Preventing UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) In Seniors

preventing utis urinary tract infections in seniors

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are painful and can morph into more serious kidney infections if they aren’t caught and treated in time. However, in the senior population, UTIs are even more serious because they can be atypical in how they show up and can even cause dementia-like symptoms that lead to false diagnosis and unnecessary treatment plans.

Preventing UTIs through hydration, proper diet and close attention to how symptoms differ for older adults can make a big difference in the life of both seniors and their caregivers and families.

Preventing UTIs With Hydration, Hygiene And Easy Bathroom Access

Preventing a UTI is quite simple in most cases and requires just three simple steps:

Keep seniors hydrated with plenty of water and other fluids

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the presence of bacteria in the urine doesn’t necessarily indicate a severe UTI or the use of antibiotics. In fact, the presence of elevated bacteria levels, “…occurs in about 6 to 16 percent of women over age 65, 20 percent of women over age 80, and 25 to 50 percent of women living in nursing facilities.”

This last statistic is an important one. If your loved one lives in an assisted living facility, it’s easier for subtle UTI symptoms to be missed. Providing them with a companion or caregiver from a home care agency means they receive more personalized and attentive care.

Should a loved one test positive for elevated bacteria levels, without additional signs of a UTI (fever of 100.5 or more, worsening urinary frequency or urgency, pain with urination, tenderness in the lower abdomen above the pubic bone), speak to the doctor about increasing hydration for a bit and then retesting. When seniors are dehydrated, their bladder and urinary tract can’t flush bacteria out of the system. Drinking more water and fluids consistently for a few days – and developing healthy hydration habits – will help to support a healthy urinary tract.

Maintain healthy hygiene habits, particularly with toileting

Hygiene is so important for human health, yet it’s one of the first things to “slip” as we age, particularly if mobility and/or cognitive decline is an issue. If bodies aren’t regularly cleaned, clothes and bedding aren’t routinely laundered and changed, the urinary tract is inundated with higher levels of bacteria. Combined with a weakened immune system, dehydration and/or malnourishment and you have a recipe for a urinary tract infection.

If seniors are incontinent and relying on adult underwear and/or others to change and cleanse them, they have an even higher risk of developing a UTI. Proper toileting care is critical, particularly around the rectal area and urethra in women since improper wiping or cleansing will introduce bacteria from fecal matter into the urethra.

Proper toileting care for preventing UTIs includes:

  • Wiping from front to back, beginning at the urethra and moving back towards the anus.
  • Properly cleansing the perennial area with a mild solution designed specifically for that purpose.
  • Using a clean section of cloth (by folding it over in sections) for each wipe.
  • Checking adult diapers or briefs at least every 2-hours and never sitting for longer than necessary in soiled or dirty adult diapers for any length of time.
  • Wearing a fresh pair of underwear each day, or a fresh adult diaper at all times.

For many seniors, particularly those with cognitive or mobility issues, or for whom it’s difficult to get to the store for fresh adult diapers, assistance is a must when it comes to safe toileting and maintaining healthy hygiene habits on a daily basis.

Never make a senior wait if s/he has to go to the bathroom

The urge to go to the bathroom should be greeted with immediate and easy action to a bathroom facility or bedpan whenever possible. The longer senior women have to wait to go to the bathroom, the more likely they are to develop a UTI. Not only does it give bacteria more chance to increase in population, but it also creates bladder and urethral irritation that weakens the urinary tract. Having to wait to use a restroom also puts seniors at higher risk for sitting in soiled clothing or underwear, elevating their risk of infection.

Taking these basic precautions can go a long way towards preventing UTIs (urinary tract infections) in seniors, particularly senior women, and improving their health and well-being.

Let Us Help

Have a senior loved one who’s struggling to take care of him/herself, doing the laundry or getting to the store on a regular basis? Schedule a free, in-home consultation with HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided a range of senior-friendly services and in-home caregiving for more than a decade.

TIA And What It Means For Seniors

tia and what it means for seniors

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is the medical term for what non-medical personnel refer to as “mini-strokes.” They are dubbed “mini” because the symptoms – and often the outcomes – are not nearly as debilitating as those of a full-blown stroke, but don’t let that fool you. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), TIAs are often precursors to more TIAs (which can have increasingly debilitating effects) and full strokes, so they require full medical attention, treatment, and follow-up.

Furthermore, the correlation between TIAs and dementia, as well as heart disease are worth noting so seniors and their loved ones can make diet and lifestyle changes that positively impact the patient’s life.

Symptoms of a TIA

Just like a stroke, TIAs occur when blood flow is restricted to the brain, the result of a blood clot or blockage. Unlike a full stroke, however, a single TIA rarely results in permanent damage or disability. The symptoms or notable effects of the TIA depend on its severity and where in the brain it takes place.

Roughly one-third of patients who experience TIA had noticeable symptoms, other find out they had TIAs without realizing it when medical testing is required to address resulting health issues.

The most common symptoms of a transient ischemic attack last anywhere from one to five minutes and include:

  • Difficulty speaking (aphasia)
  • Inability to remember words or how to articulate sentences
  • Balance issues
  • Vision changes
  • Severe headache
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • An abnormal sense of taste and/or smell
  • Numbness or weakness on the right OR left side of the face (depending on which side of the brain the blockage occurs)

As we mentioned above, TIA symptoms often last only one to five minutes, however, they can also last as long as 24-hours. Experiencing any of the above symptoms should prompt an immediate call to 9-1-1. DO NOT transport yourself to the doctor or hospital as another TIA or stroke could render you incapable of driving while you’re behind the wheel. That’s not safe for you, and it’s not safe for others on the road.

Risk factors for TIAs

Due to the similarity between TIAs and strokes, the risk factors for TIAs are almost identical to those associated with strokes. These include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries in or around the brain as the result of plaque)
  • Carotid artery disease (blockage in the main artery leading to the brain via the neck)
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking

The simple act of eating a heart-healthy diet and getting regular exercise, in addition to getting regular check-ups, are all powerful preventative measures in avoiding both TIAs and strokes.

There is a big connection between transient ischemic attacks and dementia

Recent research indicates a strong correlation between TIAs and vascular dementia. According to Healthline:

In a 2012 study, one researcher reviewed nine studies on dementia in people who’ve had a stroke. In total, the study looked at 5,514 people with pre- or post-stroke dementia. The study found that rates of post-stroke dementia were between 9.6 and 14.4 percent in people who’ve had one stroke. This rate increased to 29.6 to 53.1 percent in people with recurrent stroke.

Interestingly, seniors over the age of 65 who have a high risk of stroke (typically the result of the risk factors listed above) also have a high risk of developing dementia. Ultimately, the brain requires healthy circulation and oxygen flow to perform well, particularly as it ages.

Is there a cure or treatment for TIAs?

While a TIA can’t be reversed, once diagnosed the treatment relies on lifestyle changes and medications that help with optimizing blood flow to the brain. Some of the most common medications include:

  • Antiplatelet drugs (blood thinners) ranging from over-the-counter aspirin to prescription meds
  • Anticoagulants, like Coumadin, Xarelto or Eliquis

Medical procedures

In more severe cases, doctors may recommend a medical procedure such as a minimally carotid intervention that opens up blocked/constricted arteries, or a more invasive surgery called a carotid endarterectomy. For that procedure, the doctor removes fatty deposits and fats from the arterial walls.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to diet and exercise, additional lifestyle changes can help to prevent first-time or repeat TIAs. For example:

  • Quit smoking
  • Have your doctor review all medications to improve control over other existing health issues
  • Get better sleep
  • Improve your stress management skills

Have TIAs made it more difficult for you or a loved one to live independently or enjoy a high-quality life? Schedule a consultation with HomeAide Home Care and learn more about your options. We provide a range of senior supports, from meal preparation and companion services to driving support, errand running and even full-time home care assistance.

Seniors Should Have Fun In The Sun…Safely

seniors should have fun in the sun safely

As seniors age, lifestyles can become more sedentary and this isn’t good for the body or the brain. Getting outside and having fun in the sun is a healthy way for seniors to be active, enjoy natural daylighting to keep their circadian rhythm in sync, and to get a natural dose of vitamin D.

5 Safety Tips To Enjoy Outdoor Life With Senior Loved Ones

That being said, a few safety tips are worth noting to prevent heat stress, sunburn, dehydration and other scenarios that take the fun right out of the sun if you’re not careful.

Keep indoors during peak sun time

The UV rays are strongest between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. In general, it’s best to be outdoors before or after those hours to minimize the risk of sunburn or heat-related illness. If your area tends to be hotter in the later afternoon, it’s worth it to stay indoors until things cool off a bit.

If it’s too difficult to get outside during heatwaves, open the blinds and shades a bit to fill living spaces with natural light (important for keeping circadian rhythms in sync and to improve nighttime sleep habits) and create an indoor exercise routine that recreates the same level of physical activity would have experienced if you were outdoors.

Use sun protection

When you do spend time outside, try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. It only takes about 10 minutes or so of direct natural sunlight to catalyze Vitamin D synthesis. This is easy to achieve – even in dappled shade. So, as much as possible – use sun protection in the form of:

  • Avoiding peak sun hours
  • Hats
  • Full-coverage sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Loose, light-colored, light-material long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen (being careful to avoid allergic reactions on seniors’ sensitive skin)
  • Keeping mostly to covered and shaded area

Sun protection minimizes the chances of heatstroke and also reduces the risk of dehydration so you are able to have fun in the sun.

Bring plenty of water or other chilled beverages

Seniors are particularly prone to dehydration for multiple reasons, including medication side effects as well as decreased thirst signaling from the brain. Bring plenty of cool water (including a slice of lemon, cucumber and/or mint makes it more appealing) or another favorite, chilled beverage to have on hand. Encourage occasional sips to prevent the risk of dehydration. Read our post, Encouraging Fluids… for tips on that topic.

Keep a first-aid kit handy

Our skin becomes thin once we’re older, and certain prescription medications and health conditions also contribute to thinning or more sensitive skin. As a result, seniors are particularly prone to cuts, scrapes, and bruises from direct contact objects that wouldn’t have any negative effect on you or a younger caregiver or companion.

Even a small first-aid kit will ensure you have what you need if an arm scrapes against the side of a fence, or the back of a hand is cut while smelling the neighbor’s roses. Keep a few Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and a small packet of anti-bacterial ointment in your backpack or small purse. You can purchase small-ready made first-aid kits at most drugstores or online.

Know the signs of heat illness

Seniors are less likely to show signs of heat illness until it’s too late because they are more immune to the symptoms of overheating or may not sweat as profusely. Any sign of heat illness means you should get the senior indoors, in a cool space and assess the situation. If you aren’t sure how severe it is, call 9-1-1 or drive him/her immediately to urgent care for professional medical evaluation.

Signs of heat illness include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

More severe heat illness leads to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Lack of sweat
  • Chills

Fun In The Sun Is Possible

Again, avoiding the hottest times of the day, using adequate sun protection and keeping seniors hydrated is the best way to eliminate the risk of heat illness.

Are you afraid your senior loved one spends too much time indoors, and not enough time having fun in the sun? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and schedule a free consultation. Our companion and home care aides are happy to come by as little or as much as you like to accompany your loved one outdoors, on walks or to favorite outings – while ensuring they’re kept safe, hydrated and well-nourished.

Encouraging Fluids To Prevent Dehydration

encouraging fluids to prevent dehydration

Prevent dehydration by encouraging fluid intake and finding delicious water-only alternatives is a great way to give a little extra TLC to senior loved ones in your life. Senior dehydration is a common health issue, particularly during the summer months when hotter temperatures lead to more sweating and moisture loss. And heat-related illnesses and fatalities are most likely to occur for those 65-years and older.

Dehydration is also one of the top reasons seniors are admitted to the hospital each year and can contribute to urinary tract infections, which are often asymptomatic in the senior population and can show up with dementia-like symptoms that are worrisome for all involved.

Prevent Dehydration In Seniors

In addition to sedentary lifestyles or conditions like dementia, which trick the body’s natural “thirst” urges, many of the medications taken by seniors compound the issue.

Additional reasons seniors are more prone to dehydration include:

  • The older we get, the ability for our bodies to recognize heat changes diminishes
  • Certain health conditions, including the inability to communicate or incontinence, lead to more severe dehydration
  • Body water content decreases with age
  • Elderly individuals seem to experience diminished thirst, even though they may need even more water than when they were younger
  • Underlying health conditions can make seniors less heat tolerant

The more you can do to get seniors to intake fluids, the better off they will be.

Tips For Getting Seniors To Consume More Fluids

Loved ones and caregivers should use some of the following tips to increase fluid intake and prevent dehydration for their senior loved ones.

Address any existing incontinence issues

Seniors struggling to acknowledge incontinence issues may intentionally avoid drinking in order to avoid embarrassing accidents. Adult disposable underwear/briefs have come a long way in the past couple of decades and can’t be detected underneath clothing. Have a courageous conversation and purchase a few sample products to help your loved one find the adult disposable underwear that is the most comfortable for him/her. The ability to remain confident about toileting makes it possible to drink without fear or embarrassment.

Use a timer app on your smartphone or gadget

Use the timer app on a smartphone or gadget, set to go off at particular intervals during the day – perhaps every 30-minutes to an hour. When the timer goes off, it’s time to sip some water, drink a cup of tea or enjoy a smoothie or a glass of sparkling juice.

NOTE: Smoothies are easy to make (Ensures are good too) and, in addition to providing hydration, they also provide loads of healthy vitamins and minerals for seniors who don’t have an appetite or who eat on the lighter side.

Prevent dehydration with delicious drink options readily available

For some of us, water is manna from heaven when we’re thirsty – but that’s not the case for all. Keep plenty of drink options on hand so you can offer something appealing. And, don’t forget that a wedge of lemon or lime, a slice or two of cucumber, a small chunk of watermelon or a sprig of fresh mint can add a nice pop to a plain glass of ice water.

Other examples include:

  • Sparkling water (both plain and flavored)
  • Flavored Iced Teas (decaffeinated if caffeine is a no-no)
  • Chocolate milk (with fat content selected depending on the senior’s recommended diet)
  • Fresh fruit juice (add sparkling water to make a healthy version of a flavored soda)
  • Sports drinks (use in moderation to minimize sugar intake)

Read, Holiday Inspired Mocktails and Cocktails for more ideas to serve delicious, non-alcoholic drinks that are cool and refreshing.

Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Fluids come in all different forms, not just in a glass but also in fruits and vegetables. Fruit popsicles are so delicious and appealing in the summer months, especially for seniors who take medications known to cause dry mouth or persistent thirst. On the flip side, seniors who prefer savory to sweet may appreciate sipping a cup of broth – veggie, beef or chicken – which also offers protein and nutrients.

Have beverages at the ready

The to-go cup market has made it easier than ever for seniors and their caregivers to have insulated hot and/or cold beverages at the ready. Better yet, with the “sippy cup” and straw options most of these cups utilize, the cups also minimize spills and make it easier for seniors to sip.

Put them around the house – on the nightstand by the bed, on the side table next to a favorite chair or couch spot, on the kitchen table, loaded and ready to go in the fridge, etc. The more accessible the beverages are, the more likely seniors are to sip regularly, without the hassle of needing to get up or prepare anything.

Experiment with temperatures

Finally, sensitivity to cold and hot beverages changes with age. You may find iced beverages are too cold for comfort or that hot beverages need to cool for longer than they used to in order for your loved one to find drinks palatable. Room temperature beverages may now be a preference. Experiment with a variety of beverages at different temperatures (maybe even warming fruit juice a bit!) to see if that makes seniors more eager to drink.

Worried about a senior loved one who lives alone and may not be able to take of him/herself as well as s/he used to? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free consultation. Even something as simple as a regular check-in from one of our licensed home care aides can ensure your loved one has access to plenty of tasty fluids as well as nourishing foods on hand in order to prevent dehydration.

Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

bathroom safety tips for seniors

Not only are bathroom falls dangerous – they can be fatal – particularly for seniors who are more fragile or who wind up requiring surgery. Post-surgical declines and complications are known for stripping seniors of their original mobility, health, and well-being. So knowledge of bathroom safety tips should always be collected.

The bathroom is one of the major causes of senior slip-and-fall accidents, so bathroom safety tips are an important step in helping a senior to age safely in place. Within the bathroom – the biggest offenders are:

  • Low toilets
  • Slippery floors/wet floors
  • Shower/bath floors that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Shower/bath chairs that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Grab bars and/or towel racks that aren’t sufficiently secured

7 Bathroom Safety Tips to Make the Bathroom One of the Safest Rooms in the House

The good news is that the following improvements aren’t just good for seniors – they’re good for everyone who lives in or visits the home. In fact, while universal and accessible home designs were initially tailored towards the senior population, they’re quickly becoming a tenet of good home design in general. When done professionally, these accessible bathroom improvements can increase the resale value of your home down the road.

Use slip-proof mats in tubs, showers and bathroom floors

Slip-proof mats provide significantly more grip than slick bath/shower floors. Even the most subtle shift or slip of the foot can knock seniors off balance and the only surfaces to land upon are hard ones. Similarly, invest in high-quality shower chairs that have slip-proof feet.

Note: It’s a good idea to purchase a shower chair before a senior feels s/he needs it. They come in handy, even in the event of a bad flu, the end of a long day, or even something as simple as a sprained ankle.

Have a contractor install grab bars in appropriate locations

The first thing we do when we fall is reach out for something to hang on to. If that “something” is a regularly-installed towel rack, odds are one or both sides will pull out of the wall – and that’s a dangerous situation. Instead, have a contractor or licensed, professional repairperson install grab bars that are securely anchored into wall studs- rather than sheetrock.

ADA approved grab bars should be installed:

  • Near the toilet
  • Inside the shower or bath
  • Near the shower or bath
  • Anywhere else that makes sense depending on the bathroom’s size, layout or usage.

Keep in mind that grab bars can be used as a towel rack too, which provides a twofer!

Use non-slip, ultra-absorbent bathroom mats

Make sure the rugs in the bathroom are designed for bathroom use – including non-slip backs and ultra-absorbent materials. These wick surface water from the floors, helping to minimize slip risks.

Install an elevated height toilet

Switching a lower, outdated bathroom toilet for a higher-seated counterpart is a quick fix that makes it easier to sit down and get back up without a struggle. If this isn’t possible where you live, you can find different types of raised toilet seats online for very reasonable prices. If it isn’t possible to install secure grab bars in the toilet niche, order a seat that has safety bars included.

Keep things within close reach

Make sure seniors can access all of their everyday toiletries, shower/bath items, and extra rolls of toilet paper easily and accessibly. This may require a re-organization of the cabinets and drawers (minimizing the need to bend over or get down on hands and knees), using a shower caddy that hangs from the shower faucet, etc.

Update bathroom (and household!) lighting

The slow loss of vision is a common side effect of aging, and it requires improvements in household lighting. The bathroom is particularly important, as seniors need ample light to read the labels on prescription and over-the-counter medications, and night-lighting allows seniors to find and use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ensure safe entrance/exit and maneuverability

Is the bathroom doorway causing problems for mobility aids? Can the senior make their way into and out of – as well as around – the bathroom without a struggle. It may be time to change door hinging, remove the door altogether or work with a contractor to expand the doorway to an ADA-accessible width. Re-locating towel racks may gain extra inches that help a senior to turn around and access the entirety of the bathroom without getting tripped up.

For More Bathroom Safety Tips…

Interested in learning more about rearranging, updating – or remodeling – to create a safer, senior-friendly bathroom space? Schedule a consultation with a local home care agency. The consultations are free – no-obligation – and provide a wealth of information to help seniors age more independently in place.

Preventing Malnutrition in the Elderly

preventing malnutrition in the elderly

Many experts feel that at least 56% or more of the senior population in the United States suffers from inadequate nutrition, and this includes seniors who live in hospitals, rehab centers, assisted living communities and nursing homes. While there is a range of reasons for this collective malnourishment, malnutrition exacerbates any latent physical or mental conditions – including Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. This is why preventing malnutrition is so importanat.

Thus, it’s important that seniors, their loved ones, and caregivers take proper precautions to ensure elder individuals are properly nourished and hydrated.

Simple Steps for Preventing Malnutrition in Senior Loved Ones

Inadequate nutrition shows us via a range of symptoms, including:

  • Loss of energy
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Depression
  • More frequent illness
  • Memory and cognition deficits
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Mobility and balance issues
  • Increased falling incidences
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Worsening of current health conditions

The bottom line is that seniors need a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet in order to remain as healthy, positive and independent as possible.

The following are simple, affordable and actionable steps you can take to ensure your senior loved one is eating well and getting the nutrients s/he needs regularly:

Seek meal assistance

There are several ways seniors can receive well-balanced meals on a daily or weekly basis. One of these is via volunteer, senior-services type options, like Meals-on-Wheels. Organizations like these bring meals right to seniors’ doors on a sliding scale basis – with some seniors qualifying for free meals.

Is the senior a member of a charge or a spiritual congregation? Contact the pastor or spiritual leader and see if their community provides meal services or support of any kind.

Companion and home care services also offer meal services to their clients. These services cost a reasonable amount but are far less expensive than costs associated with assisted living or nursing home care and can also include other caregiving services as needed, including driving, errand running, light housekeeping, organization, medication reminders, grooming, and hygiene, etc.

Preventing malnutrition with easy snacks

Preparing and cooking food is a labor-intensive endeavor, and the labor intensifies when paired with memory- or mobility issues. Instead of seniors having to prepare large meals for themselves, stock their fridge each week with easy-to-assemble and/or ready-to-eat foods.

Ideas include pre-cut veggies with ranch or another tasty dip, pre-made deli sandwiches, fresh fruit cut up into bite-sized pieces, cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Meal replacement drinks, like Ensure, are fine once in a while but should not be used as meal supplements on a regular basis.

Company’s like Schwann’s or Blue Apron are also a great idea for seniors who are able to cook their own meals but want to simplify the shopping and preparation steps required to eat a good meal.

Stay in touch with healthcare providers

Sometimes a lack of appetite turns out to be an unaddressed health issue, the beginning stages of dementia, an undiagnosed infection or an adverse reaction to a medication. Contacting the senior’s healthcare providers is an important step in ruling out and/or identifying the causes of appetite loss so they are immediately addressed.

Read, Communicating with Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor, for tips on how to facilitate a collaborative relationship without overstepping any bounds.

Make food compelling

Have you reviewed the individuals’ list of dietary restrictions? It could be that the only foods s/he is allowed to eat are bland and unappealing. If this is the case, it’s time to spice – or flavor things up – introducing new vegetables, using lemon juice, salt substitutes, herbs, and spices, etc.

Read, Helpful Tips on Cooking For Seniors, for more along those lines.

Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet

We also recommend reviewing the tenets of an anti-inflammatory diet. Our post, Senior Care Tips: Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet, goes into this in greater detail. However, this “diet” includes plenty of delicious and healthy food options but eliminates the processed food, simple carbs and excessive sugars that lead to inflammation and exacerbate the large majority of senior-centric health ailments.

If you follow an anti-inflammatory or similar dietary guidelines, you’ll be hard-pressed to not get the nourishment your body needs!

Get plenty of exercise

Yes, moving burns calories – but that’s what’s so great about it. Sedentary lifestyles are no good for anyone. Regular, daily exercise – tailored to the senior’s physical ability and needs – will ramp up a lagging appetite. When you provide the right foods, snacks and meals, any increase in exercise results in an improved appetite and a greater amount of nutritious calories consumed; it’s a win-win for all.

Let Us Help

Would you like to provide healthy meals for a senior you care about? Contact us here at Homeaide Home Care. We’ve provided high-quality, licensed, compassionate care for seniors in both homes and assisted living communities – helping them by preventing malnutrition and to thrive. We look forward to doing the same for your loved one.

Senior Prescription Medications: Hoarding, Borrowing & Sharing

senior prescription medications hoarding borrowing & sharing

There’s a reason why prescription medications reminders are one of the most sought-after senior services for home care providers. Even without dementia or dementia-related diagnosis, seniors often have so many meds to take that it becomes difficult for them to track what to take, when.

Money-conscious seniors may find it difficult to dispose of “perfectly good” expired meds and opt to continue taking them, allowing their new meds to accumulate. Other times, unsuspecting seniors wind up “sharing” strong pain meds or other medications with relatives to take them directly from their medicine cabinets. These are all examples of why medication management is so important for seniors and their loved ones.

If your parents or grandparents have medicine cabinets chock-full of prescription medications and other pill bottles, take the time to organize them, secure them in a restricted access container or location, and determine best-practices for keeping both your loved ones safe.

Prescription Medications Management for Seniors

Medication management for seniors ensure medications are taken as prescribed, are not expired, and don’t find their way into the wrong hands.

Prevent medication hoarding

Hoarding takes place in multiple ways. Sometimes, it’s the inadvertent hoarding that occurs when seniors neglect to safely dispose of old and/or expired medications causing them to accumulate en masse. Other times, it happens because seniors find great deals online and can’t resist “bargain bin” prices offered online or on TV ads (both of which are suspect).

In addition to clutter, medication hoarding increases the chances of a senior taking the wrong medicine by mistake or someone else illegally getting their hands on a prescription medication that is addictive or can be sold on the black market. Either scenario is a recipe for serious harm.

To prevent medication hoarding:

  • Routinely go through medicine cabinets, drawers, closets and cupboards, safely eliminating any medications that are expired or outdated.
  • Make sure prescriptions are clearly labeled, which may mean creating brighter labels with larger print for ease of reading.
  • Remain in touch with your senior’s physician so you can keep up communication as needed around new medications, any undesirable side-effects and/or the senior’s resistance to taking a medication. You should also let the physician know if the patient is insisting on taking old meds so the doctor can speak to them about it and advise against it.

Prevent medication borrowing and sharing

Often, medical conditions create a fair amount of pain or discomfort for seniors, which paves the way for prescriptions to serious pain medications. Heavy medications, like opiates and antianxiety meds, are commonly included as part of hospice or palliative care, and they require careful monitoring to ensure they’re being used as directed, and only by the patient for whom they were prescribed.

Unfortunately, prescription opiate and pill addictions are at an all-time high so it’s important that you monitor the senior’s pain medication intake, taking them only as prescribed, while restricting others’ access.

To prevent medications from being borrowed or shared by others:

  • Keep medications locked up or in a safe. Any prescription medications – narcotics or otherwise – should be kept in a safe or in a locked medicine cabinet. The combinations or keys to the cabinet should only be given to seniors and their immediate caregivers. If a senior has dementia, the combination should be changed. Inventory should be done regularly to ensure medications are being taken as prescribed.
  • Immediately investigate missing medications. If you notice medications are missing, begin investigating immediately. If you suspect the senior is taking more than prescribed, or that cognitive decline is causing them to unwittingly overdose on meds, consider working with licensed home care professionals who can provide medication reminders as well as other services that increase support so the individual can continue to age in place.
  • Complete POA and Advanced medical directives. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to complete a Power-of-Attorney (POA) and an advanced medical directive. This helps to prevent seniors with dementia or cognitive decline from harming themselves by retaining full control of their medication prescriptions when they’re no longer able to make healthy choices. If you notice your loved one is taking old medications, is suffering negative side effects from a current medication or is not taking their medication as prescribed, a POA can be your greatest ally as you work with their physician to come up with solutions.

Read Guide for Managing Medications and Prescriptions for more tips on how to keep seniors and your loved ones safe.

Do you worry a senior loved one isn’t taking their meds as prescribed, or that they may be abusing prescription medications without realizing it? Contact us here at Home Aide Home Care. Often, daily check-ins from a licensed home care provider is exactly what’s needed to ensure medications are taken as prescribed and to keep seniors eating well, active and socially engaged – a recipe for a longer, healthier and more independent senior life.

Exercises For Homebound Seniors

exercises for homebound seniors

Homebound seniors need exercise even more than their outwardly active counterparts. Homebound often equals sedentary if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that you can do right in the comfort of your own home – even if you’re wheelchair or bedbound.

Please Note: Seniors and/or their caregivers should always speak to their physician about any new exercise routine to verify it’s advisable for their physical condition. If not, the doctor will have specific exercise instructions more personalized to the individual’s needs.

5 Exercises For Homebound Seniors

Here are 5 exercises that are safe for seniors to do at home. The benefits will be noticeable via improved muscle tone, increased strength and stamina and better balance. Plus, most experts agree that regular exercise – at least five days a week – improves mood and can improve sleep habits.

Chair-specific exercises

The HASFIT YouTube channel has to great chair exercises. If you’re just starting out, we recommend the 10-minute version. Once you’ve built endurance, move on up to the 20-minute version. With everything from brisk “marches in place” to arm exercises, these well-planned sequences get almost every part of your body moving.

If you are able, we recommend adding one or two-pound weights to wrist and ankles, as weight-bearing exercises are better for bone-building and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.

Get out to the garden

Have access to a small backyard, patio or balcony? Take advantage of the space you have and plant a garden. Gardening gets homebound seniors outside and working – not to mention producing nutritious vegetables and fruits and or gorgeous ornamental flowers that add meaning, flavor and value to life. If you don’t have the space for a raised bed, you can grow virtually any vegetable or fruit you can think of (climate-relevant, of course) in containers.

Read, Gardening For Seniors, for tips on how to make gardening a regular part of seniors’ lives.

Take a yoga class

There was a time when taking a yoga class meant leaving the home and visiting a yoga studio or a senior center that offered yoga classes. Now, all you need is a TV, the right DVD, a computer, a tablet or some other form of screen technology and you can take a class at home.

Amazon.com has multiple DVD options for senior-oriented yoga poses – both seated and standing. You can also visit YouTube to watch senior yoga classes filmed at yoga studios by certified yoga instructors. Two of our favorites are:

As Tatis Cervantes-Aiken reminds us, always listen to your body. Never force any exercise motion or pose, and always modify any exercises, stretches or poses that triggers or exacerbates an existing injury.

Overhead arm raise

This seated exercise helps to strengthen the arms. We like that if you don’t have weights, you can copy the picture Shown Here and use soup cans or small water bottles instead. Even that little bit of resistance makes a big difference when you’re exercising.

  • Sit comfortably in a chair with your body straight
  • Place feet flat on the floor, hips-width apart
  • Hold the weights in your hand and raise your forearms up, as if you’re making muscles with each arm, with the upper-arm perpendicular to the body, elbows bent at 90° angles. Palms should be facing forwards.
  • Take a deep breath in and out, and in again.
  • As you exhale, slowly reach your arms up until elbows are almost straight, but not quite. Take a breath and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Rest between each set and try to work up to 10 to 15 sets per session.

Leg straightening

Now it’s time to balance that upper-body workout with a lower-body workout. Still seated, roll a towel and place it under your thighs on the chair, right behind the knee, providing thigh support. You can see what this looks like by Clicking Here.

  • Take one full breath, in and out.
  • Breathe in again and as you breathe out, slowly raise one leg out in front of you, without allowing your knee to lose contact with the chair.
  • Flex your foot so your toe is in the air and hold this position for one or two seconds.
  • Slowly lower your foot to the ground, take another breath and repeat.
  • Do this 10 to 15 times. Then switch and repeat with the other leg.
  • Do 10 to 15 different sets, per leg, each day.

Visit Go For Life’s, Try These Exercises page for more exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.

Are you interested in integrating at-home exercises for homebound seniors into your life? Consider working with HomeAide Home Care’s team of caregiving professionals. Our licensed caregivers can do these exercises with you or your senior loved ones and we also offer a range of senior-oriented caregiving services that promote health and well-being.

Age in Place with a Universal Home Design

age in place with a universal home design

Are you or someone you love interested in aging-in-place. While “aging in place” seems like a contemporary trend, it’s actually a return to the way all of us aged, prior to the post-war era. In the past several decades, both seniors, their families, and their pocketbooks have realized that remaining in a comfortable home, surrounded by the things, people and pets you love most, is often the most desirable scenario for everyone involved. The best way to do this is to create a universal home design.

Not only is aging-in-place proven to improve healing rates, senior mental and emotional health – it’s also considerably more affordable than moving into an assisted living or nursing home facility. When you pair the choice to remain at home – and bring the care to you as needed – and the tenets of universal home design, you create a living space that is entirely dedicated to your safety, comfort, and ease of mobility.

For specific details about universal home design, we recommend visiting the AARP’s article on the subject.

What is a Universal Home Design?

As we mentioned before, the goal of a universal design is to promote safety, comfort, and ease of mobility. In some cases, very little to no construction is required to create a universal design. In others, you may find it’s worthwhile to build an accessibly designed remodel. The latter ensures fixtures and finishes are new, stylish and comply with ADA building codes, all of which can increase the value of the home when/if it is eventually sold down the road.

Also, baby boomers often find a universally-themed remodel allows them to have their parents move in, as well as their own aging-in-place later on, which can collectively save tens of thousands of dollars. You do this by:

Creating a beautiful lighting design

Yes! You might not think of lighting first but lighting designs are an integral part of a remodel and they need to be thought about beforehand to be installed artfully. This includes a range of different lighting types:

  • Windows and skylights for ample daylighting. Not only does this keep electrical costs down during the day, it also helps to preserve human circadian rhythm, which will help to ease the daily rhythms for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Plenty of task-lights set on dimmers. Artificial lighting should be warm, bright and task-oriented to improve visibility for senior eyes once the sun goes down – and ambient light creates attractive night lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Floodlights and outdoor lighting. All of the exterior entrances and immediate outdoor areas should be well-illuminated using floods and other outdoor lighting sources. Special emphasis should be placed on ramps, stairways, walkways, and paths.
  • Motion-sensitive lighting. Motion-sensitive lights are always a bonus, set at certain times to ensure lights turn on when a senior enters a room or opens an exterior door, even if s/he forgets to turn on the switch.

Grab bars at all toilets, bathroom and shower areas

Grab bars are a tenet of senior bathroom safety because the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house – it’s hard, slippery and provides minimal room for comfortable maneuvering. Grab bars should be installed next to the toilet and within easy reach of bath and shower areas, as well as inside the bath or shower.

Flooring that’s compatible with mobility aids

Almost all seniors wind up using some form of mobility aid as they age. For this reason, universal designs automatically focus on flooring that is easy for canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to traverse. Typically, this involves a combination of linoleum (which is softer than tile or hardwood but comes in amazing luxurious patterns these days) and low-profile carpet.

Room to move around

This includes doorways, hallways, the space between the kitchen island and perimeter cabinets, the tables, and chairs, inside the bathroom, etc. Most universal designs will allow at least 38-inches or more so those with a walker or wheelchair can easily get around without having to constantly shimmy, lift, squeeze or reshuffled chairs and other furnishings.

Cabinets, drawers, and faucets that are easy to operate

Small doors and handles that need to be gripped are more difficult to operate when hands are weak and/or arthritis. A universal design eliminates this risk by using bar-style pulls and handles, and easy-lever faucets (or touch-sensitive faucets) to ensure seniors never have a problem accessing their drawers, cupboards, sinks, baths/showers, etc.

Smartly designed storage

Universal designs are often referred to as “accessible.” Not surprisingly, storage areas in kitchens, baths, and hallways are often inaccessible – particularly if they require a fair amount of bending, getting down on hands and knees, getting onto stepladders and so on. Instead, functional storage puts the things you use most within easy reach and utilizes things like pull-out shelving, pull-down racks, and lazy Susans to make cupboards and storage closets safer and more efficient.

As we mentioned before, a simple home rearranging and a few accommodations may be all your home needs to be more accessible. Or, if more significant work is required (like the installation of ramps, railings, new flooring, etc.), it’s worth considering a full, universally designed remodel. The combination of funds saved by aging-in-place, and the increased resale value, will make your new, accessible home well-worth the investment.

Dementia: Identify Beginning Signs and Symptoms

dementia identify beginning signs and symptoms

Senior moments are the stuff jokes are made of. When true forgetfulness or confusion sets in, however, it’s no laughing matter. Seniors in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very embarrassed or scared, and their safety can be put at risk, as the result of mental lapses.

For this reason, it’s important to know the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and dementia or other dementia-related cognitive decline. Some of the changes are very subtle, but if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional sooner rather than later. Today’s and memory care and treatment options, as well as new medications, can significantly slow down dementia’s development – but early diagnosis and treatment are key.

If you think you or someone you love suffers from dementia-related memory loss, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Proactive care, including in-home care and support, can make all the difference when it comes to supporting general well-being and independence.

Normal age-related memory loss

All kinds of forgetful moments show up on the very normal spectrum of “age-related memory loss.” These include things like forgetting a person’s name, not remembering where you put the grocery list, having a hard time remembering which year you went on that Hawaiian vacation, etc.

While irritating at best, or embarrassing at worst (like forgetting a person’s name or a lunch date), these memory lapses are completely normal. In fact, while it may be a sign of aging, occasional forgetfulness is just as likely to occur as the result of depression, anxiety, stress, a busy schedule, lack of sleep and so on.

Dementia-related memory loss

Dementia-related memory loss is much more serious than age-related memory loss. It’s important to note the difference because signs and symptoms of dementia can emerge as long as 15-years prior to actual diagnosis, by which point it can be too late to make a difference. By catching dementia early, while in its earliest stages, doctors can prescribe diet and lifestyle changes, brain training exercises and/or certain medications to slow down its onset and preserve mental agility for as long as possible.

The following are some of the mild to moderate symptoms of dementia:

More difficulty with short-term memory issues

During the beginning stages, adults with dementia may remember events or information from long ago in great detail, but they have difficulty with short-term memory. Perhaps they can tell you a funny story from second grade, or an embarrassing moment on their wedding day, but they can’t remember what they did last weekend or where the family spent the holidays last year.

A general and more routine forgetfulness

Age-related memory loss can make it more difficult to remember the name of a casual acquaintance or someone you met last week – every once in a while. Dementia-related memory loss becomes routine. All of a sudden, you’re forgetting names and faces or appointments on a regular basis, rather than just once in a great while. For example, forgetting a doctor’s appointment once is okay, forgetting it multiple times – even when it’s written on the calendar – is another.

Inability to focus and/or becoming distracted more frequently

Those with dementia-related memory problems will find it more difficult to focus on tasks that were easy in the past, such as reading directions while driving or following a new recipe, keeping up with the news, and so on. As a result, they may wander away while the chocolate chip cookie dough was only half finished, and not remember to return. The checkbook that was meticulously balanced previously is now neglected or filled with errors and omissions. A person with dementia might forget the rules of a favorite game or have trouble following along while playing cards.

For most of us, an occasional gaffe is cause for anxiety or defensiveness, but you might find a person with dementia reacts with even more embarrassment, shame, anxiety or even anger because deep down they sense – or know – that something is wrong.

Notable and atypical shifts in mood or temperament

A person who was grouchy in general is prone to being even more grouchy during the senior years. However, those with dementia may experience more severe swings in mood or temperament, ranging from uncharacteristic bursts of anger to bouts of depression or intense clinginess with their partner or another family member.

As things progress, seniors with dementia can get lost on during their daily walk around the block or while running errands in the car. Stove burners might be left on or basic hygiene is neglected. At this point, more serious interventions must take place in order to keep the individual (as well as others) safe and ensure their daily needs are taken care of.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s should be diagnosed by a healthcare professional

While dementia isn’t a disease, it is diagnosable based on established tests and screening available via a trusted physician. Schedule an appointment for an assessment if you feel memory issues are affecting your quality of life. In some cases, you may learn a latent medical condition or the side effects of a particular medication (or even a urinary tract infection!) are the culprits.

If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, we recommend reading, Connecting With And Caring For Those With Dementia. You can also schedule an appointment for a free, in-home assessment with a local home care provider to learn more about the services available to you to help your loved one age-in-place.