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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.