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Home Health Aide AssistanceAlthough there are many things to get done before having hip or knee surgery, an important aspect of getting ready is preparing the house where recovery will occur. Far in advance of going to the hospital for surgery, it is crucial to prepare the home to make recovery and life easier afterwards.

Consulting with a doctor, nurse, physical therapist or home health aide that knows the specifics of the individual’s situation and can make recommendations about home preparations in advance is critical.  Generally, there are a number of important preparations to consider:

Accessibility:

If possible, plan to have everything needed for recovery on the same floor.  While it is preferable not to use stairs at all initially, their use will need to be limited to once a day if they cannot be avoided entirely. In addition:

  • The bed used during recovery should have a firm mattress and be low enough that one’s feet touch the floor while sitting on the edge of the bed. Ideally, the bed will be on the first floor of the house.
  • A bathroom or a portable commode should be located on the same floor where most of the day will be spent.
  • Food and other supplies should be in a cupboard between waist and shoulder level.
  • Phone and charger should be easily accessible.
  • Frequently used items should be placed on the kitchen counter or another location that is between waist and shoulder level.
  • Chairs with a firm back should be located in each frequently used room, including kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, to enable sitting while doing daily tasks.

Supplies

There should be sufficient supplies at home to last several weeks, or as long as the doctor recommends.  In addition to regular supplies, there may be other items to consider purchasing with can be particularly helpful during recovery.  Items to consider include:

  • Canned or frozen food
  • Shampoo, toilet paper and other personal items
  • Medications
  • Crutches, a cane or a walker
  • A shower sponge with a long handle
  • A long-handled shoehorn
  • A sock aid to help put on socks
  • A reacher to help pick up things from the floor and assist with putting on pants and taking off socks

Bathroom Preparation

The bathroom presents many hazards so it is important to consider the following preparations:

  • Raised Toilet Seat: There are several ways to raise the toilet seat to help prevent excessive flexing of the knee.  Options include adding a seat cover or an elevated toilet seat, utilizing a toilet safety frame or using a commode chair instead of a toilet.
  • Safety Mats: Non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals should be put on the floor of the tub to help prevent falls.  A non-skid bath mat should also be placed outside the tub.
  • Bath or Shower Chair: A bath or shower chair with rubber tips on the bottom should be used for bathing. A seat without arms should be used in a bathtub.
  • Safety Bars: The doctor may recommend installing safety grab bars in the bathroom.  It is important to remember that towel racks cannot substitute as grab bars as they are not designed to withstand the weight of a person.
  • Placement of Essential Items: Items like soap and shampoo should be easily accessible and should not require twisting, standing up or straining to reach.  Towels and wash cloths should also be within easy reach.

Home Safety Preparation

To minimize the risk of tripping the following precautions should be taken:

  • Remove loose wires or cords in walking areas.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Fix any uneven flooring, especially in doorways.
  • Make sure there is good lighting in place.
  • Place night lights in hallways, bathrooms and other dark rooms.
  • Arrange for fast-moving or small pets that can cause falls to stay elsewhere during the first few weeks.

Other preparation

Other preparations to consider are:

  • Prepare or purchase single serving meals that can be frozen and reheated later.
  • If a health care professional recommends using a walker, attach a small basket or strong bag to it to hold important items such as a cell phone, notepad, pen, eyeglasses etc. Alternatively, a fanny pack may be used.  Nothing should be carried in one’s hands when walking after surgery as they may be needed to provide balance.
  • Practice using a cane, walker, crutches, or a wheelchair to correctly sit down to use the toilet and stand up afterwards, get in and out of the shower, use the shower chair and go up and down stairs.

Arrange for Home Care Assistance during Recovery

Unless someone lives at home and can help for the first 1 or 2 weeks after surgery, it is important to arrange to have someone come in who can assist with bathing, using the toilet, cooking, running errands, shopping, doctor visits, and exercising as needed. If a family member or friend cannot help, a health care professional may recommend having a trained caregiver or home health aide come to the home to help.  A home health aide or trained caregiver can also check the safety of the home and help with daily activities.

Some studies have shown that senior adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to require nursing home care.  This may happen because:

  • Being overweight can cause or exacerbate symptoms of medical conditions like type-two diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in seniors.
  • Obese seniors may develop respiratory problems as obesity causes the lungs to decrease in size.
  • Seniors who struggle with obesity, especially seniors aged 60-75, have higher rates of depression.
  • As adults age, they lose about 20% of the dermal thickness of their skin, which can make it much easier for seniors who are overweight or obese to develop pressure sores.

These and other factors may help explain why the risk of death from a weight-related disease increases as people get older. With as many as 70 percent of adults over age 60 obese or overweight, it is important to consider ways to maintain or reduce weight to avoid developing or worsening medical conditions and improve overall quality of life.

Are the reasons for weight gain the same for seniors as they are for everyone else?

Seniors tend to gain weight for different reasons and in different ways, although the basic concepts for managing weight remain the same.As seniors age, fat mass increases as muscle mass decreases. High fat mass has been shown to result in decreased physical function, higher risk of disability and limitations on mobility. In spite of decreased mobility and being less active, seniors tend to continue the eating patterns of their youth.  If adjustments are not made to diet to take into account decreased physical activity, seniors will tend to gain weight.

Changes in hormones and metabolism occur as people get older which can result in increased fat mass. It is believed thyroid hormone responsiveness decreases with age. Since the thyroid is primarily responsible for regulating metabolism, a decrease in responsiveness can very directly impact weight. Another change in hormones which occurs as people age involves a protein hormone called leptin, which regulates energy levels. Additionally, as people get older, their digestive system becomes less efficient which means that less food calories are burned off as energy, and more are stored as fat.

Genetics and environment also play a role in senior obesity and thus individual seniors will be impacted differently by each of these factors.  In genetics, certain genotypes are believed to produce a different sensitivity to changes in body fat after overeating. In terms of environment, not all seniors have access to fitness centers that offer specialized exercise and weight programs designed for seniors.  Similarly, not all seniors will have safe places to walk or bike that are readily accessible.

One factor seniors do have control over is how much they eat out. A societal lifestyle change has occurred and people are eating out more and more.  This trend has affected seniors as well. Studies have shown that when eating out, people consume more food and more foods that are higher in fat. Cooking at home tends to lead to making healthier food choices and consuming less.

How can seniors maintain a healthy weight?

The good news is that there are many factors seniors do have control over in maintaining or returning to a healthy weight.

Develop a community: Finding others who want to have a healthy lifestyle and developing a community of mutual support can help seniors maintain a healthy weight.

Keep moving: Stretching, aerobics and strengthening excises adapted to ability and done routinely can preserve muscle and bone mass in seniors, which can help in the struggle against weight gain.  Even those who are very old or frail can avoid obesity and related illnesses by engaging in appropriate physical activities. If one long 30-minute session is too strenuous, seniors can benefit just as much from three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day.

Sleep: Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain because hormone changes make the sleep-deprived individual crave more food and feel less full. Particularly, a lack of sufficient sleep makes the body crave high-energy foods full of sugar and salt.  Getting enough sleep can therefore help the senior make healthier food choices.

Evaluate medications: Talking to health care providers about the effects of prescription drugs on weight gain may help identify ways to address or reduce their impact.

Eat protein: Protein is necessary for healthy muscle development.  If eating meat is difficult, other sources of protein like yogurt or eggs also make good choices.

Eat at home: Eating at home helps avoid the large portions and high-fat foods that are found in restaurants.

Determine a senior-appropriate weight management plan: Weight management strategies that worked for a senior in his or her youth may be unhelpful or even dangerous in older adulthood. A dietician or doctor can recommend a Senior Home Health Care partner who can also help with a weight management plan that will be safe and effective.

Home Health Care – Getting help form a home health care agency can make big difference in the health and well-being of a senior.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas

Regardless of a senior’s previous levels of alcohol consumption, it is important to reevaluate one’s level of alcohol consumption as one ages. Numerous studies have found that moderate drinking by seniors can actually have a positive impact on overall senior health. Yet, heavy drinking can have adverse effects, so a careful balance must be reached.

Guidelines for alcohol consumption by seniors are different than for younger individuals. Several factors should be taken into account when determining appropriate levels of alcohol consumption for a senior, including physical changes due to age, chronic conditions and medications a senior is taking.

Generally, a healthy senior might consume the U.S. equivalent of one 12-ounce beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits a day. Women may need to consume less, and these amounts may need to be adjusted with age as an older person will metabolize alcohol differently than a younger one. These amounts may be lower for women and should decrease the older a person gets due to age-related physical changes that significantly affect the way an older person metabolizes alcohol.

The good news for healthy seniors who would like to keep alcohol as a part of their lifestyle is that there are benefits to moderate consumption of alcohol when compared with abstaining entirely. These moderate levels have been shown to increase bone density in women, protect the vascular system and protect against cognitive decline and dementia. Also, both heavy drinkers and those who abstain completely from alcohol were found to have higher morbidity rates than those who drink moderately.

In spite of the potential benefits of moderate consumption for healthy seniors, there may be serious consequences for seniors who have a chronic health condition or who are ill, or for those whose medications – including over-the-counter medications – could cause serious health complications or even death. Due to these factors, a senior should pay careful attention to his or her alcohol consumption, and those who provide the Senior Health Health Care should monitor to make sure alcohol consumption has not turned into alcohol abuse.

Failure to Identify Alcohol Abuse

Typical warning signs of alcohol abuse include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, chronic pain, or impotence. However, these same signs can also by symptoms of a variety of physical conditions as well. Therefore, alcohol abuse may be overlooked as doctors or other Senior Health Care providers attribute them to another of their physical or medical conditions.  Other reasons alcohol abuse could be overlooked include that medical personnel may be more focused on the senior’s current medical concerns, take less accurate histories regarding alcohol use (as they might for a younger patients), or be uncomfortable with questioning or trying to change a senior’s established habits out of respect.

Concerns about alcohol abuse may not be addressed by family members or an agency offering senior home health care because they believe the senior should be allowed to enjoy his or her final years as he or she wishes.  Yet failing to intervene can have serious negative consequences on the senior’s quality of life. Alcohol problems are missed within the health care setting at an alarming rate which means that family members, friends, those who provide home care to the senior, and other members of the senior’s community are vital to identifying and addressing the issue.

Home caregivers, family and friends should pay particular attention to seniors who have suffered a major loss, such as losing a spouse or close friend, experiencing a decrease in income, becoming disconnected from a social network due to a move or retirement, or who have had a significate change in lifestyle due to their health. Seniors who have had a substance abuse problem in the past are also at a high risk of developing late-onset alcoholism. Depression and other mood disorders can also contribute to a senior abusing alcohol.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Physical symptoms of alcohol abuse may include the following:

  • sleep difficulties/changes
  • blurred vision
  • dry mouth
  • cognitive impairment
  • incontinence
  • poor hygiene
  • changes in eating habits
  • difficulty concentrating
  • frequent falls & unexplained bruising
  • slurred speech
  • unexplained stomach upset, vomiting or nausea
  • unexplained chronic pain complaints
  • restlessness and agitation

Seniors who are abusing alcohol may also:

  • become increasingly isolated
  • lose interest in friends, family, and activities that they used to enjoy;
  • be irritable, depressed, or sad.
  • drink while taking prescription drugs
  • drink against the advice of doctors
  • have a large number of empty beer or wine bottles in the trash
  • drink with every meal or
  • drink in secret.

Addressing Alcohol Abuse

Family, friends, home caregivers, and other community members who suspect a senior may have a problem with alcohol should talk with a professional such as a doctor, counselor, social worker, or the senior’s pastor or minister. It is important that the professional has worked with seniors and is aware of the special circumstances seniors face. These professionals may offer guidance on how to approach the senior with their concerns. Alcoholics Anonymous and other organizations may also be able to provide assistance on how to address the issue of alcohol abuse with the senior.

In Home Health Care Can Help

Families may want to consider outside home care for their loved one, especially if they do not live nearby. Depression symptoms can ease if a senior has someone come in to provide home health care services on a regular basis, as this can provide a source of companionship and make the senior feel less isolated at the same time. Additionally, the home health caregivers can let the family know if there are changes in the senior’s behavior that might indicate alcohol abuse. Home home help experts can also monitor medications and read labels to avoid dangerous alcohol interactions. For more information on how in home health care can help, visit Reliant Home Health.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas

 

Case Management Magazine Recognizes Reliant Home Health as “Best of Home Health 2012”

 Reliant Home Health, a leader in home health care services with locations in Allen & San Antonio, Texas, has been named Case Management Magazine’s Best of Home Health 2012 (www.texascasemanagement.com ).

Reliant credits their skilled staff of caring and compassionate healthcare providers for their success.

“Reliant Home Health’s mission is to serve seniors. We consistently promote best practices in home health care by providing superior care to our clients. We’re proud that our consistent hard work has been recognized by Case Management Magazine,” said Russ Krengel, President of Reliant Home Health.