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Living in a big house is nice; many of us enjoy our leisure time with trees and flowers in our backyard, but what about those who live in an apartment or a retirement home, what does gardening for those seniors look like?

Jenny moved into a long-term care home last winter after her husband died. It’s been over six months now, and she misses him more than ever when summer is here. Jenny’s husband used to always make their garden nicely landscaped and decorated. The stone steps to their living room were surrounded by tulips, and there were several ball trees beside their cute little pond. Jenny remembers her husband putting so much effort into their little garden, and spending time with him on their beautiful porcelain tiles when evening came and held some of her favourite memories. Now, Jenny is living in a small apartment. She wants her happiness to last longer, just as if her husband was still alive, so she decided to try having a little garden on her balcony.

Living in a limited space doesn’t mean gardening is impossible; you can still have your beautiful “backyard” with even less mess and maintenance. There are a few things you need to prepare before you start to build your garden, and we will be discussing them below.

 

What You Need to Prepare for Gardening

 

Picture The Garden In Your Mind

What vibe do you want your garden to have? Where do you want to place your plants? It is better to plan the scenery in your mind before making it come true.

 

Invest In Tools

It always requires some investment when you are building your dream green place. For beginners, here are a few tools you might need to get your garden started, and you can either get them online (e.g., Amazon) or at stores like Home Depot:

  • Plants, seeds, or bulbs (of course)
  • Potting soil
  • A handheld shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • A watering can
  • Plastic or ceramic planter containers, according to your taste and need
  • Gardening gloves

 

Choose The Right Plants

The key to building a beautiful and easily maintained small garden is to choose the right plants that suit your residency and your preference.

Hibiscus is a great choice for a room with abundant sunshine, especially if your window faces south or west. Aloe vera, jade, and jasmine are other good options.

A spider plant is an excellent choice for a hanging planter in a room that receives a lot of light but also has a lot of indirect sunshine.

African violets are also a great choice because of their beautiful blossoms, which can brighten up any space.

If your balcony or living room is shady most of the time, it’s hard to provide an environment for your plants to grow well. However, there are still options: A philodendron is a good choice for low-light areas; just be sure to water it once a week. Dieffenbachia and ferns are two other low-light plant options as well.

 

Safe Gardening Tips for Seniors

 

Rest and Stay Hydrated

It is important to remember that as we get older, our physical abilities decline, therefore we need to take more time to rest and avoid pushing ourselves too hard. Fatigue can lead to dangerous falls, so it’s important to take a breather every 10-20 minutes.

It is also important to stay hydrated while you are doing hard work, especially when you are working under the sun. So, remember to bring a water bottle with you and have it in your sights; it will be a good reminder if you are indulging yourself in the blooming buds.

 

Wear Comfortable Clothes To Prevent Falls

Wearing the right attire is as important as getting enough rest while you are gardening. Remember to wear light clothes with some sun protection (e.g., a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat). You can also bring waterproof shoes since the grass can be dewy and wet. Avoid wearing slippers, as they will give no protection from slips and falls.

 

Pick The Right Time Of The Day

We know that gardening is not just about trimming plants, but also about enjoying the sunlight. However, it is important to choose the right time and enjoy it safely. The hours between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm are peak sun hours, so avoid doing gardening or any other intense outside activities during this time.

 

Ask For Help From Others

When it comes to doing heavy-duty tasks, it is good to have a friend or family member by your side in the event of any falls and injuries. On top of that, working with friends and family is also a terrific chance to add some social interaction to your day and tighten bonds.

 

References:

https://www.caringseniorservice.com/blog/gardening-tips-for-seniors

https://www.seedsandspades.com/best-gardening-tools-for-seniors/

 


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As Johnny’s mother’s dementia got worse, he began to worry about himself. His grandma had Alzheimer’s years before she passed away, and now his mom has it.

Johnny has heard before that dementia could be hereditary, and now he kind of believes it. Although taking good care of his mom is now his firstpriority, Johnny thinks that he needs to find a way to prevent, or at least slow down, the progress of developing dementia. Is this actually something that could be achieved, or is it just wishful thinking? Today we’ll find out.

Is Dementia Preventable?

Although there is no clear evidence that dementia can be prevented in all cases, researchers found that a healthy lifestyle could significantly lower the risk of dementia as we age.

Two of the most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. It has been shown that having a healthy lifestyle can decrease some risk factors of developing dementia.

Risk Factors of Dementia

Before we talk about the risk factors, there’s one thing you should know: risk factors are not the direct causes of a disease, rather, they present as the possible reasons that increase the chance of developing the disease.

Below, we have listed several risk factors that were demonstrated to increase the likelihood of developing dementia:

  • Age

The very first rist factor is obviously aging. As we age, we are more likely to suffer from dementia, even though it is not a normal part of the aging process.

The strongest known risk factor for dementia, on the other hand, is advanced age. Alzheimer’s disease affects one in every twenty Canadians over the age of 65. Individuals younger than 65 are not immune to developing dementia.

It’s called “early-onset dementia” for a reason.

  • Sex

Believe it or not, sex is another prominent risk factor for causing the disease, and  women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

A number of factors, including longer lifespans for women and fluctuations in estrogen levels throughout the course of a woman’s life, have been linked to this phenomenon.

  • Genetics

There are at least 20 genes that may enhance the chance of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers.

PSEN1, PSEN2, and APP (the three types of genes) are all known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and familial Alzheimer’s disease generally develops before the age of 65 in those who have one of these gene mutations.

There is a 50% risk that a kid will be born with one of these genes if their parents are carriers. However, the other genes connected with Alzheimer’s disease enhance the risk but do not guarantee that the condition will occur.

  • High Blood Pressure

Dementia is more likely to occur in middle-aged people with high blood pressure (hypertension) than in those with normal blood pressure. Because of its effect on the heart, arteries, and blood circulation, high blood pressure can raise your chances of developing dementia, particularly vascular dementia.

  • Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers or ex-smokers. According to the data from a 2019’s study, current smokers are 30% more likely to develop dementia in general, and 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, a longitudinal study found that smoking habits causes a decline in memory, cognitive function, and attention ability.

  • Diabetes

Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are more common in people with mid-life type 2 diabetes (ages 45 to 65).

  • Obesity

Middle-aged obesity (between the ages of 45 and 65) raises the risk of dementia. A person’s risk of having type 2 diabetes is increased by obesity, which increases the chance of developing dementia, as we explained previously.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Researchers have found that traumatic brain injury has a moderate to severe correlation with dementia. The disease usually starts years after the patient’s original TBI. TBI could be linked to memory loss, decrease in concentration, incapability in communication, and even personality change.

  • Malnutrition

Many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, can be exacerbated by a diet heavy in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. See our blog post on “Senior Nutrition Guide to learn more.

  • Alcohol

Heavy alcohol consumption (more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men) raises the risk of dementia.

  • Depression

People who suffer from depression in their middle or later years are more likely to suffer from dementia.

However, even though dementia and depression may be linked, it has yet to be proven. There are conflicting views on whether depression is a risk factor for dementia or even an early indication of the illness.

  • Loss of Hearing

Dementia and cognitive decline can occur even at low degrees of hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, diminished self-confidence, and difficulty doing daily tasks. However, the specific impact on cognitive decline is still unknown. In our previous blog post, we have explained how to take care of a family member with hearing loss , which we hope can inspire you if you are in the situation.

  • Senior Isolation

Hypertension, heart disease, depression, and dementia are all made more likely by a person’s lack of social interaction. Senior isolation is a serious issue that occurs in many elderly people. If you or your loved one is suspected of experiencing loneliness and isolation, check out our blog post on “Senior Isolation to find out how to avoid that.

After reviewing a number of risk factors, you may now know that dementia is highly related to certain diseases such as diabetes, or stroke. In that, lowering the risk of getting dementia is still possible.

How to Lower the Risk of Developing Dementia

Albeit more studies are needed to be done before researchers know specific means to prevent dementia, there are still some steps we can do to promote our general health and lower the risk of many related diseases.

  • Quit Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop many chronic diseases, and dementia could be one of the consequences. Quitting smoking can be a difficult process, but the end result is worth all the effort. Find support from friends and family; success will be difficult if you walk this road alone.

  • Manage Health Problems Including Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol

Contrel and monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar level. Eat a well-balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Make sure to include particular protein sources that contain omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

  • Be Physically and Socially Active

Being physically and socially active could not only help you to manage your weight, but also keep senior isolation at bay. Try to do some aerobic exercises that could raise your heart rate but won’t harm your joints. Enjoying these activities with others could make the process much less boring!

  • Practice Cognitive Skills

Another way to maintain your brain health is to constantly stimulate it. You can try to learn some new skills or new languages. It is also helpful to play some games that require some brain power.

  • Avoid Head Injury

Always be careful when walking or jogging. Wear comfortable shoes and use the anti-slip mats in areas you constantly use. If you are an aging adult, always use railings in stairwells and wear a helmet when doing sports if necessary.

  • Limit Alcohol Consumption

Try to eliminate alcohol as much as possible in your diet. If it is too hard for you to quit, try to limit your alcohol intake to a certain amount, which means 350ml for beer, and 148ml for wine each day.

References:

https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/brain-and-nerves/dementia/prevention.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-prevention/faq-20058140

 


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It’s only one week until Mandy’s mom moves into a long-term care home. Sending her mom to a long-term care community is a huge relief for Mandy, since she is moving to another state with her fiancé. However, it is not without any worry – Mandy’s mom has some physical impairments and Mandy is afraid that caregivers won’t be able to offer the best help exactly when she needs it, so she decided to build an emergency kit for her mom on her own.

Whether you are taking care of an elderly person at home or in a long-term care community, a first aid kit is one of the necessary items that you never want to miss. Seniors are more likely to be injured than younger people, since they may have less strength and flexibility, and a higher risk for fracture. Also, their sight, hearing, smell and taste may have declined, making them more vulnerable to accidents. At the same time, seniors are more susceptible to skin infections and diseases. Aging can make the skin less elastic, thinner, and drier, which makes injuries takes longer for them to heal.

Buying an emergency kit is convenient, but customizing your own emergency kit will be suitable for your loved one in a long run. In that, we are going to provide you with some tips and a checklist of what you can add into your emergency kit. Let’s get started.

Tips for Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Loved One

1. Assess Your Loved One’s Health Condition

As we mentioned many times in our past blog posts, the premise of meeting your loved one’s needs is to understand their needs. So, the very first thing you should do is ist all the concerns that your loved one may have, and medicine or any other aiding items that can help them cope with their situation.

Consider your loved one’s mobility condition, hearing and vision status, and also ask the doctor if it is necessary to stock up on certain items according to his or her health condition (some doctors are willing to give you extra amounts of some certain medications, but it depends on the disease and the person). Assessing your loved one’s health condition makes it much easier for you to build a perfectly customized emergency kit. Also, if your loved one has memory problems or cognitive issues, it is not too late to add the things that could comfort them.

2. Know the Drug Regulation of the Long-Term Care Home

Building an emergency kit isn’t about bringing whatever you want; there are laws that restrict medications in long term care home, according to the provinces or states. Inproper usage of emergehcy kits, especially medication, can result in serious consequences for the long-term care home, so it is vital to figure what can be added and what should be avoided in a fist aid kid that your loved one will bring to a community. Here is an example list of what is allowed in long-term care homes, according to the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy:

  • Analgesics, controlled drugs

  • Anti-Infectives

  • Anticholinergics

  • Anticoagulants

  • Antidiarrheals

  • Antihistamine Injectables

  • Antinauseants

  • Antipsychotics

  • Anti-Hyperglycemic

  • Anxiolytics

  • Cardiac Life Support Medications

  • Coagulants

  • Corticosteroids

  • Hypoglycemics

  • Seizure Control Medications

  • Large Volume Parenterals

  • Poison Control

  • Respiratory Medications

  • GI Medications

  • Other Medications as Approved by the Board

3. Make It As Light As Possible

Moving into a long-term care home is already a big project for most seniors. You don’t want to add extra pressure to your loved one to carry a big heavy box around. So, make a list of necessary items, and get rid of, or just leave the extra items in your loved one’s room. Below, we offer you a checklist of what you can include in an emergency kit.

What You Can Add Into A Customized Emergency Kit

Basic Sanitation and Cleaning

  • Antiseptic Wipes

  • Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Antibiotic Ointment (e.g., Neosporin.)

  • Aloe Vera (to heal burn)

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Eye Drops

Wound Dressings

  • Band-Aida

  • Non-Adhesive Pads

  • Tape

Medicinal

  • Personal prescription and over the counter medication

  • Ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, Benadryl, or other painkillers 

  • Antidiarrheal medication and laxatives

  • Antacids such as tums. 

  • A printed list of your loved one’s known medical conditions, their prescribed dosage, and allergies. 

Essential Tools

  • Thermometers

  • Tweezers

  • Scissors

  • Fingernail Clippers

  • Blankets

  • Medicine Cups or Spoons For Measurements

  • Cotton Balls and Swabs

  • Floss

  • Roll of Duct Tape

  • Small Plastic Bags

Others

  • Sunscreen

  • Insect Repellent

  • Instant Cold Ice Packs

  • Items That Accommodate Tour Loved One’s Specific Needs

Takeaway

The above list is only a general guide for your customized first aid kit; what you will actually add to your list depends on what your loved one’s needs. Remember to know your loved one’s needs and list them before your preparation, and ask if the home allows you to bring some medication that you are uncertain about.

Happy prepping!

 

References:

https://seniorsafetyadvice.com/how-to-build-an-emergency-kit-for-seniors/

https://www.pharmacyboard.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/EmergencyKitsLTC.pdf

 


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Shelly’s mom has just recently moved into a long-term care home, and it seems like a new start for her. However, her mom has always been an introvert, and moving into a new environment made her even more reluctant to speak to others. So, Shelly thought that her mom just needed some time to adapt to her new life.

After a few weeks, Shelly called the administrator and asked about her mom’s situation. Her mom’s caregiver reported that she is still shy and afraid to talk to people. As Shelly understands how harmful isolation can be to seniors, she knows that it’s time to seek a way to encourage her mom to interact with her neighbours.

Moving into an assisted living community is usually a huge transition for aged people, especially for those who are used to living alone, or have just lost their partners. In our previous blog posts, we have talked about how Senior Isolation can impact one’s mental and physical wellness, and being socially active is vital in defeating loneliness and depression. Allow me to explain how to get your loved one active in social at a long-term care home.

Make Them Uncomfortable

Yes, the very first thing you should do is to “push” your loved one out of their comfort zone. Getting outside your comfort zone isn’t comforting, but in the long run, if avoided, can only “imprison” your loved one in the cage of isolation. IStart with doing some “uncomfortable activities” such as involving your loved one in a conversation between you and others. Just make them realize the power of small talk and getting proactive in making friends.

However, moving into a long-term care home can also be overwhelming for a senior So, allow your loved one to have some time to progress and take it one step at a time. Living in a community actually provides tons of chances for seniors to socialize, and once the senior is familiar with their new lifestyle, it’s going to be easy and fun. Here, we have several tips on how to help your loved one seize the opportunity while joining a new family.

Tips to Help Your Loved One Socialize at a Long-Term Care Home

  • Familiarize Yourself With the Community Staff

What did you do when you first  sent your kids to kindergarten? – you talked to the teachers and checked on circumstances at school to learn the ropes. Is there a place at the community that your loved one may enjoy? Or are there any activities that your loved one can attend and have fun with at the same time? As long as you find a way to push your loved one out of his or her room, the very first step of getting your loved one to blend in socially is accomplished.

  • Register Your Loved Ones for Activities

Does your loved one like dancing? Knitting? Or Wii bowling? There must be at least one interest group in the community that your loved one can join. Sometimes the “newbie” is usually too shy to socialize with other residents, so now it’s your responsibility to open the door for them. If music is your loved one’s strength, ask the staff to encourage your loved one to play an instrument at community events. It might feel embarrassing the first time, but your loved one will enjoy with everyone’s encouragement.

Also, getting your loved one involved in volunteer opportunities is also helpful. For example, he or she can help with gift wrapping during the holiday season. The core concept here is just to get them engaged in any activities that have more chances to meet and talk to people. 

  • Bring Gifts and Food

Who doesn’t love little surprises?! Another good way to help your loved one to socialize is to ask them to bring gifts to the residents. If you or your loved one loves baking, make some refreshments and distribute them around the community. Sharing food is a very easy way to start a conversation, and your loved one will feel content by surprising others, too

  • Make Use of Social Media and Technology

If your loved one has some physical impairments and stepping outside seems a bit challenging to them, technology can provide many more convenient ways for seniors to connect with others. Setting a profile on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to gain more exposure in the community is a great first step. It also allows other to know more about your loved one, just like how CareStory aims to do: knowing is the foundation of caring and sharing.

Takeaway:

The best time to assist your loved one to socialize in a long-term home always starts from day one. It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for your loved one to get familiar with the community, and it is already an overwhelming process. So, be patient with your loved one, but also encouraging him or her to “jump right in” at the same time is the key to making the process easy and enjoyable.

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/social-life-when-moving-to-senior-living-151725.htm

https://www.caringseniorservice.com/blog/ways-to-help-seniors-avoid-isolation

 


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“My mom has always had bad vision, but it has become weaker and weaker in the past few years. Now, she’s legally blind. I feel bad for her since she enjoys exploring the beauty of nature, but now she’s even having trouble doing housework due to her vision loss. I can tell that she’s getting depressed because she feels that she’s losing part of the joy in her life. What can I do to make her feel happy, and have a better quality of life?”

This is a message we received from a desperate daughter. As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “How to Take Care of Your Loved Ones with Loss of Smell and Taste”, ) we know that sensory deprivation can greatly decrease one’s quality of life and lead to more symptoms. So, today we are going to focus on how to improve the quality of life of your loved one with vision impairment.

Vision loss can be a very gradual process, so it is vital to identify it when your loved one starts to show the following signs:

  • Finds it harder to focus on things

  • Accidentally bumps into things or knocks objects over

  • Stop doing activities that requires vision, such as reading or writing

  • Finds it harder to find nearby items

  • Constantly falls, or has trouble walking

All the above signs can be detrimental to your loved one’s mental health and lquality of life. However, there are ways for you to save your loved one from suffering.

Caring Tips for Seniors with Vision Impairment

  • Good Lighting

Make sure the area that your loved one normally stays around is well-lit. Counter lighting would be a good choice given that it won’t take up too much space in your house. Make sure the light isn’t too dim, but not too bright either,  so it won’t hurt yours and your loved one’s eyes.

  • Minimize Fall Risks: Install Grab Bars, Stair Lights, Remove Unnecessary Items

People with vision impairment have more chances of falling. So, it is important to remove all unnecessary items, such as electrical cords on the ground. It’d also be helpful to install grab bars along the stairs, and you can add stair lights to illuminate the way so the risk of falls drastically decrease. If your loved one has some level of dementia or memory problems, it’s better to reorganize the furniture to make the house easy to navigate.

  • Make the Best Use of Contrasting Colors

Decorating your home in contrasting colors is especially helpful if your loved one likes to move around in the house, or perform tasks that have the potential to hurt them. For example, to prevent your loved one from cuting their fingers, you can purchase knives in bright colors and a dark cuting board so your loved one can distinguish.

  • Labeling 

In our blog post, “How To Take Care of Your Loved Ones With Loss of Smell and Taste, we have talked about how labeling is important for food safety. It is especially important for someone with vision impairment or vision loss . Making a larger label of names and expiration dates on foods and medications can help prevent food poisoning and overdoses. You will be surprised at how a single step can make a significant difference.

You can also do the same thing with your loved one’s personal hygiene products, and condiments in your kitchen. Just make the name on the object visible enough so your loved one can’t ignore it.

  • Provide Mental Support

Whoever suffers from vision impairment can lose their independence and quality of life, and depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and inactivity can all be side effects of vision loss for some people. So, it is important to help your loved ones with acceptance and strive for better entertainment for them. There are several forms of entertainment for  people withvision impairment, which we will discuss below. Hopfully it will inspire you on the way to help your loved one live comfortably.

Entertainment for Seniors with Vision Impairment

  • Let’s Go Audio!

It is time to turn all visual entertainment into audio. You can download audiobooks online for your loved ones, such as Audible by Amazon. Or, use the Audio Description Project (ADP) that’s made by the American Council of the Blind. On ADP, you can access tons of TV shows, speeches, and even podcasts to museums.

  • Games

Remember when we talked about how games can be beneficial to seniors? There are games such as Bingo and Trivia that don’t require strong vision, but also good entertainment as well. If you haven’t seen our blog post on that, go check it out Best Brain Games for Seniors). It is a very good way to improve your loved one’s quality of life, and strengthen family bonds if you join in!

  • Enjoy Fragrances

Sometimes, when one sense weakens, other senses heighten! Getting your loved one involved in activities that can stimulate the sense of smell such as gardening and aromatherapy, which can greatly help them reduce stress and agitation. Enjoying natural fragrances can even help seniors to manage pain and fight against viruses. Candle making is also a good activity for seniors – it will not only relieve tension for your loved one but also give him or her a sense of accomplishment when they finish it.

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/making-life-easier-for-older-adults-with-low-vision-177792.htm

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hobbies-for-blind-and-low-vision-seniors-429359.htm


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John’s father had a stroke a few years ago and now he can no longer take good care of himself. As the situation worsened, his father started to show signs of loss of bladder and bowel control.

Today, John’s father didn’t make it to the bathroom  again, which wasn’t a surprise, because everytime John did his father’s laundry, he finds, stains on his underwear. His father is aware of it and feels embarrassed, too. However, John knows that these infrequent accidents may only get worse in the future.

Fecal incontinence is common among seniors. For persons who are over 65 years old in the US, 17.3% have reported to having accidental bowel leakages of mucus, liquid stools or solid stools. So in today’s blog post, we are going to focus on helping our loved ones with fecal incontinence. If you are experiencing such an issue, just keep reading.

What is Fecal Incontinence and What Causes it?

Fecal incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, which may result in stool leakage. It happens especially when a person is trying to expel gas, and the stoolpasses without control.

While diarrhea and gastroenteritis might cause  temporary fecal incontinence (FL), it can also be caused by some long-term illness or natural aging.

For seniors, FL can occur due to age related deterioration in the bowel’s muscles and neurons. Chronic constipation can also contribute to FL as well, since the stool “overflows” from the rectum if impacted.

Other Causes:

Some other causes, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can cause one to lose bowel control. For some seniors, they can even have a bowel movement outside the bathroom, and in some cases, play with there feces, suggesting a connection to past events. See our blog post on “The Power of Telling Senior Stories for more details.

In addition, stress and fear that are caused by temporary changes in their environment can lead to FL in seniors. So, when a senior moves to a new long-term care home, they may be  more likely to be stressed and have bowel leakage.

Some seniors with physical disabilities would also have higher chance of FL. This is easy to understand since they have difficulties in reaching a toilet.

How to Take Care of Someone with Fecal Incontinence (FL)

  • Identify the Cause

We always stress on finding the caause before moving on to solve the problem. So before you “deal with the mess”, it is always helpful to find out the true reason behind your loved one’s FL – is it because thay are  experiencing an acute change of surroundings? Or has a certain medication caused your loved one to be unable to reach the bathroom when he or she in need?

Once you have found the root, you are safe to proceed to the next step.

  • Make Dietary Changes

Another way to prevent FL is by making some dietary adjustments.

If chronic constipraion is the underlying issue, fibre can play a significant role in decreasing symptoms. Increasing fluid intake can also ease constipation and prevent such accidents. 

  • Exercises

Particular exercises that are aimed at increasing anal sphincter function and strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor may be beneficial to control bowel movements. The most well-known exercise that tightens pelvic floor muscles would be “Kegel” exercises. If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s the instruction of how to complete a Kegel exercise.

Step One: Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscle

When you are urinating, stop it in midstream, and feel the muscles that are holding the urine – this is the pelvic floor muscle that you are going to train during the whole exercise. However, we don’t recommend holding your urine constantly as a way to exercise the muscle, as it will increase the risk of kidney infection.

Step Two: Make Sure Your Bladder Is Empty, And Find a Comfortable Position

Empty your bladder to prevent urine leakages during the exercise. Then, you can sit or lie down to find a position that’s comfortable for you.

Step Three: Tighten Your Pelvic Floor Muscles, And Hold For 5 Seconds.

Step Four: Relax The Muscle For 3 Seconds.

Step Five: Repeat 10 times, 3 Times a Day.

  • Bowel Training

Encourage regular toileting and reduce the likelihood of accidents. This, however, takes time to show results.

This is especially meaningful for people with physical disabilities. So set up a schedule that works for them to have a bowel movement, and stick to the schedule, so incidents of leakage and overflow can be prevented.

  • Increase Hygiene

Stools may cause skin irritation, so regular cleaning  and maintaining skin integrity is very important. If the person is using an absorbent product, change it regularly and constantly, so that it won’t cause further discomfort.

At the End:

Fecal incontinence may be embarrassing for both the senior and the family. If you think it causes too much work for you, it is always better to seek extra help such as hiring a caregiver to handle it.

 

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caring-for-a-loved-one-with-fecal-incontinence-214869.htm

https://www.healthline.com/health/holding-pee#is-it-safe

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000141.htm

 


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Communication has never been more difficult. Jade finds that her mom’s hearing has become weaker and weaker over time. Sometimes when she tries to talk to her mom, her mom thinks Jade’s yelling for no reason. However, Jade’s mom refuses to wear hearing aids and whenever she doesn’t understand Jade, she acts like she can’t hear them at all.

Loss of hearing is a common phenomenon that occurs among seniors. The natural aging process will lead to a decrease in our senses, and this includes our hearing. However, there are a few factors that can expedite this process, such as medications, noisy environments, chronic fatigue, and emotions.

Hearing loss does not just make people “not listen” to you, but it also change their personality – eliciting anger, anxiety, social withdrawal, and even depression. When seniors feel stressed or annoyed, they may just act like they don’t hearing anything. So, when dealing with seniors with a hearing impairment, you need to have more patience, sensitivity, and understanding.

Today, we are going to provide you with some useful tips on how to communicate happily and smoothly with a loved one who has hearing loss. Let’s jump in!

What Is the Best Way to Communicate with a Hearing Impaired Loved One?

  • Find a Quiet Place or Reduce Background Noise

Your loved one may not know you are talking in a noisy environment, so when you are trying to raise your voice, there’s a very high chance that she or he thinks you are shouting and angry. So, make sure there is no music or television playing in the background.

Public places like restaurants with a lot of noise and crowds would make conversation difficult. Selecting locations with fewer background noises and less congested areas can greatly improve communication and reduce distractions.

  • Get Their Attention, and Face Them While Talking

Before speaking, you need to first get their attention. This can be accomplished by touching them on the arm or shoulder in a proper way, and not from behind.

Make sure you are making eye contact, and keep the light on your face. Sometimes, it is also helpful to say their names in a polite way; being respectful is always the key in a conversation.

  • Keep Tour Hands/Mask Away From Your Face While Talking

Same as maintaining adequate illumination on your face while talking, patients with hearing loss need to read your lips. So get rid of your mask or anything that would block your mouth and let your loved one “read” your words.

  • Speak Clearly and Loudly

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “How To Communicate With Seniors, you need to speak clearly, and raise your voice if needed (but don’t scream). Do not speak too quickly or too slowly, and don’t use slang that elderly people may not understand.

  • Rephrase Your Question or Statement

When your loved one seems to not understand what you mean or not hear what you say, try rephrasing it in another way.

Sometimes your loved one may be confused about certain words, so simply repeating your statement isn’t helpful. Try shortening or simplifying your words and see their reaction.

  • Make Wse of Body Language and Visual Cues

Your posture and facial expression conveys emotion, while visual cues provide instruction. However, since facial expressions and nonverbal movements provide additional information, don’t exaggerate them, as they may be distracting.

You can also use aids to deliver your information, such as writing it down, or typing it on your phone and showing it to the person.

  • Ask Them How They Prefer to Communicate

Communication with seniors often requires cooperative efforts. So, it is never a bad idea to inquire about the other person’s preferred method of communication – if verbal isn’t the best for them, ask them if they would like to use any aid such as phones or sticky notes.

In the End

If you have tried many methods to communicate but the condition continues to worsen, it is better to do a hearing test. Specialists will offer potential solutions and techniques to help with hearing problems.

 

Reference:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hearing-loss-communication-techniques-144762.htm

https://www.hearinglink.org/living/partners-children-family-hearing-people/how-to-communicate-with-someone-with-hearing-loss/

 


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Everyone knows Steve – the toughest and most obstinate man in the long-term care home. It is very difficult to convince him to do anything, which also includes welcoming his grandson’s dog, a three-year-old yellow lab.

“I hate dogs! They are annoying and dirty,” shouted Steve, speaking to his son on FaceTime. “Don’t ever bring that thing here…I won’t even let it in!”

Apparently, Steve’s grandson was even more uncompromising than his grandpa. He still brought the dog to the long-term care home, two weeks after the FaceTime call. His grandson gave: “The dog can’t be left in the house alone.”

The first greeting wasn’t so pleasant. Steve looked at the dog and angrily asked his son why he had brought him. However, the dog wasn’t aware of Steve’s disgust – he put his paw on Steve’s knee and wagged his tail happily, as if he were saying, “Hi Steve, it’s nice to meet you!”

After two hours of visiting, the family decided to go back. “Hey, why don’t you just leave the dog here since you will be in the city for a week,” requested Steve. “You said yourself that the dog can’t be left alone. I think I can take care of him.” 

It may have been surprising for a man like Steve to say that, but it did not surprise anyone that day. Everyone witnessed how happy and gentle Steve was when he was playing with the dog and how he made Steve another different person – a person that no one had ever seen.

“Maybe animals are magic,” joked Steve’s caregiver. “They can do the tricks that we can’t.”

This is true – our fluffy friends are amazing. They don’t speak (human languages), and they don’t buy you any gifts (small dead animals and sticks don’t count, of course). However, they have the power to sweep the haze away from your life and let the sunshine in – which is also a primary reason why so many institutions are using pet therapy to cope with people’s health problems.

What Is Pet Therapy?

Pet Therapy is a type of therapy that uses specially trained animals to offer affection and comfort to a community or a single individual. It is being used in a variety of organisations, including hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, and retirement and assisted living homes.

There are three different types of pet therapy: Facility Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Therapeutic Visitation.

Facility Therapy refers to having the pets reside at the care home and trained to monitor dementia patients. At the same time, Assisted Therapy means a specific individual owns a trained pet in the assisted living community and receives a more intensive treatment.

Therapeutic Visitation, on the other hand, is the most common type of pet therapy out of the three. It refers to pet owners bringing their pet and visiting long-term, care homes, which allows  seniors to spend time with them and enjoy their companionship without having to take on the additional responsibility of caring for them all the time.

Why Do We Love Pet Therapy?

  • Encourages Social Engagement

It may be awkward if two strangers stand together, but if there is a pet sitting around them, the two individuals are more likely to interact with each other. Isn’t that amazing? In many cases, pets serve as excellent conversation starters. Residents can connect with each other and form new friendships when they spend time with animals.

  • Pet Therapy Has Many Physical Benefits

Did you feel amused when you scroll through TikTok and see pet videos? If yes, you’ve already benefited from “The Pet Effect”.

The term “The Pet Effect” refers to the miraculous healing powers of watching or interacting with pets. Spending time with dogs has been found in studies to lessen long-term care home residents’ pulse rates, as well as their stress and anxiety levels, as well as their heart rate and blood pressure.Some parents notice that their children who have depression will show alleviation in their symptoms when they have pets around, and it works for seniors, too. After all, these little animals don’t judge or give you any advice, and stay with you no matter what you do.

  • Senior isolation

If you have subscribed to our page, you must be familiar with the term “Senior Isolation”. Many seniors tend to have feelings of loneliness and isolation, either as a result of a lack of frequent visits from family and friends, a loss of a significant other, or a decreased level of physical activity.

Senior Isolation is difficult to tackle because so many seniors are “comfortable” in their unhealthy settings. So, for the reluctant elders, we can use our paw-friends to bring them out of their “shells”, and thus make them more open to new friendships. Feel free to check out our blog on “Senior Isolationwe have a lot of advice for you to help your loved one if he or she is experiencing loneliness.

Who Can be Our Paw-Friend?

Not all pets can be used in pet therapy, given the various personalities among the species and breeds. Normally speaking, old dogs and indoor cats are more suitable for companionship and providing comfort for seniors – they are quiet and understanding (yes, they are more sensitive to human’s needs when they get older).

There Are Limitations:

Just like many medications, pet therapy is not without its limitations. The more prominent concern of pet therapy would be safety. Many long-term care homes will ensure the animals are well-trained by doing behaviour checks. Cause, some pets may cause a threat to seniors’ safety if they are not properly trained.

Another issue is sanitation. Seniors tend to have compromised immune systems. Any unvaccinated or unwashed animals may cause allergies or infections among senior residents.

 

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342

https://thehamlets.ca/pet-therapy-benefits/


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Charles hit 70 years old last week.

After his divorce, he took over the task of managing all the housework in the family. Just like other Californians, Charles likes to enjoy the sun and the little serendipities in his life. So, only three days after his birthday, Charles decided to move into a long-term care home to spend more time enjoying the idleness he deserves.

But here comes a problem: Charles wants to sell his house and use the money to cover his long-term care home expenses. However, his son is still living in his house with him. The cost of long-term care homes in California isn’t cheap, and it hurts Charles when he thinks about kicking his son out of the house as well.

Charles is in a conundrum that many seniors are.

Paying for long term care homes isn’t easy in the US. There are different types of long-term care homes. Here, we talk about nursing homes. According to the statistics from 2018, the average annual cost of a private room in a long-term care home across the US was $106,000. For some major cities, such as in San Francisco, the nursing home rate could reach $182,500 a year, and that’s why so many people choose to sell their property to live in a community.

However, selling houses isn’t the ultimate option to pay for a long-term care home There are, in fact, many benefits you should check out to relieve your financial burden.

How To Pay for A Long-Term Care Home in the US

Government Programs:

Just like in Canada, (Paying For LTC Homes In Canada) there are many government programs for senior citizens to use, and you probably already know of Medicare and Medicaid if you are living in the US.

However, there are some differences in range of what Medicare and Medicaid can cover:

Medicare

Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage for people who are over 65 or under 65 and with a disability. Note that it only covers the expense of long term care that requires skilled services and rehabilitative care for 100 days, or a short period of time of receiving skilled home health and skilled in-home services.

Medicare works in the following situations:

  • Hospital deductible: the cost after you have paid a certain amount

  • Short stays in a nursing home to receive medical care that arose after a hospitalization

  • Hospice care

  • Outpatient care, doctor visits

  • Some medication costs

Medicaid

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a combined Federal and State program for low-income residents. It is only available to individuals who meet the requirements set forth by their state, and the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and the federal poverty line are used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid.

Medicaid covers the cost of medical care and some long-term care. However, the range it covers may vary state to state, and in most cases, the coverage is very limited. As for California, the Medi-cal program can only cover 30 days of stays and medication in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

While Medicaid can only cover a very limited amount of services and expenses, PACE can cover much more long-term care services (including medical and social services) for senior citizens, and it pays some or all of the long-term care expenses for the patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, PACE is active in 28 states. For more details, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/long-term-services-supports/pace/programs-all-inclusive-care-elderly-benefits/index.html

Other Programs

There are also many other benefit programs or institutions designed to serve a certain group of individuals. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides long-term care and at-home care for some veterans and their family. If you wish to know how to use different programs according to your situation, you can consult the National Council on Aging (NCOA). NCOA offers a free service called “BenefitsCheckUp” to screen your eligibility and find you a list of Federal and State benefit programs that can help you and your loved one.

Private Payment Options

If you don’t meet the eligibility to require financial aid from your state, and you wish to explore more options other than paying from your own savings, there are some ways you can try:

Long-Term Care Insurance

This type of insurance is purchased when you are younger. Long-term care insurance covers many long-term care services including palliative and hospice care. The cost depends on the amount of services, age and health condition. Thus, the earlier it is planned, the better it can serve.

Reverse Mortgages for Seniors

A reverse mortgage is a particular type of house loan that allows a homeowner who is over 62 years old to get a portion of their property’s equity in return, so they can use the returned amount to cover their long-term care home.

Reverse mortgages have no criteria for applicant’s income or health, only age (>62). Moreover, the loan amount is tax free and can be used for any expense. However, it’s only useful for a mortgage-free property. So if you already owe money on your house in the form of a mortgage or another type of debt, you must pay it off first to get the benefit.

 

References:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/paying-care

https://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes/articles/how-to-pay-for-nursing-home-costs#long

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/17/how-to-pay-for-long-term-care-like-nursing-homes-home-health-aides.html

 


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We have gotten a message from one of our readers recently.

“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 70. He was only showing symptoms of  memory loss and agitation up until recently, but now, he has started wandering. I am currently working from home so I can be with him him during the day, however he mostly wanders at night. I tried to stop him, but he won’t listen. It’s as if there’s something he needed to complete. I am a single mom and have to take care of my son and my dad. We are Italian so family means everything to us, but my dad’s behavior has really been hard to handle. Can you give me some advice on how to prevent his wandering? Thank you.” -Mia

Mia is definitely not the only one we know that has such an issue – we see it almost every day. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 out of 10 patients with dementia show signs of wandering, or as we are going to put it, exploring, and some explorers are never found, or found dead because of accidents. In that, keeping your exploring loved one at home becomes so important at this point. However, it is always easier said than done. So, today CareStory is going to provide you with some very useful tips to keep your loved one safe and sound.

Before You Prepare, You Need to Figure These Things Out

 

Step One: Find Out The Reason Why They Explore

Before you start to plan for safety for your loved one, it is always helpful to find out the underlying reason for his or her exploring. There are many reasons for someone experiencing Dementia to explore, and according our experience, they can be categorized into the following:

  1. Basic Needs: Some seniors explore because they have necessary needs such as finding a bathroom, food, or simply looking for fresh air.

  2. Old Routine: In our previous blog post, “The Power of Telling Senior Stories”, we have spoken about a woman who used to wake up at night and check on residents in their rooms. It turned out that she was a night shift nurse for over 30 years and she was just doing her job. (Power of Storytelling)

  3. Fear: The surroundings may be triggering, or make them feel unsafe, so they try to find a “safe zone”.

  4. Boredom: Of course, people experiencing dementia feel bored, too. When they are looking for something to do, as you would, they start to explore their surroundings.

The underlying cause may vary from person to person, and situation to situaton. To help you determine what’s on your loved one’s mind and what or why their are exploring, , you can ask yourself the following:

  • Has your loved one always been this active? It’s possible that your loved one’s exploration is linked to a certain activity they used to engage in during the day.

  • Is your loved one having difficulty distinguishing between the past and the present when performing daily activities (eg. picking up the kids from school)?

  • Are your loved ones familiar with their current surroundings?

  • Are there any needs for your loved one that isn’t being provided? (eg. the need to feel loved and care for, the need to go to the toilet, the need for food or water, the need to manage pain, etc.)

  • Does your loved one look anxious, bored, or unsettled?

  • Is your loved one taking any new or different medications?

  • Has there been any recent change in your loved one’s living environment?

After all these questions are figured out, you will know the roots of their exploration. So instead of trying to put a stop to it,you can try to help them tackle their fear and anxiety, or provide them with what they need at the moment.

If the exploration continues, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: Identify Patterns

Now is the time that you should take out a notebook and record your loved one’s patterns of exploration. Observe the time of day they start to explore, the duration of each, and the frequency they explore in a week or a month. You can also write down any negative effects caused by their exploration. Here’s an example of how you can take your notes:

  • Exploration occurs daily at 1:00am for one hour, resulting in an slight injury to left leg.

  • Exploration occurs twice a week, around 3:00pm, resulting in turning on the kitchen stove and walking away.

  • Explorationoccurs once a week, between 6:00pm to 8:00pm, resulting in the person being lost outside for at least one hour.

After you take your notes, you will have a better idea of what you should do to minimize any negative effects when they decide to explore.

How to Create a Safe Environment for an Explorer

If we can’t cure a disease, we find a way to live with it. This applies to Dementia as well specfically those who love to explore! In most cases, exploring will continue no matter what. So let’s discuss how we can create an environment for our loved ones with Dementia to explore safely:

Lock Doors When You Are At Home

Always keep the door locked when you are at home. You can also purchase alarm locks for the front door. They only cost $15-$20 on Amazon, and they can help you out a lot by notifying you if your loved one leaves the house.

Add Window Locks

To prevent your loved one from any potental injuries from the wondow, it’s best to add a lock or a screen that cannot be removed. 

Paint the Walls the Same Color for Continuity

It may sound novel, but painting the wall the same color or pattern to create a sense of continuity and can actually prevent the desire to explore when it may not be safe to do so.

Install a Door or Gate at the Top of a Stairway

It is especially useful if you have a basement in your house, or your loved one lives on the upper floor of the house, to install a door or gate at the top of the stairway. This prevents slips, falls, and injuries when walking downstairs in the dark or even if your loved one is sleepwalking. Note that the door should always swing away from the stairs, so if your loved one pushes the door too hard and it opens, it won’t let him or her fall because of the force. 

Install a Kitchen Door

Sometimes, your loved one feel  they may need to cook for the kids in the evening, and it is what we mentioned above – repeating an old routine. When your loved one with dementia wants to use the kitchen, you have to be aware of potential risks. For example, , they may use the oven, microwave and stove, but forget to turn them off after using it. Thus the best solution is to install a kitchen door and keeping it locked when you are not using it.

Hire a Caregiver to Take Care Your Loved One When You Are Not at Home

If you are a busy working person and always have your hands full, it is time to seek help from a professional. Some people who are experiencing dementia and love to explore  just want to find company, or find things to do to keep them less busy, so hiring a caregiver would greatly decrease your loved one’s loneliness and boredom. It gives you respite since you don’t have to worry about your loved one when you are away running errands. You may need to look for a home care agency if you have never hired any caregivers before. However, finding a responsible home care agency isn’t easy. See our blog on “Top 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Care Agency”. It will guide you on how to spot the “best match” for you and your loved one.



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    Contact us


    Call us

    1-647-243-2981


    Visit us anytime

    294 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada


    Send us an email

    info@emersewell.com



    Subscribe


    Sign up for Medicare newsletter to receive all the news offers and discounts.




      Social networks


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      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.



      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.