Category Archives: Compassionate Care Blog

A Few Tips for Seniors to Deal with Chronic Pain

As we get older, we become more fragile, making us more prone to a consistent feeling of pain or discomfort across different parts of our bodies. Chronic pain can take many forms, from joint to neuropathic, musculoskeletal to osteoarthritic pain. It would be easy to give up and embrace a sedentary lifestyle, staying inside and doing nothing to avoid the risk of additional pain and suffering. Because daily activities can become a challenge, many seniors take this route and end up deteriorating quickly on physical, mental and emotional levels.

Even though there’s no cure for chronic pain, there are steps that we can take to alleviate some of the pain, slow the aging process, and prevent any issues from escalating. Here are a few basic ways that anyone can easily deal with the chronic pain in their lives:

STEP ONE: Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Did you know that our bodies need to stay in motion to stay fit? The more sedentary we are, the worse chronic pain gets! As we get less and less active, simple actions like standing up and walking become more difficult. Don’t let yourself get to this point – even if you’re making a point to get up and walk around the house every hour, or taking a walk around the neighborhood, you’ll be doing your body a huge favor.

STEP TWO: Take the Right Medication

Talk to your physician about your chronic pain. While not all of it is treatable, a simple anti-inflammatory or even just some aspirin can make a huge difference in your pain levels. Be careful if your physician offers something stronger, though – there are opiates that can alleviate all of your pain but have many side effects including addiction. It’s important to stay educated with sources beyond your doctor to make the intelligent choice for your lifestyle and your needs.

STEP THREE: Try TENS Therapy

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and if your chronic pain is muscular in nature, this solution may be exactly what you need. With your own personal TENS unit, you can attach electrodes to the source of the pain, and a low voltage current passes through the muscle, stimulating your nerves and reducing your pain. Even better, with no side effects, TENS therapy is a win-win situation.

STEP FOUR: Visit a Chiropractor or Massage Therapist

A trained massage therapist may be able to relieve tension in your muscles, and a licensed chiropractor can manually reposition bones after they’ve shifted, helping to alleviate the joint pain that occurs from inflammation and muscle tension. Usually, regular appointments are required to continue to attack the source of the pain, but it can provide much needed solace from your chronic pain.

STEP FIVE: Reduce Stress Levels

Stress causes increased blood pressure, muscle tension and acidic build-up throughout our musculature. If you suffer from chronic pain, increased stress will only serve to increase the pain, and this can cause additional stress, which becomes a vicious cycle. Working on stress-relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, hot showers, or even spending time quietly soaking up the sunlight can serve as a way to break the cycle and reduce your stress levels.

Once you’ve reduced your chronic pain, you might still find it hard to perform some activities around the house. With reduced dexterity and joint pain, household chores can prove to be too difficult. We suggest contacting Compassionate Care to find out more about our in-home care services. From caretaking to companionship, managing medication to light housekeeping and meal prep, we can help you manage your chronic pain at home and keep you happy and healthy.

Using Technology and Adaptive Devices to Make Homes Safer

In addition to helping your senior parents or grandparents through in-home care, how else can you provide them with a safer home environment?

Thanks to modern technology, there are myriad devices out there that can assist adults and improve safety, reduce danger, and increase mobility and awareness. These adaptive devices, when supplemented with in-home care, go a long way towards protecting our elderly loved ones. There are four main types of adaptive devices that you can consider: Wearable Technology, Remote Monitoring Systems, Stairway Assistance, and Mobility Assistive Devices.

Wearable Technology

Smart watches and health monitors have revolutionized health care. Not only can they track sleeping habits, restlessness, exercise habits and heart rate, but the ones worth purchasing have the ability to recognize dangerous falls and send out alerts. Additionally, being able to call for help through a smart watch that’s always on your wrist means that the risk of being left alone in pain is significantly diminished. Your in-home nurse can check how well you slept and monitor your heart rate as well as any potential avenues for risk, as well.

Remote Monitoring Systems

While remote monitoring systems are usually wearable technology as well, they function a little differently. In most cases, they’re designed to alert others when detecting an anomaly, instead of keeping the autonomy solely within your home. From motion sensors to blood sugar alert systems, a remote monitor can detect long periods of non-movement, falls, or more, and alert emergency services immediately. In many situations, the information can be transmitted directly to your doctor, as well, saving time when it is at an absolute premium.

Stairway Assistance

While this requires a little bit of remodeling, it can beat the alternative of moving to a new home with no steps. Adding in lifts, temporary stair railings, or a stair climbing chair can provide a means for anyone to get up- and downstairs safely and with ease. Even small steps from a home entrance to a living room or from one section of the house to the other should have a railing installed, as well as treads and safety grips on the floor itself.

Mobility Assistive Devices

On the simpler side, walking poles can allow you to stay mobile while decreasing the risk of an injury. They feel more athletically-inclined than a walker or cane and can help retain dignity and independence at the same time. Additionally, the use of assistive seating devices can help lift you from a seating position to a standing position (and vice versa), giving you freedom to sit and stand without relying on anyone else’s help.

Being safe and independent at the same time is important, so whether you’re doing this for yourself or for a loved one who lives alone, a combination of adaptive technologies and in-home care from a trusted provider like Compassionate Care is the best solution for living and aging gracefully!

The Difficult Conversation: Talking about Health with your Elderly Parents

As an adult with a senior parent or parents, it can sometimes feel awkward to talk about important life issues with them. As in most families, your parents have always been the authority, the source of advice, and a pillar of support, whether it was financial, emotional, or otherwise. Most people just avoid discussing the issues related to aging, health, and end of life until it’s too late, and the family relationships can suffer as a result.

While it might not be the easiest conversation to have, it’s important to take the time, cut through the diversionary tactics and subject-changing that might happen, and have “the talk” with your parent or parents the next time you see them. Once you start the conversation, you might be surprised to find out how much they want to talk about it, but didn’t know how to begin.

How do you start the conversation?

One of the easiest ways is to bring up a friend who may have recently gone through something similar (whether or not the friend is fictional is up to you). “Oh Mom, do you remember my friend Bob? His dad just had a stroke and Bob didn’t know what to do.” That opens the door for questions related to health and aging. Some of the important questions that you should cover would include the following:

  • Have you or Dad every talked about what happens when one of you dies?
  • Would you want to live home alone or move in with us?
  • Have you ever considered having someone come in to help with the house?
  • What would happen if one of you had a medical emergency at home alone?
  • What are your burial preferences and arrangements? Do you already have a plot?

These aren’t fun questions, of course. But they’re important. This would also be a good time to find out some of the other details you might not know:

  • Who’s your health insurance through? Who’s your primary care physician?
  • What medication do you currently take? Do you have any chronic conditions? Any ongoing treatments?
  • Do you have a will? Who’s your lawyer? Where are your important documents?
  • Who would help you in an emergency? Are there neighbors or friends who check on you regularly?
  • What’s your financial status? What accounts do you have and where?
  • Is your driver’s license still active? Have you had any accidents recently?

It’s important when having this conversation to make sure your parent or parents know that you’re not trying to threaten their independence. In fact, it might be a good idea to reinforce their independence through the discussion of potential in-home care solutions. If they can stay at home in their familiar surroundings, and have someone come to them, why wouldn’t they? Whether they need a regular caretaker, an occasional companion, or strictly scheduled medical needs, in-home care is the answer to many of the problems facing our aging parents.

Nobody likes to think about Mom and Dad getting older, but it’s a reality of life, and the sooner you can have the challenging conversations, the more relaxed everyone can be about the future. Remember – in most situations, to talk about difficult topics, sometimes all you have to do is be the one to start the conversation.

Does Feeling Young Translate to Being Healthier?

“For seniors who feel years younger than they really are, a new study suggests it might not be their imagination.

‘We found that people who feel younger have the structural characteristics of a younger brain,’ explained lead author Jeanyung Chey. She is a professor in the department of psychology & program for brain sciences at Seoul National University in South Korea.

Chey and her colleagues focused on a group of Korean adults drawn from an aging study. The researchers first conducted a health survey in 2014, which was followed by a second psychosocial survey in 2015.

All of the participants — who were 71, on average — also underwent neuropsychological assessments, followed by brain scans. None of the enrolled patients suffered from any neurological disorder or mental health impairment.

The brain scans revealed that seniors who reported feeling younger than their chronological age had more gray matter in key parts of their brain that typically tend to shrink as one ages. Shrinking gray matter is one sign of declining brain health, Chey noted.

‘People who felt younger than their age were [also] more likely to score higher on a memory test, considered their health to be better, and were less likely to report depressive symptoms,’ she added. The findings held true even after accounting for a wide range of factors, including an individual’s mental health status, sense of overall well-being, and/or history of depression.”

[Continue reading]

The Best Care You Can Give Your Parents Is A Caregiver

As our parents age, we begin to worry about their health and safety. This can create a dilemma – how do we properly show our concern for our parents who loved and raised us, while still respecting their boundaries and privacy as adults and our elders?

We can’t ignore the risk that they may be avoiding social activities or neglecting their hygiene. They could be putting themselves at risk at home, or others at risk on the road. What are our options to make sure our parents receive the right care while maintaining their independence and dignity?

Option 1: Move them into your own house

Pros: They’ll have supervision and observation, and you’ll be able to make sure they’re eating right, protected at all times, staying clean, and having all of their medical needs brought to attention.

Cons: Your home life can be negatively affected, and your entire family dynamic will change. There may be resentment and resistance, resulting in anger and acting out. Finally, they will no longer have the comfort of living at their long-treasured home surrounded by important possessions and memories. This abrupt removal of control can have negative effects on mental health and happiness. And even though you’ll be supervising them, they may need medical attention you can’t provide or have medical issues you’re unqualified to identify.

Option 2: Move them into an assisted living facility

Pros: Under some supervision from medically trained professionals, they will be treated well, be able to socialize with new friends, and have many of their needs taken care of. Emergencies are taken care of quickly and professionally, and medical issues can be identified in time to be prevented.

Cons: You’ll be uprooting them from a home that gives them comfort and moving them somewhere unfamiliar. They’ll be resentful and may not want to partake in any of the activities provided, rebelling against the removal of their dignity and independence. There can occasionally be mental deterioration once they’re displaced from the familiarity of home, and assisted living facilities have a risk of elder abuse as well.

Option 3: Get in-home caregiver services from a company like Compassionate Care

Pros: This is the best of both worlds! Your parents will get to live comfortably in a familiar environment with professionally trained and licensed caregivers who will balance their need for independence and dignity with companionship, assistance, and medical care. You’ll be able to spend time with them at home, knowing that they’re safe and secure, and rather than be resentful of being pulled out of their comfort zone, they’ll be appreciative of the assistance they’re receiving.

Cons: Is it a con to have your parents love and appreciate you more? We didn’t think so.

****

Call Compassionate Care today at 561. 244. 5098 or toll-free at 888. 814. 3778 to discuss your options and have your questions answered about the outstanding in-home caregiver, companionship and skilled nursing services we can provide to your family.

How To Tell If A Loved One Might Need Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s disease, primarily affecting Americans aged 65 and older, is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. As a progressive disease, it worsens over time, starting with mild memory loss and escalating until it becomes impossible to carry on a conversation or respond to environmental impetuses. As we get older, and as our parents get older, every forgotten name or place becomes a cause for concern. Is it simply old age, or could it be something worse?

Here are ten early signs and symptoms that someone you know and love may have Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – Forgetting recently learned information and important dates, asking for the same information repeatedly, and needing to rely on memory aids for anything you used to handle on your own.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems – Losing the ability to follow a familiar recipe, keep track of monthly bills, or developing and implementing a plan, as well as having difficulty concentrating.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home – Having trouble completing daily tasks or locating a familiar destination that you’ve traveled to many times before.
  4. Confusion with time or place – Losing track of dates or seasons, or having difficulty understanding a concept of something if it’s not immediately happening, even forgetting where you are or how you got there.
  5. Trouble processing visual images and spatial relationships – Losing the ability to read, judge distance, and determine color or contract, causing problems with driving.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing – Stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue, repeating yourself, and struggling with finding the right word to describe everyday objects.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps – Putting things in unusual places, losing everyday items without the ability to go back over your steps, and accusing others of stealing.
  8. Exhibiting decreased or poor judgment – Using poor judgment when it comes to handling money, paying less attention to hygiene and grooming.
  9. Withdrawing from work or social activities – Removing yourself from hobbies, social activities, or work projects, and avoiding being social out of being self-conscious.
  10. Changes in mood and personality – Becoming confused, suspicious, fearful, or anxious, or getting easily upset when you are challenged our out of your comfort zone.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, recognizing the early signs and seeing a neurologist or neuropsychologist can slow the exacerbating of the symptoms and improve the long-term quality of life. In addition, Compassionate Care provides a full range of caregiver and support services to help make living with Alzheimer’s as easy as possible.

Top Four Home Safety Tips for Seniors

As we get older, it becomes increasingly more important to be aware of our surroundings and any hidden dangers or threats that may exist. Agility and reflexes, as well as the ability to bounce back from an injury with ease, have a tendency to dissipate with age, even if our minds feel as young as ever. This means that it’s essential for anyone above a certain age, especially if living alone, to be careful. With that in mind, here are five home safety tips for retirees that will help eliminate the risk for accidents.

1. Watch your step.

This can be taken literally and figuratively. Yes, you should look down when you’re walking, especially down stairs or off of curbs to make sure you don’t misjudge a distance. But from a figurative sense, think about making your home safe to walk around in. Don’t use slippery waxes when you clean your floors. Tape rugs down so they won’t slide, and avoid having rugs at the tops and bottoms of stairs, when the risk is highest and your balance may be shifted. Put grips in your tub and on the stairs to avoid slipping and clean up any spills immediately.

2. Make things easier for your eyes.

Why strain your eyes and/or make assumptions about contents when you can just label things better? Avoid confusion and the risk of making an error by using large lettering and labels for anything that might be dangerous. This includes making sure your hot and cold faucets are clearly marked, your medication is easy to differentiate, and you can identify what you’re seeing. That also means using bright lighting throughout your house, especially the kitchen, bathroom, and garage. 100-watt bulbs will keep everything well-lit, making it easier to read ingredients, expiration dates, and more. And finally, clearly mark the on and off switches on appliances like your oven and stove, so you don’t have to guess if you’ve turned everything off appropriately.

3. Fire bad. 

Just like Frankenstein’s monster, let’s try to avoid any fire hazards! If you’re a smoker, do not smoke in bed. The risk of falling asleep and having your sheets catch fire is higher than you think. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm on every floor. If you use a kettle for tea or coffee, make sure it has an automatic shut-off, and the same goes for your clothes iron and curling iron. And finally, try not to wear big flowing clothes if you’ll be standing over the stove, especially if you cook with gas.

4. Be smart.

Make sure you keep any hazardous materials under the sink and away from food and drink. Check your expiration dates. If you need to reach something high, ask for help instead of getting a ladder. Don’t store anything heavy above waist level. Keep your knives and other sharp tools in blocks or drawers. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with having a companion or a caregiver to come to your house on a regular basis to assist with cooking, cleaning, bathing, or help with your medication needs. Another pair of eyes, especially when they belong to a trained caregiver, might make the difference in peace of mind or a devastating injury.

Compassionate Care provides a wide range of services for retirees and seniors that include skilled nursing, companion, and caregiver services. Call us today at 561-244-5098 or 888-814-3778 to find out more about the different ways we can help you.

Ancient Greek Karate Helps Expert on Aging Learn About Aging

A neurologist and expert in aging learns about healthy aging from his karate teacher. Check out this fascinating article!

“Dr. Kirk Daffner, 61, paused briefly to center himself before he began the first of more than 108 carefully orchestrated maneuvers. He lunged, rolled, did one-armed push-ups and slapped the mat with his open hand. He jumped in the air spread-eagled, touching his feet, then grunted as he kicked at an unseen foe, his hands balled into fists or fingers extended, chopping the empty air.

He, along with a handful of other men, have been practicing routines like this for more than 40 years, under the careful supervision of George Gonis, who runs the small, second-floor gym where they sweat off several pounds during each 90-minute session. All have been training in the ancient Greek karate style known as pankration with Mr. Gonis, some on and off, since their teens or early 20s.

Dr. Daffner, a neurologist and expert in aging at Harvard Medical School, considers Mr. Gonis a second father. He concedes that despite his degrees, years of training and global reputation, his karate teacher has always known more about healthy aging than he does.

“His views about how to maintain health and how to promote good aging were really decades ahead of his time,” said Dr. Daffner, chief of the division of cognitive and behavioral neurology and director of the Center for Brain/Mind Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Not just the physical exertion pankration requires, but also the mental fortitude and way of life the practice fosters — especially as done by Mr. Gonis — have increasingly been shown in studies to be vital for aging well. “I regret the fact that I wasn’t smart enough to listen to exactly what he was saying,” Dr. Daffner said.

The scientific world has finally caught up to Mr. Gonis, said Dr. Daffner…”

[read more]

Four Trends For Health-Conscious Seniors

Check out this great article on some of the healthcare trends that retirement-age adults have been incorporating into their routines to stay healthier, in addition to getting in-home assistance to help with maintenance, care, and medical needs:

“It goes without saying that with aging comes some level of declining health. However, new technologies and advancements in healthcare are changing the way people approach their health as they age, by allowing for more independence and control. According to statistics gathered by the American Hospital Association, by 2030 there will be more than 37 million people over age 65 in the United States. They are looking for ways to address their medical needs and maintain strong and good health as they age, and many of them are adopting these top health trends.

It’s exciting to see some of the trends in healthcare that can keep older adults feeling fit:

  • Coffee for brain health,
  • Increase in the use of non-physician healthcare providers,
  • Fitness and health trackers, and
  • Telemedicine to avoid trips to hospitals and nursing home stays.

#1 Senior Health Trend: Coffee for Brain Health
Seniors have taken notice of recent research that shows that consuming caffeinated coffee on a regular basis may improve mental health and delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

About 26 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and it is estimated that by 2025 about one in five people in developed areas, such as Europe and the United States, will contract AD. AD is a disease in which proteins called amyloids congregate in the brain to form knots and tangles that eventually fill the majority of the brain, destroying its cells.4 One study noted that drinking three to five cups of caffeinated coffee per day during midlife may decrease the chance of contracting Alzheimer’s later in life.4 Although not conclusive, the study’s findings are very exciting for those of us who worry about AD in ourselves and in loved ones – and especially for those who enjoy their hot cup of coffee in the morning!

#2 Senior Health Trend: Increase in the Use of Non-Physician Healthcare Providers
Many Americans over the age of 65 are turning to healthcare professionals who are not M.D.s for their healthcare needs. The growing demand for healthcare is increasingly met by Nurse Practitioners, or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). They are nurses who have completed additional training in fields such as Family Practice, Gerontology, Pediatrics, and Emergency Medicine.

APRNs have the additional training required to diagnose diseases, initiate treatment plans, order tests, and prescribe medication as a doctor historically would.

Seniors are also turning to Physician Assistants (PAs) for their healthcare needs. PAs play a similar role to nurse practitioners, but must work under a doctor’s supervision. PAs can diagnose disease, initiate a treatment plan, write prescriptions, and order lab tests in collaboration with a supervising physician.

Gone are the days when doctors were the only healthcare providers. Now, that responsibility is shared among a medical team that includes APRNs and PAs, and the result is an increase in the accessibility of healthcare to an aging population.

The availability of non-physician healthcare providers extends beyond traditional medicine and into integrative and functional medicine practices, as well. These practitioners treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and seek to discover the root cause of an illness, rather than just treating the symptoms. The Institute for Functional Medicine website is a great resource to learn more about this aspect of healthcare, check it out to learn more about this topic.

#3 Senior Health Trend: Fitness and Health Trackers
Technology is not just for the younger generations. Seniors are increasingly using technology to monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

Not only are blood pressure and heart rate being monitored through consumer devices, but respiratory rate, temperature, fitness metrics, and other indicators of overall health are quickly, and repeatedly, measured with devices that anyone can purchase and wear (aka “wearables”).

The flexibility and accessibility of high-tech solutions like Fitbit and Polar for health monitoring are prompting increasing numbers of older people to turn to technology as they age. One expert says that seniors are buying 17% of all wearable tech sold today. No doubt that number will rise as the numbers of seniors grow.

#4 Senior Health Trend: Telemedicine to Avoid Trips to Hospitals and Nursing Home Stays
Now, more than ever, the older people want to live fully independent lives, and the increased availability of telemedicine is helping them do just that.

Telemedicine enables patients to leverage technology, such as Skype and other video communication software, to consult with their healthcare providers virtually… without ever leaving the comfort of their home.

While some argue that the quality of care available in telemedicine suffers, because the doctor or another healthcare provider is not physically present, telemedicine has proven useful with pre-stroke individuals and in hospitals where a specialist cannot be on call, such as in rural areas8. Telemedicine can be used anywhere there is a phone or Internet connection, making it an affordable and efficient solution. Senior citizens for whom independence is key are gravitating toward telemedicine for many of their healthcare needs.”

[read more]

Want To Relax After Surgery? Schedule Post-Care Today!

If you have a surgical procedure scheduled sometime soon, have you thought about your post-care?

Chances are you may not have even considered what happens once you get home from your procedure. If you’re making the assumption that you’ll be able to care for yourself, or that a family member will be there for you the whole time, here are some considerations to keep in mind regarding your post-operative care.

Will your medical needs be met?

We have a network of skilled nurses who will help you through your recovery, from making sure that you are healing properly to changing bandages and checking for infections to helping you stick to your post-operative recovery orders. Trained specifically to help with post-care needs, your provider will be there with you to answer all of your questions.

Do you want to be a burden on family when there’s an alternative?

Having family and friends there to support you is wonderful, and can be the emotional help you need for optimal recovery, but caring for yourself after a procedure can be time-consuming, tedious, and sometimes even potentially embarrassing. One of our care providers can help with your needs while your family and friends can provide that necessary moral support.

Are you going to take care of yourself?

There are a wide range of ways in which our post-care services can help you if you’ll be alone, including helping you get home from your surgery, assistance with insurance companies and billing situations, getting you to your follow-up appointments, light housekeeping and cooking, and more.

The hardest part of a surgical procedure is the recovery, and it’s important for you to have the support and assistance that you need to heal properly. With Compassionate Care’s professional post-care program, you’ll be able to ensure that your stress levels remain low, energy remains high, and that your recovery is as optimal as possible.

Contact Compassionate Care today at 561-244-5098 or 888-814-3778 for more information and to schedule your post-care services!