If your mom or dad always got swept up in the fun and excitement of the holidays, watching Alzheimer’s steal the joy of the season away from them can be heartbreaking. They may become overwhelmed with the festivities, grow frustrated by the guests and noise, or, hardest of all for families, forget it’s Christmas altogether.

While your holiday celebration may look different from those of years past, you can still create new traditions and memories that better fit your loved one’s current needs. You just have to adjust your expectations and instead focus on what’s most important about the season.

Tips to reduce your loved one’s stress—and yours

The stage of your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease can affect how they experience the holidays. Many individuals can still enjoy most of the festivities without any issues or concerns, but for those in the middle and later stages of the disease, you may have to take extra steps to minimize their stress.

  • As you start prepping, encourage your loved one to join you in baking, decorating or gift-wrapping. If they’re unable to participate physically, allow them to sit back and observe while you share some holiday memories and get them excited about the festivities to come.
  • Because individuals with Alzheimer’s thrive in the familiar, consider hosting a small holiday celebration at home and let family come to you. Celebrating with a big gathering in an unrecognizable location, complete with crowds, noise and dark lighting, can upset your loved one.
  • Avoid scheduling your celebration at night when your loved one is more susceptible to evening confusion, or “sundowning.” Plan for a family meal at their usual lunchtime when they are more likely to be awake, alert and engaged.
  • Keep your holiday decorations to a minimum. Blinking lights can cause confusion while fragile decorations, candles and artificial fruits or foods can be safety hazards. If you can, secure your Christmas tree to the wall to prevent it from falling.
  • Turn on your favorite Christmas tunes throughout the season. Music can help ease your loved one’s anxiety and agitation, give them something to focus on besides the hustle and bustle around them, and even connect in unexpected ways with friends and family members.
  • If you are attending a large gathering, be sure there’s a quiet space for your loved one. If they feel overstimulated, guide them to a spare bedroom or den where they can relax, rest and recharge.
  • In the weeks before your guests arrive, inform them of any changes in your loved one’s condition. Explain that while they may forget names and faces, they still want to be included in the festivities.

Simplifying the holiday madness is important to your overall happiness and health as well! As a caregiver, you should do everything you can to make the season easier on you. Streamline your dinner menu and decorations, do all of your shopping online, delegate party duties to friends and families. And most important, take time for yourself. If there’s a holiday outing or activity you go to each year, ask a family member to care for your loved one while you enjoy a night on the town!

For more recommendations on celebrating the season with a loved one facing dementia or Alzheimer’s, talk with their home health care company or healthcare provider. Although this new normal may be painful, by focusing on the positive, you can create new, treasured memories that will bring you comfort in the years to come.

Certain topics should be left off the table during Thanksgiving dinner—politics, religion, Cubs talk in Cardinals country. But one discussion we do need to have while all of our loved ones are together under one roof is our family health history.

Granted, no one wants to talk about cancer and diabetes while reaching for another helping of turkey and dressing. Once the last piece of pumpkin pie is eaten, the dishes have been cleared, and the tryptophan starts settling in, it’s the perfect time to get to the roots of your family tree.

The importance of your family’s health history

More than 6,000 health disorders are fueled by genetics—if one or more of your family members has a chronic disease, like breast or ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, your risk for it increases significantly.

While you can’t change your genes, you can better understand them in order to make smarter decisions about your health and that of your children. Knowing your family history helps in a variety of ways:

  • Unhealthy behaviors can be corrected sooner. In many cases, you can lower your risk for a chronic condition, even if you can’t completely erase it. For instance, if you know your grandfather had diabetes, it’s important you stop smoking, skip sugary foods and drinks, and be more active.
  • Screening recommendations may be adjusted. Many women start getting mammograms at age 40, but if your mother or grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50, you might want to begin screening earlier or even undergo genetic counseling to determine if you carry the BRCA breast cancer gene.
  • Genetic testing can be done prior to pregnancy. If you or your partner has a family history of congenital disorders, developmental disabilities, or genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease, knowing what to test for helps you address or even prevent potential health issues.

Start talking now to protect your family down the road

Unfortunately, many individuals aren’t aware of their risk of genetic conditions, because 1) family members keep their health issues to themselves, and 2) it can be hard to track down the health history of loved ones who have passed away.

Since 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office has recognized Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day to address the importance of understanding the hereditary factors that could affect your family’s well-being. This November 28, take 10 minutes out of the celebration to ask your parents, siblings, grandparents, and other blood relatives the following questions:

  1. Do you currently have any chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure? Have you battled a serious disease, such as cancer? At what age were you diagnosed?
  2. Have you suffered from an acute health emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack? What year did it occur?
  3. Have you been diagnosed with any mental health issues—for instance, depression or anxiety?
  4. Do you suffer from any allergies, including those caused by food, pet dander or medications? How does your body react to these allergens?
  5. If a relative has passed away, do you know if they ever suffered from a serious health condition? What was the cause of their death, and at what age did they pass away?
  6. What is the ancestry of our family, or where did our ancestors emigrate from? (For example, the risk of cystic fibrosis is especially high in Caucasian individuals of German descent).

All answers should be written down and provided to your fellow family members. Or, to make easier, input all of the data into the Surgeon General’s online My Family Health Portrait, which allows you to update information anytime, pass your family’s health history on to loved ones, or print out a hard copy to share with your healthcare provider so they can determine your risk for certain illnesses.

In less than 20 minutes, you can have an important conversation that could save your family members’ lives and get right back to enjoying a day of football, parades, and leftovers!

If you’re suffering from a chronic condition, the side effects you experience can be life altering. You may be confined to home because of the pain or mobility constraints. Or, you rely on medications to numb your discomfort, only to discover your doctor’s prescription is no longer doing the job.

Many patients find that when it comes to managing their symptoms, relief isn’t found in a pill bottle, but in the office of a physical therapist. During National Physical Therapy Month this October, it’s important to discover how with the right therapist, a comprehensive treatment plan, and some hard work on your part, you can live a life with less pain and more freedom.

Five conditions you may not associate with physical therapy

Physical therapists are usually known for treating acute conditions, specifically recovery from a stroke, sports injury or accident. However, many experts are specially trained in caring for long-term health problems that are often dependent on a prescription for relief:

  • Lymphedema – Lymphedema, or fluid accumulation in your tissue, can cause your arms, legs or neck to swell, leading to unbearable tightness or pain. While lymphedema is often a temporary result of surgery, infection or radiation therapy, it can evolve into a chronic condition with flare-ups that follow you for years. Through decongestive therapy, physical therapists can decrease swelling through massage practices that loosen thickened tissue and accelerate the movement of lymph fluid through the body. They’ll also teach you how to perform exercises at home to stop fluid from settling.


  • Incontinence – Even though 13 million Americans are diagnosed with accidental bladder leakage, it can still be embarrassing for those who deal with it on a daily basis. Through physical therapy, you’ll not only learn how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to support the bladder, but also retrain the bladder itself to battle its need to release. In some cases, biofeedback can help you consciously control your body’s involuntary functions to suppress the urge to urinate.


  • Diabetes – While insulin treatment is necessary to control diabetes, combining it with a customized exercise program developed by a physical therapist can lower glucose levels, speed up wound healing and ease diabetic nerve pain. Treatment often includes both aerobic exercises and a stretching regimen to improve your strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. In some cases, your PT may recommend support equipment, such as a walker or orthotics, to help ensure your safety.


  • Chronic headaches – Although physical therapy can help ease some of the pain and stiffness associated with migraine or tension headaches, which are most often caused by hormones or stress, it’s best for those suffering from cervicogenic headaches that arise from a degenerative condition or injury. The therapist will use manual therapy techniques to loosen tight muscles and exercises that strengthen them. They’ll also share tips on improving your posture to decrease unnecessary physical stress.


  • Opioid dependency – Because of the opioid epidemic in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends physical therapy as the first line of defense in the chronic pain battle. However, if you or a loved one has already gone down the road of painkillers and are now unable to break free from them, a rehabilitation program including PT can help you regain your life. Your therapist will teach you movements and exercises to reduce discomfort, cognitive measures that take the focus off your pain, and skills to give you a more active role in treatment.

In addition to these conditions, therapists can also play a role in the treatment of cardiopulmonary conditions (such as COPD and post-myocardial infarction), wound care, vertigo, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis.

Is physical therapy right for you?

If you or your loved one is currently receiving home health care for an acute or chronic health condition, your team can help you determine if physical therapy may be beneficial and help you prepare to speak with your physician about the option.

When we get our yearly flu shots, we assume we’re armed and ready to battle any nasty influenza germs that come our way. But did you know a shot is just the first line of defense—and that defense is not as powerful as we think?

According to the CDC, while it does lower the risk of contracting the flu by 40 to 60 percent, the flu shot doesn’t make us immune to the virus, and for patients over age 65, it’s even less effective. It’s up to us to be extra vigilant in protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the bug, especially since the 2019 flu season in St. Louis is expected to start sooner and last longer than in years past.

Stopping the flu in its tracks

During flu season, most of us take the right steps to fight off the flu, from avoiding crowds to whipping out the hand sanitizer. While these are a good start, there’s more we can all do to prevent the flu from infecting those most at risk, especially homebound seniors.

  1. Stop sharing – While someone in your house is sick, they should keep a few items to themselves, including dishes, cups and silverware (washed separately from the rest of the family’s), blankets and pillows, a trash can for used tissues, and hand and bath towels. To decrease exposure for other family members even more, designate a sick room (and if possible, a bathroom) for the patient that no one else should use.
  2. Separate your laundry – Washing clothes on high heat should kill any germs, right? Unfortunately, once you toss one germy t-shirt into the washing machine, it will spread to 90 percent of the other clothes in the drum. Be sure to wash the infected person’s clothing separately and then run a wash cycle with hot water and bleach before adding another load.
  3. Disinfectthen disinfect again – Flu germs are extremely difficult to destroy, and many cleaners aren’t powerful enough to take them down. When cleaning, use a disinfectant that says “kills influenza viruses” on the label and follow directions exactly. Or, combine ½ cup of bleach per one gallon of water and start scrubbing down. It’s best to leave the solution on the surface for a few minutes and allow it to air dry. Pay special attention to bathroom faucets, doorknobs, light switches, and most importantly, the remote control.
  4. Break out the essential oils – Essential oils have their critics, but when it comes to the flu, anything you can add to the mix to stop the spread and reduce the side effects is beneficial. Tea tree oil, rosemary oil and blue yarrow, for instance, are all found to offer effective antibacterial and antiviral properties. Just be sure to dilute the oil first before cleaning.
  5. Keep cautious in the weeks to come – Patients are most contagious up to five to seven days after symptoms first appear, and in rare cases, up to two weeks. If you display any flu symptoms—even if you’re on medication and starting to feel better—it’s best to let someone else handle the cooking and caretaking if you live with a senior who is particularly susceptible.

Because seniors are more prone to flu complications, especially pneumonia, which kills 50,000 adults each year, it’s best to minimize their risk if the flu bug does sneak in. The CDC recommends that everyone over age 65, those with weakened immunity and anyone who smokes also get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in addition to following good hygiene practices. If your loved one is homebound, talk to their home health care team as early in the flu season as possible to learn about other healthy habits everyone in the house can follow.

As we grow older, there’s a good chance we’ll be afflicted with a condition that can make standing, walking or climbing steps difficult. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 percent of seniors over age 65 have at least one disability that affects their overall mobility.

For many active seniors ready to take advantage of the freedom that comes with retirement, a physical disability may be the one thing that holds them back from living the life they want. However, by taking advantage of the range of mobility devices and solutions available, older adults can reclaim their independence to travel, enjoy their favorite hobbies, and enjoy time with friends and family free of limitations.

If you or a loved one is grappling with a crippling condition, here are six solutions that can help:

  • Rollators – Compared to traditional walkers, rolling walkers come with three or four wheels instead of two for a smoother push across any surface. A brake system offers greater control while the padded seat provides a comfortable place to rest once your loved one arrives at their destination.
  • Power wheelchairs – Offering sleek designs and intuitive joystick controls, today’s power wheelchairs can be used both indoors and outdoors and on almost any kind of surface. They’re also ergonomically designed to reduce pain and fatigue as well as align the patient’s posture. These motorized devices are best if your loved one requires mobility assistance around the clock.
  • Motorized scooters – If your loved one only needs help walking long distances, a mobility scooter may be a better option. Ideal for outdoor use or in open areas, like a grocery store or mall, scooters offer full radial steering to maneuver through tight spaces, but are still rugged enough to handle almost any terrain.
  • Ceiling lifts – Trying to get out of bed is not only painful for patients, but can be problematic for caregivers as well. Fifty-two percent of caregivers complain of back pain due to caring for patients. A stationary lifting system uses a motor-driven sling to gently and ergonomically transport a senior from their bed to their wheelchair.
  • Stairlifts – Navigating staircases can be particularly difficult, but when one’s bedroom is on the second floor, they have to find a way to get upstairs. A quality motorized stairlift can comfortably transport your loved one from floor to floor with one push of a button and zero abrupt stops. Many models can be adapted to straight or curved staircase, complement any décor and are narrow enough not to obstruct the staircase for others.
  • Power lift chairs – One of the biggest fall risks for the elderly is getting in and out of a chair. A power chair or other assistive seating device safely and gently lifts a senior to a standing position to protect their balance and put less stress on their joints.

Choosing the best mobility device for your loved one’s needs

If the senior in your life is currently receiving services from AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis, their caregiver can help discuss their needs, the limitations of their home, the challenges they face once they head out the door, and their current health status. To learn more about aligning a mobility plan with your loved one’s recovery plan, contact the experts at AccuCare today.

Getting our driver’s license gave many of us our first taste of freedom. Over the years, that little card let us go anywhere we wanted, whenever we wanted. So, it’s no surprise that if someone threatens to take it away, we would fight tooth and nail to hold on to it.

If your parent has become a danger on the road due to the effects of aging, convincing them to stop driving for their safety and that of others can quickly escalate into a head-to-head battle. But there are some steps you can take to make the talk easier on both of you.

When age curbs your loved one’s time behind the wheel

Overall, seniors are extremely safe drivers since they’re more likely to observe speed limits and wear their safety belts. But age-related health conditions can compromise their driving ability. Slower reaction times and a limited range of mobility make avoiding an accident more difficult. Medications impact their awareness on the road, and poor eyesight alters their depth perception and peripheral vision.

You can help prevent a future tragedy by working with your parent to find solutions that reduce their driving time but also protect their independence in the years to come. It just requires a solid plan:

  1. Start the conversation early. Don’t wait until an accident happens before addressing your concerns. Talk to your parent as soon as you notice their movements are a little slower or they start a new medication. It may be years before it’s time to put down the keys, but agreeing on warning signs early and writing them down together can help reduce painful conversations down the road. AARP offers a free online seminar with talking points that can help.
  2. Take baby steps. Depending on your parent’s abilities, suggest they back off from driving little by little. Heading out to the store during the day may be no problem, but they may want to skip driving at night, in bad weather or over long distances as their health declines.
  3. Keep calm and remain patient. In most cases, the decision to stop driving won’t happen after one conversation. This is a life-changing transition for them, and if you are empathetic and supportive rather than angry and judgmental, you can make the situation less painful. If they refuse to listen to your concerns, speak to how their actions may affect those they love. For instance, “I want to make sure your grandkids are safe when they’re riding with you,” may lead them to give their driving a second look.
  4. Talk with their healthcare provider. Your parent may not take advice from their kids, but may accept it from a medical professional they trust. Join them on their next doctor’s visit or speak with their home health care provider the next time they visit to present your concerns to a neutral third party who will address them from a medical standpoint.
  5. Discuss their options. Ensure your loved one that handing over their keys won’t stop them from getting where they need to go. Create a driving schedule with friends and family members, sign your loved one up with Uber or Lyft, or find free and low-cost senior transportation options through Missouri 2-1-1. AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis also provides transportation to the grocery store, appointments, and other personal appointments.

If your parents absolutely refuse to stop driving, and their time on the road could threaten the lives of other drivers and pedestrians, you can submit an anonymous Driver Condition Report to the Missouri DMV. The driver will receive a notice by certified mail to take a test and must complete it within 30 days (and pass) to maintain their license. While reporting a parent is the last thing any child wants to do, it prevents you from being the bad guy and can help avoid an accident that could change your family’s life forever.

The retirement years can be some of the best of our lives. No longer tied to a desk, we can spend our days traveling, enjoying our favorite activities, and spending time with family and friends.

But they can also be among the hardest. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness or disability, moving from home to an assisted living facility, and losing loved ones can leave seniors with an overwhelming sense of grief. And unfortunately, that unbearable sadness and despair may lead to mental and physical health problems.

According to researchers, when compared to younger adults, seniors are more susceptible to infection during times of grief due to the impact of high stress hormones on their immune systems. In addition, untreated depression can exacerbate current health problems, causing a senior to end up hospitalized.

As a caregiver, you can help your loved one through this difficult time, but in many cases, it may require a team of family members, medical professionals and therapists to assist:

  • Know the signs of grief and depression. Sorrow doesn’t always display as tears and sadness. If you notice your loved one is eating less, having problems sleeping, losing interest in activities they love, or suffering from unexpected physical problems like headaches, rapid heartbeat or stomach issues, address your concerns and ask them how you can help.
  • Stay by their side. Loneliness can elevate the distress a senior may feel. Unfortunately, 60 percent of nursing home residents receive no visits from family or friends. Be available for your loved one as often as you can and encourage them to share their feelings if they are comfortable.
  • Be compassionate. Adapting to life with a disability or without their spouse can be a long, complicated process for seniors. Allow your loved one to express their anger and frustration without judgment. Don’t diminish their pain, and don’t tell them to “get over it.” Right now they need your patience and your empathy.
  • Share memories of those they have lost. Too many times we don’t talk about people who have passed because we think it might be too painful for the loved ones left behind. However, most seniors want to tell stories about their spouses or family members and what they meant to them. In fact, researchers found that when widows and widowers shared the good times they spent with their spouses, they were happier and healthier 14 months after a death than those who didn’t discuss their loved one or spoke of them with sadness.
  • Engage them in activities when they’re ready. When loss first occurs, you can help make this time less stressful by assisting with chores, running errands and managing bills. When your loved one is ready, help them ease back into the activities they enjoy. For instance, they may not want to be alone on their first long walk outside.
  • Build a support system. If you find your loved one needs additional mental health care or their sadness grows more significant over time, reach out to someone outside the home who can help. For example, if your loved one is facing a medical diagnosis, contact organizations like the St. Louis chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society for resources and support. If they have lost a spouse or child, there are numerous bereavement support groups across the region that focus on their needs.

Helping you—and your loved one—cope with change

One of the best ways to help your loved one is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. As a caretaker, if you find yourself depressed or overwhelmed due to your loved one’s loss, reach out to someone who can help. Give yourself a break when needed by bringing a caregiver on board or contact a therapist who specializes in grief. With a strong network behind you, you and your loved one can find a way to work through this painful time in both of your lives.

Our home is our safe space. But for seniors with mobility or cognitive issues, it can be a dangerous place. One slip on a bath mat or a trip over a lamp cord can lead to a devastating fall, a long-term hospital stay and even life-threatening health complications.

But not all household hazards are so obvious—loneliness or medication mishaps can be as dangerous as fires and falls. That’s why understanding the greatest risks for in-home injuries and illnesses and putting an action plan into place to address them is so important to protecting your loved one’s safety.

Five threats to a senior’s health and ways to lower their risk

As individuals age, family members must step up and ensure they’re safe at home while respecting their autonomy and independence. The following health risks can be minimized by making a few home and schedule modifications:

  1. Falls and trips – The side effects of aging, like low blood pressure, weakened bones and vision problems, can make seniors more susceptible to falls. According to the CDC, each year, three million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. To stop a trip at home from becoming a trip to the hospital:
  • Use non-slip rugs and tack down any loose carpet
  • Replace any furniture with sharp edges or glass tops
  • Remove any clutter and obstacles from the floor
  • In the bathroom, add handrails, hand grips and an elevated toilet seat
  • Install a lift assist device or ramps if needed
  1. Medication errors – Taking too much medication, not enough medication or skipping medication altogether can lead to a serious health setback. To help your loved one navigate the prescription puzzle, create a schedule together that outlines when pills should be taken and organize them into a pillbox. A talking pillbox or a virtual assistant like Alexa or a Google Home Mini can remind your parent when it’s time for a dose. If your loved one has dementia or other cognitive problems, a caregiver can assist with medication setup and reminders.
  2. Heat exhaustion – More than 650 Americans die every year from heat-related illnesses, and the majority are people over age 65 who live alone and have underlying health issues. It is common for seniors to leave the air conditioner off in order to save money, not realizing that they are risking their health. During St. Louis’ blazing hot summers, it’s essential to make sure your loved one has their air conditioning running. If you can’t be there to check, ask a neighbor to drop in on them or install a smart thermostat that allows you to monitor the temperature remotely. Cool Down St. Louis provides assistance with utility bills and window units if cost is an issue.
  3. Burns – This year, 1,200 senior citizens will die from fire-related injuries, especially those from clothing catching fire or burns from hot water and grease fires. To reduce your loved one’s risk, install smoke your parents to avoid wearing flowing fabrics that can catch fire on candles or burners. Simple meals that can be prepared fresh out of the fridge or in the microwave are better choices for seniors with mobility issues who must cook for themselves.
  4. Loneliness – A senior’s greatest in-home threat is loneliness. Social isolation can affect one’s physical and mental health, upping their risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s and dementia. Keeping seniors engaged and active can help. Encourage your loved one to take a class with other seniors. Request that Meals on Wheels stop in with lunch and a visit. Home care services also provide care and companionship.

Get advice from the experts

Custom care at home can lower your loved one’s risk of injury and illness. In addition to direct assistance around the home, a caregiver can suggest recommendations and modifications that can keep them safer when they’re on their own. To learn more about a custom care plan, contact the team at AccuCare Home HealthCare of St. Louis today.

As we grow older, aches and pains often become part of everyday life. Stiff knees, sore muscles and achy joints can make the simplest of activities a pain while chronic conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, can leave seniors homebound.

With multiple health conditions and easy access to medication, many seniors have fallen victim to the opioid crisis that has hit the U.S. In fact, according to a study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, four million seniors fill prescriptions for four or more opioids at one time because of their dependency on the drugs.

The good news? Researchers found that when seniors focus on pain management rather than pain elimination, they’re less likely to rely on medication and more likely to enjoy a higher quality of life. For many seniors, this new way of thinking means finding alternatives to traditional treatment.

Escaping the Pill Bottles

When it comes to chronic pain, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that healthcare providers set realistic goals with their patients to manage the pain and help them rewire their mental thinking and physical movements to adjust to this change in their lives. This often means combining over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen with holistic pain treatment:

  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy isn’t only for recovery following an injury or illness. PTs can help reduce the stiffness and pain of arthritis, control the vertigo and dizziness that come with a vestibular condition, and prevent foot wounds due to diabetes.
  • Acupuncture – The ancient practice of inserting needs into the body to stimulate certain nerves and release the body’s pain-minimizing endorphins has been found to relieve pain in 50 percent of patients.
  • Talk therapy – A chronic condition affects one’s mental health as much as their physical health. A pain psychiatrist or cognitive behavioral therapist can help patients learn techniques to regulate their sensory experiences and develop coping skills.
  • Biofeedback – A traditional therapist or PT may also suggest biofeedback, in which seniors are attached to sensors which allow them to identify relaxation techniques that control involuntary bodily processes, including pain.
  • Massage – A professional massage not only eases the pain of muscles and joints directly, but also stimulates the nerves that block pain messages from getting to the brain. One study, for instance, found that the pain reduction effects of massage are similar to anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Essential oils – While the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of essential oils, medical professionals say they can’t hurt. Remarked Dr. Brenda Powell of the Cleveland Clinic, “They (the plant chemicals) can alter your perception of pain and potentially improve your mood.” Oils like cinnamon, ginger or lavender can be put in an air diffuser or diluted and massaged into sore muscles.
  • Exercise – A sedentary lifestyle can increase the pain in your neck and back. The more active you keep your joints and muscles, the better off they are in the long run. Doctor-approved exercise classes geared toward seniors and Silver Sneakers programs can guide you toward the best movements for pain relief.

How home health care can help

With 125,000 seniors hospitalized with opioid complications each year, the shift to holistic care is continually growing. However, it’s best to consult with a doctor before putting any treatment into action to avoid potential drug interactions or aggravating an injury. It is also vital to consult with your physician before tapering off of opiate medication and to do so only under medical supervision in order to prevent serious side effects. Once a patient is cleared for treatment, a home health care provider, social worker and physical therapist can work together on a comprehensive plan to help seniors live their best lives possible, free from the side effects of prescription drugs and the dependency too often associated with them.

In St. Louis, where a beautiful afternoon can turn stormy in just minutes, we’re often at risk for tornados, flash flooding and massive snowfalls. In most cases, the bad weather passes through leaving nothing more than a soggy mess in its path, but in the event of a true emergency, you want every member of your family to be safe, especially if you can’t be with them.

For your aging loved one, there are a number of precautions you both need to take to protect them in any crisis, from a natural disaster to a medical emergency. Having a detailed checklist in place can ease the stress in the heat of the moment and ensure your loved one is cared for, even if they have to take care of themselves until help arrives.

Six Safety Plans to Put in Place for Seniors

  • An emergency action plan. Where would your loved one go during a tornado warning if they’re unable to walk down the basement steps? What would they do if someone tries to break into their home? If a fire starts in the kitchen, what are the best routes to take to escape? Role-playing different scenarios in advance can reduce any panic if the real thing ever happens.
  • Oxygen backup. A power outage can be deadly for a senior who depends on therapeutic oxygen treatment for survival. Ask your loved one’s oxygen supply company about providing a compressed oxygen cylinder to have on hand in the event of an outage. If the power is knocked out, contact the power company and the police department and let them your loved one’s address to put them at the top of the restoration list.
  • An on-call network. You may not be able to reach your loved one if the phone lines or down or the roads are closed. Create a list of friends, family members and especially neighbors they (and you!) can contact in an emergency. Know who in the neighborhood can come to your loved one’s rescue in the minutes following a crisis and transport them to safety along with any medical equipment they may need, such as a walker or wheelchair.
  • A critical document file. Keep copies of all important documents together. Be sure to include all medical information (including doctors’ names, insurance cards and a list of medications and dosages), ID, social security card, passports, and power of attorney documents. If possible, keep an extra set at your home. Better yet, create a laminated card featuring quick-hit medical information and healthcare provider contact numbers your loved one can keep in their wallet.
  • Extra medical supplies. If a senior runs out of life-saving medication during a blizzard, their health could be at risk. Ask their doctor if they would be willing to prescribe an extra round of medication to store (even if insurance won’t pay for it). Add it to an emergency box along with an extra pair of eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries, personal hygiene items (like incontinence or catheter supplies), and glucose testing supplies.
  • A crisis kit. Everyone should have a ready-to-go emergency kit on hand-packed with supplies that can get them through three days on their own, including nonperishable food, bottled water, a flashlight, first aid kit, scissors, a battery-operated radio, and a battery-powered cell phone charger.

If you put together these plans, but your loved one or rescue personnel can’t find them, all the prep work was for nothing. Create a designated spot in their home to warehouse all of the files and emergency kits, such as a hallway closet or an empty cabinet in the kitchen.

A home health care company in St. Louis can also help your family put a contingency plan into place if the senior in your life is confined to home, and you’re not available 24/7. By understanding their medical needs, the prescriptions they take and the healthcare supplies they require, a private in-home caregiver may provide additional suggestions to help make a scary situation a little less frightening.

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