Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month

This month is Parkinson's awareness month, read below to learn more about it and #StartAConversation.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra part of the brain. Around one million americans live with this disease and more than 10 million people around the world.Symptoms for parkinson’s disease develop through the years and it varies in each person affected by it. There is no cure yet, but there are different treatment options that can improve symptoms.


Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Tremors

  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)

  • Rigid Muscles

  • Balance problems

  • Changes in speech and writing


Parkinson’s Disease Causes

Most of the causes of the symptoms for Parkinson happen due to a loss of neurons that produce dopamine, which in turn causes abnormal brain activity. The exact cause is still unknown but there are some factors that might be related to it, including:

  • Genes and specific genetic mutations

  • Environmental Factors, including toxins


Tips for Caregivers

  • Find support from a group or an association, like P.A.C.

  • Involve an expert or a professional

  • Organize and plan your care

  • Take care of yourself too!


#StartAConversation



Senior Caregiving: Assessing Needs in the Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom


Most seniors want to age in place, according to AARP, but sometimes the biggest threat to that goal is their home itself. Keeping seniors safe at home requires making adaptations that reduce risk and help meet daily needs. Whether you’re moving an aging loved one into your home or helping them stay in their existing home, this guide will help you plan modifications in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.


In the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of your home, but for seniors with growing disability, it’s also a room rife with danger. Whether it’s a senior in a wheelchair trying to reach a pan on the back burner or a person with dementia eating expired food, it doesn’t take a house fire to land a person in the hospital. Ask these questions to assess your loved one’s function in the kitchen:

  • Can she plan, prepare, and serve meals independently?
  • Is she able to stand at the stove or sink for extended periods?
  • Can she access controls on the stove, sink, and other appliances?
  • Are cabinet handles and drawer pulls easy to use?
  • Does she understand and practice safe food handling?
  • Can she eat and drink without assistance?

Common kitchen adaptations include installing a stove with front controls and adapting counters, sinks, and appliances for wheelchair accessibility. Even if a senior doesn’t use a wheelchair, it may be more comfortable to sit while cooking. Cabinet hardware and kitchen utensils can be swapped out for ergonomic designs that are easier on arthritis. And of course, every kitchen should be equipped with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.


In the Bathroom
The bathroom is where 80 percent of senior falls happen, according to reporting by the National Safety Council, and it’s not hard to see why. Between slick surfaces, low toilets, and high tubs, this small room houses a lot of hazards. Consider these questions as you plan for modifications:

  • Does the layout allow ease of movement?
  • Can she get in and out of the tub or shower without help?
  • Can she stand comfortably in the tub during bathing?
  • Are faucets easy to use?
  • Can she bathe and groom herself independently?
  • Does she have trouble getting on or off the toilet?
  • Is she experiencing incontinence?

All seniors benefit from non-slip flooring, a grab bar at the toilet, and a raised toilet seat. Redfin advises going further, suggesting that "Safety rails with textured grips, shower seats, transfer
seats, and roll-in showers are also valuable options to make bathing safer and easier for your loved one. A single lever for the faucet is usually easier to turn and operate than two separate knobs, so consider a new faucet head if necessary." In addition, caregivers should account for incontinence in the elderly and install nightlights for overnight bathroom trips and locate the senior’s bedroom nearby a bathroom.


In the Bedroom
The bedroom is a senior’s safe space, so shouldn’t it be safe? Prevent accidents while dressing and sleeping by asking the following questions:

  • Can she dress and undress independently?
  • Does she select clothing appropriate for the weather and occasion?
  • Is she able to get in and out of bed comfortably?
  • Is nighttime visibility adequate?
  • Are there clear, wide pathways through the room?

The biggest concerns in the bedroom are falls, incontinence, and dressing. Minimize bedroom furniture and secure area rugs and loose cords to eliminate trip and fall hazards and install nightlights or bedside lamps so the senior can see, even at night. If she frequently gets up to urinate at night, a bedside commode can help. If the bed is too low or too high for comfortable transfers, a bed rail or another adaptive device can aid getting in and out of bed. Seniors with balance problems benefit from a chair that allows them to dress while seated.


While these three rooms are the most hazardous in any home, they aren’t the only places that hold danger. Watch your family member as she goes through her daily activities so you can identify other areas where extra help is needed. Since seniors are often reluctant to admit when they need assistance, it’s up to you to stay aware of changing needs and adapt as necessary.

Image via Unsplash

Skilled Nursing Tips for Family Caregivers / Checking Vital Signs

Vital signs are the front line health metrics which help a care team assemble a picture of a patient’s current condition. Vitals typically measure temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate, however, blood pressure levels are often also included.

Why is it helpful for a family caregiver to measure these key health indicators? In a time of concern (i.e. if your loved one is under the weather), checking their vitals helps you to gauge the severity of the situation from a health standpoint. If you’re wondering whether to take them to the E.R. or call their doctor, it can bring you peace of mind and help you make a clearer decision knowing that their blood pressure, temperature, and pulse are all normal and you’re not necessarily in crisis mode.

Checking vitals is often times what a nurse will do in the doctor’s office or hospital, however, it’s possible for any family caregiver to do it at home. Luckily, loads of technological medical devices are available at your pharmacy or online with which you can take accurate vitals readings digitally. Understanding the data you’re given, however, is a different matter.

Don’t miss this quick guide to checking and understanding vitals:

Temperature
Did you know that a normal body temperature may range anywhere from 97.8 to 99° F? 98.6° F is the average, however, your loved one may run a little colder or a little hotter than that. Knowing their baseline temperature will help you catch sudden spikes or drops that may require special attention.

Increases in body temperature, or fevers, are especially worth monitoring when they creep over 101° F. While a fever isn’t necessarily dangerous, high body temperatures may exacerbate symptoms of certain conditions like multiple sclerosis and dementia, especially if they are the result of an infection. If you are worried about a sudden fever, monitor your loved one’s temperature and record the readings every 1 to 3 hours; share this information with your loved one’s home health nurse and doctor.

Hypothermia, on the other hand, is a drop in body temperature below 95° F which typically results from exposure to the cold but can also be caused by low blood sugar, alcohol intoxication, and advanced age. A low body temperature coupled with hypothermic symptoms like shivering, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and lack of coordination require immediate medical attention.

Respiration and Pulse Rates
Your loved one’s respiration rate, or the number of breaths they take in a minute, may range on average from 12 up to 20 breaths while at rest. Medical conditions and illnesses can affect how slow or how fast your loved one is breathing. Sudden changes in respiration rate should be monitored and reported to a medical care team.

Your pulse rate measures the number of times your heart beats in a minute; on average, pulse rates can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Pulse rate is typically measured with other helpful devices like a pulse oximeter or digital blood pressure monitor, however, you can easily measure pulse rate yourself with a couple fingers.

Gently place your forefinger and middle finger over the artery on the thumb side of your loved one’s wrist or on your loved one’s neck on either side of their windpipe. Set a timer for 60 seconds and then measure the number of thumps you feel with your fingers during that time. An exceedingly high pulse rate over 100 bpm is called tachycardia and may require immediate medical attention if it does not subside. The same goes for a pulse rate that is far lower thanyour loved one’s norm.

Blood Pressure
The clinical accuracy of blood pressure readings is a must in a good digital blood pressure monitor. Being able to quickly and clearly display an accurate reading, as well as record it and alert users to alarming readings, equips caregivers with health information they can rely on.

A normal blood pressure for a healthy individual is around 120/80 mmHg; it’s a measure of the force at which blood is being pumped through the circulatory system. Depending on your loved one’s condition, their baseline blood pressure may be higher or lower. Any unusual blood pressure reading that drops below 90/60 or jumps up above 140/90 could indicate that another underlying factor is at play, like an infection, and that your loved one should be monitored closely (and their doctor called).

Measure blood pressure regularly around the same time each day while your loved one is at rest, following the instructions that come with your digital monitor. Knowing what is a normal reading for your loved one will help you recognize potential warning signs sooner rather than later.

Assisted Living or Memory Care - Which One is Right For Your Loved One?

When an elderly loved one needs to find a senior care community—it can be an overwhelming experience for the entire family. There are so many different options available and types of senior care communities that choosing the best option can seem nearly impossible. One of the biggest questions that families have regarding senior care is whether or not their loved one should be in a traditional assisted living and long-term care community or if they need to go to memory care.


With more seniors than ever dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, memory care has become a popular solution for many elderly adults. While there are assisted living communities that also have memory care units in them, there is a difference between the two types of communities.


Memory Care Vs. Assisted Living

When you have your loved one go to a memory care community, you are taking them to a place that specifically caters to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other types of memory issues. They are going to have a more immersive experience in this type of care facility than with simply going to a special floor in an assisted living community. There are going to be more staff members who specialize in memory care available, and your loved one will have a larger community of residents to socialize and interact with.


While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are treatments for Alzheimer’s that can help slow down the progression of this disease and help ensure a better quality of life during this difficult time. Memory care units can help make sure that your loved one is getting these types of treatment and the mental stimulation they need to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.


While both types of communities will be able to look after your loved one and their needs,memory care is simply more specialized and focused on memory issues. Many seniors who are already living in assisted living communities and start to develop memory issues will move first to a memory care floor in their existing home. Over time, as their dementia progresses, they may then decide to move to a new memory care community.


Finding a Memory Care Community for Your Loved One

Families who are trying to help their loved one find a memory care community to call their own, should make sure they have a memory care checklist of things that are important during their loved one’s care experience. This includes community amenities such as security services, physical therapy programs, medication management and social activities. These are all important things that can make or break a senior’s memory care experience.


Typically, communities that are entirely dedicated to memory care are going to have more amenities focused specifically on the needs of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This may include things like special layouts that prevent wandering.


What is most important, however, whether you choose memory care or a traditional assisted living community—is that you find a place that you and your family are comfortable with. The more comfortable you are with your senior loved one’s new home, the better off everyone will be with this experience. While making decisions about memory care can be difficult, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one is getting the care they deserve during this difficult time in their life.



To find senior care that suits your needs complete this form so we can connect you with the best care. Take a look at Nursing Home Ratings nationwide. 

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