Browsing Category

For Caregivers

November 9, 2016

5 easy tips to avoid falls: Reduce your personal fall risk!

avoid falls

 

“What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

According to Greek Mythology, this is the classic riddle delivered by the Sphinx. According to the myth, if any person who was asked this riddle could not answer, they were thrown down against the rocks and killed by the Sphinx.  When this riddle was posed to Oedipus Rex, he considered his words carefully and declared the answer in one word; Man.

His reasoning was as a baby, a human goes about on all fours (“four legs in the morning” – morning being childhood).   Then he learns to walk, which he does well into adulthood (“two legs in the afternoon” – afternoon being adulthood).  Finally, advanced age requires him to use a cane to support himself (“three legs in the evening” – evening being old age).

It is the evening I wish to discuss in this post.

It is so important to avoid falls. Statistically 1 in 4 aging adults will be injured in a fall this year. Falls prevention is such a hot topic that the federal government NCOA has devoted a whole program strictly centered on fall prevention.

brava-walker avoid falls

Brava Walker

As we age, our once strong bodies sometimes need additional support to continue to be active.  Using canes, walkers or crutches becomes commonplace as balance or coordination skills become affected. Making certain our home environments are adapted to our new skill level is important.  Here are 5 easy to accomplish tips to ensure your environment helps you avoid falls.

  1. First thing to remember is to remove unnecessary clutter in your home.  Removing unnecessary clutter from walkways will help prevent unwanted tripping over objects that you meant to throw away years ago.  Yes we all have them! Clear the pathways of stacks of books and magazines, extra furniture and scatter rugs.
  2. Next thing is to install grab bars in and around your bathing areas.  Nothing feels quite like a hot bath after a long day, so ensure you can traverse these wet, slick areas by installing grab bars everywhere you may need a handhold.  Apply non-slip appliques in the bottom of your tub for extra traction, or use a rubberized bath mat with suction cups.
  3. Make certain you can see objects around you properly to avoid falls.  Knowing where things are supposed to be in your home is not enough.  Be certain you have the proper lighting in your home to see clearly so obstacles won’t become obstacles to you! Add nightlights that come on automatically as night falls- so you won’t!
  4. Have dual handrails installed on stairs- not just on one side, but on both. While climbing stairs we can                                                                    become fatigued more quickly than walking
    avoid falls

    Sugar Cane

    on a level plane.  Dual handrails will help to steady your gait and provide additional support for the body. Avoid falls as you avoid carrying things up and down the stairs as much as you possibly can. Countless falls happen every year as people negotiate the stairs with hands full.

  5. Finally, review your medications side effects.  If a medicine tells you plainly on the bottle, “May cause dizziness”, avoid physical activity for a couple of hours after you take that medication.  Instead, pick up a book or read your favorite blog to enhance your mind! Always use your walker or cane if you do find that your medication is causing dizziness issues, and do speak to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing. Your doctor certainly doesn’t want to increase your fall risk either!

What happened to Oedipus?  Once he answered the riddle of the Sphinx he was free to pass and enjoy life.  All of us here at SpinLife wish the same for you, and hope that using these 5 simple tips will prevent a fall that could do serious damage to your “Oedipus Rex!”

 

 

 

 

November 1, 2016

Understanding the Best Ways to Help your Aging Parents

Aging parents

It can be difficult to decide on the best ways to help your aging parents. This dilemma faces so many family caregivers every day! Does this readers’ question sound familiar?

“My sisters and I have been taking care of our aging parents who are in their late 80’s.  They live in their home and said they won’t leave until they die. BUT my mother won’t let us hire paid help. What shall we do?”

I have been in your position. My dad didn’t want to hire help either. Even if your parents say they don’t want to be a burden, they would probably always choose you to help them over paid care. Put yourself in their shoes–it probably is a bit daunting to have someone they don’t know doing services for them.

It may help if you can get to the heart of your parents’ concerns. Perhaps you think they don’t see how dirty things are, or maybe you think they are concerned about the cost. One day while scrubbing my own father’s bathroom, he told me, “I’ll pay you forty dollars an hour to do  that.” It dawned on me is wasn’t lack of understanding or concern for money that bothered him. He was just reluctant to have strangers in his personal space.

You and your sisters also need to validate your parent’s feelings by letting them know that you endorse their hope of staying in their home. It may also be necessary to re-assure them that paid help will not substitute for the visits they count on from you.

Your aging parents need to understand that it is impractical to think that you can do it all while taking care of your own responsibilities. You and your sisters should get together and review the tasks you currently do, the ones you no longer wish to do and the ones that are simply not getting done. Sit your parents down and go over this list together.

Suggest a compromise that shifts some of the burden, to start. Perhaps you can get your parents to agree to once-a-week housecleaning and grocery shopping while you and your sisters continue to take them to appointments. Or like my dad, who was willing to accept transportation assistance but needed to ease into the idea of strangers in the house. Continue Reading

August 16, 2016

Diagnosis Dementia: Simple Survival Secrets for Caregivers

The dementia epidemic is worldwide

They refer to it as the Dementia Epidemic. As many as 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.

Dementia is an umbrella term describing a variety conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The damages to these nerve cells cause changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly.

When your loved one has a diagnosis of dementia, it brings with it a whole different dimension in caregiving. It brings the dementia epidemic home. Today I’d like to share a few practical strategies to help cope with a multi-faceted issue I experienced first hand.  Emotional, social and psychological implications we’ll discuss in future installments.

My vibrant, independent Mother was slipping. It started subtly enough, with forgotten appointments, missing keys, expired milk in the fridge.

These things happen, right? Then, past-due notices on the bills. What bills? She didn’t remember any bills. Unexplained scratches and dents on her car and finally, friends calling to report she was seen driving down a one-way street…the wrong way. What next!?

A referral to a wonderful, kind neurologist confirmed her diagnosis: Dementia. Mom’s neurologist and I would become close partners in her care over the years. There were a few medications available at the time, and we tried them all without much success. Coping with- not curing- the disease was the only path available. Coping with as much grace as possible was our shared goal.

Diagnosis dementia

In the early stages, dealing with memory loss requires making adjustments to the patient’s environment. It’s not enough to encourage the patient to remember, you must help them remember. Do your best to set them up for success. Here are a few suggestions I found helpful:

A bold calendar in a prominent place, marking appointments and important dates on the calendar. I would call Mother every morning and have her look at the calendar, review what was on for that day to help keep her on track.

Purchase a pill container with days and times, and you or another responsible caregiver will need to fill it, then monitor that the patient is being compliant. Special programmable pill containers are available to prevent overdosing.

A basket placed by the front door gave her a place to put her mail each day (until I could go through it) and kept the bills from being discarded.

Along with the memory loss, Mothers’ balance and coordination were affected. We noticed that in order to steady herself she had to hold on to the furniture and walls as she moved about the house. After several falls resulted in trips to the ER, we purchased a rolling walker which she kept constantly by her side. That rollator gave her self-confidence a real boost, and allowed her to continue to be mobile for years to come.

rolling walkers help with balance and coordination

Mom wanted to stay in her own home at all costs. Fortunately, it was an accessible rancher that she had built for my Dad when he became wheelchair bound, so the accessibility assets were already in place. If that’s not the case for you, a safety audit will help you identify potentially dangerous hazards that may need to be addressed.

Bathroom safety is a big issue. Read our blog post Four easy steps to a safer bathroom for some great suggestions.

 

Even though I lived nearby, was my Mother safe alone? Sometimes she couldn’t remember basic things- like using the television remote, or dialing the phone. Sometimes she would invite complete strangers inside her home- just because they came to her door. This scared me to death! What would she do in an emergency? emergency dialing telephone system with emergency pendant

We had to insist, but eventually we added an emergency dialing phone system. It came with a pendant Mom could wear even in bed or while showering, just in case. It was set up to dial several personal numbers (the gal next door and me, of course) as well as 911 for fire and police. Knowing she had that phone and pendant gave us real peace of mind.

 

Dementia is a progressive disease, and learning to manage your loved one’s care will be a work in progress…stay tuned for further articles on coping with dementia, and God Bless!

 

August 11, 2016

5 Fantastic Accessible Playgrounds

Jakes Place accessible playgrounds

Playgrounds have come a long way over the years- check out these accessible playgrounds

It’s not enough anymore to make sure that basic ramps are in place or that standard safety measures are applied. These days, accessible playgrounds are meant for everyone—young and old—to have fun, interact and experience the freedom of learning and play. These places cater to people of all ages with sensory, physical or psychological  needs, as well as the needs of their friends, parents and caregivers.

Here are a handful of our favorites:

Clemyjontri Park, Fairfax County, Virginia

Managed by the County of Fairfax, Clemyjontri is two acres of color and imagination, with everything from a wheelchair drag strip to a wheelchair accessible carousel. A little something for everyone, whether you want to climb and run, or just touch and interact.

6317 Georgetown Pike  McLean, Virginia 22101

Accessible playgrounds Little girl in X'Cape wheelchair wearing TuTu

 

 

 

Jake’s Place, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Located in Challenge Grove Park, creators refer to Jake’s Place as a “boundless” playground that offers children and adults with special needs with action, lifts slides and sensory activities.  There are even special areas where autistic kids can take off by themselves.

132 Bortons Mill Rd Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

 

Can-Do Playground, Wilmington, Delaware

Located inside the Alapocas Run State Park, this park is nestled in and around gardens and trees, creating an oasis of play for everyone.  Adapted swings, raised sandboxes and mazes give children with almost any level of ability something to do.

Accessible playgrounds two boys playing, one boy in Quickie 2 wheelchair

4361 Weldin Road Wilmington, DE 19803

 

 

Reese’s Retreat, Pasadena, California

What’s better than pirates and a ship to go with them?  Reese’s Retreat is almost a half-acre of accessible fun, with wheel-chair friendly flooring, along with the water and sand play any pirate might expect.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd Pasadena, CA  91103

Accessible playgrounds, special needs child in stroller with lady

Preston’s H.O.P.E.

The largest fully accessible playground in northeast Ohio. Preston’s has everything from kid’s sized houses and stores to sand area and theater.

26001 South Woodland Rd. Beachwood, Ohio 44122

 

July 20, 2016

Bringing the patient home: 5 things you should know following a hospital stay

SpinLife.com : Bringing home the patient

Bringing home the patient – 5 simple steps to take following a hospital stay.

I recently helped my mother bring my father home from the hospital after quintuple bypass surgery. This transition was an eye-opening experience. I realized how emotionally draining and stressful it can be for everyone involved. When it is time for the patient to come home, everyone is relieved. At the same time, though, they may be wondering…what happens next?

Whether the hospital stay is a long or short one, there are some basic steps I’ve learned that you and your family can take to make sure the transition is as stress-free as possible.

Continue Reading