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How To Assist Your Loved One With Eating After A Stroke in Dallas, TX

Nutritional Help with Someone in Stroke Care

Patients requiring stroke care often have challenges eating meals. Sometimes it’s a chewing or swallowing issue, but other times, it’s a matter of getting food to the mouth. If the stroke has created memory loss, the stroke patient might not remember to eat.

Always refer to your doctor when you need assistance in choosing a meal plan for someone in stroke care. The following tips may be helpful, as well:

Encourage Wholesome Regular Meals

  • Schedule regular meals. The person in stroke care may eat more when they dine with a loved one at the table. He or she may look forward to a regular time to eat, so long as there is patience and ample time provided for eating.
  • Try different meal times. Does a late morning breakfast work better for the loved one in stroke care than an early morning meal?
  • Nutrient-dense foods are best. Rebuild your loved one’s strength by offering healthy, whole foods while in stroke care.
  • Everyone has preferences. If your loved one favors an item that’s easier to chew or swallow, and it has a high nutritional value, let them enjoy it often!

Softer Food is Usually Best

  • Pureed whole fruits or veggies: Pureed or blended whole foods are more palatable with additional spices or flavorings.
  • Yogurt is easy: Yogurt is an easy choice since it’s easy to swallow and sold in pre-portioned packages.
  • Oatmeal adds fiber: Oatmeal adds essential fiber, and is typically easier to chew and swallow than other grains.
  • Eggs are simple: Easy to eat and digest, eggs can provide protein along with other beneficial nutrients.
  • Gelatin or other soft desserts: Everyone enjoys sweets on occasion, but low-nutrition foods should only be offered on occasion.
  • Liquid meals: Ready-to-drink replacement meal shakes are high in protein and will be easiest for stroke care patients who are struggling to chew or swallow.
  • Avoid sticky foods: Peanut butter, rice, or anything sticky might create a choking hazard.
  • Buy special utensils: There are utensils that are cushioned or have specialized grips that can help someone in stroke care eat independently.

Seek Help as Needed

Seek outside assistance as needed when offering stroke care to your loved one. Contact your local Home Care Assistance office at (214) 216-6811 today to get more information about home care or meal assistance during this difficult time.

Protecting Seniors From Scams

Scammers like to prey upon older people in senior care because of their likelihood to be generous and kind. Money scams can happen by phone, email, the internet or even in person.

Older residents in senior care need to be cautious with their finances.  They’re often on fixed incomes with little savings. These money scams can damage their future lifestyle and wellbeing. If an aging adult suffers a financial loss, children or grandchildren may end up paying the consequences, too, as they wind up assisting with the losses.

What can be done to keep loved ones in senior care safe from scammers? First, be sure to talk with aging parents and educate them on common scams so they can be more discerning of tricksters. Scam artists are experienced and can fool people of any age. Remind seniors to fully investigate a person or company before releasing any money or information. Ask them to contact you for assistance if someone or something seems suspicious. Empower the older adults by telling them it’s okay to hang up on solicitors and discard emails without answering.

Scams have always been around but there are some more common ones that you will want to learn about:

  • Phony winnings – fraudulent lotteries, contests, and free prizes. The criminals are looking for account information. They typically ask for shipping or other fees to be paid in order to obtain credit card or bank account details.
  • Counterfeit charities – bogus relief from a recent disaster. There are non-profits that champion for support of these causes, but criminals try to capitalize, as well.
  • Impersonators – relatives like grandchildren, nieces, or nephews need money because they’re in jail or stuck in another country. Callers may say they’re desolate and ask for the purchase of a prepaid gift card or a wire transfer. Red flag!
  • Door-to-door sales – gimmicks like products, magazine subscriptions, or even roof repairs. This can be costly.

Scammers retrieve credit cards, money and personal info from the elderly in senior care in a multitude of ways, so it’s important to keep communication open with loved ones. Reassure them you’re looking out for them and remind them it’s okay to be skeptical of strangers.

A caregiver provides an additional level of help because they can watch for signs of mail or phone scams for the elderly person in senior care. Learn more about in-home care services by contacting Home Care Assistance of Dallas.

5 Benefits to Living with Caregiver Assistance

It’s a normal response for an independent adult to refuse the idea of a caregiver at first. When daily living tasks are finally too much of a challenge, the reality cannot be denied, and additional help must be brought into the home.

Although the initial response is hesitance, once an older adult understands the advantages of in-home senior care, chances are he or she will be open to the idea and enjoy the benefits of a compassionate caregiver. There’s additional safety with a caregiver in the home and social engagement reduce loneliness, too. Personal safety and conversation are both vital to a high quality of life.

Help a loved one benefit from a home caregiver. Consider these 5 lifestyle improvements with senior care:

  1. In-home caregivers respond to emergencies.

Unfortunately, medical emergencies are viable realities to aging. The risk of falls, strokes and heart attacks increase as people age, but an older adult with caregiver assistance is more likely to obtain life-saving medical support quickly. In-home caregivers can respond to emergencies at the moment and relay detailed information about the situation to emergency responders to improve potential outcomes.

  1. Caregivers eliminate isolation.

Human beings are meant to be social. Everyone needs quality conversation to be emotionally and physically healthy. It’s even more important to have daily communication as people age. An in-home caregiver expands an older adult’s social world with companionship and reduces loneliness. Loneliness and isolation have cognitive consequences and are connected to the risk of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Enjoy time with friends and family again.

Adults who don’t drive are challenged to be involved with family occasions because of their transportation problem. Alternately, a professional caregiver can drive, making family parties, appointments or occasions accessible to the adult once more.

  1. Caregivers can do the chores.

Those challenging chores that were so easy at one time may become impossible. Seniors may find it frustrating in older years, but caregivers can now do the household chores and errands! The home can still be tidy, and delicious homecooked meals can be prepared again with their help.

  1. Caregivers offer the opportunity to remain in the home.

Of course, the older adult probably wants to stay in the comfort of home! When an aging adult eventually needs senior care, he or she can remain at home with caregiving assistance instead of making a move to an assisted living community. It’s the ideal solution for older adults who aren’t receiving full-time medical care.

4 Benefits of Assisted Living

Once someone needing senior care learns about the many options of living with assistance, it may not feel so scary. There are numerous advantages that usually outweigh any concerns.

For example, senior care assistance provides an additional layer of safety, besides the social opportunities, and both are essential to your health and welfare, or for your loved one.

Please read the following 5 benefits if you are thinking about assisted living for a loved one:

  1. There is safety in living with assistance.

As adults age, there are new safety challenges – falls, strokes, heart problems and other health emergencies. If someone needing senior care has assistance at home or in an assisted living community, support comes more quickly. Assisted living communities have call buttons for help and a nurse on staff. The resident can receive help for an emergency more quickly, which can provide a better health outcome.

  1. Assisted living communities have social and educational activities.

Fun and healthy activities keep adults in senior care moving and gives them things to look forward to. Sometimes, a senior may be inspired to develop new hobbies or interests now that there is time and instruction for them to learn. Activity and social time are vital to cognitive health and isolation can create health consequences. It’s now understood to be linked to cognitive decline and possibly Alzheimer’s.

  1. Senior care assistance helps with daily needs.

Normal tasks of daily living that were simple and easy at one time may have become impossible. Cleaning, lawn cutting and maintenance, and meal preparation may be now impractical, but having someone else do the work can take stress off the resident.

  1. There’s a variety of assisted living options for those needing senior care.

As the population is aging, there are now a variety of assisted living options to look at and consider. Older adults can live in communities that closely match their values and interests, or they can have professional assistance in their home. Privacy concerns and hesitancy are eliminated once a person realizes he or she will still have a private apartment in the community. Common areas, like living rooms or dining rooms, will be shared areas, but residents have the freedom to be social or stay in their room during times they want more privacy.

Caregiving: Why Is Routine Important?

Quality Caregivers Prioritize Routine

Predictable schedules are probably best for everyone, but this becomes especially true as we age.  Surely, you’ve heard someone say that humans are “creatures of habit?” Consistent schedules remind older adults of what’s ahead, bringing a sense of comfort to them. When someone suffers from dementia, daily structure and routine provided by their caregiver is even more important.

Structured Routines Provide Feelings of Security

Structured routines for daily meals, bathing or dressing provide feelings of security for most older adults. Typically, they sleep better as a result of regular sleep and wake up times, too.

Elderly people struggling with dementia become less confused with structured caregiver routines. Sometimes, a dementia patient might forget what was done earlier that day, but he or she will sense what’s coming next in the day’s schedule. Regularly scheduled dining times prevent hunger pangs, reducing considerable stress in dementia patients, who may otherwise have behavioral challenges for the caregiver.

Keeping a regular schedule means less planning for the caregiver and an appreciation of each moment enjoying the person being cared for.

Plan the Routine

Plan the routine with the adult first 

Plan the routine around the person being cared for. When planning meal times, daily care or activities, consider the time of day that the adult seems to function best. When the older adult already has a routine, don’t change it. If he or she is happy waking up early for toast and coffee, let them keep the routine. Keep any adult’s routine as stable as possible.

You’ll need flexibility as well as routine

Keeping a routine is vital, yet flexibility is needed, too. Occasionally, the person might not feel well and will need additional rest, but on good days, an unplanned activity like a walk can feel perfect.

Keep variety with scheduled activities, too 

Schedule activities for each week, yet add some variety, too. Try different types of exercise and cognitive challenges. Add spiritual nourishment and different social events. What hobbies were pursued in the past? Perhaps the caregiver can modify undertakings that are now too difficult.

Keep everything in its place

As a caregiver, only rearrange personal belongings in the home for safety reasons. It can cause confusion and frustration for an elderly adult.

Could your loved one benefit from additional assistance? Home Care Assistance will provide as little or as much in-home help to older adults as needed. Call the Home Care Assistance office nearest you today for more information!

How To Tell The Difference Between Delirium And Dementia

Mental confusion and acute emotional distress can be symptoms of delirium and dementia, which would make it easy to confuse the two illnesses with each other. However, these are two distinctly different medical problems, and it’s critical for caregivers and community medical staff to understand their differences. Delirium commonly affects older patients and is often seen as a complication in hospital admission for the elderly.

How do you recognize delirium?

Delirium is an acute problem, with a patient displaying confusion, disrupted attention, muddled speech and sometimes hallucinations. Delirium is diagnosed by behavioral observation of the patient and medical help is necessary when someone displays potential symptoms. It’s usually a temporary condition and is typically reversed after the root source is treated.

The following are common triggers of delirium:

  • Drug interactions
  • Head trauma
  • Infections
  • Liver failure
  • Dehydration
  • Brain tumors

Facilities and hospitals that offer senior care commonly see older people with delirium. It can be triggered by alcohol or drug abuse, UTIs, pneumonia, or other illness. Other things that can become problematic are medical or dental procedures using anesthesia, high fever, sleep deprivation or heightened emotional stress.

Symptoms of delirium:

  • Disturbing emotional displays
  • Extreme or fluctuating mood changes
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Inattention or inability to focus
  • Disorganized thinking / cognitive problems
  • Lack of awareness of the environment
  • Delusions or hallucinations

How can one differentiate delirium from dementia?

At a glance, they may seem similar, but delirium starts abruptly and can fluctuate from day to day or hour to hour, whereas dementia manifests itself slowly over long periods of time. Dementia is considered irreversible.

Mental confusion is displayed with both, but it’s critically important to understand the distinct differences when caring for an elderly person.

Why is it important to understand the difference?

Delirium is a sign or symptom of a serious medical issue. It could even be a reaction to a medication spiraling to a medical emergency. Delirium must be medically treated as quickly as possible or it can cause permanent problems or even death.

Delirium goes all too often unrecognized by medical professionals because symptoms can be so easily attributed to dementia, instead of the serious immediate problem that it is. Emergency help is needed when symptoms of delirium are noted.

Often, older dementia patients develop delirium during a hospital stay, but once the underlying cause is being treated, caregivers can provide a quiet, safe and comfortable environment to help them calm down.

Does the senior in your life need dementia care in Dallas, TX?

Call Home Care Assistance of Dallas at (214) 216-6811 and let us provide you with a top of the line dementia care provider for your loved one.

Staying Active is Important at Any Age

Staying active is important at any age. We need regular physical activity to keep our balance, strength, and cardiovascular health. Physical activity also reduces the chance of chronic disease. We can all increase our health and vitality, regardless of age!

Experts recommend 150 minutes or more of weekly exercise. Go slowly at first, and gradually increase frequency and intensity.

Walking is Perfect

Walking is perfect for every age and ability with no need for a gym membership! Older adults can stroll the neighborhood or venture to nature areas with trails. Walking gets even better as a social event if family or friends come along!

Do What You Can

TV doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill while watching a TV show. Stretch on the commercial breaks or use hand weights to increase strength. Put on some lively music and dance to get spirits lifted and the body moving.

Gardens with Benefits

Enjoy the many benefits of herbs, produce and flowers from the backyard! Senses awaken from natural fragrances and getting outdoors provides a sense of wellbeing.

Golfing

Golfing can offer healthy opportunities from the bending and swinging, as well as walking to each hole. Besides, there are social, physical and mental aspects of golf that are stimulating to the brain.

Swimming

Swimming is ideal for cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal system health. It’s especially good for anyone with arthritis or joint pain, too. Most community pools have water aerobics classes or times specifically designated for older adults to enjoy the water.

Professional Help is Available

Of course, older adults may need help at times and they could benefit from Home Care Assistance. Professional help is available at any time for assistance with daily tasks or focusing on healthier activities.

Compassionate caregivers can offer assistance with adult mobility or exercise. Sometimes, offering transportation to a doctor appointment is appreciated. In any case, caregivers can allow an aging adult to maintain an independent lifestyle.

Family sometimes realizes there aren’t enough hours in the day to engage in all the activities their loved ones want or need. No reason to be sad or guilty! Allow Home Care Assistance to help. Respite care allows the aging adult or parent to have uninterrupted activity times while the family caregiver gets a well-deserved break.

Home Care Assistance caregivers are able to help with meal prep, physical activity and personal hygiene for short- or long-term. Call Home Care Assistance to inquire about our reliable in-home care for seniors.

Changing Bad Habits of Elderly Parents

Can Older Parents Make Healthy Changes?

Sometimes you worry about your aging parents, especially when it’s apparent that they need to make some healthy changes. Perhaps they’re not getting enough activity, social interaction, or eating regular meals. You care and want to help them out, but it seems like your voice just isn’t heard when you try to talk about making changes.

So, how is it possible to persuade Mom or Dad to make healthy changes? Are you open to learning a few techniques? To get started, pick your battles wisely, and never lecture your parent. Engage in conversation during the time of day your parent is most amenable and try to keep a sense of humor.

Habits Can Be Hard to Change

“Habit” is defined by Dictionary.com as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” Brushing your teeth is a healthy habit. A morning walk could become a habit, too, but insisting on behavior change from a parent – or anyone else – won’t do much good! It’s not easy to let go of, or create, a patterned behavior.

Change Isn’t Easy

So, don’t you have some unhealthy habits yourself? And, have you had to make serious lifestyle changes? Yes? Then, you know it’s not easy to change habits, and trying to get someone else to change is even more of a challenge!

Consider Feelings When Asking for Change

Chances are that your mom or dad are actually cognizant of their needed changes, so don’t worsen the situation by nagging. It could exasperate your parent, making them even less willing to cooperate.

Consider their feelings when asking for change. Lovingly tell your parent that you understand their challenges.

Consider Why They Need Change

Be a sleuth and investigate your parent’s situation, asking questions that might uncover what’s going on. Is their lack of initiative a response to a recent stress.? Does he or she have a health-related issue you weren’t aware of? Have you recently seen increased isolation, creating this recent apathy? Does your parent understand that people do notice and care that their home isn’t as tidy as it once was? Is it time for additional professional elderly care?

Healthy New Habits Can Replace the Old

If your parent does want to make healthy changes, then what? Teri Goetz, a writer for Psychology Today, recently wrote that it’s not enough to will a change to happen. Help your parent form a plan, then create an arsenal of healthy behaviors that can replace old unwanted ones. If your parent decides to quit smoking, plan activities for when the cravings hit – like making a phone call to a friend or taking a walk around the block. Either might be enough to boost willpower.

Power in Social Connections

There is power in social connections. They keep us on track or derail our efforts to change. If your parents socialize with other smokers, it’s going to be harder for them to keep off cigarettes. Here’s where you might offer some loving elderly care. Take your parent to lunch, or find ways to increase time with them for a while. Build their sense of belonging by showing them how important they are while they’re working on their habit changes.

Changing a habit can be hard, but good social connections and a sense of control over our own lives can be helpful.

  1. Allow Your Parent to Accept Help Graciously
  2. Juggling Your Parents’ Independence and Safety
  3. How to Tackle Difficult Conversations Around Care

Important Baby Steps

Changing behaviors might not be easy but people who effectively participate in elderly care suggest this tidbit: Simplify where you can.

B.J. Fogg , creator of the Tiny Habits® Program, teaches that there are three things that create long-term behavior changes:

  1. An epiphany.
  2. A change in the environment.
  3. Baby steps.

As B.J. says, a change in environment and baby steps are your best choices. You can change your environment (keep no cigarettes in the house) and you can take baby steps, creating small goals, that lead to bigger ones. Helping your parent attain a goal will create a positive sense of accomplishment for you and your parent.

Who Should Start the Conversation?

Maybe you aren’t the best person to start the difficult conversation with your parents. Is there an ally who has already helped you with their elderly care? Perhaps this person could approach the subject with your parents, instead of you. In the very least, you’ll have to design a plan, select the best time of day and location, with privacy in mind, when initiating the difficult conversation.

Carolyn Rosenblatt, an expert in aging, says that when you are assisting in parents’ elderly care, a challenging request might be more easily received when partial blame is allowed to fall on the adult child, rather than the aging parents. Your mother won’t be as upset if you approach her smoking habit by saying something like this…

“Mom, I know that sometimes I’m just a pain and a worry wart. Still, I’m just getting so concerned about how many years you have smoked. Would you be open to talking with the doctor about ways to quit smoking? I just love you and I know I’d probably sleep better if we talked with the doctor about this.”

Muster Patience!

Muster up your patience with your elderly care. Offer your encouragement in making changes. Be compassionate, keeping in mind that a sense of humor can be helpful, too!

Resources:

  1. How to Change Unhealthy Habits, by Teri Goetz
  2. TinyHabits
  3. Persuading Our Stubborn Aging Parents, by Carolyn Rosenblatt

How Caregiver Burnout Damages Our Brains

What does caregiver burnout mean? Can it be prevented?

It’s not unusual to read about work-related stress and how it leads to burnout, as it has been studied and talked about often. There hasn’t been as much research specific to family caregiver burnout, yet it can also be stressful and may actually damage the brain, as well.

Caregiver Burnout

Why might you have concern if you are a family caregiver? Realistically, a family caregiver may have more stress than what comes with a full-time career. Unfortunately, it’s even possible to cause damage to one’s own brain, as well as mental and emotional health by taking care of someone you love. The following may help you understand how helping as a family caregiver can create problems for the brain, and what you can do about it.

What Does Caregiver Burnout (or Syndrome) Look Like?

Other people might notice first that a caregiver has burnout, and that he or she is showing the same symptoms seen with severe stress or depression. Symptoms may include, but aren’t limited to, anger or rage, exhaustion, social withdrawal, lack of appetite or weight gain, problems sleeping leading to extreme fatigue, digestive concerns, lowered immune function, and more. You won’t read about “Caregiver Syndrome” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, yet this is a term commonly used by healthcare professionals as they describe what sometimes happens to caregivers.

An excellent post entitled, “The Effects of Caregiver Stress on the Body and Brain,” found on the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center website states that caregiving sometimes has major effects on one’s overall health, especially when the responsibilities extend for long periods of time.

Symptoms of burnout can vary in respect to the caregiver’s genetic traits, education, financial circumstances, and previous mental conditions, but since nearly 70% of caregivers end up suffering from depression, caregiving stress management is important. Self-monitoring and an awareness of one’s own changes or indication of problems can help caregivers get help in a timely manner. As with other forms of chronic stress, caregiver burnout can create serious harm to your brain if left unchecked because stress appears to trigger chemical changes that impact memory capacity and learning abilities.

Situational Versus Long-Term Stress

Caregiving can be extremely challenging and a trial for to keep emotions and psyche intact. Even stress that is considered short-term and temporary can make people anxious, irritable or tense, forgetful or distracted, but it can still get worse with long periods of stress. When caregivers push down or deny negative emotions like guilt, their stress hormone levels tend to rise, and the increased levels may impact physical, emotional and mental health. Research shows that the consequences of caregiving can include lowered immune and endocrine functioning, increased depression, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease and even a risk of early death. A Huffington Post article counseled that lengthy periods of extreme life events can “harm your brain’s memory and learning capacity by reducing the volume of gray matter in brain regions associated with emotions, self-control, and physiological functions.” In other words, chronic stress may shrink the brain.

Tips for Handling Caregiver Burnout Before It Damages your Brain

If stress hormone levels begin to surge, consider improving your brain power with some smart remedies suggested by the Mayo Clinic:

Accept help that gets offered to you. When a friend or family member offers help, accept it! In fact, it makes sense to keep a list of items friends, family or healthcare professionals could assist with, if they volunteer to help. They might run errands, grocery shop, cook homemade meals, do some housekeeping or just take some time with the person you are caring for, in order for you to take a well-deserved break.

Remember to take care of yourself. Caregivers sometimes get immersed in strong feelings of guilt. Beware of this trap, as you’re probably doing a better job than you think as you care for your loved one. Don’t even try for perfection. Guilt can be paralyzing and lead to depression, so do the best you can and remember to take care of yourself, too.

Don’t overdo it. Caregivers assisting loved ones often overdo it and suddenly they realize they’ve run themselves down. Keep yourself feeling good by setting achievable and realistic goals. Set aside some time to keep yourself organized. Learn to say “no.”

Research community resources. Once you’ve identified and created a list of needs, search locally for what might be available to you for resources. You might find classes that educate people in your situation. Perhaps, there are local support groups that can help people like you? Cleaning, transportation services, and meal preparation and home delivery companies may be helpful.

Self-care. Don’t lose yourself or your own health goals. It’s important to get quality sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of fresh water and keep up with visits to your own doctor during this time, too.

Respite Care May Help

Sometimes, when you give yourself (and your brain) a reprieve from the daily grind, you feel better, so consider respite care regularly. Respite care means temporary care of the dependent person while the regular caregiver takes time to recuperate and recover. Sometimes respite involves help at home with a professional assisting your loved one. Sometimes, an aide provides assistance while the family caregiver goes on a little vacation, or at least spends a day or two making time for walking or bicycling outdoors. Enjoying social time with friends can help a caregiver feel refreshed.

A family caregiver has vitally important and exceedingly challenging work at hand. If you are a caregiver, take care of yourself!  Keep stress managed as much as possible but if you begin to recognize symptoms of burnout in your behavior, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Taking care of yourself is a priority before you can take care of someone else!