Parkinson’s Disease in the Elderly: Understanding the 5 Stages

April 5th, 2017

Parkinson's disease in the elderlyMore common in men, and more widespread than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined, Parkinson’s disease strikes upwards of 7 – 10 million people globally, with another 600,000 Americans diagnosed every year. And while every person’s experience with the disease differs in severity, there are five stages of progression that are typical for all. In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Visiting Angels in Sunnyvale, CA shares the following facts for you to know about Parkinson’s disease in the elderly:

Stage 1: Known as early-stage Parkinson’s, during the course of this stage the individual usually has only mild signs or symptoms that may present as follows:

  • Symptoms are only on one side of the body
  • Symptoms are troublesome, but not disabling
  • Uncontrolled tremors or shaking in one limb may be noticed
  • Family and friends can often detect differences in the person’s posture, balance, and facial expressions

Stage 2: During the second stage of Parkinson’s, an inability to complete standard physical tasks may become more apparent:

  • Symptoms will impact both sides of the body
  • The individual has minimal disability, and in most cases experiences ambulatory or balance problems
  • Posture is affected

Stage 3: This phase is regarded as moderate Parkinson’s disease, and more significant disability will begin to be apparent:

  • There is a considerable slowing down of the body movements
  • Early impairment of equilibrium may result in the inability to walk straight or stand
  • There is generalized dysfunction that is moderately significant

Stage 4: Stage four signifies advanced Parkinson’s disease and is accompanied by severe symptoms:

  • Rigidity and bradykinesia, or sluggish movements are often apparent
  • The person is unable to complete daily tasks and generally cannot live independently
  • Tremors may lessen or disappear completely for unknown reasons during this time

Stage 5: The final stage of the disease usually takes over the patient’s physical movements:

  • The individual generally experiences a general decline in vitality and strength of the body and mind
  • The individual may not be able to walk or stand
  • One-on-one care is needed

Visiting Angels’ in home caregivers are fully trained in all aspects of senior home care, and can help those with Parkinson’s and other conditions of aging to live fuller, more comfortable and independent lives, right at home. Whether it’s help with daily personal care, transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ appointments or to run errands, light housekeeping and meal preparation, or simply a cheerful companion to brighten up the day, our elder care services in Sunnyvale, CA and the surrounding areas are tailored to each person’s needs and preferences. Contact us any time to learn more at 408-735-0977.

Living with MS: Staying Comfortable and Safe at Home with Multiple Sclerosis

March 24th, 2017

Living with MSAs the famous author Jane Austen said, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” And for those living with MS, comfort is essential, as is remaining safe. If a family member has been diagnosed with MS, the first step in caregiving should be to make the necessary modifications so the home is a safe, comfortable sanctuary, and not a dangerous place.

Multiple sclerosis can cause getting around to be difficult, and because daily activities — including recreational activities — can result in fatigue more quickly in people with MS, creating specific changes to the home environment may help conserve energy and increase independence.

Some examples include:

  • Change out thick carpeting with smooth, nonslip flooring for easier mobility
  • Put grab bars in the bathroom
  • Reposition furniture to widen pathways throughout the home
  • Include items in the shower or bathtub such as a handheld showerhead, a slip resistant bath mat and a bathtub seat
  • Consider a bed rail to assist with changing sleeping positions
  • Replace knobs throughout the home with handles, which are easier to manage

If you have a loved one who is living with MS, Visiting Angels of Sunnyvale, San Jose and Fremont, CA can provide in-home modification guidelines and help in scheduling customizations to ensure your loved one’s residence is a more convenient place for independence. To discover more about our in-home care services in Santa Clara County and the surrounding area, contact us at 408-735-0977 or 510-284-0000 or 408-610-9996. Our in-home care from expert caregivers can help individuals stay in the comfort of their home, with the care needed to improve quality of life.

How Much Do You Know About Multiple Sclerosis?

March 10th, 2017

How Much Do You Know About Multiple Sclerosis?Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), hundreds of thousands of people in America are living with it – approximately 400,000 people to be exact, and of that, 86 percent list fatigue as the leading symptom of the disease. The cause of MS is not known; it is not contagious or known to be directly passed down from one family member to another, but factors that may play a role include the following:

  • Gender – Women are affected more than two times as often as men
  • Age – The majority of people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50
  • Geography – Most people with multiple sclerosis live in temperate environments
  • Ethnic background – Those with Caucasian origin are at a greater risk

It is thought that multiple sclerosis symptoms occur when an immune system attack affects myelin, the protective insulation encompassing nerve fibers of the central nervous system. For individuals with MS, myelin is destroyed and replaced by scars of toughened sclerotic tissue. Some underlying nerve fibers are permanently severed, and the damage manifests in multiple places within the central nervous system — providing the disease with its name.

While no cure for multiple sclerosis has been discovered yet, a few FDA-approved drugs are available for the long-term treatment of MS. These drugs have been shown to lower the number and severity of MS flare-ups, and possibly postpone disease progression. Additionally, numerous therapeutic and technological advances are assisting those with MS to control symptoms.

If you live in the Fremont, Sunnyvale or San Jose, CA area, contact Visiting Angels to find out how our senior caregivers can help a person with multiple sclerosis feel empowered, motivated and connected to others and live his or her best life. Feel free to call us anytime at 408-735-0977 in Sunnyvale or 510-284-0000 in Fremont, or 408-610-9996 in San Jose or review our in-home and respite-care services online.

How to Overcome Roadblocks to Exercise for Elderly People

February 14th, 2017

exercise for elderly peopleEngaging in a routine exercise program is challenging at any age. Exercising is tiring. We don’t want to spend the time. We’re feeling sore from yesterday’s workout. We have all made excuses like these for not working out; but frailty and advanced age make it even harder to stick with many types of exercise for elderly people.

Visiting Angels Senior Homecare wants to help seniors stay active with tips to overcome the following typical fitness barriers:

  • Self-confidence: It’s normal for seniors to feel overwhelmed with the idea of meeting exercise goals. It might help to begin slowly with exercises that can be accomplished and advance gradually; and, motivate the senior with regular support.
  • Attitude: Attitude is everything when it comes to physical fitness. If approached adversely, it will likely be much harder to keep an effective exercise regime. Choose activities that’ll be enjoyable and that the senior can look forward to.
  • Pain: The saying, “No pain, no gain” simply is not true. Older adults should avoid overdoing it, and reduce the amount of intensity if experiencing pain or discomfort.
  • Disabilities: Older adults with physical or cognitive limitations can and should remain active within their ability level. Check with the physician for a referral to a personal trainer or physical therapist who can put together a program of specialized exercises.
  • Fear of Injury/Balance Issues: You can find a number of assistive products to allow for safe, effective exercising.
  • Financial Concerns: It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to stay fit! Walking and other simple exercises in and around the house, using common household items, can be incorporated into an exercise program at little to no expense.
  • Illness or Fatigue: Exercises may be tailored to match the senior’s energy level, and he or she may slowly increase endurance level with time.

Keep in mind that the key to ongoing success with an exercise program is to ensure the older adult feels comfortable and safe with the program and the exercises. If soreness is noted in muscles or joints the following day after exercising, a reduced intensity can be implemented; and check with the doctor if the pain or discomfort persists.

Visiting Angels Senior Homecare caregivers will work with your loved one’s doctor to develop a safe fitness plan based on his or her abilities to increase strength, independence, and general quality of life. Contact us online for more information about the advantages of daily exercise for elderly people and to find out more about how our in-home care services in California can help!

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Staying Fit and Having Fun – Workouts for Seniors at Any Activity Level

February 8th, 2017

workouts for seniorsThe advantages of exercise don’t diminish as we age, and it’s extremely crucial for older adults to maintain as active a lifestyle as possible. Even if bedridden or wheelchair-bound, a full range of options of workouts for seniors is available to strengthen, enhance resistance and flexibility.

The initial step is always to consult with the physician to get a recommendation and approval for an exercise program that’s attainable for the individual. Initially, working out even as little as a few minutes a day, repeated several times throughout the day, can significantly enhance the senior’s health.

Following are several types of exercise to consider for seniors:

  • Aerobic Exercises: If full body movements aren’t possible, exercises from a seated position are available to build cardiovascular strength. When possible, good options include:
    • Swimming or water aerobics
    • Dancing
    • Walking
    • Tai Chi
    • Bowling
  • Resistance Exercises: To enhance and strengthen muscles, resistance workouts can be performed with elastic bands, obtainable in a number of tensile strengths. The Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences states that even only one day per week of resistance training helps older adults maintain independence and reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Flexibility Exercises: Stretching exercises help improve flexibility and freedom of movement. Check for yoga classes at local senior or activity centers.
  • Alzheimer’s Exercises: In the first phases of Alzheimer’s especially, a number of exercise options can be found, and with increasing supervision and some modifications, can be continued while the disease progresses. Since repetition can be a comfort to those with Alzheimer’s disease, activities such as walking, riding a stationary bike, and folding laundry are beneficial to both the person’s physical and mental state.

Encouraging your senior family member to begin and then stick with an exercise program is key to success. Try these tips to ensure it is something fun that he or she will look forward to:

  • Participate in an exercise regime with the older adult. It is always more fun to exercise with a buddy.
  • Add favorite, upbeat music.
  • Set aside committed time each day for exercise, and make it a priority.
  • Designate incentives or rewards for attaining milestones.

For more ideas on workouts for seniors and other tips on helping older adults increase activity levels, contact Visiting Angels Senior Homecare in Fremont, CA. Our professional in-home caregivers are experienced in helping older adults thrive and enhance their overall wellbeing, and we love nothing more than knowing the older adults within our care are healthy and enjoying life to the fullest! Call us at 408-735.-0977 or 510-284-0000 to find out more!

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Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors in Honor of National Bath Safety Month

January 24th, 2017

Bathroom Safety Tips for SeniorsHow could something that’s so comforting and relaxing, like a nice, warm bath, be one of the greatest dangers to seniors? The truth is, combining slick surfaces, slippery shampoo and very warm water create a number of potential hazards to seniors, especially the danger of falling – one of the most severe risks to older people.

January is set aside as National Bath Safety Month, and it’s a great opportunity for both training and assessment in bathroom safety for seniors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about 370 people of all ages suffer tub or shower-related injuries every single day in the USA. Because most falls in the home occur in the bathroom, AARP recommends taking the following preventative bathroom safety measures:

  • Put in grab bars for the toilet, shower, and tub
  • Install non-skid tile or use non-skid bath mats
  • Adjust temperature of the home’s hot water heater to 120 degrees F or less to prevent scalds
  • Provide a transfer bench to get in and out of the bathtub if susceptible to falling when stepping over the tub wall
  • Provide a bath chair to allow bathers to sit while bathing
  • Apply no-slip strips to the bathtub and shower floor, or provide a slip-resistant mat
  • Wipe up any water spills on the floor immediately

It’s also a wise idea to assess whether it might be worthwhile for a senior to utilize a mobile commode, which may be put at a bedside to ease nighttime bathroom needs. Bedside commodes can reduce the chance of evening falls, and can additionally be placed directly over the toilet, which is generally sturdier than a raised toilet seat. Features to look for when buying a commode:

  • Non-removable armrests
  • Rubber tips on the legs instead of wheels
  • A frame that is sturdy
  • Both a pail (with lid) and a sleeve (for use over the toilet)

Simple, basic commodes can cost anywhere between $60 and $250, although more complex, specialized commodes, such as those that have tilting mechanisms, can run as much as $3,000.

AARP also provides a handy bathroom safety checklist with design instructions which will help seniors and their families make the most appropriate home modification decisions so that they can avoid the potential hazards of the bathroom.

Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale can also help with bathroom safety for seniors. We can provide an in-home safety evaluation and suggestions, and by providing expert, hands-on support at bathtime, can help ensure that seniors remain safe throughout all of their bathroom needs. Our care is always delivered with the utmost respect and regard for dignity and privacy. Contact us at 408.735.0977 or 510.284.0000 to learn more.

To Have a Bath or Not to Have a Bath? – Bathing Solutions for the Elderly

January 16th, 2017

Bathing Solutions for the ElderlyWhat feels finer than sinking into a warm, relaxing bath at the conclusion of a long, stressful day? While many of us relish the wonderful comfort that bathtime brings, for seniors, especially those struggling with the challenges of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, to have a bath is anything but blissful.

For a variety of reasons, such as memory problems, feelings of vulnerability, or physical distress from the pressure or temperature of the water, assisting a senior with washing can feel a lot more like entering a battleground.

Visiting Angels wants to help restore the pleasure of bathtime for both the senior and his or her caregiver with these bathing solutions for the elderly:

  • Ensure safety. Keeping the shower area clear of hazards is essential. Make certain that:
    • Grab bars and mats that are slip-resistant are strategically placed in and around the tub
    • The water temperature is comfortable (around 100 – 101 degrees is best)
    • Never leave a senior with dementia unattended in the bathroom
  • Be innovative. Who says one person’s bathtime experience has to be like everyone else’s? Try thinking outside of the box to discover what works best for your senior loved one:
    • If the senior appreciates music, try singing or playing some songs as a distraction
    • Try a “dry” bed bath using no-rinse soap, dry shampoo, and a warm, damp towel
    • Incorporate a seven-day bath, involving cleaning just a portion of the body each day over the period of a week
    • Assisting the older adult with both using the toilet and cleaning his or her body simultaneously can be effective for those experiencing a high degree of anxiety or agitation
  • Allow control. One of the most challenging aspects of being cared for is losing independence. Help the senior regain a sense of control through:
    • Offering choices
    • Enlisting his/her help (i.e., holding the washcloth or bottle of shampoo)

It may take some trial and error to discover what the best bathing solution is for your elderly loved one. They will pick up on any frustrations you’re feeling, which could increase the amount of agitation for everyone. A healthy dosage of patience and a sense of humor can go a long way towards helping senior loved ones relax.

For more tips on bathing solutions for the elderly, contact Visiting Angels. Our professional in-home senior care specialists can assist with a complete range of personal care services, including bathing, assistance with the restroom, dressing, hair care and skin care, and much more. Partnering with Visiting Angels of California enables family to spend more quality time with their senior loved one, and also to take a much-needed break to rest and recharge. Call us at 408.735.0977 or 510.284.0000 to learn more.

Fremont Elder Care Tips on Making Family Memories This Holiday Season

December 21st, 2016

Palo Alto Elder CareGetting together with family during the holiday season can be wonderfully fun! It can also be quite eye opening. Sometimes, family members notice an ever-widening gap between generations, with the children hunched over their phones and iPads while Grandma sits by the sidelines just watching. If you’d like to get the whole family together and enjoy each other’s company, and make some memories, Visiting Angels of California recommends creating a memory book of a cherished senior’s lifetime legacy.

The first step is to decide whether you’d like to record the memories in writing, as an audio recording or on video (or some combination of each). Then put together the questions you’d like to ask. These can be compiled by all family members, from the youngest to the oldest. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What’s your favorite holiday memory?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was school like when you were growing up?
  • How did Grandpa ask you to marry him?
  • What are some important values you possess that you would like to see continued in the family?
  • What is one thing that you would have liked to have done, that you did not have a chance to do?
  • Tell us about your favorite trip.

Kids can get involved by interviewing Grandma or Grandpa, asking questions about old pictures, or video the interview using their phone or tablet.

Getting the family together during the holidays can be both fun and challenging, especially when blending multiple generations. Visiting Angels’ Fremont elder care providers can help your entire family celebrate this season. For more tips on involving seniors in holiday activities, contact us at 510-284-0000 or (408) 735-0977.

California Home Care Services Help Caregivers Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions

December 7th, 2016

California Home Care ServicesNew Year’s resolutions: we love to make them, and can’t help but break them. Perhaps you’ve been motivated to eat better, lose those stubborn few pounds, quit a bad habit, or exercise more regularly; but life has a way of disrupting our intentions, especially for Californians providing home care services for a senior loved one.

To improve quality of life for both yourself and the senior for whom you offer care, and to discover a New Year’s resolution you’ll actually want to adhere to in the months and years to come, try one of these recommendations, courtesy of Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale:

  1. Be kind – to yourself. Recognize the tremendous selflessness required in caring for another, and make a point to treat yourself to regular, small rewards as a thank-you: a favorite treat from the ice cream shop, lunch ordered in, the latest book from your favorite writer, a vase of flowers, etc.
  2. Take time for self-care. Pre-flight emergency instructions stress the need to ensure your oxygen mask is on before assisting somebody else, and this is just as true on land as in the air. Caring for yourself allows you to supply the highest quality care for your loved one. So maintain regular medical checkups, get lots of rest, and ensure you’re eating a balanced diet.
  3. Seek out support. Finding a support group for family caregivers, especially one for a condition that your particular loved one is battling, such as Alzheimer’s disease, lets you understand you’re not alone. The Internet provides a wealth of resources for online support groups if attending meetings that are in-person is a challenge.
  4. Release feelings. Taking care of another person is wrought with feelings, from fear to anger to frustration to helplessness. It’s important to find a safe release that is productive for these emotions, through journaling or talking with a friend or counselor, for instance.
  5. Request help. No man – or caregiver – is an island, and you probably have plenty of willing friends and neighbors, as well as other family members who would want to provide support, if only they were asked. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to accept help.

Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale, CA can be counted on to partner with you with trusted in-home care. Our respite care services provide family caregivers with aging care specialists that are fully trained and experienced in many different aspects of care:

  • Personal care, such as washing and dressing
  • House care, such as light housework and laundry
  • Companion care, including engaging in conversation, playing cards and games, and participating in hobbies and interests
  • And more, according to each senior’s needs

Caring for senior loved ones is a rewarding, yet challenging job, and one that you don’t have to undertake alone. Contact Visiting Angels in our Fremont or Sunnyvale home care offices at 800-969-0499 to learn more about our California home care services or to schedule a free in-home assessment to explore how we can share the care journey with you – and to assist you in keeping your resolution to provide the best care for your senior loved one.

Exploring the Difference Between Asthma and COPD | Sunnyvale Elder Care

November 22nd, 2016

Palo Alto Elder Care Unstoppable coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. Sounds like an asthma attack, right? Before reaching for that inhaler or those OTC cough drops, though, it might be better to find out if another culprit – COPD – could be a factor. With a full 12 million people in the U.S. currently living with COPD (and just as many who probably have the disease but haven’t been diagnosed), it’s crucial for seniors with COPD-like symptoms to determine the cause behind the cough.

Take a look at some of the major differences between these two conditions:

Asthma:

  • Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, dust, and pet hair can trigger asthmatic symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Usually displays in patients in childhood, often by age 5.
  • Thought to be caused by genetics.

COPD:

  • Environmental triggers can exacerbate symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing, but these symptoms are often present in a milder form regardless of air quality.
  • Typically diagnosed after age 40.
  • Caused mainly by cigarette smoking (in up to 90% of all patients), or by secondhand exposure to air pollutants.

While medications available for both COPD and asthma are often similar – bronchodilators or inhaled steroids – their treatment plans usually differ. Those with asthma are urged to stay away from known triggers, such as limiting outside time when the pollen count is high and avoiding secondhand smoke. Those with COPD require a more intense approach, which may include prescribed oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation to maximize breathing capacity, and, most importantly, making sure they’re not smoking.

Of course, it’s important to visit the physician if you’re concerned that your senior loved one is suffering with any type of lung condition.

There’s currently no cure for either asthma or COPD; however, both conditions can be better managed when properly diagnosed and treated. Although COPD does cause permanent, irreversible damage to the lungs, with correct treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down, its symptoms made more manageable, and quality of life maximized.

Visiting Angels’ Sunnyvale elder care team is also available to provide assistance at home to help make a chronic condition easier to manage. Some of the many ways we can help include:

  • Light housework, to ensure as much dust as possible is removed from the home
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and to pick up prescriptions
  • Encouragement and participation in physician-approved exercise programs
  • Planning and preparation of nutritious, delicious meals
  • Friendly, compassionate companionship
  • And much more

To help your senior loved one remain safe and healthy at home, contact Visiting Angels in Sunnyvale at (408) 735-0977 or in Fremont at 510-284-0000 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about elder care in the surrounding area.