Elder Care

Taking care of an elderly parent or relative is a heartwarming experience and it can enhance the lives of those you care for ten-fold. But even the most patient and attentive caregivers need a break from time to time. While some might argue that spending every minute you can with an ailing parent is the best use of your time, others would point to the growing concern around self-care and encourage caregivers to take time away as needed to replenish and regroup. Taking care of someone you love is a lot of work, and while it is incredibly rewarding, you need to take a break sometimes too. You might be worried about how to leave a family member you care for to take a vacation or break, but with these tips, you can be on your way.

Plan in Advance

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

You can’t know how long you are going to be caring for an ailing loved one, so it’s important to take the time you need when you need it. Start planning your vacation in advance so that you have plenty of time to ensure that everything is in order and looked after before you head out. Because you will need to find someone to care for your family member while you are away, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of lead-time to arrange for that additional care. Plus, if you are being paid for your time as a caregiver, consider how you can earn money to cover your time away from “work.” Giving yourself a few months notice allows you to save some of your money for such a vacation.

Talk to Other Family Members

When it comes to being paid for your time and effort as a caregiver, you’ll most likely need to plan to offer some form of payment to another family member who takes over. If your family member in care receives CDPAP, or another benefit, you may want to start putting some of those funds away now to ensure you have enough to cover the time away for additional care. You’ll want to organize a family meeting to discuss options for care while you are away. Keep in mind that family members might not want to take on the responsibility of caring for aging parents, even for a week, and they might expect you to find someone else to do the job while you are gone.

Hiring an Outside Source of Help

If it happens that your existing family members don’t want to pitch in to care for your aging parents while you are out of town, you might have to consider hiring an outside source of help. There are a number of home care services that can come for short or extended periods of time. You’ll need time to place an ad or contact an agency and arrange for an interview before leaving on your vacation.

Walk Through the Day

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

When you do find suitable care for your family member, whether that is another family member of an outside source of help, you’ll want to take the time to walk them through a typical day of care. It’s important to do this once or twice so that everyone is comfortable with the temporary situation. Remembering that this is just temporary will put everyone at ease. Elderly parents or family members might not want you to go away for a week or even longer, but because it is so important to maintain your self-care as a caregiver, you’ll need to come to terms with what leaving for a period of time means and decide to do it anyway. Taking time to acquaint new caregivers and your family member is important.

Finally, talk to your family member about how important it really is for you to be able to take time away from your job there and come back ready to tell them wonderful stories and share adventures with them. You need a break and while you might feel guilty about what that could feel like for your parents, remember again, that it is just temporary. And if you are really worried about taking time away from your family member, don’t go far so you can come at a moment’s notice if necessary. That way, you get a break, and you can sleep at night if you are worried about your parents or family members.

Contributed by Baruch Leifer

Freedom Care

Why is Decluttering so Beneficial? 

There are obvious reasons to declutter. Safety: Clutter can trip us up. Efficiency: With declining eyesight, it gets hard to find things we use every day. Focus: Messy environments can make it hard to process information.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, and especially the elderly. To help your loved one downsize, create more room in their home and/or just make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support. This article deals with the latter.

Why Is It So Hard to Do?

Whether you want to pare down the stuff in your home, garage, or a storage unit, one problem is knowing where to start. The more we have, the more overwhelming it is. And for some of us, the idea can be extremely anxiety-producing. A recent Yale study found that for some people, a part of our brain reacts the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as it does to the idea of quitting an addiction. And there is the additional factor for  the elderly of not wanting to lose a connection with the past, whether that be old school papers or a favorite jar opener you’ve had in the family since 1969 (most of us have at least one of these things still hanging around the house!)

Some Tips for Success

  1. Get “buy in” from your loved one. Discuss the benefits of paring down, including potentially making some money from reselling your “stuff.” That can be through a yard sale, consignment shop, Craig’s List, or eBay. According to the New York Times, a well-planned garage sale typically nets between $500 and $1,000.
  2. Share the process. Come up with ways to make it an enjoyable activity you share, such as reviewing old photos or school papers together, or doing a “fashion show” to see what clothes to keep. Create incentives—such as an outing or meal after doing a certain amount of “work.”
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Help your loved one develop a strategy that addresses a room at a time, and then a single task at a time, so they are not overwhelmed. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than three hours of sorting a day, which is about how long we can sustain focus without a break.

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

  4. Get organized. Consider preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of each day and throw out or recycle what’s in your Toss pile.
  5. Be decisive. When in doubt, throw it out. Organizers often use the rule of thumb that if you haven’t used it/worn it/looked at it in a year, it’s time for it to go. When it comes to ornamental items or keepsakes, the other common standard is to only keep those things you really love and that give you pleasure. If that knick-knack your Aunt Marge gave you makes you cringe, it has no place in your home, regardless of the sentiment attached to it.
  6. Get professional help. If the job is just too big or you need direction, consider hiring a professional organizer. They can give you an overall strategy, or guide you through the process. Do a local search for “Certified Professional Organizers,” if you don’t have a referral for a professional.

Going through our possessions and ridding ourselves of things that no longer fit our lives is a process we can all benefit from. You may find that going through this process with your loved one will be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you. And you may just find you are motivated to do it for yourself as well!

Like nurses, caregivers can be more prone to injury or illness associated with caring for someone. Muscle strain from lifting a client, mental stress from various caregiving roles, and infection from contact with many patients across different healthcare settings can not only make the caregiving job harder but be detrimental to a caregiver’s overall health.

When it comes to avoiding common caregiving injuries, don’t miss these quick tips:

Practice Good Lifting Technique

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

The nature of caregiving doesn’t leave much room for waiting. If the person you’re caring for falls or needs help to get to the restroom, the burden of supporting their weight and helping them get up quickly or reposition falls on you.

Not only is lifting a human being more difficult because they are heavy, often unbalanced, and the body positioning is awkward, but lifting an entire person from a chair or bed can require even more exertion than normal (not to mention pushing wheelchairs with clients in them up steep ramps.)

Commonly, both formal and informal caregivers will experience muscle strain and injury to the back, shoulders, neck, and knees. This can manifest into a serious injury like rotator cuff tears, joint inflammation, and pinched nerves which make the caregiving job that much more challenging and increase safety risks for clients.

Caregivers can practice good lifting techniques by:

  • Calling for help if there is any concern about the lift being unmanageable or dangerous
  • Utilizing transfer and lift aids like shower transfer chairs, swivel seat cushions, hoya lifts, and lifting belts

  • Taking a minute to assess the lift before taking action, i.e. move clutter out of the way, reposition your client so they can help
  • Having your client help with the lift by supporting themselves on a sturdy piece of furniture or with their mobility aid
  • Lifting with the legs from a squat position, and keeping the head up and back in neutral (straight) position

Prevent Infection

Constant contact with clients in different health settings can make caregivers prone to infection or illness like colds or the flu. And any caregiver knows that clients who require care, especially seniors, are more susceptible to complications (like pneumonia) from even small infections that people accidentally pass to them.

Infection prevention is relatively simple. Caregivers should always remember to:

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water before and after caring for a client in any way (or use hand sanitizer)

  • Wear gloves when completing tasks that deal with bodily fluids

  • Wear a face mask if a client is ill, sniffling, coughing, etc.

  • Avoid seeing clients when you are under the weather yourself

  • Take care of yourself with a healthy diet and routine exercise that bolsters your immune system

Practice Self-Care

While caregiving is definitely fulfilling and provides you with a sense of purpose, it can also take its toll physically and mentally. More than most, caregivers should practice regular self-care that helps prevent injury, tends to emotional stress, and equips them with the tools and strategies to maintain optimum health while seeing to their client’s health.

If you are dealing with chronic back pain or nagging knee pain, see a doctor for a formal evaluation. They may recommend stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles used in caregiving, prescribe a brace to stabilize the neck to minimize painful neck movement or to support the knee when lifting, as well as educate you on lifting technique.

If you are feeling stressed or burnt out, see to your own emotional wellness by speaking with a counselor, finding a hobby outside of caregiving that helps you relax (knitting, coloring, rock climbing, etc.), and addressing the caregiving tasks that are posing the greatest challenges. For example, if lifting has become overly strenuous, find out if your client’s doctor can write an order for a lifting aid or device.

To learn more about Aspen Senior Care or to get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

In any relationship, it is important to foster trust, communication, and respect. This is especially true in a caregiving relationship. There are many ways to strengthen the caregiving relationship, and here are 3 essential keys to consider:

Respect-

Creating a relationship with the client and their family based off of mutual respect is one of the most important steps towards a strong caregiving team. Learning about the client and their needs builds a stronger understanding of what makes them feel safe, comfortable, and valued. Ren, an Aspen Senior Care client, mentions how this helps her grandfather. “The caregiver is sympathetic, accommodating, and has gotten to know my grandfather so they have a friendship. She brings newspaper clippings she finds funny and they sit and talk about life and the past.”

Respect in Caregiving Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Photo by Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Trust-

In caregiving, each person must know that they can count on one another and that they will be looking out for each other’s best interests. Kirsten, a caregiver with Aspen Senior Care says, “Trust is essential in caregiving because we want our clients and their families to be at ease knowing we will be dependable and honest in providing the best quality of care for them and their loved one.”

Communication-

It’s important for the caregiver and client to communicate well by listening to and understanding one another’s needs. Together you can determine what goals should be accomplished and ensure that each person is receiving the care they need. When both individuals know what to expect, misunderstandings and frustrations can be avoided.

Gary Staples, Owner of Aspen Senior Care recalls a situation where respect, trust, and communication turned a problematic situation with a client around for the better. 

“We had the opportunity of helping with a senior couple in their home. The husband was caring for his wife but was also dealing with his own dementia. At times he would become frustrated with the caregiver and accuse her of stealing his Irish Spring soap. Although she did not take the soap, he would insist she was stealing from him and he was quite upset.

The caregiver communicated with the daughter of the couple and the office staff to discuss the situation. The daughter understood that her father was confused and that the caregiver had not stolen anything. Unfortunately, her father would continue to accuse the caregiver each time she visited the home.  

The office staff thought long and hard about ways we could ease his worries and repair his trust in the caregiver. We came up with the idea of putting together a large tower of Irish Spring soap on a nice platter and tying it up with a large ribbon. We presented him with the gift and he was so delighted and grateful!

The tower remained on his coffee table where he could see it each day. From then on did not have any worries that the caregiver was stealing his soap!

Irish Spring Soap

By building a tower of Irish Spring soap, ‘a monument of trust’, we were able to show respect and sensitivity for our client and give him peace of mind in a way that he knew we cared.”

At Aspen Senior Care we value being professional in-home caregivers our clients can trust and rely on at all times. Going above and beyond to create a healthy relationship with our clients and their families is our number one priority.

To learn more about us or get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.

There are many services available to help seniors who may need extra assistance. Unfortunately, this transition can be hard for those needing extra care. Some adults resist having strangers come into their home. Sometimes they do not want to attend an adult day program or move into a senior housing community. The senior who needs help may see these services as a loss of independence, an invasion of privacy, or are unwilling to pay for services.
 

Here are suggestions family caregivers have found helpful in making these transitions easier.

Listen and involve your loved oneHow can I get my family member to accept help?

Your loved one wants to have a say in what is happening with their care. Listen to their concerns and why they are fearful of accepting help.  Maybe they feel that their choice is being taken away from them. Perhaps they feel they have become a burden. Whatever it may be, express that you understand their concerns and that their feelings are valid Involve your loved one when choosing the in-home care company, adult day care program, or residential facility. Having a voice will help your family member feel more comfortable with the decision.

Take it Step-by-step

Next, take time to introduce the new assistance into your family member’s life. For example, begin by having an initial meeting with your loved one and an in-home care company. As your loved one builds a relationship with a caregiver, add hours and days throughout the week. A senior day center may be a better fit. Your family member can begin with two days per week to adjust to the new routine and structure.

Communicate your needs

Acknowledge your needs as a caregiver and express your thoughts to your loved one. Let them know that it helps ease your concerns when you know they are in good care. Confirm that you are still there to help and that you love them.

Be Respectful

In most cases, your loved one is in a place where they have the right to help make decisions for themselves. Their final decision may not fall in line with what you consider to be the best choice for everyone involved, especially if they have dementia. Encourage them to give the new change a try for two weeks and then evaluate after that. Be respectful and supportive. This may be a difficult time for them and they need your love and support.

Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to test the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+. This included a survey of three simple yes/no questions that assessed the knowledge of the respondents on concepts such as inflation, risk diversification, and interest rates. At that time only one-third of respondents could answer all three questions correctly.*

Since 2009, broader studies have been made within the wider population and the results were similarly dismal. However, there was a clear correlation between age and a failure to understand some basic financial concepts that make up financial literacy. This is especially worrisome given that money and debt management issues are most consequential to seniors.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle for a senior or their family. While getting sound financial advice is one of the first things most money professionals recommend, that can be easier said than done. Many older adults rely on the advice of relatives, friends or neighbors. Yet, this is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. Become more informed and consider learning more from an accredited Financial Advisor. These are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population.

Here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money is going Do you know where your money is going?

Based on a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, over 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. This is the first place to start in developing financial literacy. You cant make informed choices about your money if you don’t know where it is going.

Address your debt 

Now that you know where your money is going, its time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. This means identifying expenses that you can trim and develop strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report 

Your credit report can impact not only your ability to get a loan but to rent an apartment or land a job. Therefore, it is critical that you check your credit report often and understand the factors that affect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio 

Check your investment choices. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive, a perfect storm may be upon the bond market in the form of anticipated increases in interest rates, tax cuts and a ballooning national debt which will all impact the value of bonds. If your portfolio favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan. Know whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Prepare 

We’ve all heard the rule—you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency. Even if you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Have a set amount put away so if there’s an emergency you have something to fall back on.

* For more information on this study and a more in-depth discussion on the topic of financial literacy, go to asaging.org.

Adapted from The Seniors Choice ‘Improving Senior Financial Literacy’

Best of Home CareⓇ – Provider of Choice 20182018 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice

We happily announce that Aspen Senior Care has again won the Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice Award for 2018. That makes 9 years in a row!  We are one of the top home care agencies in the country and the only award-winning provider in Utah County!

We have absolute proof of quality of care as awarded by Home Care Pulse, a third party quality assurance company. Home Care Pulse interviews different clients or their family members each month. During the interview, our clients rate us in various categories such as:

  • Compassion of Caregivers
  • Recommend Provider
  • Confidence in Office Staff 
  • Communication from Provider
  • Daily Life
  • Work Ethic of Caregivers
  • Ability of Caregivers
  • Client/Caregiver Compatibility

These ratings compare with hundreds of other agencies across the nation. Only those with consistently high ratings are awarded Best of Home Care each year.

“This is not an easy award to win, but shows our dedication to our caregivers and our clients,” says Susan Johnson, Relations Manager. “It also shows our willingness to be transparent in all that we do.”

Certified – Trusted Providers commit to:Home Care Pulse - Trusted Provider

  • Actively gathering important feedback from their clients each month.
  • Using clients’ feedback to help them provide excellent care.
  • Giving you or your loved one the best in-home care possible.

We credit our fine team of compassionate caregivers and office staff for making us an ongoing award-winning agency. Thanks to our clients as well for providing ongoing feedback — both positive and constructive — each month. This helps us continually look to improve our services.

“Our team here at Aspen Senior Care are looking forward to another great year of providing quality service to seniors in our community! We are grateful to see our daily efforts to provide quality care to seniors recognized.”

-Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator

Fitness for Seniors

With age, most people tend to become sedentary. Work, kids, and relationships can push your health and well-being down on the list of your priorities. However, staying fit is a primary key to a long, healthy, and productive life, and being able to take care of others around you.

Benefits of exercise for seniors

By leading an active life, seniors benefit more than people of any other age. Exercising regularly not only improves your overall physical health but also boosts your mental health.  Key physical benefits include increased mobility, flexibility, and balance. You’ll be able to control your weight, even lose a few pounds, and the impact of chronic diseases and illnesses can decrease. Your brain also undergoes positive changes, you’ll sleep better, and your self-confidence and mood will lift.

Obstacles to an active lifestyle

Maintaining an active lifestyle is hard at any age, and it gets harder as you get older. The biggest hindrance is the thought that you’re too old to exercise. Sure, it’s not easy, but people that become active in older age show better progress, both physically and mentally. Some older adults are scared they’ll fall if they exercise, but the opposite is true. You’ll gain strength, stamina, improve balance, and avoid bone density loss.

Another excuse seniors have is that they will never be as athletic as they once used to be, and that’s true. But you don’t have to; your goals will be different from someone half your age. Chair-limited seniors are the least active and think they can’t exercise, but they are the ones who need to be active the most. Chair aerobics, chair yoga, weight lifting, and tai chi can be done from a chair to increases flexibility, muscle tone, enhance the range of motion, and promote heart health.

Fear or pain or hurting oneself may also hold you back. There are many aids and gadgets available to ease aches and pains that may arise from exercise including braces, wraps, and orthoses. You’ll especially need to take care of your feet if you have diabetes like 25% of seniors do. If your feet feel the heat when running, find the best insoles for heel pain for some added cushion and relief for your feet.

A plan just for you

Since every person is unique, you’ll need a tailored workout program. Depending on your level of flexibility and mobility, you can walk, run, join senior classes, do water aerobics or yoga, practice tai chi or qi gong, dance, play tennis, play basketball, go swimming, or do all of these. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy, someone who you like spending time with. Try new activities to keep your brain and body involved. Even if you don’t like a particular activity, you’ll still get to spend some time with a good friend.

Making sure your plan is balancedFind balance to fit your health needs

While doing any physical activity will improve your health, doing new or at least different activities will make sure you cover all the five blocks of fitness:

Concentration and focus:  Exercises like yoga will keep your brain focused and active. Depending on how flexible you are, you can do any easy poses like cobra, down dog, seated twist to advanced poses like power yoga and Bikram yoga. Brain games can also keep your brain guessing and engage your memory.

Balance:  Exercise like tai chi and yoga can help improve balance and become more stable. This not only reduces your risk of falling but can also help improve your posture.

Cardio:  Jogging, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, rowing, and other fast pace exercises use large muscle groups an extended time. You should feel your heart pumping, get short of breath and sweaty. Cardio gradually builds stamina and reduces shortness of breath and fatigue.

Power training:  Exercises that involve lifting weights can help build muscles and prevent bone mass loss. This promotes independence and allows you to do many tasks, such as lifting heavy items or opening a jar, that many other citizens will need help with.

Flexibility:  Stretching exercises and yoga increase your range of motion and encourage your joints to move freely. Doing daily chores, playing with your grandkids, and doing other routine physical activities will be a lot easier as your flexibility increases.

How seniors can stay motivated

Remember these quick tips if your motivation level seems to be going down:

–          Listen to your favorite music while working out

–          Get competitive, especially when playing any sports

–          Socialize and meet new people

–          Keep changing your exercise routine and the type of exercise you do

–          Keep a log of your activity and reward yourself every time you hit a new level

Staying safe

The goal is to get active, but safety always comes first. Start slow and gradually increase intensity and frequency. Consult your doctor before starting a new activity, especially if you have an underlying condition. Listen to your body, you might be sore, feel tightness in the muscles, but it should never hurt. If it does, stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Author: Joe Fleming

Vive Health

Aspen Senior Care Honored Among Top In-Home Senior Care Agencies in the Nation — Named “Caring Star of 2018” for Senior Care Service Excellence

CS - Aspen Senior Care awarded with Caring Star 2018

Aspen Senior Care is pleased to announce it has been selected as a “Caring Star of 2018” for top in-home senior care excellence. In ratings and reviews from family caregivers and cognitively healthy older adults, Aspen Senior Care earned a 5-star consumer rating (the highest possible score) within the last year, while also having a high volume of positive reviews and meeting other qualifying criteria for this national honor. Aspen Senior Care is the only Caring Star 2018 agency in Utah, and overall Aspen Senior Care is among 253 home care agencies across the nation who earned the Caring Stars 2018 distinction.

“Thanks to our clients and their families for providing ongoing positive and constructive feedback throughout each year! We are so grateful to be in your service. We appreciate Caring.com for recognizing us as a Caring Star of 2018.”

-Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator of Aspen Senior Care

Online reviews help families research and select the best senior care providers for aging or ailing loved ones. In multiple Caring.com research studies, the majority of family caregivers have indicated that they turn to the Internet and consumer reviews when narrowing their options among home care agencies in their area. Most say they have relied on these perspectives as much as or more so than in-person recommendations from geriatric professionals or medical personnel. Now entering its seventh year, the Caring Stars annual list helps consumers see which home care agencies are top rated by other families just like theirs – which is particularly helpful as families gather for the holidays and discover increased or urgent senior care needs for their parents or grandparents.

“Congratulations to Aspen Senior Care for achieving this award after earning accolades on Caring.com from clients and their loved ones,” said Karen Cassel, Caring.com CEO. “This important milestone speaks volumes about the positive difference Aspen Senior Care is making in serving older adults, and we celebrate their accomplishment.”

Some of the positive feedback that led to Aspen Senior Care being a Caring Star of 2018 includes:

“Aspen Senior Care has caring, good, and kind caregivers. Aspen Senior Care makes my life easier because I am with the client every day, and the services give me a break a couple nights out of the week.”

-Mary A.

“Aspen Senior Care is dependable, on-time, does a good job, and is interested in doing the best for you.”

-Elaine P.

“I have found that Aspen Senior Care is a dependable company and their caregivers are dedicated to their work. I have just one caregiver that comes to my home and she does really good work. She knows what I need and does it for me. I am 88 years old and appreciate any help that I get.”

-Bob H.

Read the full text of these reviews and others on Caring.com. Learn more about the Caring Stars program and view the complete winner list here.

About Aspen Senior Care

We specialize in trustworthy, caring, diligent caregivers who are qualified and well-trained to provide all of the services we offer. We have been awarded Best of Home Care for 8 years in a row and work hard to please our clients and provide peace of mind to their family members. We are the most established personal care agency in Utah Valley with many wonderful caregivers.

About Caring.com

With three million unique visitors to its website monthly, Caring.com is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Headquartered in San Mateo, CA, Caring.com provides helpful caregiving content, online support groups, and a comprehensive Senior Care Directory for the United States, with more than 150,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free senior living referral line at (800) 325-8591. Connect with Caring.com on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube.

Positive Consumer Ratings Led to this Industry-Leading Distinction from Caring.com

How to prevent pressure sores in seniors

A better understanding of what causes pressure sores helps caregivers take better care of their elderly loved ones. A pressure sore (also known as pressure ulcer and bedsore) is a result of tissue getting compressed between bone and an external surface. Pressure sores affect seniors who are unable to move and change position regularly. Prolonged pressure on the compressed areas leads to reduced blood supply (and eventual death) to the skin and underlying muscle tissues. Skin becomes dry and flaky and can break open which allows bacteria to enter the wound. 

Pressure sores/ulcers are located in areas such as the head and ears, elbows, shoulders, heels, and the sacral region and are graded or staged to classify the degree of tissue damage.

A body indicating the areas of the body where pressure sores may occur

Pressure sores are characterized by four stages dependent on the severity and depth of the lesion

Stage 1:    Pressure sores involve the superficial skin layer. The area has prolonged redness or “non-blanchable redness” (the area is red and does not go back to normal color when the senior is moved). The area can also turn pale or shiny and white.

Stage 2: Pressure sores involve superficial lesions to the top layer of skin. This results in a shallow depression or abrasion causing skin breakdown, blisters, shallow craters, edema, drainage, and possibly infection.

Stage 3: Pressure sores have full skin loss and extension into the subcutaneous tissue causing necrosis, drainage, and localized infection.

Stage 4: Pressure sores have damaged the muscle, fascia, and bone with deep infections, drainage, and death of the tissue (necrosis). Consequently, when a senior enters this stage they will always have a stage 4 ulcer. Although pressure sores may heal on the surface, the sores are deep and usually slow to heal. Due to this, pressure sores re-open easily.

Image showing the 4 stages of pressure sores

In most cases, seniors have special skin care needs because their skin becomes dry and thin as they age. If it becomes too dry, skin is prone to cracking and dermatitis. In addition, this allows for the growth of bacteria which can result in infection. Prevention of and assessment for pressure sores/ulcers and skin tears will avoid discomfort and decreased quality of life for seniors.

Prevent pressure ulcers and skin tears:

  • Relieve pressure by off-loading weight  
  • Prevent shearing and friction with careful transfers
  • Provide good personal care
  • Adequate nutrition and hydration
  • Loose, non-binding clothing

What can you do as a caregiver?

  • Reposition often: seniors need to be turned frequently to avoid pressure-sensitive ulcers.  
  • Check skin and all pressure points frequently
  • Give good skin care: powder which keeps areas clean and dry, lotion which keeps skin hydrated and elastic
  • Give good perineal care—toilet often and clean area well
  • Help the client exercise regularly – whatever the client is capable of doing
  • Make sure bed linens are clean, dry and wrinkle free
  • Give gentle massages to increase blood flow
  • Encourage fluids and good nutrition
  • Use pressure reducing devices: pillows, coccyx cushion, air mattress, barrier cream

What should you report to the doctor, Home Health nurse, or other healthcare providers?

  • Redness that won’t go away
  • Pale, white, shiny area over a bony prominence
  • Red, hot, tender to touch
  • Pressure ulcer that has increased in size or depth
  • Senior reports pain
Aspen Senior Care team photo

Aspen Senior Care has won Provider of Choice for 8 years in a row!

Aspen Senior Care trains our caregivers to follow these guidelines to ensure we provide our clients with the best possible care. We know how important it is to have caregivers our clients can trust. Because of this, we provide monthly in-service training to cover important educational topics. This improves the quality of life for both the caregiver and the senior receiving care.  Click here to learn more about our professional caregivers.


 

Information presented by Amanda Hensler

First Choice Home Health & Hospice