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July 17, 2020 Family Caregiver0

Your elderly loved one is bleeding from the nose and you are worried.

What could be the issue? Why are they experiencing nosebleeds so much?

Nosebleeds in the elderly can happen for the following reasons.

  • Dry weather that dries up the nostrils
  • Sinus infection
  • Aspirin use (if your loved one takes aspirin as part of their medication regimen)
  • Blood thinners
  • A foreign body in the nose
  • Allergies
  • Even nasal sprays that treat allergies can also cause nosebleeds

Most of these are not a cause for alarm. And usually, you can resolve a nosebleed by getting rid of the precipitating event.

For most older adults, an occasional nosebleed may be nothing to worry about.

But regular nosebleeds for an older loved one could point to more serious issues like a severely injured nose (due to a fall or another type of accident), coagulation disorders, heart problems, arterial hypertension and some types of cancers.

To stop a nosebleed:

  • Get your loved one to sit down and lean forward.
  • Pinch the soft part of their nose (or direct them) just above the nostrils and hold it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You can also place an ice pack wrapped in a towel (or frozen vegetables) over the bridge of their nose.

If a nosebleed lasts for longer than 20 minutes, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Nosebleeds in the elderly – what you can do as a caregiver

Like I mentioned before, you can treat occasional nosebleeds by treating what caused it. Here are steps caregivers can take to treat nosebleeds.

  1. Make sure your loved one is well-hydrated especially during colder and dryer months. Around winter time, the weather is colder and the air is dry. People tend to have more nosebleeds at this time. Making sure your loved one is hydrated will keep their lips and nose hydrated and prevent bleeding.
  2. A sinus infection should be treated with the right medications to make sure it does not cause other problems. See a doctor about proper treatment.
  3. If your loved one is on aspirin or blood thinners, find out from your loved ones’ doctor what they would recommend to prevent and stop the bleeding.
  4. Minimize the probability of falls around the home to prevent injuries.

Beyond these, it is always to watch out for other changes that have accompanied the nosebleeds.

This will give you clues as to the actions you should take and when it is time to see a medical professional.

 

 

 

 


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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.

 

 

 


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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.

 

 


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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 Audiobooks.com 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

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

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.

Puzzles

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

Ipads/Tablets

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.

 


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Is your home walker-ready?

Mom or Dad is moving in with you shortly and they have a walker.

Or perhaps, they are aging in place and you want to help them make their home walker-ready.

In today’s post, we’ll cover the steps you can take to prepare your home or your loved one’s home to make it walker-ready.

5 home walker safety tips

But first, home walker safety tip number one!

The number one safety tip to consider when you’re getting your home ready for a walker is to ensure that you or your loved one is properly fitted for the walker.

While it may seem you can just grab any “ole” walker and make it work for you or your loved one, this is not advisable.

For a walker to be safe and supportive, it has to fit your height, weight and specific situation.

The wrong walker can lead to injuries that are caused by the walker not being rightly fitted for you.

The wrong walker can also lead to falls, which can in turn be fatal.

Consider a wider door

If your door is narrow, you might want to consider a renovation that includes widening your doorway to the allow the walker in. Of course, you will have to consider if this is absolutely necessary.

We do realize that this could mean a significant financial investment but ultimately, it will help you or your loved one come in and out of the house much easier.

Ramp for easier movement

Stairs can prove challenging for people with mobility issues.

Where possible, build a ramp that allows easier movement in and out of your home.

Bedroom downstairs or which does not involve too many stairs

This ties into the point above.

A bedroom downstairs reduces the need for you or your loved one to use the stairs – a common cause of falls.

Get rid of obstructions

Loose rugs, wires that cross the floor and any other object that is in the way can become fall hazards.

If you have a loved one in your home who uses a walker, get rid of obstructions in those spaces where they travel frequently.

Keep pathways lighted up

You or your loved one may need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

In addition to keeping pathways clear of obstructions, it is helpful to have night lights.

At the very least, you or your loved on should have the ability to control lights so that pathways are lighted when there’s no daylight outside.

 

Need reliable home care services for you or your loved one?

Call Green Tree Home Care at 800-518-9277 to talk to a representative and find out how we can help you.

 

 

 


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March 27, 2020 Family Caregiver0

The caregiver and the pandemic

We couldn’t have made up what is going on in the world right now – even in our best movies.

And we know you are feeling the pinch as a caregiver.

Perhaps, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant you have to cut your hours at work.

Maybe, the people who were helping you taking care of your loved one are now having to keep their distance.

And it certainly doesn’t help that the number of COVID-19 cases around the world keeps going up.

So how do you take care of yourself as a caregiver during this time?

In today’s post, I will offer some suggestions on what you can do to cope with the current crisis.

The caregiver and the pandemic – Taking care of yourself during this time

Dealing with unemployment

If the current crisis has led to losing your job, here are a few paths you can take.

  1. File for unemployment quickly in case your period of unemployment extends beyond what you expect.
  2. Even though there have been mass lay-offs in certain industries like travel and tourism, some industries are looking to bring on thousands of workers during this season. Grocery outlets, pharmacy chains and hospitals are hiring staff to keep up with the current demand on these sectors. Start applying now.
  3. Talk to your utility companies and credit card companies. Several companies are now issuing leniency clauses that state that you will not be penalized for late payments or nonpayment for your utilities or credit cards. I imagine calling these companies right now will be a long phone wait. So, if you have access to the internet, I recommend you try to get in touch with the company that way to discuss your situation. There is also now relief for you if you’re paying off student loans. Call your student loan servicers and talk to them.
  4. To protect older adults, Medicare recently approved telehealth benefits for older adults. This way, older adults can get the care they need from home. If you care for an older adult, call your loved one’s doctor to make sure they offer it and then take full advantage.
  5. Don’t give up.

Handling the emotions that come with uncertain times

These are unprecedented times.

It is alright to voice your feelings or even to cry. Care-giving is hard. Having to do it in the current environment is even harder.

Because of physical distancing, mental health professionals have had to move their services online.

This is a great opportunity to chat with one so they help you discover coping tools you can use.

These guidelines by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is helpful for finding the right mental health professional.

If you do indeed have one or two people helping with your loved one, make sure they are observing increased hygiene practices.

Any caregivers who come from an agency, need to be washing their hand before and after they touch your loved one.

If they are sick, they should be staying at home and a replacement should be provided.

If someone gets sick

If someone in your household gets sick during this time, call the hospital first.

There are triage nurses who will speak with you to determine if you (or your loved one) should come in to the hospital.

 

Let’s continue to stay safe.


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Tips to protect your mental health during the current global pandemic.

To say the current news is stress-inducing is an understatement.

The numbers of people infected with the novel Coronavirus keeps going up.

The death toll – although it is at 4% of all cases – is still very disturbing.

It certainly doesn’t help that everyone is now encouraged to stay indoors.

For some people who have been through traumatic war-time experiences, perhaps this dredges up bad memories.

This is a difficult time for everyone around the world.

How do you protect your mental health during such a stressful time?

In today’s post, I am going to share four tips to protect your mental health in the midst of the stress.

4 tips to protect your mental health during the current pandemic

Be truthful with yourself

The first step to protecting your mental health is to be truthful with yourself.

It is okay to admit that you are feeling overwhelmed. It is okay to voice out your frustrations and let those around you know how you’re feeling.

The truth? You’re not alone in those feelings.

Shut off the stress-inducers

The news is stressful right now. There is no doubt about that.

News networks want to be the first ones reporting the latest news and numbers.

While it’s important for us to be abreast with it all – it is alright to give yourself a break.

Don’t feel you need to sit down and soak it all up.

Take a walk around your house.

Read a new book.

Set up a video conference call with your family.

Do what you can to stay away from anything that increases your anxiety.

Talk to a mental health professional

With expanded telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, you might be able to chat with a mental health provider over the phone or other virtual service.

Mental health providers can give you the tools you need to cope during this time.

Find out from your mental health provider if this is possible.

Start a new hobby

Now is a great time to start a brand new hobby!

This can help you keep your hands and mind busy so you’re not worrying so much about the news.

These tips to protect your mental health during the current pandemic can help you cope until we all finally come out of this.

We cannot always change the course of the storm; but we can choose to thrive in the midst of it.

 


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March 18, 2020 Family Caregiver0

Telehealth benefits for the elderly under Medicare – here’s what you should know as a caregiver.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed the lives of over 100 people in the US.

Most people suffer mild symptoms when they contract COVID-19. People over 65 and those who have underlying health issues are the largest population of those dying from the disease.

For elders who may need to get to a hospital to see their doctor, this can pose a serious health threat.

And so, on Tuesday, Medicare said it would expand coverage for telemedicine services to help seniors with health problems to stay home during the pandemic.

What does this mean?

We’ll go over that in this post.

What is telemedicine or telehealth?

Telehealth is healthcare provided over a phone or teleconference device like Skype or Zoom.

You don’t need to see the doctor physically for a consult.

You can talk to them over the phone or via video conference.

Because of the current pandemic, some seniors might have to cancel their physical doctor’s appointment to adhere to local mandates.

With Medicare expanding coverage for telehealth services, this means seniors can receive their medical care remotely.

How can you help as a caregiver?

If your that may not know how to navigate technology, a caregiver can help them set up the call.

If you’re a caregiver who cannot do this, enlist the help of friends, relatives or neighbors who are willing to help.

In order for these telehealth calls to go smoothly, you will need either a smartphone with wifi/data connection or a computer with a webcam and an internet connection.

Once you have these, I strongly advise that you reach out to your doctor and talk to them about your loved one’s telehealth options. Telehealth benefits for the elderly under Medicare might be all your loved one needs for now.

If this works well, there is a chance that Medicare recipients could enjoy telehealth services as a permanent benefit.

 

 


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March 11, 2020 Family Caregiver0

As of this writing, the COVID-19 (popularly known as coronavirus) pandemic is in full force.

Italy has shut down the whole country.

Parts of the US have restricted public meetings and are encouraging workers to do their work remotely.

Companies like Amazon have asked their employees to work from home at least until the end of March, 2020.

Reports show that most of the people who have died as a result of the coronavirus are older adults or those who have chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

Even the stock market has been affected by this situation.

It’s alarming and rightly so.

What can you do to support your elderly loved one during this worldwide epidemic?

In today’s post, we’ll talk about the steps you can take to care for your loved one during this season.

PLEASE NOTE: A lot of these steps are useful for a general audience but will pertain mostly to people living in the Greater San Diego and Orange County regions where Green Tree Home Care has offices.

Coronavirus in San Diego – what you should know as a caregiver

The risk in the region is low

As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that the coronavirus risk for the Greater San Diego and Orange County areas remains very low.

However, it is still important to take steps to prevent getting infected by the virus.

Those steps include the following.

Stock up on medical supplies and medication

For an elderly loved one who has a chronic condition, the better the chronic condition is managed, the higher the chance that they will not be severely affected by the virus.

Proper chronic disease management may mean:

  • Ask your doctor if you can stock up on medication.
  • Be sure to have over-the-counter medications that your loved one could take should they exhibit any symptoms.
  • Getting disinfecting agents like hand sanitizer, bleach or disinfecting alcohol to wipe surfaces in the home.
  • If there are other medical supplies that your loved one needs in order to perform daily activities, make sure you’re stocking up on those as well.

Have extra food on hand just in case

People who are coughing, sneezing or who are otherwise sick, have been advised to stay at home.

These people may have to stay at home for a week or longer.

If this happens to your loved one, you want to make they have enough food and water to last that period where they’re indoors.

Avoid public gatherings if you’re sick

Even though the risk in our region is low, it’s important to reiterate that if you’re sick, it is in your best interest (and in the interest of others) to stay at home.

This will reduce the risk that you spread what you have to others.

And it will ensure you or your loved one is not exposed to another troublesome infection – including coronavirus.

And even if they’re not sick, avoiding public gatherings is still helpful for your loved one.

Wash your hands

Hand-washing is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infections.

The CDC recommends that you wash your hands with soap and water while scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

For perspective, 20 seconds would be about how long it takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday to you” song one time through.

Wash your hands:

  • When you use public bathrooms
  • And when come from outside and into your home
  • If you shake a lot of hands during the day
  • Or if the job you do exposes you to sick people on any given day (e.g if you’re a nurse)

Report immediately to a doctor should you experience any symptoms

The symptoms of a coronavirus infection include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Call the doctor immediately if you observe your loved one showing these symptoms.

 

Again, while the risk of coronavirus in San Diego remains low, taking the right precautions will limit your or your elderly loved one’s risk for the infection.


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How do you spot hearing loss in your elderly loved one?

Hearing loss in the elderly could be difficult to note and observe.

And thus, you and your loved one might seek interventions late. This could pose a safety threat for your loved one. 

Hearing loss can mean they don’t hear warning alarms or that they don’t hear a car coming as they cross the street.

In this post, we’ll chat about the signs of hearing loss you should look out for, what interventions you can seek and how to keep your loved one safe.

Hearing loss in the elderly – a guide for the caregiver

The gradual hearing loss that happens as we grow older is a common condition.

In fact, according to the United States National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 1 in 3 adults between 65 and 74 years will experience age-related hearing loss.

Furthermore, half of the people over 75 years old have some age-related hearing loss.

Therefore based on statistics alone, the chances that your loved one will have hearing loss as they age is high.

But you can be prepared for it.

Hearing loss signs to look out for

What signs should you look out for when it comes to hearing loss?

  • One of the first signs to develop may be an inability to hear high-pitched sounds. Your loved one may have trouble hearing the voices of females or children.
  • You find that you have to repeat a sentence multiple times to your elderly loved one when you didn’t have to do this before.
  • You might also notice that your loved one turns the television or radio volume higher than usual.
  • Having a conversation with your loved one over the phone has become more difficult because of their hearing loss.
  • Your loved one may also have extra difficulty hearing in areas that are noisy.
  • They may also complain about having a ringing sound in their ears.
  • You may notice that they repeat sentences people have spoken to them wrongly.

When you start noticing any of these signs, it is time to consider intervention for your loved one.

…but what causes hearing loss in the elderly?

It’s difficult to distinguish between hearing loss that comes purely from aging and that which comes from lifelong exposure to noise.

What doctors and scientists do know however, is that special cells called stereocilia (sensory hair cells) can become damaged from loud noises, certain medications or from chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.

Thus, reducing exposure to loud noises, and properly managing chronic health conditions can help to reduce hearing loss.

However, we still don’t know how to fully protect people from age-related hearing loss.

What you can do to help as a caregiver

Hearing problems can be serious. Thus, it is important that you encourage your loved one to see a doctor right away.

This could start with a primary doctor who may then refer your loved one to see an otolaryngologist (commonly called an ENT doctor) or an audiologist.

These professionals may recommend different interventions including:

  • Hearing aids – These are external devices worn around the ear.
  • Cochlear implants – Cochlear implants are surgically placed. If your loved one’s hearing loss is severe, a cochlear implant could be an option for them.
  • Assistive listening devices – These may include devices that amplify sound so your loved one can hear what is being said.
  • Bone anchored hearing systems – This is also surgically implanted and will help to transmit sound directly through bones around the ear and directly into a person’s inner ear.
  • Lip reading – Your loved one may be trained to read people’s lips as they speak to make out what a person is saying.

Hearing loss is a challenge to everyone involved and can pose a safety hazard.

When you and your loved one notice signs of age-related hearing loss early, you can seek the right interventions early.

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