By: Jacob Edwards
Recent research has been finding more and more evidence on the health benefits of optimism and positivity. Since positive thinkers generally cope better with stressful situations, the harmful effects of stress are diminished more quickly, in turn, lead healthier lives. People often disregard frequent headaches, insomnia, or increased fatigue as merely products of every day life, when all these things can be directly related to increased stress levels.
This is generally easier said than done, but there are a few tips and tricks that you can keep in mind when trying to over come negativity in your life.
- Focus on the positive; rather than dwelling or accepting negative situations beyond control, optimists generally focus on what they can do to overcome the situation – even with the most drastic of life changes. Taking control of your life in small, yet meaningful, ways can produce a larger overall effect, and help you to control the negativity in your life. The key to taking care of stress is to believe that you can, in the very least, change your attitude towards the situation at hand.
- Remember the correlation between attitude and life events; there have been numerous studies focused on the way in which a person explains bad events occurring around them. In one, a 35-year long study performed by Harvard, social scientists collected open-ended questionnaires from 99 of their 1944-1945 graduating classmen. The study tracked the graduates all the way until age 60 and found that those who answered the surveys in a pessimistic way faced poorer health later in life.
- Understand the negative effects of pessimism; pessimism in early adulthood was found to be directly related to increased health problems in mid to late adulthood. Pessimism can be a result of stress, as those lacking in positivity generally have a harder time dealing with stressful situations. Stress, when left to fester, can cause great damage later in life; it produces the dangerous hormone cortisol, and the increased level of this hormone increases the risk of lower immune function and bone density, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and even diabetes.
- Know how positivity can change you; beyond relieving stress, positive thinking can make a person more resilient, both mentally and physically. Dr. Dennis Charney, Dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, studied 750 Vietnam War veterans who were tortured. Among those who did not develop post-traumatic stress disorder or suffer from depression, optimism was at the top of the list of ten things that set them apart from other veterans who had similar experiences, but suffered mentally. Optimism was followed by selflessness, humor, and a belief in the meaning of life—all aspects of a positive outlook.
In terms of positivity lending to physical resilience, my father is living proof. Frightened as a little boy, I saw my father take medicine intravenously nearly every day of my childhood. Not until much later in life did I find out what he was treating. My father had always been sick—never fully crippled by his illness, but always at a disadvantage. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis C at age 30, a disease doctors said was ultimately incurable.
He never complained or even really spoke about it to those who knew him well, and the only reason I knew was because I saw him take his medicine at our house. With a good spirit, he put me at ease by telling me how the medicine would someday cure him and sure enough, 40 years later, my father is alive, well, and hepatitis free.
A lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to be completely cured and if anyone asks him how he did it, he always says it was his ability to envision himself one-day healthy again. With so many benefits of staying positive, I’m sure you won’t mind me telling you to look on the bright side.
Jacob Edward is the manager of Prime Medical Alert and Senior Planning in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded both companies in 2007 and has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long term care planning. Senior Planning provides assistance to seniors and the disabled finding and arranging care services, assisted living, as well as applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State's Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.
By: Nathaly Miniello
Depression, despite any and all stigmas surrounding the word, is medically known as an illness; one that affects millions of Americans every year, regardless of socioeconomic status, race or age. October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month, and the more we know about depression, the easier it becomes to recognize the signs and symptoms, and to seek professional help when needed.
In an article in Psychology Today depression is defined as: “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” In other words, depression is more than just “the blues”; depression is not a weakness, and it is not something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a seriously mental illness, which can stem from any number of causes, and may require long-term treatment.
But don't get discouraged, most people who suffer from depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both.
As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, I have treated people with depression of all ages, and the treatment practice that I have found most effective is a cognitive-behavioral approach. To simplify this term, think of it as the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors; let’s focus on one - our thoughts.
Tracking our thought patterns can be a task; however, starting with small steps, such as focusing on negative thinking or cognitive distortions, can greatly impact our emotional well-being.. If our thought patterns are self-deprecating, rigid, and negative, is it much more likely that negative behaviors and emotions will follow. Negative thinking is an obstacle to self-change; remember that perceptions influence thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Let’s encourage and empower our positive thoughts to surface, and bury the negative patterns!
The Most Common Types of Negative Thinking are:
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: "I have to do things perfectly, because anything less than perfect is a failure;" not recognizing a middle ground.
- Overgeneralization: “My friend did not come to visit me - I will always be lonely;” coming to a general conclusion based on a single event; constantly using definitive words such as everything, always, and never.
- Disqualifying the Positives: "The Doctor praised me for doing so well, but I gained 3 pounds;" exaggerating negatives and disqualifying positives.
- Catastrophizing: "If something is going to happen, it'll probably be the worst case scenario."
- Dwelling on Pain: “If I worry enough about my problem, maybe I will feel better.”
In order to solidify this concept, let’s discuss a therapeutic technique that is particularly helpful for depression – start by making a schedule for your happiness!
- Chart out the next seven days on a piece of paper, starting with today (e.g., Thurs, Fri, Sat...).
- For each day, schedule one pleasant activity (anything you enjoy which is not unhealthy) that you wouldn't normally do. It could be as simple as reading a chapter of a novel or eating lunch without any distractions, being mindful of every bite and flavor.
- Alternatively, schedule an activity that gives you a sense of mastery, competence, or accomplishment. Choose something small (baby steps), and aim for something that will take you less than ten minutes.
Doing activities like this produces higher levels of positive emotions in our daily life will help make our thinking less negative, narrow and self-destructive. Building our mental muscle will help us to respond instead of react.
Let’s work on increasing our self-worth, self-acceptance, spirituality and hope, appreciation of life and caring for others.
Nathaly Miniello, LMHC, CRC, Certified Hypnotherapist
Personal Health Coordinator
Nathaly joins Humana At Home’s Editorial Board with a range of experience in the health care field, currently working as a Personal Health Coordinator. Other major roles that have shaped her professional history include working as a Family Therapist at Directions for Living, and as a Sexual and Physical Abuse Treatment Program Therapist at LSF, Inc.. Nathaly received her Bachelor of Arts and Science in Psychology and Behavioral Healthcare, and her Masters degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Florida.
By: Christina Korma
August is National Immunization Awareness month; the month to empower everyone, including older adults, to talk with their healthcare providers about getting immunized.
Vaccines are readily available to everyone, and can prevent needless suffering and fatalities, which many unvaccinated people risk each year. Many people wrongly believe that vaccines are only for children, but the CDC recommends four vaccines specifically for older adults. The recommended vaccines include shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap).
Many factors, including age, lifestyle, health conditions, job type and travel can help your doctor decide which vaccines are best for you. Click here to get to the CDC’s quiz and determine which vaccines work best with your lifestyle! In the meantime, below is a list of things to keep in mind when exploring immunizations this month:
- Typically occurs in older adults who have had chicken-pox.
- Causes a painful blistering rash, typically on one side of the body.
- One in five people with shingles will have long-term pain, even after the rash has healed.
- Adults age 60 and older should receive the singles vaccine.
- Pneumococcal disease is one of the most common causes of vaccine-preventable death, especially in older adults.
- Causes a bacterial infection that can lead to pneumonia, meningitis and infection in the bloodstream.
- Adults age 65 and older should receive the Pneumococcal vaccine, but it may also be recommended for other age groups to receive this vaccine based on risk factors.
- Each year 24,000 people die from the flu, most of whom are adults 65 and older.
- The flu is easily spread through close contact, including coughing and sneezing.
- Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks to develop protection, which means it is still possible to get the flu even if you have received the flu shot.
- Everyone should be vaccinated against the flu each year. The flu virus is always changing, so a new vaccine is introduced each year to protect us.
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
- It is recommended that everyone receive the Tdap vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
- Once an adult has received the Tdap vaccine they should receive the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster every 10 years.
- Check with your healthcare provider if you plan to be around children under 12 months old to determine if you should receive the Tdap vaccine.
- Tetanus is a severe infection caused by a cut or wound.
- Most deaths related to tetanus are among older adults.
- Diphtheria is a disease caused by the toxin of the diphtheria bacteria.
- It can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even death.
- The CDC reports that before vaccines, the US saw around 200,000 cases of diphtheria and hundreds of cases of tetanus each year. With the help of vaccines, the cases of both diseases have dropped about 99%!
- Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be deadly in infants.
- According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, adults are the most common source of pertussis infections in infants.
Vaccines are a safe and important way to stay healthy. Just like diet and exercise, immunization plays a vital role in keeping you and your loved ones healthy. Each year, thousands of older adults die from diseases that could have been prevented by immunization. Check with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are receiving the vaccines you
need, and discuss any allergies or medical conditions you have to determine if
a vaccine is safe for you. Some vaccines are not safe for people who have weakened
Be inspired by National Immunization Awareness month - talk with your healthcare provider about important vaccines to help you stay healthy, happy, and most importantly, at
Christina Korman, BS, CHES
Personal Health Coordinator
Christina Korman joins the Humana at Home Editorial Board with a vast background in health and education. She attended the University of North Florida, where she received her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Health Science and minoring in Health Education. She currently works as a Personal Health Coordinator with Humana at Home in St. Petersburg Florida, but worked previously as a Community Health Educator for the Special Needs Program, and as a Health Educator.
By Karen Begley, Donna Ettel, and Timothy Leadem
Being discharged from the hospital is a whirlwind of emotions. You’re excited to be going home, getting back to your friends and family, and be back in your own space. At the same time, you’re given a list of medications, rules, follow-ups to make and people to contact. How can you keep up?
Stephanie*, a registered nurse, shared that even a health professional can find the experience confusing. “After my husband had outpatient eye surgery to repair a torn retina, it wasn’t until we arrived at home that we realized we were on completely different pages about the after-care instructions involving his eye-patch,” she remembers.
“As a nurse, I knew the eye patch was an important part of the surgical recovery process. How could we have heard two totally different instructions?”
The discharge paperwork instructed her husband to wear the eye patch until his return visit to the ophthalmologist, but left their questions unanswered. When should their next visit be? Should he wear the patch while he’s sleeping? What about in the shower? Would this not put too much strain on his other eye?
Why are discharges so risky?
As a professional care management company, we are very familiar with discharge instructions, and yet we have long recognized the conundrum with patient discharge instructions. Sometimes, the instructions can be so unclear and confusing that they can result in a failure to comply, or even in a hospital readmission, particularly with seniors.
The problem can be due to a number of reasons. Some patients go home and unexpected problems arise, which results in a trip back to the hospital; this could be due to premature discharge, or because the patient is not properly educated on how to care for themselves outside the hospital environment.
Regardless, of the reasons, these problems are a result of a fragmented system of care, which too often leaves discharged patients without the education and resources they need.
What is causing the lack of proper care education?
There are a number of reasons that a patient could leave the hospital before being fully aware of how to care for themselves at home. For starters, discharge can be an incredibly emotional and overwhelming time, and asking patients to retain additional information could lead to information overload.
Other common reasons a patient would not know how to continue their care include:
- Unwillingness of the patient to admit to being hearing or visually impaired
- Financial factors
- Language barriers between the physician and the patient
- Lack of access to care services or medications needed
What can I do prior to my discharge time?
- When you are notified of your discharge date and time, ensure your doctor plans to meet with you before you leave the hospital.
- Share your discharge date with your caregivers and ask if one of them can be present for your meeting with the doctor. It’s extremely helpful to patients when they have a friend or family member or their professional caregiver present to listen to the discharge instructions with them.
- Expect to receive written discharge instructions and ask for them if they are not provided.
- If you will need special transportation home from the hospital, determine who is responsible for scheduling it. If home nursing or durable medical equipment will be needed in the home, request that all necessary contact information for the nursing agency and/or equipment provider be included in your discharge instructions. If possible, have a caregiver with you when any in-home providers make their initial visits.
What should caregivers keep in mind at the time of discharge?
When you or your loved one is being discharged, there are important aspects of communication you should listen for. If you aren’t provided with this information, be sure to ask the physician before leaving the hospital. These include:
- Follow-up appointment dates and times
- Signs and symptoms that may develop and when to contact the physician
- Symptom management at home (shortness of breath, pain, nausea)
- Instructions for self-care
- Home health services, such as a professional care manager
- Medication teaching and scheduling
- Changes to medication regimen during hospitalization
- Contact information for post-discharge questions
- Reasons for post-discharge appointments
- Any pending results from studies ordered in the hospital
How can I avoid having problems when I get home?
Physicians, nurses, discharge planners, and others are working to do a better job of educating patients and their caregivers about what to do when they go home. They are also working harder to connect them with primary care and other social support services. The most important thing that you can do to ensure you do not end up back in the hospital is follow the instructions of the professionals as closely as possible. A few other tips include:
- Try to have your prescriptions filled as soon as you leave the hospital and always take your medications as directed, even if you start to feel better. This may mean finishing the bottle.
- If your doctor has put you a new diet, try to have the right foods waiting for you at home.
- Remember that your discharge instructions should list the follow-up appointments that have been scheduled for you. Many patients do not attend their follow-up appointments because they no longer feel sick. This can be dangerous. If possible, call ahead to confirm your follow-up appointments.
- If you begin to feel ill, call your doctor immediately – never wait for your appointment.
*name has been changed to protect identities
Our Long Distance Dedication to Casey Kasem
By Eileen Zenker
With the recent, sad news of Casey Kasem’s deteriorating health, Lewys Body Dementia (LBD) has been more prevalent in the media than ever before. Although this is certainly not because this illness is rare; according to the LBD Association’s website, LBD affects more than 13 million Americans today.
What is Lewys Body Dementia?
LBD is actually an umbrella term used to describe two related diagnoses: Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, and Dementia with Lewys Bodies; although the early symptoms of these two diseases differ, they cause the same changes to take place within the brain, causing sufferers of both illnesses to experience similar cognitive, behavioral and sleep problems.
Key Differences between Alzheimer’s and Lewys Body Dementia
While it may seem as though Alzheimer’s Disease and LBD are the same illness, there are a number of differences that you can look out for in your loved one. Symptoms for LBD include, but are not limited to:
- Effects on judgment, planning and visual perception, hallucinations, delusions and misidentifications, REM sleep disorder, and disruptions to the autonomic nervous system, causing drops in blood pressure when standing, dizziness, falls and urinary incontinence.
- Movement symptoms are more prominent in early LBD as opposed to Alzheimer’s Disease, although Alzheimer’s can also cause problems with walking and overall balance.
- Memory loss is more noticeable in early stages of Alzheimer’s, although advanced LBD can cause memory loss in addition to its typical symptoms.
What Can I Do?
As a caregiver, there are a number of things that you can do to help your loved one with LBD.
- Get educated: The more you know about the illness, the less stressful your job as a caregiver is going to be, and the better quality help your loved one is going to be receiving. For example, did you know that, although LBD may cause hallucinations, prescribing antipsychotics for someone with LBD can be extremely dangerous? Protect your loved one by getting educated.
- Know the available resources: Although it may feel like you are alone in this struggle, there are millions of others caring for those with LBD. Look for resources and support groups through national association sites. Websites such as the Lewy Body Dementia Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, and even the compassionate allowance program of The Social Security Administration
- Seek professional help: It is okay to admit you’re in over your head – all that means is that you acknowledge your loved one needs more professional care than you can give. Enlist professional Care Manager, like those at SeniorBridge, to help you manage the medications, appointments, diet and exercise regimes, and everything else in between, to ensure your loved one is getting the care they need.
These tips and tricks should help to make your job as a caregiver that much easier, and, in the wise words of Mr. Kasem himself, ensure that you can “keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”
By Meggie Haneckow
As you can imagine, hot tubs have numerous health and wellness benefits for individuals of any age; so many, in fact, that they are becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. Just to name a couple, hot tubs can help increase metabolism, aid in weight loss and muscle toning, enhanced blood flow and ease relaxation.
With easier relaxation, comes easier sleep; many of those who suffer from insomnia use hot tub therapy to obtain restful sleep. If you are one amongst the innumerable people who suffer from sleeplessness, hydrotherapy using hot tubs or spas could be the cure you are seeking. Try these helpful alternative therapy methods to help you ease your insomnia and catch some much needed z’s.
- Soak Warm Water; warm water can help relax your muscles, reducing stress and helping you to get relaxed enough to sleep.
- Use Aromatherapy; spas and aromatherapy, in which essential oils are used, go hand-in-hand. Try using calming scents such as lavender to sooth tension and nerves.
- Read a Book while soaking in a hot tub; this can help you to relax by loosening your muscles while distracting your mind from the stresses of everyday life.
- Drink Some Tea; green tea is a tension reliever, soothing the nerves as well as the body. Drink tea during or after your hot tub session, they can help you to lower your stress levels, easing you closer to sleep.
While this may be surprising, just 20 minutes of hydrotherapy can be sufficient. Should you chose to use this type of therapy as a sleep aid, consider spending time in the hot tub at night, either inside or outside, to help you relax, release tension from your muscles, and free your mind right before going to sleep.
Meggie Haneckow is a professional at master spa parts, a leading provider of spa parts.
If you or a loved one is living with dementia, or you’re a caregiver working with the disease, you are already aware of the challenges that can become a part of everyday life as a result. While it can be easy to simply allow them to fall into a comfortable pattern, it’s important to keep those living with dementia engaged through activities that excite the senses. You don’t have to do difficult activities, or even ones that take all day. In fact, many people with dementia do better with activities that don’t take very long, and can be finished quickly.
Use this list of activities to keep those with dementia engaged, as healthy as possible and sharp as they age.
Food preparation is a part of life for adults, however when dementia sets in, it can often become somewhat dangerous. Preparing food with your loved one can be an enjoyable task for both of you, and help to ensure they remember to eat the right foods without getting hurt during the preparation.
When preparing food with someone living with dementia, you should get them to help you by doing things like washing the vegetables or putting together pre-chopped ingredients as the recipe requires. In doing this, they will be fully involved without needing to to use knives or be around a hot stove.
Remodel Your Outdoor Area
Dementia can often make a person feel as though they do not have a chance to be productive, which can lead to feeling like they aren’t beneficial to the people around them. Getting them involved in outdoor activities can help those living with dementia to feel at home, and to know that their work is worth something.
An example of an outdoor activity you can do could be as simple as planting flowers or painting lawn chairs for the patio. Planting a tree in the neighborhood is also an option to get them out and about.
Just make sure remodeling activities don’t take too long. Ideally, you should break the tasks down into small chunks that can be completed over multiple days.
Listen to Music
Music therapy is often a big part of life for anyone, but when it comes to individuals with dementia, it can be particularly beneficial. The key to music therapy is to choose music that is soothing and enjoyable to the individual. Consider choosing music that you and the individual can listen to together or songs that are a part of their personal library.
Keep music therapy sessions short and don’t do a variety of other activities at the same time. Allow the person to focus on the music and end the session if they begin to get agitated or overly emotional, as music can have that effect. You want to make sure that this activity is enjoyable.
Watch a Movie
Everybody enjoys watching movies and people living with dementia are no different. However, the type of movies that you watch with someone who is living with dementia might be a little different.
When watching a film, you should choose something they’ve likely seen before, or something with a simple, straight-forward plot. Choose a movie from the person’s childhood or something they’ve talked about in the past.
Don’t expect to finish the whole movie in one sitting, either. It’s not about watching the whole thing; it’s about exciting the senses, even if that’s only for 20 minutes at a time.
Regular exercise should be an essential part of everybody’s life, but it’s particularly important for those living with dementia. Getting up and moving around can help to reduce periods of sadness, depression and agitation, by increasing the amount of endorphins in one's sytem.
When you’re exercising with a senior who has dementia, make the activities simple and short. Exercise for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and don’t venture too far from their home. However, outdoor exercises are often beneficial on warm days, especially if you have a park or recreation center near your loved one’s home.
Dealing with dementia can be difficult to cope with for anyone, be it a family member, caregiver or the person experiencing it. But this does not mean that it has to be the end of fun and rewarding activities.
About the Author: Tara Heath is a freelance writer who lives in California. She has a passion for helping people and loves to write about health and wellness. In her free time she loves to be active and has just taken up rock climbing.
People are now living longer than ever before, including those who have suffered from strokes. It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to make significant recoveries and rediscover the normal aspects of everyday life.
The vast majority of strokes happen to those over the age of 65 who are currently living with pre-existing health conditions. Anyone who has suffered a stroke, or helped care for someone who has, knows that the recovery can be an extremely long process; in fact, according to the National Stroke Association’s website, it is a lifelong process.
Recovery can be daunting requiring rehabilitation, finding care and understanding the long road ahead. This article can help you during your recovery process, providing professional rehabilitation advice from our expert guest blogger.
Be Prepared for Set Backs
Even after weeks of things seeming to improve, it’s possible that one day will come along when you feel as though you’re right back at square one. While this may seem as though you are recovering in reverse, you should know that this is normal. The best thing you can do for yourself or your loved one in this situation is to remain patient and maintain a positive mental attitude.
When recovering from a stroke, the importance of surrounding yourself with caring relatives, friends and professionals cannot be underestimated. Everyone must work together to create an environment of emotional and physical support to ensure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible. As long as a wide network of positive and determined people support those during their recovery, they are in the best position to enjoy life after a stroke.
The smaller things are often the things that have the biggest negative impact on stroke victims, even though this is easily avoidable. Here are a few “unconventional” things to keep in mind when caring for someone who is recovering from a stroke:
- Keep an active social life: Although the familiar surroundings of their home will provide comfort when it is most needed, regular visits from friends and family will help ensure their mood is kept positive. Additionally, external community and support groups ensure a wide range of support for those who have suffered from strokes.
- Good mental health is just as crucial as physical: Loneliness, boredom and isolation are as equally important to consider as physical symptoms when it comes to long-term recover.
- Schedule regular check-ups for them: Of course, regularly checking blood pressure to help prevent any further strokes is incredibly important; however there are other health aspects to regularly check as well. Checking in on hearing and vision, the two areas most affected by a stroke, and even things which may seem insignificant such as monitoring dental hygiene and finger and toe nail length will make a bigger difference than you may originally think.
Know Your Home Care Options
Each stroke case is varied and specific to the individual, and as a result, there are great benefits in exploring the option of an in-home support worker. Care management agencies such as SeniorBridge supply care workers to provide post-stroke treatment and care tailored specifically to the needs of the individual. By keeping the approach to recovery flexible, there is minimal upheaval and unnecessary change, while simultaneously adding an extra layer of support on the long road to recovery.
About the Author: Camille Leavold works as Managing Director at a UK based Home Care Agency, engaged in providing health care assistants for people with dementia, learning disability and care for the elderly. Contact them for care service at: email@example.com
By: Madison Hill
Last year, I was really struggling with the hardships that came along with the responsibility of being a caregiver to my mom. I began searching for validation online when I came across a blog that addressed the challenges of family caregiving, and how to overcome the significant challenges. I realized that I needed to find a way to avoid becoming burnt out, as well as find a healthy activity that my mother is able to do, more or less, entirely on her own.
My mom has always loved her gardens, and her passion translated into years of beautiful blooms and delectable produce. As she has aged, and subsequently developed Alzheimer’s requiring me to become her caregiver, her ability to seamlessly nurture life from miniscule seeds has changed dramatically. With a couple of smart adjustments, however, I think we have found some solutions worth sharing that will help perpetuate gardening for years to come.
With the offial start of Spring just passing last week, we’ve collected a list of tips from our guest blogger, with a self-diagnosed sunflower obsession, on how to use gardening to enhance your mental and physical wellbeing.
Make sure plant/planter choices are appropriate
When mom was in her gardening prime, she could easily have handled caring for a million different types of plants. Now, we select our seeds with a little more caution. I stay away from anything that we would eventually need a step-ladder to reach, and we now garden in raised beds.
If a plant is going to grow taller than my mom can reach, requires too many special care instructions, or is otherwise difficult to maintain, it is no longer an option. Instead, we have become quite fond of onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and golden zucchini.
Raised beds serve as a double benefit for us for a couple reasons. Firstly, they create nice, open walkways, and secondly, they negate the need for as much bending/kneeling -you can find some beautiful raised beds at any number of locations online. We also got my mother a chair that she can sit in to pick produce or prune dead-heads so she doesn’t have to stoop or stand for longer than comfort allows.
Make the switch to Senior-friendly tools
There is a plethora of ergonomic gardening tools available for purchase, and I’d recommend investing in at least a few. I’ve listed out mom’s favorites below.
- Bionic Gardening Gloves: Mom loves the padding and extra grip these give her.
- Fist Grip Garden Tools: The optional arm support cuff has come in handy for us more than once and the bright colors promise us that we will never again lose a tool.
- Mini-Reel Hose: Light-years better than lugging around heavier hoses, and it winds up without a fuss
Enjoy time spent together
I don’t always garden with mom; I often let her just have time alone surrounded by something that’s always brought her joy. When I do join her, though, I soak up every minute. It’s moments like these that nurture my heart and grow my soul.
Madison Hill is a freelance writer who enjoys spening time with her mother in their garden. When she’s not busy making homemade kreplach, you can find her dead-heading and writing about caregiving.
By: Kimberly Fore, RN
Do you regularly take a family member or friend to his or her doctor appointments and look after their health? Then you have likely felt the stress of trying to get your loved one the best possible care.
Here are 5 things you need to know to give medical professionals the best information to make medical decisions and for you to succeed as a patient advocate.
You know Mom is taking a heart pill, a pill for high blood pressure, insulin and eye drops. You may even know the dose and what time of day she takes them. But without the actual names of the medications, Mom’s doctor can’t determine if drugs he may prescribes will interact.
You can find a free medication list worksheet atwww.safemedication.com as well as useful information about medications. Additional resources are available at http://seniorbridge.com/Resources/ToolsforCaregivers.aspx
Know Mom’s Medical Team
Maybe the person you are caring for has three or four doctors, all for different reasons. A cardiologist looks after her congestive heart failure and peripheral vascular disease. An endocrinologist oversees her diabetes progress. The eye doctor manages her glaucoma. Keep a list of physician names and specialties, phone numbers, fax numbers and after hours phone numbers.
Record Her Medical History
Most physician appointments ask for complete medical history including medication history, allergies, and past surgeries. Here’s what you need to include: any surgery (no matter how minor) that has ever been performed, all diagnoses, all medications (including vitamins, supplements and over the counter drugs, any allergies – including medication, food, dander, pollen, etc., and what the allergic reaction was.
If the person you are caring for has had side effects from a medication in the past, such as nausea, include that as well.
Hire a Care Manager
Whether it be collaborating with physicians, pharmacies, therapists or nutritionists; feeling unequipped to make medical decisions for your loved ones, needing to identify community resources; navigating family dynamics; or needing to find a solution to stay at home, a care manager can be your advocate in navigating the health care system. It’s a good idea to find a care manager to conduct an assessment and develop a care plan.
Qualify Your Home Care Options
If your parent is being discharged from the hospital but is weak or otherwise needs help at home, it is likely the physician will recommend home care. Be methodical in your approach to choosing the one that meets your needs. What did the last audit from the state regulatory board say? Are the caregivers drug tested? Do they have qualified staff? Are they going to be able to work around your schedule?
A care manager is a good resource in making this decision as well as staying on board to supervise the process. Usually a national home care agency with adequate liability insurance and professional supervision is ideal.
Physicians and nurses taking care of people in the hospital have information to give you. Often all you need to do is ask. Know the meds. Know the diagnoses. Know what they are for. Ask questions. Ask why. Be an advocate.
Being an advocate is being prepared, with a list of diagnoses, a list of physicians and phone numbers, and a list of medications ready for any and all providers to see. Whether you do this yourself or hire a care manager, the role is paramount to keeping your loved one safe and ensuring optimal health care.
Kimberly Fore, RN is a director of client services at SeniorBridge and has been a nurse for more than 20 years in the home health and hospital settings.