Dallas Home Health Care Blog

Why Seniors Need Emergency Location Devices

Friday, April 24, 2015

A few decades ago television commercials advertised early medical alert devices with an iconic elderly person calling out, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” More recently a revised version of the commercial aired on television. This dramatic retelling was more like something out of a horror film, showing life going on as normal while an elderly woman cried out for help from her place off screen.

The new version of the popular advertisement is spot on, because finding an elderly person long after they fell and were unable to right themselves is a horrible thing. It is something out of a caregiver’s most sinister nightmares. A fall for a senior could mean anything from scrapes and bruises to a broken hip, or something even worse.

One of the biggest problems with seniors and falls is that they have no way to call for help. A medial alert device can help with that, however, because they are connected to 24-hour emergency services that monitor incoming calls. Usually in the form of jewelry, like a bracelet or necklace, the waterproof device connects through a home phone or wireless internet hotspot.

Does GPS matter? Yes, it certainly does! When a medical alert device is GPS-enabled, then it uses at least four different satellites to pinpoint the signal. This highly accurate system can find the location of the device with incredible accuracy. The military was using GPS technology as early as the 1960s, and civilians just two decades after that.

What about elderly people who wander out of the line of site from a GPS-enabled device? Social media networks like Facebook are frequently inundated with shared images of elderly people who have become lost. One person, for example, was a dementia patient who wandered into a wooded area. Thankfully he was found, but an alert device that worked off both GPS and cell phone towers would have helped in finding him more quickly.

As people grow older, the risk of falls increase. Because their skin is thinner, cuts and scrapes have a higher chance of becoming infected. Their bones are more brittle, and easier to become broken during a fall. The last thing anyone wants is to find out their loved one suffered a fall. It would add insult to injury to learn that the victim lay prone for any length of time without some way to call for help.

Sadly a fall can happen even if they employ the services of a caregiver. If the caregiver is providing aide to a fallen patient, then they can use the device to call for ambulatory care in the case of the fall resulting in serious medical issues, although it is recommended that patients who suffer falls visit the emergency room regardless of their injuries.

Three Ways to Help an In-Home Caregiver

Friday, April 24, 2015

Being an in-home caregiver for the elderly is one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. This is because aiding the elderly or people who are chronically ill puts so many demands on a person, both physically and mentally. Caring for the elderly can compromise the immune system. It can aggravate existing medical issues, like back pain or carpal tunnel. It can also tax our mental health.

There are ways that you can help an in-home caregiver, whether the person is a licensed aide or another family member. Giving a caregiver a helping hand, giving them time for themselves, or just asking what you can do to help can go a long way toward lowering their stress level and increasing their peace of mind.

1. Prevent Stress – In-home caregivers are so good at caring for other people that they often forget to care for themselves. A majority of them fail to keep their own medical appointments because they put their patients’ needs before their own. Making sure the caregiver follows a proper diet, gets enough sleep, and gets some free time can help prevent stress.

2. Meditation – If you are an in-home caregiver, then take a few moments to meditate. This could mean waking up fifteen minutes early and enjoying a cup of coffee on your back porch while the rest of your family sleeps. It will give you time to reflect on the previous days, and help you be more compassionate in the days ahead.

3. Exercise – Physical activity is not only good for the elderly, but also for in-home caregivers. After all, they need to stay in shape to keep up with the physical demands of their responsibilities. A short walk to check the mailbox with their patient can provide a much-needed dose of Vitamin D, and activities like chair yoga can be done even by wheelchair-bound patients.

If you are a family member who provides in-home care to an elderly parent or grandparent, for example, then you know all too well the stress that goes along with these responsibilities. Caregivers go through cycles of stress and guilt. They feel stressed, which leads to feelings of guilt over feeling stressed. The feelings of guilt pile on more stress.

Fortunately there is an end in sight. If this sounds like your situation, consider getting help from a professional in-home caregiver. This person has the training and knowledge to give you a much-needed break to the emotional drain that stress and guilt create.

Even though caregivers are heroes, at the end of the day they are still human and have the same needs as everyone else. Taking steps to reduce stress is not selfish, but will provide benefits to both the caregiver as well as the person in their care.


Five Gardening Tips For Senior Adults

Saturday, April 11, 2015

5 Gardening Tips for Senior Adults

Back pain, creaky knees, and carpal tunnel are common problems for seniors. They add inconvenience, aggravation, and even shocks of pain to everyday activities, much less extracurricular hobbies like tending houseplants or gardening. Even simple chores like carrying a gardening pitcher of fresh water or dragging a garden hose through the yard pose a challenge.

As humans grow older, it only makes sense to adjust the way we do things to maintain a lifestyle that’s both safe and healthy. The same not only goes for everyday activities, like showering or walking to the end of the drive to check the mail, but also for extra things that we do for our own entertainment, like gardening. Here are some tips to help seniors garden safely.

1. Admit that you need to change how you do things.

After a certain age, you have to admit that you cannot do all the gardening in a single day. Situations like being tired lead to careless mistakes, which unfortunately leads to accidents. Fortunately seniors rarely hold down full-time jobs, which means not limiting all the chores to a single Saturday. Consider spreading the gardening out over several days, such as an hour or so each day after breakfast, and tackle it a little at a time.

2. Keep your yard safe.

Have a caregiver walk around your yard with you to check for potential hazards, like roots sticking out of the ground or rocks. While fixing or removing these hazards, wear gloves to prevent branches and other items from scratching into skin. You might also consider goggles or safety glasses with UV-protection. Not only will they keep snapping twigs from hitting an eye, but they will also protect from sun damage.

3. Carry an alert device or a cellphone while gardening.

Hopefully you will never need this kind of device. If something does happen, then it could save you from a long, uncomfortable wait until a caregiver, friend, or family member arrive to help you out. In a worst case scenario, it could even mean the difference between life and death.

4. Keep a walking stick or cane handy.

You might not need this for walking around on flat surfaces, like the living room floor or a sidewalk. When you are outside in the yard, however the ground is uneven. Having a walking stick or cane, even a makeshift one like a ski pole, can help you catch your balance if you stumble. And in the event that you do fall, it can make standing up a lot easier.

5. Garden at waist level whenever possible.

Talk to your caregiver or family members about installing raised gardening beds around your home, so that you can work them from either a standing or a seated position. Avoid hills and other slopes or banks, and give up the idea of climbing – ladders or otherwise. In the event that you do fall, even if help from a caregiver or another loved one is nearby, always go to the doctor or the emergency room to check for signs of health issues.

Using these tips will help you be the safest senior gardener in your neighborhood. With your caregiver’s help, you can enjoy your favorite hobby for many years to come.

Three Ways to Help an In-Home Caregiver

Friday, April 10, 2015

3 Ways to Help an In-Home Caregiver

Being an in-home caregiver in Dallas for the elderly is one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. This is because aiding the elderly or people who are chronically ill puts so many demands on a person, both physically and mentally. Caring for the elderly can compromise the immune system. It can aggravate existing medical issues, like back pain or carpal tunnel. It can also tax our mental health.

There are ways that you can help an in-home caregiver, whether the person is a licensed aide or another family member. Giving a caregiver a helping hand, giving them time for themselves, or just asking what you can do to help can go a long way toward lowering their stress level and increasing their peace of mind.

1. Prevent Stress – In-home caregivers are so good at caring for other people that they often forget to care for themselves. A majority of them fail to keep their own medical appointments because they put their patients’ needs before their own. Making sure the caregiver follows a proper diet, gets enough sleep, and gets some free time can help prevent stress.

2. Meditation – If you are an in-home caregiver, then take a few moments to meditate. This could mean waking up fifteen minutes early and enjoying a cup of coffee on your back porch while the rest of your family sleeps. It will give you time to reflect on the previous days, and help you be more compassionate in the days ahead.

3. Exercise – Physical activity is not only good for the elderly, but also for in-home caregivers. After all, they need to stay in shape to keep up with the physical demands of their responsibilities. A short walk to check the mailbox with their patient can provide a much-needed dose of Vitamin D, and activities like chair yoga can be done even by wheelchair-bound patients.

If you are a family member who provides in-home care to an elderly parent or grandparent, for example, then you know all too well the stress that goes along with these responsibilities. Caregivers go through cycles of stress and guilt. They feel stressed, which leads to feelings of guilt over feeling stressed. The feelings of guilt pile on more stress.

Fortunately there is an end in sight. If this sounds like your situation, consider getting help from a professional in-home caregiver. This person has the training and knowledge to give you a much-needed break to the emotionally drain that stress and guilt create.

Even though caregivers are heroes, at the end of the day they are still human and have the same needs as everyone else. Taking steps to reduce stress is not selfish, but will provide benefits to both the caregiver as well as the person in their care.

Why Caregivers for the Elderly Need a Guilt-Free Break

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Senior caregivers are true angels in the elderly care industry. They are, however only human and need to take care of themselves as well. Too many caregivers beat themselves up about needing a break, and even more fail to take one when they should. Family members can help give caregivers a much-deserved respite, whether the caregiver is another family member or a professional who provides in-home care.

The biggest complaint caregivers have is that things seem to fall apart when they are not there to provide services. This can be avoided provided that two things happen before the break. First, the caregiver needs to leave an organized list of instructions and get other things ready ahead of time. Secondly, whoever steps in, needs to follow the instructions to the letter.

Next it is important to only contact the caregiver when absolutely necessary while they are on vacation or any other kind of short break. Constant contact with their patient’s family or other stand-in caregiver is like not having a break from the situation at all. They need this time away so they can come back refreshed and ready to take care of their patient again.

Caregivers need to stay healthy. If they become run down from being overworked without a break, then their immune system could become compromised. This leaves them at risk for catching a cold, or some other type of viral infection. If this happens, then they could unwillingly pass it on to their patient.

If you have the responsibility of taking care of an elderly family member, such as an aging parent or geriatric grandparent, then you know how much stress that can pile on your shoulders. This is especially true if, in addition to running errands and housekeeping, you are responsible for assisting with personal care services such as bathing, dispensing daily prescriptions, and toileting.

In-home caregivers can provide relief to the family responsible for caring for an elderly person, whether it is during a week-long vacation or a couple of days per week on a recurring basis. An in-home caregiver has the training and professionalism to take care of your family member so you can have a little time to relax.

Caregiving for the elderly comes with a lot of emotions, the primary one being guilt. It is easy to feel guilty for not being able to do everything, or for not being there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do not let anyone pile the guilt on when you recognize that you need a break in order to continue providing the best possible care. You are likely capable of piling on enough guilt over things both real and imagined without any help from others.

When Mom or Dad Is Afraid to Move to a Senior Center

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Most of the time, homecare and senior assistance services are preferable to a senior care or live-in facility. However, sometimes there comes a time when you need to talk with your senior loved ones about considering the move to a senior care center. 

Talking to a parent about moving into a senior care facility is never easy. In fact, it is one of the most difficult tasks that you might ever face in your lifetime.  You probably do not want to sit your parent down for a serious discussion any more than they had to sit you down for a talk in your youthful years.

Waiting for the right moment is critical. If a parent slips and falls, becomes forgetful and leaves food on the stove, or forgets to take medication, then you could use this as an opportunity to bring up the topic of the benefits of living in a senior care facility. You could mention that you worry about their safety, and remark about how much more secure they would be if they lived somewhere with round the clock staff.

Your parent might complain about being lonely or having nothing to do. In this case, you could use the opportunity to point out that a senior center is full of people with similar interests to them, giving them the opportunity to make new friends. A facility also has a schedule full of fun activities to prevent them from not having anything to do or growing bored.

Tackling a Parent’s Fears Head First

When a parent retires, they dream of spending their golden years like they always planned. The thought of derailing from this plan and moving into an assisted living facility can be overwhelming. When you try to see this transition from your parent’s point of view, then it will help you to be more sensitive to what they are going through and treat the situation with empathy. They will need this kind of family support. You can also:

-          Make sure that you listen to any concerns and fears that your parent might have.

-          Enlist the help of a friend or family member who currently lives in a facility.

-          With your parent’s help, make a list of pro’s and con’s about senior care living.

Finally, through the entire process offer unrelenting reassurance that you will be there for them. A lot of seniors, including our parents, fear that once they move into a facility, everyone will up and forget about them. Let them know which traditions you can still celebrate with them during upcoming holidays, and what activities outside the facility that they can still participate in with you.

Once you push past the emotional resistance and other barriers, and your parent is willing to consider what it would be like to live in a senior care facility, then it is time to research to create a list of which facilities your parent might consider visiting. Then set up a couple of tour appointments at first, making sure that they are not scheduled too closely together.

How to Know When to Call Hospice

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Know When to Call Hospice

While we don't offer skilled nursing or hospice care, it's a field that's closely related to senior homecare. When a loved one has a chronic medical condition, knowing when to say goodbye is one of the most difficult decisions that you will ever have to face. The decision is accompanied by a wide range of emotions, from guilt over missed opportunities, to sadness over not having this person in your life any more, to relief that the person’s pain and suffering will soon be at an end. You may have trouble knowing when to seek out hospice care.

When hospice care comes to assist a family with a terminally ill loved one, they neither speed up nor prolong the dying process. Their goal is to provide comfort and dignity for the dying, while allowing the person to pass away in a way that is natural and on their terms. They also provide a lot of support to senior caregivers and other family members during this heartbreaking transition.

A Checklist to Help Make the Decision

Due to the different emotions surrounding the issue of calling in hospice care, it is good to have a kind of checklist that can help your family determine whether now is the right time or not. Here are some guidelines that can help you make that determination about calling in hospice care.

-          Medical treatments are no longer working.

-          The treatment causes more pain than the disease.

-          A decision was made to cease all medical treatments.

-          The loved one announces they are “ready to go”.

-          The loved one asks you to call hospice care.

The last guideline is especially important. If a loved one says they are ready to go and you continue treatment or take them to the hospital, then it could result in causing them pain. Nobody wants to watch their family members suffer and then, in the aftermath of the funeral or memorial service, face the guilt of not fulfilling their lost loved one’s wishes.

Discuss Hospice Sooner than Later

If you wait to talk about hospice, then you risk not having the discussion at all if your loved one’s care takes a turn for the worse. Sometimes having an open conversation about hospice can make it easier to accept end of life care when the time comes that it is needed. You can also ask someone from hospice to come in and talk to your family and answer their questions so they know what to expect.

There is never a right time for us to let go of the family we love, but there is a right time for your loved one. As their health declines, make sure to communicate with them about their wishes. When they ask for hospice, as hard as it is you must make that call. It might be the last thing that you can do for them during their last days or hours with you.

Tips to Help Senior Adults Avoid Isolation

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter can make things difficult for aging seniors. They are at higher risk for health complications like illnesses, accidents, and infections, especially in cold-weather areas of the United States. But more importantly, seniors are at a high risk for being isolated from social companionship, events, and other gatherings.

Humans are social creatures. As we get older, the need for social interaction only increases. Life changes the circumstances, however when a spouse dies, family moves out of the area, or people retire from our careers and our former coworkers are too busy to spend time like they once did. And when they do spend time, they find that common interests have dwindled.

Senior isolation and a lack of social connections can lead to depression, which affects both physical and mental health. Blood sugar rises, the risk of dementia increases, and a fall could result in a lengthy hospital stay. It does not have to be this way, as you can take steps to help them avoid it. Here are some tips to help senior adults prevent isolation.

Plan regular visits. These give seniors something to look forward to, whether it is a regularly scheduled dinner or just spending a few hours together in the afternoon. If you do not live close to your loved one, you can email, all and video chat over the computer to stay connected. You can even hire a home care services company to simply provide companionship. 

Reach out to the neighbors. You may not be able to see your older loved one each day, but their neighbors are right next door. Ask them to stop by and check in every few days, especially if they see that your loved one’s mail or newspaper hasn’t been collected.

Adopt a pet. If your senior family member is not allergic than a pet can help lift feelings of depression and help improve their mood. Even a goldfish in a small tank can provide a relaxing, interactive distraction from loneliness.

Encourage some exercise. If your older family member or loved one lives somewhere that is plagued by snow, then a walk around the block may not be an option. However there are low-impact exercises that can be done indoors – including chair yoga which is done start to finish from a seated position.

Keeping in touch with seniors and making sure their social connections do not take a nose dive is easy if you are willing to take a few extra steps. Check to see if the town where they live offers a senior meal delivery program and sign up for them to get a meal a few days a week. You can also call the local senior activities center to see if they provide transportation to and from the programs they offer to older adults.

Sleeping Better as a Senior Adult

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Growing older means experiencing changes. Some of these changes are small, like a gray hair or a wrinkle, while others can have a big impact on daily life, such as trouble falling asleep or battling full blown insomnia. Sleep problems not only prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, but they can also wreak havoc on your daytime schedule.

Sleep is essential to the mental and physical health of all humans. While we sleep, our bodies repair damage that happens while we are awake, and refreshes our immune systems. People who do not sleep well are at a higher risk for depression, memory issues, shorter attention spans, and other issues.

Tips to Help Improve Sleep

1. IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP ENVIRONMENT.

Go to bed at the same time every night. If necessary, invest in blackout curtains to shut out streetlights and a white noise machine to cancel out the sound of traffic. Avoid smoking or drinking before bedtime as well.

2. CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

A medical condition can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. This might include an injury that causes you pain, or a health issue that causes you to wake up frequently throughout the night.

3. ASK YOUR PHARMACIST ABOUT MEDICATIONS.

As you grow older, you will take more medication than you did when you were younger. Ask your pharmacist if insomnia is a side effect of any of your medications. If it is, then talk to your doctor about alternative solutions.

4. GET ENOUGH EXERCISE.

Physical activity releases endorphins that improve your mood and help you feel more relaxed. Getting enough exercise reduces stress, which can be a huge step toward getting a proper night’s sleep.

5. SOAK UP SOME NATURAL SUNLIGHT.

Sunlight is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Unless you are on a medication that advises you to stay out of the sun, get outside during the day. Sunlight provides us with Vitamin D, regulates melatonin, and helps balance our circadian rhythm.

Another good bit of advice is to only use your bedroom for sleeping, and to keep your room free from technological devices, like a television or a computer. Move clocks in the bedroom to somewhere that you cannot see them when you are lying in bed at night. Also avoid reading from a backlit device like an iPad or e-reader before trying to fall asleep at night.

Naps Can Help Improve Sleep

Finally, try a short nap in the early afternoon. Choose a comfortable place with limited light and noise, and enjoy half an hour or so of uninterrupted rest. It can help you get the energy you need to power through the evening so you are not too tired to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.

Choosing a Senior Care Facility for Dementia Patients

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Most of the senior care homes and retirement centers across the United States now have a section reserved for dementia patients. It does not, however guarantee that the facility will be the right fit for every dementia patient who applies to live there.

This is because as the disease eventually progresses, the needs of the patient will progress as well. If the facility cannot adapt to meet these needs, then it is not the right place for a dementia patient to reside. And because no two dementia patients are alike, it must also account for those situations.

For example one dementia patient may do best in an environment that provides an adequate amount of stimulation. Going too far and over stimulating a different patient, however may cause them to become agitated or even aggressive. When this happens, how does the senior homecare facility handle it?

Fortunately there are questions you can ask to help you choose the right residence for a dementia patient. This is a crucial part of the selection process and essential to assessing both the benefits and disadvantages that each nursing home, senior center, or similar long term residence. The questions are:

1. Does the dementia care wing provide enough space so the patients do not feel restricted or confined to the unit? Dementia patients are known for wandering around, and need space to do this.

2. How does the nursing home or other long-term senior residence challenge a dementia patient’s intellectual needs and abilities? Brain health is important, and regular cognitive stimulation can prolong some of the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

3. What measures does the senior care facility take to promote a positive environment that appeals to multiple senses, such as visual, auditory, and touch? Multi-sensory environments help promote cognitive health as well.

4. Does the facility offer activities that involve music or singing? Many patients, even those who suffer from the advanced stages of dementia, are still able to play an instrument or even sing along with the words to a song.

5. What training does the staff have that is specific to dementia patients? Also ask about how the staff handles patients who become aggressive or act out in some other way.

6. How they handle patients who wander. Do they lock them in their rooms, or do they use a GPS-type of alarm system to keep track of their location?

Finally, when visiting a senior care facility, take a good look at the patients there. Are they clean? How are they dressed? Does the staff show them the same care and respect that they show to patients in the other residential wings and areas? Asking these questions will give you the peace of mind to know that your loved one is in good hands in their new residence.