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home health providers cataract recoveryCataract surgery is a relatively short and uncomplicated procedure.  Although there are some inconveniences and things to get used to during the immediate recovery, the actual surgery and time spent in recovery following surgery usually only lasts about an hour. 

Home health providers recommend the following in preparation for cataract surgery:

  • Make sure someone can drive you home afterwards.  You should not drive on the first day.
  • Have sunglasses to wear home to protect your eye from glare and bright light.
  • Do not have anything planned that day, as you may want to rest for a few hours.
  • Once the doctor gives you permission to remove the protective shield that was placed over your eyes, be prepared to put it back on while resting or sleeping according to the instructions given by your doctor.
  • Be prepared to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for several weeks.
  • Immediately following the procedure, if possible, you will want to avoid bending over (which puts pressure on your eye), sneezing and vomiting.
  • For several weeks you will want to avoid getting dust and grime in your eye.  Avoiding wind and rubbing your eye is also extremely important for these reasons.
  • Avoid hot tubs and swimming pools for the first week to minimize the risk of infection.
  • You will likely need to use antibiotic eye drops for the first week, as per your doctor’s instructions.  Some people could need them significantly longer depending on circumstances. Always follow the instructions provided by your doctor.
  • Have acetaminophen on hand for pain, if needed, though in most cases it will not be necessary as discomfort is typically minimal.

Home health providers note the following positive aspects of cataract surgery:

  • The operation is extremely effective in restoring vision to much clearer levels.
  • Although there can be some initial issues including blurry or distorted vision, bloodshot eyes, or bruising, most of these clear up in a matter of hours or days.
  • Most people feel very well and many can resume normal activities by the day after surgery.  Within a few hours of surgery most people can do some work on the computer, spend short amounts of time watching TV, shower etc.
  • Recovery time is short and most individuals are fully recovered within a month.
  • With the quick recovery time, it is possible to have the second eye operated on – if necessary – within a few weeks of the first.   This allows most individuals to maintain vision in the other eye and not be entirely without vision at any point.

Your doctor will provide you with specific detailed instructions applicable to your situation. Home health providers believe that by preparing for and following your doctor’s specific instructions, as well as the more general information above, you will be well on your way to restored vision and an improved quality of life.

 

home health care agencies sleep tipsSleep is important to the overall health and wellbeing of people of all ages, and seniors are no exception. Home health care agencies have found that sleep is vitally important to seniors, especially those recovering from illness or injury, and offer the following information to seniors regarding getting enough sleep.

Sleep is important for many reasons including refreshing and reenergizing, allowing healing and recovery from health problems, forming long term memory, and processing the events of the day.   Sleep decreases the likelihood of falls and wards off depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.  Home health care agencies warn that there are grave repercussions for seniors who are routinely failing to get enough sleep.

As people age, it is more difficult for them to get enough sleep.  Many factors can contribute to this difficulty including pain from various medical conditions, increased anxiety and depression, and development of new medical conditions – like sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea causes an actual interruption to sleep when the affected individual stops breathing resulting in a corresponding lack of oxygen to the brain.  This stresses the body and can affect mental function, preventing the individual from getting restful sleep.

Failing to get enough sleep can make it difficult to recover from illness and manage chronic conditions, home health care agencies note.  Seniors who do not get enough sleep are at greater risk of falls, anxiety, dementia and other mental disorders.  Failure to get sufficient sleep can also lead to weight gain by increasing appetite and decreasing energy used throughout the day.

Experts from home health care agencies indicate that eight hours of sleep per night is optimal for avoiding these issues, though the most important thing is getting the amount of sleep that a particular person needs, likely no less than six hours.  A senior who is sleeping excessively could be ill or depressed and should contact a doctor or other health care provider. A health care professional should also evaluate daytime sleepiness, as this is a sign that a senior is usually not getting enough sleep.

Having the right sleeping conditions is important to getting to sleep and sleeping well. Electronic devices and television should not be used before bed so as to avoid staying up too late due to distraction and because the artificial light can affect one’s natural body rhythms, making sleep more difficult. Reading a book or relaxing in a dimly lit area is a better way to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

If the right conditions are present and it is still difficult to fall or stay asleep, it is important to figure out the reasons why this may be occurring. Pain or worry are common reasons.  If a senior is sleeping through the night but still waking up exhausted, there may be an underlying medical condition.  These issues should be discussed with a doctor to determine if pain or anxiety medications would help, if other techniques could be used, or if there is a sleep disorder present that can be treated.

Getting sufficient sleep is critical to health and wellbeing, and identifying and treating anything interfering with sleep is extremely important.

senior home health care malnutritionThis is the second article in a series on senior malnutrition. Last week’s article focused on factors which make seniors at risk for malnutrition, and next week’s will focus on recommendations from senior home health care experts on steps to take if malnutrition is suspected.

Due to the complicated factors which can lead to malnutrition in seniors, senior home health care experts note that it can be tricky to identify seniors who are suffering from it.  Yet early detection is important to correcting the situation and helping prevent complications from developing before it is too advanced.

For family members with elderly loved ones, especially those who may be at risk, senior home health care providers indicate that it is important to be attuned to the following in order to detect potential issues with a loved one’s nutrition.

Eating Habits

The best way to know what a loved one is eating on a regular basis is to spend time at their home, or the assisted living facility or nursing home where they live.  Visiting at meal time is a good way to find out what they are actually consuming, or if they are skipping meals entirely.  A sudden or drastic change in a senior’s long established eating patterns can indicate that they may not be able to access the same foods they have been eating all their life.

Food Supply

Family members who stop by for a visit can also observe what is in the refrigerator or pantry during their visits.  If the cupboard is bare or seems to contain only unhealthy foods, there may be reason for concern.  For seniors who are on a fixed monthly income, checking the pantry at the end of the month or just before their next social security or retirement payment is due may indicate they are struggling to have enough food to last until the end of month.

Weight Loss

While it may not always be easy to notice if a loved one has lost weight, try to observe any changes between visits.  Do they seem noticeably thinner?  Do their clothes seem a lot looser, or do they otherwise fit differently?  Family members who accompany loved ones to doctor’s appointments may be able to obtain information about weight loss between appointments, or if the senior is willing to provide proper authorization, a doctor may be able to provide information about the senior’s health including any concerns about weight and nutrition.

Health Symptoms

While weight loss is something that is logically connected to nutrition, senior home health care providers indicate that there are actually other physical signs that can signal malnutrition.  Frequent bruises, having cuts and other wounds take a long time to heal, and dental health problems can also indicate that a senior is malnourished. Although it may not seem logical, weight gain can actually be a sign of malnutrition as well.

Medications

Certain medications can affect a senior’s appetite and their body’s ability to digest and absorb certain nutrients.  Being aware of the medications a loved one is on and possible side effects related to nutrition can raise family members’ awareness, triggering them to look for possible signs of malnutrition.

If a family member or friend suspects that their loved one is suffering from inadequate nutrition, there are several steps that can be taken and resources that can help, according to senior home health care experts.   These options will be addressed in the final part of this series on senior malnutrition.

senior home health malnutritionSenior home health experts indicate there are many factors that contribute to senior malnutrition.

It may be surprising to some, but senior malnutrition is a significant problem in the United States. Given that senior home health experts indicate that a lack of proper nutrition can lead to a weakened immune system, muscle weakness and a difficult time healing from wounds, identifying the causes of malnutrition and working to correct nutritional deficits is an important part of monitoring senior health.

Before determining how to identify seniors who may be suffering from malnutrition and how to intervene, it is important to consider the reasons why seniors may become malnourished. There is a tendency to assume that malnutrition is a problem that only low income seniors might face, but senior home health experts note that actually senior malnutrition is a far more complex issue and can be impacted by physical, social, emotional factors in addition to economic issues.

Physically, health issues – particularly dementia and dental health issues – can lead to decreased appetite or difficulty actually consuming food.  Other health issues identified by senior home health experts which can contribute to malnutrition include side effects of certain medications and conditions that prevent absorption of certain nutrients. In addition, food can become less appealing due to a decrease in the ability to taste or smell food due to certain medications or conditions, or the dietary restrictions in place to control certain medical conditions which require limiting the amounts of flavor enhancers like salt, fat and sugar in the diet. Alcoholism can affect nutrition as alcohol can interfere with digestion. Alcohol also presents a problem if non-nutritious calories from alcohol are consumed instead of nutritious foods.

Seniors who have found their social lives limited as they age may become more susceptible to malnutrition, especially if food was a social or family activity for them in the past, and they no longer have friends or family with whom to share daily meals.  Finding the energy to prepare meals only for themselves and facing the prospect of eating alone can impact how well a senior is eating, which can impact overall nutrition.

Some of these physical and social factors can impact seniors’ emotional health which can also factor into nutritional health.  Seniors who are depressed due to poor health, grief, loneliness, or isolation due to lack of mobility and few opportunities for social contact may find they do not have the appetite to eat the number of daily calories required to maintain adequate nutrition.  When they do eat, they are more likely to make unhealthy food choices.

Economic issues, of course, do play a significant role in malnutrition, when seniors may be inclined to make less healthy but cheaper choices when buying food due to living on a limited income.  Another significant economic factor is the cost of medications, where seniors may struggle to pay for expensive medications that cut into their grocery budget, forcing them to make difficult choices between medications and nutritious foods.

The complex causes of malnutrition can make it more difficult to identify it in senior adults.  Check back next week for the second part in this series on senior malnutrition, where senior home health experts will help identify ways to spot malnutrition in the senior population.

This is the first article in a series on senior malnutrition. The second article will offer information on how to spot malnutrition in seniors, and the final article will address recommendations from senior health experts on steps to take if malnutrition is suspected.

health care providers healthy resolutionsEvery year, many new year’s resolutions are made as midnight approaches on January 1st. Here are a few New Year’s resolution suggestions for seniors geared toward having a healthy year in 2015 and beyond.

Increase Daily Physical Activity Levels 

OK, exercising is a pretty obvious resolution and a common one for people of all ages, but that is because it is an important one.  If you want to be healthy, you have to keep active.  Health care providers recommend setting a realistic goal.  If you’ve never exercised before, running a marathon is not a realistic goal.  Taking a 30 minute walk 4 or 5 times a week may be more realistic. Or check out the class offerings for active older adults at the local YMCA.  Make a goal to do something active outside of your regular routine at least a few times a week.  Then stick to your goal, and if you miss a week, make the resolution all over again.

Eat Healthier

Again, set realistic goals.  Health care providers recommend a diet that you can stay on for life, so do not set yourself up for the impossible. If you say everything you eat has to be 100% healthy, you are likely to fail by January 2nd.  Choose one unhealthy thing to eliminate, like refined sugars or trans fats.  Another option is to choose to eat healthy things first, like 5 servings of fresh vegetables daily, before letting yourself indulge in a sweet or dessert.   Or try a change in the types of foods you eat – try eating mostly fresh whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meats and poultry, and fish and eliminate highly processed foods as much as possible.  Every little change helps and the more realistic it is the more sustainable it will be for the long term.

Engage In Mental Fitness Activities

Learn a language, play trivia or brain games, join a book discussion group, take a class.  Keeping your brain active and engaged will keep you mentally astute and healthy.

Take Care Of Your Health 

Health care providers advise preventative checkups on a regular basis to prevent common conditions from getting out of control.  Get routine health screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, thyroid levels and other routine health screenings.  Have health screenings for prostate or other cancers.  Get your mammogram scheduled. If you’ve been avoiding the eye doctor, dentist, primary care physician or other health care providers, it’s time to make an appointment.  Have you been neglecting to start your cholesterol medication or get your new glasses prescription?  Resolve to take the actions you know you need to improve your health. 

Improve Your Home’s Safety

To prevent falls, add new lighting, move cords out of hallways and walkways, make sure the edges of carpets and rugs are securely fastened.  Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and consider adding a carbon monoxide detector.  Consider having someone do repairs to loose floorboards or faulty wiring.  Have the heating system checked for safety if you didn’t get around to it before the holidays. 

Expand Your Social Network

Good mental health is as important as good physical health in many ways.  Maintaining relationships is an important part of keeping seniors mentally healthy and avoiding isolation which can lead to depression.  If a senior is becoming increasingly isolated, consider ways to connect: join a senior center, get active with a church or community group, or consider volunteering with a community organization.  If it is difficult to get out, consider inviting friends or family members over for visits more frequently, and use the phone or letters to keep connected.

By making health and wellness resolutions like these, seniors can be on their way to a healthy, happy New Year!