Aging at Home: How to Keep Your Loved One Safe

Families choose to keep their aging loved ones at home for various reasons. When we asked the adult children of our Welbe Participants, the most common reasons they give are the desire to care for mom the way she had cared for them and supporting their parent’s wishes.

Inevitably, as your loved one ages, they will need more assistance and care. Making adjustments to the home and enlisting the help of in-home senior care can allow your loved one to safely remain in their home for as long as possible and provide valuable support to you as a caregiver.

 

Creating a Safe Home for Seniors
Whether your loved one is living with you or wants to stay in their own home, creating a safe and comfortable space for your loved one is essential to their physical well-being. When it comes to home safety for seniors, being proactive can make all the difference. Even if your loved one doesn’t need assistance now, planning ahead can prevent injuries and give you peace of mind.

 

Prevent Falls
According to the National Institute on Aging, sixty percent of falls happen at home. A fall can be a setback to your aging loved and possibly result in an unwanted hospital stay. Here are some modifications to consider to prevent falls in the home.

• Install grab bars in the bathroom for stability getting in out of the shower

• Make sure rooms are well lit and promptly replace any burned out bulbs

• Install railing near any indoor or outdoor stairs

• Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, mats, and or pet toys

• Consider installing a walk-in tub or curbless shower

• Stairlifts may be necessary for seniors with decreased mobility who live in a multi-level home

 

Utilize Technology
Technology has evolved at a rapid pace in the last two decades. Seniors and their caregivers can benefit from new, innovative devices and gadgets that can keep elders living safely at home. Some benefits include caregiver notifications, health monitoring, and assistance in emergencies.

• A medical alert system can connect wearers to emergency help and alert caregivers with the push of a button, and even detect falls

• A home security system may be ideal for seniors living on their own and want extra protection from intruders

• Smart speakers can be used for medication and appointment reminders

 

Get Help with Caregiving
Caring for an aging loved in the home is a noble and selfless act. But, taking on this role alone can be unsafe for your loved one and have a negative impact on your health. According to a study done by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 23 percent of caregiving Americans say their health has suffered due to the stress of caregiving. Plus, when caregivers are under constant stress, they can become forgetful, angry, or depressed, which isn’t beneficial to the aging relative they’re caring for. Enlisting professional caregiving help can be a gift to yourself and keep your loved one safe.

WelBeHealth provides support to caregivers and their aging loved ones through the PACE model of care. PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) provides respite care, coordinates medical appointments, manages medications, and much more. Many caregivers have found the support offered by WelBeHealth to positively impact their mental and physical health, with 97 percent reporting they would recommend PACE.

Safely aging at home can be achieved when seniors and their caregivers take proactive steps to create ideal living environments. Caregivers, such as adult children and spouses, can also keep homes safe by utilizing professional caregiving assistance such as WelBeHealth, a PACE provider.  Learn more about WelBeHealth.

PACE Shines a Light During Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the PACE (Program of All inclusive Care for the Elderly) model of care stood out not only in terms of safety and cost, but importantly, in terms of quality of life.  Loretta McNamara, a WelbeHealth participant, tells her story of how PACE shined a light in her life during COVID in a recent interview with the Sacramento Bee.

Common sense and growing research demonstrate that seniors are happier when they feel rooted in their own home and community.  Living at home affords more control over one’s life, imbuing a sense of meaning.  Loretta felt like she had lost control and was trapped under mandatory lockdown at her nursing home during COVID.  Fortunately, her social worker helped her find WelbeHealth.  Now she can live more independently at home with the support of a caring team and her costs are covered by Medicare and MediCal.  “I feel freer,” McNamara says.

Quality of life does not stop with the PACE participant.  During COVID-19, the pressures on adult children and other family caregivers was especially high.  PACE gave the help these family caregivers needed so they could get by under unprecedented circumstances.  In addition to medical care, PACE coordinates appointments, provides transportation, and offers extra support around mental health, nutrition and medication management.  For example, WelbeHealth deployed tablets for telehealth during COVID-19, ensuring access to many services including mental health support while keeping participants and their family caregivers safe as possible.

 

 

 

Wildfire Safety Tips for Seniors

The California wildfires have resulted in some of the worst air quality in the nation.  Seniors can be extremely affected, especially participants in our PACE programs so we’ve created some tips for all seniors:
  1. Remain indoors when at all possible.  Keep windows closed to decrease exposure to smoke.
  2. If you MUST go out wear a mask and limit time outside.
  3. Any worsening cough, congestion or wheezing, please call your PACE center right away.
  4. If you need refills on your respiratory medications including inhalers please call and we are happy to refill if appropriate.

To find out more about PACE services we provide, please click here.

Free photo 1024746 © Frank Farrell – Dreamstime.com

Vision Exam Month

August is National Vision Exam Month.  Healthy vision is important for people of all ages and is key for seniors to be able to live more independent lives in their homes and communities.  Here are some tips from the CDC on how to keep your eyes healthy.

Try 6 Tips for Healthy Eyes—and a Healthy You

  1. Add more movement to your day. Physical activity can lower your risk for health conditions that can affect your vision, like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. As a bonus, it can help you feel your best. Pick activities you enjoy and remember, anything that gets your heart beating faster counts!
  2. Get your family talking… about eye health history. Some eye diseases—like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration—can run in families. Although it may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, talking about your family health history can help everyone stay healthy. Ask your relatives if they know about any eye problems in your family. Be sure to share what you learn with your eye doctor to see if you need to take steps to lower your risk.
  3. Step up your healthy eating game. Eating healthy foods helps prevent health conditions—like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure—that can put you at risk for eye problems. Eat dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens that are high in antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Also pick up some fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like halibut, salmon, and tuna.
  4. Stay on top of long-term health conditions—like diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk for some eye diseases, like glaucoma. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor about steps you can take to manage your condition and lower your risk of vision loss.
  5. If you smoke, make a quit plan. Quitting smoking is good for almost every part of your body, including your eyes! That’s right—kicking the habit will help lower your risk for eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. Quitting smoking is hard, but it’s possible—and a quit plan can help. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support.
  6. Give your eyes a rest. Looking at a computer for a long time can tire out your eyes. Follow the 20-20-20 rule—rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Regular vision exams are part of the comprehensive services provided by PACE.  For more about PACE services, click here.

Free photo 5904867 © Nedim Jukić – Dreamstime.com

Tips to Stay Safe During Heatwaves

We are getting well into the summer months which means, hotter temperatures.  We’ve already seen a couple of heat waves come through California summer is officially only a few weeks old!  In addition to the heat, power outages can occur during these high-temperature periods.

Please take measures to stay cool and remain hydrated. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. As we age our bodies cannot handle the heat like they did when we were young.  Extreme heat can affect us in the following ways: The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to. High humidity can cause you to sweat excessively which can lead to dehydration.  When your sweat does not evaporate quickly it can lead to feeling overly tired.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather. Other factors that can play a role in adverse effects of heat would include fever, medical conditions, poor circulation, certain prescription drug and use of alcohol.
  • Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.

You are potentially at the highest risk for heat-related illness during these heatwaves. When it becomes hot outside, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you have access to air conditioning?
  • Do you need help keeping cool?

You can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness or complications.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Try not to use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Try cool showers or baths to help you cool down.

Try to avoid going out in the hot sun, but If you need to go outside during hot weather:

  • Limit your outdoor activity, especially when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Pace your activity, start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Be careful in the sun to avoid sunburn. If you can see through your clothing you can get sunburned through them.

For additional tips from the CDC on keeping cool, click here.

To learn more about the services provided by our PACE program, click here.

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

June 26th is Take Your Dog to Work Day!  Per the CDC, there are many health benefits of owning a dog or pet, including helping seniors live more independent lives in their homes and communities. They can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Most households in the United States have at least one pet.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Increased opportunities for socialization

WelbeHealth recognizes these benefits, which is why it was important to us to rescue our participant’s dog last year.  Click here for the story and link to video.

To learn more about PACE and the services that we provide, click here.

Heat stress in older adults

Safety is key for seniors to live more independent lives in their homes and communities.  To help seniors stay safe during periods of high heat, here’s an article by the CDC regarding heat and older adults.

People aged 65 years or older are more prone to heat-related health problems. If you’re an older adult or a caretaker, review this page for information on how you or the person you’re caring for can stay safe during the heat.

Why are older adults more prone to heat stress?

  • Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.

Stay cool, stay hydrated

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
    • If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Follow additional tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.

Stay informed

  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

As always, participants of WelbeHealth PACE programs can contact their center to find resources to stay cool during periods of extreme heat.  For more on the services our PACE program provides, click here.

 

HVAC Maintenance for Seniors

With the summer season in full swing, its important your air conditioner is in top form.  This is doubly important for the seniors that we serve, as summer typically bring with it increased cases of heatstroke.  Have your HVAC inspected and tuned by a certified technician.

What your tune-up should include

A technician should do the following during an A/C tune-up:

  • Inspect the entire system
  • Clean all coils
  • Clean and drain the condensate line
  • Lubricate moving mechanical parts
  • Replace the air filter
  • Check thermostat controls and system wiring
  • Inspect ductwork
  • Check fluid and pressure levels

The CDC also lists other reasons why maintaining your HVAC systems are important.  WelbeHealth wants to stress that an important part of living independently at home and in your communities includes doing so safely during the warmer months.  If you are having trouble keeping cool, contact us and we can help you find the resources available to you.

To learn more about the services PACE offers, click here.

National Nurse’s Month Profile – Cheryl Coleman

Cheryl Coleman works for WelbeHealth corporate as the nurse educator for all our centers, training our nurses with the skills needed to help our seniors live more independent lives in their homes and communities.  Her current role aligns with what she wanted to be when she grew up – a teacher.  She also wanted to explore life in other countries and her path to becoming a nurse was influenced by this desire.  “I sold medical supplies and wanted to live outside of the USA, “she stated.  “My nurse customers all told me to become a nurse so that I would be marketable in other countries.” After becoming a nurse, she rose through the ranks to manage a team.  “I managed a team of 15 nurses in the West Region who taught patients how to give themselves injections at home.”

Cheryl’s desire to serve and teach is what drives her. “Helping people inside and outside of the medical center is my biggest motivator. I also love to learn new things and share what I learn with others.”

Determination is the key attribute to the advice she would to her younger self.  “You can be whatever you want to be, so never let anyone tell you differently.  Always strive to do what you love and be your best.  Therefore you will always go home feeling fulfilled.”

To learn more about the PACE services that Cheryl and other care team members compassionately provide our participants, click here.

Exercise Benefits for Seniors from the CDC

May 27th is National Senior Health & Fitness Day.  We’re posting the guidelines from the CDC to help seniors understand the benefits of exercise.

Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult’s Life

When it comes to getting the physical activity you need each week, it’s important to pick activities you enjoy and that match your abilities. This will help ensure that you stick with them.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Physical activity has immediate health benefits including better sleep and less anxiety. It also helps reduce your risk of getting serious illnesses such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and depression.
  • Try to do a variety of activities. This can make physical activity more enjoyable and reduce your risk of injury.
  • Regular physical activity is still safe and good for you even if you have problems doing normal daily activities, such as climbing stairs or walking.
  • Lots of things count. And it all adds up. Find what works for you.
  • If you have to take a break from your regular activity routine due to an illness, be sure to start again at a lower level and slowly work back up to your usual level of activity.
  • To get to and stay at a healthy weight, work your way up to doing the equivalent of 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Keep in mind that you may need to do more activity or reduce the number of calories you eat to get to your desired weight.

Learn more about everyday activities you can do to stay active.

Multicomponent Physical Activity

A senior woman walking with her dog

As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity to improve physical function and decrease the risk of falls or injury from a fall. This includes balance training, aerobic activity, and muscle-strengthening activities. An example of a multicomponent physical activity program could include walking (aerobic activity), lifting weights (muscle strengthening), and incorporating balance by walking backwards or sideways or by standing on one foot. These activities can be done at home or in a structured group setting.

Improving Your Balance

Older adults should do activities that help them with balance. Balance activities can improve the ability to resist forces within or outside of the body that cause falls. Fall prevention programs that include balance training and other exercises to improve activities of daily living can also significantly reduce the risk of injury, such as bone fractures, if a fall does occur. These activities might include backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, toe walking, heel to toe walking, practicing standing from a sitting position, and alternating balancing on one leg and then the other with a counter or wall nearby. Strengthening muscles of the back, abdomen, and legs also improves balance.

What if you have a chronic condition?

If you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t be active. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Regular physical activity can improve your quality of life and even reduce your risk of developing other conditions.

Talk with your doctor to find out if your health condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum recommended activity levels, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive.

What if you have a disability?

If you are an older adult with a disability, regular physical activity can provide you with important health benefits, like a stronger heart, lungs, and muscles; improved brain health; and a better ability to do everyday tasks. It’s best to talk with your doctor before you begin a physical activity routine. Try to get advice from a professional with experience in physical activity and disability. They can tell you more about the amounts and types of physical activity that are appropriate for you and your abilities.

If you are looking for additional information, visit The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability.

When to Check with Your Doctor

Doing physical activity that requires moderate effort is safe for most people, but if you have a health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes, be sure to talk with your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Also, if you have been inactive, are not too fit, or are overweight, and want to do vigorous-intensity physical activity, such as jogging, it is safest to discuss this with your doctor.

To learn more about services such as exercise programs that are part of the PACE program, click here.