I walked into Mrs. Brown’s house and I do the usual safety inspection of the home. The most dangerous place for frail elderly is the bathroom. One of the simplest safety devices is a shower chair. But when I investigated Mrs. Brown’s shower, I discovered a lawn chair in the bathtub. The legs were beginning to rust, and the plastic weave bottom was loosening. This was a fall waiting to happen. The correct shower chairs matters and there are many different types of models.
The first question to ask yourself before purchasing a shower chair is how much does the person weigh. Small simple shower chairs usually are meant for people under 200 pounds. Every shower chair comes with a weight limit. The second question is the space to put a shower chair. Is it a tub or a shower? The third question is do they need a shower chair with handles or a back?
If a person has a tub, they must be able to get their legs over the side of the tub. If they are not able to do that, I recommend they purchase a shower bench where part of the bench sits outside the tub. That way the only thing the person must do is sit and scoot over. Some benches even come with a chair that a person sits on the outside and it glides over into the bathtub. Some bathrooms are very narrow, and the bench can block access to the toilet, so the bench needs to be put away after the shower. Another advantage of benches is that they usually can hold more weight.
If a person has a shower, I usually recommend a shower chair with a back and handles on the side to push up with. Most seniors need the handles to help them stand up and the back allows them to not fall back. Grab bars should also be installed at the entrance of the shower as this allows the individual to safely step into the shower.
The last piece of equipment is a handheld shower wand. This allows the individual to hold the wand and moderate the temperature and move it around to shower themselves. Most people do not want water splashing into their face.
Most of these devices in the United States cost between 50 to 100 dollars and is well worth it to prevent a major fall and broken bones. According to the CDC one in three people over the age of 65 fall every year and is a major reason they must be placed into a long-term care facility. Invest in safe shower equipment—you will not regret it. Feel free to contact any member agencies of OPHC and they will be willing to do a safety inspection of your loved one’s home.
CarePlus at Home
These are crazy, uncertain and even scary times we live in. Political upheaval, COVID-19 pandemic fears, financial stresses and the normal challenges of life can sometimes be more than the average person can bear alone.
Seniors need encouragers and caregivers in their lives NOW more than ever! Going to the grocery store is now more than just a physical inconvenience for an elderly person... it could be a matter of life or death. With facility, city & even statewide lockdowns and fears about infections, loneliness has taken it's toll on our senior population to a major degree. Many families are opting to keep their loved ones at home now longer simply because they have a greater concern about the potential health risks of moving them into a long-term care facility.
The members of the Oklahoma Professionals for Home Care are experts at providing peace of mind for families and seniors during the topsy turvy world we all live in! Our skilled and experienced, essential health care staff are equipped to provide personal care services, assistance with tasks of daily living and to offer the vital companionship seniors so desperately need, but in the safety and security of their own homes.
Our member agencies have trained their team members on safety protocols, the use of PPE(Personal Protective Equipment) like masks and gloves, and how to best care for the needs of the elderly, while keeping the senior, family members and our staff all safe and healthy!
Want to know more about what home care services are available, and how one of our member agencies could better serve your needs? We would love to serve you and your loved ones!
Just go to the top of the page, click on About Us, then Membership Directory for an OPHC Member agency near you!
Visiting Angels of Tulsa
Visiting Angels of Bartlesville
Visiting Angels of SWOKC
One in three adults over the age of 65 fall every year. Many times, this leads to long hospital stays, disability and long-term care placement. Many reasons exist for why seniors fall, but one reason is problems with their inner ear.
Our ears are comprised of three parts. The outer ear funnels noise into our ears. The middle ear has three bones that vibrate and transmit sound waves. Lastly our inner ear has fluid, a semicircular bone, and tiny hairs to continue sending sound waves to our brain to interpret. The fluid in the inner ears also tells our brain where our body is in space and how to balance ourselves.
A few years ago, my dad said he felt like there was a treadmill moving under his feet. His primary doctor did some tests but that did not resolve Dad’s problems. As a geriatric nurse I encouraged Dad to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. About 40% of seniors who have balance problems have calcium crystals which normally float in the inner ear; get stuck in the semicircular bone causing dizzy spells. The doctor does a head maneuver adjustment that knocks those calcium crystals loose.
Some people will feel worse after this procedure and will need someone to drive them and stay with them a couple of days. Sometimes the procedure needs to be repeated. After a couple of weeks of having the procedure done by an ENT, my Dad no longer had vertigo and I had increased peace of mind about him not falling. Other problems with the inner ear can also include inflammation or infection. Take all vertigo seriously and keep investigating to find a solution so your loved one can stay home safely.
CarePlus At Home
I was walking out of the doctor’s office when I saw an elderly gentleman, about 160 pounds with a blue sweater and blue jeans on. Over his jeans he was wearing knee braces. I assumed his knees were bad because I observed him lift his 200 pound wheelchair bound wife into the car. I wanted to go to him and say, “Please get help and take care of yourself!”
As a geriatric nurse for the past 10 years, assisting elderly people to age in place I have seen the stress caregiving causes the spouse. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is a protein called Interleuken 6 (IL-6) which is a substance secreted from the cells to regulate our immune system. IL-6 is beneficial for when we have an infection, but not if we have high levels on a constant basis. IL-6 rises as we age and that causes chronic inflammation in our bodies that leads to cancer, osteoporosis (which is thinning of the bones, and dementia.
A study was done of married elderly couples. In one group e a spouse was a caregiver, in the other group the spouse was not a caregiver. Due to the stress of caregiving the spouse who was a caregiver had four times more IL-6 than their non-caregiver counterparts. Caregiver spouses are less likely to visit the doctor, have increased mental health problems and do not get enough sleep. This study supports what I see in the field, that caregiving spouses have more health problems in general.
In the United States there are close to 30 million spousal caregivers. These caregivers need to be taken care of. Another study was done of spousal caregivers to figure out how to lower one’s IL-6. One group received nutrition information and another group received phone calls helping them to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise four times per week. The group that exercised had less IL-6 in their bodies.
Working in exercise can be challenging for spousal caregivers and that is why it is important to hire caregivers to give the spousal caregiver some much needed respite. It costs more in the long run to not hire help because if the spouse is unable to remain the caregiver , then alternative arrangements will need to be made for the disabled spouse. Make sure your loved one, who is a caregiver has time to exercise because exercise matters.
Kathy Cocks, RN
During the recent and ongoing Corona Virus pandemic, so many things have changed in our lives! Schedules, entertainment options, who we congregate with, where we go, what size groups we gather in, what we wear(masks, gloves, etc.) and so much more! One thing that stands out so much though about this time is that it has highlighted for nearly everyone just how much our family matters!
Family matters because of the deep love and concern most family members have for each other. We're concerned for each other's health and safety, emotional and mental well being, and even just making sure we all have the basic necessities of life during these crazy, uncertain times!
Family matters because of the impact those loved ones have made and continue to make on our lives. This especially true for our parents, grandparents and other elderly family members who have spent a lifetime investing in the care and nurture of their younger family members. Now as they grow older, and their need for care increases, family matters should "matter" most to those who care for these elders.
Member agencies of the Oklahoma Partnership for HomeCare are designed to assist you and your loved ones in this journey! Navigating the uncertain and sometimes confusing waters of home health care is less difficult when guided by an experienced and educated professional in the field! You can contact any one of our the fantastic member agencies of the OPHC for advice, direction and assistance with their services for your loved one!
Visiting Angels of Tulsa
Visiting Angels of Bartlesville
Visiting Angels of SWOKC