ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Archive for February, 2021

Aging in Place Safely After COVID-19

Monday , February 22 , 2021

Aging in Place Safely After COVID-19

Now that we’ve made it through almost a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are pondering the best way to care for their aging parents. Like many adult children, you may find that your own older parents are suffering from diminished reflexes and other health problems that leave them prone to accidents.

In the past, that may have meant taking up residence in a nursing home – but news of the rapid spread of illness in such facilities has left many people wary. In fact, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care, overall nursing home occupancy dropped from 83.4 to 74.8 percent in 2020.

The alternative? Aging in place.

Most seniors report that, given the choice, they’d like to grow old in their own home, surrounded by their treasured possessions and cherished memories. But now, more than ever, it’s important that these older adults have a support network in place.

Keep reading for our best tips on safety and support modifications that can help give you and your loved one peace of mind, during COVID-19 and beyond.

Physical changes to the home
About one in four adults aged 65+ falls each year: Many seniors have sensory impairments, like poor hearing and vision, or a physical limitation that contributes to this risk. To help create a safe environment, consider:

  • A stairlift or electronic chair lift
  • Handheld shower hoses
  • Shower benches
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Wider doors for wheelchair access
  • Ramps to replace (or in addition to) stairs leading into the home
  • Better lighting (a typical 85-year old needs three times more lightthan a teen)
  • Placing commonly used items where they can be reached without stopping or reaching
  • Grab bars wherever necessary (they’re not just for the bathroom!)

Nutritional support
Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet is important in older adults, yet many of them have a hard time preparing their own meals or even eating on their own. Here’s how to help them get the nutrition they need:

  • Arrange for more meals to be provided by family members or friends
  • Stock the fridge with protein-rich foods and meal-replacement shakes
  • Sign up for a meal delivery service
  • Contact Meals on Wheels or a similar programif you are unable to help on your own
  • Show your loved one how to use an online grocery shopping app
  • Ask their doctor about switching medications which may suppress appetite

Medication monitoring
According to a recent national survey, one in four Americans over the age of 65 take between 10 and 19 pills a day. That’s a lot to keep track of! How can you help?

  • Sign up for prescription delivery
  • Schedule reminder phone calls
  • Purchase an automatic dispenser with an alarm
  • Routinely clean out the medicine cabinet and get rid of expired or discontinued medications
  • Use separate medicine cabinets if more than one person is living in the home
  • Make sure a step stool isn’t needed to reach those cabinets
  • Save all of the written information that comes with the medications in one place

Transportation assistance
Without a reliable way to get to doctor appointments or go grocery shopping, seniors can’t realistically stay in their homes as they age. It’s essential that affordable transportation be available to help them maintain their independence. Options include:

  • Local senior centers
  • County public transportation
  • State Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Family and friends
  • Volunteers from a church or synagogue
  • Ride-sharing services (there are several options just for seniors)
  • And for those in our local area, there are these two fantastic choices:

– Middlesex County Area Transit (MCAT)

– Somerset County para-transit services and community transportation

Help with household chores
Due to pain, illness, injury, or other health issues, many older adults can no longer complete certain chores on their own. These tend to be the most difficult:

  • Carrying hampers or laundry baskets
  • Making the bed
  • Taking the trash or recycling to the curb
  • Cleaning the floors
  • Scouring the bathroom
  • Organizing/dusting high shelves

Services that come to the home
Today, many healthcare and personal care services can be provided in-home to help extend a senior’s independence, including:

  • Doctors who make house calls (even simple x-rays can be completed in the home!)
  • Traveling podiatrists and dentists
  • Hairdressers and nail technicians
  • Mobile pet grooming and veterinary services

COVID-19 safety
These days, more than ever, safety is of the utmost importance. While helping your older loved ones set up systems to keep them safely at home, it’s vital to keep their health and wellbeing top of mind.

If outside vendors or care providers will be entering the home, make sure everyone wears a mask the entire time and uses hand sanitizer as necessary. Whenever possible, set up no-contact delivery for goods such as groceries or takeout – most businesses are happy to leave deliveries on the porch and ring the bell. And always set up tele visits or video calls for appointments when it’s offered as an option!

Final thoughts
Planning ahead is the key to helping older adults live their lives to the fullest. A strong support system and adequate safety measures can keep your loved one independent for a longer time.

For many seniors, in-home care is the right answer. If you or a loved one are considering in-home care services, we can provide non-medical support and assistance to adults with disabilities or those recovering from an illness or surgical procedure. In addition, home care services often complement other types of care someone may already be receiving in their home, such as hospice or skilled home health care.

Posted in: Aging

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Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Heart Health

Tuesday , February 16 , 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Heart Health

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and accounts for 1 in 5 fatalities.

Still, women often see other illnesses, such as breast cancer, as more of a risk. While they are very diligent in setting up appointments for mammograms and pap smears, they neglect routine heart screenings.

This February, for American Heart Month, we’d like to highlight the unique risks women face regarding heart health. Keep reading to learn more.

Women and heart disease

Some risk factors for heart disease – diabetes, hypertension, and smoking, to name a few – are universal. Whether you’re a man or a woman, they can apply. Women have several unique risk factors of their own, though.

For example, women can have a greater possibility of developing heart disease while pregnant or after having been pregnant – especially if they experience hypertension or gestational diabetes. The premature onset of menopause or starting your period early are also considered risk factors, and stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s.

As a woman, it’s important to let your doctor know about your family’s cardiac history AND any other related factors like reproductive issues or mental health concerns.

Six things women should know about heart health

The American Heart Association says that 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease at some point in their lives. Women aged 40 – 60 are at the highest risk, as it’s a volatile time often marked by the start of menopause, changes in body composition, and an increase in cholesterol levels.

Still, 80% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

These are the tips offered by the AHA:

  • Get annual checkups. It’s essential to see your doctor for an annual physical to assess heart-health risk and take necessary action. Prepare for the appointment by knowing your numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, and write down your family history.
  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Women’s heart symptoms don’t always fall into the well-known spectrum of “chest pressure, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath.” Often, women have vaguer symptoms like back pain, fullness in the stomach, and nausea. It’s important to be aware of ALL the signs of an impending heart attack.
  • Tell your doctor if you had pregnancy complications. Complications like diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy and early delivery are linked to cardiovascular disease later in life.
  • Get enough sleep. Less than six or seven hours of sleep a night is connected to heart disease, high blood pressure, and increased weight gain.
  • Keep stress in check. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overeating, and other factors that influence heart health.
  • Find a health partner. Find a friend or family member that you can partner with to get physically and mentally healthy. Try walking together, taking yoga classes, or just having a weekly conversation to vent and de-stress.

Posted in: Health

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Share the Love This February

Wednesday , February 10 , 2021

Share the Love This February

‘Tis the season of love! Even if you “don’t believe in Valentine’s Day,” this is a great time of year to reflect on family, friendship, and (yes) romance. 

We know that 2021 might look a little different from years past. We can’t gather with friends in person or share a romantic date night at our favorite restaurant. Special events only happen online and hugs are virtual.

But despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to get in the spirit. 

Keep reading for some fun ways to help the seniors in your life feel the love: 

Create a Festive Environment 

If you care for an older loved one, help them get in the holiday spirit with some fun and easy decorations (bonus if you can make them together!). When it comes to Valentine’s Day, decorating couldn’t be easier: With just some pink and red construction paper, a pair of scissors, and a little glue, you can quickly make cut-out hearts or a simple chain garland. 

Plan a Celebration

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most people are still staying at home and avoiding crowded places. And while that is the smart thing to do, it had led to an epidemic of loneliness for older adults. 

Help your older loved one get some much-needed social interaction with a virtual visit or outdoor gathering (weather-permitting). Remember: video chats allow people from all over the world to get together in one place at one time, something that may otherwise be impossible. While they don’t replace face-to-face gatherings, they do offer some perks!

Share a Kind Gesture

Even under regular circumstances, many older adults have a difficult time with day-to-day activities, such as cooking a homemade meal. To ease their burden, set up a “meal train” with family and friends, where one person would drop off dinner each day during a set timeframe. 

Other options: 

  • Arrange for snow removal from porches and sidewalks during the colder months
  • Sign up for a laundry service that will pick up their soiled items and return them fresh and folded
  • Deliver a box of boredom-busting treats, such as large-print word finds or a few new movies 
  • Consider dropping off a stuffed animal – these can be great gifts for seniors, especially those with dementia
  • Mail a hand-written note to let them know they’re on your mind – even the smallest gestures make a difference!

Encourage Heart Healthy Exercise

Since Valentine’s Day is all about our hearts, this is a great time of year to remind your older loved ones to take care of their heart health! Heart-healthy activity doesn’t have to mean a three-mile run or an hour of aerobics. There are countless ways seniors can take care of their tickers – and many of them are fun. 

These are some of our favorites (Tip: You can find free video tutorials for all of these on YouTube!): 

  • Tai-chi
  • Chair yoga
  • Dance classes 
  • Modified weight training exercises
  • Walking 
  • Playing with a dog

And don’t forget the sweets! After all, what’s Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate? Luckily, there are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy your favorite desserts, including low-sugar options. 

Remember: These tips aren’t just for February. Anytime you think your older loved one might need a little love or affection, you can turn to this list for some quick and easy ideas! 

Posted in: Aging

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