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Caring For A Loved One After Joint Replacement Surgery

Monday , April 26 , 2021

Caring For A Loved One After Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement may seem like an “old person” surgery, but creaky knees know no age! In fact, I can distinctly remember my father having both knees replaced when he was only in his early 40s. And a friend of mine – just 37 years old – recently had both hips replaced.

There are a variety of reasons adults (both young and old) might need joint replacement surgery. It was a career in the military and years of physically demanding work that destroyed his knees for my dad. And several rounds of cancer-killing radiation ruined my friend’s hips.

No matter how old your loved one is when they have a joint replaced, they will need a helping hand to assist them through the various phases of surgery – both before and after. As a caregiver, you can facilitate conversations with the doctor, help make decisions, and lend a hand during the recuperation period. And because it’s a demanding role, it’s important that you take care of yourself during this time, too.

Here are some of the ways you can help make the process a little easier:

 

Preparing Your Home For Recovery 

Every joint replacement patient has different needs, and the restrictions they face after surgery will depend on several factors. Still, many people find it helpful to set up a “recovery room” on the house’s first floor. This room should include:

  • Easy access to a nearby bathroom OR a bedside urinal/commode
  • A bed that isn’t too high off the ground
  • A telephone or cellphone (with charger)
  • Bandages and other supplies necessary for wound care
  • A walker or crutches, if needed
  • Open walkways, without rugs or electrical cords in the way
  • Comfortable clothing and shoes that are safe for walking around the house
  • A variety of snacks and beverages
  • Several entertainment options (books, crosswords, television, etc.)

Recovery

During the recovery phase, your loved one may need significant assistance in their activities of daily living.

  • Medication: Depending on the type of surgery, it is not unlikely that one or more medications will be required. Ask the doctor if she can provide the prescriptions in advance, so you can have them ready and waiting at home before surgery.
  • Meals and snacks: If you will not be living in your loved one’s home full-time, it is vital that they meals they can quickly and easily make on their own. Try preparing a few options in advance that can be quickly reheated in the microwave – or provide quick meals that don’t have to be heated at all.
  • Wound care: Your loved one will likely have bandages and dressings that need to be changed daily (or more). If possible, meet with your loved one’s doctor in advance to learn proper techniques and safety procedures before outpatient care begins. 
  • Household tasks: Depending on the type of joint replacement your loved one receives (knees, hips, etc.), they may not be able to stand or bend for several weeks. This typically means that most household chores are out of the question. Plan to take on these tasks on your own or arrange for outside help. 
  • Doctor appointments: Post-surgery, your loved one will likely have several follow-up appointments within the first four to six weeks. Missing an appointment can lead to setbacks and complications, so it’s vital to take these follow-ups seriously. 
  • Activity: After surgery, the physical therapist will likely prescribe a home exercise program. This may happen in the hospital or at an outpatient PT facility. These exercises are essential, as they help your loved work independently on gaining strength and mobility. You can help by keeping track of exercises and making sure they are performed correctly.
  • Paperwork: As with any surgery, joint replacement comes with a lot of paperwork. On top of the discharge orders provided by the hospital, your loved one will likely receive reports at each follow-up visit – and an absolute flurry of bills in the mail. Help them stay on top of things by organizing everything in an accordion folder or binder with tabs for each type of correspondence.

Self-Care

Remember during this challenging time that it is also essential to take care of YOU. It’s easy for caregivers to fall into the trap of constantly providing and never receiving – and that is a quick road to burnout. Remember to:

  • Take breaks
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Make time for exercise
  • Maintain outside interests
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Get enough sleep

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is not the time to grin and bear it. Your lack of wellness won’t only affect you; it will also affect the quality of care you can provide to your loved one. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you need it!

Final Thoughts

Proper preparation can help you provide the best care possible for your loved one after their joint replacement surgery. Recovery can be difficult, but it will be a lot easier with you helping out!

Posted in: Home Care

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Driving Safety for Older Adults   

Monday , April 19 , 2021

Driving Safety for Older Adults  

Driving a car represents freedom and independence to many older adults. Yet as we age, many of us begin to experience unavoidable physical and mental changes that can affect our ability to safely drive.

It’s vital to be aware of how these changes to your health may impact your driving skills so you don’t risk hurting yourself or others. Keep reading to learn about conditions that may impact your driving and how to deal with them safely:

Trouble Seeing

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, roughly 12% of Americans aged 65 – 74 suffer from severe eye problems as compared to 5% of adults aged 18 – 44. Many experience vision problems so serious, they impact the ability to complete simple daily tasks. This problem is only expected to grow as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your eye doctor every year.
  • If you need glasses or contacts to see far away, always wear them when driving.
  • Avoid driving in the dark, during sunrise and sunset, or during bad weather.

Trouble Hearing 

As we get older, hearing can change. In fact, nearly one in three people between 65 and 74 experience hearing loss. This can impact our ability to hear horns, sirens, or even sounds coming from our own car.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Have your hearing checked at least every 3 years after age 50.
  • If you have hearing concerns, speak to your doctor.
  • Try to limit sound, such as music or podcasts, inside your car.

Slow Reaction Time and Reflexes 

As we age, loss of brain connections slows reaction time and reflexes. This can make it harder to handle more than one task at a time, more difficult to steer or use foot pedals, and tricky to respond quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Start braking early when you need to stop.
  • Avoid rush hour and heavy traffic areas when possible.
  • Stay in the right hand lane when on the highway.

Stiff Joints and Muscles 

As we get older, joints get stiff, and muscles weaken. Problems such as arthritis and spinal stenosis can make it more difficult to turn your head, turn the steering wheel, or brake quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your doctor if pain or stiffness seem to impact your driving.
  • Be physically active to keep and improve muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Consider hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals.

Memory Loss 

Memory loss is a concern for many people as they grow older. In fact, about 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-related memory impairment. Often, people with memory loss don’t even realize they are having driving problems, so it’s up to family and friends to act. If decision-making skills are impacted, the individual must stop driving. 

More Safe Driving Tips 

  • Take a defensive driving course. Organizations like AARPAmerican Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your health problems or medications might make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • Don’t drive when you are stressed or tired.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers wear their seatbelts, too.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving.
  • Avoid distractions, such as eating or chatting.

What if I Have to Stop Driving?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to get around if you can no longer drive? There are more ways to travel than you think! Many areas provide free or low-cost transportation options for senior citizens, religious and civic groups often have volunteers that will drive you, and most senior living communities offer shuttles to supermarkets, doctors, and more.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for help finding services near you: 1-800-677-1116 or

https://eldercare.acl.gov

Posted in: Aging

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The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Monday , April 12 , 2021

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

This Wednesday, April 14, is National Gardening Day. Whether you grow vegetables, flowers, houseplants, or anything in between, gardening is a fun and healthy hobby!

Studies show that spending time weeding, planting, and sowing is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health – especially for seniors. It stimulates the senses, provides physical activity, and helps us reconnect with nature.

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of gardening and how to best grow your own:

How Does Gardening Benefit Seniors?

Home gardening has been on the rise since the onset of COVID-19. Why? Because not only is it a great socially-distanced activity, but it helps promote emotional wellness. 

  1. It lowers stress. Studies have shown that gardening can lower levels of the stress-producing hormone cortisol and raise the levels of serotonin, a calming chemical that helps improve mood. Some studies have even linked gardening to a reduction in symptoms of depression. In addition, gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync.

 

  1. It boosts heart health. Did you know that in the 60–79-year-old age group, 69.1% of men and 67.9% of women have cardiovascular disease? Luckily, studies have found that regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. Additionally, gardening can help you burn 200 to 400 calories and hour, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

  1. It increases mobility. Mobility problems in seniors can stop them from taking part in activities they enjoy and can lead to social isolation and depression. Many older adults begin to limit what they do physically, believing they are saving themselves from injury – but remaining active is the key to good health. Gardening is known to engage lesser-used muscles and to help build strength and mobility.

 

  1. It increases brain health. No one knows exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease or how to prevent it, but studies show that positive live choices, such as gardening, can have an impact. In fact, the physical demands, critical thinking skills, and sensory awareness have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

 

  1. It encourages healthy eating. There are many reasons why it can be difficult for seniors to stick to a healthy diet. New food aversions. Difficulty chewing. Dietary restrictions. Boredom. The list goes on and on. But growing your own garden makes it easy to access healthy, delicious foods in season – including many you can pluck off the plant and eat on the spot, like snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or berries.

Final Thoughts

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity when the weather is nice, and the benefits are many. One of the best things about gardening for seniors is that it is adaptable for all skill and ability levels – for example, potted plants or raised beds can be used instead of a traditional garden for those who can’t bend or kneel.

Need help getting started? In response to the influx of home gardeners during COVID-19, the Rodale Institute is offering a free Victory Garden Starter Kit complete with an Organic Gardening 101 webinar!

Check it out – and don’t forget to share photos of your home garden on our social media pages!

Have fun and happy gardening!

Posted in: Health

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