Lighting Safety Tips For Seniors

senior lighting issuesAs the nights get darker faster and the mornings stay dark longer, lighting is key for your senior’s safety. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 Check light levels for daytime and nighttime vision to be sure they are more than adequate in work areas, hallways, frequently used rooms, and pathways outside the home.

 Illuminate edges of stairs.

 Install night lights throughout the home to light the way.

 Install senior light switches. These detect movement and will turn on the lights automatically when you enter a room. The lights also turn off automatically when there is no one in the room.

 Install a remote. This is a device held in your hand that controls a light that is plugged into a receiver that is plugged into a standard outlet.

 Install outdoor security sensor lights for added security.

 Even levels of light throughout the house make it easier for eyes to adapt moving from one area to another. Illuminating the ceiling and the tops of the walls helps the light reflect around the room without glare.

 Use task lights to see more clearly while reading, writing, cooking, and personal care.

Caregiver Tips:

 Seniors can tend to accept a lower level of lighting because they assume that poor eyesight is part of aging. They don’t realize that it is very likely just a lighting issue.

Experiment with your seniors lighting to see if they have improved vision and safety.

Seniors, Dementia & Research Trends

dementia & Nursing Home CareAlzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death and accounts for up to 80 percent of all dementia cases: killing more than 83,000 people annually.

Other types of dementia include:

  • vascular dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease

Those afflicted with these illnesses are most often in need of an adult child or guardian to advocate for them. Needs arise for home health care, frequent doctor visits, home modification, and 24-hour care to provide safety, managing finances, and the list goes on. Other issues arise when a long-time home and possessions have to be sold and a loved one must move to a sheltered environment like a senior community with memory care.

Possible Early Detection:

It is an understatement to say these are very significant numbers. But researchers are looking for the answers to whether using a yearly screening tool during a Medicare yearly well-visit is useful. Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to an annual wellness visit under the Affordable Care Act: there is no out-of-pocket charge. In addition to routine check-up items like measuring weight blood pressure, and evaluating medication effectiveness, the visit covers an evaluation for cognitive impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that seniors undergo cognitive impairment screening and evaluation with a trained medical professional to establish a baseline for comparison, and then have regular follow-up assessments in subsequent years.

More Research Needs To Be Done!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of medical experts who have come to the conclusion there is NOT sufficient evidence to screen yearly for dementia. The conclusion is the same from a study performed more than a decade ago, when it last evaluated dementia screening. Experts say the evidence is crystal clear in one respect: More research needs to be done. Those who treat older adults have been tasked to, “use their best judgment.” That can be tough when dementia causes so many emotions.

What is your opinion on this topic?

4 Easy Ways To Protect Your Senior When Severe Weather Strikes

Weather Corkboard Word ConceptIt is Summer! A time of fun and sun. However, this is also the season for severe weather and storms can strike at any time. Storms can be extremely unnerving to seniors and the elderly. If you provide senior or elder home care, being prepared can make an unexpected storm or weather complication much easier to handle. Increasing safety for yourself and your elder at home during severe thunderstorms, even severe winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes can make outings and time at home more comfortable for you both. To avoid serious repercussions and injuries from unexpected weather conditions, follow some simple safety tips as outlined below.

What Is The Difference Between WATCH & WARNING?

Weather forecasts and early warning systems have saved thousands of lives and merit our attention. Technology today is very sophisticated and forecasters can now predict many of the severe weather patterns that can cause serious injuries.

  • A Severe Weather Watch means that conditions are ideal for a certain weather condition or event to arise.
  • A Severe Weather Warning means that something like a tornado or severe thunderstorm (depending on the warning) has actually occurred been identified.

Many smart phones now are equipped to send out alerts for severe weather. Be sure to set those up in your notifications under settings on your phone. Also, please follow local recommendations regarding hurricane warnings as we are entering hurricane season.  Be sure to have a several-day supply of those vital supplies (food, water and medication) for yourself and your seniors and remember your pets too.

Tips To Protect Yourself & Your Senior:

  1. Identify your safe place to take cover. Having cover is essential during tornado or thunderstorm, or even hurricane (again-follow local recommendations that may include evacuation) Go to the basement or a room in the center of your home without windows. If there is a tornado that has touched down and there is not time to get to proper shelter, under a doorframe, or in a cast iron bathtub. Current bathtubs are not heavy enough to offer much protection from these events, but are better than nothing.
  2. Discuss a meeting point in case you are separated during the chaos of a severe storm. This can be a tree in the side yard or a corner on your street. This way, you aren’t wasting time looking for each other.
  3. Emergency Kits should contain a flashlight with fresh batteries, candles/matches/water, battery operated radio, and/or a hand crank radio to listen for any updates or warnings in the event of power loss. You should check on these supplies every time you change your smoke alarm batteries – at the change of seasons.
  4. A First Aid Kit is a great asset and having what you need handy can prevent serious health emergencies. You may be able to help others and not just the individual for whom you’re providing senior home care. Click here for a recommended list of contents.

If you are responsible for providing care or home care for an elderly person, you’ll want to ensure you and your elderly patient are safe at all times. Thankfully, severe weather does not occur too often, but it is recommended to have plans in place for when severe weather strikes.


Aging with intention: Breathing & Stress Relief

aging and stressI recently read a blog post on the American Society on Aging website that discussed the benefits of being “mindful” as we age.

What does being mindful about aging mean?

I think it will mean different things for different people. Over the next several months we plan to write entries that address being mindful and aging with intention. We’re pretty sure this is not new information for you, but rather a reminder or a new opportunity to stretch your ideas about what aging will look like for you.

Does this sound like I am grasping and re-addressing the 70’s? Actually the benefits of such practices as deep breathing and meditation are traced back to more than 2,500 years to the East… proving the efficacy and popularity of yoga and, even meditation, today.

As care givers and as patients, we benefit from taking the time for self-care. One of my favorite people also told me that just the simple act of taking five slow, deep breathes can actually ease feeling of anxiety in a matter of minutes. She’s right, you should consider trying it yourself, next time you are feeling stress or anxious about aging or caregiving.

You can practice deep breathing and meditation to experience real and measurable benefits. Start with these easy steps as outlined in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy by Segal, Williams and Teasdale (New York: Guilford Press, 2002):

3-Minute Basic Breathing Exercise

  • First minute: Awareness. Observe—bring the focus of awareness to your inner experience and notice what is happening in your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Describe, acknowledge, identify—put experiences into words.
  • Second minute: Redirecting attention. Gently redirect your full attention to your breath. Follow your breath all the way in and all the way out.
  • Third minute: Expanding attention. Allow your attention to expand to the whole body—especially to any sense of discomfort, tension or resistance.

Try this in the comfort of where ever you may be reading this blog post. No need for an “Om” or a candle, or even a yoga studio. Increase your health and wellness today! I guess what’s old is really new—again. Or at least new for us.

Guest Post: Ways To Make Your Home More Comfortable For Caregiving

caregiversAs a caregiver myself, I know that being a caregiver can be very rewarding. However, it also involves a great deal of challenges and emotional ups and downs that must be dealt with in an understanding way.

Caregiving is a loving and selfless act, and it is okay to recognize that is isn’t always easy. While hard at times, there are ways to make your home, and life, more comfortable as a caregiver. Adjusting your home to the new way of life that caregiving will bring can certainly makes the transition easier.Start slowly & incorporate these tips into your life as a caregiver.

Stress Reducing Tips For Caregivers:

1) Acknowledge your feelings. Many people in the position of caregivers think that it is easier to suppress their feelings, refusing to acknowledge that their situation is difficult or overwhelming.  However, doing this will soon catch up to you, ultimately leading to a breakdown (which may even lead to health problems for you). Guilt, grief and frustration are all natural feelings. Instead of wondering if this means you resent the family member you are caring for, it is important to understand that everybody experiences these feelings too.

2) Ask for help.  trying to do it all, can lead to becoming overwhelmed. Being a caregiver you usually go above and beyond to help the person you are caring for because you build such a tight bond. However it is important to have a defined list of duties as a caregiver that you must do and ask for a hand if it ever gets to be too much to handle. Delegate responsibilities to others who are willing to help, and remember that they offered. You may be surprised at how willing others are to pitch in when you need it most. The support and care of others is encouraging, and refreshes you when you feel discouraged.

3) Feng shui your home. Feng shui lends a sense of peace and tranquility to your home, and may even relieve the stresses of your role as a caregiver. Many people may not think of this, or dismiss it as being unhelpful, but the results of incorporating feng shui into your home are very promising. An important aspect of feng shui for your home is incorporating a water fountain in your home decor. Water has naturally soothing properties. Be sure to also represent the other elements of feng shui as well: wood, fire, earth and metal. These can be easily included in your home decor, either through simply painting your walls a different color or selecting specific home decor accessories. Fire can be represented through scented candles with essential oils, while earth can be represented by various plants.

There are dozens of resources online and in books that help with the roles of caregivers. By making your home more comfortable, many of your stresses and anxieties can be relieved.

About the author:

Tara Heath is a journalist who loves to write about health and wellness, especially for the elderly community. She currently volunteers at an assisted living center where she gets input from caregivers and the elderly being care for that inspires her writing.