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.

It’s no secret that seniors are living longer and having a higher quality of life compared to past generations. To maintain the best quality of life, most seniors want to keep their independence for as long as they can. They want to remain comfortable in the familiarity of their own homes. And they are realizing that when they do have disease or illness that threatens their quality of life, in-home care may be an option. That option is becoming increasingly popular.

Home care
A caregiver assists elderly woman.

Many times the quality of life for a senior is affected by mobility problems. A senior can get by if they had some help. At other times a senior’s cognitive skills could be diminishing. A senior can get by if they had some help. For seniors with disabilities and illnesses, it can be difficult to adjust their lifestyles if they live alone and it can be stressful for a spouse or other family member to try and take on the task as caretaker. But is the added tension of being in new surroundings with an assisted living home the answer? If they can get by with a little help, the better answer may be in-home care.

Getting Non-medical Assistance from a Caregiver

Often when the issue of getting by with help involves non-medical assistance, the services of a caregiver may be appropriate for the senior to continue living at home. Non-medical services are activities of daily living. They include such activities as transportation, administering prescribed medicine, bathing, light housekeeping, meal preparations, and grocery shopping. Home care is personalized and tailored to the needs of each individual.

For example, a woman may have hip-replacement surgery. She now needs a walker to get around but is otherwise healthy. Instead of going to a nursing home for rehabilitation, a caregiver can help get her to and from the rehabilitation center or a therapist can come directly to her home. A caregiver can also help with walking or using a wheelchair, doing her errands, including grocery shopping, making her meals, and housecleaning.

In another situation, a man has Alzheimer’s and needs assistance that is not medical-related. A caregiver can help him with paying his bills, getting him to appointments, and managing his medication. The caregiver can also provide companionship while helping with transportation that prevents the man from going out and getting lost. This is much needed peace of mind for the man’s family.

In-home Care – a Low Cost Solution

A very real problem is that when seniors and their family need to make a decision it is most often being made while the senior is in the hospital. There is a rush to find an assisted living home and when one is not immediately available it can result in an extended hospital stay.

The services of in-home care may be a lower cost solution compared to assisted living. Besides allowing a senior to remain at home, they can save on costs based on the kind of care needed and how many daily hours they need this care. In-home care is also less expensive than lengthy inpatient hospitalization. And it can prevent reoccurrence of hospitalization and reduce the need for urgent care.

Find out more about how choosing in-home care may be right for your senior loved one. Contact Because We Care at 770.385.0300 for information.

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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.

Holiday_9Happy New Year! 2016 is here and you might be one of the millions of Americans who plan to diet at the start of the New Year. That’s great, but if you are a senior citizen, your diet needs to combine both losing weight and making healthy choices that fit your dietary needs. Did you know, caregivers can help prepare healthier meals for seniors?

As a senior, you need to get the right nutrition. This is because nutrition is linked to many diseases that you are at risk of getting while you age. It is a myth that seniors who live in assisted living homes and nursing homes are at an advantage because they can select from prepared meals that are specifically made in common areas for the resident seniors. Seniors who live independently don’t have to be at a disadvantage. They can benefit from caregivers to help them make better choices for healthier meals.

One of the many reasons people hire caregivers is to help with meal preparation. Here are some of the benefits seniors can have:

Change habits to best fit dietary needs - When you are a senior, you have tendencies to eat the same foods that you have been eating for decades. But you can’t eat the same foods you ate decades ago. Your nutritional needs and fat intake needs to change to match your metabolism and health concerns. A caregiver can assist you by making foods that are appropriate for your age and health concerns so you form new habits for eating the foods that are right for your diet.

Prepare meals on your schedule – Besides the need to have certain nutrition your eating habits need to be more consistent throughout the day. And if you have health issues that require you to take medication, your schedule to eat needs to work around certain pills you take. A caregiver will help you keep track of your medicine and eating schedule so you eat the right foods at the right time to coincide with when you take your medicine.

Provide tips that offer dietary variety – Having to improve your lifestyle as you age can be stressful. There is much to learn about what foods offer the best nutritional value for your health issues. For example, beans provide a variety of nutrients that help against heart disease. Bananas have nutrients that are good in fighting arthritis. While your doctor might give you some information about what types of nutrients you should take for diseases, a caregiver can provide helpful tips that provide an increased variety for your palate with prepared meals.

Help you start with healthy choices at the grocery store – Your decisions about what you eat start with the types of foods you buy. If you are a senior living independently, you buy your own groceries. A caregiver can help you with your shopping or do your shopping for you. That way, besides helping to select the best foods to prepare healthy meals, a caregiver can also recommend better snacks to maintain your diet throughout the day.

Start the New Year by committing to healthier eating. And remember that you can get help with building better habits that meet your dietary needs. Contact Because We Care to find out how a caregiver can help you with healthier meal preparations. Call us at 770.385.0300.

Chrismas-tree-in-windowSeason’s Greetings! If you are like most of us, you have many plans and preparations to do for the holiday season. If you have an elderly loved one living in a nursing home, you might dread the holiday visits. But visiting the elderly doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Socialization is healthy for the elderly and during this time of year it is especially important to include your elderly loved ones in your plans and preparations.

Sometimes it's important to do things we would rather not because they are the right thing to do. And by visiting, you are helping to boost your elderly loved one’s attitude. Remember that this is a time for giving. Think of ways you can give your time to create a memorable experience during your visit to the nursing home.

Here are some ideas to make your visits more enjoyable.

Contact the nursing home in advance to find out what activities are occurring. Ask if your loved one is usually involved and if family can join in. Some nursing homes will have family events during the holiday season to help family to better deal with their loved one’s mental and health issues.

Bring along a holiday project to include your senior loved one in. Some of the best conversations happen while working side by side on a project. Even when a loved one is in a nursing home, there are still projects that he or she can do with you. Depending on the level of mental awareness and mobility your loved one has, consider projects and games that can be done at a table. And if your loved one is bedridden, help decorate their room or bring a project that you can show them.

Play seasonal music to create a festive atmosphere. Most elderly appreciate some good jingles such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Away in the Manger”, and “Silent Night”. Bring traditional holiday music from artists they will recognize like Bob Hope, Bing Cosby, and Elvis Presley. Sing along with holiday songs. And you might even find some other residents interested in impromptu caroling and performances from the grandkids.

Watch a traditional holiday movie. There are many older movies that might have some of your loved one’s favorite actors in them. Some great choices to rent a DVD are “A Christmas Carol”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, or “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Remember, when you watch a movie with senior citizens you might need to put the sound up.

Socializing is important for a senior citizen’s health. And when the senior is already trying to deal with illnesses and disabilities associated with aging, it is critical that he or she is not further isolated to avoid depression. While visiting him or her in a nursing home, remember to be patient. Laugh often. And create a festive environment that is fun for both you and the one you are visiting.

While making your holiday visits, you might notice your loved one needs more care than the basics that the nursing home offers. Although you might already have a caregiver in the family tirelessly providing services, there are often times the services of a professional caregivers can help.

Our professional caregivers can monitor your elderly parent or grandparent, administer medications, prepare meals, and assist with bathing so you can take some time for yourself. Besides offering gift cards to give a family caregiver a break, Because We Care provides services through many government programs and Medicaid. Call us for more information at (770) 385-0300 or contact Rodney at rodney@becausewecare.net.