ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged Home Care

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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Understanding the Three Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression

Monday , March 22 , 2021

Understanding the Three Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression

Older adults are at high risk for depression and cognitive disorders such as dementia and delirium. Clarifying the diagnosis is the first step to effective treatment – but it’s not always easy. 

Delirium and depression can cause cognitive changes that may be mistaken for dementia, such as poor memory. And people who have dementia often develop signs of depression, like poor appetite and low self-esteem. 

There is also the genuine possibility that an older adult may have a combination of all three issues concurrently. 

So, how can you tell the difference between dementia, delirium, and depression in older people, to ensure they receive the proper care? Keep reading to learn more about the signs and symptoms of each condition. And make sure to sign up for our “Understanding the 3 Ds” webinar at the bottom! 

Delirium

Delirium is a neuropsychiatric syndrome that causes sudden changes to a person’s thinking and attention, causing them to become confused. Episodes of delirium are common among older adults, especially those who are ill, in the hospital, or recovering from surgery. The condition develops acutely and is temporary and reversible. 

The most common symptom is inattention, though a person experiencing delirium may also suffer from difficulty with orientation, memory, or language and thought. Hallucinations or illusions may also be present. 

Depression

Depression is a common mood disorder. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, over more than 264 million people suffer from the illness, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. 

The diagnosis of depression depends on the presence of two main symptoms: persistent and pervasive low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. Other signs include: 

  • Increased fatigue and sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability (primarily in men)
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Uncontrolled emotions

Symptoms are of clinical significance when they interfere with everyday activities and last for at least two weeks. 

Along with apathy, depression is one of the most common symptoms in Alzheimer’s Disease – especially those with Lewy bodies. 

Dementia

Dementia is not a single disease but an umbrella term covering a wide range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.”

Signs of dementia can vary greatly, but some common examples include: 

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Increased confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Depression or apathy

Complications in Diagnosis

Symptoms of delirium, depression, and dementia can be pretty similar. For instance, delirium and depression may present with apathy and withdrawal, while delirium and dementia are characterized by confusion and disorientation. 

To further complicate matters, delirium and depression often occur in a person with dementia, so it is common to have all three issues at once. 

Differentiating delirium from depression and dementia requires knowing the characteristic features of each condition and knowing the patient’s history (either personally or from a family member or friend). 

The Victoria State Government has a helpful chart with a side-by-side analysis of all three conditions and their key features. 

Attend a FREE ComForCare Workshop

ComForCare is offering a free virtual workshop on Wednesday, March 31st, from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm. 

The workshop entitled “Understanding the 3 Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression” will count as one continuing education credit for social workers and case managers and 1.5 contact hours for RNs/LPNs.

By the end of the program, participants will be able to: 

  • Distinguish between dementia, delirium, and depression and the causes and prevalence of each
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms that overlap across all three conditions, as well as the differences that set them apart
  • Identify common scenarios in which combinations of conditions may occur
  • Explain why people need a thorough evaluation of any changes in mental status, including those already diagnosed with dementia
  • Take the appropriate actions to connect families and individuals to evaluations and resources if dementia, delirium, or depression are suspected

Go to bit.ly/delirium2021 to sign up today! 

Posted in: Aging

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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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