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Aging in Place: Home Preparations and Modifications for Alzheimer’s Patients

 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease affects five million Americans. However, this number doesn’t reflect the many more Americans that are affected by Alzheimer’s indirectly. This includes family and friends that take on the great responsibility of caring for a loved one with the disease. Many of these caregivers have numerous considerations to keep in mind, and one of these is altering and modifying the home to provide better comfort and safety.

Let’s look at some home preparations and modifications you can make if you need to accommodate a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

 

Safety and Comfort.

The first consideration should be thinking about is how you can reduce the risk of your loved one tripping, falling, or becoming confused or disoriented.

● Remove objects that can be obstructive in high-traffic areas. Avoid having stuff on the floor or low tables and furniture that can be easy to miss.
● Lock cabinets that might contain hazardous chemicals and materials.
● Keep dark corners of the house well-lit and illuminated. This includes stairwells and basements.
● Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
● Ensure your loved ones don’t have easy exits where they can wander out.

Functionality and Design

Making your house function better for Alzheimer’s patients means helping them avoid unnecessary disorientation, fear, or depression. The following are some tips:

● Remove clutter or scattered objects that might overstimulate. For example, instead of having five pairs of shoes for your loved one to choose from, leave only one pair. This might eliminate an unnecessary episode of confusion when getting dressed.
● Rearrange furniture in a simple and straightforward way. The way the furniture is arranged can dictate the atmosphere of the room. For example, if the only chair is facing the television, you might have them constantly sitting in front of the TV.
● The Huffington Post suggests that creating a personalized space with familiar objects and smells can be a great way to keep an Alzheimer’s patient comfortable. At the same time, you should avoid having busy patterns on furniture or curtains, confusing colors, or rugs that can cause tripping.

Stimulation and Socialization

It’s important for your loved one to get plenty of socialization and interaction with others. In a typical household, people are working or living their own lives as they juggle the responsibility of caregiving. Living at home without much visitation can often lead to patients becoming isolated and withdrawn. Try to arrange frequent visits by friends and family members. Consider taking loved ones with you if you have to run errands, going for short walks, or involving them in everyday activities.

How to Modify or Renovate Your Home

In order to maintain safety or functionality, it’s often important to do modifications to your home. One of the most common home alterations is improving or renovating bathrooms and kitchens. This is because these are two areas of the house that can be most hazardous and require a little more navigation.

For Bathrooms

Renovations for bathrooms cost an average of about $8,820 depending on the work to be done. Some common and important improvements for Alzheimer’s-friendly bathrooms include installing grab bars and handrails, swapping out a bathtub for a shower, and adding lighting and non-slip flooring.

For Kitchens

You might consider a kitchen modification as well. It will vary in complexity depending on your current setup. When restructuring your kitchen for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, consider faucets, accessibility of appliances, kitchen counter height, mobility, and difficulty of navigation.

Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s is a great responsibility. Ensuring their safety and comfort at home will not only make their lives better, but it will make yours easier and remove unnecessary hazards and stress. Having confidence that your loved one is comfortable and at ease will take a big weight off your shoulders. Your loved one will be happy to be living at home. The Boston Globe reported that Alzheimer’s patients that remain at home live longer and better lives.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By |2018-11-10T09:29:12+00:00November 12th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Aging in Place: Home Preparations and Modifications for Alzheimer’s Patients

Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Happy woman with elderly mother

By Dr. Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.

Caregiving has often been compared to a roller coaster ride, with its inevitable ups and downs. This is especially true as your loved one deteriorates and faces the end of life. If you’re one of the 65 million family caregivers who has been feeling overwhelmed for too long, “burnout” may have set in.

Take that first step. Identify and claim the full range of your emotions—the anger, indifference, anxiety. In a recent study, 50% of family caregivers confessed to feeling depressed and some 69% admitted that frustration drove them to place their loved one in care. You may be experiencing the following, as well:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion over role reversal
  • Loss of interest
  • Withdrawal or isolation from friends and other support persons
  • Irritability
  • Illness
  • Poor sleep
  • Desire to harm self or others

These unwanted reactions can also be compounded by the guilt and shame about feeling this way. Here are a few suggestions that might make a big difference.

  1. Make a point to engage in outside activities for maintaining a sense of health and well-being. Sure, it could feel like “one more thing” to do. But if you choose your outside activities wisely—staying away from demanding people or events—you could feel surprisingly refreshed.
  2. Seek and accept outside help. Once you admit to yourself and others that you can’t do it alone, the burden suddenly lifts. Good starting points are: local organizations, social service agencies and faith communities. Don’t overlook family, friends and neighbors who may be able to lend a hand.
  3. Allow your loved one plenty of opportunities to practice functional skills—as hard as it may be. Feeling as independent as possible satisfies a basic human need, even for a seriously ill person.
  4. Consult with a geriatric specialist, pastor or counselor about the right course of action if your loved one has become overly dependent or has exhausted your resources—physical, emotional or financial.
  5. Admit that you are juggling multiple roles, and engaging in an ever-so-delicate dance of support. The dance can go on as long as you allow the role of who leads and who follows to shift as circumstances change.
  6. Pay attention to your own needs. You can achieve balance when you include time to sleep, exercise, eat and attend to your own medical needs. Time spent with family, friends or just being alone helps you bounce back, too.
  7. Practice saying—maybe even forcefully—“no” when appropriate, and “yes” when someone offers to help.
  8. Seek out quality respite care.
  9. Enjoy an occasional movie or lunch with a supportive friend.
  10. Don’t expect too much from yourself.

Continue to recognize, acknowledge and accept your difficult emotions, so you can then work on setting boundaries, letting go of control and developing coping skills. For example, meditation and yoga can be incredibly relaxing.

Your commitment to your loved one can be a renewable resource if you take the right steps and are willing to change strategies when the “same ol’, same ol’” isn’t working anymore.

You can visit Dr. Nanette’s ABCs of Caregiving blog at http://www.abcsofcaregiving.com/

 

 

 

By |2018-11-10T09:25:20+00:00November 10th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Guest Blog: 5 Aged Care Aids that Should Be Accessible to Health Workers

When you are involved in the healthcare sector in Australia, and dealing with aged caregiving, you need to know what you may need to take care of the elderly under your supervision. Aged care requires some equipment and aids to be accessible to healthcare workers in order for them to perform their duties responsibly.

After all, health care workers dealing with aged caregiving is more demanding than many other jobs. You have to be on call for tending to the needs of the elderly in your care. If the equipment you have is insufficient, there might be a drop in the level of service provided.

That reflects badly, not only on you but on the health care facility as a whole. If you are missing any of these 5 aged care aids at your facility, you need to get in touch with your supervisors to have access to them when you need them most.

1. Wheelchairs
This is an absolute essential and can be used with many of the other aids mentioned here. There are many elderly that face difficulty when walking and a wheelchair on hand ensures that they don’t have to wait and suffer in discomfort to get to where they want.
It’s really important to have wheelchairs available on the spot if there is an injury in the elderly as the statistics about hip injuries and lack of immediate care are not that bright.

2. Gel Cushions
There are times when the elderly patient complains of pain in their hip joints and that sends stress signals, as your mind starts to go haywire thinking of the implications. You don’t need to be worried. With gel cushions, you’ll be able to have support for the elderly when they sit down.
The gel cushions are especially formulated for multiple uses, and are recommended by physiotherapists for pressure problems that may lead to stress fractures down the road.

3. Arthritis Handles
If there are elderly in your aged care facility that you see, struggling to open doors due to arthritis, an arthritis handle can help them be more mobile with less effort. It can safely attach to doors and drawers to help open them easily.
There’s no need to twist any knobs, grip firmly or any of the hard stuff. The elderly can get a hold of the things most important for them with an arthritis handle installed on doors and cupboards.

4. Hip Protection Pants
Safety+Mobility Aged Care Suppliers also have unisex protection pants with padded pressure guards, especially near the hip, for the elderly. It can be worn over undergarments as well, if they feel uncomfortable wearing it without underpants.
It’s not embarrassing as it is barely visible to anyone and protects the most precious areas of the elderly’s lower torso when they sit and walk. It’s a necessary aged care aid for those prone to hip problems.

5. Back Support
Lastly, back support is also very important because as we age, our bones also start to weaken without the proper diet and exercise. It means that you need to have our most important body areas safeguarded as we approach our golden years. A cushion provides the back and head support to help the elderly with posture problems.

By |2018-11-07T19:33:05+00:00November 8th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 5 Aged Care Aids that Should Be Accessible to Health Workers

Guest Blog: The Benefits of Meditative Yoga for Seniors

If you are over age 65, you may be experiencing some of the more trying aspects of aging. Many seniors report having decreased levels of physical mobility while having higher levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and substance addiction. If this sounds like you (or someone you care about), meditative yoga may be able to help. Keep reading to learn how to get started with meditative yoga to help address some common age-related challenges.

Setting Up Your Space

The first thing to do as you prepare to start a meditative yoga practice is to decide where you’ll practice each day. Some people, especially beginners, prefer to start at a licensed yoga studio, where they can learn from a trained professional. Others, such as those who are shy or are more intermediate yoga practitioners, prefer to practice in the comfort of their own home. Whatever the case may be, a meditative yoga room is highly recommended. You might choose a spare bedroom or even a corner of a room. The important thing is to make sure that the space is calming and soothing to you, and that you won’t be distracted or interrupted during your practice.

Next, you’re ready to start practicing – and experiencing the following benefits of meditative yoga:

Physical Mobility

What was once seen as a young person’s exercise, yoga is increasingly being practiced by people across all age groups. In fact, it is estimated that 17 percent of yoga practitioners are in their 50s, while 21 percent are over the age of 60.

So, why should you choose yoga? As we age, our bodies can become more prone to stiffness, muscle ache, joint pain, and injury. By gently stretching the muscles, yoga can reduce overall musculoskeletal pain while simultaneously increasing strength. Stretching is also great for stress relief, and it’s recommended you add it to your daily routine. For instance, stretching can release tension in the body, ease arthritis pain, and loosen age-related stiffness. As your physical ailments melt away, you’ll feel lighter and less weighed down by stress.

Yoga is often commonly used as a preventative exercise to combat muscle injury by keeping muscles adaptable to change. Evidence suggests that meditative yoga can reduce the risk of severe falls by improving balance. Enhanced strength, flexibility, and balance can help seniors live a more independent life. After adding yoga into your life, you may find that stiffness and pain is reduced and everyday activities such as walking, cooking, and chores become easier.

Mental Health

It is estimated that as many as one in five seniors experience a mental health concern as they age. Anxiety, depression, and stress are among the most common mental health concerns among those age 65 and up. Mental health issues are often difficult to treat because they stem from a number of interconnecting genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. That being said, there is evidence to suggest that mental health can be improved through increased exercise, reduced muscle tension, and enhanced mindfulness.

Yoga can help draw a connection between the physical and spiritual self and can increase feelings of relaxation, groundedness, and connectivity. Clinical psychotherapist Erin Wiley recommends yoga to her clients because it builds positive skills in coping, stress management, and relaxation. For seniors suffering from anxiety, stress, or depression, yoga can strengthen inner reflection and mindfulness, which can improve overall mental health.

Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Addiction among seniors is often the result of loss, depression, life changes, and/or declining health. Alternatively, an individual may have struggled with addiction throughout his or her life with the adverse physical and mental effects becoming more apparent with age. To help people overcome addiction, treatment facilities are increasingly taking a holistic approach to addiction treatment. These facilities focus on improving the overall well-being of the individual in addition to addressing the addiction itself.

To help people connect their physical and spiritual self, this new holistic method often incorporates yoga. Increasing the connection between mind and body has been proven to increase self-confidence, facilitate emotional healing, and help people manage stress. Meditative yoga can also improve a person’s ability to make positive choices through increased personal reflection. The feeling of personal wholeness associated with yoga can aid immensely in addiction treatment and recovery.

With yoga swiftly gaining popularity, it is clear that millions of people are seeing the incredible benefits yoga has to offer. If you want to tackle some of the most common age-related physical and mental challenges, start connecting your mind, body, and spirit through meditative yoga. Enhanced physical and mental health can aid immensely in helping you live a meaningful, independent life regardless of age. If you are interested in starting a yoga regimen, begin by talking to your doctor.

By |2018-11-02T17:52:31+00:00November 7th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: The Benefits of Meditative Yoga for Seniors