Eye Care for Seniors: The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Vision is one of the most vital senses, and as your loved one ages, you may notice changes in their eyesight. While some changes are normal to aging, others can indicate more serious issues, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This makes eye care for seniors an essential aspect of their overall health.

Learn more about eye care for seniors, including regular check-ups and diet improvements. These steps can help prevent age-related eye conditions and boost habits that promote optimal eye health.

Routine Eye Exams

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that individuals 65 and older have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, even if they have no existing vision problems. Regular check-ups are crucial for early detection of conditions that become more prevalent with age, such as cataracts.

Neglecting regular eye exams can have severe consequences. Conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can progress silently, leading to irreversible vision loss if not detected and treated early. Annual exams can also reveal other health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Eye Conditions Prevalent in Seniors

  • Macular Degeneration: This condition affects the central vision and can make daily activities like reading and driving difficult. It is the leading cause of vision loss in seniors, according to the National Eye Institute. Symptoms include central vision blurriness, trouble seeing in low lighting, straight lines that look wavy, or a blurry area or blank spots near the center that get bigger over time.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is the clouding of the eye lens, leading to blurry vision. The Mayo Clinic says a cataract usually develops slowly. You might notice your loved one having difficulty seeing at night, being sensitive to light and glares, or needing a brighter light for reading. Other symptoms include colors appearing faded or yellow, having double vision in one eye, seeing halos around lights, or having frequent lens prescription changes. Cataract prevention includes lifestyle change. Severe cases require surgery.
  • Glaucoma: The Cleveland Clinic says glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. It results from increased pressure in the eye, ultimately leading to potential vision loss. Some types of glaucoma don’t show symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose. However, some symptoms include eye pain, blurred or tunneled vision, blind spots, red eyes, rainbow-colored halos around lights, headaches, or nausea. Once damage begins, it’s irreversible, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which is why annual eye exams are crucial for your senior.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: A condition that can occur in people with diabetes. AAO says it happens when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. It can eventually cause blindness. Unlike other eye conditions, diabetic retinopathy typically affects both eyes. The symptoms are similar to cataracts.

Maintaining Good Eye Health

Besides annual eye exams, here are some ways to ensure your loved one maintains good eye health:

  • UV Protection: Encourage your loved one to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays when outdoors.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of cataracts and AMD. If your loved one smokes, help them find resources to quit.
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity improves blood circulation, which is good for the eyes.
  • Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to eye strain and vision problems.
  • Limit Screen Time: Prolonged screen exposure can lead to eye strain. Encourage breaks and the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Dietary Recommendations

While you may not realize it, diet plays a significant role in eye health. Foods rich in antioxidants, like leafy greens and berries, can help with cataract prevention. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can also slow down the progression of AMD. Encourage a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins for overall eye health. AAO also recommends orange-colored veggies and fruits with vitamin A, such as carrots or cantaloupe. Vitamin A is good for the retina and keeping the eyes moist. While Vitamin C helps repair the eye from damage caused by fried foods, tobacco smoke, and UV rays.

Call A Place At Home for Help

Eye care for seniors is not just the responsibility of the individual, but also the family and caregivers. If you’re concerned about your aging loved one’s vision, don’t wait for problems to escalate. If you need help getting your loved one to the doctor, let A Place At Home help you. We offer a variety of senior care services, including medical appointment assistance. Remember, good vision contributes to a better quality of life. Take the first step in ensuring a brighter, clearer future for your loved one today.

Find an A Place At Home location near you to set up a customizable care plan.

Addressing Senior Isolation: Strategies for Families and Caregivers

If your senior is experiencing isolation and loneliness, they’re not alone. The AARP Foundation finds that one in five Americans who are 65 years and older are socially isolated. It’s important to recognize whether your loved one feels lonely or isolated, because it’s a hazard to their physical and mental health. Research finds it can result in serious health problems such as high blood pressure, dementia, and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases like the flu.

Families and caregivers can play a pivotal role in ensuring emotional well-being and social connectivity for the elderly. Explore how to combat senior isolation and loneliness.

Recognizing Senior Isolation

The first step in combating loneliness is recognizing the signs. These can range from obvious signs like withdrawing from social activities to more subtle indicators such as changes in eating habits or neglecting personal hygiene. Emotional well-being in elderly individuals is closely tied to their level of social interaction, so keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or mood.

Here’s what to look for in your loved one:

  • Lack of interest or withdrawal and deep boredom
  • Incapable of connecting with others on a deeper level
  • A lack of care for personal hygiene or grooming
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Either sleeping too much or too little or complaining about sleep issues
  • Clutter and hoarding of items in their house
  • Increased self-doubt or negative feelings of self-worth
  • Quickly exhausted from social activities or avoids them altogether
  • Frequent changes in mood, from sadness to irritability
  • May become easily defensive or sensitive to criticism

Proactive Measures to Combat Loneliness

Taking a proactive approach can make a world of difference. Here are some suggestions you can try:

  • Regular visits: Consistency is key. Make it a point to visit your loved one regularly and encourage other family members to do the same.
  • Technology: Teach your loved one how to use video calls or social media to stay connected with friends and family who live far away. Have them schedule a daily time to connect with family and friends over a phone call.
  • Community involvement: Encourage participation in community events or religious activities. The benefits of activities for elderly individuals in these settings are immense, from cognitive stimulation to a sense of belonging.
  • Pets: A pet can offer companionship and a sense of purpose, reducing feelings of loneliness.
  • Physical health:Exercise, eating healthy, and getting the proper amount of sleep (seven to nine hours) can decrease elderly loneliness. The National Institute on Aging says seniors should aim for two-and-a-half hours of activity a week that makes them breathe hard.
  • Activity or hobby: Help your loved one reconnect with a hobby they used to enjoy or find a class to learn something new to fill up their free time.

Keeping the Social Connection Alive

As age-related challenges like mobility issues or hearing loss arise, maintaining social connections becomes more complicated but not impossible. Adapt activities to suit their physical capabilities. For instance, consider raised flower beds if your loved one enjoys gardening but can’t bend easily. The benefits of activities for elderly people are not just physical but also emotional and cognitive.

Keeping the mind active is crucial. Simple activities like puzzles, reading, or watching documentaries can keep the mind engaged. Mental stimulation is not just about warding off cognitive decline; it’s also about giving your loved one something to look forward to each day.

Sometimes, all they need is a listening ear. Make time to talk to your loved one about their feelings and concerns. Emotional support can go a long way toward improving overall quality of life.

The Role of Caregivers

Caregivers can play a supportive role in alleviating loneliness. From organizing social activities to providing emotional support and daily stability at home, caregivers can do a lot to promote a sense of belonging. Professional caregiving services like those offered by A Place At Home can provide the necessary social interaction and mental stimulation if you can’t be with your loved one.

Contact A Place At Home

If you’re concerned about senior isolation and are looking for professional support, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our various senior care services are designed to address the unique needs of each individual, ensuring that your loved one is not just cared for but also cherished. We create a customized care plan to fit exactly what you and your loved one need. Remember, loneliness doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. Take the first step in ensuring a happier, healthier life for your loved one today by finding an A Place At Home location near you.

Senior Mental Health: 5 Tips for a Happy, Healthy Mind

Signs of Dementia to Look for During the Holiday

Senior mental health requires special care. The issue often gets overlooked, but over 20% of adults aged 60 and older suffer from a mental or neurological disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. Learn some of the most common mental health issues facing seniors and how to support them through anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

Most Common Mental Health Issues in Seniors

Depression tops the list as the most common mental health problem in older adults, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Other prevalent issues include anxiety disorders, dementia, and even psychosis. The National Institute on Aging also highlights that depression in seniors is often misdiagnosed as dementia, making it crucial you thoroughly talk through symptoms with your loved one and their doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.

Warning Signs of Anxiety and Depression

Senior depression can manifest differently than it does in younger individuals. For instance, it’s common for them to withdraw from social activities or lose interest in hobbies. Anxiety might look like excessive worrying, restlessness, or even physical symptoms like trembling. If you notice these signs, talk to your loved one’s doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

5 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Mind

According to PAHO, two-thirds of seniors with mental health problems don’t get the treatment they need. Open communication is key. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and concerns. Here are some more tips to help your loved one keep a happy and healthy mindset.

  1. Stay socially connected: Encourage your loved one to maintain friendships and engage in social activities.
  2. Mindfulness and relaxation: Techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help reduce stress and improve overall mental well-being.
  3. Healthy diet: Nutrient-rich foods can have a positive impact on mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, are particularly beneficial to the brain and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  4. Continue their hobbies: Hobbies such as games, art, or reading are great to get the mind going. They can create a sense of purpose for your loved one and put them in social situations. Research by the University of College London found that adults 50 years and older are 30% less likely to develop depression if they have a hobby.
  5. Regular sleep schedule: A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of dementia. Seven hours of sleep a night is considered sufficient.

Showing Support to Your Loved One

Supporting a senior with mental health issues can be challenging, but encouraging them to follow those five tips will help. Additionally, you can create a safe space for them to express their feelings. Open the communication line, listen to them without judgment, and offer emotional support. Help them engage in physical activity and have a social life. This can look like going on an afternoon walk with them or driving them to visit a friend. Loneliness exacerbates senior mental health issues.

At-Home Senior Care for Mental Health

At-home senior care services, like those offered by A Place At Home, can be a lifeline for your loved one. Caregivers can offer one-on-one emotional support and companionship, reducing your loved one’s feelings of isolation and worry. They can also help with medication management, ensuring that your loved one takes their prescribed treatments for health issues, including mental health. Plus, caregivers can help instill a daily routine. This allows your loved one to feel more in control and reduces their anxiety and stress from a lack of structure.

In-Home Care for Seniors with Autism

Senior care is not just for those with age-related conditions; it can also be tailored to support seniors with lifelong conditions like autism. While autism is generally diagnosed in childhood, seniors with autism require specialized care. Caregivers can provide personalized, structured routines and activities that cater to the unique needs of someone with autism, making their daily life more comfortable and less stressful. They can also plan activities designed to engage and stimulate them mentally.

A Place At Home Can Help

Senior mental health is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. If you’re concerned about the mental well-being of your elderly loved one, consider the support that professional at-home care can offer. The A Place At Home experience is unique to you and your family. We provide specialized care individualized to your loved one’s unique needs, ensuring their mental and emotional well-being is taken care of. Find a location near you and take the first step toward a happier, healthier life for your loved one.

Aging in Solitude: The Risks of Loneliness in Seniors

Risks of Loneliness in Seniors senior woman looking out window alone

Loneliness in seniors is a pervasive problem that can lead to negative effects on their mental health and overall well-being. According to research, nearly one-third of seniors experience loneliness and isolation, leading to a host of emotional and physical issues. In this blog, we’ll discuss the effects of loneliness and provide insights on how in-home senior care with A Place At Home can help reduce mental health problems.

Loneliness is a feeling of isolation or disconnection from others. As we age, we may experience the loss of loved ones and physical limitations that can make it difficult to maintain social connections. Seniors may also experience loneliness when they retire or move to a new location where they are unfamiliar with anyone. While loneliness is natural and can be experienced by anyone at any age, research indicates that seniors who experience loneliness are at risk of developing mental health problems.

Mental health issues associated with loneliness in seniors include depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Depression is a common problem among seniors who experience loneliness as they may feel lethargic, sad, and have a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Anxiety is another problem that can develop from loneliness, leading to worries about their health, social interactions, and finances. Cognitive decline is also associated with loneliness as seniors who feel disconnected from others may not engage in activities that stimulate their mind, leading to cognitive decline over time.

In-Home Senior Care

In-home senior care with A Place At Home is a great way to combat loneliness in seniors. By having access to caregivers and companions, seniors can feel more connected to others and have meaningful social interactions. Companion care can help seniors build relationships with caregivers who can provide emotional support and engage in activities with them, leading to a better quality of life. Moreover, A Place At Home provides an opportunity to connect seniors with others who are going through similar experiences, leading to a sense of community that can combat feelings of isolation.

Loneliness in seniors can have negative effects on their mental health and well-being. However, in-home senior care is an effective way to address loneliness in seniors by providing companionship, emotional support, socialization opportunities, and overall assistance in their daily lives. At A Place At Home, we understand the importance of mental health and strive to provide seniors with the support they need to live fulfilling lives.

To learn about current options for in-home care for yourself or a loved one, give us a call at your nearest location or browse our website to discover more about our senior care services. We provide compassionate at-home care services that make it easier and safer for seniors to maintain their independence and continue to live at home.

5 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

A Place At Home - 5 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

January is National Bath Safety Month, making it the perfect time to evaluate your and your loved one’s bathroom setups and assess the safety conditions. 

5 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

With sharp countertop and cabinet corners, slick floors, hard surfaces, and a lack of handles or supports, bathrooms pose a substantial risk for seniors to experience a slip or fall. As nearly 230,000 injuries are reported each year due to mishaps in the bathroom, we have outlined five bathroom safety tips and precautions to help reduce the risk of injury or fall in the bathroom. 

Install Grab Bars and Non-Slip Strips

The average bathroom is typically not equipped with proper handles and supports to help one move around a bathroom. While you may find yourself grabbing towel bars or shelving for balance, these are not intended to hold weight over 5-20 lbs. Installing grips and grab bars near the toilet, in and around the shower or bathtub, and throughout the rest of the bathroom are the perfect aid for leverage, balance, and maneuvering around the bathroom. 

As there are many forms of grips and grab bars on the market, it is best to opt for wall-mounted options, as suction-cup options tend to come loose or slide down over time. When installing, walk through your loved one’s routine to find the best location and distances to place the grips and grab bars.

5 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors - Grab Bars

Slick floors in the shower or tub are also a leading cause of falls in the bathroom. Installing non-slip strips help eliminate bulky shower mats and the risk of the mat’s suction cups from coming loose. Non-slip strips adhere directly to your shower or tub and provide a textured, grippy surface to stand on. 

Non-Slip Strips

Keep Bathroom Essentials Easily Accessible

Bending down or reaching up for bathroom products and essentials has also become a leading cause of injury in the bathroom. Bending down can result in hitting your head on countertops, shelving, shower fixtures, or the toilet while reaching up can result in knocking items down onto oneself or falling down from shifting weight to one side as you reach. Additionally, storing shampoo and other products along the edge of the shower or tub can pose a risk of falling while entering/exiting the shower or tub. All necessary bathroom and hygiene products should be kept within easy reach and free from clutter. 

Raise the Toilet Seat

Similarly to bending down for bathroom products, bending down and squatting to use the toilet may become challenging. Installing an elevated toilet seat is an optimal solution to elevate the hassle of transferring on and off the toilet. 

Much like the grab bars, it is important to install a raised toilet seat suitable to the space allotted and the mobility of your senior loved one. When choosing an elevated toilet seat, opt for seats that offer a more permanent and secure option. While these options may require more installation, elevated toilet seats that adhere or install directly onto your existing toilet are best, as opposed to the options that are simply placed over the toilet. 

Elevated Toilet Seat

Invest in an Accessible Shower/Tub or Bath Chair

Accessible showers and tubs are equipped with the stability and support needed for safe bathing, as they are typically furnished with grab bars, adjustable shower heads, shower-safe seating, and easy entry/exit options. Although shower stools are a more budget-friendly option, it is recommended to choose more permanent and supportive options, such as wall-mounted bath chairs like those pictured below. 

Accessible Shower

Hire a Caregiver

The assistance of a caregiver can ensure senior bathroom safety. A Place At Home offers in-home senior care services to keep your loved one safe from unexpected falls and assist with bathing and other daily tasks such as dressing and transferring from a bed to a wheelchair.  

When you choose A Place At Home, you work with a team of qualified, compassionate care professionals who will ensure the highest standards of care are met. Your safety is our top priority. Contact us today for senior-focused care tailored to your loved one’s needs — we are honored to help. 

Tips for Planning a Vacation with a Senior Relative

It is the peak season for vacations to all sorts of destinations ranging from the beaches of the coast or the shopping and sightseeing of the big city. With children out of school, it is easy to bring the whole family together.

While entertainment and planning for the kids will be simple with hitting the water, fun rides, and larger-than-life activities, let’s make sure not to forget the needs and accommodations of your senior relatives.

Tips for Planning a Vacation with a Senior Relative 

  • Ensure that you book a stay at a hotel, Airbnb, or lodging equivalent with an elevator or book a room on ground level. This avoids carrying items for longer periods of time and climbing multiple flights of stairs. 
  • Schedule enough downtime. We all need our rest and to get off of our feet for a while. Plan for ample amounts of quiet time to rest, freshen up, use the restroom, and recharge. If possible, arrange to have a separate space for senior relatives to escape the hustle and bustle of vacation.
  • Include them in the plans. Make sure to include activities that they love. Plan for activities and sights that appeal to them. 
  • Plan ahead, but also embrace flexibility. Establish a general idea of the sights, restaurants, and desired attractions and plan roughly estimated times for these activities. Think through the logistics and estimate with travel time, wait time, delays, and approximate duration of the activity in mind. However, allow flexibility. If a family member grows tired, adjust the plan accordingly.   
  • Assist them with packing. Run through the itinerary with them to make sure they have all the proper needs for each activity. If hitting the water or walking the town, pack items to accommodate their needs, such as extra sun protection and proper shoes. 
  • Consult with their doctor and ensure that they are safe to travel. Health conditions affect one’s ability to travel, especially by airplane. Check which form of travel their doctor recommends and guarantee that medical care is nearby your desired destination in the case of an emergency. 
  • If traveling by air, allow for enough time for leaving the house, traveling, arriving, restroom breaks, etc. Arrange for any onboard assistance, early boarding, or transportation throughout the airport. Book flights with a longer layover time to allow your relatives to recoup, use the restroom, and get from one gate/terminal to another. 
  • Bring all proper documentation, insurance information, and medication. Verify that all documentation is up-to-date and valid. Discuss these items with your relatives for clarity in the case of an emergency. Include the names of their medication, what they are used for, and the times they should be taken. 
  • Limit the amount of walking or strenuous activity. Rest is key. If sightseeing around the city, plan for longer stops along the way. Opt for sights where it is easy to drive up to and require less walking to reach. If visiting a theme park, break up the to and fro around the park with a longer lunch break, longer, seated, and less thrilling rides, or cart/trolley transportation around the park. 
  • If wheelchair-bound, confirm that the desired locations and attractions are wheelchair accessible. Confirm that the desired restaurants, lodging, museums, sights, etc. have wheelchair ramps, lifts, or elevators.  
  • Document the experience and share the photos with them. Memories are the best part of vacations. Bring a mobile device or digital camera to capture the experiences. Choose a polaroid camera or disposable camera for a fun, nostalgic way to document the memories. 
  • Manage expectations for the entire family and those traveling with you. Excitement will take over when on vacation — explain to the younger family members the need for rest, downtime, and patience. While waking up early may not be desired for the younger crowd, it is imperative to beat the crowds and ensure less hustle and bustle for the senior relatives to endure. Additionally, arrange to have a separate activity for the children as museums may not be interesting or they need to get some energy out. 
  • Proper hydration is important when traveling. With different altitudes and allergy/weather conditions, it is paramount that your family practices proper hydration. Carry water at all times and look out for the signs of dehydration in seniors
  • Consider bringing the help of a caregiver. A caregiver will provide your loved ones with the support and attention they need, even during vacation. They will assist with routine activities of daily living, such as dressing, using the restroom, and bathing, as well as have a full understanding of the medical needs of your senior relative.

If you are looking for in-home senior care, schedule a free consultation with our A Place At Home office. You can expect a quick response about pricing or answers to any questions about our in-home care, care coordination, or senior living alternatives. Our professionals are ready to provide you or your loved one with compassionate care, open communication, and support, and improve overall quality of life. Call or schedule a free, online consultation with your nearest A Place At Home location today! 

New Hope on the Horizon for Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease

With June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, it’s fitting that the FDA just approved a new treatment option for those living with Alzheimer’s.

Aduhelm is the first new drug approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s in 18 years. It’s no wonder the announcement has been so celebrated. The other reason? Aduhelm doesn’t just treat the symptoms of the disease. It is the first drug of its kind that shows the potential to slow Alzheimer’s clinical progression.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease that accounts for nearly 80% of all dementia cases. The Disease most often impacts individuals age 65 or older but can be diagnosed earlier in rare circumstances. Symptoms of the condition usually start with mild but noticeable memory loss. Eventually, there’s a total loss of ability to respond to one’s environment at all. Until now, treatment has been limited to managing symptoms.

Aduhelm claims to slow the clinical progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

How does this option work? While no one quite has the answer to the way Alzheimer’s works, it’s strongly theorized that a specific type of protein clumps together, killing brain cells. These deposits of protein are referred to as amyloid plaques caused by amyloid-beta. Amyloid-beta is naturally occurring in our brains. However, researchers believe it becomes toxic when it groups to form amyloid plaques, causing Alzheimer’s and other dementias symptoms. By targeting these clumps of protein, developers of Aduhelm believe that the drug may lower the amount of them found in the brain.

As a treatment, Aduhelm is administered intravenously once a month. Several trials of the drug have been done in the last few years to get to this point. Close to 3500 total participants have been enrolled. These patients were in the relatively early stages of the Disease when the drug trial began. The results? Mixed. In one study, individuals enrolled did appear to experience a slower loss of function and cognition. However, in an almost identical study, participants experienced virtually no change in disease progression.

With such a clear polarity in trial results, why did the FDA decide to move forward with Aduhelm?

Though one trial showed no significant results, those that did experience a decline in the loss of function and cognition show promise for what the future may hold. With the frustrating lack of forward movement in the treatment and cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia, results like this can’t be discounted. However, this approval isn’t cut and dry. In fact, as studies and treatment progress, the FDA can pull consent for further use of the drug at their discretion. And while results among trial groups have varied widely, Aduhelm is proven to reduce amyloid plaques in the brains of those enrolled. 

Aduhelm does come with a list of warnings and side effects.

Most notably is a temporary swelling of the brain in some areas. This swelling can cause headaches, confusion, vision changes, and nausea, among other things. Do these risks outweigh the benefits? As it stands now, no one knows, and Biogen, the company releasing the drug, has been required to conduct a new randomized, controlled study by the FDA.

With over 6 million Americans affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, forward movement regarding treatment is worth further study and attention. The memory loss and progressive loss of function are devastating to the individual diagnosed. Their family and loved ones are heavily impacted as well. The most recent report done by the Alzheimer’s Association shows that in the US alone, more than 11 million people are active caregivers for a loved one with dementia.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can quickly lead to epic stress levels, burnout, and a loss of quality of life for the person living with the disease and the loved one caring for them.

The A Place At Home system has been supporting families suffering because of dementia for almost a decade. Our professional and compassionate caregivers are empathetic and educated in the mental and physical care needs of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your situation, reach out to us. We can help. 

The announcement of a novel treatment that may slow the clinical progression of Alzheimer’s is undoubtedly a historical moment in the fight against this disease. The potential shown with Aduhelm sparks hope for millions of Americans and individuals across the world battling this nightmare of a disease. Of course, we don’t know yet what, if any, impact this new drug will have in the coming years. But this year, its release has brought further awareness to Alzheimer’s and dementia in general. And that alone is something worth celebrating.     

May 6th 2021 – National Nurses Day

May 6th, 2021, is National Nurses Day – the start of National Nurses Week.

Dorothy Sutherland called for a day to recognize nurses in 1953. At the time, Nurses Week was in October, in commemoration of Florence Nightingale’s mission in Crimea. “National Recognition Day for Nurses” was changed to May 6th in 1981. This day kicks off a week of celebrating nurses for the contributions they make each day in their communities. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an especially poignant reminder of the energy and sacrifices nurses make each day to care for those in need. 

The first of the frontline workers over the last year, Nurses Day and Week is a perfect time to thank a nurse in your community. Several organizations are showing their support for nurses this year by offering discounts and deals throughout the week:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts: May 6th, nurses can get a free medium hot or iced coffee at participating locations.
  • Chipotle: Now through May 31st, the restaurant chain is gifting free burritos to healthcare workers. You can place an order here.
  • Under Armor: The clothing line offers 40% off online and in-store purchases for nurses and others working in healthcare through May 9th. Visit their website, and confirm your identity here
  • GO-Clip: This company sells mask clips that attach to hats or other headwear. Through Nurses Week, use the promo code GONURSES to get two mask clips when you purchase one. 

Whether in schools, hospitals, clinics, or the home, each day in the community, a nurse can be found making an impact. 

At A Place At Home, our nurses provide a necessary service – Care Coordination, helping clients and families navigate an often complex healthcare system. Not only that, but they develop personalized care plans to help keep seniors in their homes longer and oversee a team of caregivers. Our nurses ensure that each client receives the compassionate and professional care that they need and deserve. 

Whether they are caring for children in schools, patients in hospitals, in the home, or those in hospice care, nurses make a difference in thousands of lives each day. This year, take a moment to thank a nurse in your life. If you or someone you love can benefit from Care Coordination or any of our other senior-focused services, reach out to us today. We would be honored to help. 

Parkinson’s Disease – Symptoms May Occur Years Before Diagnosis

A shot of a senior's hands filling out a chart with a pen.

Parkinson’s Disease is a slow and progressive neurological condition.

PD occurs when the nerve cells in the brain (neurons) that produce dopamine begin to break down or die. The nervous system uses dopamine to communicate between nerve cells. Dopamine affects our moods, movement, and memory, among other things. Parkinson’s Disease attacks the nerve cells that produce dopamine. Individuals diagnosed with PD may experience tremors, difficulty speaking and swallowing generalized slowness, and shuffling. PD has been diagnosed in over a million people in the US alone.  

That number doesn’t include the number of people who love those diagnosed and its impact on their lives.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about why people develop Parkinson’s Disease. Studies indicate it may be hereditary, but family members’ occurrence isn’t consistent enough to prove this true. Some environmental triggers have been cited, but the risk of developing PD due to exposure to these is still low. Stress, particularly life events that can be traumatic, can also cause PD.

Specific motor deficits need to be present for an official diagnosis of PD. However, there are more subtle signs that can occur years before. Below are some of the most common ones:

  1. REM behavior disorder (RBD) – This is a newly developed, sudden movement during sleep. Specifically during the REM cycle of sleep. Often described as “acting out dreams,” this symptom may go unnoticed by the person exhibiting the behavior. A spouse or partner who is woken up frequently by sudden jerks or kicks may be the person who first notices that there’s an issue at all. While RBD doesn’t mean that PD is present, those who experience it (with no known cause) are at higher risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the future.
  2. Loss of sense of smell (anosmia) – Losing your sense of smell (when there is no other discernable cause) can be an early predictor of a PD diagnosis down the road. When related to PD, anosmia happens when the protein that leads to Parkinson’s Disease accumulates in the part of the brain that is responsible for the sense of smell. It’s important to note that losing your sense of smell does not mean you will be diagnosed with PD. However, for those that experience this, there is a 50% chance they will be diagnosed in the next five to ten years.
  3. Voice changes – If there is a noticeable and new change in your voice’s softness or volume (with no other cause), this can be an early PD symptom.
  4. Stiffness or difficulty moving – one of the early signs that something may be going on is a new stiffness with movements. Noticing that your arms don’t swing the same way they used to may indicate that something is going on.
  5. Digestive issues – A myriad of things, including diet, medications, and other conditions, can cause digestive problems. However, new and ongoing constipation and a feeling of being full even after eating small meals can be an early indicator of Parkinson’s Disease.
  6. Changes in handwriting (micrographia) – This may seem like an odd symptom. Still, if you notice that your writing has become smaller or crowded together, it may be an early sign of Parkinson’s Disease.
  7. Lack of facial expression (facial masking) – This one may be pointed out to you by others. Others may tell you that your face is “serious” or that you look like you’re in a bad mood. It’s important to note that some medications can cause this. However, if you’re experiencing new facial masking with no known cause, it is worth speaking with your doctor.
  8. Stooping or hunching over – this is a symptom that is commonly associated with PD. If you’ve noticed a difference in your posture, it may be an early symptom of Parkinson’s Disease.

If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should expect to live with Parkinson’s later in life.

Most of the above symptoms can be due to other conditions, lifestyle habits, and certain medications. If you are noticing some changes in these areas of your life and there doesn’t seem to be an apparent reason why it can be a cause for concern. Fortunately, there is information about managing the symptoms and even slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s common knowledge that diet and exercise are crucial to health and good quality of life. This is particularly true with this disease. Staying active with regular exercise has been shown to slow the progression of PD. Most of us are aware that exercise is beneficial for the physical detriments caused by Parkinson’s (muscle weakness, stiffness, falls).

Studies done have shown that exercise works on a neurologic level as well.

Regular exercise won’t replace or repair degenerating neurons. It can, however, encourage the brain to use what dopamine it does produce more productively. The human brain is always adapting and evolving as it needs to function most efficiently. This adaptive behavior is called neuroplasticity. When observed in Parkinson’s patients, researchers theorize that the neuroplasticity benefits gained through regular physical activity outweigh the disease’s degenerative effects.

If you do find yourself exhibiting any of the early symptoms of PD, it’s important to remember that you do have a measure of control.

First, speak with your doctor about your concerns. They will help you determine if Parkinson’s may impact you personally in the future. If this is the case, do what you can now. Maintain a healthy diet that’s rich in lean protein, whole foods, and fiber. Stay hydrated. Generally, it would be best if you drank half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you don’t already have one, start a regular exercise routine, and be consistent with it. And do what you can to mitigate and address the stress you have in your life.A Place At Home has compassionate and professional caregivers available 24 hours a day. If Parkinson’s is impacting your life, contact your local A Place At Home office. We are honored to help.