Archives for posts with tag: mobility functions

As we grow older, normal aging causes elders to experience decline in cognitive functions. Leading a healthy lifestyle that’s both socially and intellectually stimulating combats normal, age-related mental decline.

Here are some additional tips to help keep the mind sharp and brain nourished:

– Paint, draw or doodle: Use your brain by using your hands. Join a local art class, whether stenciling, water color, or oil. Simply making a picture is an excellent workout for the brain.

– Listen to music: Music has been linked to improved cognition and memory functioning. Plus, it can be a mood enhancer or relaxing agent.

– Old dogs can always learn new tricks: Take in a lecture or historical presentation. Check out adult education classes on something you’ve always been interested in, or just something that sounds fun. Local colleges and senior centers can offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. You can learn a new language, become competent as a piano player, or learn new technology (such as an ipad, new computer or cell phone, etc.).

– Do puzzles: Or play cards. A brain challenge will stimulate your intellect, increase your mental capacity, and exercise your brain. Everything from crossword puzzles to jigsaw may be entertaining and helpful.

– Write: A short story? A letter to a long lost friend? Writing improves working memory and your ability to communicate. It can be an email, or a blog, or a private diary.

Maintaining an active, social, healthy lifestyle may be the best defense against dementia and brain disease.

**********************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

As we age, our brain literally shrinks. Over time, we may lose more than 10% of its size. But the brain is similar to muscle, in that muscles shrink and lose strength without exercise. Similarly, the brain can be “exercised” through a variety of different approaches from mindful stimulation, puzzles, and life long learning to proper nutrition and rest.

Seniors may experience declines in many key areas of cognitive function. Here are some tips to maintaining an active brain.

– Exercise: Regular exercise can be extremely positive in keeping the brain healthy. When your body benefits from exercise, so does your brain.

– Reading: Is beneficial on many levels. When you read, you may experience “new learning”. You absorb the information contained in the book. And the functional act of reading actually helps to build connections within the brain that make it more versatile.

– Eat properly: Concentrating on an all-around healthy diet may be the best nutritional strategy for keeping the brain, and body, in good health. Research has identified many foods and food groups such as fish, and nuts, which have been linked to a healthy brain.

– Maintain good posture: Maintaining an upright posture improves circulation and blood-flow to the brain. Slouching posture requires the circulatory system to work harder to maintain healthy blood flow.

– Sleep well: Getting enough sleep is important for mind and body. Sleep provides rest for a weary and tired body, supporting a refreshed body and mind.

************************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Are your elderly parents safe living in their home? Generally, they sound comfortable on the long distance phone call. But aging issues can negatively effect their home safety and mobility due to the haziness brought on by medications — physical weakness or soreness which has them compensating their posture — and eyesight deterioration.

Here are some simple, and helpful changes to the home which may assist elder navigation and safety.

— Remove throw rugs. They may look nice, but they effectively change the surface level of the floor, which can effect the steps and gait of a senior. They may protect the carpet, but they can easily slip and slide, which is a tripping/falling hazard. Keep the flooring levels simple and consistent. Can they walk unimpeded with a cane or walker?

— Remove items that can block hallways and walkways. Seniors need a clear, open path for navigation. Obstructions can hinder movement, and be unsafe for elders who may be having difficulty with eyesight as well as physical movements. Keep electrical cords covered, or tacked to the wall perimeter. Walking from room to room should be free of all obstructions.

— Install railings or grab bars. How many times have you witnessed your elderly parents navigate their household by grabbing onto counter tops, door knobs, and furniture as they shuffle from living room to dining room, or bathroom? If seniors are unsteady, consider installation of railings and grab bars throughout the house. Certainly, this is a very positive safety addition to tub and shower areas.

— Home security. Are doors locked? Are windows locked? My parents live in a nice neighborhood which can be a target for theft. Installing sensor lighting in driveway, and a dead bolt on the back door, has been very helpful additions in addressing safety concerns.

*****************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Asthma sufferers can get help that will enable you to enjoy life while managing your symptoms. There are preventative steps that can be taken to minimize some inflammation issues.

First, you might begin by speaking with your physician and developing an action plan. Asthma is treated with two types of medicines: long-term control and quick-relief medicines. Long-term control medicines help reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms. Quick-relief, or “rescue” medicines relieve asthma symptoms that may flare up. This may mean, for example, using an inhaled cortico-steroid every day and an inhaled long-acting spray as soon as symptoms begin to appear. It may also mean using an over-the-counter antihistamine, perhaps in combination with a decongestant to relieve nasal congestion.

While asthma has no cure, it can be effectively managed. Working closely with an asthma specialist can provide guidance on taking medicines properly, avoiding asthma triggers, tracking level of asthma control, responding to worsening symptoms, and seeking emergency care when needed. In short, it means staying on top of your game and your condition. This might include, for example, using a peak flow meter, which will show if your asthma is getting worse, even before you start to feel symptoms.

Best to build a plan to manage your asthma with your primary care physician.

***************************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Asthma affects an estimated one in 12 Americans. It is a chronic lung disease where the airways narrow and swell, producing extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Other common symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. It can be debilitating for sufferers.

Here are suggestions on preventive actions that can be taken:

• Pay attention to pollen counts and stay indoors when they are very high. High pollen count days tend to be warm and windy (with lowest pollen count days when it rains).
• Keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on when you are in the house or car. This will keep the pollen from coming inside.
• Regularly vacuum and dust flat surfaces in the house. Pollen collects in dust, so cleaning will keep levels down indoors.
• Wash the pollen off when you return home. It might seem like overkill, but it’s a good idea to shower and change your clothes when you return home.
• Use your medication preventatively, rather than waiting for symptoms to appear.

Bottom line is…if you have asthma don’t simply “grin and bear it” or wrap yourself in a bubble to avoid contact with allergens that trigger asthma symptoms.

***************************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Heat related fatigue or illness effecting elderly parents can take many forms, including rapid breathing, weakness or fainting, headaches, and confusion.

First and foremost, replenish the elderly – or anyone suffering from heat related issues – with water, which is best served at room temperature. This will help to cool the body. Can they be moved to a cooler location in the house? Is there a fan to blow air over them? Certainly removing excess clothing will help. Allowing the skin to cool down as it emits water will help the body to lower temperature and stabilize.

Some additional tips for keeping seniors cool and comfortable:

— If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes down and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, but keep windows slightly open to allow for ventilation. Is there a finished basement in the house? Usually this room is much cooler.

— Keep electric lights off or turned down low, and turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances, such as computers and TV’s which generate a lot of heat.

— Have you ever walked into the kitchen during dinner preparation and felt the room hotter than the rest of the house? Avoid generating excessive heat. Minimize use of the toaster. Try to cook without the oven. And avoid heavy meals.

— Be aware that certain medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature and/or may make it easier for your skin to burn. This includes both common prescription and over the counter drugs. Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding side effects of your medications.

— Use a fan in the house near the window to bring in the cooler air from the outside. But don’t use a fan to bring in hot air from the outside. Don’t use a fan in a closed room without windows or doors open to the outside.

*************************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

In addition to our elderly parents, other family members may also suffer from denial. Have you ever said to yourself, “Mom and Dad seem ok. When I spoke with them last week, they said everything was fine.”

Can you honestly trust their opinion? Are they fooling themselves? Or you?

Many elders have a form of dementia, some cognitive impairment or memory issue, and/or a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. It is extremely difficult for family members to accept that our elderly parents have gotten old, and changed. They have lost much functional ability, and they are no longer the parent you may remember. Having a realistic perspective about your elders is crucial.

If you are ignoring the signs of aging, you may be worsening the issue. You may be allowing your elderly loved ones to put themselves at risk.

Establish safeguards and reference points in observing behaviors. Do any dear friends whisper signs of observed deterioration? Does the doctor mention things to watch for? Is your own observation enough to cause you to stop and question what you have seen or heard? Ask questions from your family caregivers…what are they dealing with?

Are you observing anger? Do you see multiple and unusual disbursements from the checkbook? Are clothes increasingly soiled? Has there been a recent series of scratches or dents on the car?

There are professional resources available in most communities. Educate yourself on warning signs. Encourage medical involvement. Be aware that small, sometimes subtle changes in the aging continuum can be the alarm for increased scrutiny and assistance.

***********************************************************************
– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

“You don’t need to worry about it…I can do it myself”.

How many times have you heard such a statement from your elderly parents?

The subject of conversation could be almost anything. Have you cut the lawn? Have you had breakfast/lunch or dinner? Are you due for medications? Need help with errands, or laundry, or paying some bills?

Elders may be in denial as to their ability to properly function. And while we don’t want to take these functions away from them – especially if they remain able to complete the task at hand and live with some degree of independence – they may be denying the truth. They will not make themselves lunch. They have not taken their medications.

Seniors can hurt themselves, or others, when they deny the truth. If your loved one tries to do everything as they’ve always done, but in reality they require supervision, they are bound to hurt themselves or others. It could be a fender-bender in the supermarket parking lot; or heat exhaustion and possible heart attack from cutting the lawn. Or confusion from lack of food and too many prescription pills. Finally, if the “well spouse” has memory impairment, and he/she is caring for elderly partner, there may be unintentional harm.

— If a loved one has memory impairment, he or she will more than likely not be eating a healthy and nutritional diet. Poor nourishment, and lack of hydration, can quickly create problems. Meal planning, and grocery shopping, requires time and attention. Not to mention proper food preparation. Always a good idea to scan the food in the refrigerator, and boxes/cans stored in cabinets. Has anything been kept too long?

Seniors and driving accidents. Elders lose reflexes, hearing, and eyesight. This may result in bumping up over the curb, or scraping another nearby vehicle. But auto accidents can be catastrophic. Pedestrians and innocent bystanders could be hurt. As well as the elderly driver.

Elderly can overdose on medications. And many times the reason is simple…they can’t remember when or how many pills they took. So they double up on quantities when they do remind themselves about pill time. Increasingly, many elders are ingesting a dozen or more pills over the course of a day. This can be very, very difficult to keep track of for elderly parents and family members.

**********************************************************************

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Denial can be an internal mechanism of protection. It can protect us from certain emotions we want to avoid, or refuse to accept. But sometimes it can be a hindrance in acknowledging the truth, or dealing with the reality of a person or situation. When an elderly parent or caregiver is in denial, it may quickly lead to unhealthy situations.

Sometimes, denial can be compounded by distance. But it also may occur right in front of us. For example, having a long distance telephone conversation with my mother – who is clearly not feeling well. But she denies sickness in order to avoid the truth of a hospital visit. Or, my mother denying the fact that my father has become a risk while driving, and allowing him to continue “because he has always done that”.

Caregivers need to be cognizant of right vs. wrong when caring for an aging parent or loved one. I will highlight some areas to monitor below, and next week.

1.) Elder confusion (or abuse) can be both subtle, and overt. Years ago, my mother had a roofing contractor come by the house, and tell her the driveway needed re-paving. This was the same contractor who had performed the work 2 years prior. He then submitted an exhorbitant invoice, and she innocently wrote a payment for the amount. It was stealing.

Denial can also be (somewhat) unintentional, personal, and subtle. A wife who yells at her husband to get up off the couch and cut the lawn, or go up in the attic, or take out the garbage, may not understand they are actually being abusive. The wife is urging the husband to “be what he once was”, but he may not be physically or mentally capable of such functions.

2.) Seniors can become disoriented.
Certain memory banks in the brain have been rendered inaccessible due aging or disease (alzheimer’s). The brain doesn’t remember directions or locations as it did before memory impairment. This can lead to frustration, panic, and anger.

3.) Seniors can have a home accident.
We had a case of an elderly woman starting a fire in her kitchen. She made two mistakes…placing flammable materials in the microwave, and setting the cook time too high. Or, sometimes the simple act of standing from a previous sitting position can cause fainting, and disorientation. A fall can easily break brittle bones and cause significant bodily damage. Leaving your elderly parents unsupervised can lead to accidents all over the house…in the kitchen, bathroom, stairway or outside.
***************************************************************************

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Re-posting a recent home care industry blog…

For years now, home care has been a more affordable option than any other type of senior care. Compared to the services available in nursing homes and assisted living residences, the cost for home care can be significantly less (although this may vary by state) and more controllable.

As the Baby Boomer generation closes in on retirement age, there is expected to be an increased demand for these types of support systems for growing numbers of seniors. As men and women live longer than ever, they also often face increased health risks, physical limitations, and other challenges.

Some of these seniors may require a minimal level of care and support at home while others might demand full-time, around the clock care from home care aides, visiting nurses, and other medical professionals.

Home health care can encompass many aspects of care and support, including the aforementioned visiting nurses, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and home care aides. It is designed to meet patients’ needs, and is adjustable based on each patient. There can be several payer sources including private pay, limited Medicare, some specific veteran pension benefits, and long term care insurance.

Home care aides are ideally suited to provide lower cost support and care for seniors and disabled adults. They don’t require medical training and, depending on the agency or other home care provider, they may not require any prior experience, but their physical and emotional support for these seniors is often immeasurable.

Each person is different and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to home care services. With regard to nursing home care and other options, seniors who may only require minimal care could find themselves in an uncomfortable environment that is far more costly than if they remained home, perhaps in a home they’d lived for many years.

More and more seniors are realizing the value of home care support for basic assistance and even companionship, and with private financial sources, they can be relied upon for anything the elderly client may need. It can be ideal for helping the senior get out of bed, to go to the store, or even assistance preparing breakfast, for example.

The cost factor of home care continues to make it a far better option, according to many, than any other type of elderly care.