It’s Summertime! Enjoy the Summer Sunshine - Safely

by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

There once was a time when people believed that a summer suntan was a sign of good health. Billboard ads for “tanning lotion” featured a playful puppy tugging at the swimsuit of a happy little girl. Especially in Central Illinois, gardening, picnics, swimming, and other outdoor activities with family and friends made summer a special time to be outdoors. No one worried very much about the effects of overexposure to the sun’s rays.

Today we know better. We know that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a known cause of skin cancers, with the most common types tending to occur on the parts of the body exposed to the sun.

Preserve family memories for future generations
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Interest in family history research has never been as widespread as it is today. Ancestry, for example, claims to have three million online subscribers and a collection of 20 billion family history records! As fascinating and satisfying it can be to have all this information at our fingertips, there is still no substitute for our family members’ personal recollections and stories, told in their own words. Each of us doubtless holds several important conversations like this in our memory - conversations that should be preserved and shared with future generations. Unfortunately, until relatively recently, the tools to easily and instantly preserve and share these conversations haven’t been available to most of us.

Stay Healthy, Stay Involved – Dealing with Hearing Loss

by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

For many adults, getting older means hearing problems may be on the horizon, and the numbers are definitely not comforting: the Center for Communication and Hearing says more than 1 out of 3 Americans over age 65 (16 million) have some degree of hearing loss. Unfortunately, too many of them (over 10 million) see this as a harmless condition—just a normal part of aging—and do not use hearing aids.

Shocking, but perhaps not surprising, people with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before they seek help. In the meantime they are significantly less likely to participate in social activities (leading to social isolation, which has been shown to shorten lifespan), and more likely to be sad or depressed. Ignoring a hearing loss is not a good idea—especially when the problem can usually be treated using hearing aids. Hearing loss is not to be treated lightly.

I think I have a hearing problem. What should I do?

Finding a Caregiver for Mom
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Imagine you are a son or daughter supporting an 83 year-old mother. Her physician has just told you that she can no longer live by herself and, because of her medical condition, she must have 24-hour/seven-day support—immediately. You and your mother decide that the best course for her is to move in with you, but since you are still employed, she will need someone to be with her while you are at work. How will you make this happen?

Care Decisions When a Parent Has Dementia
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Imagine that you are the son or daughter of an 85 year-old man who has been living in a local memory care facility for the two years since he was diagnosed with dementia. You receive a phone call from the facility’s administrator requesting a meeting in which you are then informed that your father’s dementia has progressed to the point that he now requires 24-hour one-on-one assistance. You are also told that this type of service is not provided by the facility so you will have to hire around the clock assistance from a third party caregiver if he is to remain in the facility. What will you do?

Creating a Safe and Peaceful Environment for Mom or Dad
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Very often the role of family caregiver lands on the shoulders of an older adult’s son or daughter with little or no warning like a bolt out of the blue. The trigger may be a sudden illness, a hospitalization, a fall, or any one of a number of incidents that make it clear that mom or dad needs more help and support from you—immediately. For example, help or guidance quickly may be needed in a decision about where they are going to live and—even more difficult and in many ways more important—how they going to live. Hopefully they have advance directives in place, and you can expect to be working closely with the individuals who have powers of attorney for health care and property.

Fight Back Against Winter - How to Support an Older Parent When It's Cold Outside
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Winter can be a dangerous time for older adults, especially those who live alone. Cold weather, slippery walking and driving conditions, shorter days, seasonal influenza, isolation from family and friends, and seasonal depression combine to make winter a challenging time for seniors, especially those living an independent lifestyle. It’s a time when family members need to play a role in ensuring the safety, health and welfare of an older parent.

Some Signs That Mom or Dad May Need Extra Help
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

For many of us the holidays are a time for family to get together to celebrate. They are a chance for older parents and grandparents to spend time with family members and get caught up with the lives of their children and grandchildren. They are also a time for busy sons and daughters who are not able to see their parents as often as they would like to catch up on how they’re getting along in their lives.

Sometimes there are surprises and they discover that there issues with their parents’ ability to care for themselves and live independently in the community. Following are some commonly seen issues.

Apply Technology To Reduce Social Isolation - Part II

by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

This month we continue our exploration of technologies that, when used appropriately, can reduce the social isolation of older adults. Social isolation is not a distant challenge. It exists among the elderly today, diminishing the quality of life and shortening lives. While there is no perfect substitute for being there, when geography or circumstance mean you cannot be physically present with an older parent, friend, or relative as often as you would like, the right technology may be the way to bridge the gap.

Apply Technology To Reduce Social Isolation

by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Life has a way of isolating older adults. It occurs naturally: friends move away; retirement brings loss of work relationships; geography and circumstances create distance from family members. At the same time, mobility—the once easy process of getting from one place to another—becomes difficult or sometimes nearly impossible. All too often, the result is social isolation.

Hot Weather and Dementia – A Dangerous Combination

by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

It looks like we’re in for another hot Peoria County summer.

Did you know that, for older adults, dementia is a risk factor for hospitalization and even death during periods of high heat? A study published by the National Institutes of Health in 2016 indicates that the risk of heat-related hospitalizations is 20 times greater for individuals with dementia when compared with those who do not have dementia.

Why might this be true?

It’s Summer—Get Outside and Start Walking
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

It’s July, summer is in full swing in Peoria County, and winter’s cabin fever is almost forgotten. Now is the perfect time to get out of doors and take a walk! A walk in the neighborhood is an enjoyable way to stay in touch with friends and neighbors and get some needed exercise at the same time.

The Lonely Caregiver
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Too often we hear from family caregivers that they struggle with loneliness and isolation. They tell us they feel trapped in the caregiver role and are carrying the load for other family members with little help, support or appreciation. They are caught in a stressful situation that can lead to burnout. This article draws on caregiving stress and burnout experts to offer some ideas on how to avoid caregiver burnout.

 

Nothing About Me, Without Me.
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

Have you ever noticed that in the world of home care services, the consumer is often referred to not as a patient, but as a client? When you see this, it may be an indication that the provider embraces what has come to be called a person-centered model of care, an approach significantly different from the traditional medical model. The person-centered care model is a fundamental change in the way health care services are delivered.

Pets Offer Furry Companionship and More to Older Adults
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

A pet can be a great friend. Especially during the long winter months, the unconditional love of a pet can be a source of companionship and comfort to an older adult who lives alone. The benefits of pet ownership go beyond companionship: research has shown that living with a pet provides important health benefits to the pet owner.