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February 17, 2021 Aging In PlaceHome Care 101

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be serious in the elderly and there is some evidence that it might even affect the mood of your loved one.

With proper care, you can prevent UTIs from getting out of hand and wreaking havoc.

In this post, we will talk about how to keep UTIs are bay.

Urinary tract infections in the elderly (how to prevent them)

Wipe from front to back

Remnants of fecal matter tend to contain millions of bacteria that can contribute to urinary tract infections.

When you are wiping (or you are a caregiver who is helping your loved one get clean), wipe from the front of the genitals and back towards the anus.

Don’t bring the toilet paper back towards your genitals.

This simple action keeps the bacteria away from where they could cause an infection.

Avoid holding your urine

If you need to go to the bathroom, please do! Urine that is held in your bladder creates a perfect atmosphere for bacterial growth.

The inconvenience of stopping whatever you are doing to go and pee is worth preventing that UTI that will nag you for months.

Drink plenty of water

Other fluids like cranberry juice, orange juice, hibiscus tea, white/black tea are helpful as well.

Drinking water and increasing your fluid intake in general, allows your body to make more urine.

The urine your body produces will wash out the bacteria that would otherwise hang around and cause an infection.

Drink more cranberry juice (or consume more cranberries)

There is some evidence that drinking cranberry juice or consuming cranberries could help with preventing the recurrence of UTIs.

A study looked at 150 women who had urinary tract infections and the effects of cranberry juice on preventing urinary tract infections. The women were divided into three groups. One group drank cranberry-lingonberry concentrate juice for 6 months. Compared to the control groups,  the researchers found there was a 20% risk reduction in the recurrence of UTIs when the women drank the cranberry-lingonberry concentrate.

Another study found that cranberry juice could disrupt UTI-associated bacterial biofilms.

Take these simple steps to keep UTIs at bay.

 

 


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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.

 

 


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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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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.

 

 

 

 


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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.

Did you find this post helpful?

Consider sharing it with someone else who needs it.

 

 


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