It can be hard for those who don’t suffer from arthritis to understand the pain that arthritis can cause. Severe arthritis can have near debilitating effects. Gaining a greater understanding of arthritis and the pain associated with it can better prepare you to care for an elderly parent with arthritis.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, which is caused by the wearing away of surface cartilage that covers bone. After time, small bone pieces can break away, floating freely in the joint and causing more pain and inflammation. Eventually, bone spurs may develop at the ends of the creating more pain and inflammation.

How to help an elderly parent with arthritis

An article at Yahoo Voices offers a comprehensive list of ways to help. First, it’s important to see a doctor and have arthritis diagnosed. Once arthritis has been determined, here are some further steps you can take to help your elderly parent:

Discourage heavy labor and lifting

When an elderly person has been self-sufficient their entire lives, it may be hard to convince them that lifting heavy objects is contributing to their arthritis and subsequently causing them more pain. Help with any furniture rearranging that your elderly parent may need done. Put coasters beneath furniture so it can be slid rather than lifted to move.

Encourage slow, fluid motions

Exercise is still important for us as we age. Rather than vigorous exercise, encourage low impact exercises that cause less wear on joints.

Make rest for the elderly with arthritis mandatory

Resting can be crucial on days when arthritis is flaring up, but adequate rest can also prevent arthritis flare-ups.

Try cold packs for pain relief

Many doctors will recommend cold packs to help numb pain and manage arthritis. Keep several re-freezable cold packs stocked in the freezer for arthritis management. Keep in mind to keep a towel between the pack and skin

Changes in home

Several adjustments can be made to make living at home with arthritis more manageable. Something as simple as providing an electric can opener can make a big difference for the person with arthritis. Provide a tool for opening twist top jars, as well. Also, make opening packages easier by making sure that scissors and letter openers are at hand. Observe the arthritic person in their home, to note items that they use regularly but have to bend and stoop to get. Moving these for easier access is also another way to help.

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options with facing an elderly person living with debilitating arthritis. Our professional staff can help properly implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure the best quality of life for your aging parent.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts.

Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

The Omaha World-Herald reported on the first confirmed death from West Nile in Nebraska this summer. The man who died in an Omaha hospital was over 65.

The man was suspected of contracting West Nile Disease while in Texas, however in mid-July the first case of West Nile was reported in Nebraska by a man in his 70s living in Hamilton County, according to the World-Herald. At that time, infected mosquitoes had been found in Adams, Douglas, Hall, Madison, Scottsbluff, Sheridan and Richardson counties according to the Sheridan County Journal Star. Additionally, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, birds had tested positive for the West Nile Virus in Madison and Phelps counties.

A representative from the State Department of Health and Human Services told the World-Herald that 20 cases of West Nile have occurred in Nebraska this year. Iowa has reported five cases.

Elderly at risk

Only about 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus become severely ill. However, Those over 50 are particularly at risk to develop serious illness when contracting the disease — as are those with immune deficiencies.

Symptoms of West Nile Fever

According to the CDC only 20 percent of those infected with West Nile Virus develop West Nile Fever. Those infected with West Nile Virus often report no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. West Nile Fever symptoms include:

    • fever

 

    • headache

 

    • tiredness

 

    • body aches

 

  • occasionally with skin rash (on the trunk of body) and swollen lymph glands.

Symptoms of Severe West Nile Disease

    • headache

 

    • high fever

 

    • neck stiffness

 

    • stupor

 

    • disorientation

 

    • coma

 

    • tremors

 

    • convulsions

 

    • weak muscles

 

    • paralysis

 

Preventing West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is spread to people through mosquito bites by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Precautionary measures should be taken to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus. These include:

    • Using insect repellant

 

    • Wearing long sleeves and long pants if outside between dusk and dawn

 

  • Removing standing water in yards from items that might capture water

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Have you selected your nursing home yet?

Photo by robertjosiah via Flickr

Have you selected your nursing home? Can you picture yourself there? Who is your roommate? Do you like them? Do they like you? What will you eat for lunch? What if you don’t like what they are serving?

I haven’t met a person yet that is looking forward to their move into a nursing home. It is hard to imagine leaving your home, your independence and your freedom. Yet, we ask our parents and/or grandparents to do this every day. What if we didn’t have to make that choice?

The goal of the social workers that work at Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living is to find safe ways for older adults to stay as independent as possible — for as long as possible. Through a comprehensive in-home assessment, they come up with unique solutions to alleviate many of the reasons people are forced to leave their homes. By looking at the entire picture, in an objective manner, Physicians’ Choice create safe living environments that allow people to live in their homes for as long as possible.

For some, staying at home is not an option or not desired. Do you know the difference between independent living and assisted living? What is available in your price range? Who do you ask? Who can you trust? Adult children are often put in the position to make these decisions. It is an uncomfortable position to be in. The shift in power is awkward enough, but when you don’t even know the questions to ask, it becomes intimidating to try and help a parent make these life-changing decisions.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living stands ready to help with the entire process — from evaluating the situation to assisting with making the tough decisions, to creating and implementing the plan. We are the experts in the community on what is available for every level of care. We don’t have a vested interest in where you go — we just want you to achieve the best living situation possible.

The next time you are met with a question of safety and/or care of an older adult, turn to the experts atPhysicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living to guide the way. The answer may be just a phone call away. We can be reached at 402-331-2273.

“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”

Earlier this month, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) joined forces with the Ad Council to make a series of public service announcements depicting common, frustrating scenarios in the lives of millions of caregivers in the United States. As we’ve mentioned before, taking care of an aging loved can be very stressful, especially while balancing caregiving with day-to-day obligations such as working a full time job and taking care of children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSlrO3zO49E

In a recent story about the new AARP/Ad Council PSA campaign, the Associated Press reported that, according to a 2009 estimate, more than 42 million Americans are responsible for some form of consistent care for aging adult relatives, loved ones or friends. Although not all these people consider themselves to be “caregivers,” even the smallest of tasks like helping an aging parent with chores or driving Mom or Dad to appointments count as caregiving — and add up fast and unintentionally cause more stress in a caregiver’s life.

The article concludes that the point of the campaign “to raise awareness of the impact of family caregiving as the nation rapidly grays — and to point overwhelmed families toward resources,” like the AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center.

Are you a stressed out caregiver? We can help

Encompass Senior Solutions — currently serving Omaha, Lincoln, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa — provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options available for your elderly loved one facing the difficulties of losing independence due to disability or illness. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

As someone providing support for an elderly parent, AgingCare.com offers some helpful advice on getting the right nutrition for them. It gives these four nutritional recommendations to keep your parent healthy as they age.

Photo by Darwin Bell via Flickr

1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Inflammation can cause arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fish and flaxseed oil. It’s recommended that your parent have meals containing these fatty acids at least twice a week. Many Omega 3 supplements are available. Ask your parent’s physician if a supplement is right for them.

2. Calcium and Vitamin D

As people age, it has been proven that they need more calcium and Vitamin D. Some reports show that large numbers of the population are already deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D becomes increasingly important as we age. According to Swiss researchers who used collective data from multiple studies, elderly Americans who took at least 800 units of Vitamin D daily are 30 percent less likely to suffer a fractured hip. It’s hard for most to get the recommended daily value of Vitamin D, so check with a doctor about the possibility of taking a supplement.

It’s commonly known that calcium helps with bone health. An added benefit is that it also lowers blood pressure. This is primarily to preserve bone health. One added benefit of calcium is that it helps to lower blood pressure. Those over 50 are recommended to intake at least 1200 milligrams per day of the nutrient — equal to about four cups of milk per day. If your parent finds it difficult consume recommended amounts by eating or drinking consult with your parent’s doctor to see if a supplement can be added.

3. Limit Sodium

Relatively little of our daily sodium intake comes from table salt. Not sprinkling an entire saltshaker onto french fries helps to limit sodium intake, but you must look at the processed and refrigerated foods that your parent consumes. Most foods that come prepackaged contain an amount of sodium. A safe bet for low sodium are fruits, which should be incorporated as often as possible into the diet.

4. Water

Keeping your elderly parent healthy might be as simple as assuring that they’re properly hydrated. As we age, we don’t get thirsty as often even though our bodies still require the same amount of water intake. A good way to check if your parent is dehydrated is take a look at their urine. If it is dark and cloudy, they need more water. If it is light and clear then they are probably getting the proper amount.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa ” provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”

Iron imbalances — either too much or too little — in the elderly can cause numerous problems. While many may assume that these imbalances involve a deficiency, it’s more likely in Westernized societies that the imbalance will involve too much iron.

Iron is important to the body because it is an essential part of the protein that transports oxygen in the body. About two-thirds of the body’s iron supply comes from Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Iron is also found in myoglobin, the protein responsible for supplying oxygen to the muscles and also the enzymes required for certain biochemical reactions.

Iron is an essential part of the proteins that transport oxygen in the body. Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, accounts for about two-thirds of the body’s iron supply. Smaller amounts are found in myoglobin, the protein that supplies oxygen to muscles, and in enzymes needed for various biochemical reactions.

Excess iron

According to a New York Times article, one person in 250 inherits a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis that increases iron absorption and results in organ damage due to a buildup of stored iron, often in mid-life or later. Studies have shown that too much iron can also be a risk factor in diabetes, heart attack and cancer — especially in the elderly.

Too much iron clearly has its drawbacks, but too little iron can also be detrimental.

Iron deficiency

Deficiency in iron can cause numerous symptoms: fatigue and weakness, increased risk of infections, brittle hair and nails, dizziness, heart palpitations and sensitivity to cold.

Getting proper iron absorption

Livestrong provides several foods that aid in the absorption of iron.

    • Glycine is an amino acid. Foods rich in Glycine include including beans, brown rice bran, eggs, fish, nuts, soy and whole grains.

 

    • Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables.

 

  • Vitamin A increases iron absorption in humans when eating rice, wheat and corn, grains that contain phytates.

Warnings with iron supplements

Iron supplementation should be monitored by a physician. Iron imbalance can often be treated through diet. The body cannot get rid of too much stored iron without bleeding. If this is the case, treatments, such as a phlebotomy, may be necessary (of course it’s always best to consult your doctor with any questions and/or concerns). Without these measures the excess iron finds its way to the liver, heart and pancreas where it can contribute to cirrhosis, liver cancer, cardiac arrhythmia and diabetes.

In addition the New York Times article cited that high levels of iron have been discovered in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons and Lou Gehrig’s disease, although this may also be an effect of brain disease rather than a cause.

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options with facing an elderly person living with an iron disorder. Our professional staff can help properly implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure the best quality of life for your aging loved ones.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Feeling isolated and alone can be difficult to handle at any age, but the problem is compounded with the elderly because it can lead to health concerns such as loss of physical functioning and even early death. These findings were reported in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

As part of the study, Geriatricians at the University of California, San Francisco, asked 1,604 people age 60 and above how often they felt isolated or left out, or in general lacking companionship. The attempt of the research was to define the feeling of loneliness, of not having contact with others and the distress caused by loneliness.

The participant answers were recorded in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. More than 40 percent of those interviewed reported loneliness and this did not change over the span of the study. The health of those who reported general loneliness did change, however. It worsened.

In 2008, 24.8 percent of the seniors in the group that reported loneliness also reported declines in their ability to perform daily living activities: bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet and getting up from chair or bed on their own. This finding is significant because less of those in the group that reported they were free from loneliness had similar declines. Only 12.5 percent in this group reported similar declines.

In Nebraska, there are many programs in the Omaha and Lincoln areas where seniors have the opportunity to make meaningful contact with others, which can be helpful in combating loneliness. If you think an elderly loved one might be suffering from loneliness, contact the experienced and professional staff at Encompass Senior Solutions for a conultation.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Genworth Financial’s Dr. Bruce Margolis recently wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post on the experience of living with his mother-in-law for three decades.

Many aspects from Margolis’ abridged story will ring true to any family caregiver:

When Margolis’ mother-in-law moved in, she was a widow in her 60s. She could help watch the grandkids and run errands, greatly helping with many aspects of creating a happy household. Skip to present day: She’s now 95 and suffers from arthritis and has difficulty standing and walking. She requires an in-home care assistant during the day and Margolis’ wife also helps with caregiving duties and the managing her elderly mother’s personal care. Naturally, it’s a stress-inducing situation, but the bonds created between three generations of a family living together is an irreplaceable reward.

Increased stress is common among family caregivers such as Margolis’ wife. Not only is there the emotional drain caused by situations such as the role reversal of helping to take care of the person who raised you, but there’s the other duties that coincide such as staying on top of your parent’s medication and finances. Of course, this all runs parallel to normal work and family obligations.

With that in mind, Margolis offers three steps to help manage stress: divide responsibilities amongst family and other caregivers, communicate effectively with those close by to be sure everyone’s emotional needs are being addressed and — perhaps most importantly — don’t forget to take a break.

One thing Margolis didn’t mention that help is always available from the knowledgable and experienced staff of senior care providers, such as Encompass Senior Solutions. If you or you parent in need of care lives in the Omaha, Lincoln, eastern Nebraska or western Iowa areas, give us a call at 402-991-7399 with any questions regarding caregiver stress.

Related:

How to take care of yourself while caring for an elderly parent

Long distance caregiving for elderly parents

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Unexpected sign of Alzheimer’s may help predict it

Studies have found an unexpected link between physical coordination and cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s.

As reported by The New York Times, five studies presented at the Vancouver International Conference in Canada last month provided evidence that when a person’s rate of walking gets slower or becomes less controlled, her cognitive functions are in decline. The studies demonstrated that cognitive skills like memory, planning activities, and processing information decline nearly parallel to the ability to walk fluidly.

Experts believe that signs of problems with gait may actually predate cognitive decline and lead to simpler tools to diagnose or predict Alzheimer’s disease.

These latest studies were larger scale than previous research and involved sophisticated methods to measure gait changes, according to the Times. A few of these involved a test on an electronic walkway that could detect small variances in walking speed, step cadence, width of stride and how often the person’s stride changed.

People with arthritis and other physical impairments were screened out. The studies found that when cognitive tests are administered during the walking test those with cognitive decline begin to have trouble walking.

Aside from suggesting that walking may provide early clues that dementia is on its way, the studies may reinforce the possibility that physical activity could help stave off dementia. This new understanding can also help doctors approach Alzheimer’s from a different direction, and catch the disease earlier on.

Are you worried your elderly parent may be suffering from the early signs of Alzheimer’s? Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions ”currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa ”provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options available for those showing early signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Our professional staff can help properly implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure the best quality of life for your aging loved ones.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”

A 2008 study by the American Geriatrics Society suggests that complications resulting from falls are a leading cause of death among the elderly. And most falls occur within the home and are preventable, AGS member Dr. Cheryl Phillips told the Washington Post. Overall about one in three Americans over 65 suffer from a fall each year, the study found, and roughly a third of those falls require some sort of medical treatment.

Phillips told the Post that she advised caregivers to do a thorough walkthrough of the elderly person’s home to identify possible dangers:

    • Removing loose carpets/rugs, and putting non-skid backing on rugs that may cause tripping.

 

    • Around the house, encourage the elderly person to wear shoes, socks and slippers with non-skid soles.

 

    • Use nightlights to illuminate dimly lit areas that are potentially hazardous.

 

    • Remove clutter and low furniture from in and around the house.

 

    • Make sure existing handrails are sturdy and install new handrails at stairs entering the house.

 

  • In the bathroom, install grab bars near the toilet and in the tub or shower. Also add no slip decals or mat in the tub/shower.

Falls can lead to fractures and trauma, leading to hospital stays and physical disabilities. Many elderly people are afraid of falling, so prevention is key to helping them live life independently and to its fullest.

Senior care providers, such as Encompass Senior Solutions, offer expert advice on what to do if and when your elderly loved one falls. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts.

If you are concerned your elderly loved one is at risk fall falling and they live in the Omaha, Nebraska area, contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”