Archive | Caregiver Tips

Living with Chronic Pain

Assisted bowling with physical therapist Margie Howard and Resident Ebba is a great activity to monitor balance and mobility challenges.

Assisted bowling with physical therapist Margie Howard and Resident Ebba is a great activity to monitor balance and mobility challenges.

An invisible illness is defined as a physical or psychological medical condition that is not readily apparent. There are a wide variety of invisible illnesses and accompanying disabilities. Over 96% of chronic medical conditions do not show outward signs of their illness. A common invisible illness among older adults is chronic pain. Chronic pain is difficult to diagnose and treat due to varying definitions of pain and a lack of consensus in the medical field on treatment approaches. Chronic pain management is essential for older adults, particularly in light of findings demonstrating a connection between pain and falls.

Chronic pain is a major risk factor for falls in older people. Yet, chronic pain is often mismanaged by medical personnel due to lack of consistent guidelines for practitioners. Given the complexity of how chronic pain is managed, it is that much more important for individuals to take it upon themselves to seek information and guidance. Approaches to chronic pain management often include pharmacological, interventional, and psychological. Services are typically integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both the physical and the psychological responses that accompany chronic pain.

Chronic pain symptoms may ebb and flow throughout a lifetime. There may be months or even years where symptoms are minimal or nonexistent. If you are experiencing chronic pain symptoms, a visit to a doctor specializing in sports medicine or physiatry could be helpful. Adjunctive medical treatment with a psychiatrist or psychologist may also be necessary.

The Doolittle Home has 24/7 licensed nursing care available to all residents. Keeping everyone safe from falls and following medication management guidelines are keys to comfortable living. Assisted bowling provides exercise for muscle groups as well as a little competitive fun.

Call Virginia for a personal tour at 508-543-2694 or email virginia@doolittle-home.org

References

www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/pain-management/managing-chronic-pain-in-older-people/5061660.article

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Trouble Staying Focused?

Resident Ebba, shows off a greeting card she made during the monthly card making activity.

Resident Ebba, shows off a greeting card she made during the monthly card making activity.

Concentration and attention are two of our most valuable qualities. They keep us focused in conversation, during work, and even during play. Unfortunately, concentration becomes more difficult as we age. However, scientists are not quite sure why concentration declines with age. It might be due to changes in brain activity and shifts in the brain’s frontal lobe. A research study at the Rotman Institute at Baycrest and the University of Toronto compared brain functioning in young, middle-aged, and older adults. Their findings confirm previous hypotheses. Concentration ability declines with age, particularly memory tasks.

Learn how to support an older adult in staying sharp as they age. If an older adult you know is working on a task that requires concentration, you can be helpful in facilitating their attention. Turn off all electronics. Beeping, buzzing, and ringing will certainly break someone’s concentration. If your older adult parent or friend is on a roll, working away for over 90 minutes, encourage him/her to take a break. Research demonstrates that 90 minutes is the perfect amount of time to remain productive in a state of high concentration. After 90 minutes, it’s important to take a short break away from the activity. Preferably, take time to do something physically active. Even if you stand-up from the computer, Sudoku, or crossword puzzle for only 10 minutes and do some light stretching, the important part is that you’re up and about. Before you begin an exercise routine make sure you check with your doctor.

The Doolittle Home’s approach to memory issues is unique. As a boutique retirement community, we are dedicated to individualized care. Our loyal and committed staff forms relationships with every resident and is sensitive to each resident’s particular memory level. Sometimes it is simple reassurance or assistance with the day of the week, a mealtime reminder or encouragement to join a group activity. We do not require all residents with memory limitations to live in a locked location of the home. We believe that keeping a person socially engaged and intellectually stimulated under supervision is the best response to loss of memory.

References

The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest and the University of Toronto, reported in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 18, No. 2.

 

 

 

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Healthy Eating in Older Adulthood

IMG_0259Nutritional needs change across the lifespan. Although overall calorie intake tends to decrease as we age, the requirements for micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) increase as we age. Vitamin D and calcium are two important micro-nutrients for older adults. Older adults also require additional dietary antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, and folate. Unfortunately, vitamin nutrient deficiencies are common among older adults due to diet plans that lack appropriate nutrition content. Therefore, it is essential that older adults make choices at mealtime that include nutrient-rich foods as well as a multivitamin.

Modifying your eating behaviors and diet is a quick and easy way to increase your vitamin intake. First, determine an appropriate vitamin supplement with your doctor. Two, evaluate your diet and identify areas that can be modified to include healthier food options. Three, include dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli to lunch and dinner. If you’re unsure how to incorporate healthy food in a way that satisfies your cravings, check out local cooking channels or purchase a cookbook from your nearest bookstore.

Micro-nutrient deficiencies in older adults can be explained by a constellation of factors, including but not limited to poor nutritional intake and normal physiological changes that accompany the aging process. Vitamins are essential to several bodily functions. One of the most important roles of vitamins for the body is antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential for energy production, a common deficiency for older adults. If you or a loved one are nutrient deficient or believe you might be, it is important to contact your doctor or a local dietician.

The Doolittle Home’s dietary staff, led by Food Service Supervisor Lori DiTomaso, prepares delicious meals in coordination with our dietician’s recommendations for each resident. Meal time is also a social time, with all residents eating their meals together in the dining room and rotating tables bi-monthly to ensure new stories and conversations.

LoriLori has been cooking at the Doolittle Home for 20 years. She was quick to explain that it “feels more like a family than a job.” Lori enjoys getting to know each of the residents and she enjoys watching the young dining room staff interact with the residents. It is good for both the high school students and the residents. Compared to other facilities she has worked in, it is unique to have personal relationships with each student. Lori feels that “all staff truly care about the residents and the home. They are not just doing their job.” This leads to staff longevity which enables the residents to know the staff they interact with each day. Contrary to what some might believe, Lori explains that her cooking at the Home is quite varied. She reviews menus with the residents on a bi-monthly basis and incorporates their suggestions for new dishes. She also explained how individual needs are addressed to ensure the dining experience is positive for each resident. For those who may have difficulty cutting their meat, it is cut for them in the kitchen and served cut up so they can enjoy their meal without feeling embarrassed to ask for assistance or to struggle on their own.

References

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/fw08/olderadults.html

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How to Plan (Rather than React) to Retirement Living

Our residents have their cholesterol and other health needs monitored by the nursing staff.

Our residents have their cholesterol and other health needs monitored by the nursing staff.

Planning to move into a retirement home can be an empowering experience for individuals and families. It can also be overwhelming and scary at times. As life expectancy increases, more people will need a safe place to live after retirement. Instead of reacting to retirement at the eleventh hour, take preemptive steps and plan for your next phase. Read below for a few easy tips on how to choose your own destiny and plan for your future.

As you approach retirement, there are some basic questions to discuss with your family. What level of care do you need to thrive? When answering this question, consider your and your partner’s health needs, identifying the level of care that is most appropriate to maintain your quality of life. What geographical location is most appropriate for your lifestyle and health needs. Some older adults want to live near family or in place where the climate is warm. There are retirement homes in all parts of the country. The key is finding one that addresses your and your family’s needs and preferences. How much money are you able to spend on housing? Finances can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple responsibilities. Consult with a financial planner who has expertise in retirement planning for older adults.

Many older adults utilize a care coordinator to assist them in finding appropriate housing that accounts for lifestyle preferences, health needs, and financial constraints. Elder attorneys are also an available resource for older adults and their families.

The Doolittle Home invites older adults and their families to come for a tour of our facility, ask questions, learn about entry options and understand the services that are available under our roof. Call Virginia today to schedule a tour at 508-543-2694. It is never too early to plan ahead!!

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How to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Card making with Elizabeth is a favorite activity every month.

Card making with Elizabeth is a favorite activity every month.

Memory loss is common at all phases of the lifespan. Older adults, however, are disproportionally impacted by memory loss. While some memory loss is normal for older adults, severe forms of memory loss may signal a more serious medical concern, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Simple memory loss may be preventable.  Read below to learn how to strengthen your memory one small step at a time.

First, read for pleasure on a daily basis. If you’re unable to read, inquire about volunteers to read aloud to you. Or, you can purchase audiobooks or rent them from your local library. Second, adopt a hobby that will help strengthen your memory. Word games, crosswords, and puzzles are examples of games that are fun and also challenging. These games are also appropriate to play with grandchildren during a visit or with peers when socializing.  Lastly, exercise has been shown to help both with overall health and also memory. Completing an exercise regimen should become a crucial part of your everyday routine. If you spend most of the day sitting, consider joining a walking group with other seniors. Working toward a fitness goal with peers can assist in holding you accountable to your health goals as well as to provide an opportunity for socializing.

If you’re concerned about your or a loved one’s loss of memory, visit a primary care doctor or neurologist as soon as possible. When you visit the doctor, come equipped with specific questions and concerns. Appointments with medical doctors are often short; therefore, the more prepared you are the better.

The Doolittle Home’s approach to memory care is unique as we do not have locked units or require all residents with memory limitations to live in the same location of the home. We believe that keeping an elderly person socially engaged and intellectually stimulated under supervision is the best response to loss of memory.

As a boutique retirement community, we are dedicated to individualized care. Our loyal and committed staff forms relationships with every resident and is sensitive to each resident’s particular memory level. Sometimes it is simple reassurance or assistance with dressing, the day of the week, mealtime reminder or encouragement to join a group activity.

We invite you to come see our wonderful facility and meet our staff to learn how we engage all of our residents to enhance their lives. Call Virginia at 508-543-264 for a tour today!

References

www.apa.org/pi/aging/memory-and-aging.pdf

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February is American Heart Month!

american-heart-monthA healthy heart is a key component to maintaining a healthy body. Older adults are particularly prone to cardiovascular disease, with over 42.2 million older adults having one or more cardiovascular diseases. The average annual rates of cardiovascular disease rise approximately 71% from middle to older adulthood. The vast majority of cardiovascular related deaths occur in people ages 75 and older.

The American Heart Association recommends that older adults should have an ankle-brachial index test every one to two years. The purpose of the test is to identify whether plaque has built between the leg arteries, a less common cardiovascular disease. Watching your weight is another key to managing cardiovascular disease and preventing its onset. Integrating gentle exercise into your daily routine is also integral for maintaining a healthy heart. Older adults should also learn about the warning signs of cardiovascular disease, particularly those associated with heart attack and stroke. If you are caring for an older adult, seek resources to educate yourself and your loved one on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Changing your daily routine can be difficult if taken on all at once. Aim to make one small change a day.  Particularly if you’re concerned about cardiovascular disease, focus on changing your diet and incorporating exercise. If you smoke, seek help to reduce your nicotine intake. The staggering statistics about cardiovascular disease emphasize the importance of older adults taking preventative measures to ensure the health of their heart.

The Doolittle Home works with our residents individually to ensure that their hearth health is constantly monitored. Through daily checking of vital signs, regular physician visits,  a healthy diet, medicine management and activities for the mind and body, residents of The Doolittle Home enjoy a long and healthy retirement.

Meet Christine Kent, Director of Nursing Services

Christine KentChristine came to Doolittle Home in 1997. A graduate of St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, Christine began her Doolittle Home career as a night shift nurse. Christine has been Director since 2005, and oversees a staff of 25 nurses, CNAs, as well as the Physical Therapist, Medical Director, Dietician, Social Worker, and Pharmacy Consultant. Christine says, “Working at Doolittle Home is like working with family. We all work together as a team to get the job done. What each of us brings to the residents, makes the difference.”

For more information on The Doolittle Home or to schedule a tour, call Virginia at 508-5443-2694 or click here.

 

References

http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319574.pdf

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Preventing-Heart-Disease—At-Any-Age_UCM_442925_Article.jsp

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High Cholesterol: It’s Bad for Your Health

Our residents have their cholesterol and other health needs monitored by the nursing staff.

Our residents have their cholesterol and other health needs monitored by the nursing staff.

High cholesterol is not something with which we are born. Rather, it is something that develops over time as a result of the choices we make around food. Our body reacts to our nutrition and dietary decisions, which might result in high cholesterol.

Surprisingly, only one-fourth of blood cholesterol is ingested from our diet. The majority of the cholesterol in our bodies is produced in the liver. Our bodies require some cholesterol and it is an important part of our composition. Often, though, older adults have too much cholesterol, which can be problematic in maintaining a healthy body. An excess of cholesterol builds as plaque in the arteries, which slows the flow of blood throughout our system. Unfortunately, buildup often occurs in the coronary arteries, which prevents blood from getting to the heart. Clogging of the arteries can lead to heart disease, which is a serious long-term consequence of high cholesterol.

According to Web MD, there are several ways to reduce cholesterol. First, you must set a target. If you’re caring for an older adult, have a conversation with him/her and discuss the target cholesterol number. It’s important that the conversation is collaborative. Older adults should feel accountable to their own heath, even if they are receiving support from people who love them. Avoiding saturated fats, increasing fiber, and other nutritional changes are essential. Also, increasing physical activity is key. If physical activity is difficult, find other ways to stay active like lifting weights or using a stationary exercise bicycle.

Meet Lori DiTomaso, Food Service Supervisor
Lori has been cooking at the Doolittle Home for 20 years, but first heard about it from her father who serviced the piano at the home. She was quick to explain that it “feels more like a family than a job.” Lori enjoys getting to know each of the residents and she enjoys watching the young dining room staff interact with the residents. It is good for both the high school students and the residents. Compared to other facilities she has worked in, it is unique to have personal relationships with each student. Lori feels that “all staff truly care about the residents and the home. They are not just doing their job.” This leads to staff longevity which enables the residents to know the staff they interact with each day. Contrary to what some might believe, Lori explains that her cooking at the home is quite varied. She reviews menus with the residents on a bi-monthly basis and incorporates their suggestions for new dishes. She also explained how individual needs are addressed to ensure the dining experience is positive for each resident. For those who may have difficulty cutting their meat, it is cut for them in the kitchen and served cut up so they can enjoy their meal without feeling embarrassed to ask for assistance or to struggle on their own.

For more information about The Doolittle Home or to schedule a tour, please call us at 508-543-2694 or click here to visit our website.

References
http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/cholesterol-in-seniors

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Staying Connected

Residents Ruth (left) and Ebba enjoy each others company in the sun room.

Staying connected and engaged with others is an important part of growing older. Not only is this important for older adults’ psychological and emotional well being but also it is important for their physical health. Older adults who socialize with friends and stay connected to family members are in better physical health than those who report social isolation. Sometimes older adulthood can be a lonely time, leaving people feeling sad and depressed. If you’re a senior, read below for a few ideas on how to stay engaged as you age.

If you’re home bound and don’t have many visitors, consider adopting a pet. There are many shelters where you can take a pet home for free. Surely, you will feel the benefits of being a pet owner every day. If you want to learn about the joys of being a pet owner, contact your local animal shelter. They will have all of the necessary information about the steps to becoming a pet owner. They might even allow you to call recent customers who have adopted pets and learn about their experiences.

Some ways to connect with people are through jobs, volunteer opportunities, and continuing education. Part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities are available in most towns and all cities. Many older adults seek out work with children or the elderly. Opportunities can include reading aloud to hospital patients, accompanying children/seniors on outings, and facilitating games with children. If working and volunteering are not up your alley, consider continuing your education. Local colleges and adult enrichment programs often offer courses in creative writing, literature, woodworking, knitting, and others that are open to the public.

Local senior centers or coalition on aging councils are a great way to get out of the house and meet others. Many towns and cities have senior centers, some even with transportation available, so that older adults can come together, play games, exercise, eat lunch, attend information sessions on health and more. The directors of these centers are often well-versed in outreach programs for seniors and keep their center bustling with engaging activities.

At Doolittle Home, there is an activity to engage the residents everyday, thanks to Roz Champagne, Activities Director.

Stan with Roz, Doolittle Home's Activities Director

Roz is adored by the residents. Starting as a volunteer in 2001 before being employed as a Dietary Aide for Doolittle Home, a natural fit was realized when the Director of Activities position became open in January 2004. Roz spends the morning in the nursing unit, followed by various activities, such as a morning stretch program, music appreciation, puzzles, games, poetry, and current events. In the afternoon, Roz can be found in the main house, entertaining the residents with bingo, spelling bees, trivia, amongst other enjoyable activities. Roz books all the entertainment for Doolittle Home with visitors ranging from Crossroads Children Center singing their little hearts out for residents to various community groups and musicians. Doolittle Home’s van provides transportation for trips within the region for out of the home services, such as doctor and dentist appointments, local shopping, and trips to Norton Public Library. Roz is coordinator of Doolittle Home’s volunteer program. Volunteer activities include therapy dog visits, a woman’s discussion group, poetry hour, card making and crafts, as well as a one-on-one program, where volunteers are paired with residents. On Wednesdays each week, bowling is a featured activity, with the mornings focusing on competition and afternoons featuring an assisted bowling program designed for those needing extra care from Doolittle Home’s physical therapist, Marge Howard. Roz is a native North Attleboro resident with 8 children, 14 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and one very tired husband. Roz always brings her sense of humor and passion for helping others

 

 

 

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Adjusting to a New Home

Ruth (left) and Ebba are adjusting well to their new home.

Adjusting to assisted living is a challenging transition both for seniors and for their loved ones. One of the most difficult aspects of the change is the older adult living in a different place with new people. Often, a motivating factor for the transition to assisted living is concerns about older adults’ safety living alone. Also, many seniors require more consistent monitoring and increased social engagement, which families are unable to provide without assistance. Although the benefits of assisted living are fruitful, there are also difficult moments in the initial transition phase. Read below for some tips to an smoother transition from independent to assisted living.

Planning visits with friends and loved ones prior to the move is helpful. If you’re a caregiver or family member, facilitating the move is likely one of your roles. Seniors can enter their new home with plans that they can look forward to in the near and distant future. Visits do not have to be elaborate. A short shopping trip or chat at a local café often does the trick. Holidays such as Christmas and New Years can include more substantive plans like a home visit or a short trip away.

Click Here To View Our Activity Scrapbook Of Holiday Celebration Photos

If you’re a senior transitioning to a new home, keeping an open mind is very important. No one is denying the difficulty of leaving all that was familiar and moving to a new environment. There are certain choices you can make to help yourself transition more easily. Socializing with other residents and staff members is one way to feel connected to your new home. Attend events hosted by the assisted living facility and bond with your neighbors.

Consider Respite Care at Doolittle Home

Doolittle Home offers respite care for stays of seven days or more. This allows an older adult to get a taste of Doolittle Home and engage in the daily activities and events while the caregiver takes a vacation or prepares for the holidays. With three hot meals a day, social interaction with the staff and residents in a bed and breakfast atmosphere, it is a wonderful experience for the older adult. The caregiver can be at ease knowing all needs, including nursing care and medication management is handled by our dedicated professional staff.

To schedule a tour call Deanna Willis 508.543.2694.
Click Here To Watch What Others Have To Say About Us

References
http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Assisted-Living-Transition-for-elderly-parents-136537.htm

 

 

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November Is National Diabetes Month

Nutrition is an important part of the medical treatment plan for diabetes. Diet is critical for management of the disease because of the way that diabetic bodies change when glucose enters the system. For people without diabetes, the insulin in their bodies moderates the amount of glucose in the blood. When someone has diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin and/or use insulin in the correct way. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs after the age of 40. Therefore, middle and older adults are at risk for developing the disease. Read below for how older adults can prevent the onset of diabetes and curb the effects once diagnosed.

Older adults who are diabetic must maintain a strict diet and exercise regimen to ensure that diabetes does not worsen. Making healthy food choices in line with a diabetic diet is not as challenging as it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. The National Institute of Health advocates for people to divide their plate in fourths. Half of the plate should include non-starchy vegetables.  The other half of the plate should be divided equally into grains and starchy vegetables and protein. If you’re unsure how to proceed with an appropriate food plan, consult a nutritionist recommended by your primary care doctor.

Physical exercise is another essential part of older adults staying healthy with diabetes. Even if engaging in physical activities is difficult, there are always accommodations you can make. For example, if you enjoy playing golf, forgo the cart and walk the course. If you love to dance, join a Zumba class and take breaks when you’re feeling fatigued. At a minimum, stay active and hydrated. Finding a community that supports your healthy lifestyle is a perfect first step. For more information about Diabetes, visit the national diabetes website.

Doolittle Home provides medication management for all of our residents. We also have a dietician on staff who works with our dietary team to ensure that each resident’s nutritional needs are carefully met. Three healthy and delicious meals are provided to our residents each day with the availability of snacks between meals. In addition, we have 24/7 nursing staff in the home who also monitor residents’ daily health. To learn about all the many services provided at Doolittle Home, please click here.

References
http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/diabetes-older-people-disease-you-can-manage#sthash.E6Y1Paf8.dpuf

 

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