Category: Support System

Dementia Awareness

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

In America, one in ten people over the age of sixty five has Alzheimer’s dementia.  Two thirds of these people are women. In 2000, 4 million people in America were diagnosed with dementia.  By 2012, nearly 4.5 million people were diagnosed with this disease. With a rapid increase of people diagnosed with dementia it is important to notice the early signs and receive treatment.

Early signs of dementia include: Increased confusion, memory problems, reduced concentration, personality or behavior changes, apathy, and loss of ability to do everyday tasks. These symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually. Unfortunately, these signs can often be mistaken or overlooked. If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs it is important to seek a doctor and get a medical diagnoses.

If you are caring for a patient of dementia it is important to keep a positive mindset, remember body language and attitude communicate your feelings more than words do! Dementia can be tough for both the patient and the caregiver, so it is important to be clear when relying messages to the patient and to also ask clear and answerable questions.  Conducting activities are easier when performed in steps, this helps instruct the patient with dementia and to avoid frustration for the caregiver.

This being said, frustrations will still occur.  When the going gets tough for the dementia
patient try changing the subject or even the environment.  It is important to remember to connect with the person on a feelings level. This means when making suggestions state what feeling you are sensing from them.  This could be done by saying, “I know you are feeling sad today, maybe a walk would make you feel better?” Doing this will help make a connection and improve communication.  Being diagnosed or having someone you care for be diagnosed with dementia is not easy, catching warning signs early could help with treatment and the caregiving process.

Preventing Falls

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Falls

Aging into later life can bring many concerns, one of the biggest concerns with aging is falling.  The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 seniors will fall at least once a year. One of the biggest predictors of having a fall is already having a previous fall.  This can be worrisome not only for the person involved, but also the families. To prevent something as serious as a fall from happening the first time, it is important to review 5 steps that have been proven to help prevent falls.

One of the first steps in preventing a fall is reviewing medications, certain medications have been linked to increasing falls in seniors.  Such medications include: sedatives and tranquilizers, antipsychotics, nighttime drugs, over-the-counter medication, medications that cause drowsiness.  If these medications are taken, it is important to review them with a doctor to assess the amount of risk of falling involved.

Checking blood pressure while sitting and standing is the second important step in fall prevention.  A substantial drop in blood pressure when a person stands up or changes position is known as postural.  Drops in blood pressure is common for older adults, especially for those who are taking medicine to lower blood pressure.  Blood pressure treatment has in fact been linked to some of the most serious falls in older adults.

The third step in preventing a fall involves a balance evaluation.  If you or someone who know has noticed difficulty with walking or standing should seek an evaluation by a doctor.  These evaluations are covered by Medicare and can be very useful in preventing a fall from occuring. Strength and balance exercises may be recommended to insure this.  Along with these exercises, taking a daily walk can be very helpful in improving balance.

A home safety assessment may be one of the most important parts to preventing a fall.  A set up of a home and placement of furniture and other household items can easily set a person up for a bad fall.  Having a home healthcare agency to have an Occupational Therapist come and evaluate the home for possible falls is an easy way to prevent something serious from happening.  

The final step in fall prevent consists of getting enough Vitamin D.  Taking 1,000 IU per day will help insure that a person is getting the recommended amount of Vitamin D.  A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to fragile bones and may cause a fall.

Senior Driving: Warning Signs

The winter months are a season that all drivers give thought to cautious driving when weather changes and also seems to be a time when older drivers question if they should even go out on the roads. It is hard for families to truly understand when their loved one is at risk for an accident, when to reach out for expert help or if driving should even be an option.

It is a good idea to keep in mind the many warning signs that driving is a concern. If one warning sign is present that person may benefit from further discussion on driving with their physician, participation in a driving program or worse case scenario stop driving. AAA has many resources to support this decision and senior drivers (https://seniordriving.aaa.com/). Below is a list of warning signs to keep in mind when making a decision on next steps of a loved one’s driving ability.

  • The senior driver has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years. Tickets can predict greatest risk for collision.
  • The senior driver has been involved in two or more collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years. Rear-end crashes, parking lot fender-benders and side collisions while turning across traffic rank as the most common mishaps for drivers with diminishing skills, depth perception or reaction time.
  • Does the senior driver confuse the gas and brake pedals or have difficulty working them? Drivers who lift their legs to move from the accelerator to the brake, rather than keeping a heel on the floor and pressing with the toes, may be signaling waning leg strength.
  • Does the senior driver seem to ignore or miss stop signs and other traffic signals? Perhaps the driver is inattentive or cannot spot the signs in a crowded, constantly moving visual field.
  • Does the senior driver weave between or straddle lanes? Signaling incorrectly or not at all when changing lanes can be particularly dangerous, especially if the driver fails to check mirrors or blind spots.
  • Do other senior drivers honk or pass frequently, even when the traffic stream is moving relatively slowly? This may indicate difficulty keeping pace with fast-changing conditions.
  • Does the senior driver get lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places? This could indicate problems with working memory or early cognitive decline.
  • Does the driver have a history of falls? If yes, they are 40% more likely to be involved in a crash.
  • Has there been a new diagnosis? Note ‘red flag’ diagnosis: sleep apnea, dementia, MS, Parkinson’s, diabetes.

Take this list as a guide in your next conversation or car ride with a loved one. Please contact our office with specific questions on Covell Care’s driving rehabilitation program.

Please join Covell Care for an intimate presentation on driving rehabilitation and bossy bladder March 7th 11:30-1:15 (includes lunch!), next week at The Hillcrest of Loveland, 535 Douglas Ave, Loveland, CO 80537. Contact the Hillcrest with questions: (970) 541-4173. https://www.mbkseniorliving.com/senior-living/co/loveland/hillcrest-of-loveland/

Top 5 Ways How Seniors Can Lead Happier Lives

Thank you to Emma Jones, guest blogger who is part of the community team at Greenwood Homecare, providing a range of high quality care services. Emma is passionate about improving the quality of care that older adults receive in the UK and around the world. https://greenwoodhomecare.co.uk/

The word “seniors’’ is synonymous with everything that is negative. From retirement to elderly care and pension funds; everything about seniors sounds like a liability. Even worse, people in this age group are deemed as a sad lot and even those that try to put up a brave face are often begrudged their happiness. This is because the society considers them as individuals living on borrowed time; hence not allowed to indulge in the joys and pleasures of this time. The seniors themselves do not make the situation better either; they will often look back and only see the chances they missed in life.

Instead of counting their blessings, as it were, they will find it convenient to dwell on their past mistakes and feel sorry for their apparent ineptitude. All these culminate in one thing; a stressful life in old age. However, there are ways seniors can still salvage what’s left of their time on earth and stay happy, positive and motivated. The following are the top 5 ways for seniors to lead happier lives.

Work Less; Play More
The first strategy that seniors can employ to remain happy is to focus more on having fun as opposed to making money. After having lived decades, you have probably saved enough to help you get by; whether in terms of long-term investments or pension fund. This is not the time to focus on getting rich but rather keeping fit.

You can do with a little bookkeeping in your grocery store so as to stay in touch with the cash flow in your business but when the time comes for physical exercise, stop everything else and focus all your attention on it. Indulge in jogging, running, swimming and all the light forms of exercise that will keep you in shape as opposed to those that build your muscles.

Explore The World
Traveling is a mysterious form of adventure and it opens up our minds to greater realms. As a senior, you will find lots of happiness in exploring those enchanting tourist destinations you only read about in travel magazines. You will find it easy to interact with new people as you experience nature in the raw.

Traveling will set your mind at ease since you learn to embrace the aging process with grace as you surrender yourself to the inevitable. If you are more of the social guy, you will find a trip down to the Bahamas a great way to make new friends but if you are into the grander of Mother Nature, you won’t go wrong with a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef or spare sometime to visit the Scandinavian regions and experience the mystic Aurora.

Make Your Physician Your Greatest Friend
As a senior, one of the greatest challenges to your happiness is ill health. And since at this age your immunity will have taken as much beating as it can, you are likely to be bogged down by little conditions such as the common cold, flu or even headaches. It is therefore important to ensure you have your physician’s contacts close by so you can contact them anytime you experience such symptoms.

Having routine medical check-ups is one way to keep these infections at bay and lead a healthier lifestyle. During these checkups, your physician will also take the opportunity to recommend to you some nutritional and exercise tips based on your medical profile.

Let It Off Your Chest
Most seniors have lots of issues; both personal and social. And due to their age, most of them find it necessary to hide their feeling as they fear being judged and betrayed even further. It is important as a senior to understand and appreciate the good, old adage that a trouble shared is a trouble halved.

While you may not trust those around you, there is always that one friend that you can look up to. Remember that sharing your worries and agonies will not necessarily help you find a solution to them but it will take the burden off your shoulders and you will begin to feel more positive about life. Hold no grudge against anyone, forgive all and strive to be at peace with everyone.

Stay Away From Trouble
Seniors are revered members of the society and as such, they will usually find themselves arbitrating matters that often result in earning them more enemies. Unless it is a pressing need such as arbitrating disputes involving your will, try to stay away as far as possible from such feuds.

If at all possible, have a lawyer, another trusted member of the family or your close friend to help in situations in whose involvement may polarize your family or pit you against your near and dear ones.

Many may claim that happiness is a state of mind but for someone who has lived on earth for over 6 decades; it is more than just a matter of attitude. Adjusting your lifestyle to focus on things that calm your spirit is the only ideal way of staying happy as a senior.

Fort Collins Nurse/Author Releases New Book on Cancer Survivorship Care for Everyone

Working as an oncology nurse in the hospital, Alene Nitzky soon realized her skills and knowledge, as well as her co-workers’, were profoundly underutilized to meet the needs of patients undergoing cancer treatment. From the initial shock of a diagnosis, patients progressed to paralyzing fear around their mortality. Not knowing what to do, when, in what order, or who to rely on for help, patients missed key information that would have helped them go through the cancer patient experience with less distress and anxiety.

Afterward, patients were left to their own devices to recover, with little support or guidance, and few skills to help them restore their quality of life. Outside of the healthcare system, instead of taking a distant, clinical, big data approach, Nitzky describes meeting people where they were, in their homes, communities, and support groups, where she could listen to their everyday concerns- the ones they never had time to discuss in short medical appointments. Given time and active listening, they articulated their needs for practical skills in understanding health information, self-advocacy, and self-care that accommodates their lifestyles, and matches their values and preferences around quality of life.

In three, easy to understand, skill-based education programs aimed at closing gaps in information and understanding about cancer and survivors’ needs, the author calls for active prevention and preparation to reduce the trauma of a cancer diagnosis through C.A.R.E.: creativity, authenticity, resourcefulness, and empathy. Navigating the C will walk you through the steps you need to take to get your needs met in a system that so often fails cancer patients in finding the way back to themselves, and the possibility of emerging better than ever.

Everyone can expect to become empowered by reading this book by a passionate advocate for patients and healthcare workers: Patients, caregivers, and survivors will gain self-advocacy and self-care skills to have more control over their follow-up care experiences, and become more active and confident participants in their own healthcare. Ordinary citizens and those who have never had cancer will learn the simple steps they can take to reduce the trauma around an initial cancer diagnosis for themselves, or support their loved ones. Healthcare professionals will examine their own values around providing cancer treatment and survivorship care.

Finally, those on the fringes of clinical care- the decision-makers and administrators- will gain insight into what really happens to the end-users of cancer services and how their lives are impacted by their experiences in healthcare. Nitzky appeals for the importance of reducing the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, the intrinsic value of community programs, and smaller, individual approaches to cancer survivorship care, where big healthcare and big business miss the mark.

Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care. By Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., RN, OCN. Blue Bayou Press, 2018. 216 pages. $19.95 paperback, $9.99 Kindle. Available on Amazon.

Navigating the C is available on Amazon:   https://a.co/ciTYFWi

Local Signing event at Elevation 5003 on January 28:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-the-c-book-signing-meet-the-author-tickets-42151424044

February 12 at Raintree Athletic Club, and February 22 at Hope Lives! For more details, visit https://cancerharbors.com/events