July 10, 2020 Personal Care0

When is constipation an emergency?

Constipation happens when you have difficulty passing stool or when you haven’t had a bowel movement in three days.

Everyone has been constipated at one point. Usually the problem is short-lived.

The causes for constipation include:

  • A change in diet
  • A diet that contains little or no fiber
  • Dehydration
  • A lack of exercise
  • Certain medications can cause constipation
  • Certain conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract can also cause constipation (an example is irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Other medical conditions outside of the gastrointestinal tract like diabetes and lupus can also cause constipation

Normally, constipation is a short-term problem and can be alleviated by lifestyle changes.

For instance, identifying the problem food and eliminating it from your diet can stop constipation.

Adding more fiber into your diet and exercising for at least 30 minutes per day 5 days per week can also help.

Eating fruits like prunes, apples, pears and kiwis prove are effective in getting rid of constipation. If you want to have regular bowel movements, these fruits are helpful as well.

So when does constipation becomes an emergency?

Constipation that is accompanied by intense abdominal pain, vomiting, blood in the stool or severe bloating suggests a serious underlying health condition and you should see a doctor immediately.

Intense abdominal pain and constipation

Regular constipation may be come with some pain.

However when constipation comes with intense abdominal pain, it could indicate:

  • appendicitis
  • a perforated stomach
  • an obstruction (blockage) in the intestine
  • reduced blood flow to the intestines

If you or a loved one are experiencing constipation with intense pain, it is important to go to the emergency room immediately.

With these types of emergencies, symptoms progress very quickly and can cause death.

Thus, the sooner you see a doctor the better.

Vomiting and constipation

Fecal impaction happens when your stool is so hard, there is no way it can be passed. In these instance, it also obstructs normal intestinal movement.

This is the cause for vomiting in constipation and it requires immediate medical attention.

Stomach bloating and constipation

If  your stomach bloating is painful and you are constipated, this is reason to see a doctor immediately.

Blood in stool and constipation

Passing hard stool can come with some blood in the stool as the hard stool passes through the anus.

This may be minimal and may not be a cause for alarm.

However, if you notice obvious blood, large blood clots or darker colored stools when you are constipated, a more severe problem could be at hand.

A major symptom of colon and rectal cancers is blood in the stool.

This would also be a reason to see a doctor immediately.


July 3, 2020 Senior Nutrition2

Low potassium in the elderly.

Potassium is an important electrolyte that is important for nerve and muscle function in the body.

It helps your heartbeat to stay regular.

Potassium is also important for proper cell function.

Cells in our bodies are constantly moving substances in and out of them – waste products are taken out and important nutrients are brought in for instance.

Potassium is crucial for these functions. Thus, without it, different muscle groups and cell function is impaired.

What causes low potassium in the elderly?


Diuretics are commonly-prescribed high blood pressure medication. People who take diuretics have increased urine production. And with increased urination comes the loss of electrolytes like potassium.

Overuse of laxatives

While the occasional use of a laxative is helpful in getting rid of constipation, it is important not to overuse it.

In fact, overusing a laxative causes diarrhea which results in a large loss of water and electrolytes like potassium.

If you or your elderly loved one is experiencing chronic constipation, it’s important to see a doctor about it.


Malnutrition is a very common cause of low potassium in the elderly.

Diarrhea and excess vomiting

This can be the cause of low potassium as well.

Kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease will also contribute to a low blood potassium level.

What are the symptoms of low potassium?

When potassium levels fall below a certain level, the individual may experience:

  • muscle cramps or twitching
  • an irregular heartbeat
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • constipation (which is why it is important to not overuse laxatives!)

If you notice that these symptoms persist, it’s important to see a doctor immediately.

How is low potassium in the elderly prevented and treated?

Food is the best source of potassium for anyone at any age. And since prevention is always better than treatment, preventing low potassium starts with eating potassium-rich foods.

Here are twenty foods that are rich in potassium.

  • Grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Honeydew
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Fish like tuna, halibut and cod are also rich in potassium
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Bran cereal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta

If a doctor notes through testing that blood potassium levels are very low. And, they might administer IV potassium to your loved one at the hospital.

Since we are not medical professionals, it is important to speak with your doctor if you feel you are experiencing a medical issue. And, doctors can prescribe supplements!

Also, they might treat any underlying disease contributing to this low potassium.


What does a second wave of COVID-19 restrictions mean for you as a caregiver?

News reports over the last week have focused on a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

States like Florida, Texas and Arizona have stopped reopening their states so that they can slow the virus spread.

Los Angeles county which had opened up beaches announced a few days ago, that they would close down the beaches to keep more people from getting infected.

At this point, if you’re exhausted at the thought of this second wave, you’re not the only one.

So what can you do as a caregiver during this time?

In today’s post, I will provide some pointers on how to cope as a caregiver during this second wave of COVID-19 restrictions.

Surviving a second wave of COVID-19 restrictions

Continue to stay safe

A second wave means it is important for us to continue to shelter in place and practice safety measures.

This means that if you care for an elderly loved one who has underlying health risks, it is important to be diligent about:

  • Wearing a mask (both you and your loved one) when you go into public spaces where there will be a lot of people
  • Avoiding those places where large groups of people gather
  • Washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and under running water. Do this every time you come into your house from outside.
  • Using hand sanitizer especially when you are out in public

Other actions include making sure you and your loved one are consuming enough vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin C for instance is well-known to boost our immune systems.

So while we do our best to stay at home and practice safety measures, make sure you and your loved ones’ immune systems are supported by healthy foods.

Take care of your emotional health

For many caregivers – especially those who are taking care of children as well as elderly loved ones – this has been a challenging time.

Children are home from school and as a caregiver, you have to attend to them.

And with this second wave, it is likely schools will not reopen until 2021.

For a lot of caregivers, this means triple the amount of work as they juggle caring for children, caring for their elderly loved one and staying on top of their work-life.

If this is you, remember to:

  • Take care of you as well. As cliche as it sounds, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be fit to take care of your loved ones. Check out this post to learn self-care tips for caregivers.
  • Speak with a mental health professional. These are unprecedented times. Nobody was prepared for this. So it’s okay to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. The great thing here is you get a listening ear and tools to help you cope.
  • Hire help if you need it. Green Tree Home Care is available all through this season to support you with our trained staff who abide by COVID-19-related public health rules. Call us today at 800-518-9277.

Bust through the boredom with fun at-home activities

Summer vacation travel plans cancelled? No worries.

There is still a lot you can do to bust through boredom from home. Here are some ideas for you and your household.

  • Learn a new skill for work – with so many online learning platforms out there, this is a perfect time to polish up or learn a new skill.
  • Practice a new hobby. Remember when you said you wanted to learn how to play the violin? Here’s your chance.
  • Discover new books.
  • Have virtual parties with distant family.

While these second wave of COVID-19-related restrictions due to rising cases, is NOT fun, we can beat it together.


June 26, 2020 Dementia Care0

Can a person die from dementia?

You’ve just found out your loved one has dementia and it’s devastating.

The same loved one who once was energetic and remembered details at the drop of a hat, is now losing these abilities.

And you’re wondering if a person can die from dementia.

The answer is nuanced.

While a person may not die directly from dementia, dementia predisposes them to conditions that can cause death.

That’s what we’ll cover in this post.

Can a person die from dementia?

It is unlikely that a person will die from the early stages of dementia.

Symptoms of early-stage dementia include:

  • Problems remembering recent events like the name of someone they just met.
  • Reduced concentration and focus. This progressively gets worse over time.
  • Increasing confusion.
  • Depression, withdrawal and apathy.
  • Reduced ability to complete daily tasks.

While these are all disturbing symptoms, with daily support, your loved one can continue to function successfully on a daily basis.

As dementia progresses however, you can expect to see your loved one deteriorate and that could then predispose them to other health conditions.

It is important to note that the rate at which dementia progresses is different for each individual.

Late-stage dementia and death

During the later stages of dementia, most people lose the ability to move.

With this impaired ability to move, people in late-stage dementia have an increased risk of developing infections including in their urinary tract, pneumonia (an infection of the lungs), and decubitus ulcers (bedsores).

They may also experience a difficulty eating, swallowing or drinking.

This results in weight loss and malnutrition.

People who are immobile are also at an increased risk for blood clots in their arms and legs.

And all of these health issues could be the cause of death for a person with dementia.

What you can do as a caregiver or loved one

While dementia is progressive and complications arising from it can cause death, it is important to note as a caregiver or loved one, you can do a lot to support and comfort your loved one through this time.

They can continue to play an important role in family life.

For more advice that walks you through taking care of a loved one with dementia, click here.

If you need expert caregivers for your loved one with dementia and you live in the Greater San Diego or Orange County area, Green Tree Home Care is more than happy to help you.

Give us a call at (800) 518-9277 to talk about your needs today. 



June 24, 2020 Home Care 1010

The lymphedema diet and what caregivers should know.

In this post last week, we talked about what lymphedema is and what caregivers can expect.

As we found out in that post, lypmhedema refers to swelling in the arms or feet due to a blocked lymphatic system.

In today’s post, we will explore what kind of diet is best for somebody with lymphedema.

The Lymphedema Diet – What you should know

If you want to help your loved one choose a diet that resolves lymphedema, pay attention to these.

Cut back on sodium

Foods that are high in salt contain a lot of sodium. The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends that an adult consumes 2,300mg of sodium per day. The average American adult consumes around 3,400mg of sodium per day.

Sodium also increases how much fluid your body retains.

When the amount of fluid the body retains in high, this increases blood pressure. And it will certainly increase the swelling or prevent swellings from resolving in a person with lymphedema.

Here are 3 tips on avoiding extra sodium in your food.

  • Don’t use your salt shaker to add more salt to your food.
  • Avoid or limit your fast food intake.
  • Avoid already processed foods like soups and vegetables that come in a can. These contain extra salt to help with food preservation. But that extra salt can be harmful to your health.

Drink more water

This may sound counter-intuitive – however it is important in helping to resolve lymphedema.

When the body is dehydrated, the nervous system “informs” the body to retain more water.

This can lead to lymphedema not resolving or becoming worse.

Providing the body with sufficient water will also help the liver and kidneys detoxify the body better so that toxic material that build up and block the lymphatic system are flushed out.

Here are 3 tips on how to drink more water.

  • If you don’t like the taste of water, cut fruit into it (limes, lemons etc) to make it more palatable.
  • Drink a glass of water right after you finish brushing your teeth in the morning.
  • Drink a glass of water with each of your major meals of the day.

Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake

Your lymphatic system depends on proper blood circulation so that toxic material can be carried out of the body.

Just like your water pipes at home, if the lymphatic vessels that carry toxins out of your body are blocked, or constricted in any way, they won’t carry out their function.

Alcohol and caffeine are vasoconstrictors.

This means they constrict blood vessels. When the blood vessels constrict, it prevents the movement of blood into the lymphatic system. This results in the body retaining toxic materials.

Thus, it is important to reduce or completely avoid alcohol and caffeine intake to keep the body from continuing to retain fluids.

Bonus tip – Exercise

Exercise improves blood flow to different parts of the body.

It also has the added benefit of burning calories so you can stay healthy.

Including this alongside a diet low in sodium, alcohol and caffeine will help an affected individual reduce the risk of and resolve lymphedema.

A lymphedema diet that also takes into consideration fruits and vegetables that supply the body with immune-boosting minerals and vitamins is also helpful.




Lymphedema in older people.

What is lymphedema?

And why should you care about it as a caregiver?

In today’s post, we will talk about what lyphedema is, how to identify it and how you can care for your loved one who has it.

Lymphedema in older people – what is it?

Lyphedema refers to swelling that occurs in the arms or feet due to a blockage in the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It is a network of tissues and organs that drain your system of toxins, dead bacterial cells, and other unwanted materials from infectious agents.

Your tonsils and spleen are part of your lymphatic system.

Since your lymphatic system is involved in drainage, you can think of them as pipes taking the waste away.

If for any reason they become blocked, the affected person will retain fluid in their body which then causes the swelling you see in the legs and arms.

In lymphedema, usually only one arm or leg will become swollen. In some instances, both could be swollen as well.

Symptoms of lymphedema

The symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Swollen legs and arms including the fingers and toes. Usually, this happens on one side of the person.
  • The affected individual might complain of heaviness in the affected limbs
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Restricted range or motion and movement.
  • Recurring infections. Your lymphatic system is crucial to your immune system and a blockage here also means your immune system is not clearing infections effectively.
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin.

What causes lymphedema?

Lymphedema can happen on its’ own (also called primary lymphedema) or it can happen because of another disease (called secondary lymphedema).

People who are older, overweight or who have undergone treatment for cancer are all at high risk for developing lymphedema.

If it is not properly cared for, lymphedema can lead to life-threatening infections. Another complication of lymphedema is lymphangiosarcoma – a type of cancer that affects soft tissues.

What can you do as a caregiver to support a loved one with lymphedema?

  • Encourage them to see their doctor for a treatment plan.
  • Encourage your loved one to adhere to the treatment plan so the edema can be resolved or the effects reduced.
  • Help your loved one elevate their limbs above the level of their heart when they are sitting down or resting.
  • Help your loved one avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing.
  • Continue to help your loved one protect themselves from cuts and bruises that could introduce infections.
  • Protect their limbs from extreme temperatures (very cold or very hot).
  • Assist your loved one with moving around if their movement has been impaired.
  • Adhere to safety rules around the house to prevent falls and further injury.
  • Continue to provide supportive care. This includes making sure they are comfortable in bed and are eating are balanced nutritious diet.




June 17, 2020 Home Care 1010

Stage 3 kidney disease and how to care for a loved one.

37 million people in the United States live with chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is divided into 5 stages that span across a spectrum. It can range from a mild disease to a severe one where the kidney may stop working altogether.

What do the kidneys do?

The kidneys are fist-sized organs in your body that are shaped like beans. Your kidneys filter your blood of any waste products. It helps you to balance fluid in your body

Your kidneys create urine by filtering your blood and so when a person passes urine, they are passing a direct product of the kidneys.

Without our kidneys, our bodies would retain fluid and waste substances that are toxic for the body.

Thus, when the kidneys are diseased, it can cause a great deal of distress for the person experiencing it and for caregivers.

How exactly do doctors determine the different stages of kidney disease?

Doctors measure the activity of the kidney using a measure called the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

An eGFR of 90 suggests that kidneys are working at 90% of their capacity and usually this marks the lower end of stage 1 of kidney disease.

Stage 3 kidney disease has two distinct stages.

  • Stage 3a – eGFR at this stage is between 45%-59%
  • The next stage is Stage 3b – eGFR at this stage is between 30%-44%

During stage 3 kidney disease, an individual’s kidneys work at about half the capacity of a completely healthy kidney.

At this stage, many people don’t have symptoms of severe kidney disease.

As a caregiver, you may notice the following symptoms:

You may also notice high blood pressure – if you monitor this at home.

Because these symptoms are non-specific and could apply to other health problems, it is important that you encourage your loved one to visit their doctor who may then refer them to a kidney specialist known as a nephrologist.

It is important that you and your loved one do this to slow the progression of the disease.

Steps you can take to keep stage 3 kidney disease from getting worse

  • Good diabetes control – Take everything into consideration here: from diet to insulin injections.
  • Good blood pressure control – Ask your doctor about blood pressure medication. Lifestyle changes like daily exercise for at least 30 minutes per day can also help.
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco use.
  • Thirty minutes of exercise 5 times a week is recommended by experts to keep a healthy weight. This in turn improves blood pressure and helps with diabetes control.
  • Continue to follow a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Continue to collaborate with your nephrologist and primary care doctor on the best path of action to take for you.

As a caregiver, you can continue to provide supportive care and encourage your loved one to follow recommendations from medical experts.






10 activity ideas for your loved one who is bedridden.

Here’s a reality – nobody likes to be in bed for a prolonged amount of time with nothing to do.

Thus, your loved one who is bedridden is itching for activities to keep their mind off the fact that they’re bedridden.

But one common challenge caregivers face is finding activities for loved ones to engage in while they are bedridden.

Whether your loved one is bedridden at home or is in the hospital, you’ll learn engaging activity ideas for them from the list below.

Let’s delve right into it.

10 activity ideas for your loved one who is bedridden

Reading books

Reading books has long been the way to while away time. If you know what types of books your loved one enjoys, either buy or borrow them from the library for your loved one.

Listening to audio books

Audio books are an excellent way to consume books especially if you’re not up for looking at pages of texts for long periods of time. It is common for elders to struggle with their eyesight. Audio books can therefore be a great alternative for them.

Services like Audible, Scribd and are excellent sources for audio books.

Watching TV shows

An oldie, but a goodie! And you don’t have to limit your loved one’s watching preferences to network television.

There are even YouTube channels that have a lot of great content that could appeal to your loved one.

Board games

If they are up to it, a good board game is another great way to engage your bedridden loved one.


Crafts are great for any age and they are great at eliminating boredom. So try some crafts with your loved one. You never know what they will fall in love with.


Podcasts cover a wide variety of topics these days – from entertainment to business to commentary on popular TV shows. One can stay engaged for hours listening to podcasts.

Musical instruments

If your loved one can still use their upper body strength, playing musical instruments with them or even learning to play a new one can keep them engaged and entertained.

This is also an activity the whole family can participate in.

Conversations with loved ones on Skype or Zoom

Are loved ones scattered all over the country or globe? Show your loved one how to use communication tools like Skype or Zoom so they can talk with family that live elsewhere.

Check this post out for 4 user-friendly video calling apps for the elderly.


Everyone loves a good puzzle! And for your loved one who is bedridden, this is an excellent way to help them engage.


Several of the activities listed here could be done with an electronic tablet and then there is so much more that is not mentioned here.

Either way, an electronic tablet presents a great opportunity to your loved one engaged while bedridden.



Is your elderly loved one currently bedridden?

Here are five tips on how to take care of an elderly loved one who is bedridden at home.

5 tips for taking care of your loved one who is bedridden

Continue to provide good nutrition

Your loved one still needs to be getting a diet that provides them with all the nutrients they need.

A diet that is heavy in proteins, fruits and vegetables is helpful for people who are bedridden.

A bedridden person is prone to losing muscle tone because they are not using their muscles as much in daily movement.

This can result in a loss of muscle tone which further weakens a person.

A diet that is rich in protein, helps to continue to “feed” the muscles so they can regain some of that lost muscle tone.

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system and help wounds heal quickly.

People who are bedridden, are more likely to develop a condition called bed sores. Having the right balance of vitamins and minerals can help lessen the occurrence of these.

Help them perform range of motion exercises

Like I mentioned in the point above, if your loved one is bedridden, they are not moving their muscles around much.

For people who are not bedridden, simple things like taking a walk for 30 minutes a day is enough to keep muscles strong and healthy.

When you don’t use a particular muscle group regularly however, those muscles become weak.

Thus, it is important to help your loved one perform range-of-motion exercises to help keep their muscles healthy.

Bed sores are another common problem that arise from being bedridden.

This happens because there isn’t enough blood supply to a part of your loved one’s body. Wounds then develop – and these wounds can take a long time to heal.

Range of motion exercises gets blood moving to the parts of the body that would otherwise be cut off from blood supply.

Provide bed baths

Cleanliness is important when you’re taking care of a bedridden loved one.

This post teaches you how to provide your loved one with a bed bath.

Bed baths prevent bacteria, fungi and viruses from gathering in areas of your loved one’s body and causing havoc.

Change their bedding often

Changing bedding and diapering often is vital when you’re taking care of a loved one who is bedridden.

Because they are in bed all day long, sweat, hair shedding and skin shedding all contribute to sheets becoming dirty quickly.

Thus, it is important to have a plan to change your loved one’s sheets once or twice a week. Or as often as is needed.

You could also lay down absorbent bed pads like these ones, on the area of the bed where your loved one lies the most.

This way, you don’t have to change all the sheets if you’re in a pinch for time. You would just need to change the bed pad.

Nonetheless, changing sheets once or twice per week will keep your loved one comfortable, clean and dry.

If your loved one uses a diaper, changing them frequently will also keep them comfortable and prevent problems like skin break down due to urine or feces staying on them for too long.

Provide entertainment to keep them engaged

Laying in bed all day is boring. It can lead to mental health problems like depression.

Keep your loved one engaged and entertained.

Board games, watching a TV show together, providing them with books and having conversations are all ways to keep your loved one engaged.

While they are aging in place and are bedridden, your loved one can still enjoy a good quality of life.

These 5 tips on how to care for your elderly loved one who is bedridden, will help you achieve that.

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May 15, 2020 Personal Care0

Staying active and healthy in lock-down.

While COVID-19-related lock-downs seem to be easing all around the world, it is evident that mini lock-downs and self-quarantine periods may last for a while.

Gyms, a public place where it is easy for bacteria or virus to spread, are closed.

For somebody trying to stay active and healthy, this can be a challenge.

So how can you stay active and healthy during those periods of time when movement is restricted?

Ideally, you need 30 minutes of exercise five days per week to stay active and healthy.

In today’s post, I’ll share five simple ideas for stay active and healthy in lock-down.

DisclaimerMake sure any exercise regimen you embark on is cleared by your doctor before you start.

5 Ideas for staying active and healthy when movement is restricted


Dancing is a fun and yet effective way to stay active and healthy in a time when movement is restricted.

You don’t have to have moves like Michael Jackson either!

You can either do a quick video on YouTube (or have a loved one do this for you) for dance routines and follow along.

Or you could slot in your favorite dance music, set a timer and move to that for the next 30 minutes!

Use stationary equipment you already own

That stationary bike you have been ignoring for the last few years?

You still own that my friend!

Dust off that bike (or treadmill or elliptical or…you get what I mean) and start working out.


Remember that activity you indulged in as a kid? Skipping?

It works very well.

In fact, I recently discovered a YouTube channel called the Jump Rope Dudes.

It has been inspiring to watch them post about people who have skipped their way to healthy.

Have a skipping rope around? Time to turn that into your home gym.

Walk or run in your neighborhood

In most places, there is no rule against walking or running in your neighborhood.

My advice however is that you observe social distancing rules – stay six feet apart – while you exercise outdoors.

I also don’t recommend wearing a mask while working out.

If you’re lightly walking, this may not be a big deal.

However, if you will be running or taking on exercise that involves a lot of more activity, realize that your body will also need more oxygen.

If you have a mask tightly over your face, you will not be getting the oxygen as you need.

And this can lead to fainting.

So wear your mask in crowded public spaces.

But if you must engage in vigorous exercise, take the mask off so you can breathe the oxygen you need.

Use your exercise mat!

Your exercise mat is more than a pretty accessory.

There are hundreds of types of exercises you can do on just an exercise mat inside your home.

Check out this video for exercise mat ideas for staying active.


Staying active and healthy during lock-down is possible!

In this post, I reminded you of 5 simple and yet effective ideas for staying active and healthy in lock-down.

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Share it with someone else who will find it useful.



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