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Safety Precautions for Dementia Sufferers

Individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s rely on their loved ones and caregivers to ensure their safety. Without proper supervision and safety precautions in place, dementia sufferers often find themselves in dangerous and even life-threatening situations. For example, they may forget to turn off a stove burner, resulting in a house fire, or they might get confused and wander out of the house alone.

Because of these risks, the family members of dementia sufferers frequently feel that they have no choice but to place their loved one in a nursing home or supervised care facility. However, individuals who are still in the earlier stages of the disease can often maintain some independence and continue to live at home or with family members — provided some important safety precautions are put in place.

Keep dangerous items of out of reach

First, you need to make sure that the individual cannot access dangerous items, such as insecticides and other chemicals, toxic cleaning supplies, power tools, lighters and matches, weapons, and medications. Store these types of items in locked cabinets and ensure that the keys are not easily accessible. You may also want to use child-safety locks on cabinets and drawers that contain potentially dangerous items.

Utilize smart home and safety devices

At the bare minimum, test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure that they will work in an emergency. You should also keep at least one fire extinguisher readily available. However, there are all types of smart home devices that can also help you keep your loved one safe — and even make their life easier.

For example, a smart watch can track the individual's location and movements, while home monitoring or security devices can alert you to opened doors and windows or even let you keep an eye on your loved one. You can also use a stove monitoring device that provides an auto-shutoff function and allows you to control the appliance remotely.

Ensure easy navigation

Dementia patients may have difficulty navigating their environment, so spaces should be open and easy to walk through, with no heavy rugs or cords that are easy to trip on. Large pieces of furniture should be secured to prevent tipping if the individual grabs onto them to steady themselves. Lighting is also important, especially if the individual has poor eyesight. Make sure that all rooms and hallways can be well lit both day and night.

Protect against wandering

There are many different ways to prevent or discourage dementia sufferers from wandering out of the home. Most importantly, you should install sturdy locks either significantly lower or higher on the door than normal — outside of eye level — and don’t leave the keys in a visible, easily accessed place. You can also hang a curtain or tapestry in front of the door to camouflage it and install child safety devices on the doorknobs. A standard stop sign mounted on the door may also be effective.

However, you should have other precautions in place in case these tools fail. So speak to neighbors about the situation and have them call if they see your loved one wander out of the home. Wearable devices can also help you track the person down if they do leave, and an ID bracelet will allow others to identify your loved one if they are found wandering.

Enlist the help of at-home caregivers

You can’t be by your loved one’s side 24/7, but you can employ a full or part-time caregiver to regularly check up on them and be there when you can’t be. An in-home caregiver can assist your loved one with things like daily tasks, hygiene, preparing meals, medication compliance, and ensuring their overall safety. 

At Right Hand Senior Care, our caregivers have the experience, training, and expertise to support and care for sufferers of dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you would like more information on our services, feel free to contact us at (insert phone) or (insert email).

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How to Keep Seniors from Feeling Lonely or Isolated

Studies have shown that warding off loneliness among seniors and keeping them socially engaged is vital for their mental and physical well-being. In fact, researchers have determined that seniors who feel socially isolated exhibit much higher blood pressure and stress levels and even have a shorter life expectancy.

Clearly, it’s important to make sure that aging loved ones develop and maintain meaningful social connections. But this can be difficult for seniors who are less independent or mobile. In addition, elderly individuals may not share their feelings of loneliness because they don’t want to be a burden.

If you are concerned about your senior loved one’s social life and want to help them engage with their friends, family, and community, here are some tips to help address and prevent loneliness and isolation.

Check for Underlying Medical Conditions

Sometimes elderly individuals have physical limitations that may keep them from fully engaging with the people around them. For example, they may be experiencing some hearing loss and find it difficult to hear or understand others. So it’s a good idea to make sure your loved one sees their doctor regularly and has access to any assistance devices they may need.

You should also keep in mind that loneliness and isolation can cause depression — and vice versa. Your loved one may benefit from seeing a therapist to improve and maintain their mental health and well-being or address any concerns that may be preventing them from engaging socially.

Teach Them to Use New Technology

Some seniors have no problem keeping up with changing technology and new devices, but many more need a little help learning how to use their smartphones and computers properly. Video chat tools like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime can give your loved one more opportunities to connect with their friends and family members through face-to-face conversations.

However, it’s important to make sure that you also teach them about internet safety. Make sure they know how to protect their passwords, what kind of personal information they can and can’t share, and how to recognize common scams. It’s also a good idea to check their devices and make sure they have the correct privacy settings and security protocols in place.

Support Their Hobbies and Activities

Group hobbies or activities are a great way for seniors to socialize regularly. If your loved one already has hobbies they enjoy, help them find local groups or meet-ups in their area to share their passion with others. If they do not have any regular hobbies, encourage them to try out something new that they’ve always been interested in. When they find something they enjoy, keep them invested by asking questions and providing ongoing support.

Things like volunteering, exercise classes, and senior center programs are also excellent opportunities for your loved ones to socialize, learn new skills, and improve their physical and mental well-being.

Build Up Their Community

Your loved one likely already has friends, family members, church groups, and social circles, but they may feel hesitant to reach out, for fear of interrupting others’ busy lives. You can help by simply scheduling visits or phone calls from family and friends. And it doesn’t have to be an all-day event. Just having lunch together or taking time for a 20-minute phone call can make a world of difference for your loved one.  

Use the Power of Pets

If your loved one is mentally sound and physically able to care for a pet, consider getting them a 24/7 four-legged companion. There are numerous studies that show the mental and physical health benefits of pets and the constant, unconditional love that they offer.

However, you should keep your loved one’s activity level, physical capabilities, and realistic life expectancy in mind when choosing a pet. For example, a large dog that needs frequent walks may be too much for them to handle, and a puppy or kitten will need a reliable home for the next 12-16 years. So adopting an adult or even senior pet may be a better option.

Consider In-Home Care

While senior or assisted living facilities can surround your loved one with a community of their peers, most seniors prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible. So you may want to consider an in-home caregiver who can help your loved one maintain their independence and provide a social connection. If your loved one just needs a little extra help and someone to talk to, Right Hand Senior Care offers in-home companion care services designed to fit each senior’s individual needs. To learn more about our services, you can contact us at

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Activities to Keep the Senior Mind Sharp and Active

While some cognitive decline is inevitable as we age, there are many fun ways to help maintain and even improve brain function and memory. You can think of these activities as exercises for the brain. Just as physical exercise helps strengthen your body, mental exercise helps strengthen your brain, reducing the risk of dementia and keeping your mind sharp.

Hobbies

If you already have hobbies that you enjoy, regularly engaging in these activities will keep your mind active and improve your physical and mental health and well-being. But if you don’t have any hobbies, now is the time to find some! Stimulating hobbies can include things like:

  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Playing an instrument
  • Painting or drawing
  • Sewing, knitting, or crocheting
  • Photography

Physical Exercise

Exercise is good for every part of your body, and that includes your brain. Regular physical exercise can help you maintain your cognitive function and even help your brain form new connections to replace those that are lost as you age. Even simple brisk walking a few times a week can make a huge difference.

Cards and Board Games

Playing cards and board games stimulates your mind and improves focus and memory. Games that rely on strategy are especially good for exercising the brain. Play with friends or loved ones for the added brain-boosting power of socialization. 

Listening to Music

You don’t have to play an instrument to benefit from the mind-stimulating effects of music. Just listening to music that you enjoy can improve brain function and memory in aging adults. But if you want to pick up a new hobby, it’s never too late to learn an instrument.

Reading and Writing

Any kind of reading or writing can help sharpen the mind and improve cognitive function. You can write letters to friends and family members, keep a journal, write your memoirs, or try your hand at poetry or storytelling. If you have trouble concentrating or comprehending what you’re reading, there are plenty of quality young adult and even children’s books that may be easier to get through.

Video Games

Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. Studies have shown that video games can help improve memory, reflexes, critical thinking skills, and general cognitive health. If you have grandchildren, ask them to teach you to play some of their favorite games. It might be a great bonding activity that also helps you keep your mind sharp and active.

Word and Logic Puzzles

Activities like crossword puzzles, sudoku, word searches, and other word and logic games can be done anytime, anywhere. You can get physical books of puzzles or use apps on your phone or computer. Either way, these types of puzzles are great for improving memory and stimulating your brain.

Jigsaw Puzzles

The good thing about jigsaw puzzles is that they come in a wide variety of challenging levels — from 20-piece puzzles to 2,000-piece puzzles. As an added bonus, you can frame your completed puzzle to show off your hard work and get a nice piece of art to enjoy.

Socializing

Socializing helps you stay connected with your friends, loved ones, and the world around you, and it also stimulates your mind and keeps your brain active. You can simply invite a friend over for coffee and conversation, ask a family member to join you for one of the activities listed above, or look for events, classes, or get-togethers in your area.

These are just a few of the many ways you can exercise your brain and keep your mind sharp and active as you age. If you have a regular in-home caregiver, they can help you participate in brain-stimulating activities and hobbies, so you can maintain your cognitive function, memory, and independence. For more information on in-home senior care, feel free to contact us at (insert phone) or (insert email).

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Communicating With a Loved One With Dementia

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may find it difficult to communicate with them effectively. They may have trouble understanding what you are saying or finding the words they need to respond. Many times, dementia patients experience personality changes and extreme mood swings that cause them to lash out from frustration.

Our training and experience caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients has taught us what works and what doesn’t when it comes to communication. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, we hope these tips will help you communicate with them more effectively and foster better interactions.

Focus on body language

It can be difficult and frustrating trying to communicate with someone who has dementia, especially if it is advanced. The most important thing to remember is that even if they don’t fully understand your words, they can still pick up on your tone and body language. 

So try to maintain a respectful, cheerful tone and friendly, comforting body language. If you find yourself getting upset, frustrated, or angry, step away and give yourself a minute to calm down and correct your body language to avoid escalating the situation. 

You should also watch their body language, so you can recognize when they are getting confused or frustrated and redirect the interaction appropriately. 

Get their undivided attention

Ambient noise can be distracting and overwhelming for dementia sufferers, so make sure that the room is as quiet as possible before speaking with them. Turn off the TV or music, shut the door and windows, or move to a quieter area. 

Make sure you’re at eye level with them and address them by their name to get their attention. Before you begin your questions or instructions, let them know who you are and your relationship to them. If they seem unfocused, try using body language or a gentle touch to direct their attention back to you.  

Speak plainly and simply

Be sure to use simple language and short sentences, and speak slowly and enunciate your words. If your loved one seems confused or does not respond, repeat yourself using the same words and tone and resist the urge to speak louder. 

Ask yes-or-no questions, rather than open-ended questions. If they need to decide between multiple options, limit it to just a couple of choices and provide a visual aid, if possible. In addition, if they need to perform a task, try breaking it down into simple, basic steps and introduce the steps one at a time.

Use empathy and compassion

As frustrating and upsetting as caring for a loved one with dementia can be, remember that it is extremely difficult for them as well. Recognize and respond to their feelings, and don’t try to argue with them or convince them otherwise when they misremember something. 

If your loved one begins to get agitated or distressed, use comforting words, tone, and body language and gentle, affectionate touch. It can also be helpful to change the topic and come back to it later or even move to a new environment. 

Reminisce together

Since Alzheimer’s and dementia affect short-term memory more severely than long-term, your loved one may still be able to recall their younger days. Many dementia sufferers can clearly remember their early lives and enjoy reminiscing about their youth. This activity is not only comforting and enjoyable for them. It also gives you the opportunity to learn more about their life and bond with them over their experiences.  

We hope that these tips will help communicate with your loved one better and create a warm, compassionate environment for them. But caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be a challenging, around-the-clock job, so don’t forget to take time for yourself. Our professional in-home caregivers would love to help support you and become a part of your loved one’s care team. For more information, visit (Home) or contact us at ((985) 778-2779). 

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How to Pay for In-Home Senior Care

When an aging parent or loved one begins to lose the ability to adequately care for themselves and manage day-to-day tasks, it usually falls to their family members to decide how to ensure they get the help they need. Many people assume that in-home care is cost prohibitive and that their only options are to become a caregiver themselves or place their loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

However, there are many ways to offset or cover the costs of quality in-home care. These programs and methods can help you pay for in-home care for your loved one, so they can preserve their independence and stay in their own home as long as possible.

Long-term care insurance

Your loved one may already have care contingencies in place through a long-term care insurance (LTC) policy. LTC benefits can vary, but many policies at least partially cover the cost of in-home care through a licensed care agency. 

Your loved one may not even know or remember that they have an LTC, especially if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. So you may want to look through their paperwork for any policy documents, check their bank account for insurance payments, or speak with their usual insurance agency to see if they have LTC coverage.  

If you determine that they do have an LTC policy, you can check their benefits to see if they qualify for in-home care, how much the plan pays out, and how to claim the benefits. If you aren’t sure about the specifics, we can help you go over the policy and find out whether it covers in-home care.

Life insurance policy

Many people don’t realize that life insurance policies can often be paid out while the individual is still living. If your loved one has a life insurance policy through their former workplace or independently, you may be able to use it to pay for in-home care. 

Some life insurance policies can be cashed out early at a reduced payout. To find out if your loved one’s policy qualifies, look for something called “living benefits” or “accelerated benefits.” However, some insurance companies only allow you to cash out the plan early if the policyholder is terminally ill.

There is also the option for a “senior settlement” or “life settlement,” which is where you sell the policy to a company for a portion of the total value. Either of these methods can help you cover the cost of in-home care.

Medicaid waivers

Medicaid usually only covers short-term or limited long-term in-home care. However, your loved one may qualify for a Medicaid-funded Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver to pay for extended in-home care. 

These waivers are designed for elderly individuals who would otherwise have to be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility. HCBS waivers are issued based on need and financial status, and you can speak with your local Medicaid office to see if your loved one qualifies and find out how to apply. 

Veteran’s benefits

If your loved one served in the military, they might qualify for veteran’s benefits that can help pay for in-home care. These benefits are in addition to any other retirement or disability payments that they already receive. 

The application process can be slow and daunting, but if your loved one qualifies, the benefits are well worth the hassle. If you are not sure whether your loved one qualifies or how to apply, you can check with the VA. And we’re always happy to help you navigate the process.

Reverse mortgage

Reverse mortgages can provide extra income to pay for in-home care. If your loved one does not meet the requirements for any of the programs already mentioned, you may want to look into this option. However, this method is only available if your loved one’s house is fully paid off. 

A reverse mortgage is exactly what it sounds like. The bank determines the value of the home and pays out either a lump sum or monthly payments for the life of the homeowner. When the homeowner passes away, the home must be sold to pay off the loan balance that has accrued.  

Family cost share

If none of these options are available, many families choose to split the cost of care, often between the children of the elderly individual. Depending on how many family members are willing to contribute, this can bring the per-person cost down significantly. 

We are dedicated to providing quality in-home care that is affordable and accessible to people throughout our communities. If you need help determining which benefits your loved one qualifies for, we are always available to answer any questions and offer assistance. Feel free to contact us at ((985) 778-2779) or (Email Info@RightHandCare.com) to learn more about affordable in-home care.

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Safe Exercising for Seniors

It is recommended that adults aged 65 and older get at least two and half hours of moderate exercise each week, or around 30 minutes every day. Consistent exercise can help improve and maintain mental and physical health and general well-being. It can also alleviate or correct some chronic health problems.

Even seniors with limited mobility can incorporate daily exercise into their routines. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any new workouts or training programs, especially if you are new to exercising. When you’re ready to begin, here are some safe exercise options for seniors of all physical ability levels.  

Why exercise is important for seniors

While exercise is key to a good quality life for individuals of any age, it is especially important for older adults. Moderate aerobic exercise can help older adults improve and maintain their:

  • Strength and muscle mass
  • Balance and coordination
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Mood and mental health
  • Independence and self-reliance

By making exercising a habit, seniors can live longer, healthier, happier lives. But it’s important to exercise safely and avoid straining your body past its limits, especially if you have chronic health problems or physical limitations. 

Exercises for seniors with full mobility

If you have low or no physical limitations, there is a wide variety of exercises you can do. But the easiest way to stick with a workout routine is to find one that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to. 

Many seniors, even if they are in good health, need low-impact exercises that put less stress on their joints. So here are some great workout options that can help improve joint function, rather than hurting it.

Yoga — Yoga is a good choice for improving strength, balance, and flexibility. You can use beginner level DVDs or online videos to start practicing at home, or you can attend classes at a local gym or yoga studio. 

Pilates — Pilates offers many of the same benefits as yoga, but with a greater emphasis on building strength and muscle mass. While you can do some pilates training at home, a gym or pilates studio will offer more of the specialized equipment used in the practice. 

Swimming — Swimming is a fantastic low-impact form of exercise that works every part of the body. If you don’t have access to a private pool that you can use, many gyms and recreation centers have lap pools for exercise.

Water aerobics — Water aerobics classes are extremely popular, as this type of workout is ideal for individuals with weak or painful joints. The buoyancy of the water eases joint stress, while the natural resistance helps build strength.  

Walking — Simply and classic, walking is a fun, relaxing way to get into an exercise routine. You can stroll through your neighborhood, walk around your local mall, or take a nature walk through the woods. 

Resistance band training — A cheap, basic set of resistance bands can provide you with a full workout that addresses every part of your body. You can easily do resistance band training at home, either with a list of exercises or by following along with a video.

Exercises for seniors with limited mobility

If you have limited mobility or more severe physical limitations, there are still plenty of exercises that you can do to improve your health and well-being. These exercise routines are great for seniors who have difficulty standing or walking.

Chair yoga — Like regular yoga, chair yoga helps improve strength and flexibility. However, it can be done completely from a seated position, making it an excellent option for immobile individuals.

Range of motion — This type of exercise consists mainly of gentle stretching to improve joint function and range of motion and reduce stiffness. To do this kind of exercise, you’ll need the help of a caregiver who can gently and safely ease you into the stretches.

Pedal exercises — With this workout, you’ll use a small machine called a pedal exerciser to improve arm and leg strength. It's simple to do, only requires one compact piece of equipment, and it is designed to be performed from a bed or chair. 

Resistance band training — Resistance band training made it on both lists, because it is fully adaptable to the abilities of the participant. If you have difficulty standing or walking, you can use resistance bands from a sitting or even reclining position. 

Exercising safely

While exercise is vital to whole body health, it’s equally important to make sure that you are exercising safely. Pushing yourself to do a little more is great, but remember to avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. A bit of soreness after a workout is normal, but an acute, intense pain is not.

So if you experience significant pain during or after a workout, make sure you visit your doctor to get it checked out as soon as possible and avoid any more exercise until your doctor clears you for it. If you have any severe problems, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or extreme dizziness, alert your caregiver or call 911 right away.

A great way to stay committed to an exercise program is to have a workout partner or accountability person. Have a friend, family member, or caregiver remind you to get your exercise in regularly or even workout with you. An in-home caregiver can help you exercise safely and consistently, especially if you have mobility issues. If you’re interested in in-home care, feel free to reach out to us for more information (Contact Us).

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