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What Everyone Should Know About Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States but unlike many other leading causes of death, type II diabetes (type you are not born with) is highly preventable and accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed cases.

 

Science: The short explanation of science behind the disease is when you eat carbohydrates the body breaks it down into a sugar called glucose. The hormone insulin is used to transport the glucose where the body needs it to go. Those with diabetes have problems with the hormone insulin working properly, either from the body’s cells no longer being able to use insulin or the body has stopped producing insulin. The harmful effect of insulin resistance is the increased level of glucose (sugar) in the blood since it has nowhere to go.

What is so scary about high levels of sugar in the blood? Frequent high levels can cause permeant damage to nerves, blood vessels and even organs.

 

Important things everyone should know:

What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are a fuel source for the body and come from many sources from bread, soda, sweets, popcorn, legumes, fruits and even starchy vegetables. The more sugar and less fiber contained in carbohydrates will escalate blood sugar higher and at a faster rate.

 

Symptoms: urinating often, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, slow wound healing, tingling/numbness in hands or feet.

 

Pre-diabetes? You can be tested to see if you are on track to developing the disease by testing your blood glucose levels. Pre-diabetes should be taken as wake-up call to create lifestyle changes for prevention of the disease. A shocking statistic is 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

 

Prevention? Healthy lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight and performing physical activity is the main advice for prevention. Another important factor is making important choices when choosing what carbohydrates to eat. Choose carbohydrates with whole grains and/or plenty of fiber will not cause frequent spikes in blood sugar. Some simple swaps for improvement include:

  • Make a fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of a soda.
  • Use bread and pastas made from whole grains.
  • Oatmeal with fruit instead of a pastry for breakfast.

 

Also always watch for hidden sugars! Some food items you do not think include a lot of sugar do so pay attention to labels. Salad dressings, yogurts and condiments are examples of foods that can easily pack in sugar. On the food label below the amount of carbohydrates you will find the amount of sugar so watch out for the sugar instead of just looking at the carbohydrates.

 

Learn more about diabetes by checking out the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org or calling 1-800-DIABETES during normal business hours.

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Why Choose Home Health Care?

There are many options for paths to recovery in the health care industry. More individuals are learning the benefits and switching to having health care provided in the comfort of their own homes. Home health care has a wide range of services with the goal of achieving better health while also regaining your independence. Some individuals who could benefit from health care include those in need of:

  • Wound care
  • Monitoring Illness and health status
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Administration and monitoring of medications
  • Personal hygiene
  • Companionship
  • And many more

 

So why choose home health care over other options such as a skilled nursing facility or hospital?

  • Same quality care– The same skilled professionals you’d find in a facility work in home health care. RNs, STNAS and LPNs all work in home health care settings.
  • Convenience– Stay in the comfort of your own home with also receiving help with household chores to keep living conditions safe and convenient.
  • Companionship along with care- With home health care you are receiving one on one support. These meaningful interactions can help support social interactions that are important for aging individuals.
  • Save Money– Home health care is usually less expensive and can be covered by Medicaid insurance for qualified individuals.
  • Coordinated Care with Doctor- Physicians can still be involved through working with the family caregivers to help develop individuals plans.

 

Check out Medicare.com and the link to find home health care agencies in your area:  https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/search.html

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Have you heard about MyPlate?

 Do you ever wonder what happened to the food pyramid? It received a makeover. The new updated version is called MyPlate and you can learn all about it on chooseMyPlate.gov. This website created by the USDA provides useful information and resources for a fun informational way to learn more about nutrition. The website is created for every life stage group to teach about 5 food groups: fruits, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy.

When you explore the website, you can find:

  • Informational quizzes to test your knowledge.
  • Recipes, meal plans and plans for staying on a budget.
  • BMI calculator.
  • Calories each exercise can burn.
  • Consumer friendly resources to help food waste consideration.
  • Seasonal and State resources.
  • YouTube videos that share tips, family stories and much more.

 

Overall this website is a great foundation for learning about nutrition and health. It seems today nutrition information can be controversial and get confusing, but MyPlate makes a simple way to learn the essentials. Myplate.gov creates a way to promote small changes adding up to big wins you can benefit from!

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How Strength Training can be more Beneficial than Aerobic Exercise

Strength training can help you look and feel younger

Looking for the fountain of youth? Pick up a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell (a ball-shaped weight with a single handle) or a resistance band. Strength training offers a multitude of benefits, including ramping up your metabolism to help lose or maintain weight. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it can also be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them:

    arthritis

    diabetes

    osteoporosis

    obesity

    back pain

    depression

Strength train to maintain a healthy weight

The CDC asserts that strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

 

Strength train to feel better

Regular strength training can help improve balance and reduce fall risk, decrease arthritis pain and strengthen bones, thus reducing fracture risk. It can also improve glucose control, improve sleep quality and state of mind and support better heart health.

 

Common questions and answers about strength training

Following are some common questions about strength training, and answers from trusted sources:

 

Won’t strength training bulk me up?

This question is most commonly asked by women who fear an overly muscular look. The truth is, to bulk up as a bodybuilder aims to do, you would need to spend a significant amount of time lifting very heavy weights and you would need to be eating a surplus of calories to support building serious muscle mass. You can easily find a strength training program that will help you gain just the right amount of muscle mass to crank up your metabolism and burn stored body fat so you actually end up leaner and tighter. If you combine strength training with a nutrition plan aimed at losing or maintaining weight you will find yourself losing weight or fitting into smaller sizes even if the scale doesn’t move much.

 

I walk/swim/take Zumba classes – isn’t that good enough?

The CDC reports that “While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits — it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance — it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density.”

 

Still not convinced? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that an increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

 

Michele Brannock, 69, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, picked up her first kettlebell six years ago. She worked with a trainer for six weeks to master proper form and said she has benefitted tremendously from for this particular form of strength training.

 

“I stand taller now,” she said. “My balance has improved, I have fewer aches and pains. I don’t have the tummy bulge anymore, and my back pain is completely gone. Nothing else I have done exercise wise has helped by back like training with kettle bells.”

So how do I get started?

The NIH recommends doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days a week. You should not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles need 48 hours or more to recover in between strength sessions. So you could either do a full-body strength training routine three days a week – for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or if you prefer to keep your strength sessions shorter, you might break them up into upper-body strength and lower-body strength sessions and work your upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your lower body Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Strength training should complement rather than replace cardiovascular exercise, which is also important, as are balance and flexibility training.

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Keep Calm and Be Mindful? Part One

Quit Telling Me to Keep Calm….I’m Mindful of It!

I’m hardly a fan of these ubiquitous ‘Keep Calm’ posters, just because you see them almost everywhere and almost anything goes after the first two words. Or maybe it is because I have an aversion to the words “keep calm”. The reason is simple.

It gets personal, almost always when people around me start telling me to be calm when I’m about to explode or implode. The well-meaning colleagues, friends and loved ones around me have been sensitized to my moods, dislikes and can easily spot how my temper gets ignited. I am not going to deny it – my temper is not high (but it is seeing better days now). And the toughest part of it all is that I am caught between showing my anger and concealing it, simply because I worry about how others view and judge me. So either way, it seems like I faced a losing battle for a long time.

Sometime last year, my close friend Erin mentioned that she was pursuing a Masters of Science in Studies in Mindfulness and I was a little too polite to express my inner thoughts of “why on earth would anyone study a subject like that?” I kept my opinion to myself and heard more from her about the practice of mindfulness and realized that she was very committed to it.

Seven months ago, she invited me to attend a session on mindfulness, and I am glad I kept an open mind despite not knowing what to expect from it. It introduced the key concepts of mindfulness and explained the stereotypical views attached to the practice of mindfulness. There, I decided to give it more thought, and before I knew it, there seemed to be an exponential growth in articles, media coverage and talk about mindfulness everywhere I looked. If you’re keen on finding out more about how to practice mindfulness and its benefits, you would be pleasantly surprised to know that there are many options available in Ohio. Just check out the three possible resources links here:  

Mindfulness: A Matter of Myth and Fact

It became clear to me that mindfulness as a practice was gaining currency in education, mental wellness and the corporate spheres where thousands of articles were written recommending best practices maximizing the value and benefits. But the underlying premise seems to radiate from oneself. I am certainly no scholar or trainer in mindfulness, so the focus of this article is merely to share how mindfulness has helped me in being kinder to myself by intentionally keeping an open mind regarding how I manage my thoughts, emotions, and actions, especially in coping with stress and relating to others.

I started by finding out as much as I could about mindfulness and cleared up some of the previous misconceptions that I had, such as:

  • Myth: mindfulness is synonymous with religious practices, fact: it is widely practiced across the secular world.
  • Myth: mindfulness is all fluff and worthy of attention only if you have too much time on your hands, fact: practicing it does, in fact, save you more time, headache and heartache.
  • Myth: mindfulness is a flavor of the month and a passing phase, fact: it has been around for as long as 2500 years.
  • Myth: mindfulness can be a perfect panacea to all your problems, fact: there is no such thing – mindfulness is a valuable tool to complement stress and problem-solving techniques (medical or non-medical).

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, “mindfulness” is defined as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

As I read this quote, a few keywords jumped out at me, and I thought it fitting to describe my experience with mindfulness based on them.

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What is Mindfulness?

Keeping Yourself In Mind

  • ‘Mindfulness is awareness…on purpose.’Being aware is simply a state of being conscious about something, being informed or attentive. Achieving awareness of purpose suggests a keen intent to direct that sense of awareness. In other words, taking the effort (and time) to be meaningfully conscious of facts, events, people or anything in our surrounding.As an educator and communications practitioner for the past two decades, I have met countless individuals who could have benefitted so much, just by increasing their awareness of the things and people around them. These people include 50-year-old team managers as well as 17-year-old youths who face challenges being mindful of their environments and their struggles with stress. Often, awareness is the last state of mind they want to embrace because it’s hard work and the truth sometimes hurts. Almost always, these individuals genuinely believe that they are aware of the problems they face but are very reluctant to consider their options in solving these issues and making small changes. I know because I’ve been there.It’s no mean feat being aware of your authentic self- perhaps because we doubt that we know ourselves well and we struggle to accept all of ourself. As part of this state of purposeful awareness, I have chosen to discuss two sub-components of consciousness, namely self-awareness and self-compassion as these two aspects seem vital to opening up to oneself before practicing mindfulness.Self-awareness: try walking in someone else’s shoes?One of the things that typically irk me when feedback (usually negative) is provided, is when the accompanying comment is “please don’t take this personally because it’s not.” My internal response to that used to be “HOW CAN IT NOT BE PERSONAL WHEN IT IS ABOUT ME????” yes, in full SCREAMING UPPERCASE.

    It was hard, and I needed to calm down, I just didn’t need to hear it coming from someone else. So I asked myself:

  • If hearing from someone else was so difficult, could I take it coming from myself? Well, I would never know unless I tried it. So I did – and it took some time being mindful that this was when my sense of empathy kicked in, both for others and more importantly, for myself. I wanted to intentionally consider the reasons and feelings of others when processing my emotional responses before taking any action.
  • Am I able to walk in someone else’s shoes and see their view? To do that, I needed to get comfortable in mine for starters. So I would honestly explore my emotions and actions and whether there were certain emotional minefields triggered with the feedback. After all, that knowledge would only be transparent to me, based on my experiences, upbringing, and beliefs.
  • Can I be humble enough to consider the reasons that the specific feedback was shared, to begin with? If I considered the intention and behavior of the sender (of the feedback) and I was able to see that the motivation was to build me up rather than tear me down – it became a lot clearer that I was better off moving forward rather than moping around. The litmus factor that helped here was to consider the sender’s relationship with me (either professionally or personally) to help discern their intentions either over a period of time or from a one-time session.

To be continued…..

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The REAL Reasons Why Rest is Important for Your Health

It is important to take a break to rest and relax, not just regularly, but also after intense periods of high-keyed activity.

At the most basic level, rest is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle. It rejuvenates you in both body and mind, and regular rest also helps you regulate many other things, such as mood and body rhythm. If rest is irregular or insufficient, you can be negatively affected not only psychologically, but also physiologically.

Routine rest is an important regulator. Daily sleep. Week-end breaks. Annual holidays. And a once-in-several-years’ sabbatical. Let’s take a look at the real reasons why rest is important for your health.

Every Day

The most important one is the daily (or nightly one). Regular sleep has been suggested to improve attention and learning. It promotes memorization of things you have learned, through a process called “consolidation” that happens during sleep. Not only is new information consolidated, they are also reorganized and restructured with a higher emotional reinforcement that increases creativity.

It has also been suggested that getting just enough sleep – not too much and not too little – prolongs your life, decreases fatigue and increases athletic stamina.

Conversely, insufficient sleep could be dangerous. Research suggests this can lead to increase in inflammatory proteins such as C-reactive protein, which in turn can lead to a host of other complications and disorders. Pediatric studies also suggest a lack of sleep in children is what causes hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsive behavior.

A UCSF study cited by the New York Times shows that rats exploring new areas needed downtime to consolidate their new experiences in order to learn and map out the new area. This is the extension of the nightly consolidation we need from sleep. 

Even a short walk – for 20-30 minutes, can help you clear your mind. There are other physiological forces at work, involving sleep, memory and new brain cells, that help you rebuild during a short walk.

Coronary-heart-disease-Calcium-screening-could-detect-risk-of-disease-861697
Rest keeps heart disease, stroke and depression at bay.

There are more cited health benefits of regular and sufficient sleep, e.g., it helps you maintain a healthy weight, but surely what was mentioned above is more than enough. Moreover, a couple of years ago, scientists discovered one new reason for sleep – our body uses sleep time to flush out waste products from the brain. Little wonder that sleep is crucial for all living organisms – at least those that aren’t dysfunctional!

Every Week

What about weekly breaks? Most places have a weekend culture, and this is linked to religious cycles. There are the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian day of rest, and many other civilizations had their time cycles that roughly corresponded with one week, and includes a special day set aside for rest, and other non-work activities.

However, the weekend has probably become more important now than before, due to the advances of technology – the internet and mobile communications do not rest. They keep us plugged in 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is where downtime is needed. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour shows that weekend breaks are necessary to replenish resources, in addition to nightly sleep.

Every Year

What about the health effects of annual vacations, then? Or taking a year-long sabbatical from work?

There is some controversy over this one. Some argue that the health benefits are real. Others argue the benefits disappear within a short time. You may come across some Internet articles touting benefits that are quite dubious. For example, this one article in the Daily Mail lists food variety and getting enough sunlight as a benefit of going on a holiday. The problem is, these are things you need on a daily basis, and not for two weeks a year. A recent article by the Daily Mail claims that holidaying health benefits last for several months. The UK’s National Health Services, however, claims this is exaggerated. The NHS article doesn’t really say there are no health benefits, but it is a VERY USEFUL article to read for different reasons – it educates people on how to read and analyze online claims.

What’s going on?

Well, take a closer look and you see that these articles mostly do not deal with the more subtle, and probably the more important, benefits of annual vacations. They build unique positive experiences that last a lifetime. They give you breathing space to think about priorities and directions in life, the sort of higher-order thinking that tends to get shelved aside as low-priority stuff amid the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

And that is where life-changing decisions are seeded, and later bear fruit. How can that be bad?

So get as much REM sleep as you can to stave off heart disease, stroke, depression, and infections. Meanwhile, I’m going to plan my next holiday…

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Understand, Manage or Prevent Arthritis At Any Age

Are you suffering from ongoing joint pain? Do you have joint swelling and/or stiffness, tenderness or pain when touching a joint, problems using or moving a joint normally or warmth and redness in a joint? If you answered yes to some of these questions, you might have some type of arthritis. If any one of these symptoms lasts more than two weeks, see your regular doctor or a rheumatologist. If you have a fever, feel physically ill, suddenly have a swollen joint, or have problems using your joint, see your doctor right away.

Arthritis – The Basics

  • Arthritis actually is not a single disease but an informal way of referring to pain or disease at the joints, which are places in the body where bones come together. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
  • Arthritis affects people of all ages, sexes and races and is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults – 1 in 5 people over the age of 18 – and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people age.
  • Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. The parts of the body that are most often affected include the hand, spine, hip, and knee. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

Managing Arthritis

There are steps you can take to help manage your arthritis symptoms. The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends the following:

  1. Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP): an effective self-management program for people with chronic health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, lung and heart disease. Developed by Stanford University, the program is held in community settings and uses workshops led by people who have personal experience with chronic disease. The CDSMP provides techniques for dealing with problems associated with chronic disease and addresses appropriate exercise and medication use, communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals, nutrition and how to evaluate new treatment options. You can learn more about the CDSMP, or visit Better Health Workshop to find a program in your area.
  1. Be active
  • Research shows physical activity decreases pain, improves function and delays disability.
  • The CDC recommends that people with arthritis undertake 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week, or a total of 150 minutes per week. The 30 minutes can be broken down into three 10-minute sessions throughout the day if needed.
  • Details about the types of physical activity appropriate for individuals living with arthritis can be found here.
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You can prevent arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight and diet.
  1. Watch your weight
  • Research confirms that maintaining a healthy weight can limit disease progression and symptoms.
  • For every pound lost there is a four-pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee joint.
  • A loss of just 5% – 12 pounds for a 250-pound person – can help reduce paint and disability.
  1. See your doctor
  • Early diagnosis and professionally guided management is critical to maintaining a good quality of life, particularly for people with inflammatory arthritis.
  • Disease-modifying drugs are beneficial for RA and other inflammatory arthritis conditions and are available only through a doctor’s prescription.
  1. Protect your joints – the article available at the following link has great information about proper body mechanics, self-help devices and how to make activities of daily life easier and scroll down to the sub-head of “Self-help skills.” This particular webpage by University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, even contains a link to exercise videos for people with arthritis.

Preventing Arthritis

The Arthritis Foundation reports that there is no sure way to prevent arthritis but asserts that you can reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. If you have healthy joints right now, do all you can to maintain mobility and function and avoid the pain and disability associated with arthritis.

All of the more than 100 types of arthritis have their own risk factors, individual features, behaviors and circumstances associated with the disease. Some risk factors cannot be changed – such as being female or having a family history of arthritis. In contrast, some risk factors are considered to be modifiable. They are the behaviors and circumstances that can be changed in order to reduce risk, delay onset or altogether prevent arthritis. Here are just a few examples of arthritis and related diseases and associated modifiable risk factors:

  • Osteoarthritis – maintain a healthy weight.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – do not smoke.
  • Gout – eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar, alcohol and purines (a chemical found in meat and seafood).

In some cases, preventing a prior incident can significantly reduce the risk of arthritis. Avoiding sports injuries through proper equipment, adequate training and safe play can prevent injuries that may lead to osteoarthritis in a few years or several decades later.

Whether you or a loved one is coping with arthritis now or wishing to modify your risk factors, education is key.

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Caregiver Spotlight

Meet Shonda,

 Shonda is a dedicated and hard-working STNA for Caregiver USA. She loves having the opportunity to be the best part of someone’s worst day. She has worked in the health care field for over ten years. Shonda worked in a hospital setting for about six years. She realized that she wanted to provide more one-on-one care so she transitioned to home health. Her future goal is to become a Registered Nurse. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters! Caregiver USA is very appreciative of Shonda and everything she has and will accomplish for herself.

For more information about Caregiver USA services visit http://www.CaregiverUSA.com or call 614-408-9939.

How are You Sleeping?

March has been designated National Sleep Awareness Month. One part of sleep awareness is knowing how our sleep may be affected by changes in the environment.

Most of the United States returns to Daylight Saving Time beginning at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, March 8. As we spring forward and advance our clocks one hour, it is important to consider how this small change can affect our sleep.

Moving our clocks, watches, and cell phones in either direction changes the principal time cue—light—for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. This makes our internal clock out of sync with our current day-night cycle.

In general, “losing” an hour in the spring is more difficult to adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall.  An “earlier” bedtime may cause difficulty falling asleep and increased wakefulness during the early part of the night.

If you have insomnia or are sleep-deprived already, you could experience more difficulties. In this situation, you could see decreased performance, concentration and memory during the workday, which is common to sleep-deprived individuals.  You also may experience fatigue and daytime sleepiness. All of these are more likely if you consume alcohol or caffeine late in the evening.

In general, people adjust to the change in time within a few days. You can help this by decreasing exposure to light in your home during the evenings, exercising, trying to have a consistent sleep schedule, and reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine

Visit https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2015/03/04/national-sleep-awareness-month/ for more about sleep, insomnia and work-life balance resources.

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The importance of Patient Safety

Prevention of Falls in the Elderly

How many of you are caring for the elderly, or looking for someone who can? It’s not easy. There are so many things to look out for, and so many challenges to face.

One of the biggest challenges is prevention of falls in the elderly. There are many other things to talk about when it comes to caring for them but accidental falling can be a nightmare. So how do we prevent falls in the elderly?

We know that falls, and the resulting complications, can be very dangerous but they are also one of the most common risk factors-it’s just too easy to let them happen. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” So this problem is not only widespread, it is also hidden. Caregivers end up in a difficult position of having to prevent things before they can happen.

So what can we do?

Many risk factors and prevention have been identified in medical and healthcare literature. This might go a long way in saving the lives of our loved ones. Some of these risk factors are intrinsic and you may need professional help before you can notice them, for example, examination for back problems. Other factors are environmental and to some extent cannot be controlled easily. But there are other factors that are within the power of caregivers-both formal and informal-to deal with.

Medication

Forewarned is forearmed. Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, of affect balance and co-ordination. This applies to everyone, not just the elderly. Caregivers might not always be in a good position to know this-medical confidentiality and lacking pharmaceutical knowledge might hinder this. But the elderly or their legal representatives should be able to ask their doctors/pharmacists to identify those medicines that increase the risk of falling. The doctors especially, should be able to tell you whether any particular medicine is a risk to any particular patient.

Footwear

Remember that awful, horrible feeling when you wrench an ankle wearing thick soles on uneven ground? Think of this, only much worse, if an elderly person’s feet wobble too much wearing high heels with no ankle support. Backless shoes, even slippers with smooth soles, all pose a variety of footwear-related risks. In Asia, another type of footwear to worry about are the communal slippers used for bathrooms. There are many ways footwear can be unsafe-they can interfere with a safe and proper gait, they can be too slippery, or they can be too large and be a tripping hazard. We should ensure our elderly not only have proper and safe footwear for going out, but also for using within the home-this is especially important for bathroom slippers since the elderly may need to access a potentially wet floor late at night, possibly without wearing glasses, while urgently rushing to answer the call of nature.

Tripping/Slipping Hazards

We already mentioned smooth-soled shoes as a slipping hazard. But there’s more. The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for elderly when it comes to a fall risk. The floor can be smooth and wet, and placing loose rugs may do nothing to solve this problem-they might even increase the risk of slipping. Bathrooms often also have little curbs, especially at the shower areas. Try to use rugs with a rubberized underside, to prevent elderly users from slipping to them, and of course try to keep the floors dry. Rough surfaces or rubber mats are another potential safety measure.

But that’s just the bathroom. Falls can happen anywhere in the house or outside it, so watch out also for objects cluttering the floor, uneven ground, slopes, and smooth surfaces.

Assistance

Now, this might be a bit difficult. So far, we’ve talked about removing problems. That’s not expensive. But sometimes we may need to make some investments for long term. We don’t need to wrap our loved ones in tons of cotton wool everywhere they go, but it would help if grab rails or other supports and installed in the important areas of the home (bathroom for example). Walking aides should also be chosen carefully. It should not be too heavy, and should be adjusted to the correct height so that a cane-assisted walking posture does not itself turn out to be a falling risk.

Diet

Protein, calcium, essential vitamins and water. All these sound very commonsensical. However, what an elderly person needs for a suitable diet may not be the same as what healthy middle-aged adults need. Some changes are common to all elderly-for example, switching to softer foods. Moreover, a healthy diet can go a long way to prevent numerous other problems that increase the risk of falling. Diet also needs to cater to a person’s specific medical issues.

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