. 
Cucumbers. Add cucumbers to salads and use them in place of chips when eating summery dips. They are low in calories, but high in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that can help keep your loved one’s mind sharp as they age. Even more, cucumbers offer an array of anti-inflammatory benefits.
Tomatoes. From pizza sauce to salsa, tomatoes are a versatile fruit that offers a variety of powerful health benefits. They contain lycopene, which has been shown to guard the heart, lower cholesterol levels, and even reduce your loved one’s chances of sunburn during the summer’s brightest days.
Berries. Like many other fruits, berries are a potent source of antioxidants. Blueberries and strawberries, for example, have been shown to stave off mental decline by up to 2.5 years. Even more, berries are known to reduce plaque in the arteries, which may otherwise lead to heart attacks or strokes. 
Bell peppers. Red, yellow, and green bell peppers offer up a lot of vitamin C in every serving. They also have compounds that contain sulfur, which has been known to guard against cancer. 
Corn. Summer is prime corn eating season, which is great news. It can be classified as a fruit, grain, or vegetable, and delivers two powerful antioxidants: zeaxanthin and lutein. Both compounds can lower your loved one’s risk of macular degeneration, meaning they can help keep vision at its best. 
Iced tea. Not only is iced tea refreshing on a hot, humid day, but it could also lower your loved one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. It can even promote healthier gums and teeth, as well as stronger bones. Tea is rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids, which provide these protective properties. No matter the type of tea your loved one chooses, a freshly brewed cup is most potent.
You can help support your elderly family and friends by providing senior care right at the kitchen table. This summer, check out your local produce section or farmers’ market to find these incredible foods and create delicious meals that are not only tasty, but can also help keep your loved one as healthy as they can be.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Planning for Your Parents’ Elder Care Costs

When it comes to planning for elder care, Durham families should start considering arrangements early on. Preparing for the costs of your parents’ care services needs advance attention. But with sufficient planning, families can budget wisely and successfully provide care for their aging parents and their needs.
First, consider the many different ways you could deliver care to your parents. Many older adults are aging in place. They are upgrading their homes and designing them to make life easier and more suited to their changing mobility. Other parents are moving in with children or relatives where family can provide senior care themselves or through a trusted home care service. The third common option is to help your aging parent or parents move into an assisted living facility. 
Consider what works best for your parents. They may need more supervision or they are able to thrive with maximum independence. However, you may need to still fund some or all of the costs of care. Consider each of these ideas and if they are relevant, helpful, or feasible for you and your parents’ individual situations.
Plan in advance. If necessary, consider creating a legal document to designate yourself or another family member as having “power of attorney.” This will allow a person to authorize decisions if a parent experiences memory loss or severe illness.
Get expert advice on improving your savings. Your employer may offer financial planning assistance. If not, you may also be able to contact an independent financial planner or credit union. Getting expert investment advice can help you start preparing in advance, allowing you to better support your parents later.
Learn more about insurance. Insurance can come in handy when financing senior living or care. Reach out to your employer or conduct your own research to learn more about insurance plans that may be able to help offset the cost. 
Think before quitting a job to support a parent. Having more time to help out a parent may not be feasible, considering lost income. It could also hinder your own retirement savings. If you did choose to leave your job, how easily could you find new employment in the future? Consider if your job skills would still be enticing for employers if you had a gap in employment.
Learn if you would lose helpful benefits if you quit. Your health insurance may no longer be provided if you left your job. You may also lose life insurance, long-term care policies, or employee disability. Rather than leaving your job, explore your employer’s family leave or flextime policies. They may allow you to still spend time with your parents while also retaining your employment status.
Develop a caregiving budget. Prior to making a big life change that could come with financial setbacks, develop a comprehensive budget. Consider what you will need to spend on caregiving to help keep your parents safe and healthy. Write out a list of your parents’ own resources, and see how they might be used to help support caregiving.
Explore low-cost or free public benefits. You may be able to receive assistance in paying for or getting help with caregiving. The National Council on Aging offers a benefits checklist, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging offers lots of helpful information on caregiving, in addition to a location service that helps you find your nearest office.
Do your own research. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to take charge over your own financial future. As early as possible, start conducting your own research, reaching out to resources, and learning as much as you can. The more options you know about, the better you will be able to make sound decisions that can help you and your parents as they age.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips for Incontinence Care while Traveling

Including your older family member or friend on your summer vacation is a fantastic way to spend time together and bond with one another. But if they face incontinence issues, travel away from Durham might require a bit more preparation to make sure everyone involved can vacation safely and comfortably. Millions of Americans who experience incontinence find it difficult to travel on trains, in cars, or on planes. But with the help of their family and friends, and a little planning ahead, they can make the most of their trip and enjoy it to its fullest. Here are some ways you can help provide personal elder care to your loved one and make sure they have a great vacation. 
While on trains or planes, make sure your loved one is in an aisle seat and has easy access to bathrooms. An aisle seat will make it simpler to get to the restroom when necessary.
Because planes or trains have minimal waste disposal areas, an older relative or friend might find it difficult to dispose of any incontinence products they use. Consider suggesting a product designed for superior protection, like specially designed underwear. These can hold greater amounts of leakage and can better control odor when on long trips.
Car rides are often a more convenient way to travel for those facing incontinence. Rest areas are strategically placed along interstates and highways. When traveling in a car with your older loved one, bring along your GPS system or smartphone. This will allow you to more easily locate gas stations, restaurants, and other areas where your loved one can use a bathroom.
Food and Drink
Providing proper care for elderly loved ones involves keeping communication open. Before the trip, work with your relative or friend to learn which foods or drinks worsen their symptoms. Certain items could stimulate incontinence and exacerbate the problem. Make it easy for your loved one to reduce their consumption of caffeine, salty foods, or alcohol. Don’t stop for refreshments at a place that only serves problematic foods. 
Travel Kit
Prior to heading out on the road, put together a travel kit for your older family member or friend. The kit should include:
-Plastic bags with seals or twist ties to make disposal of soiled items easy and hygienic.
-Antibacterial cleansing liquids and hand wipes.
-Incontinence products such as liners or pads for lighter urinary leakage. Pack incontinence pants for moderate or light leakage, if also used with liners or pads. Also consider packing protective underwear for heavier leakage. In addition to these, also make sure your kit includes:
-Extra pants, outerwear, and undergarments.
-Travel soap and paper towels.
Pack these items in a small backpack or bag that is light enough to carry around. 
Advance Planning
While planning out your vacation agenda, try to schedule in bathroom breaks after meals. Also, while visiting tourist attractions, ask guides or check maps to locate the nearest restrooms. Since your loved one’s daily routine will differ on vacation, try to monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure while traveling. These are important for overall good health, and can help you assist your loved one in protecting against incontinence.
Providing care for seniors on vacation just means a little planning ahead. With some preparation and open communication, you and your older loved one can plan for a fantastic trip that everyone can enjoy comfortably, safely, and fully.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Benefits and Challenges to Postponing Retirement

Depending on your older loved one’s personal situation, there are many different benefits and challenges associated with delaying retirement. Here are some points to consider, and why retiring later might be beneficial or a big problem for your elderly friend or relative.
Advantages of Retiring Later
Spending a few more years at work may not seem like the most attractive prospect for your loved one. But, for some, it could greatly improve the quality of their life after they do retire. Postponing retirement will allow their investments to grow even more and will reduce the amount of time spent that they are withdrawing from their investments. 
In addition, each year of full-time work adds an additional year of earnings to his or her security record. That could lead to improved benefits when they do leave their job. Furthermore, those who do so can receive delayed retirement credits. These increase with every year your loved one works after their retirement age. 
Beyond financial advantages, there are some well-being benefits associated with continued employment. If your loved one is still vibrant, energetic, and full of life, maybe they will need something to work for and to hold their interest. Maintaining employment and postponing retirement could help stave off boredom that many able-bodied retirees experience after ending their employment too early. 
These employees can continue to be stimulated each day and engage in social interaction. Retirement makes it easy to become more withdrawn, as people could simply stay at home rather than interact with others. But by continuing to work, your loved one will be immersed in social situations, keeping them fresh and on their toes. 
Challenges of Retiring Later
Delaying retirement can come with lots of financial and social benefits. Unfortunately, for some people, these benefits don’t outweigh the chance to spend more time how they want. The freedom that comes with retirement is unique and special, but it does mean withdrawing from investments and savings. 
Furthermore, working past the age of 65 is not always easy. Your loved one may not be passionate about his or her job. He or she may also be in a physically demanding job. Their body may not be able to handle the continued stress, and the idea of staying in this position might be frustrating. In addition, for some people, working past this age might not be safe at all. Senior health is an important fact to consider. 
Even more, older people may find it difficult to pay bills and maintain good credit if they choose to retire at the traditional age. They might have to continue working because they cannot afford to retire. There is a nationwide problem with seniors surviving in poverty—and sadly, that’s something we face right here in Durham. There is sometimes an overwhelming financial demand to continue working past the traditional age of retirement, which is not always good for the elderly. 
Choosing whether or not to retire is a highly personal decision. Support your older family member or loved one in their decision making process, and help advise them wherever you can. Consider their physical and mental capabilities, as well as their financial stability. Each of these will work together to determine the right choice for your friend or relative. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Activities for Elderly Dads on Father’s Day

Spending time together is one of the best gifts you can give your older dad on Father’s Day. But if you both are up to it, you can do so much more than have a serene visit around the kitchen table. There are lots of ways to get out and do fun, safe, enjoyable activities together. Depending on your dad’s personal needs or mobility level, consider these fun ways to spend time in each other’s company on his special day. 
Go to a game. Summer is in full swing, and that means baseball games are scheduled all season long. Consider taking him to a game to watch the fun, catch up, and cheer for your favorite team. However, take into account the walk to the stadium from the parking lot and back. Also think about how far up seats are in the stadium. By considering senior care and the level of physical activity involved, you can better determine the best tickets to purchase. 
Plan a picnic. This activity will get your dad up and moving, which not only helps boost his spirits, but it is also great for senior health. If you visit a Durham park that has a grill, you two can cook the meal together and get him involved. When choosing your spot, again, consider the walk to and from the car. Also take into consideration how far away or close by the nearest bathroom is.
Stroll through the old neighborhood. Take your dad on a trip down memory lane. If you used to spend time together in a neighborhood nearby, go for a leisurely walk and take in the scenery. Look at what has changed and point out what has stayed the same through the years. Reminisce together and stimulate the mind and body while walking around the area. 
Play a team sport. Your dad might still be able to play many games that get him moving in a safe way. A slow pitch softball game, a free-throw contest on a basketball court, or a game of horseshoes can all be fun, competitive, and safe games for you two to play together. Try to find something that will get your dad moving without straining his body too much. Also, take lots of water breaks. No matter how much time you spend playing or just resting between rounds, you will get to spend some fantastic quality time together.
Play a board game. Grab a card game, puzzle, or board game and head somewhere nice. Maybe sitting out on the porch or picking a spot in the park is the ideal spot for you two to spend time together on Father’s Day. This activity will stimulate the mind and urge you both to be strategic, engaged, and involved.
Volunteer. Volunteering together is a great way for you to both join in on an activity and work for the greater good. Take this chance to help out at a soup kitchen, youth outreach program, or a community garden. Choose activities that your father will enjoy as much as you, and keep his strengths in mind. If he’s a great communicator, maybe he will want to spend time joking around with and inspiring kids. If he has a green thumb, helping out at a local garden will put his skills to use. Plus, bonding over something as wonderful as volunteering is a creative, special way for you two to make memories together on his special day. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Assisting Elderly with Personal Hygiene Issues

Helping promote your elderly loved one’s personal hygiene will not only support their health, but it can also enhance his or her emotional well-being. Good hygiene can affect a person’s self-esteem, and being less able to groom one’s self can make anyone feel frustrated. But helping your loved one manage their hygiene can help them stay healthier and even feel better about themselves. 
How You Can Help
  1. Before helping your family member or friend with their personal care, always wash your own hands. This is one of the most effective ways to protect both yourself and your loved one from infection or illness.
  2. When providing in-home care, let your friend or relative know what they can expect. This is meant to help them relax. Letting someone else clean your body may not be easy to adjust to. Always approach this type of care with seriousness and make sure your loved one maintains their dignity and self-respect. 
  3. Always be considerate when conducting elder care and assisting with personal hygiene. Encourage your loved one to do as much for him or herself as they can. You are there to be of assistance but to also promote their independence. Allowing your loved one to do what they can on their own will also give them more motor skill practice, and prevent them from becoming overly reliant on you. 
  4. Test the water before helping your family member or friend with bathing. In some cases, it is better to only wash one part of the body at a time. This is particularly helpful if your relative or friend is modest. 
  5. While assisting with hygiene, look for any changes in your loved one’s skin. If there are any bruises, lumps, or physical changes, report them to the doctor. These could be early warning signs of infection or other medical conditions.
  6. Shampoo hair carefully. If necessary, purchase an inflatable shampoo basin or hair-washing tray to help make the process easier. These are especially useful if your loved one has limited mobility and must stay in bed. It can also help ease the process if he or she is in a wheelchair.
  7. When helping your relative or friend brush their teeth, use a soft bristled brush. If he or she has dentures, carefully help remove them. Then, clean the dentures as directed. While doing so, always encourage at least some independence in your loved one, even if he or she is only able to move slowly while completing these tasks. 
  8. Cut toenails and fingernails regularly. If nails become overgrown, they can cause irritation or feel uncomfortable. Even more, they could become infected and even lead to certain types of ulcers. Cut toenails in a straight line across the top of the toe, and gently file down any sharp edges. 
When providing home care, Durham families should put their loved one’s dignity above all else. It may be difficult to adjust to having someone else assist in hygiene and personal care. But by always showing absolute respect for your older loved one, you can help promote a healthier lifestyle and even improve their self-esteem and sense of well-being. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Checklist for Keeping Your Senior’s Home Safe

With the popularity of in-home senior care, it is important to make sure that you and your older loved one know about potential dangers around the home. Together, you two can take steps to prepare for safety and ensure that your loved one’s house is a senior-friendly environment they can feel comfortable in. 
Every year, one in three older adults will fall. These events can lead to life-changing injuries, such as head trauma. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury in the elderly. But by planning ahead, you can reduce the risks and help to keep your loved one safe. Conduct a home safety check around your friend or family member’s house to spot major risks and learn what you can do to remove them.
Bathroom Safety
-Keep a nightlight on in the bathroom after dark.
-Use bath aids, such as support bars, in the bath, shower, and by the toilet. 
-Install non-slip stickers in the bath or shower. 
-Keep the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid scalding.
-Clearly mark hot and cold faucets.
-Install door locks that can be opened from the inside and outside of the room.
-Bathe when other people are in the home. 
Kitchen Safety
-Remove any clutter or obstructions from the floor or walkways.
-Keep work areas well lit.
-Clearly mark “off” and “on” positions on appliances with brightly colored stickers.
-Store knives in a sturdy rack.
-Keep heavy objects stored at waist height.
-Always separate hazardous items from food.
-Check expiration dates on foods regularly.
Medication Safety
-Regularly review medications with your loved one and his or her doctor.
-Clearly label all prescriptions.
-Throw away any old, unnecessary, or expired medications.
Living Room Safety
-Make sure that all furniture is secure and will not easily slip.
-Opt for furniture that is easy to get in and out of.
-Choose furniture with full arms to provide support while standing up or sitting down.
-Clear all walkways of obstructions or cords. 
Bedroom Safety
-Keep a flashlight within reach of the bed and check batteries regularly.
-Use a nightlight to illuminate the bedroom after dark.
-Install low-pile, wall-to-wall carpeting or opt for a smooth surfaced floor covering.
-Keep a phone on the nightstand or within reach while in bed.
Outdoor Safety
-Check walkways and stairs to make sure they are not uneven and could not cause tripping.
-Securely fasten all handrails.
-Install proper lighting near steps, doorways, walkways, and porches.
-Trim shrubs, hedges, and trees to make sure they do not block the view of the street while pulling out of the driveway. 
-Ensure that the garage is properly ventilated and that the doors are easy to operate, even if snow is weighing them down. 
General Safety
-Develop a buddy system or consider investing in a medical alert system.
-Make sure there is a smoke detector and fire extinguisher on all floors of the house.
-Remove all cords from trafficked areas, such as hallways.
-Use non-skid wax on floors.
-Ensure that proper lighting is installed in all rooms, including at the top and bottom of all stairways.
-Remove any slippery surfaces from stairs.
By following this checklist and looking for any other hazards around the home, you can help keep your older loved one safe in their house. When it comes to elder care, Durham families can use these tips to conduct a safety check and protect the family and friends they love. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Helping Your Older Loved One Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery

When an elderly loved one undergoes a knee replacement surgery, you might not be sure of how to help them and make their recovery easier. Luckily, there are many things you can do to assist in their healing and make them feel as comfortable as possible. 
The first few days after their surgery will likely be difficult. Your loved one will probably be worn out and even in pain. This, as well as their limited mobility, could make it easy for them to feel frustrated or nervous, as they are unable to get around as well as usual. While they may be upset about losing independence during recovery, this is exactly the time your help is most important. A post-operative senior may need your assistance in getting around, grooming, or cleaning. It is important to be patient and to help your loved one in their hour of need. 
Assist with Medications and Healing
If you are helping with home care, make sure that your loved one takes all of their prescribed medications as directed. If possible, be in attendance when a nurse or doctor explains what mediations are required after the operation. If there are multiple medications, especially if they need to be taken at different times, consider making a calendar to keep everything organized.
After a surgery, senior health also depends on keeping the operation site clean, too. You might need to monitor the wound and take note if there is any inflammation or swelling. If any occurs, reach out to the patient’s medical care provider right away. You might also need to change wound dressings and put together a kit of supplies, such as bandages. 
Help Out Around the House
After a knee replacement surgery, your older family member or friend won’t be able to take care of their home as well as they usually can. If possible, lend a hand and help out with grocery shopping, cooking meals, washing and putting away laundry, and other household chores as needed. 
While providing senior care in the post-recovery stages, it is also important that you make sure your loved one is taking medications correctly, eating the proper foods, and getting enough rest. These components all work together to help support the healing process and ease the burden on your older family member or friend. 
Attend Medical Appointments
If you are taking a lead role in caring for an elderly patient after a knee replacement, you should try to stay in contact with medical providers, too. You can help your loved one by monitoring appointments with both the doctor and the physical therapist. If a knee replacement patient misses any of their appointments, they may experience a setback, or worse, a complication, in their recovery. In addition, it may also help if you manage transportation to and from these appointments. Driving may be difficult or entirely impossible after surgery. 
Perhaps most importantly, a big role you can assume in helping your older loved one recover is providing them with motivation and support. It can be easy to feel down after a surgery that reduces a person’s independence, even if only temporarily. Parents or older loved ones might need some extra inspiration to continue their rehabilitation, exercises, or other routines to facilitate their healing. You can take this opportunity to act as their “cheerleader” and offer them the support and inspiration they need to heal properly and feel as great as they deserve.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Foods That Promote Brain Health

While a person’s body may age, there’s no reason that their mind needs to decline too. In fact, there are many foods that are readily available in Durham grocery stores that can help keep a person’s mind sharp and functioning well, despite their chronological age. These “super foods,” which are great for senior health, include:


Blueberries have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress, which can reduce the impact of age-related issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Blueberries have also been found to boost a person’s learning capacity and motor skills, thus making them mentally younger. Incorporate blueberries into smoothies, baked goods, or cereal for a delicious treat that your senior’s brain will love.


Salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are a key component of proper brain function. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory properties, which keep the body healthy. Doctors recommend a four-once serving roughly two to three times per week in order to enjoy the full benefits of this tasty fish.


Avocados are another key component of proper senior nutrition, in that they are nearly as effective as blueberries when it comes to brain health. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow and lowers blood pressure. They are high in calories though, so a little goes a long way when it comes to incorporating avocado into a daily diet.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds provide plenty of vitamin E, which can help prevent cognitive decline as a person ages. Your elderly loved one should incorporate walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, or sesame seeds into their diet for a brain boost. They can also try using unhydrogenated nut butters, like almond butter or peanut butter.

Whole grains are another essential part of good senior nutrition, as they’ve been shown to reduce a person’s risk of contracting heart disease. Eat a few slices of bread per day, or try taking two tablespoons of wheat germ daily. 

Fortunately the foods that promote good health are readily available in your local grocery store, making it easier than ever for your elderly parent to eat a diet that will nourish them and keep their mind and body feeling healthy. There are many different ways to incorporate these items into meals, so try experimenting and find combinations your senior loves to eat. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Help Your Senior Attend to Home Maintenance

If your senior is still in their own home, it’s probably because they value their independence and freedom. While this is terrific, sometimes your elderly parent’s wishes and goals don’t match up with their physical abilities. In this situation, they can typically benefit from some assistance from a senior care professional.

Particularly when it comes to home maintenance, help from a Durham elder care professional can become tremendously useful. They work with your senior to maintain their property, leaving their living space beautiful. This individual can also help to hire professionals to tend to the home, doing gardening, painting, and other necessary tasks. 

If your senior is resistant to the idea of hiring others to take care of their home, respect their feelings. Have an honest conversation with them about why they may benefit from this kind of assistance, and don’t dismiss their emotions quickly. For many people, taking care of their property is a point of pride, and not being able to do this anymore can upset them greatly. 

If your elderly loved one is showing resistance to the idea of having help at home, try saying something like, “Mom/Dad, I know you love your home. Let’s keep it looking beautiful by hiring someone to help out. This way you don’t have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, but you can still enjoy a home that looks great.”

Also make sure that your elderly parent is able to weigh in on issues surrounding the house. For instance, if the kitchen needs to be painted, let them select the color. They can also work with you to make a decision about which painter they’d like to use. This allows them to feel involved in the process, without forcing them to take on taxing labor on their own. 

However, while it’s important to protect your senior’s health and well-being, it is also necessary to understand when to let them get more closely involved in the day-to-day maintenance of a home. Gardening, for example, is a hobby that many seniors find therapeutic. While it is somewhat physically demanding, it is not nearly as labor intensive as shoveling a walkway or painting a room in a home. For this reason, family members should encourage their elderly loved ones to get active in the garden. So long as they focus on proper posture and listen to their bodies, this is a highly relaxing and enjoyable way to make a home look beautiful.   

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Care Options Available To Your Senior After a Stroke

After your senior has suffered a stroke, you’ll need to dedicate a significant amount of attention to helping them rehabilitate and regain their skills. Those who work in elder care services explain that the recovery that takes place in the days and weeks immediately following the stroke becomes essential to your loved one’s long-term prognosis. As this recovery happens, your elderly parent has a number of different care options available to them. These options include:

In-home care

This is a good option for a senior who still enjoys significant physical abilities, but could use a little assistance with daily errands and chores. They may need help cooking, cleaning, or getting in and out of the shower. This kind of care ensures that the elderly individual is getting proper nutrition, living in a clean home, and taking their medication on time. However, it is not a viable solution for someone who was left immobilized after a stroke. In many instances, this option is only feasible if the stroke that your loved one suffered was mild. 

An assisted living facility or nursing home

For many stroke patients, this is the ideal choice when it comes time to recover. They can get more extensive medical care in a Durham nursing home or an assisted living facility, and will have someone to assist them with all necessary daily tasks. Those who care for seniors explain that both a nursing home and an assisted living facility can ensure that the elderly individual is well cared for. The best option for them simply depends on the severity of the stroke. 

When residing in one of these facilities, an elderly person has access to all of the care they need to get them started on the road to recovery. Family members can feel at ease too, knowing that their senior is not trying to bathe, cook, and clean on their own without assistance, which can be highly risky. Many facilities also make it easy to get necessary therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. These kinds of programs are important as your elderly parent works on recovering and getting back to their pre-stroke health. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What to Know About Sundowner’s Syndrome

While the sunset typically signals a time of relaxation for many people, for those with Alzheimer’s, quite the opposite is true. Dementia care professionals explain that it’s common for a senior with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia to become agitated, angry, or confused in the evening. Their memory may get worse, and they may become increasingly disoriented. This unique phenomenon can be devastating for the loved ones of these elderly individuals. 

The triggers of Sundowner’s Syndrome

There are many different triggers that can cause Sundowner’s Syndrome to kick into full effect. Common triggers include:

  • Winter: The shorter days of winter can cause a senior to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or depression that sets in when a person doesn’t get enough natural sunlight. 
  • Internal imbalances: Some scientists believe that this condition is a result of hormone issues or other disruptions to a senior’s biological clock that leave them struggling to get into natural rhythms between sleeping and waking.
  • Low light: As the sun begins to set and darkness falls, elderly individuals with poor vision may have an even harder time seeing. This can cause them to feel agitated and fearful, explain Alzheimer’s care professionals. 
  • Fatigue: Many elderly people get highly fatigued at the end of the day, often worsening their symptoms.
  • End-of-day activities at a care facility: As the day comes to a close and shifts change at nursing homes or assisted living facilities, seniors may pick up on this energy and become disoriented and stressed. 

To overcome these struggles and keep seniors feeling safe and calm, the leading senior health professionals in Durham advise controlling noise. Keep televisions and radios to a minimum, and make sure that noise-generating activities are done as far from the elderly individual as possible. This helps to promote an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. 

Additionally, create a calming evening routine for your elderly loved one. This routine prevents surprises and can keep agitation levels to a minimum, as they know what to expect. Also discourage napping, as this can make it harder for your senior to fall asleep at night and can disturb the body’s natural rhythms. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Could You Spot a Stroke? Warning Signs to Watch Out For

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, but many of those who care for seniors or older parents are not sure what a stroke really looks like. As a basic rule, if you think someone is having a stroke, it is crucial that you spot it FAST.
Face. Is it drooping?
Arm. Is there weakness?
Speech. Is speech difficult?
Time. If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, do not waste time. Respond quickly and call 911 immediately. 
One stroke will happen approximately every 40 seconds, and almost 800,000 Americans will have one. Because they are so prevalent, it is absolutely crucial for senior health that you and other loved ones know the warning signs. If these signs do occur, the brain is not likely getting the blood it needs. Damage could be temporary, but it could also be permanent. The most important thing in minimizing damage is to act quickly. The sooner a person receives medical treatment, the less chance they will have of experiencing permanent disability. 
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America. It is also the number one cause of long-term severe disability. That is why it is so important to seek medical care as soon as possible. The American Stroke Association conducted research that showed that patients who take clot-breaking drugs within three hours of their first symptom had a lower risk of long-term disability. This is especially true for those who suffered from an ischemic stroke, which is the most common variation and accounts for nearly 90 percent of cases. 
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Symptoms of a stroke may not be visible right away. In fact, they could slowly develop over time. If a loved one is having a stroke, these warning signs could occur either immediately or gradually:
-Weakness or numbness in the face, leg, or arm. This is more likely to happen all on the same side.
-Difficulty understanding other people or general confusion.
-Inability to speak clearly.
-Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
-Difficulty staying balanced, walking, or maintaining coordination.
-Severe headache that may come out of nowhere. 
What to Do if Symptoms Occur
A stroke is a critical medical emergency. It is absolutely imperative that you act fast and take the situation seriously. If any of the above symptoms have occurred, take these steps right away:
-Never ignore symptoms. Even just one symptom could be a powerful warning sign that something is wrong.
-Call 911 immediately. Do not wait, as every minute counts. If one or more symptoms are present for more than a few minutes, your loved one should receive medical care as soon as possible. An ambulance can ensure they arrive at a hospital right away.
-Note the time and remember when the first symptoms appeared. This is very important information that you will want to share with the doctor who is providing care. 
How to Prepare for a Stroke
Not many people think a stroke will affect them or their family. But if someone you love does have a stroke, having taken the following steps in advance could make a big difference:
-Learn which medical facility or hospital is nearest to their home or work. A doctor or human resources director may be able to help you locate the closest facility. By knowing where to go at the first sign of stroke, you can act faster and get help for your loved one more quickly.
-Ask a Durham nurse or doctor which medical facilities have 24-hour emergency stroke care. These facilities will be the best equipped to deliver care for anyone who has had a stroke. 
Knowing what the symptoms look like, what to do if they occur, and preparing in advance can make all the difference for your loved one. If a stroke happens, remember to act FAST, and give them the absolute best chance of a happy, healthy outcome.