All posts by AIHC Home Health Blog

Reduce Fall Risk for Seniors by Addressing a Senior’s Shuffling Gait

At American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we work hard to reduce fall risk for seniors. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is by paying attention to how an older adult walks. Many older adults adopt a shuffling gait, which can provide a clue into a potential mobility issue.

There are a number of conditions that can cause older adults to shuffle their feet as they walk, including:




  • Joint pain caused by arthritis

  • Side effects of some medications
  • Vision impairment or loss
  • Loss of flexibility in the feet and legs
  • Weakened hip and leg muscles
  • Fear caused by a recent fall
  • General increased fear of falling due to previous falls
  • Ill-fitting shoes or slippers
  • Overall loss of balance
  • An illness such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease

Reducing Fall Risk for Seniors

The slow pace of a shuffling gait may feel like a safer way to get around for some older adults, but it can actually have the opposite effect. If the person has rugs in the home, shuffling could cause them to trip over the edge of a rug or slide on an unsecured mat. Shoes can also catch on the ground while shuffling, causing the senior to trip. People who shuffle their feet often tend to have a narrower stance that offers less balance and support.

Uncovering the reason behind a senior’s change in gait can be challenging, but it is a vital part of fall prevention. If an older loved one has started shuffling their feet when they walk, it is important to schedule a doctor’s appointment to get to the root of the problem.

Review the list above to determine whether one of more of these issues could be affecting your loved one’s gait. Then, request a thorough physical checkup. Once your doctor has determined a cause, recommendations can be made for how to improve the issue, which might include:

  • A change in medication
  • Exercises to improve balance and increase flexibility
  • Use of a walker or cane
  • An updated eyeglass prescription
  • Or other recommendations

According to the National Institute on Aging, 6 out of 10 falls happen at home. Certain home modifications can be made to help prevent falls for those with gait issues. Decreasing fall risks throughout the home is essential for safety. Consider the following tips to create a safer home environment for seniors with gait and mobility issues:

Stairs and Hallways

  • Install secure handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Ensure there is proper lighting in stairwells and hallways, with light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and both ends of the hallways.
  • Remove any items from the stairs to reduce tripping hazards.
  • Don’t use throw rugs in hallways.

Bathrooms

  • Install grab bars next to toilets and in showers and bathtubs.
  • Use non-skid bath mats in the bathroom.
  • Place grip tape or mats in the bathtub when showering or bathing.
  • Use nightlights to avoid tripping during night time bathroom visits.

Bedroom

  • Use nightlights or have a lamp near the bed to ensure there is light when needed.
  • If rugs are used in a bedroom, use a slip-proof rug mat or double-sided tape to secure them.
  • Keep a flashlight near the bed in case of power outages.
  • Ensure the bedroom floor is clear of clutter.
  • Keep a phone near the bed or wear an emergency call device in case of a fall.

At American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we offer referred care providers who are skilled at helping seniors with a variety of mobility issues and improving safety in the home. Our services include help with walking, transferring and positioning, range of motion exercises, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and much more.

Contact us to find out more about how our Florida senior care experts can help the older adults in your life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Celebrate Men’s Health Month with These Proactive Tips for Men Over 60

Men’s Health Month is the perfect time to help the senior men you love make some healthy lifestyle changes.

While deciding on that perfect Father’s Day gift for Dad, why not put some additional thought into how to improve his health and wellbeing? June is Men’s Health Month, and it’s the perfect time to encourage the senior men we love to adopt healthy lifestyle choices. It starts with understanding some of the unique health issues older men may face, and how to avoid them.

Encouraging a medical checkup for the senior men in your life, who tend to be less likely to go to the doctor, is a great starting point. It’s the best way to ensure early detection and treatment for the following types of health conditions that can impact men in particular.

Top Health Conditions Impacting Men

  • Heart disease is the leading health threat to men. Steps to minimize the risk include:
    • Quitting smoking
    • Keeping blood pressure at a healthy level
    • Exercising at least 30 minutes each day
    • Reducing trans and saturated fat and replacing with fruits and vegetables
    • Getting cholesterol checked regularly
  • Prostate cancer affects one in six men each year, but the survival rate is quite high, especially when detected early. All men should talk with the doctor about when and how often to be screened.
  • Depression is prevalent in men, but effective treatment options are readily available once diagnosed.
  • Diabetes can sneak up slowly and silently and is becoming increasingly common in men. In fact, one in three boys born in 2000 will develop diabetes. Exercise and a healthy diet are key to reducing the risk for diabetes.

Steps to Better Health for Men

In addition to the tips provided above, these simple lifestyle changes can help the senior men you love live longer, healthier lives:

  • See the doctor regularly for routine checkups, and contact the doctor when ill. As many as 40% of men avoid seeing the doctor if they become sick, or put off going until the illness worsens. Getting medical care right away can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Ask the doctor about screenings for the following, which are recommended by Johns Hopkins for all men age 65 and older:
    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Lipid disorders
    • High blood pressure
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • STDs
  • Make sure all vaccinations are up to date, including those for the flu, shingles, pneumonia, tetanus/diphtheria, and COVID-19.
  • Assess the home for fall risks and make modifications as needed. In addition, ensure sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D are consumed daily (according to the doctor’s recommendations) to keep bones healthy and protect against fractures if a fall does occur.
  • Keep cognitive function from declining by staying mentally sharp. Sign up for continuing education classes (in person or online), play memory games, do puzzles, etc.
  • Take care of mental health, too. It’s important to stay social, engage in enjoyable and meaningful activities, and talk with a professional counselor or therapist to work through any emotional concerns.

It’s also a great time to plan some fun, health-promoting activities to enjoy together with the older men in your life, such as:

  • Taking walks
  • Bowling
  • Swimming
  • Golfing
  • Tennis
  • Bicycling
  • Gardening
  • Going to the gym
  • Cooking healthy meals together
  • And so much more - the sky’s the limit!

At American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we offer referred care providers who can help in a variety of ways to improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of the seniors you love. Our services range from meal planning and preparation and help with household chores to transportation and companionship, and much more.

Contact us to find out more about how the addition of Florida home care services can benefit the older adults in your life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Turning Your Family Caregiving Journey from Negative to Positive

family caregiving - negative to positive

I’m bad at this. I just get too frustrated. I’m not doing enough! For a family caregiver, thoughts like these can be constant. Family caregiving can be challenging. Too often, those caring for sick or aging loved ones focus on the ways in which they aren't doing the job perfectly rather than all the ways they are helping the person continue to live independently. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression in the caregiver.

The fact is, family caregivers provide a truly valuable service to their loved ones, allowing them to age or recover in a place where they feel most comfortable: home. The key to removing doubt is to find strategies that allow you to change perspective and focus on the positives. The Florida care experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care offer these tips to help you put your caregiving journey in a positive light.

  • Be aware of negative self-talk. The first step to changing a negative outlook with your caregiving is to recognize when you are beating yourself up about it. Notice when you say or think things to and about yourself that are negative. For example, I missed Mom’s hair appointment. I’m so stupid. Or, Ugh. I snapped at Dad today. I’m a terrible daughter. It’s normal to have thoughts like these. Recognize that you are having them so that you can actively combat them.
  • Resist giving in to negative thoughts. Once you’re aware of self-criticism, you can more easily recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself. When you begin to feel negative thoughts crop up, take a break and redirect your thoughts toward something more positive. Think of something that went right that day or an accomplishment you are proud of to help you remember that you’re actually doing better than you might think.
  • Focus on what matters. Today, the house may be a mess. Dad may not have gotten to his doctor’s appointment right on time. Maybe you’ve had takeout three times this week. But do any of these things really matter? When we sweat the small things, it is hard to see the positive contributions we make. A messy house might mean you were more focused on spending quality time with your loved one. You may have been a little late to an appointment, but Dad still got seen by the doctor. Getting takeout means everyone got fed and you took one stressful item off your list.
  • Try not to compare yourself with others. It can be easy to look at someone else and compare yourself to them. Perhaps a sibling spends a day with your mother and has a lovely time, while you’ve struggled all week with managing her care and your family’s needs. You may think, “Why is it so easy for her and so hard for me?” But these types of comparisons only make us feel bad about ourselves. Instead, focus on the things you’re doing right. This week may have been tough for you, but think about a time when you had a great day with Mom. Or maybe you’ve found a wonderful referred care provider, like those at American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care, that both you and your mother like to help with your caregiving duties. Just remember that everyone is different and no one’s way of caring is better or worse than another’s.
  • Find a support system. Caregiving, while rewarding, is stressful from time to time. Having a support system in place, whether it is a local caregiving support group, family and friends, or members of a faith community, can give you a space to vent frustrations, find solutions, and see things from a new perspective.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Feeling overwhelmed when caring for a loved one is common, and it is okay to ask for help or take a break when you need it. The referred care providers from American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care are a great support for family caregivers in need of respite or more in-depth care services for their loved ones. In-home care services may include transportation to and from medical appointments or fun outings, preparing nutritious meals, running errands, friendly companionship to offer motivation to stay active and engaged, and much more.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you better manage your family caregiving duties and provide a senior you love with a better quality of life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Alzheimer's Home Safety Tips

mplement these Alzheimer’s home safety tips when a loved one has dementia.

For family caregivers, one of the top priorities when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is to maintain a safe home environment. With changes in cognition, activities or routines that were once second nature may pose a safety risk for a loved one with dementia. To help family caregivers assess home safety for an older adult with dementia, the leaders in Florida home care at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care outline a room-by-room Alzheimer’s home safety check. While not all of these adjustments need to be made immediately following a dementia diagnosis, it’s important to re-evaluate and adjust following behavioral or ability changes.

General Safety Inside the Home

  • Post your home address and emergency numbers in several places throughout the home and near landline telephones.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in or near the kitchen and all sleeping areas. Check their functioning and install new batteries every six months.
  • Install locks on all outside doors and windows. Consider installing an extra lock on outside doors that are located out of direct view, either higher up on the door, or down low.
  • Install alarms or set a whole-house security system to chime when doors or windows are opened.
  • Hide a spare house key outside in case your loved one with Alzheimer's disease locks you out of the house.
  • Be sure that stairways have at least one secure handrail. Interior stairways should be carpeted or have safety grip strips.
  • Keep all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) locked. Ensure that all prescription medications are in original containers with safety lids and clearly labeled with the person's name, name of the drug, drug strength, dosage frequency, and expiration date. Regularly dispose of expired medications.
  • Reduce or eliminate clutter, which can create confusion and danger.
  • Remove firearms and other weapons from the home or lock them up. Install safety locks on guns or remove ammunition and firing pins.
  • Install night lights throughout the home – in hallways, the bathroom, bedrooms, kitchen and other areas where the senior might need to navigate at night.
  • Remove throw rugs from the home as these may lead to an increased risk of falls.

General Safety Outside of the House

  • Keep walkways clear of debris, hoses, and other objects that may cause the person to trip. Make certain walkways are even, fix any loose bricks, and install pathway lighting.
  • Keep steps free from debris and install handrails.
  • Mark the edges of steps with non-slip reflective tape.
  • Consider installing a ramp when navigating the stairs becomes difficult.
  • If your home has a swimming pool, restrict access with a sturdy fence and locked gate. Consider installing an alarm that sounds when motion is detected in the water.
  • Install adequate outside lighting. Motion sensors that turn lights turn on and off automatically are especially helpful.
  • Post a "NO SOLICITING" sign on the front gate or door.

Kitchen

  • Install safety latches on storage cabinets and drawers designated for breakable or dangerous items.
  • Lock away all household cleaning products, scissors, knives, matches, blades, small appliances, and anything valuable.
  • Install safety knobs on the stove.
  • Consider disconnecting the garbage disposal. People with Alzheimer's may place objects or their own hands in the disposal.

Bathroom

  • Place nonskid adhesive strips or mats in the tub and shower.
  • Use a shower stool and a hand-held shower head to make bathing easier.
  • Install grab bars in the tub/shower.
  • Set the water heater at 120°F to avoid scalding.
  • Remove small electrical appliances from the bathroom and cover electrical outlets.
  • Remove or disable the lock from the bathroom door to prevent the person with dementia from getting locked inside.
  • Install a raised toilet seat with handrails or grab bars beside the toilet.
  • Remove cleaning products or lock them away.

Bedroom

  • Anticipate the reasons a person with dementia may need to get out of bed, such as thirst, hunger, going to the bathroom, pain, and/or restlessness. Try to meet these needs ahead of time to reduce the number of times the person may feel the need to get out of bed.
  • Use transfer or mobility aids to ensure safety for both you and your loved one.
  • Use monitoring devices to alert for any sounds that may indicate a fall or other need for help. These devices can also be effective in bathrooms.
  • If using a hospital-type bed with rails and/or wheels, read the Food and Drug Administration's safety information.

Living Room

  • Replace torn carpet.
  • Place the remote controls for the DVD player, television, and stereo system out of sight.
  • Keep cigarette lighters and matches out of reach.
  • Be certain that walkways are clear of electrical cords as well as clutter.
  • Place decals at eye level on picture windows, sliding glass doors, or furniture with large glass panels to identify the glass pane.

A great way to help ensure safety and promote dignity and an appropriate amount of independence for a loved one with dementia is to partner with a referred care provider from American, Advocate or Whitsyms In-Home Care. Each care provider we refer has specialized training and is able to provide customized care to meet a variety of needs, as well as encourage engagement in memory care activities. Additionally, referred care providers offer family caregivers support and respite so that they can step away for self-care.

Contact us any time to learn more about specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia in-home care for older adults by clicking the link to the location nearest you below:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Osteoporosis Prevention Tips

These osteoporosis prevention tips can help older adults maintain bone health.

The human body is amazingly complex. With nearly a dozen systems working in symphony with one another, each is vitally important to a person’s overall health. The skeletal system is comprised of 206 bones and performs six major functions in the body: support, movement, protection, production of blood cells, storage of minerals, and endocrine regulation.

Osteoporosis is a disease that can impact the skeletal system, causing bones to become weak or brittle, putting people at risk for fractures. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. When a person is young, bone is made faster than it is broken down. As people age, this process slows and bone mass is lost faster than it’s created. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone is unable to keep up with the loss of old bone.

At American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we know that keeping bones healthy is an important part of helping older adults live independently. To better understand the risk factors, as well as osteoporosis prevention strategies, we share the following helpful information.

Who Is at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can affect both women and men, and while it can develop at any age, the risk factors increase as a person ages. In women, the disease may begin to develop a year or two prior to menopause. Although most common in non-Hispanic white and Asian women, osteoporosis can develop in men and in African American and Hispanic individuals of both sexes. Additional risk factors include:

  • Body frame size. Women and men who have small body frames are typically at higher risk as they have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
    Family history. Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts an individual at greater risk.
  • Thyroid issues. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. This can occur if a person’s thyroid is overactive or if too much thyroid hormone medication is taken to treat an underactive thyroid.
  • Sex hormones. Lowered sex hormone levels can be a strong contributing factor for osteoporosis. Decreased estrogen levels following menopause, treatments for prostate cancer that reduce testosterone levels in men, and treatments for breast cancer that reduce estrogen levels in women are likely to accelerate bone loss.
  • Low calcium intake. Long-term lack of calcium in a person’s diet plays a role in the development of osteoporosis and can contribute to diminished bone density, early bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Steroids and other medications. Long-term use of oral or injected corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and cortisone, interferes with the bone-rebuilding process. Additionally, medications for gastric reflux, transplant rejection, and seizures can increase bone loss and the risk for osteoporosis.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. People who spend large amounts of time sitting have a higher risk of osteoporosis than individuals who are more active.
  • Tobacco use. While the exact role tobacco plays in osteoporosis is not clear, it has been shown to contribute to weak bones.
  • Chronic heavy drinking. Long-term consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention

While a number of osteoporosis risk factors are out of a person’s control, lifestyle changes can help maintain bone health.

Calcium.

Men and women between the ages of 18 and 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. This daily amount increases to 1,200 milligrams when women turn 50 and men turn 70. To increase calcium intake, consider including these foods as part of a well-rounded diet:

  • Calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Canned salmon or sardines with bones
  • Soy products, such as tofu

If it is difficult to reach the recommended daily intake of calcium through diet alone, speak with your physician about including an over-the-counter calcium supplement.

Vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps improve the body's ability to absorb calcium. People can get vitamin D from sunlight; however, the use of sunscreen reduces the amount of vitamin D absorbed this way. It is recommended that people get at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. After a person turns 70 years old, that recommendation increases to 800 IU per day. Vitamin D can be found in:

  • Trout, salmon, tuna and swordfish
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
  • Dairy and plant milks fortified with vitamin D
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified cereals

If you have trouble getting enough vitamin D in your diet, speak with your health care provider to determine the type and amount of vitamin D supplements you should take.

Exercise.

Exercise helps build strong bones and slow bone loss, and provides benefits no matter when you start. For maximum benefits, combine strength training exercises with weight-bearing and balance exercises.

  • Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in the arms and upper spine.
  • Weight-bearing exercises such as walking or jogging strengthen the bones in the legs, hips and lower spine.
  • Balance exercises such as tai chi help to reduce the risk of falling.

At American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, our referred care providers help older adults make healthy lifestyle choices by encouraging regular, physician-approved exercise, healthy eating habits and much more. These care providers can work with each client to offer a variety of in-home care services that enhance independence and safety, while helping to monitor conditions such as osteoporosis and other chronic health conditions.
Contact us today at the location nearest you and let us help find the perfect care provider to meet your needs.

 

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Chronic Fatigue in Older Adults: Uncovering the Symptoms and Improving Daily Energy

Chronic Fatigue in Older Adults: Symptoms and How to Help

We’ve all experienced the exhaustion that hits us at the end of an especially hectic day. Typically, this can be remedied by a good night’s sleep, allowing us to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the new day. Yet chronic fatigue in older adults takes exhaustion to a whole new level, causing lethargic feelings that are more difficult to alleviate.

What causes chronic fatigue?

A variety of health conditions and even the treatments for those conditions can cause or exacerbate chronic fatigue, including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • COPD
  • Thyroid disease
  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Medications for pain or nausea as well as antihistamines and antidepressants
  • And more

What can be done to help?

Lifestyle choices can either help or worsen chronic fatigue in older adults. For instance, avoid:

  • Not getting enough sleep: Strive for at least 8 hours per night, regularly going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Consuming too much caffeine: Limit caffeine intake, and skip caffeine altogether later in the day. Consider cutting current caffeine intake in half to improve energy levels.
  • Unhealthy eating habits: Choose more nutritious foods, such as whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits and veggies over highly processed foods and junk foods.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: The right amount of physical activity is key; talk with the doctor for recommendations, but typically, the goal is 30 minutes of exercise most days.
  • Smoking: Smoking can cause a variety of serious health concerns which further drain energy. Talk to a physician about getting help with quitting smoking.

Staying productive and engaged is also crucial to preventing or lessening chronic fatigue in older adults. Explore activities that spark interest and joy, such as:

  • Volunteering in a field of interest: at the local elementary school, homeless shelter, pet rescue facility, religious organization, etc.
  • Taking a class to learn something new at the community college or even online
  • Joining a club or group that participates in shared interests: bowling, knitting, fishing, walking, swimming, etc.

It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment for a check-up if chronic fatigue is suspected. The doctor can rule out any new underlying conditions, review medications being taken and modify if needed, and provide additional tips to help.

The referred care providers from American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care are here to help as well. Their in-home care services may include transportation to and from medical appointments or fun outings, preparing nutritious meals, running errands, friendly companionship to offer motivation to stay active and engaged, and much more.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help a senior you love live a better quality of life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Stroke Prevention Tips for Older Adults

Use these stroke prevention tips to reduce your risk for stroke.

A stroke is a serious, life-threatening event. While there are varying degrees of stroke severity and many people survive, the after effects are often extremely challenging as well. According to the National Institute on Aging, stroke is the number one serious cause of disability among adults in the United States.

Knowing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly to get help can save your life or the life of someone you love. Call 911 immediately if you have any of these symptoms or notice them in someone else:

  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, usually in the face, arm or leg, that comes on suddenly
  • Confusion or trouble speaking
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness, loss of balance/coordination, or trouble walking that comes on suddenly
  • A severe headache with no known cause
  • Double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting

Recovery and Rehabilitation

For most survivors of stroke, physical therapy is a key part of rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of the stroke, patients may need to relearn some basic activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and transitioning from one action to another.

Occupational therapy, sometimes referred to as OT, can also be a big help for stroke patients. The goal of OT is to help people learn how to do things such as eat, drink, swallow, dress, bathe, cook, use the toilet, and other daily activities again. The focus of OT is to help stroke patients become as independent as possible once again.

Speech therapy may also be required if a stroke causes issues with a person’s ability to speak or to understand the speech of others. Rehabilitation and therapy can seem daunting at first. However, with time and patience, many stroke patients are able to regain some, if not all, functionality.

Understanding and Preventing Stroke

While the effects of a stroke can be devastating, it’s important to remember that strokes are preventable. There are some risk factors for stroke that are out of your control, such as genetics, race, and age. Still, your risk for stroke can be reduced by making some simple lifestyle changes.

  • Stop or refrain from smoking. Smoking greatly increases a person’s risk for stroke, but stopping (or never starting) can lower that risk.
  • Eat right. A healthy diet improves overall health, including the reduction of stroke risk. Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol and incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine. Talk to your doctor about how to best incorporate exercise into your life in order to prevent a stroke.
  • Keep blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can lead to both heart disease and stroke. If you have high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s instructions for treating it in order to lower your stroke risk.
  • Keep cholesterol under control. Cholesterol is a type of fat that builds up in the arteries, and too much cholesterol can block the flow of blood, causing a stroke. Have your doctor check your cholesterol levels regularly to ensure you maintain healthy levels.
  • Manage diabetes. When untreated, diabetes can damage blood vessels and narrow arteries, which can lead to stroke. Properly managing diabetes can reduce these risks.

Making these changes to your lifestyle can help reduce your risk of stroke. If you’ve had a stroke in the past, these steps are also very important in order to prevent a second stroke.

If you or a loved one needs assistance at home during stroke recovery or would like help maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent a stroke, the referred care providers from American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help! We can provide a wide range of services, including transportation to and from therapy appointments, planning and preparing healthy meals, providing motivation for physical activity, running errands such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions, and much more.

Contact us any time to learn how we can help you or a loved one recover from or take steps to prevent a stroke. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Understanding the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Learn the signs of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and tips to help manage the conditions from American In-Home Care, Florida’s home care experts.

“Arthritis” is a catchall term frequently used as an informal way to refer to joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion that can become prevalent as people age. While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the more common forms of the disease, there are in fact more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions.

In the United States, approximately 1 in 4 adults have arthritis. Arthritis can be caused by age, overuse and wear and tear on a particular joint, injuries, obesity, genes, autoimmune disorders, muscle weakness, and more. To better understand how to live with and manage two of the more common forms of arthritis, the aging care experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care share details about rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
Symptoms of arthritis typically develop over a period of time, but they can also appear suddenly. Osteoarthritis usually develops after the age of 50 and rheumatoid arthritis usually develops between the ages of 30 – 50 years old. Symptoms are frequently most acute after a person has been resting, sleeping, or sitting idly for an extended period of time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune or inflammatory disease where a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake, resulting in painful inflammation in affected parts of the body. RA usually impacts joints, causing the lining of the joint to become inflamed and in some cases damaged. When joint tissue is damaged, it can result in chronic pain, unsteadiness, and joint misshapenness. RA can also impact other tissues in a person’s body, causing problems in the heart, lungs, or eyes.
Symptoms of RA include:

  • Pain or stiffness in more than one joint
  • The same symptoms on both sides of the body (for example, both knees)
  • Onset in smaller joints such as the hands or feet
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Inflammation of blood vessels and/or the heart muscle

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage in a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. OA usually develops slowly and gradually becomes worse over time.

Symptoms of OA include:

  • Pain or aching
  • Limited range of motion or flexibility that may go away after movement
  • Stiffness or swelling
  • Muscle weakness around a joint
  • Clicking or popping noises when bending a joint
  • Joint instability

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
The goal of any treatment plan for RA or OA is to reduce pain and inflammation and to prevent additional joint damage. To accomplish this, an older adult’s physician will determine the best course of action which may include both medical intervention strategies as well as lifestyle changes such as:

  • Exercise. While it may seem counterintuitive to move joints that hurt, incorporating joint-friendly physical activity into a person’s weekly routine can help decrease arthritis-related pain while increasing function, mood, and quality of life. Aim for approximately 30 minutes of low-impact activity each day, such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy. The goal of physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) is to make daily activities easier and less painful. Both PT and OT can help increase range of motion and fine motor skills, build strength, and increase balance so that older adults can continue to live active and independent lives.
  • Healthy Diet. Eating a well-rounded, low-fat diet that is high in lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables provides a variety of benefits, including reducing inflammation. Foods like tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, almonds, olive oil, leafy greens, and salmon have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit individuals with arthritis.
  • Weight Loss. Added weight can make joints more painful. Incorporating regular exercise and eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, as well as making other healthy lifestyle choices can help keep weight in a range that reduces the stress on painful joints.
  • Medications. A number of over-the-counter and prescription medications are available that can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with RA and OA. Options include NSAIDs, acetaminophen, menthol, or capsaicin creams that block the transmission of pain signals from joints, steroids and immunosuppressants.
  • Assistive and Mobility Devices. Assistive devices include a broad range of tools such as extended-handle tools that can help people pick items up off the floor, lever handles instead of traditional round doorknobs, zipper pulls, long-handled shoehorns, a bath stool, and more. Additionally, mobility devices such as a cane, walker, knee brace or shoe inserts can also help reduce pain, while allowing people to remain active.

If an older adult you love is impacted by arthritis, let the referred care providers at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care help. With customized care plans developed to meet the unique needs of each individual we care for, the professional care providers we refer can help encourage regular exercise, plan and prepare healthy and nourishing meals, provide medication reminders and transportation to physical therapy or doctor’s appointments, and much more.

Reach out to us any time to learn more about our wide variety of in-home care services that help older adults throughout Florida remain independent and active by clicking on the link to the location nearest you:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

What a Prediabetes Diagnosis Means for Older Adults

A prediabetes diagnosis can be the result of lifestyle choices, family history, and other factors. Learn more from American In-Home Care’s Florida home care experts.

Prediabetes is a serious but beneficial diagnosis to receive. Think of it as an early warning sign that gives you the opportunity to take important steps to make changes that can help improve your health, while avoiding some of the more serious health complications.

Currently, as many as one in three adults in America are living with a prediabetes diagnosis. And many people live with the condition for years without any noticeable symptoms, remaining undetected until it becomes a serious health concern.

At American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we know the first and most important step in assessing the danger for prediabetes is to understand the risk factors, which include:

  • Age (over 45)
  • Race (a higher risk for African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans)
  • Being overweight
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes
    A sedentary lifestyle
  • Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds

If you or someone you love falls into any of these categories, a routine blood sugar test can help preempt the condition or detect and get it under control. The good news is, simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI. Losing as little as 5 to 7% of body weight for someone who is overweight (about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) can have a tremendous impact on reducing the risk for diabetes.
  • Staying physically active. Check with the doctor for specific recommendations, but in general, the guideline is to strive for 30 minutes of brisk walking or a similar activity, five days per week.
  • Following a healthier diet. Replace foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, salt, and sugar with fruits and veggies, fish and lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Most importantly, follow the doctor’s guidance and ensure you’re staying up to date with recommended check-ups.

As you’re working to reverse prediabetes, be sure to keep an eye out for the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and contact the doctor as soon as possible if you notice them. These include:

  • Extreme thirst or hunger
  • Increased urine patterns
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue

Diabetes can lead to a number of serious health issues such as kidney failure, adult-onset blindness, and lower limb amputations. Not only that, but nearly three in four patients with type 2 diabetes need treatment for hypertension, and nearly half are impacted by severe cardiovascular disease.

At American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care, our referred care providers can help those with prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health conditions in a variety of ways. We can plan and prepare healthy meals, provide motivation to stay physically active, run errands like grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions, and more. We also care for family caregivers by providing the professional respite care services that allow crucial time for self-care.

Contact us at the location closest to you and let us connect you with just the right caregiver to meet your needs.

 

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

High Cholesterol In Older Adults: Signs and Symptoms

High Cholesterol in Seniors -- Help

When February rolls around, we all find ourselves thinking about matters of the heart. While love is always top of mind this time of year, there’s another heart issue that is important to think about – keeping the heart healthy. During Heart Awareness Month the senior care services experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, share the signs and symptoms of high cholesterol and how it can impact older adult heart health.

The word cholesterol is often feared because it is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. But what many people don’t realize is that our bodies actually need cholesterol in order to build healthy cells. It’s when an individual’s cholesterol levels get too high that a person needs to be concerned. High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to form in blood vessels. As these deposits grow, it becomes harder for blood to flow through the arteries, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

There are two types of cholesterol – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is often called “bad” cholesterol because it is the kind that builds up on the walls of the arteries. HDL, on the other hand, is called “good” cholesterol. It works to pick up extra cholesterol and bring it back to the liver.

The body already makes all the LDL cholesterol it needs. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle can lead to the production of more LDL than the body needs. Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels include:

  • A diet high in fat, salt, red meat, and processed foods.
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Being overweight or obese

Heredity can also play a role in a person’s cholesterol levels. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol. A blood test is the only way find out if a person has it. Even young children can have high cholesterol, so the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that a person’s first cholesterol test be done between the ages of 9 and 11 and repeated every 5 years after that. Cholesterol screenings should be done every 1 to 2 years for men ages 45 to 65 and for women ages 55 to 65. For people age 65 and over, cholesterol tests should be done annually.

High cholesterol can lead to a number of dangerous complications including:

  • Chest pain
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Changing to a healthier diet that includes healthy fats, fiber, lean meats like fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables, can help reduce cholesterol levels. Getting daily exercise and limiting salt and alcohol intake can too.

When it comes to making healthier choices, sometimes older adults need a little assistance, and that’s where the referred care providers at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help. Our Florida senior care services can be customized to meet the specific needs of each individual and help older adults live healthier lifestyles by assisting with things like daily exercises, healthy meal planning and preparation, and much more.

Contact us any time to learn more about in-home care for older adults by clicking the link to the location nearest you below:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661