Dry eye is a condition experienced by many elderly people as their eyes change due to age. Although dry eye can be uncomfortable and painful, it is not a dangerous health condition and is fairly easy to treat in many cases. Dry eye can be addressed at a routine eye examination, which all seniors should have regularly. Elder caregivers can help seniors address their dry eye symptoms so they can be more comfortable.Read More
Caregivers of Older Adults
Topics: Elder Care Issues
Although caregivers play an increasingly vital role in society while making momentous contribution to the lives of the ones they serve, they are often overlooked -- particularly when it comes to acknowledging and managing their own needs and wellbeing. This is what makes the Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) program so special. Having reached over 80,000 caregivers in 36 states since its inception 12 years ago, this program offers invaluable assistance to this largely overworked and underserved segment of the population.
Caregiving is a challenge, but there are ways to cope, connect, and thrive in the role.Read More
Topics: Caregiver Info
Wandering and elopement are common yet problematic behaviors among seniors with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, more than 34,000 patients with Alzheimer's wander out of their homes annually; in institutionalized settings, it is estimated that as many as 24 percent of patients wander. Unfortunately, as the population continues to age, incidences of wandering and elopement are also increasing. Let's take a closer look at this issue, along with coping and prevention methods.
If your loved one suffers from dementia, wandering may be a threat.
What is Elopement?
Elopement simply describes an incident in which a person with cognitive loss wanders out of a safe area, such as a home or nursing facility. In some cases, elopement results from an intentional attempt to leave. In others, it's an unintentional act caused by disorientation and memory loss.
Whatever the cause, elopement can lead to significant safety concerns -- particularly in cases of extreme weather, prolonged exposure, injury, and the risk of becoming lost.
All government-licensed nursing facilities are required to report nursing elopements, which will result in investigation along with the chance of fines -- regardless of whether or not an injury occurred. In addition to implementing preventative measures for the safety of their residents, nursing homes must also consider repercussions for their own business.
Risk Factors for Elopement
Patients with a history of wandering or attempted elopement have significantly increased chances of repeating these behaviors. Other indications that elopement might occur include signs of agitation and restlessness, attempts to open doors, and expression of the desire to leave -- whether to go home, to work, or to an alternate location.
Patients who are able to move freely and could be mistaken for visitors are at particular risk, although any individual with a dementia diagnosis is vulnerable to wandering behavior.
Elopement Risk Prevention
Raising awareness among home caregivers and nursing home staff about wandering and elopement is essential. This isn't just limited to immediate caregivers, but also includes educating everyone from housekeeping to front desk to dining room staff about risk factors and behaviors. Reporting these incidents is the first step in assessing and understanding an individual's risk of elopement.
Scheduled diversion activities also offer valid interventions. Regular exercise and involvement in purposeful daily activities are effective preventative measures. Additionally, environmental interventions, including alarm systems, clearly identified housing and bathrooms, and location checks add another level of security.
MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return program offers invaluable services for patients who are prone to wandering. This 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with any form of dementia activates a community support network mobilizing local law enforcement, Alzheimer's Association chapters and other emergency responders, as necessary. Additionally, many states now have "Silver Alerts" public notifications systems which broadcast information about missing seniors in order to aid in their safe return.
While wandering and elopement are very real threats for seniors, raising awareness, understanding risk factors, and taking appropriate preventative measures can lead to best outcomes. For more information on wandering and elopement or on an alternate subject mmlearn.org offers a large library of free videos for caregivers of older adults, covering topics pertaining to senior care. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a family caregiver, if you are caring for an older adult we know that you will find mmlearn.org an essential learning and guidance tool for all of your caregiver training needs.
Prescription plus OTC meds can add up to a dangerous equation.Read More
Basic Rules for Wheelchair Transfers
Moving in and out of a wheelchair takes both strength and coordination. While some people who use wheelchairs are able to manage this daily task on their own, others require assistance. The following basic techniques typically apply:
- Move the wheelchair as close as possible to the surface/area to where you are moving the individual.
- Transfer on the stronger side of the patient's body.
- When moving someone in and out of a wheelchair, the chair should always be locked.
- If you're moving upward -- for example, up a curb or stairs -- pull the wheelchair backwards.
- The wheelchair user should be seated with legs at a right angle (90 degrees) at both knee and hip.
- The foot pedals should always be swung out of the way or raised completely.
- Move the armrest out of the way on the side where you are transferring.
- The person's feet should be flat on the floor, unless he/she has been directed otherwise.
- If the individual you are moving starts to fall, do not try to prevent him/her from the fall. Instead, bend your knees and slowly lower him to the chair, bed, floor, or other safe surface. Call for help, if necessary.
In some cases, extra help will be required to move the person in and out of the wheelchair, and to make the process safer for both patient and caregiver. Common transfer aids include gait belts, mechanical lifts, and sliding boards. Before using these devices, inspect all straps, materials, stitching, hooks and chains to ensure that they are in good condition. If they look frayed or broken, refrain from using them.
Understanding how to make wheelchair transfers offers increased safety and security for caregivers and patients alike.
Additional Help With Wheelchair Transfers
The appearance of new sores or skin problems, differences in the condition of the patient's shoulders, arms, or other body parts, and complaints of new pain following a transfer are signs that you should call the doctor.
If you are uncertain about the transfer process or have any questions, a trained healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or nurse, can be a valuable resource.
Lastly, remember that as each person's abilities vary, so do their transfer needs. The amount of help you provide will depend on the specifics of the situation, including whether the person is moving in or out of a car, toilet seat, or shower chair. The tips and techniques can help makes transfers easier and safer for individuals and their caregivers.
Visiting someone with dementia can be overwhelming when it comes to expectations -- particularly if you're unfamiliar with the disease and its progression. Let's take a closer look at some tips and techniques designed to ensure that both you and your aging loved one get the most out of visits.
1. Keep it Short
The phrase "short and sweet" absolutely applies when it comes to visiting someone with dementia. Limit your visit to no more than an hour, particularly if you're spending time with someone who tires easily. And remember, quality of time is much more important than quantity of time.
More than 40 million people in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at risk for the disease because of low bone mass, according to the National Institutes of Health. Just how critical is this issue? Bone health has been declared to be a "national public health priority," by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Seniors are particularly susceptible to this widespread disease, which can lead to fractures and a number of other health complications. Let's take a closer look at what caregivers need to know about this significant threat to senior health.
As people age, their risk of developing skin-related disorders increases. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, these ailments can not only be painful and irritating, but may also affect the health and wellbeing of seniors. This piece takes a closer look at the top three reasons why seniors should see a dermatologist.
A dermatologist will thoroughly check the skin for changes,
which may indicate skin cancer.
Topics: Caregiver Info
Cardiologists. Neurologists. Gastroenterologists. Ophthalmologists. Urologists. As a caregiver of an older adult you are probably struggling to juggle the long list of healthcare providers your loved one is seeing in addition to a primary care physician. But is it time to add one more to the list? Let's take a closer look at the role of geriatricians, and whether one might be a valuable addition to your aging loved one's healthcare team.
A geriatrician is trained to meet his/her specific needs.Read More
While many people assume that seniors stop having sex after a certain age, this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, 61 percent of men and 37 percent of women over the age of 60 are sexually active, according to a study by the National Institute on Aging. While the topic may seem awkward, caregivers can play an important role in ensuring that seniors are maintaining safe, healthy sexual relationships. Here's what you need to know.Read More