Ageism, Elderspeak, and Long-Term Care

Wouldn’t you be confused if a near-stranger patted your head and called you “sweetie”, or if a nurse shouted instructions despite your excellent hearing? These behaviors are confusing and elicit irritation, but, for seniors, they are becoming more and more common. Ageism, elderspeak, and bias are an unfortunate reality for many seniors in long-term care. Seniors everywhere are struggling against the presumptions that demean them as well as the negative toll on their personal lives.

a care worker or medical professional with a senior client at her home . She is discussing the senior woman’s options on her digital tablet.

Ageism in Medicine

Ageism refers to negative stereotypes about older people that lead others to treat seniors differently from younger people. In medicine, extensive clinical evidence shows that older adults do not receive the same level of preventive care, diagnostic care or treatment as other age groups.

By speaking to residents in certain ways, long-term care workers perpetuate stereotypes about seniors. In turn, older adults may shut down or become angry at staff, which reduces their willingness to ask for help or to talk about their health concerns.

What is Elderspeak?

Elderspeak refers to a communication approach towards seniors that is based on the assumption that older people are incompetent, fragile or impaired. To some, elderspeak is unavoidable because many elders suffer from hearing loss or cognitive decline. But most seniors view elderspeak as a type of bullying that belittles their age. Elements of elderspeak include the following:

  • Speaking in a sing-song voice
  • Using baby talk
  • Talking too slowly
  • Interrupting frequently
  • Speaking loudly when it is unnecessary
  • Saying “we” instead of “you”
  • Using overly familiar endearments (“dearie,” “sweetie”) towards unfamiliar seniors
  • Using overly familiar signs of affection (hair-tousling, back-patting) towards unfamiliar seniors

Elderspeak and Dementia

Research suggests that elderspeak may be distressing to older adults, and may lead nursing home residents with dementia to act out negatively (e.g., disregard instructions, act aggressively) or to withdraw from social interactions altogether. This throws into sharp relief that even in the face of cognitive decline elderspeak has a negative impact on seniors.

Challenging Elderspeak

Several approaches can reduce the frequency of elderspeak. These include:

  • Self-awareness. Most nursing home staff do not realize that they sometimes use elderspeak to communicate with residents. This form of speech may occur among caregivers who genuinely want what is best for the people in their care. When caregivers become aware of their speech behaviors towards seniors, ageist assumptions are challenged.
  • Clear, respectful speech. Nursing staff should learn to speak to seniors in a normal, conversational way, including the use of humor when appropriate. A simple educational lecture is all the difference necessary to raise awareness among caregivers.
  • Encourage assertiveness. Not every senior will take offense at all elderspeak practices. Some seniors find nicknames such as “sweetie” or “honey”, endearing. However, when seniors are annoyed or hurt by certain utterances they can be encouraged to speak out, for example, to say, “You don’t need to yell, I have a hearing aid” or “My name is Lori, can you call me that?” By using calm, clear wording, seniors can advocate for themselves and challenge the inaccurate perceptions of others.

David York Agency provides exceptional in-home care for seniors. If you have further questions about ageism, please contact us.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Yoga and Meditation: Proven Benefits for Senior Health

Yoga is  the preferred form of movement for many people. Meditation might be a luxury for others. However, for the aging community, regular practice of these mindful activities should be taken more seriously. They provide quantifiable benefits for overall senior health.

Group of happy seniors practising yoga for senior health

A gentle yoga class can help improve flexibility and circulation while simultaneously reducing heart rate and blood pressure. These are measurable advantages, but there are also innumerable subtle benefits that will be unique to each individual.

For some, thought processes and attitudes will become more positive, while others may experience increased tolerance to pain. The best part is that all participants will benefit from improved quality of life.

 

Just the Facts

Mindful, intentional movement, has reportedly reduced back pain and stiffness with as little as 33 minutes a day, three days a week. “Yoga and Other Low-Impact Exercise for Seniors,” a blog post published by A Place For Mom, is an excellent resource for further information. It carefully explains the many and varied advantages of a yogic practice, citing research from Harvard Medical School.

In addition to physical movement, some practices engage mantra (word repetition) and mudra (hand postures) to create dynamic brain-building exercises. One such exercise, Kirtan Kriya, has been studied extensively due to the remarkable improvements found in practitioners’ brain function.

Better recollection, mood improvement, and increased connectivity have been observed in cases incorporating a practice of only 15 minutes a day! Psychology Today notes that this minimal investment pays off exponentially with increased memory recall and verbal acuity.

The cumulative benefits of physical yogic exercise and meditative mantra can significantly improve quality of life expectations in the senior community. The aging community often focuses on attempting to reduce the negative effects of time. With yoga and meditation, it is possible to improve and re-energize the body and brain.

 

Here’s how you can take advantage of yoga’s extraordinary benefits:

 

Yoga for Senior Health

Yoga is a wonderful option for the aging senior. The best thing about yoga is that you can practice anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a mat to practice yoga just a few minutes a day.

Think about yoga as a state of mind, a way of creating an inner peace with yourself and the world. This mindset will help you get the most out of your practice.

If you’re a beginner, the AARP has some great information to get you started with basic poses. However, if you find yourself without a mat, you can practice these simple techniques.

 

Mindful Meditation

Meditation is the art of clearing your mind to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the world around you. Practicing mindful meditation as a senior can help you center your thoughts and create an inner calm.

 

Focus on Your Breathing

Pranayama, also known as yogic breathing, is the practice of breaking down your breath to help you relax. This form of yoga can help lower your heart rate and get more oxygen to your brain. It will also help your muscles relax. Just a few minutes a day of this technique can help you renew your energy for the day.

 

Practice Your Standing Poses

Standing poses allow you to work on your balance, strength, and flexibility. Incorporate a few forward folds, standing backbends and side bends to help you keep your muscles pliable. These poses will also help reinvigorate you.

 

The most wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a personal practice. Make it what you want, take from it what you need. It is a great activity for active seniors as well as those new to exercise.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

5 Qualities to Look for in a Home Health Aide

home health aideAre you looking for someone who can provide senior care for your elderly or disabled loved one? If so, you might be shopping around for a caregiver to ensure that you choose the right person. Here are five qualities that may indicate you’ve found a good match.

1. Patient

Caring for an elderly person can be a bit trying. They are used to being fully independent and often resent their diminished abilities to the point where they are irritable mush of the time. They may even take it out on those around them. This means that it’s important to look for a caregiver who is patient.

2. Reliable

If your loved one needs care on a regular basis, you’ll need someone who will be able to provide it, without a lot of excuses or the need for a lot of days off. The elderly person and their family are depending on the aide for essential help daily. Make sure they are the type that takes their job seriously and is reliable.

3. Pays Attention to Detail

Day-to-day care of someone else requires individualized consideration. They need to be mindful of the particular eating habits of their patients, be on top of their grooming needs as well as keep an eye out for even slight warning signs of any worsening of a condition they may have. You will want to find a caregiver who pays attention to detail.

4. Easy to Get Along With

You don’t want to bring someone into your loved one’s home who is not friendly or pleasant. After all, a caregiver is supposed to make things easier for your loved one and less stressful for the family. Someone who lets things slide will add positively to the atmosphere. It is best to look for someone who is easy to talk to and get along with.

5. Multi-Tasker

Someone who provides care for an older or disabled person has to know how to do a lot of things, such as light cooking, light cleaning, helping with bathing, and more. Look for someone who can juggle and “keep all the balls in the air”. You will want to make sure that person you hire does not get thrown by multiple responsibilities and is a good multi-tasker.

At David York Agency, we set the bar high and ensure that all of our home health aides offer these important qualities—and so much more. We look for people with common sense and a heart. We continually monitor them to ensure consistent, high-quality service. We do not send anyone to your home that we would not want in ours.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Make Healthy Living Resolutions in 2016 with the Best Home Healthcare Agency

home healthcare agency

It’s a new year and a great chance to help your senior loved one commit to a healthier lifestyle. It is never too late for your aging parent or a senior in your life to embrace a new attitude toward a better diet and exercise regimen. Here are a few tips that you can use to help them start 2016 with healthier habits.

  • Consult with healthcare providers.

    The first thing you want to do is to make sure the senior has a clean bill of health. Experts recommend that healthy adults exercise about 30-40 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week. But, it is important to discuss this with the senior’s physician before making diet changes and implementing an exercise program.
  • Plan to keep a record of all the changes that are being made in their diet and exercise.

    Track their progress, leave notes for other family members helping out with the plan, as well as make notes for physicians visits. You can use this handy David York Agency worksheet to help.
  • Monitor blood pressure, body weight, and blood sugar if needed.

    If your loved one is dealing with a chronic illness, it is imperative to keep track of these numbers.
  • Keep a variety of foods in the home on hand for preparation.

    Foods should include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. You should also encourage the senior to drink plenty of water. Purchase serving size water bottles so that it is easier for the aging adult to carry around.
  • Create a network of support.

    It is important to give your loved one as much support as you can. Studies show that people are more likely to be successful implementing lifestyle changes if they have support from friends, family, and health professionals. Healthier living goals appear more attainable to the person making the change too with the right support in place.
  • Consider hiring a home care aide to assist the senior at home.

    As a family member, you may not be able to visit as often as you would like with your loved one. Hiring a home care aide is the next best thing to being in the home yourself. The aide can assist with small household chores for the senior, as well as help them stay on track implementing positive lifestyle changes such as making better food choices and getting the exercise needed daily.

At David York Agency, we are committed to helping our patients live healthier, happier, more productive lives. Our team of home healthcare providers can help support the healthy new year’s resolutions of your aging loved one by assisting with the preparation of nutritious meals, providing safe transportation to the doctor, the gym, or the grocery store, and monitoring the physical and mental well-being of the patient.

To find out more about hiring a home healthcare agency to help with your aging loved one’s healthy living in 2016, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Tips to Give Caregivers the Care They Need

You probably know somebody who has taken on the role of caregiver, or you might be one yourself. This means you know firsthand how much time goes into the labor of love that is caregiving; time that can eventually drain a person’s physical and mental well-being if it isn’t balanced by activities that keep the caregiver happy and healthy. Caregivers often think of themselves last, and they frequently need a push from somebody to take a break.

If you know a caregiver who could use some rejuvenation, or if you are a caregiver yourself and feel burnt out, here are some ideas to recharge.

Get active

caregivers

Caregiving can be exhausting, and it can require quite a bit of physical strength and endurance. But, that doesn’t mean it is as fulfilling as sticking to an enjoyable exercise regiment. Some ideas for fun activities include dance classes, walking in a scenic park, or taking a leisurely bike ride alone or with a friend. It’s important to stay healthy as a caregiver and, when you don’t have a lot of time to devote to exercise, it’s essential to do activities that are enjoyable so you can get a mental break at the same time as you do something good for your physical health.

Be alone

Sometimes all a caregiver needs is some time alone to read a book, watch a good movie, or just meditate in stillness. If you are a caregiver who needs a break, seek out somebody to help you in your role as caregiver. Enlist another family member or hire a caregiver to take charge of dinnertime or some other time of day a few nights a week so you can get away undisturbed. And if you are friends with a caregiver who seems stressed out, step in to help. Don’t just offer to help, though. Be assertive by saying something like “I’ll come over to take care of dinner on Thursday night so you can go see that movie you’ve been talking about.” Caregivers often feel like they need to handle everything on their own and can feel guilty for handing over what they feel are their duties. Stepping in authoritatively will ease the guilt and help your friend. In the meantime, you will get a chance to bond with the person needing care, which will be rewarding for both of you.

Stay connected

It is crucial during this chapter in your life to stay connected to your caregiving friend, or, if you are the caregiver, to keep connected to your outside world. It can be easy to get drawn into caregiving and neglect your other relationships, but this can lead to anxiety, resentment, and depression. If you are a caregiver, make a point to see friends once a week, or if that’s not possible, talk on the phone with at least one friend a week. If you have a friend who is a caregiver, be sure to give him/her a call frequently to check in, and listen when your friend needs to vent.

 

Caregiving can be burdensome when you are exhausted and struggling to balance that role with your life, but when you are refreshed and taking care of yourself, it can be a wonderful way to bond with your loved one. For more ideas on how to care for yourself or your caregiving friend, contact us.

At the David York Agency, we are dedicated to providing the resources, advice, and high-quality home healthcare services that can make caregiving more manageable. For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the support you need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For additional information about the risk factors of heart disease or about getting in-home care for a loved one, contact us today.

Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat causes an average of 658 deaths per year in the United States. That’s more than many natural disasters in this country! No one is more at risk from heat exhaustion and heat stroke than the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Avoid spending too much time outdoors at once, but if it does happen, be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most common signs of heat exhaustion are dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, clammy skin, and cramping. If you notice these symptoms, get indoors or in the shade immediately and drink water. Heat stroke is the more severe of the two, and symptoms include a high body temperature, alternating between chills and sweating, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate. If you think you’re beginning to suffer from heat stroke, stop what you are doing immediately and seek medical assistance.

Protect yourself this summer season by following these guidelines.

  1. Limit your time outside in the hottest parts of the day: from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Even if you stay in the shade, the heat and humidity can do just as much damage without the sun being directly on you.
  2. If you must go out, ensure that you are wearing proper attire. Hats with a wide brim, loose fitted clothing, and sunscreen all help to protect you from the heat.
  3. Light colors help to reflect the sun’s rays and the heat associated with it. Whites and pastels will keep you much cooler than dark blues and blacks. Also be sure that your clothing is lightweight and loose fitting.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Fluids will keep your body hydrated and less likely to suffer the ill effects of heat exhaustion. Avoid any drinks with alcohol in them; they will only dehydrate your body and make the situation worse.
  5. Avoid exercise and other strenuous activity in the extreme heat. Work out in air conditioned gymnasiums or through activities that are cooling, such as swimming.
  6. Avoid hot areas such as attics or cars that have been outside for a long time. Cool your car down before getting in.
  7. Let your body get used to the heat. If you go on vacation to a place with temperatures that you are not accustomed to, allow a few days for your body to adapt to these new conditions before you do any kind of vigorous activity.

One of the most dangerous issues with overexertion in the summer is actually a psychological one. Many people, especially the elderly, do not want to admit when they can’t do something safely. Some would rather risk severe injury or death rather than appear weak or incapable. However, be aware of your own limitations and the seriousness of the summer weather. Don’t allow your idea of what you could do in the past keep you from taking care of your health now.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

 

iPads are Great for Seniors

For many years, seniors have faced the stigma of being slow adopters of new technologies. However, as computers and graphical interfaces become more user-friendly, nearly everyone has been able to utilize them to make their lives more convenient and more accessible. Here are some of the great benefits that iPads offer to seniors.

  1. iPads offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of text and image sizes. Simply pushing your fingers apart makes the text as large as it needs to be. As eyesight fades with age, this can allow anyone to continue to read books or stay up-to-date on current events.
  2. Nothing is more troubling for seniors than feeling disconnected from their friends and loved ones. iPads give them access to email and messaging software so that they can still keep in touch. Video streaming applications such as FaceTime even allow them to chat with children, grandchildren, and friends who may live on the other side of the country.
  3. Even if motor control is a problem for some seniors, iPads have an extremely easy-to-use graphical interface. A man with arthritis may not be able to rummage through old photos in a box, but swiping from picture to picture on an iPad is a breeze. The same is true for most applications. Interacting with the iPad is often as simple as touching the icon you want. Apple prides itself on its simple touch-screen model which is ideal for many seniors.
  4. There are many great healthcare apps for seniors that will allow them to track their diet, monitor their health, and even communicate with their doctors and other healthcare providers. There are even apps that can warn loved ones of any troubling physical signs in their elderly relative.

If you do decide to get an iPad for your elderly friend or family member, take the time to talk with them about what he or she wants out of an iPad. Show them how to set it up and how these benefits will make their lives easier, safer and more fulfilling.

Having this gateway to the outside world is critical once the elderly become homebound. David York Home Healthcare Agency is very sensitive to the potential of feeling isolated and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. David York Home Agency (DYA) is well versed in the problems of the elderly and all factors related to eldercare services. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Toward a Better Care Plan for the Elderly

Have you taken the time to build a care plan for your elderly loved one? A recent AgingCare.com post suggests creating a personal health action plan as soon as possible is the single best step you can take. If you’ve already built one, updating it at least once a year is equally a must. Not sure where to begin? The same post offers a number of very helpful tips.

Together forever

  • Start with a Conversation: You’ll want to begin by at least talking to your elderly loved one to get a stronger sense of how much he or she understands about their underlying health conditions. Taking a closer look at changes or complaints is a must so you can discuss it with a doctor at the next appointment. Understanding how tired the individual is, how well his or her appetite and digestion are doing, and even any changes in mental status should all be evaluated.
  • Think About After the Hospital: Any time the hospital or another care facility is required, know exactly what you should expect when your loved one comes home. Knowing more about the condition, the medication, and any doctor’s orders is critical. Deciding on the next steps, including hiring a part-time or overnight caregiver, is going to be essential. Be sure to schedule those follow-up appointments, too.
  • Create Goals: Building new goals, on an ongoing basis, is key. Don’t think for a moment that these have to be big goals, either. Something as simple as walking to the bathroom may be the goal for the moment. As recovery continues to progress, you could consider other options like walking to the mailbox.
  • Think Communication: Talk to everyone involved in the care of your loved one on a regular basis, including any home health care professionals like physical therapists. You may also want to ask about a contact number if you have questions. Don’t forget to make your loved one part of this loop too.
  • Consider Yourself: As a caregiver, it’s just as important that you consider your own wellbeing as part of the plan, too. It can be difficult to take care of yourself when you’re putting so much into caring for someone else, so take the time to learn about what you need and what you can do to relive the stress and get the occasional break.

Take some time to look closer at the helpful post from AgingCare.com before you build your plan. If choosing a caregiver becomes part of your plan, contact David York Agency for more information about how we can help you care for your loved one. David York Home Healthcare Agency is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and is always available to set up a senior care plan taking the whole patient into account.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.

 

Surviving a Stroke – The Tips You Need Now

Stroke – It’s a leading cause of death throughout the United States. The American Stroke Association suggests it is the fourth leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., and it can happen very fast. A recent Next Avenue post had some insights that are helpful to any household.

What Is It?

stroke recovery

There are two basics kinds of strokes. Ischemic strokes occur most frequently. A blood clot stops blood flow to the brain in cases like these. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the brain’s blood vessels break and bleeding occurs in the brain.

What Does it Look Like?

Strokes have very noticeable symptoms. Often there is a sudden sense of numbness or weakness on one side of the body. It’s usually noticed in the face, arm, or leg. Sometimes there is confusion, too. You may notice the individual has trouble speaking or even understanding. The person could also have trouble seeing or difficulty walking. Maintaining balance is usually an issue, too. Occasionally a severe headache will occur as well.

There are other potential symptoms of stroke, though they tend to be less frequent. There could be a sudden round of nausea. There may also be a brief loss of consciousness. Sudden pain in the face or limbs could also be a sign of stroke. Shortness of breath may also signal the onset of a stroke.

There are a few of simple tests to decide if it’s a stroke:

  1. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  2. Ask the person to raise his arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  3. Ask the person to say a simple sentence. Watch for garbled words and slurred speech.

If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 emergency services immediately. The “Time Lost is Brain Lost” campaign is absolutely true. The sooner medical attention is sought, the more likely it is that the person will fully or mostly recover.

To learn more about stroke and what you can do to help an individual experiencing a stroke with this Next Avenue post.

David York Agency (DYA) is skilled at recognizing the symptoms of various diseases endemic to the elderly and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.

Is that Memory Slip More Serious?

Memory slips – they seem like a common part of aging, but they can also be a sign of something fairly serious, including Alzheimer’s or even dementia. How can you tell the difference? What’s normal and when should you be concerned? Those smaller slips are often called Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI. AgingCare.com recently posted an article to help you tell the difference. Here are a few of the highlights from the piece.

memory slip

  • 20% of older adults suffer from MCI and increasing age is the most well-known factor.
  • Symptoms typically include misplacing items, having trouble remembering the names of those recently met individuals, and being unable to follow a normal conversation. The more extreme the symptoms, though, the more likely it is to be an MCI case.
  • Concerning MRI scans can also indicate MCI. The brain can actually undergo physical changes when MCI is present, but that does not mean that it’s not Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, as both of those tend to come with brain changes too.
  • The earlier the diagnosis, the better. As soon as you notice cognitive problems in your loved one, head for the doctor. There are many therapies that can be implemented early on to help slow the progress of the condition.
  • Diagnosis is difficult. Often obtaining the diagnosis is more difficult than you may have initially considered. The doctor will have to take a full medical and family history, then conduct a number of tests. There are also a few different types of MCI, so understanding which one your loved one may have can be tough.
  • Post-diagnosis, things don’t always look better. The FDA hasn’t approved treatment for MCI. What’s more, though, is that it can increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, making things difficult.

Take the time to learn more about the condition by visiting the AgingCare.com post.

David York Agency (DYA) is skilled at recognizing the symptoms of various diseases endemic to the elderly and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.