Chances are you have some sort of relationship with a Senior Citizen who has experienced a fall. Not only are these situations terrifying for our loved ones, but also for those supporting them. Experiencing this as a caregiver usually leads to many questions, one of which will most likely be “How can I prevent this from happening again?” which can be easily addressed.
Seeing as Alaska has inclement weather the vast majority of the year, we can conclude that some of these falls will be associated with icy or slippery conditions on walkways, sidewalks, and driveways throughout the state. These falls have to potential to cause life altering injuries for loved ones, most notable injuries include:
o Bone Injuries (such as fractures to the hip, spine, legs, and arms)
o Head Injuries
o New Fears of Falling
This article’s intent is to help you take the preemptive measures to nip these occurrences in the bud before they happen or to prevent further falls during the winter months, which are rapidly approaching!
Below is a list of actions and precautions everyone, not just Seniors, can take to avoid falls on ice:
o First and foremost, exercise! Activities that help build balance can make the greatest difference!
o Keeping areas with foot traffic free from snow and ice.
o Use plenty of sand and gravel for added traction.
o Ice cleats for footwear. This simple purchase could be your greatest winter mobility ally.
o Lights! Ensuring walkways possess adequate lighting can, literally, make a night and day difference!
o If stairs are an obstacle between you and your destination, make sure to use the hand rail.
o SLOW DOWN! We all can become rushed at times, but one thing that is sure to prevent you from arriving at your destination safe and on time is a fall.
o Avoid carrying unnecessary items while in motion and keep your hands out of your pockets. Our arms provide excellent balance while in motion.
o Many falls may occur when we try to enter and exit a vehicle, so be sure to use sturdy handholds!
o Lastly, ALWAYS ask for assistance when necessary.
Here at CareNet, we want everyone to maintain their independence, and in Alaska a big portion of that is navigating the community which can be difficult in the winter months. Following these precautions can enable us all to have a safe and enjoyable winter.
Authored by Preston Groogan, BA
As you may have already noticed,
some seasons are a little more difficult to weather than others. Along with the snow, winter tides in decreased daylight and shorter days. Decreased availability and exposure
to daylight can result in disrupted circadian rhythms and an off kilter internal body clock. This disrupted exposure to daylight can manifest in a variety of symptoms.
What is Sundowners Syndrome?
According to the Mayo Clinic, sundowners syndrome is “a group of symptoms that occur at a specific
time of the day that may affect people with dementia…. ‘Sundowning’ refers to a state of confusion at
the end of the day and into the night.” (Smith, 2014). These symptoms manifest in behaviors such as
confusion, anxiety, aggression, ignoring directions, pacing, or wandering.
What are specific triggers that can agitate these symptoms?
End of the Day Activity
Low Light – Especially in Alaska with decreasing daylight hours
Winter – Sundowners Syndrome can often coincide with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); a
seasonally specific type of depression induced by decreased exposure to natural light
Light – Not Just for Vision
Light acts as a regulator – environmental light stimulates and regulates circadian rhythms
Daylight stimulates production of serotonin; one of the body’s “feel good” chemicals
Light is the main input to synchronize the biological clock to the solar 24-hour day
Tips for Managing Sundown Symptoms
Establishing and maintaining a routine
Limit and monitor caffeine and sugar intake, especially in afternoon and evening hours
Activities that promote exposure to natural light
Letting Light In – in the form of “phototherapy,” using a full-specturm light box to simulate the
effects of natural daylight
Reduce background noise in the evenings – TVs and radios produce substantial noise throughout
the day, decrease the volume in the afternoon and evening hours
The patterns of natural daylight cannot be altered, however there are many minor adjustments we can
make to alleviate some of the more difficult symptoms that go along with Sundowners Syndrome.
Sticking to a routine, monitoring diet (especially in the afternoon and early evening), and utilizing
natural light exposure whenever possible can certainly reduce the prevalence of some of the symptoms
Authored by Lorna Mills RN, BSN and Libby Jacques BA Psychology
Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years to ancient India. The word yoga comes from Sanskrit (an Indian language) words meaning “to join” or “yoke together”, the idea of linking mind and body together when practicing it. The practice unites movement and breath. Today people from all over the world practice different styles of yoga on a regular basis. Among them are people with arthritis, who find yoga is easy on their joints, relieves their symptoms and promotes relaxation. Many other people worry about taking a spill that could cause a bone fracture, potentially changing their quality of life forever. Doing yoga to build up strength can help to maintain that balance and prevent a fall.
Yoga and Arthritis- Yoga is ideal for people with arthritis, it offers a form of daily physical activity but poses little risk of injury to delicate joints. Yoga also has benefits in the mind/body area. Yoga helps you relax and helps with stress reduction. Scientists are just beginning to examine yoga’s physical and mental benefits. Studies show that regular yoga practice can reduce pain and improve function in people with arthritis. With its gentle stretches and weight-bearing resistance moves, yoga can help build strength and improve balance and posture.
Yoga and Strength Building- Some yoga poses build up strength in your lower body to help you maintain your balance.
Warrior I is a pose that builds up power in your legs and hips. If you’re new to yoga, you can perform Warrior I against a wall. As you progress in the pose, you’ll eventually be able to do it on your own two feet. Warrior I will help you build the muscles to maintain your balance.
• Face a wall and spread your legs so that one set of toes are touching the wall, and the other leg is stretched back, with toes pointed outward.
• Square your hips to face the wall and keep your torso upright.
• Stretch your arms out straight and slightly up so that they press against the wall, keeping your shoulders down.
• Exhale and bend your front knee until it’s at nearly a right angle.
• Inhale as you come up.
• Repeat twice before switching to the other leg.
Once you’re strong enough, you can ditch the wall support and raise your arms above your head, palms facing inward.
Gentle Yoga – It is important to find an instructor who understands your physical limitations and can modify poses for you if necessary. You should not overdo it, and always be mindful of the fact that you have arthritis or limitations. One of yoga’s biggest benefits is that is stretches your muscles and improves your flexibility.
By Lorna Mills, RN
Studies show that 55% of seniors do not take their prescription drugs correctly, and the consequences can be dangerous. Knowing more about your senior loved one’s prescriptions can keep medication mistakes to a minimum and allow him or her to receive the maximum benefits of the medications. Take the following steps to improve medication management:
Be in the Know Right from the Start. Before you leave the doctor’s office, be sure to know the following information about your loved one’s prescriptions:
- The name of the drug
- What the drug is prescribed for
- How, when and how long to take the drug
- Correct dosage
- Possible side effects and drug interactions
Also, make sure to have your loved one’s doctor periodically conduct a medication review to assess which drugs are still needed and determine which ones could be eliminated.
Keep a Master List of Meds. Having a complete list of all prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that your loved one takes can be a big help at the doctor’s office. This list should contain all of the information from the list above, as well as:
- The color and shape of the drug (or a photo of the drug if possible)
- The prescribing physician’s name and contact information
- Date the medication was started, and whether or not it should be refilled and taken ongoing
- Date the list was last updated
If your loved one needs some assistance keeping track of a medication regimen, the caregivers at CareNet are happy to help. Contact us in the Anchorage area for more information about our medication management and other in-home care services.
Has a senior loved one ever said something like, “I feel fine. I don’t think I need that medication any more,” or “I think I took my pill this morning?” Older adults often face some common obstacles when it comes to properly managing their medication. The following tips can help you and your loved one overcome these barriers and get on the path to better health.
Memory Loss: A major issue when it comes to medication adherence among elderly individuals is memory loss. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may forget to take their medications or even take multiple doses, having forgotten that they took the medication earlier. Tip: Make taking medication a part of another daily routine, using pill dispensers and/or charts to stay organized.
Difficulty Swallowing Pills: Some older adults have difficulty swallowing, and may attempt to chew or crush pills, causing long-acting medications to be released into the body too quickly. Tip: Talk to the person’s doctor or pharmacist to find out if the medicine is available in a liquid or smaller tablet form that is easier to swallow.
Vision Problems: A senior with impaired vision may find it difficult to read the directions on a pill bottle or distinguish between pills, leading to possible incorrect dosage and use. Tip: Request medication labels in a large print size or purchase a pill bottle magnifier. Electronic devices are also available, such as “talking pill bottles,” which play recorded messages of the instructions on the pill bottle.
Income: Seniors who can’t afford medications may split pills, cut back the dose, or go without for long stretches of time. Tip: Ask the pharmacy about discount programs or if a generic drug or another brand in the same drug class is available at a lower cost.
A professional in-home caregiver can provide gentle medication reminders and can also pick up prescriptions and communicate with physicians about the senior’s medication regimen. Contact CareNet’s expert in-home caregivers in Anchorage for more tips on proper medication management or to find out about our home care services.
Choosing from among the myriad of long-term care options can be daunting. There are many instances when home care is the right choice rather than nursing home placement or a permanent move to a retirement or assisted living facility. But how does one determine whether home care is the appropriate choice or if care in a facility is the better choice?
There are a few key items family members of a loved one in need of care should look at when making long-term care decisions, including:
- Activities of Daily Living Needs: Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are simply activities that people engage in on a daily basis. These activities are fundamental to caring for oneself and maintaining independence, such as bathing, getting dressed, getting in or out of bed or a chair, using the toilet, eating and getting around or walking.
- Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs): These are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money (writing checks, paying bills), shopping for groceries or personal items, maintaining a residence/performing housework (e.g. laundry, cleaning), taking medications, using a telephone, handling mail and traveling via car or public transportation.
For more information on the home care benefits, visit our resource page.
Knowing a person’s limitations with his or her ADLs and IADLs is the first step in developing a care plan, and determining the type of ADL care that is needed can help families make the right choice in whether or not staying at home with care is an option. If you would like to talk with one of CareNet’s experienced home care providers about whether or not in-home care is right for your loved one, contact us in Anchorage, AK at 907-274-5620.
There’s no place like home. It’s a famous saying for a good reason. As we age, there truly is no place like home when it comes to familiarity, comfort, and care. Every day, more and more seniors choose to age in place near their friends, family members, and familiar surroundings, but there are many more benefits to receiving care in the home. The following are just a few reasons you or your loved one should consider in-home care:
- Generally, home care leads to higher quality of and satisfaction with life, even when frailty is a factor.
- In-home care allows seniors to maintain their independence and dignity, even as they become more dependent on caregivers.
- Studies show that home care promotes healing. Research demonstrates that patients heal quicker and more comfortably at home than in a hospital or nursing home setting.
- Caregivers can provide clients with healthy, nutritional meals that both appeal to the individual and meet any specific dietary restrictions.
- Caregivers keep seniors active with personalized daily exercise plans.
- Home care is usually more cost-effective than the costs of a nursing home or assisted living facility.
For more information on the benefits of home care, visit our resource page.
At CareNet, Inc. our passion is helping seniors age in place in the comfort of their own homes. To learn more about the benefits of in-home care or our care services, contact us today in Anchorage, AK at 907-274-5620.