Personal Care

June is National Safety Month and elderly safety is always top on our caregivers’ minds at Because We Care. We regularly provide services to elderly who want to stay in their homes but need some assistance. One of the main reasons seniors need assistance is due to mobility problems that are the result of a fall.

fall preventionMany elderly fear having a fall and with good reason. Injuries from falling are a major concern with age. The body is more fragile and bones can break more easily with age. Serious injuries and even death can result due to falls. The Home Safety Council estimates more than 7,000 adults age 65 years and older die annually from injuries sustained in the home. Falls are reported to cause over half of these deaths.

Falls are the top preventable cause of death in the elderly. The key word in this sentence is preventable. The sad truth is that many falls could have been prevented. To best prevent falls, a caregiver’s goal is to make sure the environment is appropriate for the ability and conditions of the senior and to help reduce risks of the senior falling.

Understanding the Senior’s Ability

Ability refers to such factors as the cognitive functions, behavior, balance, and health of the senior. Fall prevention as it relates to a senior’s ability involves paying attention to the movements and needs of the senior.

For example, seniors with balance problems should not rush movements and require more help getting up and sitting down, walking, getting dress, bathing, and other activities where movement is necessary. Simple actions such as getting up too quickly or overextending to reach an item can cause a senior to lose balance and fall.

Another example is when seniors have difficulty concentrating. Over the years they have become comfortable in their surroundings. However, with less concentration they become more susceptible to falling from a misstep or hitting something when they move past it.

Here are 6 ways seniors can prevent falls that account for their ability:

  • Increase balance and strength with exercises such as water aerobics, walking, Tai Chi and yoga.
  • Use aids such as walking canes, walkers, rails, and long-handled reachers.
  • Take time. Avoid moving too quickly and pause more frequently.
  • Wear flat, comfortable shoes and sit down for basic activities such as showering and dressing.
  • Eat regularly to increase physical strength and improve mental alertness.
  • Make lists for reminders, contact information and other information.

Improving Conditions to Prevent Falls

A senior’s conditions refer to the layout, lighting, and other factors that relate to the environment of the home, community, and other places for visiting. Fall prevention as it relates to conditions involves access and safe-proofing locations.

As caregivers, we have a trained eye to recognize and correct some of the problems in a location’s layout, the lighting, and placement of items that can help prevent slips and falls. Concern should go beyond the home. When seniors have difficulty walking, care should be taken to limit the distance they have to walk when transporting a senior and directing them toward ramps or entrances that don’t have stairs.

Here are 8 ways seniors can prevent falls due to conditions in their environment:

  • Clear away clutter in the home to create more open pathways.
  • Remove telephone and electrical cords from heavily used areas.
  • Add adequate lighting in places used regularly and put extra switches in accessible locations.
  • Keep night lights in the hallway, kitchen and bathroom to avoid fumbling in the dark.
  • Change locations and increase the quantity of emergency supplies and fire extinguishers for easier reach when needed.
  • Secure area rugs with non-slip backing or tape.
  • Repair damaged tiles and carpeting that has rips, creases, or looseness.
  • Avoid rocking, swiveling, or moving furniture and make necessary repairs to damaged furniture.

Even when taking precautions to prevent falls, it is difficult to change habits and look at a home a senior has lived in for years with a new perspective for safety. The caretakers at Because We Care have the experience, knowledge and training to see problems and make corrections that help prevent falls. We also know how to handle the situation if a fall were to occur.

Because We Care provides in-home care services that include light housekeeping, companionship, assistance in dressing and bathing, and errands to help make life easier as seniors age. If you would like more information about the our services, contact us at (770) 385-0300.

laughing together“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” ~ Victor Borge

The above quote reminds us about the importance that laughter has in helping an elderly person to live a better quality of life. Sometimes, the biggest thing that person needs to get through the day is a companion to laugh with, someone who is jovial.

It can be difficult for a family caregiver to continuously be cheerful and help bring laughter into a senior’s life when the senior is dealing with a disability. Many times the focus is on caring for the senior and making their life more comfortable and bearable, and this is definitely important. However, oftentimes the needs of the caregiver are overlooked.

There could be feelings of regret, resentment, and other emotions that build up over time. The pressure from the responsibility of care could strain family relations beyond what the family ever envisioned. And that pressure can make it very difficult so that even the most even-tempered caregiver finds it hard to be cheerful and good-humored all of the time.

Whether provided full time or part time, caregiving is a job. Like every job, breaks are a necessity to re-energize and maintain a positive outlook. This is true even for the closest of people. While caregiving can bring a family provider closer to the senior recipient than was ever imagined, there is a lot of work and stress in the job. To relieve stress, the person who provides care needs to take breaks.

Here are 3 ways a caregiver can get a much needed break:

Ask another family member to help.

While this might seem obvious, often others in your family misinterpret your needs. Perhaps you are the type of person who wants to provide comfort and care. You’ve agreed to provide care and during most of the time you enjoy being a caregiver. The problem is you can’t provide care 24/7 so you need to ask for help.

Make it clear that you still want to be the primary caregiver, if this is your desire, while providing a plan for how your family might step in to give you a break. Remember to be flexible when working out a plan. See if someone in your family can come on an easier day where there are not so many things your senior loved one needs. This will not only make them more likely to help out more, it will help ease you of things getting done properly and reduce your time in explaining what is needed.

Find a senior daycare or community center that provides activities.

Seniors want to remain as active as possible and senior daycare or community centers offer activities throughout the day that can work well for seniors with certain disabilities. Activities can vary widely from card games, to arts and crafts, and to senior-level exercise sessions.

You may be able to bring your senior there during an entire week, for certain days of the week, or for a specific part of the day. Check with the facility’s schedule to see their policies. In addition to activities, these facilities often offer transportation, meal plans, and oversight to help reduce your worry. For example, a senior center typically has a receptionist at the entry points so if your senior has Alzheimer’s or dementia, the receptionist would prevent them from leaving unattended by someone you have approved. In some cases, the facility may have nurses or other provide other specialists for optional services.

Hire a personal caregiver.

Juggling the demands of life can be demanding and sometimes other family members are too busy to help. Agencies such as Because We Care provide personal caregivers when you need them. This can be a number of hours one day per week to multiple days in the week and to overnight care. And unlike senior daycare or community centers, you will have more flexibility with your schedule from week to week. Plus, they can come into a nursing home or individual’s home to perform a variety of services. Some of the services provided include preparing meals, dispensing medication, performing light housecleaning, running errands and giving companionship. Additionally, when you get a personal caregiver to assist you in the care of your senior loved one, you can leave your senior in the location they reside while you take that much needed break.

With proper help caring for your senior loved one, you can take the time off you need to handle your own personal needs. When you get the breaks, you are less likely to be overly stressed from the responsibilities of caregiving and more likely to provide the laughter and good temperament that your loved one needs.

If you would like more information about how Because We Care can help provide a family caregiver with a much needed break, contact us at 770.385.0300.

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heartsWith February being Heart Month, there is an emphasis on senior health because you are at an age of greatest risk for heart disease. The good news is that there are ways to help prevent it. These ways primarily consist of making healthy choices through good nutrition, exercise, and weight control.

As a senior, it is important to know about heart disease and prevention. And if you have survived a stroke, heart attack, or have a serious heart condition, you know how scary heart disease is. For those who have a heart condition, living with it is a chronic condition that can go on for many years. Prevention is one thing, but maintaining your lifestyle while keeping up with your doctor visits, taking your medication, and staying healthy can be challenging.

Getting Help from Caregiver Services

During this time, a supportive and helpful caregiver can make an enormous difference. When you are diagnosed with heart disease, you cannot continue to eat the same foods or do the same exercises you did when you were younger. And although it is best to change to healthier habits before your diagnosis, often seniors find this hard even after diagnosis. Hiring a caregiver can provide you with help for developing new routines in dieting, exercising, and taking your medication.

The Habit of Making Healthy Choices

Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice that requires continuously making decisions about what you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat, when you exercise, etc. Caregivers can assist you with shopping for your food and preparing meals. They can keep you on the schedule you need that coincides with the medicine you take while satisfying your nutritional needs. A caregiver can also help you to keep busy and do light exercise by being a consistent companion for walking or by providing transportation to and from places. One of the places a caregiver can drive you to is the local senior center where you can join fitness programs that are age appropriate.

There is plenty of evidence that medication can help you maintain your blood pressure levels as well as cholesterol, glucose, and other significant indicators for heart disease. Therefore, you must be adamant about taking your medications as prescribed by your doctors. This might very well be one of the most important habits you need to make. Caregivers can help by keeping track of when to take your medication, how much to take, and where you keep it. They can also keep track of ordering your medication so you never run out. And they can help administer your prescriptions throughout the day.

Getting the Support You Need

Unlike family, a caregiver can provide more objective support that you may need when you are already facing the challenges of heart disease. You can bounce ideas off them, ask for suggestions, or just vent about what's bothering you. And most caregiver services are available through Medicaid.

If you would like more information about how a caregiver can help you, please contact Because We Care at 770.385.0300.