Understanding An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

understanding an alzheimer's diagnosis

Adults receiving an official Alzheimer’s diagnosis experience a wide range of emotions. Anger, sadness, and grief are certainly in the mix. However, we’ve also heard clients (or their loved ones) experience a surprising sense of relief because the diagnosis is the final answer to all of the signs and symptoms indicating “something was wrong.” 

In many cases, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis explains why a person was experiencing one or more of what healthcare providers and caregivers call the Four A’s of Alzheimer’s.

Four A’s Of Alzheimer’s Diagnosis: Amnesia, Aphasia, Apraxia & Agnosia

Here is a summary of the four A’s of Alzheimer’s (and dementia), all of which can show up at any point along the disease’s progression.

Amnesia (memory loss)

In almost all cases, bouts of regular or worsening amnesia brought you to the physician or neurologist in the first place. Amnesia refers to memory loss, which becomes worse over time. It’s important to note that while some level of memory loss is considered a normal part of the aging process, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not normal or inevitable. Both are neurologic disorders that cause brain cells to shrink and die over time.

Most people with Alzheimer’s struggle with short-term memory loss far more than long-term. This is why they forget to turn off the stove, can’t remember friends’ names, or don’t remember what they did yesterday – but can remember detailed stories from their past.

Aphasia (loss of words)

Aphasia, the inability to recall words, is linked hand in hand with amnesia. In the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals can become lost mid-sentence. It can take them upwards of a minute or more to recall common words or immediate thoughts. This first phase is called expressive aphasia. 

Over time, aphasia increasingly worsens. By the later stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, a person may talk completely nonsensically and will eventually lose the ability to speak altogether. They are also unable to follow or participate in conversations, which is referred to as receptive aphasia.

Apraxia (loss of motor skills)

The culture tends to think of Alzheimer’s as a loss of memory, but the decline progresses to all of the body’s systems and functions. The more brain cells die, the more signs and symptoms emerge, including those affecting the physical body. One of the tell-tale signs of dementia’s progression is when it moves from amnesia and aphasia to a decline in voluntary motor control. 

People with Alzheimer’s often develop a shuffling gait and are more prone to tripping and falling. As time moves on, fine motor skills diminish. By the latest stages, a person is typically char or bed-bound, and most of the body’s movements are involuntary (breathing, digesting, blinking, etc.)

Agnosia (failure of the five senses)

Agnosia is the final stage of Alzheimer’s. At this point, the brain no longer processes or accurately interprets information available to the five senses. By this stage of the game, patients require 24/7 care. People with Agnosia are typically 100% bedbound and are often on hospice to increase comfort care while providing support to the client’s spouse or family caregivers.

What To Do After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Once the shock of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis wears off, it’s time to have meaningful conversations about long-term care plans. We all have the right to explore and create end-of-life plans that align with our values and preferences. Because the initial stages of Alzheimer’s include the first two A’s – amnesia and aphasia – time is of the essence.

Start conversations around long-term care planning

These conversations aren’t always easy, but getting things down on paper about a person’s preferences and requests provides invaluable peace of mind. A thoughtful long-term care plan allows spouse and family caregivers to be proactive and eliminate stressful or emotionally challenging complications that take place when there isn’t a plan, and everyone is in crisis mode/

Things to think about include:

The financial plan: paying for Alzheimer’s care

If you don’t have a financial planner, now’s the time to schedule a consultation with a fee-based financial expert who can assess your current financial situation and help you plan for the costs of progressive caregiving needs. Our post, The Cost of Senior Care… is a good place to anchor as you and your loved ones create a long-term plan. 

Most people draw from multiple wells of financial and community-based resources, so there is no “one way fits all” answer to questions about how to pay for Alzheimer’s care. A consultation with a financial planner provides a comprehensive look at your options so you can begin preparing for the months and years ahead. 

Also, did you know spouses and immediate family members can get paid for taking care of family members with Alzheimer’s? A meeting is the local social security office can establish whether or not you qualify.

Focus on healthy lifestyle habits after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

There is absolutely no doubt that healthy nutrition, lifestyle habits, sleep patterns, and early treatment are vital for slowing down the Four As of Alzheimer’s and its progression. Immediately focus on the lifestyle habits that nourish the body and spirit. 

Begin researching senior care resources in your community

The more senior care resources you have at your disposal, the higher quality of life you and your aging loved one can enjoy. We touched on the need to begin planning for long-term care (in-home, assisted living, memory care, etc.) in #1. Within two to three months after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, begin meeting with home care agencies and assisted living communities to determine which makes the most sense when Alzheimer’s progresses beyond what you can manage on your own.

Even if you feel you aren’t ready for in-home care services (yet), making connections and getting a feel for what’s available makes a big difference when caregiving needs progress. Plus, even in the early stages, spouse and family caregivers should have a professional respite care plan to get the breaks required to support their mental and emotional well-being.

HomeAide Home Care Is Fluent In The Four A’s

As a longtime Bay Area home care agency, HomeAide Home Care specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We provide everything from respite and part-time care to overnight and live-in care options. We also work to provide attentive caregiving services to clients who live in assisted living or nursing home facilities.

Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can support you and your loved ones.

Does Your Loved One Have A Will?

does your loved one have a will

Creating a will or estate is one of the most important steps you can take to proactively plan for your future and the future of your heirs and beneficiaries. Unfortunately, “The Will” often ends up as a perpetually unchecked box. When loved ones die without a will, their estate moves through probate. 

If your loved one doesn’t have a will, now’s the time to open the channels of communication to create a will, trust, or complete estate plan that protects their interests and the interests of their heirs and beneficiaries.

Have A Will With These Tips

In addition to being a laborious, costly, confusing, and emotionally intensive process, probate is dictated by the court and follows very stringent guidelines for inheritance succession, with no variation. In other words, if your mom wants a favorite painting to go to her artist nephew, that’s not going to happen because that painting automatically becomes the possession of her surviving spouse or child(ren). 

Read Nolo.com’s article, Avoiding Probate in California, to learn more about why probate should be everyone’s last resort.

Meet with an estate attorney (online appointments work, too!)

Estate plans can be quite complex, but creating a will is very simple. We recommend scheduling a meeting with a local, experienced estate attorney to get started. These appointments are fee-based, and the small investment made now is well worth the peace of mind provided by having a will, trust, or full estate plan in place. We repeatedly hear from clients that they sleep better at night and have more peace of mind once they finally get their will and final affairs in order.

The estate planning attorney will let you know what to prepare ahead of time for the meeting. Unless the estate is extensive, odds are the will or trust can be finalized in three sessions or less. 

Update payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) info on financial accounts

Most financial institutions offer the ability to name Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) beneficiaries. You can do this online and/or complete relevant forms provided by the financial institution. Often referred to as “a poor man’s trust,” POD and TOD instructions offer a simple and streamlined way for remaining funds to go directly to the individuals named by the deceased.

Your loved one can choose one or more individuals, along with specific percentages, in accordance with their wishes. So, let’s say they want a savings account to be split between their two children. In that case, they’d list both children and allot each of them 50%. They may decide you want a specific investment account to be split evenly between two siblings and two grandchildren, in which case they’d name each of them and allow them each 25%. 

Make sure to review and update POD and TOD information annually in case changing life events (marriages, births, divorces, deaths, etc.) alter how assets and finances should be divided.

Don’t forget about advanced medical directives

Leaving a last will and testament is a great help to family members and loved ones because it takes the guessing out of who gets what after a parent or grandparent dies. However, even more, important may be establishing an advanced medical directive.

These forms outline the variety of topics that come up when end-of-life decisions must be made, such as:

  • Who do they want to make decisions if they aren’t able to do so (called a “healthcare proxy?)? It’s critical that you ask prospective proxies ahead of time and make sure they feel comfortable supporting any and all of the decisions outlined in your loved one’s advanced medical directive. 
  • Do they want to be resuscitated? If so, is there a maximum number of times, or is there a scenario in which they want resuscitation to stop?
  • What measures do they want to sustain life? What measures are they averse to? 
  • What do they want to happen to their body after they die? 
  • And so on

You can read more about creating medical directives from our post All You Need to Know About Advanced Directives

Use affordable online will documents

If you’ve opted to create a will without the help of an estate attorney, we recommend using high-quality online estate forms. 

If you can afford to spend a little, we recommend using California Will & Testament documents from Legalzoom, which cost $100 or less. You can also take advantage of free forms offered by the California State Bar or Willforms.org.

Having an objective witness (someone who doesn’t benefit from or have any invested interest in the outcome) sign a DIY will is a wise idea. Examples include a neighbor, a hospice nurse/chaplain/social worker, or a longtime family friend. Their signature supports the will’s intentions if a family member contests the will in court after you die. Video testimony of a loved one reading their written/signed intentions is also a powerful statement, assuming they are of obvious sound mind. 

NOTE: If your parent or grandparent were recently diagnosed with dementia, time is of the essence. If they are still sound enough to make decisions, begin creating the will ASAP to ensure you know what they intended before the progressive disease makes it more difficult for them to make decisions or keep family members and close friends straight.

Have a will to make a list of sentimental items

Are there works of art, collectibles, a particular item of clothing, or heirlooms your loved one wants to go to specific people – perhaps even someone outside of the family? If so, a will is critical because anyone outside of the typical inheritance succession (parents, children, grandchildren) is not taken into account if an estate moves through probate without a will. 

A close second is using a sharpie or masking tape and labeling objects on their underneath or back sides with any relevant details. This might look like, “Great-grandma Jane’s wedding china. C. 1925. Tabitha.” Then the family knows who things should be passed to, and Tabitha receives the china intended for her.

Work With Senior Caregivers Who Take A Comprehensive Approach

Here at HomeAide Home Care, we take a comprehensive approach to caregiving. In addition to providing helpful tips on how to age at home safely and with dignity, we also help clients and their families take action around things like establishing wills, creating long-term health plans, and other processes that are harder to do without expert guidance. Contact us to schedule a free in-home assessment and to learn more about our services.

Bedsores 101

bedsores 101

Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers, are created when continuous pressure in one or more body areas restricts healthy blood flow and tissue function. It’s most common in individuals who spend most of their time in chairs or beds, particularly if they are left in one or two primary positions for most of the day. 

In addition to being painful and requiring wound care, bedsores can cause long-term and irreparable damage. They also leave the individual at risk for infection and illness. If you care for a loved one or client who is bed- or chairbound, Bedsores 101 is an essential guide to protect the wellbeing of the one you care for.

If your loved one lives alone and you notice any bedsore warning signs, it’s time to get them outside support to ensure they can continue aging safely in place.

Bedsore Prevention, Warning Signs, and Treatment

Bedsore prevention and management is a primary topic in the healthcare arena when discussing patient care and risk management. The evolution of bedsores can begin a downward spiral, so bedsore prevention is the first and most critical step. However, for some patients, bedsores may be inevitable, requiring expert attention and care to prevent them from worsening.

STEP ONE: Bedsore Prevention

Bedsores are most common in areas of the body that experience constant pressure from stagnant positions. These are typically the areas on the skin where the bones are closest, without fat or muscle tissue to act as a cushion. We call these areas “bony prominences.” 

As a result, bedsores typically develop on:

  • Buttocks/tailbone
  • Ankles
  • Hips
  • Knees (for those who spend their time on their sides)
  • Knobs of the spine

While continuous pressure is the primary cause of bedsores, there are secondary factors as well. These include poor health, malnutrition, and dehydration. A holistic approach to bedsore prevention is the best way forward. 

Healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for us all and is certainly the first line of defense from developing bedsores. A well-nourished body is better able to heal itself, which can help reduce the risk of bedsores and help them heal faster. Also, don’t forget that hydration is a part of nutrition.

EXCEPTION: There is one exception to this rule: when a person is dying. A decline in appetite is completely normal and should be respected in patients who are in the last months of their life. When a person begins declining food, it’s typically a sign their body cannot process food in a healthy way. If you don’t have a supportive hospice team on board, this is a good time to connect with hospice agencies in your area to learn more about the natural dying process. Watch Babara Karnes’s (hospice R.N. and end-of-life expert), video on how not eating is a normal part of the dying process.

Exercise and regular movement

Just because you spend the majority of the day in a chair or bed doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. If your loved one can move, implement relevant movement into their day. Speak to their healthcare provider about exercises for homebound seniors and see if any work for you. If not, your physician can recommend a physical or occupational therapy session to teach you ways to manipulate limbs in healthy ways to promote healthy circulation.

Regular position changes

Position changes are essential to prevent that continuous, extended pressure that causes bedsores in the first place. You can do this manually, supporting loved ones as they move from side to side or from elevated torso to lying with elevated legs, etc. It’s also wise to invest in pressure mattresses or pads that use airflow or fluid flow to change the bed’s pressure points. If you can’t afford them, speak to the healthcare provider to find free or low-cost resources.

Provide extra (clean) padding in key locations

You can also provide extra padding, using pillows or thin memory foam sections, to cushion areas that are at risk or showing the first stages of bedsores. For example, ensure the shoulders and the areas between the knees are padded and protected for those sleeping or lying on their sides.

STEP TWO: Recognizing The Warning Signs: Stages Of Bedsores

Bedsores do not develop overnight. There are clear warning signs, so paying attention and recognizing when they’re erupting is essential to preventing more severe occurrences. 

IF YOUR LOVED ONE LIVES IN A FACILITY: If your bed- or chairbound loved one lives in a facility and you aren’t able to check in at least once per week, we highly recommend hiring a caregiver to become their companion and wellness checker. The CDC cites that at least 10% of nursing home residents have bedsores. Personal caregivers are the best way to ensure your loved one isn’t overlooked or neglected.

Stage 1: Warm, firm, and/or red skin at key pressure points

Keep a constant and vigilant eye on the areas most likely to develop bedsores. These checks should be done daily. If you are caring for a spouse or family member, consider enlisting the help of a licensed caregiver who can support you with personal tasks, especially those that involve heavy lifting, position changes, incontinence care, and bedsore checks.

During the first stage, irritated tissue at key pressure points becomes red, warm, more firm, or softer to the touch than the surrounding skin. During the first stage, the skin is not broken. Taking action now is key to stopping ulcers from growing worse.

Stage 2: Open sore (broken skin)

During Stage 2, the affected deep tissue is so damaged that it erodes away, causing the exterior skin layers to break open. These wounds need immediate care and are also a red flag that other areas may soon be affected. Let your healthcare provider know ASAP to receive proper instructions for care and treatment.

Stage 3: Full-thickness skin loss and deep wounds

At this point, the breakdown of tissue and fat/muscle tissue is so great that you can see deeper into the ulcer.

Stage 4: Full-thickness skin and tissue loss

At this final stage, the wounds are so deep that connective and bone tissue are also involved. You can see exposed muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones.

STEP THREE: Wound Care For Bedsores

Again, bedsores that are in stages 2, 3, or 4 should be assessed by a professional healthcare provider. In most cases, treatment involves routine cleaning and dressing of the wounds with simultaneous attention to regular position changes and proper cushioning. 

In some cases, the removal of damaged tissue is required. Your physician can prescribe a wound care team to provide regular support until the bedsores are improved enough that you can continue with wound care management and prevention strategies.

Can We Be Of Service?

HomeAide Home Care provides licensed home care to our client’s homes and senior facilities throughout the Bay Area. Our caregivers are here to provide support as you work to prevent and manage bedsores. Contact us to schedule a free, in-home assessment.

Summertime Mocktail Recipes For Seniors & Caregivers

summertime mocktail recipes for seniors caregivers

Restricted alcohol intake is common for seniors with certain medical conditions, medication prescriptions, or memory loss issues. However, there are plenty of ways to use non-alcoholic drink options to honor the ritual of happy hour or poolside summertime (or any time!) cocktails. In this case, we use “mocktail” recipes, many of which offer nutritional benefits as well as non-alcoholic fun.

7 Mocktail Recipes For Senior Happy Hour

Mocktails like these aren’t just for summer or to honor a celebration. They can be a colorful way to create a daily ritual that provides cheerful, positive energy during the late afternoon lull. 

For example, we forget that seniors often struggle to complete everyday tasks. Instead of successfully making it through a day with a completed to-do list, aging loved ones often feel exhausted and diminished because of all they weren’t able to do. Once you’ve got the right level of support in place, these mocktails can become non-alcoholic drinks for seniors to look forward to, honoring the end of a day well spent.

Tonic and lime (the virgin gin/vodka & tonic)

Gin and tonic or vodka and tonic are one of the most classic of all cocktails. The great news is that the tonic itself adds the bulk of the flavor punch. Feel free to find 0-alcohol gin or vodka at your supermarket, but it’s not necessary.

If your loved one was a G&T lover, look for a food-grade Juniper essential oil. Add 1 to 3 drops to the iced tonic water to get that classic juniper flavor Gin is famous for. You may also buy good ol’ fashioned Agnostura or artisanal bitters to add extra aromatic flair. And of course, a squeeze of fresh lime finishes it off.

Mock gimlet

The gimlet is another favorite cocktail classic. In this recipe from Televeda, you mix two parts tonic water and one part regular sparkling water. Again, this gives the essence of that aromatic gin flavor. You may opt to use a drop or two of the food-grade Juniper essential oils if you have them. Add some freshly squeezed lime juice to taste (gimlets are known to be pretty citrusy, so don’t be shy.

Virgin mojito

Mojitos are a Cuban staple, and there is nothing that tastes more refreshing on a hot summer day. The flavorful combination of simple syrup, sparkling water, and muddled fresh lime and mint means the rum can disappear without anyone missing it. The Mindful Mocktail has a basic Virgin Mojito recipe, along with fun variations – including alternative sweeteners for the simple syrup, like monk fruit or stevia.

Non-alcoholic sangria

Sangria is a colorful party in a pitcher. The delicious fresh-cut fruit packs a powerful vitamin and antioxidant kick, and the right balance of tart and sweet keeps people coming back. It’s also a fun drink to serve at family get-togethers or reunions because Grandkids love them too.

Our favorite recipe so far is This One, from lovebakesgoodcakes.com. Shopping ingredients include:

  • Lemons, oranges, and limes
  • Cranberries
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grape juice
  • Orange juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Your sparkling mineral water OR lemon-lime soda of choice

Once those are mixed together, you have a drink worth toasting to.

Virgin strawberry daiquiris

As this article goes to press, the Bay Area is at the peak of strawberry season. Fresh ripe strawberries are unbeatable, so start there if you are able. Otherwise, frozen strawberries work just fine. Leave it to the mother-daughter duo at Savor The Flavour to come up with The Best Virgin Daiquiri You’ll Ever Taste, which is certainly one of our favorite drinks.

The beauty here is that a little bit of rum flavoring (typically used in baking) makes this the non-alcoholic drink for seniors they’ll ask for again and again.

Virgin mimosa

Mimosas are a brunch classic and are a great way to liven up a weekend morning. Because basic sparkling water or soda water doesn’t have the tang or kick of sparkling wine, we like Simple Joy’s use of a few ounces of  Perrier L’Orange Flavor Slim Can. It adds what’s “missing” from the lack of alcoholic bubbly options.

Mocktail recipes for cocktail shrubs

Shrubs are increasingly popular as a non-alcoholic for seniors and their families. They are tart and sweet, feature fun combinations of seasonal fruits and fresh herbs,  and use a simple syrup made with vinegar. Our in-home senior caregivers make shrubs for clients using real, fermented apple cider, red wine, or balsamic vinegar that have “the mother” in the bottle because they provide a good dose of probiotics, which can help to prevent UTIs and improve digestive and immune system health.

Check out this loveandoliveoil.com article on Fruit & Vinegar Shrubs for a detailed explanation and several fun mocktail recipes and combinations, including Strawberry & Elderflower, Strawberry Balsamic, Raspberry Rose, and Ginger pomegranate. Get creative and make shrub syrups using your favorite combinations of fresh ripe fruits and herbs. Then use the syrup to flavor iced sparkling water. 

Celebrate Happy Hour With A New Senior Caregiver & Companion

Do you think it’s time to add a little sparkle and cheer into your senior loved one’s daily or weekly routine? Connect with HomeAide Home Care, (510) 247-1200, and schedule a free, no-obligation assessment. We prioritize improving quality of life and social engagement while allowing seniors to age safely and independently in their homes or assisted living communities.

Everyday Tasks Pose Challenges For Seniors

everyday tasks pose challenges for seniors

It’s easy to take the completion of everyday tasks for granted. For example, getting up out of bed, making a cup of coffee and breakfast, light housekeeping, running the errands, etc. – and all while being safely mobile all become challenges for seniors. 

As we age, however, these everyday tasks pose challenges. So regardless of whether or not a senior seems perfectly capable and independent, we recommend taking an objective and attuned assessment of how they’re really doing.

7 Everyday Tasks That Become Challenges For Seniors

Don’t assume your mom, dad, or grandparent is “doing just fine!” because they sound great on the phone. It’s a rare senior who lives alone or wants to age in place who doesn’t need some assistance with daily tasks – and the need for support increases with every passing year or the diagnosis of chronic health conditions or memory loss. Seniors frequently tell us they didn’t want to admit they needed help or, most often, they didn’t want to burden their families. 

Your proactive attention and preparation are essential to keeping ahead of the curve. Take an honest look at your aging loved one’s life and see if they could use help with the following daily activities.

Everyday accessibility around the home (age-in-place safely)

Balance, strength, endurance, and mobility depend on overall health and attention to diet and exercise. Even so, age-related weakness, stairways, curbs, or uneven ground make seniors more prone to tripping and falling – a leading cause of senior hospital admissions. 

Proactively creating an accessible household before a near-accident or bonafide injury occurs is a must. You can read our post on how to age in place safely with accessible home designs for details. However, the most critical points are:

  • Declutter
  • Invest in ramps if stairs are required to access the home
  • Install grab bars near toilet and shower areas (towel racks are NOT stable)
  • Relocate main bedroom/bath to downstairs if possible
  • Install an electric rise chair if stairs are a necessity in the home
  • Minimize slip/trip hazards
  • Provide adequate exterior/interior lighting using motion-sensitive sensors
  • Reorganize most-used items, so they’re accessible without the need for a stepladder or bending over

Creating an environment where seniors age in place safely conserves their energy and minimizes injury risk.

General mobility

Is a parent or grandparent looking more unsteady than before? Are they apt to hold onto rails or use the walls to steady themselves? Are they having difficulty getting into or out of chairs without lurching or using chair/couch arms or nearby tables for stability? These are all signs a senior is ready for the right type of mobility aid.

Driving and running errands

When’s the last time you returned from running errands – including grocery shopping – and felt energized and refreshed? Those must-haves are exhausting, and fatigue increases as stamina decrease. Then, the reality is that the ability to drive safely diminishes with age – especially after 75 to 80. 

Diminishing eyesight, hearing, and slower reflexes are partially to blame when it comes to challenges for seniors. Then there are the potential side effects of health issues or medications that make the brain fuzzy. Finally, Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related memory loss make it easier to become confused. The first step is convincing seniors to restrict driving to daylight hours or short, familiar routes. After that, transportation services that include support with driving and running errands are essential.

Healthy meal and snack preparation

The same decreases in energy that make it difficult for seniors to keep up on daily tasks, errands, and grocery shopping make it hard to prepare healthy meals and snacks. As a result, most seniors rely on very simple processed foods that aren’t good for them or go directly opposite to their physician-recommend dietary restrictions. In fact, seniors are at one of the highest risks for malnourishment in our nation, regardless of their socio-demographic.

Noticing that a senior loved one’s cupboards are bare is one of the first signs they need support to remain at home. There are plenty of options to support this cause, including part-time in-home caregivers who do the shopping and create delicious and nutritious snacks that are easy to reheat or tasty eaten cold. Our caregivers also make sure expired or rotting foods are discarded, so everything is fresh.

Keeping the house clean and tidy

Decreased energy and vision loss makes it harder to keep a clean and organized home. Most seniors 70 years or older benefit from professional weekly housecleaning, including laundry and linen changes. If you work with a senior home care agency, weekly cleans are a great place to start – especially if your loved one resists the idea of professional caregiving.

Instead of hiring a professional cleaner, hire a licensed home care agency. Our caregivers can come once or multiple times per week to perform light housekeeping duties. As clients adjust, we can add grocery/errand running or meal prep. These services also provide a barometer for you as they notice other “red flags” indicating that more support is needed.

Getting out of the house for social and physical activity

Getting out of the house is trickier when seniors are chair- or homebound. Every study supports senior social engagement, which is proven to benefit mood and physical health and slow down the decline of memory loss.

Finding a way to get your senior back into their social groove – including attending community events, their regularly scheduled club/organization meetings, hobby groups, etc., is essential for their wellbeing. Start with your local community resources for seniors. If they aren’t the right fit, look into companion services, which provide a regular source of social connection and transportation services to get seniors where they want to go.

Personal care (including medication) can be added to the list of challenges for seniors

Seniors with memory loss, physical discomfort, or lower energy resources begin to let go of personal care and hygiene. They stay in pajamas all day – often the same set for days in a row. They don’t bathe/shower as often, eat at regular meal times, or take a daily walk. As a result, they stagnate, which is often the sign of a rapid downward spiral in terms of their well-being.

Professional senior caregivers ensure your loved one is clean, fresh, and ready to start each day. We provide important medication reminders and ensure their medication dispensers are organized correctly. Just a shift or two a week is a great way to help seniors remain motivated and engaged in the world around them. This also creates an opening to add more services when they see the improvement in their quality of life. And, many seniors report that the increased activity levels and social stimulation help them to sleep better at night – which has a cumulatively positive effect.

Schedule A Free Assessment To Identify Current Challenges For Your Loved One

HomeAide Home Care provides free, no-obligation assessments to identify the current or immediate challenges for seniors throughout the Bay Area. Contact us to schedule a consultation at (510) 247-1200. Our experienced, compassionate, and objective observations help seniors, and their families create long-term care plans to support aging-in-place safely and with a high quality of life.

How Hiring A Caregiving Agency Can Improve A Seniors Life In A Facility

how hiring a caregiving agency can improve a seniors life in a facility

When it comes to hiring a caregiving agency or having a loved one transition into a facility, most people consider it an either-or proposition. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Spouses or family members frequently hire a caregiving agency to improve the quality of life and general wellbeing when their loved ones are in a facility.

Considering Hiring A Caregiving Agency For An Elderly Loved One Living In A Facility?

Regardless of the quality of a facility, there is no way that they can attend to each individual on a personal level the way they advertise. In our experience, most facilities – be they skilled nursing facilities or assisted living communities – do their very best. However, nothing compares with the personalized and attentive care provided by professional home care aides. 

Whether your loved one will be staying in a part-time skilled nursing care facility to recover from a surgery, hospital stay, or extended illness – or your loved one has recently transitioned from living at home to a facility – we recommend hiring a caregiver to ensure the client receives the best care possible.

5 Reasons A Caregiver Benefits A Senior Living In A Facility

Here are five benefits your loved one receives when paired with a caregiver of their own while living in an assisted living facility or residential care situation:

Companionship that’s all about your loved one

Did you know companionship services are the foundation of most caregiver/client relationships? Hiring a caregiver as a companion means your loved one has a person wholly dedicated to keeping them company. Based on your loved one’s interests, our companions spend one-on-one time doing all kinds of things:

  • Reading together
  • Watching shows
  • Playing games/cards
  • Listening to music
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Taking walks
  • Eating meals
  • Looking at photo albums, family movies, and memorabilia – and listening to the stories that go along with them
  • Going on outings
  • And more

Knowing their companion is coming on specific days can means your loved one has something to look forward to beyond the normal day-to-day activities geared to the median.

Food beyond the institution

One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients living in facilities is the lack of food variety. Even if the food is good, the variation and availability of choice are limited. This can become frustrating. The good news is that our meal preparation and planning services can be used to support your loved one living elsewhere. We can bring them homecooked meals, based on their dietary guidelines. Best of all, they can choose the menu, which means they’ll eat with more enthusiasm.

And, of course, as long as they are physically able our caregivers can also take them to their favorite restaurants or bring meals in from their favorite places. 

Get out and about in the community

If your loved one is able, our caregivers can take them out into the community. As mentioned above, this can be something as simple as enjoying a meal together at a favorite restaurant. However, we can also take them to the park, to a movie, or to attend their regularly scheduled religious services or social engagements. 

If your loved one is bedbound, we can use their computer, tablet, or television to connect them with religious services that are broadcast online. This may seem like a small thing, but you’d be amazed at how much joy our clients get when they are able to remain connected and engaged with their communities, despite the fact they no longer live at home. In many cases, our services and ability to keep seniors connected with their sense of self is the difference between sinking into a depression and finding meaning and purpose in life.

Eliminate the risk of elder abuse

Again, we want to say that most facilities we’ve worked in do their best to care for their residents. However, there is no doubt that the less connected a senior is to his/her family or network, the higher the risk of elder abuse. Predatory employees look for residents who don’t have visitors or whose families largely ignore them. 

Some of the risk factors for elder abuse include:

  • Isolation from friends, family, or a support network;
  • Under-staffing, staff burnout, and stressful working conditions
  • Current and untreated mental illness – especially dementia

If you live out of town or across the country, using a caregiver for assisted living or other residential facilities protects your loved one. Anyone who would consider taking advantage of their vulnerability will give up the cause because they know the senior is being looked out for.

 Hiring a caregiving agency can help keep them physically active and fit

If you’ve visited your loved one recently, odds are you’ve seen lots of sedentary people. While many facilities offer exercise programs, they can’t make their residents take advantage of them. When you combine situations such as depression, lack of activities your loved one is interested in, lethargy from a poor diet (see #2), or general feelings of loneliness, you often see a sedentary lifestyle.

Our caregivers are there to get your loved one out of that rut. Have a bed/chair bound senior? That’s not a problem, our caregivers are happy to lead them and participate in exercises they can do in their rooms or outside in their wheelchair on a beautiful day. If they are physically able, our caregivers can pick them up and take them to their favorite senior yoga or water exercise class, not to mention walks in the park, accessible hikes, or “field trips” to places they love to go. All of this keeps loved ones far more mobile and physically active than they would be otherwise.

HomeAide Home Care Is For Seniors In Facilities

The dedicated staff at HomeAide Home Care provides companionship services both in the home and in a facility. We guarantee your loved one’s quality of life will exponentially improve when you hire us to provide companionship, inspiration, and fun. Contact us to schedule an assessment and learn more about how our services improve the lives of our clients.

What To Do After A Dementia Diagnosis

what to do after a dementia diagnosis

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can feel devastating, but odds are it also provides answers to concerns resulting from the disease’s first warning signs and symptoms. Once you’ve had time to come up for air and process your new future reality, long-term care planning is essential.

First and foremost, it’s important to honor and experience the range of emotions that are common after a diagnosis. These include anger, sadness, rage, deep grief, depression, relief (to finally know what’s wrong), hopelessness, and feelings of loss. It’s a good idea to seek support processing these feelings – for both the one who is diagnosed as well as their spouse, partner, children, etc. This may include spiritual counselors, professional therapists, a local dementia support group, or longtime friends or neighbors who have experience with the disease. 

This is the beginning of a journey for both the diagnosed and their loved ones, so it’s never too early to begin building a support network. Once you’ve had time to process, it’s critical that you begin making informed, long-term care plans. 

After The Diagnosis: Personalizing Long-Term Care Plans

Dementia is a progressive disease, but the speed at which the disease progresses is largely affected by the steps you take right now. Research shows that access to dementia medication as well as lifestyle changes can notably slow down the disease’s progression. Also, creating a tiered, long-term care plan means care is brought in as needed and in response to the client’s (and spouse/family) needs, which improves quality of life. 

Establish a relationship with a neurologist after a dementia diagnosis

Work with your primary care provider and insurance representatives to find a specialist. Booking an appointment with a neurologist specializing in dementia is a powerful first step. S/he’ll be your primary ally as you create a long-term care plan that keeps the disease’s progression in mind. The specialist is also on the frontline of treatments that reflect the latest research-based findings. 

Alz.org offers a list of questions to ask your doctor, and recording the session is a smart idea so you can play it back later when you are more relaxed. These include:

  • What test(s) or tools did you use to determine my diagnosis?
  • What are you measuring with the tests you performed?
  • How will the disease progress?
  • What can I expect in the future?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • Which symptoms are being targeted by each medication?
  • What clinical trials are available?
  • Where can I find published information about clinical treatment studies?
  • What care planning services do you provide?
  • What support services and resources are available to help me live well with the disease, for as long as possible?

Answers to these questions point you in the right direction and will help to guide your long-term care plans.

Start making positive lifestyle changes that support memory care

Perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that diet and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on how dementia progresses. The healthier you are and the more nourished the body is, the slower the disease progresses. 

Start researching things like “eating for dementia” or “foods that prevent memory loss.” Odds are you’ll come across recommendations for a MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH-Intervention-for Neurodegenerative Delay). The Mediterranean diet is respected for its attention to nutrient-rich foods that minimize inflammation. The DASH diet is geared to prevent and manage heart disease. Together, they form a dietary guideline that promotes healthy brain function and eliminates ingredients/toxins known to exacerbate inflammation, which increases dementia symptoms and progression.

Regular exercise is also a key part of dementia care. In addition to boosting moods, getting seniors outside as often as possible, and supporting overall health/weight management, daily exercise also helps to tire the body and mind, making it easier to sleep at night.

Focus on healthy sleep habits

Adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of insomnia and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can make the symptoms of dementia even worse. Establishing routine sleep habits that support natural circadian rhythm reduces daytime/evening agitation (sundowner’s syndrome) and supports healthy brain hygiene.

In our post, ...Tips For a Good Night’s Rest, we cover the basics of establishing a regular bedtime routine, including:

  • Going to bed/waking at set times each day
  • Minimizing or eliminating stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine (all of which are recommended to avoid with dementia anyway)
  • Getting adequate daylight during the day and dimming lights at least 30-minutes prior to bed
  • Staying off screens at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime
  • Establishing a relaxing wind-down time using a bath/shower, calming essential oils, relaxing music, reading or being read to, etc.

In the case of seniors with dementia, it’s a good idea to have locks installed above eye level and begin preparing the safety precautions necessary to prevent wandering.

Get estate plans, legal affairs, and medical directives in order

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get all of your financial and legal affairs in order, which includes establishing your POA(s), preferred healthcare agent (the person in charge of making healthcare decisions when a person is no longer able to do so for themselves), and advanced medical directives. 

Share these plans with your closest family members and friends so that everyone is on the same page and any potential issues or concerns are addressed ahead of time.

Begin planning for memory-specific homecare

A recent comprehensive study from Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that remaining at home…helps adults with dementia stay healthier and happier and live longer. However, that is only true when the individual has access to high-quality, memory-specific care. 

Spouse and family caregivers can only do so much. Eventually, there will come a time when in-home care services are necessary to facilitate daily tasks and general life happenings. The sooner you begin consulting with local licensed home care agencies, the sooner you can begin forming a gradual relationship that evolves in sync with your progressive needs. Enlisting support from in-home caregivers can begin with weekly visits to provide respite care for primary caregivers, run errands or prepare meals, to daily, overnight, and live-in care services as needed over time.

Schedule Home Care Consultations After A Dementia Diagnosis

Ultimately, long-term care planning makes it possible for those with dementia and their loved ones to live longer healthier, and more meaningful lives. 

Did you or a loved one recently receive a dementia diagnosis? Contact HomeAide Home Care. Our caregivers provide at-home memory care for Bay Area clients and their families.

Senior Sleep Issues: Tips For A Good Night’s Rest

senior sleep issues tips for a good nights rest

Sleep disturbances or trouble getting to sleep are common issues for adults 65+. Most commonly, senior sleep issues are caused by a range of factors, including medication side effects, lack of sufficient physical/mental exercise during the day, poor diet, or physiological changes in the brain that disrupt the circadian rhythm. 

Unfortunately, seniors with sleep disorders increase their risk of memory loss, fall accidents, mood swings or depression, chronic daytime sleepiness, and exacerbated symptoms of existing health conditions. The more seniors and their caregivers support healthy sleep conditions, the better quality of life the senior will experience.

7 Tips To Help With Senior Sleep Issues

 These seven tips will get your senior loved one on a healthier sleep schedule, and the effects will be noticeable.

Establish consistent sleep and wake times

The body likes to be on a schedule, and that supports a healthy circadian rhythm. To figure out what your loved one’s natural rhythm is, eliminate alcohol and other stimulants for at least 14 days. Then, each evening/night, have them go to bed right when they feel tired. After two full weeks of this, they will have reset their biological sleep/wake clock, and you’ll know how many hours of sleep they need each night.

Use this information to set consistent sleep and wake times and stick with it. 

Limit intake of stimulants at least 4 hours before sleeping

If your loved one hasn’t switched over to decaffeinated beverages, now is an excellent time to start. High-quality coffee and tea makers offer products that taste as good as the caffeinated version, without the risks. Within the handful of hours before sleep, cut out all stimulants:

Reducing stimulants in the brain and bloodstream makes it easier to fall asleep – and stay asleep.

Adequate sunshine exposure

Yes, seniors need to protect their skin from the sun and hydrate in the warmer months. Even so, adequate exposure to natural sunlight is key to helping the body maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Open blinds and shades during the day to keep interior rooms light and bright during the day. 

Also, try to get outside at least once a day for a natural dose of sunlight and vitamin D. If weather permits, outdoor activities are the optimal way to get exercise, fresh air, natural sunlight, and “nature baths” – proven to improve moods and mental outlooks.

Build exercise and physical movement into each day

Despite its innate need for sleep-related restoration balance, a body that isn’t tired has a more challenging time falling asleep. Our caregivers are always happy to exercise with clients, so they have company, or we can take them to their favorite community exercise center/class.

Walking the dog, hiking on accessible trails, riding a bike (or an adult trike for stability), senior or restorative yoga classes, stretching, or having a dance party are all ways to keep a rotating list of activities. For more tips, we recommend learning more about:

Engage and challenge the mind

Similarly, a bored brain is a lethargic brain. Failing to ensure seniors are mentally stimulated, including learning new tasks, hobbies, or skills, puts them at risk for insomnia. It also makes them more likely to feel isolated, lonely, depressed, or anxious. 

Make sure aging loved ones have access to their social network, even if that means finding them a new source of transportation. They should also be reading or listening to audiobooks, engaging with word or number puzzles, playing card or board games, taking a class at local junior college (or online!), or joining classes or activities offered by local art and community or senior centers. The more active and engaged their mind is by day, the more easily it stays asleep at night.

Senior sleep issues can be helped by establishing a pre-sleep routine

Remember we mentioned that our bodies prefer a routine? The pre-sleep routine is a great place to establish that. By repeating the same types of behaviors or activities each night before going to bed, the brain responds by relaxing once the routine begins. 

Examples include:

  • Taking a warm bath or shower
  • Getting into clean and cozy pajamas or sleep-friendly clothing
  • Using calming essential oils in a diffuser or misting them onto a pillow
  • Closing all the window shades to block out exterior lighting and distraction
  • Turning all the lights down in the house (prioritizing ambient safety lighting)
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading or being read to

Focus on red light spectrums after lights out

Melatonin plays a significant role in healthy sleep patterns. It’s naturally released via the body’s circadian rhythm and the darker, post-sunset hours. We recommend switching from bright to ambient light at least one to two hours before bedtime. You should turn off the TV and all screens/gadgets at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. 

Interestingly, the red light spectrum does not affect melatonin and other sleep-friendly hormones, so we recommend switching all of your nightlights to the red light spectrum, allowing seniors to get to/from the bathroom without disrupting the melatonin feed. 

HomeAide Home Care Can Help With Nighttime Senior Care

Sometimes, sleep issues are a sign of dementia or Alzheimers, and both of these can make it harder for seniors to get a good night’s rest. Certain medical conditions may also play a role. Working with a home care agency can be a good way to ensure your loved ones can remain safely at home while still getting the sleep they need. Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more.

Helping Seniors Find The Right Type Of Mobility Support

helping seniors find the right type of mobility support

Loss of strength, balance, and mobility are common age-related progressions, especially if seniors have underlying medical conditions. Finding the correct mobility support allows seniors to age more independently while prioritizing their health, safety, and wellbeing. Plus, once they get used to the extra help, senior mobility support helps them connect and engage with their community.

Proactive Mobility Support Prevents Injuries

First and foremost, seniors with the proper mobility support are less prone to accidents, which are a leading cause of hospitalization and surgeries in the 65+ community. And, there is a lot more to it than picking out a cane, walker, or wheelchair.

The more proactive you are at having options for mobility support handy and normalizing them, the more likely a loved one is to start using them.

Grab Bars, Shower Chairs, And Railings

Did you know the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the home? How often have you reached out to grab a towel bar in a bathroom due to fatigue, loss of balance, or illness-related weakness (a recipe for a fall since towel bars are not stable or anchored in wall studs)? We feel that accessible home design should be a building standard rather than something we have to design or augment at a certain stage of life.

One of the best ways you can optimize mobility in the home is to make it as accessible as possible, paying careful attention to the most common slip/fall areas: near the toilet, in the shower, up the stairs, along walkways, or inclines. Our post, Making a Senior Friendly Home, has invaluable tips on how to make a home more accessible, safe, and mobile for seniors. Tips include:

  • Updating indoor and outdoor lighting for motion/light sensors to optimize visibility
  • Installing grab bars near the toilet, bath/shower, etc.
  • Using a shower chair to minimize slip/fall risk in the bath and shower
  • Reducing trip hazards
  • Installing or reinforcing railings at all entry/exits and stairs/ramps
  • Building a ramp if stairs are required at main entrances

Making these changes keeps seniors safer in their own homes.

Schedule A Doctor’s Appointment

Some seniors are eager to embrace mobility support because they have experienced a scare or watched a peer suffer from a fall accident. Others have difficulty acknowledging they need help (sort of like the “handing in the keys” conversation). Bringing in an expert third party, such as your loved ones’ physician, may be the best launchpad for embarking on mobility conversations.

After a conversation and evaluating any mobility risks, learning more about which daily tasks are becoming riskier or more difficult, the physician typically issues a referral to an occupational therapist (OT). The OT will perform an initial assessment to begin. Their offices are already equipped with mobility support options that can be tried out, one by one, as you figure out which is the best option. 

Most seniors benefit from multiple options such as a cane to walk short distances in public, and a walker with a seat that can be used around the house for longer outings or times when a senior feels more tired or weak.

Mobility Support Requires Practice, Trial, And Error

Mobility supports come in all forms. Some have a single point of contact at the bottom, and others have a four-pronged end for greater stability. Some have wheels and also support walking, others are seated only. Most people are unaware that it takes practice to walk with a cane. The same is true for walkers and wheelchairs. 

This is why occupational therapists are such an integral part of the process. A senior who isn’t properly trained and who doesn’t have the space to practice and try different options is more likely to feel frustrated. Unfortunately, that means they don’t get the support they need. 

The most common forms of mobility support and their uses are:

Canes

Canes provide stability while standing or walking. Different canes have different grips and stabilizers at the bottom. The more unstable a person is on their feet, the more stable the base should be. Canes are recommended most often for those who have:

Walkers

Today’s walkers are typically equipped with handbrakes, a seat, or even a basket, making them a universally helpful tool. In addition to stability while standing (in the locked position) or walking, walkers also provide a place for seniors to rest, scoot around, or transport things from one area to another.

Walkers are recommended for:

  • Arthritis pain in the knees and hips is more severe.
  • Moderate to severe balance problems or more serious issues with gait.
  • More generalized weakness in the knees, hips or legs.

We recommend clients have both a cane and a walker in most cases. Even if they don’t use the walker much, it’s good to have it on hand in case you need it, and they fold up easily when not in use.

Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are never a bad idea to have on hand because anyone can be injured or fatigued to the point they need a bit more assistance getting around. They accommodate the most debilitating of weakness, fatigue, balance issues, or injuries. Today’s wheelchairs are light, compact, and easily folded to store in and out of a car trunk, behind a door, or in a closet.

Let HomeAide Home Care Help With Age-Related Support Needs

Mobility issues or any changes that inhibit a senior’s ability to accomplish day-to-day tasks are red flags that more support is neededHomeAide Home Care has spent the past few decades helping seniors age independently at home, using the compassionate support of our licensed caregivers. Contact us to schedule a consultation, and we can provide meaningful feedback to help you find the right type of mobility support for your loved one.

Caring For Someone With Incontinence

caring for someone with incontinence

Incontinence is a common manifestation of aging, often hastened by underlying medical conditions or medication side effects. Research shows that as many as 50% of adults 65 years old and older experience some form of incontinence, ranging from mild urine leakage to complete loss of bladder or bowels.

Lack of bladder or bowel control can negatively affect anyone’s life. The embarrassment and shame can cause seniors to withdraw from their social life and retreat into the home, which leads to loneliness, depression, and anxiety. 

9 Professional Tips For Helping Someone With Incontinence

Fortunately, a solid incontinence care plan changes everything. The combination of honest conversation and a step-by-step plan means adults with incontinence can confidently embrace their lives.

Here are nine professional incontinence care tips to support your loved one.

Schedule an appointment with the doctor

Yes, incontinence is indeed a “normal” part of aging for many. However, that doesn’t mean you should accept it without question. Some factors increase the chances of becoming incontinent and may be addressed by your physician. Examples include:

  • Urinary tract infections (which are commonly asymptomatic in seniors. This should be the first line of investigation)
  • Weak bladder/pelvic floor muscles (see #3)
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Medication side effects (medications linked to incontinence include some blood pressure medicines, diuretics, and sleeping pills)

Addressing these issues with the professional facilitation of a physician eases the conversation. While it may not eliminate episodes, it can minimize their frequency or severity. Your physician should look at your medical history and current prescriptions and then make recommendations to support the way forward.

Have an honest conversation (or two, or three)

The loss of bladder/bowel control can feel like the final straw for many aging adults because they see their senior years as losing control of everything. And, of course, the stigma of “embarrassment” they feel makes it tempting to try to hide the issue rather than face it head-on. Our recommendation is to find ways to bring the subject up gently. Also, keep a very pragmatic, calm, and businesslike tone about it. This is something that happens to everyone at one point or another. If you suspect resistance, start by bringing it up and letting it go. For example, “I want to mention a sensitive topic, and then you can just think about it if you don’t want to talk about it now. Are you open to that?” 

If they are open, mention that you want to talk about incontinence care sometime in the next week or two, and ask them to let you know a good time to chat? For some, the conversation will be immediate. It may take a while for others, and you may need to follow up. Then, slowly but surely, you can create a plan together. 

Support abdominal/pelvic/bladder strength

Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are three reasons women are more prone to urinary incontinence. Even so, hormonal changes and a decline in physical strength also play a part. The weaker the abdominal, pelvic, and bladder muscles are, the more likely people are to leak or have trouble “holding it” when they need to go, and there isn’t a bathroom nearby. 

Spend a little time each day on exercises that strengthen the core muscles and pelvic floor. We also recommend joining a senior yoga or pilates class and letting the instructor know you’d like to focus on pelvic floor strength. Doing daily kegel exercises strengthens pelvic muscles and may improve bladder control in just three to six weeks. Visit WebMD’s post, Kegel Exercises for Pelvic Muscles, for instructions.

Rethink how you view incontinence support

We admit the term “adult diapers” is off-putting. No wonder seniors are offended. The good news is that pads and underwear designed for incontinence have come a long way in the past couple of decades. They are more streamlined and comfortable than ever. Come up with a nickname together or just call them what they are “underwear.” 

And, if it’s embarrassing to buy them at the store, purchase them online. Most online retailers have regular shipping options, so the pads, underwear, or overnight protection options are delivered at regular intervals right to your door.

Evaluate the diet and reduce foods/ingredients that increase incontinence

Some foods make seniors more prone to incontinence, so reducing their intake can help. These include:

  • Caffeine (caffeinated coffee and teas)
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Sugars and artificial sweeteners
  • Tomato products
  • Some acidic fruits and fruit juices

Try a week or two of cutting these ingredients out. Switch from caffeinated to decaf options. See if it makes a difference. A healthy senior diet goes a long way towards supporting a range of medical conditions.

Protect the skin

Even with pads and underwear designed for incontinence, the skin can stay moister than usual and become irritated. Consider using products designed to provide a skin-moisture barrier. Creams or ointments that contain zinc oxide, lanolin, or petrolatum form a protective barrier on the skin. Some skincare products, often in the form of a spray or a towelette, create a clear, protective film over the skin. These are typically available on the same shelves as pads and incontinence underwear. Examples include Calmoseptine, A&D Ointment, Calazime, Lantiseptic, Z-Gaurd, and Aquaphor.

A bathroom schedule can help someone with incontinence

Timeliness is everything when it comes to incontinence. You want to get to the bathroom before the urge becomes so strong that the nerves and muscles give way. Create a bathroom schedule and stick to it. Start by visiting the bathroom every hour and then every two hours and see what makes the most sense. Once there’s a regular routine, people with incontinence often notice their stress and anxiety around the issue dissipates. Technology can help with this so consider setting a reminder on a phone or tablet to support the cause.

Keep up on the laundry and linens

Noticing strong odors related to incontinence is one of the common signs seniors need more support to live independently. Above and beyond the concerns around untended incontinence, they deserve to have access to clean clothes, linens, and towels on a daily basis. If laundry has become too much of a chore and clothes aren’t clean, it contributes to seniors’ desire to recluse rather than remain socially engaged.

This might be a good time to hire a caregiver who comes in once or twice a week to do the laundry, change the linens, and provide light housekeeping duties. It also serves as a regular wellness check and the caregiver can provide family members with an objective view of how things are going and any changes or signs your loved one needs more help.

Give yourself a break

If you’re a spouse or family caregiver, incontinence is not an easy thing to handle on a daily basis. We mentioned above that, “loss of bladder/bowel control can feel like the final straw for many aging adults.” It can be the final straw for their family caregivers, too. That is especially true if incontinence care requires assisting a chair- or bed bound senior

Let Us Help

Full-time caregiving without help from others is exhausting and leads to fatigue and burnout. If you find yourself getting stressed, resentful, angry, or overwhelmed, it’s time to give yourself a break. Take advantage of professional respite care services to recharge your battery. Could you use support navigating incontinence care for a loved one? Schedule an assessment with HomeAide Home Care. We have decades of experience supporting Bay Area seniors and their families.