Monthly Archives: December 2014

7 Caregiver tips for assessing pain

7 Caregiver Tips for Assessing and Managing Pain in Older Adults

Assessing pain is one of the more challenging jobs a caregiver will have to tackle when caring for an older adult who cannot or will not communicate.

Not only is unrelieved pain uncomfortable, it has been associated with heightened anxiety, depression, increased falls, slower recovery from surgery, malnutrition and changes in cognition.

Reducing the amount of pain your elder is experiencing will not only improve their comfort, but it will also make it possible for both their body and mind to perform more efficiently.

Although caregivers do not prescribe pain medication, nor administer medications there are things caregivers can do to help an elder who appears to be in pain.

Every individual will respond to non-medical pain interventions uniquely so finding the right solution may take time. The following is a short list of tips and possible interventions you can try in order to help your elderly patient with pain management:

  • A dim room and soothing music may alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that accompanies pain.
  • For those who can bear to be touched, a soothing light massage might be appreciated.
  • Some respond better a warm water bottle of a blanket that has been warmed in the dryer.
  • Aromatherapy has been known to help relieve pain but some may find odors to be unbearable.
  • Encourage relaxation. Breathing slowly and quietly helps the mind and body to relax and helps decrease pain. Simple relaxation methods can be learned from books or audiotapes on relaxation techniques.
  • Work with your elders and find out what helps them during that time that the pain is heightened.
  • There are several websites that have a selection of products that may help to manage pain. The Wright Stuff, the Senior Corner Store and Active Forever.

If you still have questions and concerns about how to help your elderly loved one with pain management please feel free to contact us. We can help you and your family establish a pain management and care plan to personally accommodate your loved one needs.

Wiser Home Care: Care for the ones you love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battling Malnutrition One Healthy Meal at a Time

In the past we have touched on topics such as the importance of reducing salt and increasing nutrient rich foods in your elderly loved ones diet. This week we plan to cover tips on how to reduce malnutrition amongst elderly adults.

Malnutrition is a critical health issue among older adults caused by eating too little food, too few nutrients, and by digestive problems related to aging. Malnutrition causes fatigue, depression, a weak immune system, anemia, weakness, lung and heart problems, as well as skin concerns.

Tips for preventing malnutrition as you age:

  • Eat nutrient packed food
  • Have flavorful food available
  • Snack between meals
  • Eat with company as much as possible
  • Get help with food preparation
  • Talk with your doctor
  • Avoid skipping meals. This causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to feeling sluggish and making poorer eating choices later in the day.

Here are some choices for meals:

Breakfast: Select high-fiber breads and cereals, colorful fruit, and protein to fill you with energy for the day. Try yogurt with muesli and berries, a veggie-packed omelet, peanut butter on whole grain toast with a citrus salad, or old-fashioned oatmeal made with dried cherries, walnuts and honey.

Lunch: Keep your body fueled for the afternoon with a variety of grain breads, lean protein and fiber. Try a veggie quesadilla on a whole-wheat tortilla, veggie stew with whole-wheat noodles.

Dinner: End the day on a wholesome note. Try warm salads of roasted veggies and a side of crusty brown bread and cheese, grilled salmon with spicy salsa, asparagus and shrimp. Opt for sweet potatoes instead of white and grilled meat instead of fried.

Snack: It’s okay to snack. Choose healthy snacks from some of these high protein choices. Cottage cheese with fruit, almonds, hard boiled eggs, deli rollup – low sodium deli meat with 1 slice of low-fat cheese, nut butter boat – almond or peanut butter topped on celery or apple. Mini bean and cheese quesadilla – 1/2 c black beans, salsa and 1 slice cheese, protein shake, hummus – dip favorite veggies, banana nutter – rice cake, peanut butter, banana and cinnamon, grape and cheese cubes on a toothpick.

Find out what your family/client likes and scour the Internet for lots of interesting recipes and ideas.

 

Moving an elderly loved one from their home can be stressful. Read this week's blog to learn about our favorite tips to ease the stress of moving.

Wiser Home Care’s Tips to Ease the Stress of Moving

Taking care of an elderly loved one can easily and quickly become very stressful, especially if the loved one suffers from a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer’s. Often there comes a point when it is no longer safe for the elderly loved one to be at home and watched over by family. At this point it is crucial to consider what’s best for the elder even if it means moving them out of the comfort of their home.

Here at Wiser Home Care Services we understand that this time of transition and uncertainty can be very stressful to navigate. We have compiled a list of tips for when you are faced with the decision to move your loved one.

  • Go with your gut. Families are often unsure how far in advance they should discuss the move into a facility with their loved one. Those who are closest to the person with Alzheimer’s usually have the best sense as to how the individual will handle the news. The amount of information shared, and the timing of the information given, will depend on the ability of the person with Alzheimer’s to understand. Some families involve their loved one early in the process and ask for their input, other families, with a loved one in the more advanced stages of the disease, find it best to tell them the day before or the morning of the move. Even those in the later stages, however, have a right to be told where they are going and why (because family/friends can no longer keep them safe at home).

Moving an elderly loved one from their home can be stressful.  Read this week's blog to learn about our favorite tips to ease the stress of moving.

  • Consider sooner rather than later. People with a progressive memory loss are usually able to better adjust if they are moved early in their disease process. Because moving from the comfort and security of one’s home requires a great deal of adjustment, physically and emotionally, people with Alzheimer’s and similar dementias are most likely to adjust more effectively before the disease has become too advanced.
  • Bring as many meaningful objects from the resident’s home as possible. Rooms that are set up to look as much like the resident’s home as possible will help ease the new resident’s transition both physically and emotionally. Having objects around them that have sentimental value to them will help them feel less alone. Also, people with Alzheimer’s are dependent on the environment around them to provide cues; having familiar objects in their room will help them function better.
  • Make moving day as stress-free as possible. Ensure that one or two of the resident’s most trusted family members or friends are with the resident on moving day. In most cases, it is best to have the personal belongings moved out of the old home and into the new home when the resident is not there; have the trusted person(s) take the resident out for a quiet breakfast or for a drive in the country while the work is being done. Watching one’s treasured possessions moved can be very stressful.
  • Expect a period of adjustment. It’s not uncommon for it to take 30 to 90 days for older adults to adjust to their new surroundings; those with Alzheimer’s may take even longer. Everything is different, from the faces around them, to the new schedule of daily routines, to the food that’s served, even the new smells of the facility. A period of adjustment does not mean you’ve made a mistake. Be patient.
  • Respond to their emotion. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the individual goes more on emotion than logic (due to the death of brain cells). Therefore, those around them need to respond to the emotions behind their words and actions. By validating the emotions, such as, “It sounds like you’re angry,” or “You look sad,” you acknowledge their feelings about their new home. Provide plenty of reassurance such as, “I’ll visit you often,” or “I’m getting you a phone so we can talk every night before bed.”
  • Acknowledge their grief. As a person ages they experience a great deal of loss; they gradually lose their independence, their health, their abilities to do certain things, etc. These compounding losses often lead to a grieving process. When that person has Alzheimer’s disease that grief may be intensified as they are also losing their memories and, in stages, their abilities to function. Recognize their need to vent their grief and acknowledge their feelings. After a period of time listening, provide a divisional activity such as going for a short walk or enjoying a snack together.
  • Provide opportunities to reminisce. Reminiscing is one of best things you can do with a person with middle to later stage Alzheimer’s; their short-term memory is failing but the long-term memory can remain intact for a long time. Provide old family photos or photo albums, ideally with identifying names on them, to use for the resident to reminisce with others. It is suggested that original photos are left at home and copies are brought to the facility to prevent the originals from getting ruined or lost. You may have heard the same story 101 times; smile and act as if it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Just think of the joy it brings them!
  • Help the staff know your loved one. If your loved one has limited abilities to share his/her preferences and past patterns with staff, ask the staff what information they need to help your loved one have the best experience possible in their new home. Also, think of ways to honor and communicate with others your loved one’s past accomplishments and talents. In doing so, you’ll contribute to improved self-esteem of the individual with Alzheimer’s – something that really takes a hit as they lose their abilities.
  • Continue to play a role in the care giving process. Just because your loved is in the care of the facility, it does not mean your loved one no longer needs you. You can continue to play a vital role in the wellbeing of your loved one. Visit regularly; attend care conferences and other staff meetings related to your loved one, and advocate for him/her as you feel it is necessary.

If you still have questions and concerns about moving your loved one please feel free to contact us and we can help you and your family navigate this time of transition.

Wiser Home Care: Care for the ones you love!

Salt not only adds flavor to food but takes away years of our lives.

Salt: The Silent Killer

Did you know that adults are supposed to eat no more than 2300 milligrams (about 1 tsp) of salt a day? In fact, people with high blood pressure, diabetes or over 50 should limit it to 1500 milligrams. That’s about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt daily. Considering that salt is an ingredient in just about every type of processed food it’s no wonder that most are getting double or triple the amounts of sodium they need each day.

Salt may add flavor to your food, but getting too much of it can also cut years from your life. Studies have linked a high-salt diet to increased risk of high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Research also shows that reducing the salt in your diet may help lower those risks.

So how do you cut salt in your cooking? Keep it real, not processed.

Cooking your own meals from scratch is the best way to control how much sodium goes into your food. The Internet is full of low-sodium recipes that take all of the guesswork out of cooking. Use fresh or frozen fruits & vegetables instead of canned. If you have to use canned foods rinse the contents to wash away some of the sodium.

Don’t follow directions. When a recipe calls for salt, replace it with another herb or spice. Salt-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free. You can substitute dozens of different seasonings and ingredients to spice up low-sodium meals.

Marinate chicken or pork in orange juice or wine. Roll fish in sesame seeds before baking. Toss in a few fruits or vegetables, dried apricots, raisins or peppers. Simmer carrots in cinnamon or nutmeg. Sprinkle dill and parley on potatoes before roasting. Toss pasta with fresh chopped garlic. Replace salted butter with unsalted butter. Try using salt-free seasoning blends like Mrs. Dash. If you would like a spice and herb chart for examples on how to use them go visit Spice Advice.