Archive for the ‘Senior Care’ Category

How to Spot a Stroke

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Submitted by: Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison

It cannot be overstated enough – every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. There is, however, an easy way to learn and remember the early warning signs of a stroke. Use the acronym “BEFAST.” If one or more of the symptoms is present – seek immediate medical attention. The sooner treatment is started the greater the chance of minimizing permanent neurological damage.

Balance     Loss of balance, dizziness or headache.
Eyes           Blurred vision, loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Face           One side of the face is drooping. Try to smile – if the face looks “lopsided.”
Arms         Arm or leg weakness or numbness. Feeling “uncoordinated.”
Speech      Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to you.
Time         Time to call 911 immediately for an ambulance. Never drive yourself to the
                  hospital.

Adopting a Dog or Cat Later in Life

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Submitted by:     Christine Stone, RN   Clinical Liaison LifeQuest (and cat lover) 

I LOVE my cat. I can’t imagine living without a cat (pet) – – their companionship and unconditional love is irreplaceable.

It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely or depressed when they retire. Their children have moved away or they’ve lost a spouse or close friends.   The American Humane Society states studies show pets help seniors overcome loneliness and depression by providing affection, company and entertainment.   Pets also provide much-needed mental and stimulation, and pets can also help their owners to remain physically active.

Seniors who adopt pets may also feel a sense of purpose (the “need to be needed”) when helping animals who might not have anywhere to live. This is particularly true with older companion animals which may not appeal to younger families with children. Mature pets are a great fit for seniors.   Adult pets may already be housetrained or litter box trained.

A dog or a cat? Which to choose?

Nothing against dogs, but a cat may be a better fit to a senior’s lifestyle. Cats are usually less active and don’t need to be walked or played with as much as dogs.   Cats are often content to spend hours sleeping on their owner’s lap.   I joke that my cat “sleeps 23 hours per day.” This is probably an exaggeration – but not by much!   Small dogs that can be active in the house might be a good choice – especially for seniors with mobility issues. Keep in mind that a larger dog would need to be walked and exercised several time a day. Small dogs and cats are easily transported to and from the veterinarian,

Other considerations:

Seniors who frequently travel or have medical care issues that require them to be away from home for extended periods of time should carefully weigh the benefits of adopting a pet.   It’s a good idea to have a pet care “back up plan.” Make sure a child, friend or neighbor knows about the pet and has a key to the house or apartment.

Also make sure there’s adequate money to care for the pet – food (and cat litter), medicines and vaccinations, veterinary bills.

Pets and companion animals bring joy to their owners – no matter what age. Careful choice of your pet will certainly bring years of happiness to you and your chosen “best friend.”

Driving at Night

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Driving at Night – Some Solutions and Suggestions
Christine Stone, RN

Clinical Liaison, LifeQuest
Does it seem like driving at night is getting harder and harder?   The problem may NOT just be with your eyes.
Yes, older eyes need more illumination to see. It can take up to 10 minutes longer than younger eyes to recover from the so-called “bleaching effect” caused by the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
Rather than limiting your nighttime driving, some solutions and suggestions include:

  • Asking your optometrist about night driving glasses. These will help reduce glare and increase contrast.
  • When cars approach, get to the far right and look at the lines in the road, rather than at the oncoming headlights.
  • Have your mechanic check the headlights on your car. Most standard car headlights fail to adequately illuminate to road ahead of you.   The plastic cover on the headlights could be foggy or scratched. This could interfere with the headlight clarity.
  • Don’t hesitate to use your high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic.  

Carbon Monoxide – The Invisible Killer

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Christine Stone, RN May 3, 2017
Clinical Liaison for Lifequest Nursing Home

Carbon Monoxide – also known as CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without specialized equipment. For that reason, it’s been called “The Invisible Killer.”   About 400 people die each year from CO2 poisoning. Another 200,000 people are sickened and require hospital treatment.

CO2 can be produced by fuel-powered devices in the home – like stoves, furnaces, water heaters, dryers, broilers, and lanterns, wood-burning stoves, charcoal grills, and generators.   Ask yourself: do you have any of these in your home or apartment? If your answer is “Yes”, then please read on.

The reason CO2 is so dangerous is that it replaces oxygen in your blood.   When you breathe in CO2 in an enclosed or poorly ventilated space, your body becomes “starved” for oxygen in less than three minutes.   Cells will begin to die, and permanent damage begins.

This all sounds very dire, but there is an easy, relatively inexpensive solution.   Much like a smoke detector, the CO2 detector sounds an alarm when unsafe levels of the gas are detected. CO2 detectors can be battery operated or can connect directly into electric outlets.   In many states and counties, CO2 detectors are required by law, and should be placed on each level of the home (including basement, attic, garage and other work rooms). At minimum, there should be a CO2 detector placed outside each bedroom.

Other steps to keep your family safe include:

  • Check the CO2 detectors monthly to make sure they’re working and have functional batteries. Keep an extra supply of fresh batteries on hand.
  • When using the fireplace, keep the damper wide open and keep it open until the ashes have completely cooled.
  • Never use your gas stove or oven to heat a room.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house. Generators should be kept outside at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Never use a charcoal or propane grill inside the house.

Know the signs and symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion

If you suspect that you or a family member has CO2 poisoning – immediately go outside for fresh air and then call 911.

KEEPING THE HAPPY IN “HAPPY HOLIDAY’S”

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Wendy Hildenbrandt
December 2016

For all the joy the holidays bring, the season can also deliver a hefty helping of stress-only to be magnified when families have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness. Many of the elements people look most forward to such as large gatherings of people, twinkling holiday lights, piles of presents, a break from everyday routines can be over-stimulating for people with the illness and overwhelming for caregivers.

BUT TAKE HEART! THERE AE SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO ADAPT THE CELEBRATIONS SO THEY ARE CALM AND ENJOYABLE FOR EVERYONE

Be Open
Inform family and friends of your loved ones condition so they know what to expect, as well as recognize that get-togethers might need to change or be more flexible to accommodate the situation. Include younger children in the discussion-to an appropriate degree so they better understand why a loved one may be acting differently.

Celebrate in Small Doses
Since changes in routine, noise and crowds can increase confusion and upset individuals with dementia, opt for several smaller gatherings instead of having one huge one. These “small dose” parties can extend the celebration, offering more opportunities for socialization-a key factor in improving quality of life for people with the disease.

Be realistic About Traveling
With the excess traffic on the road and large crowds at transportation hubs this time of the year, as well as your loved ones mental and possibly physical decline, traveling to holiday gatherings may no longer be possible. Ask the doctor what is doable and make arrangements accordingly (e.g., bringing a companion).

Bring the Party to the Person
For families with loved ones living in long-term care residences, coordinate social calls to help ensure the holiday season is filled with visits from special guests. Find out whether visitors can attend the facility’s holiday events. Also ask whether talented family members- a grandchild who sings, for example can spread some holiday cheer at the event. In addition, some settings have a private dining area where resident’s families can gather.

Unlock Memories
Plan holiday related activities in which your loved one can participate and that may help recall memories. Was your mom the “Queen of Cookies” in her prime? Invite her to help cut and decorate cookies or roll out pie crust, for example. Other activities that can stir up happy memoires and appeal to family members of all ages include listening to music, looking through photo albums and giving handmade, personal gifts.

It’s A Matter of Balance….(and we’re not talking about your checking account!)

Monday, July 25th, 2016

By Christine Stone, RN, BSN

As if we need another reason to go kicking and screaming into our older years…….

Our sense of balance is affected as we age which can increase our risk for falls and fractured bones. Yikes!   Why does this happen and what can we do about it?   Read on…..

Think about it – – our vision diminishes as we age and we don’t see things as clearly as we once did.   We have more problems with night vision and depth perception – driving at night is especially challenging.   The loss of these visual cues can affect our balance and increase the risk of a trip and fall.

The inner ear has a very complex system (called “vestibular”) which helps us sense where the body is in space: Are we standing upright or lying down or bending over?   The vestibular system is connected to parts of our brain which also help regulate our balance.   When working properly it helps us correct our position if we feel ourselves falling over or losing balance.   As we age, cells in the vestibular system diminish. This in turn affects our ability to self-correct our balance quickly enough.

Changes in blood pressure (BP) – especially dips when we suddenly stand up can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, blurry vision, and even fainting.

We lose muscle mass and strength, and our reflexes and coordination slow as we age. This can cause stumbling and decreased reaction time.

Some health conditions can cause problems with balance.   They include, but not limited to, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.  Medications can cause blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, or could damage the inner ear – triggering balance issues.

What can we do to minimize problems with balance?

  • Always wear glasses or have corrective vision or cataract surgery.
  • Stand up slowly from a sitting position.
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or two before standing up from a lying down position.
  • Keep your home free of clutter to minimize the chance of trip and fall accidents.
  • Exercise to rebuild muscles strength and power.   If you start to trip/fall, muscle strength and power will help you react faster.   You don’t need to go to a gym. Talk to your health care provider for a list of exercises you can do right in the comfort of your home.

A very Special Day to say Goodbye!

Friday, June 10th, 2016

By Elise Adler

A year and a half ago a kind gentle man named Mr. F came to LifeQuest needing our care. After countless hours of Physical Therapy and loving nursing care we are happy to say he is on his way home today, “there is no place like home” he often reminded us.

Staff with mr f1It was a long difficult road but Mr F. and his lovely wife tackled each daily challenge with a positive attitude that is truly indescribable. Those of us who witnessed their bond of true love are still in awe of them.

Today we said good-bye to our special friends. They will be missed and thought of each day but the happiness Staff with mr f 2we feel for them will linger in our hearts and last a lifetime. We were so pleased to see them go home today hand and hand together for the next chapter our lives. We wish them much love and happiness.

Thank you to the team at LifeQuest who not only cared for Mr. F but to all of the employees and Residents who treated Mr. and Mrs. F like family!

We are all blessed to have know them…

Making the Most of Your Doctor Visits

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Written by Chris Stone, RN

Do you feel overwhelmed when you visit your doctor? Do you forget what you wanted to ask about, or forget the names of your medications?   A lot of people feel rushed and get flustered at the appointments.  They forget what the doctor said or are confused by the instructions they were given.   Don’t despair!   There are things you can do to make every doctor visit count.

Prepare for the visit:  

  • Write down a list of your questions. Things to consider are:
  • What is the reason for your visit?
  • Do you have a new medical problem, or is this a follow-up appointment?
  • Refer to your list during your time with the doctor to make sure all your questions are answered and nothing is overlooked.
  • Don’t be shy or embarrassed to share all your symptoms or health concerns. The more the doctor knows, the better he/she can help.
  • Write down the complete list of the medications you are taking – even medications prescribed by specialists. Be sure to include vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications.

When you are at the appointment:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if there’s something you don’t understand.   If you want to know why a medication is being prescribed, just ask. You have the right to understand all decisions that affect your health.
  • Bring an adult family member or friend to the appointment.   An extra set of ears can pick up on information that you might have missed. It’s okay for that person to take notes while you talk with the doctor.
  • Before leaving, get a recap of the appointment.   Ask the doctor or nurse to repeat the instructions. Write down what you need to remember.  Some offices now give a written summary of the appointment – make sure you understand the information on that summary.
  • Were you given prescriptions? Make sure you have the paper copy of the prescription before you leave your appointment.   Some offices now send prescriptions directly to your pharmacy.
  • If you still have questions about your prescriptions, the pharmacist is always a source of
  • And while we’re talking about prescriptions – ALWAYS use the same pharmacy – this will eliminate any chance of medication errors.

FIVE BODY PARTS NO-ONE TELLS YOU TO EXERCISE:

Friday, November 20th, 2015

By Elise Adler

No matter how much you walk, work your core and lift weights, you might not be doing enough to avoid some of the issues we can start to experience as we age – issues like hunched shoulders, shuffling feet and weak hands.

Working large muscle groups and performing cardiorespiratory exercise doesn’t get at the small muscles we need for performing everyday activities. Generally there’s a lot of emphasis on walking and lifting weights, while very little attention is paid to functional stretches and exercise.

Five neglected body parts in particular are crucial to how happily and safely we age: the neck, the shoulders, the shins, the hands and the hips.M They’re all easy to work on. Try some simple stretches and strength moves to keep your whole body fit and functioning well.

Shoulders
Seniors hunch over for many reasons, among them osteoporosis or arthritis. Sometimes, though, it’s simply because of a combination of strong pectoral (chest) muscles and weak rhomboids (the muscles in between the shoulder blades). This imbalance pulls the shoulders forward in a hunch, also called “pronation,” which in turn shortens the muscles connecting the pectorals to the shoulder joint. How to avoid or correct it? Try two things: strengthen the rhomboids – the muscles primarily responsible for good posture – and stretch those connecting muscles.

Hip Flexors
Most people will experience low back pain in their lifetime. Sometimes this problem is serious and needs medical attention, while at other times the problem is simply tight hip flexors. Your hip flexor muscles are a group that keep your leg in the hip joint, among other functions. The largest one, the psoas, attaches to the lowest vertebrae and low back muscles on the opposite side (right psoas attaches to left low back muscles, and vice versa). So if the psoas is tight, it pulls on the lower back, causing pain. Tight hip flexors can also result in poor posture by tilting the pelvis back, forcing the upper body to lean forward. If you are exercising often, your hip flexors need extra attention.

Neck
As we age, driving becomes more dangerous due to weakening eyesight and slower reaction times. But there’s another reason that most of us fail to factor in: decreased neck mobility. Over time, our joints become less flexible due to bone thinning and cartilage loss, making turning the head more difficult. Even walking along a busy sidewalk requires looking to your right and left.

Shins
Once you start to sense that you’re not picking up your feet the way you used to, you know your body is aging. Shuffling the feet is a health hazard – shuffling makes you more likely to trip and fall. Exercising your shins can help you stop the shuffle from developing down the road. We mostly focus on the large muscles of the legs when we work out (e.g.: glutes, quads and hamstrings) and neglect the small muscles, like the tibialis anterior. This muscle is located at the front exterior of the shin and makes possible what’s known as “dorsiflexion of the ankle,” or lifting the toes up toward the leg. When you’re walking, this action clears your toes as you swing your leg and encourages you to put your heel down first. Keep this muscle strong and flexible to balance out the calf, and you’ll be able to walk with confidence.

Hands
Is it getting hard to open pickle jars? That’s not the only problem you’ll run into if you lack hand and forearm strength. Turning door handles, using a can opener and holding a toothbrush require strength in the upper extremities. You might think you can just squeeze a squishy ball and have it covered – but that only strengthens the muscles on the underside of the forearm. You need to keep the top of the hand and forearm strong as well.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Animal assisted therapy draws on the bond between animals and humans in order to help improve and maintain an individual’s function and is being used to assist in the process of enhancing the individual’s quality of life in nursing homes. Once the patients become settled into their new environment, they may lose their sense of self-efficacy and independence. Simple, everyday tasks are taken away from them and the patients may become lethargic, depressed, or anti-social if they do not have regular visitors.

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that incorporates animals in the treatment of a person; especially elderly people in nursing homes or long term care facilities. therapy dog 3The goal of using animals as a treatment option is to improve the person’s social, emotional, and cognitive functioning and reduce passivity. Supporters of AAT say that animals can be helpful in motivating the patients to be active mentally and physically, keeping their minds sharp and bodies healthy.

There are numerous techniques used in AAT, depending on the needs and condition of the patient. For elderly dementia patients, hands on interactions with the animal are the most important aspect. Animal assisted therapy provides these patients with opportunities to have close physical contact with the animals warm bodies, feeling heartbeats, caress soft skins and coats, notice breathing, and giving hugs. Animal assisted therapy counselors also plan activities for patients that need physical movement. These planned tasks include petting the animal, walking the animal, and grooming the animal. These experiences seem so common and simple, but elderly dementia patients do not typically have these interactions with people because their loved ones have passed or no one comes to visit them. Their mind needs to be stimulated in the ways it once was. Animals provide a sense of meaning and belonging to these patients and offer something to look forward to during their long days.

The AAT program encourages expressions of emotions and cognitive stimulation through discussions and reminiscing of memories while the patient bonds with the animal. Many of the troubling symptoms in elderly dementia patients include decreased physical functioning, apathy, depression, loneliness, and disturbing behaviors and are all positively therapy-dog4affected by AAT interventions. Animal assisted therapy is very useful in helping these negative behaviors decrease by focusing their attention on something positive (the animal) rather than their physical illness, motivating them to be physically active and encouraging communication skills for those with memory loss. Numerous researchers found that communication with animals have a positive effect on older adults by increasing their social behavior and verbal interaction, while also decreasing tense behavior and loneliness.

We believe in Animal Assisted Therapy here at LifeQuest. We have numerous furry friends that come to visit on a regular basis and we encourage families and friends to bring in their pets (documentation from a veterinarian is required). Seeing the smile on the patients face is rewarding to everyone involved.