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  • Marc Feder
  • June 21, 2017 12:35:40 AM

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Our home care and healthy living blog covers a wide range of topics concerning aging and health, support and guides for caregivers providing care, and articles on living a more healthy and positive lifestyle.

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The Fourth of July: Celebrating and Promoting Senior Independence

Independence Day — For All July 4th. The birth of American indepence. Picnics, patriotic t-shirts, and brilliant firework displays. It’s the quintessential mark of our very human desire to be free. The desire to ‘do it myself,’ like every two-year-old asserts. Yet, what does Independence Day mean for those who are slowly becoming more dependent on those around them? The post The Fourth of July: Celebrating and Promoting Senior Independence appeared first on Community Home Health...

Independence Day — For All

July 4th. The birth of American indepence. Picnics, patriotic t-shirts, and brilliant firework displays.

It’s the quintessential mark of our very human desire to be free. The desire to ‘do it myself,’ like every two-year-old asserts.

Yet, what does Independence Day mean for those who are slowly becoming more dependent on those around them? What does the word ‘independence’ mean to aging seniors and their caregivers?

This July 4th, we’re talking about senior independence — what it means, why it’s so important and how to promote it. Plus, some inspiration for seniors and caregivers navigating the delicate balance of dependence and independence.

Why Independence is Hard to Define

Did you build your own house? Did you sew your clothes, grow and harvest your food — all with tools you built yourself? Of course not! Yet you still consider yourself an independent person, correct? That’s because independence is not about self-reliance, but about how you perceive your own ability to care for yourself independently.

Ask yourself; what does independence mean to me? Is it the ability to make your own schedule? Get out of the house? Take on new responsibilities without much pressure? Maybe it’s the ability to make your choices without being told what to do.

“When I was younger, I thought independence meant working hard and saving up for a house. As I got older, I realized part of being an adult was deciding what role I wanted to play in my life.”

Everyone has their own criteria for independence.

What’s the big deal?

Your golden senior years are a joyous time. A time to explore your past accomplishments, your goals for the future, and what independence means to you. Your body and mind are changing. Your capacity to work is changing. You may even need help with basic functioning like meal preparation, bathing and dressing.

That’s why independence is a buzzword for seniors. It means everything to hold on to the freedom and independence you still have as you age.
No matter your age, freedom and independence are crucial to our self-esteem.

The Good News

Your golden years are a prime time to do things you never would have dreamt of before. Asking for help with bathing can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your independence.

When you retire, for the first time in your life you have the freedom to decide what you’ll do with your time. It’s a great time to try new things! Senior independence can mean doing things for yourself that you wouldn’t have dreamed of doing when you were younger—working on a book, for example, or starting your own small business, or buying a pet. It means planning your days so that you get the most out of each hour, and not wasting time on things that don’t contribute to your happiness.

“When I turned 71, I took an art class for the first time in my life. And to my surprise, I discovered a real talent! Now I use my time to paint portraits and beautiful scenery for my kids’ homes. Seeing my handiwork hanging on their walls brings me such joy. What would have been if I never took that art class?”

4 Ways to Promote Senior Independence

Whether you’re a caregiver or a senior, you can promote senior independence the following ways:

1. Improve your advocacy skills.

When making decisions on behalf of another, or making decisions a team instead of on your own, it’s important to
● Stay positive
● Use a pleasant tone of voice
● Communicate as clearly as possible
● Be okay with comprising for the sake of another

Keep these things in mind when advocating for yourself or your loved one. Not sure if you’re being an effective advocate? Ask for
feedback from those around you!

2. Encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Staying healthy is crucial to maintaining your independence, especially as we age. It means staying functional and active for longer and needing less help with physical tasks. Take a look at your diet and see where you can add more whole grains, vegetables, and cut down on processed foods and foods high in fat and sodium. Commit to an exercise routine that suits your level and stick to it! You’re sure to see both physical and emotional improvement from living a healthier lifestyle.

3. Talk openly about aging.

Aging. We’re all headed towards it, every second of our lives. Today’s media likes to convince us that staying young forever is a commendable (and attainable!) goal. Instead of falling for the promise of a fountain of youth, embrace aging with grace and be proud of all your years of experience, friendships you’ve made, and accomplishments you’ve achieved.

4. Make things easy to access.

Speaking up and asking for help can be really uncomfortable. Especially when you have to ask for so many things, so often.

An easy way to decrease the number of times a senior needs to ask their caregiver for help — make commonly used items easily accessible. That limits the need for constant requests for help reaching or lifting for things. Clothing, food, appliances, toiletries, etc, should all be made available to the senior.

“My mom asked me to move the outfits she wears most often to a lower shelf. Now she can dress herself every morning without calling for her caregiver. It’s the simple changes like these that allow her to feel independent.”

Growing Every Day

When you’re forming or maintaining a caregiver-senior relationship, every day is a new opportunity for personal growth. Here are some inspirational quotes to help you on your journey.

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

― Socrates

No matter how dependent we become on others, whether due to life circumstances, illness, or age, we can still think for ourselves. And that is true independence.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

― Rosalyn Carter

Caregiving is universal. At some point in your life, you have given care or received care. Embrace it.

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”

― Albert Camus

So…you’re independent. The pivotal question is: what are you going to do with your independence?

Happy Fourth of July!

Whether you’re celebrating as a caregiver or senior, Independence Day is a time for reflection on our relationships and goals. Make sure to see some fireworks while you’re pondering!

If you’re looking for a caregiver or professional to help your elderly loved one age with grace and independence, contact Community Home Health Care at 845-425-6555 or contact us through our site.

The post The Fourth of July: Celebrating and Promoting Senior Independence appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


Make Home Safer: Easy Ways to Prevent Common Senior Accidents

Should you be concerned about at-home senior injuries? According to the CDC, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries every year. Less than half of seniors report their falls to their doctors. The effects of a bad fall or home accident can be devastating. The post Make Home Safer: Easy Ways to Prevent Common Senior Accidents appeared first on Community Home Health...

Should you be concerned about at-home senior injuries?

According to the CDC, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries every year. Less than half of seniors report their falls to their doctors.

The effects of a bad fall or home accident can be devastating. Twenty-five percent of senior falls cause injury to more than one part of the body (compared to an average sixteen percent among other age groups). Accidents can cause broken bones or head injuries. One in five falls among women aged 55 and over requires hospital treatment.

Although most falls do not result in a serious injury, being unable to get back up can cause pressure sores and hypothermia while they’re stuck in one place waiting for help.

Besides, the senior can become afraid of falling again. This fear may cause your loved one to cut down on their everyday activities, causing themselves to become weaker and increasing their chances of getting injured.

The good news is that you can easily prevent the most common senior home accidents by making small changes to your elderly loved one’s home environment.

“After my mom fell and broke her wrist, I took the time to declutter her home. Now she feels much safer, and I’m calmer knowing there is less of a chance she’ll fall again.”

Who is most at risk for home accidents?

Most at-home senior accidents are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a senior has, the greater their chances of getting injured at home. The main risk factors for getting injured at home include:

● Lower body weakness
● Difficulties with walking and balance
● Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants (some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet)
● Vision problems
● Foot pain
● Poor footwear
● Home hazards or dangers
● Vitamin D deficiency
● Calcium deficiency
● A history of previous falls

The 9 Most Common (and Avoidable) Senior Home Accidents

The following nine injury types are most common for seniors living at home:

1. Falls
2. Burns
3. Choking
4. Medication overdose or improper medication
5. Bedsores
6. Infections
7. Lacerations
8. Sprains
9. Joint dislocation

Make Your Senior’s Home Environment Safer in 5 Minutes

You can make a home safer for older adults in as little as five minutes. Here are some ways you can make your elderly loved one’s home safer and help them navigate their homes with confidence:

Kitchen:

● Install induction stoves (rather than gas or electric)
● Purchase a one-cup boiler
● Install a stove with an automatic shut off
● Purchase a cooktop fire-suppressor and quickly install it using magnets
● Purchase a jar opener and safety can opener
● Place the things they use most often on the lower shelves (about waist high)
● Label containers and storage areas clearly

Sitting Room/Lounge:

● Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, clutter, or electric cables
● Check if the senior and their walker/wheelchair can easily navigate the room (if not, rearrange the furniture to allow easy navigation)
● Purchase a chair raiser
● Replace carpet with cushioned non-slip flooring

Bedroom:

● Use risers to increase the height of the bed
● Ensure drawer handles offer easy access
● Place an easy-to-reach lamp close to the bed
● Light the path from their bed to the bathroom (ideally with two-way switches that glow in the dark)

“We placed lightbulbs along the path from my dad’s bed to the bathroom. He says it’s the best gift we’ve ever given him!”

Bathroom:

● Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet (if there are grab bars already, make sure they are tight and in good condition)
● Install a higher toilet seat
● Put down non-slip mats with anti-skid backing (or replace the bathroom tiles with a non-slip surface)
● Install walk-in showers and baths

Stairs:

● Remove items lying on the stairs
● Ensure there are no upturned carpet edges
● Put railings on both sides of stairs (or tighten existing railings)
● Repair or remove damaged or worn carpet
● Repair uneven steps or broken steps
● Look at stairlift options

Floors:

● Get rid of things they could trip over (upturned carpet edges, clutter, electric cables, etc)
● Avoid repetitive carpet patterns (they may produce optical illusions)

In General:

● Make thresholds between rooms easy to walk over by installing anti-slip ramps
● Light their home with more or brighter light bulbs (ideally with lighting that simulates daylight because it’s most effective and can improve moods)
● Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home

“I’m amazed at the difference a few small changes could make! We put my grandmother’s microwave on the counter, and bought her a walker with a tray so she can bring her food to the table. It’s much safer and it gives her more independence.”

Simple Changes A Senior Can Make to Avoid Accidents

In order to prevent injuries, your elderly loved one should:

● Wear well-fitting footwear
● Get out of bed and chairs slowly so as not to become dizzy
● Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines to see if any might make them dizzy or sleepy
● Ask their doctor about taking vitamin D supplements
● Exercise to make their lower body stronger and improve balance
● Avoid leaving items lying around on the floor or stairs
● Have a ‘grabber’ that helps pick things up off the floor without having to bend down
● Clean up spills immediately to prevent slipping on them
● Keep two walking sticks, one at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom
● Use the microwave to cook or heat food more rather than the oven or stove (if the microwave is easily accessible)
● Learn what to do if they have a fall or other accident
● Do not dry clothes on heaters
● Clean lint from the clothes dryer once a month (or ask a friend or family member to do it for them)
● Turn the cold water on first when filling the bathtub
● Use the rear burners when cooking on the stove top, and turn the panhandles away from the front of the cooker

“Last year my dad fell while trying to pick up a sweater from the floor. We bought him a new ‘grabber’ and he uses it all the time now! He can pick things up easily without fear of falling.”

“My great aunt insisted on frying her own food. It used to be okay, but her arthritis was getting worse and making it harder for her to do things with her hands. When she got a small burn we spoke to her gently about the risks. Now she uses an air-fryer and loves the health benefits, too!”

Make Your Senior’s Home Safer Today

You can implement the above tips today to make your senior loved one’s home as safe as possible.

If you’re looking for a caregiver or professional to help your elderly loved one navigate their home as safely as possible, contact Community Home Health Care at 845-425-6555 or contact us through our site.

The post Make Home Safer: Easy Ways to Prevent Common Senior Accidents appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


7 Practical Stress Relief Techniques for Caregivers (And Their Seniors)

Stress is Normal, But… Our bodies were made to experience and react to stress. Feeling occasional stress is normal and a sign that your reflexes are functioning properly. Cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine, the stress hormones, get us to act quickly when faced with danger and often save our lives. However, these hormones are helpful only for immediate, The post 7 Practical Stress Relief Techniques for Caregivers (And Their Seniors) appeared first on Community Home Health...

Stress is Normal, But…

Our bodies were made to experience and react to stress. Feeling occasional stress is normal and a sign that your reflexes are functioning properly. Cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine, the stress hormones, get us to act quickly when faced with danger and often save our lives. However, these hormones are helpful only for immediate, short-term challenges. Prolonged stress can have negative effects on our health.

Chronic stress (when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the nervous system doesn’t get a chance to relax) can cause
● Headaches
● Insomnia
● Depression
● Irritability
● High blood pressure and blood sugar
● Decreased immune function
● Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes

(For information on the causes of chronic stress and how to recognize the signs in your loved one, read our article, Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers.)

Here’s a list of simple, practical things that can relieve stress for yourself or for your loved one.

#1: Exercise

Putting physical “stress” on your body can actually reduce mental stress. Exercising regularly lowers your body’s stress hormone levels and encourages the release of endorphins. (Endorphins are the hormones that improve your mood, naturally.)

Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep. This can be helpful to those whose stress is affecting their sleep.

Find an exercise style that suits your physical capabilities and that you enjoy. There are so many options to choose from, such as walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, yoga, pilates, and more!

Yoga is known to be particularly soothing and relaxing, as it has a meditative effect. According to studies, yoga can enhance your mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs.

You can work out on your own when you have time off, join a class, or have senior-and-caregiver exercise time! Put on your workout clothes and get going!

#2: Music

Who doesn’t love the sound of music?

Music can help relieve stress, especially classical, slow compositions. It can slow your heart rate and pulse, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your levels of stress hormones. Music also acts as a distraction, making it easier for you to relax, sleep, or meditate.

Whether you’re a senior or a caregiver, you can find music you love and listen to it whenever you can. Listen to music before you go to bed, when you’re washing dishes, walking the dog, or driving. Find ways to incorporate the music you enjoy into your everyday life.

#3: Art

It’s time to get in touch with your inner artist! Adult coloring books with intricate geometric patterns have recently become a popular stress-relief tool, and for good reason.

Research shows that painting, coloring, beading, and similar activities can have a meditative effect on your mental state. Getting creative and becoming deeply engrossed in the activity at hand can help you relax and relieve your stress. Seniors and their caregivers can benefit from getting creative together or during the caregiver’s off time.

At the end, you’ll have something beautiful to show for it! Now, where should we hang the newest painting…

#4: Connection

Feeling overwhelmed? Get a hug from a loved one.

Social support and meaningful connections can help relieve your stress, whether you’re a senior or a caregiver. It can give you a sense of belonging and value.

In addition, the positive physical contact of family and friends can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower your blood pressure and your heart rate.

You can also talk with family and friends and the phone or over video calls. If no one is available for a cuddle or a call, even interacting with a pet can have stress-relieving effects.

#5: Deep Breathing

Take a deep breath in through your nose, Now let it out, slowly, from your mouth.

Simply focusing on your breathing or changing your breathing pattern can make a huge difference to your overall stress levels.

You can take just three to five minutes during a stressful meeting or in a crowded space to focus on and slow your breathing to help you relax.

There are many breathing techniques and patterns. Here’s a simple one: Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly expand with air. Count slowly to four as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your mouth as you count to four again.

You can practice this technique anywhere, anytime. And no one has to know that you’re doing it. Breathing exercises could be key to reducing your stress.

#6: A Healthy Diet

Take a good look at what you’re feeding your body. (If you have a hard time keeping track of your diet, consider starting a food journal and write down what and when you eat.)

The first thing to do is reduce your caffeine consumption. Caffeine is okay and even helpful in small amounts, but large amounts of caffeine may worsen stress symptoms in people already prone to stress and anxiety.

Emotional eating and eating lots of sugars and fats can provide a temporary feeling of relief. Yet in the long-term, it only adds to your stress.

Refined carbs (white bread, pastries, potato chips, etc) can cause a spike in your blood sugar. When your blood sugar subsequently crashes, you may experience more stress.

The good news? Specific foods like salmon, eggs, avocado, yogurt, dark chocolate, almonds, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance. So go ahead and add plenty of those to your diet!

#7: Laughter

“Laughter is the best medicine.” Research has proven this correct time and time again.

Laughter relaxes your tense muscles and relieves your nervous system’s stress response. Laughter also enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Watch comedy shows, spend time with people who make you laugh, and simply find the humor in everyday life.

This is one prescription you don’t have to pick up at the drugstore!

When You’re Feeling Blue

Stress is a part of life. But when it becomes chronic, you need to take control and implement stress-relieving techniques. Seniors and caregivers are more prone to stress than other groups of people.

Feeling stressed out? Here’s a quick round-up of the above:
1. Go for a brisk walk.
2. Play classical music.
3. Take out a coloring book.
4. Hug a loved one.
5. Do deep breathing exercise for five minutes.
6. Eat some salmon, eggs, avocado, yogurt, dark chocolate, almonds, or walnuts.
7. Listen to a comedian you like.

Reach Out

Looking for more helpful resources? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides.

Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical assistance, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.

The post 7 Practical Stress Relief Techniques for Caregivers (And Their Seniors) appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


Malnutrition in Seniors (How to Spot it + How You Can Help)

16% of Americans 65+ consume fewer than 1000 calories per day — that means a whopping number of seniors are at high risk for undernutrition (Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). As we age, our bodies begin needing fewer calories, and more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients. Seniors are particularly susceptible to malnutrition because they have different dietary needs than younger adults and few people are aware of these differences. The post Malnutrition in Seniors (How to...

16% of Americans 65+ consume fewer than 1000 calories per day — that means a whopping number of seniors are at high risk for undernutrition (Health and Nutrition Examination Survey).

As we age, our bodies begin needing fewer calories, and more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients. Seniors are particularly susceptible to malnutrition because they have different dietary needs than younger adults and few people are aware of these differences.

The good news? You can take practical steps to keep your loved one from being a part of that frighteningly large group of malnourished seniors. People often assume that nutritional deficiencies are an inevitable consequence of aging and that intervention doesn’t make much of a difference.

Read on to learn how you can help your loved one get the nutrition they need.

Your Body Needs Nutrients

Malnutrition means that a person’s body is not getting the fuel or nutrients it needs to function properly. The two main parts of malnutrition are

1. Not eating enough
2. Not receiving enough nutrients

Even a person who eats three meals a day still may not be getting proper nutrition. For example, an ounce of almonds gives you 3.5 grams of fibre, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 37% of your daily vitamin E, 32% of your daily Manganese, 20% of your daily Magnesium, and a nice amount of copper, vitamin B2 and phosphorus! Compare that to an ounce of popcorn – 2.8 grams of fibre, 2.6 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 0.1% of your daily Vitamin A, 0.1% of your daily Vitamin C, 0.3% of your daily Calcium, and 4.4% of your daily Iron. Eating properly means considering both the quantity and quality of the foods you consume.

The Consequences

When a person, and especially an elderly person, does not give their body the nutrition it needs to function, they’ll suffer serious consequences. Malnutrition can cause

● Longer recovery times from wounds and illness
● Reduced muscle and tissue mass
● Decreased mobility and stamina (due to muscle wasting)
● Breathing difficulties
● An increased risk of chest infection and respiratory failure
● Slower immune response (which increases the risk of getting infections, and increases the length of time that it takes to recover from infection)
● Difficulty staying warm, increasing the risk of hypothermia
● Increased hospital admissions
● More visits to the GP

All the above health problems can be avoided, or at least decreased, if your elderly loved one gets proper nutrition.

Causes of Malnutrition in Seniors

Seniors are one of the most at-risk groups for malnutrition due to their aging bodies and changing life circumstances. Your loved one may be malnourished because of

● Difficulty getting food (either due to lack of budget, or problems leaving the house and getting to the store independently).
● Dementia
● Living alone, without social interaction at mealtime
● Medication side-effects that suppress appetite or create bitter tastes
● Restricted diets such as low sodium or low-fat diets
● Depression or lack of interest in cooking
● Trouble swallowing
● Trouble eating (due to sore gums or poor dental health)

How to Spot Senior Malnutrition

Do you suspect your loved one may be suffering from malnutrition? The following signs and symptoms can clue you in, especially if your loved one is hiding their habits from you to save you from worrying.

● Low body weight or (unintentional) weight loss
● Clothes that don’t fit like they used to
● Depression and lack of energy
● Concerns with memory
● Not remembering what or when they last ate
● Frequent illnesses
● Dry, cracked skin and slow healing bruises or wounds
● Old, expired food in the fridge
● Troubles chewing or swallowing
● Muscle weakness
● Falls

13 Ways You Can Help

So you’ve identified that the senior in your care is malnourished or at risk of being malnourished. Here are 13 practical steps you can take to help them get the nutrients they need and be as healthy as possible. (Different solutions will work for different people, so
choose a few that work for you and your loved one!)

1. Prepare meals for them (especially easy to eat and swallow such as soups, yogurt, smoothies, and other soft foods.)
2. Pick up groceries for them or have groceries delivered to their house (and if necessary help put them away).
3. Plan easy-to-make meals with them and make sure they have the necessary ingredients and utensils.
4. Order them a meal delivery program.
5. Make sure they have healthy snacks to eat between meals (prepared fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and proteins).
6. Ask their doctor about removing or substantially modifying their dietary restrictions.
7. Talk to their doctor about nutritional supplements like prepared shakes or drinks.
8. Help them get regular physical activity (this can improve appetite and strengthen their body).
9. Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs to encourage their interest in eating.
10. Arrange a visit with a registered dietitian.
11. Improve protein intake by adding meat, peanut butter, or protein powder to their diet.
12. Ask their doctor about limiting medications that aggravate nutritional problems.
13. Encourage family members, friends, or a caregiver to be present at mealtime (and to assist in the feeding if necessary).

Every Bit Counts

The key in helping seniors get the nutrients they need is identifying what foods and nutrients they need and getting those foods and nutrients to them and into their bodies.

Every bit of improvement in your elderly loved one’s diet has a huge positive impact on their health. It’s never too late to begin implementing solutions and speaking to their practitioner.

Reach Out

Looking for more helpful resources for helping your loved one? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides.

Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical help, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.

The post Malnutrition in Seniors (How to Spot it + How You Can Help) appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers

Understanding Stress Before we deal with managing stress, let’s understand what stress really is. The definition of stress is your body’s response to a situation that requires action. In simpler terms, stress is how you react to challenging or threatening situations. The causes of stress are called ‘stressors,’ which are defined by Wikipedia as “a chemical or biological agent, The post Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers appeared first on Community Home Health...

Understanding Stress

Before we deal with managing stress, let’s understand what stress really is. The definition of stress is your body’s response to a situation that requires action. In simpler terms, stress is how you react to challenging or threatening situations.

The causes of stress are called ‘stressors,’ which are defined by Wikipedia as “a chemical or biological agent, environmental condition, external stimulus or an event seen as causing stress to an organism.” A stressor can be anything that an individual might consider demanding, challenging, or threatening to his safety.

In response to stressors, the hypothalamus, the “control tower” in your brain, tells your body to release stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine) which increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure and boost energy supplies. This puts you in ‘fight or flight’ mode, ready to deal with oncoming danger.

This biochemical mechanism helps us deal with challenges and demands. For example, we need our stress response when trapped in a burning building, facing a fear (like dogs or public speaking), or losing our job. The stress hormones get us to act and often save our lives. However, these hormones are helpful only for immediate, short-term challenges.

The Effects of Chronic Stress

When our bodies keep firing off cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine every day, and several times a day, it begins to take a toll on our health. Chronic stress may cause symptoms such as:

● Headaches
● Insomnia
● Depression
● Irritability
● High blood pressure
● High blood sugar
● Decreased immune function
● Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes

All of the above are serious health risks, especially for seniors. As we age, our bodies become less resilient and more prone to health issues. We must be on the lookout for signs of stress in our aging loved ones.

Signs of Stress in Seniors

As a caregiver, you are uniquely positioned to look out for signs of stress and implement stress management strategies early on. You know your loved one’s routines and habits and can tell if something changes. Here are a few concerning signs to watch out for:

● Changes in eating habits (eating too much or not enough)
● Weight gain or weight loss
● Changes in mood (increased irritability, anxiety, sadness, indifference, or even unusual elation or overactivity)
● Difficulties with short-term memory
● Difficulties with concentration and decision-making
● Problems sleeping
● Physical discomfort (headaches, stomach problems, headaches, or chest pains)
● Withdrawal and isolation
● Less attention to personal hygiene, grooming, and self-care
● Low energy and fatigue

Common Causes of Stress in Seniors

If you notice some signs of stress in your loved one, the first step is to identify the cause, or the ‘stressor’. What is causing them to feel stressed?

The following is a list of possible stressors for your aging loved one:
● Changes in lifestyle and financial status after retirement
● Healthcare expenses
● Responsibilities involved in caring for others (grandchildren, or a sick spouse)
● Death of relatives or close friends
● Deterioration of physical abilities (loss of hearing, vision, memory, etc.)
● Chronic illness
● Worries for not being able to live independently and becoming a burden on family members
● Worries for institutionalization

This list is not exhaustive. It’s up to you as the caregiver to identify causes of stress in your elderly loved one’s life and schedule. As you know their usual circumstances, you can identify situations and changes that are potential stressors.

Once you identify the source of your elderly loved one’s stress, you can a) come up with solutions that lessen or dissolve that challenge, and b) encourage general stress-relieving activities.

Strategies to Help a Senior Manage Stress

There are two general approaches to managing stress:
● dealing with the source
● holistic stress relief

Introducing solutions to the stressors is the next step after identifying the source. You can give your loved ones back their feeling of control and empower them. For example, if the source of stress is financial burdens, you can come up with a financial plan, speak to an accountant or financial advisor, or look into various insurances.

Some solutions to consider:
● Re-evaluate diet and nutrition
● Speak to a geriatric doctor about health concerns
● Get more and better rest
● Keep busy with interesting and varied activities and socializing
● Organize and clean up their living space

However, sometimes the cause of stress cannot be reduced at the source. In addition to managing stress at the source, you can reduce your eating loved one’s stress by incorporating stress-relieving activities into their routine. These activities help promote peace of mind, relaxation, and positivity.

Here are some ideas to try out and discover which are best for your loved one’s lifestyle and personality:
● Yoga
● Exercise, like walking or swimming
● Meditation
● Creative hobbies (sewing, writing, painting, gardening, etc)
● Getting outside (sunshine, fresh air, and nature do wonders for our peace of mind)
● Playing with a pet or grandchild
● Keeping a gratitude journal
● Attending classes or courses

Conclusion

Stress management is so important for our overall well-being, and you have the opportunity to help someone you care about lessen their stress. Now that you better understand what stress is, its effects, what causes it, and how to manage it, you can help the senior in your care become happier and healthier. You can even help your senior loved one by leading by example and managing your own stress with the above tools. (Caregivers have a lot of responsibility and are prone to stress and burnout.)

As you work toward relieving stress, remember to celebrate each small step you take in the right direction. Take stock of how far you’ve come on your journey towards a happier, stress-free life.

Every bit of stress relief has a huge positive impact on our health. It’s never too late to begin implementing stress-management techniques.

Looking for more helpful resources for helping your loved one? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides.

Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical assistance, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.

The post Helping Seniors Manage Stress: A Guide for Caregivers appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


8 Essential Things To Do Before Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

You’ve decided it’s time to hire an in-home caregiver for your aging loved one — now what? How do you choose the right caregiver? Caring for an aging loved-one can be an overwhelming job – emotionally, physically, and financially. To help you, we’ve put together a list of eight things to take care of before you hire an in-home caregiver. The post 8 Essential Things To Do Before Hiring an In-Home Caregiver appeared first on Community Home Health...

You’ve decided it’s time to hire an in-home caregiver for your aging loved one — now what?
How do you choose the right caregiver? Caring for an aging loved-one can be an overwhelming job – emotionally, physically, and financially.

To help you, we’ve put together a list of eight things to take care of before you hire an in-home caregiver.

  • Evaluate your specific needs.

Every person has different needs. With what does your loved one need help? Some people are looking for a companion who will also help with housekeeping. Others need a caregiver who can assist with complex medical equipment.

Make a list of your needs, such as:

      • Basic functioning (dressing, eating, bathing, etc.)
      • Social interaction and companionship
      • Transportation
      • Taking medication or dealing with medical emergencies
      • Grocery shopping and meal preparation
      • Housekeeping (laundry,dishes, sweeping, etc.)

If you need help with a complicated medical situation, make sure the caregiver is licensed and insured. If you need someone who will transport your loved one to and from appointments, check that they have a driver’s license. Decide whether you’re looking for 24- hour, live-in help or a home-care companion for a few hours a day.

  • Inform everyone involved in the decision.

Caring for an aging family member is commonly a family responsibility. It’s important to communicate with everyone involved — especially if they are helping cover the costs of care. Talk to children, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. Be clear about the division of responsibilities and costs. Ask for their opinions on facility care versus home care.

Of course, the most important voice to consider is that of your elderly loved one. They have full rights to be involved in deciding on their care options.

  • Figure out your budget.

Caring for a senior loved one can be expensive. It’s best to evaluate your budget at the start so you are not overwhelmed with the costs later on.

Look into Medicare, Medicaid, and different insurances. You could be eligible for part or full financial assistance. Most states have in-home assistance programs for low income seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid.

In addition to covering home care, you should look into programs that help seniors reduce other expenses. This can free up financial resources to be put toward the cost of home care. In this category, there are several tax credits and deductions. For example, any expense incurred to care for an elderly relative that enables the family to work is tax deductible.

Another important factor when budgeting is the expected amount of time you will need in-home care. The longer a person requires (or is projected to require) home care, the more assistance becomes available to them. Clarify whether this in-home caregiver is a short-term or long-term hire.

  • Decide between a senior’s facility and home care.

Choosing between in-home care or a nursing facility is not a clear-cut or easy choice to make. Aging in place is one of the ways to keep your loved one a little more independant. Living in their own space, where so many precious memories are held, can help them feel in control and relaxed. Moving to a strange facility can be very uncomfortable and even frightening.

  • Discuss personality and personal preferences.

It is crucial to have a healthy and open relationship with the caregiver. A good caregiver must be communicative, compassionate, intelligent, hard-working, and respectful.

Many elderly people have a strong preference for a caregiver of the same gender, ethnicity, religion, and country of origin. Take a look at your unique situation and ask the home care agency if they can accommodate specific requests, such as a caregiver who speaks a certain language.

Make sure the caregiver you hire is compatible with your aging family member’s personality. Are you looking for someone outgoing and talkative, or someone quieter and softer in nature? When looking into different caregivers, note personality, character traits, and whatever preferences your senior relative requests.

  • Create a backup plan.

It is likely that there will be times when your caregiver is unable to come to work, whether it is for personal reasons, appointments, illness, or injury. Create a backup plan for such an occurrence. Who is available at which times? Who lives nearby? Do you have a backup aide?

Discuss this backup plan together with the family and come to an understanding of responsibilities should the situation arise. This way, you will eliminate last-minute panic and frantic juggling of schedules to make sure your aging loved one is properly cared for.

  • Create a job description for the interview.

Like anyone hiring, you should interview the caregiver and introduce them to your senior loved one before deciding if they’re the right person for your needs..

One of the best ways to get the most out of the interview is to have a job description. A job description helps you know what to keep your eye out for during the interview itself.

As mentioned in the paragraphs above, your job description should be tailored to fit your loved one’s specific needs, your budget, and the senior’s personality and preferences. Include a list of qualities you are looking for in your caregiver.

Make sure your job description includes a brief overview of the job, specifies the qualifications you need, and lists the caregiver’s duties and responsibilities. include if you’re looking for someone with a certain education level, skillset, certifications, licenses or physical abilities. This way you’ll be properly prepared for the interview.

  • Talk to people.

This one is last on the list but definitely not the least important.

When hiring an in-home caregiver for a senior, keep your ears and mind open to suggestions and possibilities. Speak to friends, neighbors, and family members. Ask people if they have experience hiring in-home help and what their experience was like. Speak to doctors and organization leaders for advice.

Many people have gone through the process of choosing care for their aging parents or relatives. Reach out to people who’ve been through it.

If you have any questions, Community Home Health Care is here to help!

The post 8 Essential Things To Do Before Hiring an In-Home Caregiver appeared first on Community Home Health Care.


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