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home health physical therapyIf a loved one will be discharged from a hospital or other care facility and require home health services, there are some things to look into in advance.  Home health services typically include skilled nursing services and rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. Generally, the person who needs the services will be referred to a specific home health provider by their doctor who determines what type of services they will require.

In terms of necessary preparations, doctors, social workers, discharge planners and other health care professionals are a tremendous resource for determining how to prepare.  There are many things to consider and once the person requiring care is at home, it may be more difficult to find the time to take care of these details.  Therefore, consulting with these experts in home health care in advance can be helpful and can help ensure that care is well coordinated with the home healthcare providers.

Some things to find out and address in advance are:

  • Are any special types of equipment or supplies needed?  Who orders them and when should they be delivered?
  • Should a medical alert system be ordered?
  • Is 24 hour care necessary?  Who can help provide coverage?  Is it necessary to find a separate home care agency to fill in any gaps in coverage?
  • Should a handicapped parking sticker be obtained?
  • Does the furniture need to be rearranged?  Will the person be able to use stairs and do accommodations need to be made if bedrooms and bathrooms are not on the main floor?
  • Do any home modifications need to be made such as allowing for wheelchair accessibility, ramps, handrails, or alarm systems to address potential wandering issues, etc.?
  • Are there any special dietary considerations that need to be addressed or supplies needed such as a food processer, blender, grinder or liquid thickener?
  • Are there any local programs that can assist with respite care or transportation, or should the senior be registered with any programs for seniors who may have issues with wandering due to dementia or other conditions?

By asking the right questions and preparing in advance, seniors can improve their recovery and be on their way to better health and quality of life.

home healthcare agency nurseFor seniors who have a medical condition or recently suffered an injury, a home healthcare agency can mean the difference between staying in their own home for many years or having to turn to long term nursing home care.

The services offered by a home healthcare agency will vary depending on the specific home health provider.  Services offered may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and skilled nursing.  These services are provided on-site in the comfort of the senior’s own home.

Home health care is different from home care. Home health care is medical health care, whereas home care typically includes housekeeping, companionship and personal care assistance services to seniors. Many seniors who require home care assistance with cooking, cleaning or getting dressed do not require the specialized services of a home health care provider. In contrast to a home care agency that will provide services to seniors as they age or are simply in need of additional assistance, a home healthcare agency usually helps seniors recover from an illness or injury. Home healthcare agencies will generally have licensed practical nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists or home health aides on staff.

Depending on the variety of services offered, a particular home healthcare agency may also offer services that are generally considered home care services, including assistance with bathing, dressing, eating and other activities of daily living.  Other home care type services that a home healthcare agency may offer include cooking, cleaning, housekeeping and medication monitoring.

If both home health and home care services are needed, it is important to determine if the agencies you are considering offer both services, or if two agencies will need to provide the different types of services.  Obtaining the right kind of assistance for a senior can help keep a senior in their home for many additional months, or even years, which usually leads to greater happiness and better health.

Keeping hydrated is important at any age. Everyone should drink 64 ounces (8 eight ounce glasses) of water daily, regardless of age.  Additional water should be consumed if one exercises or is otherwise active, or if the weather is particularly hot.

For seniors, there is an increased risk of dehydration due to the side effects of medications and the effects of other medical issues which can cause an increase in fluid loss through vomiting, diarrhea and sweating.  Some symptoms of dehydration can be similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s, which can cause undo alarm or confusion.

Signs of dehydration can be mild and vague in many cases.  They include but are not limited to: mental confusion, dizziness, irritability, disorientation, constipation, weight loss, fever, sunken eyes, muscle weakness, tachycardia (heart palpitations), pneumonia, urinary tract infection, dry skin, low blood pressure, decreased urine output, and increased rate of infections.

If any symptoms of dehydration occur in the elderly, a doctor or other senior care provider should be consulted immediately. Seniors under home care or nursing home care may have their weight monitored to check for significant weight loss due to dehydration.

Dehydration is preventable. By drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids most people will be able to avoid dehydration.  For those who are suffering fluid loss due to illness or as a complication to medication, medical intervention by a trained senior care professional may be necessary.

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

 

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