How you can ward off Alzheimer’s with good social support

If you want to ward off Alzheimer’s, it turns out that visiting friends, picnicking with others, attending parties, and even going to church might be just as good for you as crossword puzzles.

Aged elderly care services social support outing

John and Katie shopping during social support outing

Social Support and ageing …

As we age, we tend to lose important social connections such as family and friends. It’s a natural result that comes about by retirement, the loss of friends and spouses to death and illness, and through family and friendly neighbours moving out of the area.

The result tends to be a significant reduction in daily social contact and stimulation, and this in turn has a direct impact on an older person’s mental and physical health.

How this helps John …

Coming from Britain, John relished a visit to the British Lolly Shop and the free tasting was a highlight for his day and bought back memories from his youth! John also got the chance to take some lollies back home to share as well.

Once a week  Katie and John go out for a couple of hours as part of John’s social support services. These outings  provide social stimulation and a change of scenery for John. He enjoys being out in the community and the chance to visit once familiar places. Sometimes they have coffee and cake and sometimes they see and do things to keep John engaged.

Research says …

Research, such as that done by the Rush University Medical Center, has shown that regular social interaction may help to prevent or delay cognitive decline in the elderly.*

Are you too busy?

In these busy times we often don’t have the free time to stop in often for a coffee with Mum or Dad. Thankfully programs and support are available within our community so that our loved ones do not miss out on these vital activities.

A Platinum social support visit makes a perfect “Gift of Time” for a loved one.

References:

Late-Life Social Activity and Cognitive Decline in Old Age, Bryan D. James, et al. Nov 2011, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Chicago, Illinois

 

John has a social life again

aged care services social support

John – an elderly gentleman enjoying a social support outing with care giver on Perth ferry

John has a social life again – what better Father’s day gift could we offer!

Platinum Healthcare started their relationship with John and Kathleen, providing in home care when the busy lives of their son and daughters prevented them being there – “they were cared for with dignity in their own home, which is what they wanted”.

Now that Kathleen is no longer with us, John is in a Retirement home, but “his girls” as he calls his carers, still visit him twice a week and take him out for a ride on the ferry, a coffee and cake In King Park or a drive to the beach for ice cream.

John  loves the chat with his carers and getting out and about in the community. Clare, John’s daughter, says “As a family we all agree the personalised services provided by the Platinum carers has not only improved Dad’s quality of life but also gives us peace of mind”.

You can read John’s story here …

If you’re a busy family member you may be interested in the “Gift of Time” initiative. Click here …

 

 

Platinum Healthcare farewells community support worker Leo

community support worker providing personal care and social support to autism disability client

Support worker Leo with one of his regular autism clients

Last month we farewelled Leo Lin, who has been a community care worker for the past 3 years whilst he was studying to qualify for his Registered Nurse Graduate Program. In that time he provided in-home care (also known as community care) to many frail aged clients, disability clients and clients with a chronic illness.

Leo was an ICU nurse in his home country, but was required to do a conversion program in Australia prior to being eligible for a position as RN in Australia. Leo has been a valuable member of the Platinum team and has displayed exemplary behaviour throughout his time and is described as “bright and bubbly” with a very caring and nurturing personality. Many of Leo’s clients were high care patients including some with advanced multiple sclerosis or significant autism.

This month Leo started his Registered Nurse Graduate Program at Royal Perth Hospital.

Leo’s farewell message was: “I’ve been working with Platinum for 3 years. As a new immigrant, it was the first job I found in Australia. At first I found it difficult to adapt to the culture and the different work environment, but with Donna and Len’s encouragements I genuinely started to love this job. After seeing some clients for a long time, some of them treated me like a family member. It was very encouraging and rewarding. I’m an RN now and going to work at RPH thanks to the experience at Platinum.

We wish Leo all the best in his future.

Father’s Day – 105 years of history

Gift of Time, girl and grandfather

A girl and her grandfather enjoying a special moment together

Inspired by a sermon the previous year about Mother’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd, was successful in having several churches in and around the US town of Spokane, celebrate Father’s Day on 19 June 1910. Sonora’s father was a widower, his wife having died in childbirth, and he raised his six children alone.

Interestingly, whilst Mother’s Day quickly became established as a recognised, official holiday in a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon signed the official proclamation to make Father’s Day a national holiday.

A key reason for this delay was the rapid commercialisation around the Mother’s Day celebration and the resistance of many to this. Nevertheless, it was in part due to the involvement of and promotion by manufacturers and retailers that the idea was continued. This, including tobacconists and haberdashers who advertised cigars and men’s clothing as masculine alternatives to giving Dad roses.

Today, Father’s Day (also known as International Men’s Day in some places) is celebrated in many countries around the world, although dates vary according to other local happenings and traditions.

No longer is it customary to give neckties and in fact there are many more options from the technological type of gift through to the personal.

If you are looking for that special gift for a father who no longer needs those gifts why not consider the “Gift of Time”, an initiative that allows frail, older gentleman to receive personal care, home help or social support in his own home or community.

 

Aged Care at home: Preventing Falls


preventing falls for aged care at home

Regular exercise is the single most important falls preventative strategy

In the first article on this topic we pointed out that in our “ageing society” the incidence of falls among older people is rapidly becoming a global health issue.

In WA, the department of health has found that falls are the second most common cause of injury requiring hospitalisation (31%) and the fourth most common cause of death(11%)1.

Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone, but they are more common and more significant as we get older, because we are more likely to injure ourselves.

As can be expected, with ageing there is a decline in components of our balance system. Nevertheless, this decline is relatively small on its own. In other words, it’s a combination of this decline plus other risk factors that result in an increased likelihood of a fall. Further, a person’s risk of falling increases as the number of risk factors accumulates.

Risk Factors

Falls are commonly due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors. Intrinsic factors include any that are related to a person’s condition or behaviour whilst the extrinsic factors are those that relate to the person’s environment or their interaction with their environment.

Intrinsic risk factors2 Extrinsic risk factors2
increased age inappropriate footwear
history of falls inappropriate spectacles
gender – being female hazards inside and outside the home
chronic medical conditions lack of aids in home (such as grab bars)
multiple medication use lack of social interaction
vitamin & mineral deficiency lack of access to preventative medicine and programs
impaired balance and mobility extreme weather
impaired vision
impaired cognition
lack of exercise
fear of falling
incontinence
alcohol misuse

 

Reducing the Risks

Many people may not see falls as an important issue because they feel it is just a ‘sign’ of getting older and that it will happen anyway. But the fact is that most falls are caused by personal issues – something to do with a person’s lifestyle, physical or mental state – or by interaction between one or more of these personal issues and an environmental hazard. Today, research is increasingly showing that prevention interventions can reduce falls.

Nine steps to stay on your feet®3

In WA, the “Stay on Your Feet” program has suggested a 9 step approach to help you or your ageing relative stay on their feet. The nine steps reflect the main factors that contribute to falls which are as follows:

 Step 1: Be active

Step 2: Manage your medicines

Step 3: Manage your health

Step 4: Improve your balance

Step 5: Walk tall

Step 6: Foot care and safe footwear

Step 7: Regularly check your eyesight

Step 8: Eat well for life

Step 9: Identify, remove and report hazards

 We urge all our clients to review the “Nine Steps to Stay On Your Feet®” focussing firstly on those parts that relate to them, to their lifestyle, independence and environment.

Resources and guides are readily available from the Stay On Your Feet® council of WA or you can contact us at Platinum Healthcare to see how this can be built into our home and community care programs.

Sources:

1.      Department of Health, Western Australia. Falls Prevention Model of Care. Perth: Health Strategy and Networks, Department of Health, Western Australian; 2014

2.      Risk factors adapted from: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care,http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Guidelines-COMM.pdf

3.      Department of Health, Western Australia. Stay on your feet®. www.stayonyourfeet.com.au

Aged Care at Home: The Impact of Falls

Case Studies

Aged care falls risk and prevention

Falls among older adults

My grandpa fell at the ATM. He never recovered and died. Same with my other grandma, she fell in a parking lot, never recovered. Both died within a few months of their fall. A simple fall can spell the end even for a pretty fit person. Also REMEMBER if they fall once, their chances of falling again soon after go UP!Robin M

My father had Alzheimers but was still capable of living at home with my mom’s help. He fell and hit his head on a door frame. That was it. He rapidly declined, never walking again. He spent the last year of his life staring at a ceiling.Trish C

These are just a couple of the myriad of true experiences of people with ageing family members.

Some Facts*

  • One in three adults aged 65 and older falls each year.
  • Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes.
  • Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.
  • If an older person has had a fall this typically increases their risk of having another.
  • A fall can lead to loss of confidence and reduction in activity which often leads to more falls.

* Source:   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Given we have a rapidly expanding ageing population there is a growing incidence in the occurrence of falls among older adults. Not only is this resulting in significant direct physical, social and emotional trauma, both amongst the person and the broader family, but it comes at a significant economic cost to our nation as well.

Article

I recently became aware of an interesting and eye opening article in the New York Times titled “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”. The writer, Katie Hafner from the New York Times, writes:

As the population ages and people live longer in bad shape, the number of older Americans who fall and suffer serious, even fatal, injuries is soaring. So the retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes where millions of Americans live are trying to balance safety and their residents’ desire to live as they choose.Read more …

Falls can happen to anyone. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to help prevent falls and minimise your injuries if you do fall. Knowing your risk factors and taking a few precautions is a good start.

In a future post we will look at what steps you can and should take to reduce the likelihood of a fall and its resulting injuries.

Living with a Family Member with Dementia

dementia

Living with a Family Member with Dementia
Dementia is debilitating and can bring with it frustration, anger and grief. We provide home care and aged care in Perth, and communicate regularly with patients who have dementia, and their families who are trying to deal with it the best they can. It is not easy to watch your loved one change, but there are ways in which you can make your life and the life of your loved one more enjoyable and manageable.

  1. Talk about dementia-Don’t be scared to talk about dementia both with your family and with the person who has it. Plan for the future and speak honestly with one another. This will save you a lot of pain and uncertainty later on.
  1. Communicating-Your loved one will sometimes feel confused and afraid. Communicate effectively with them to help ease that fear. When you’re asking questions, don’t ask too many at once as this will overwhelm them, and keep any questions simple and short. Engage in conversations regularly with your loved one to make sure they don’t feel lonely. Keep your tone soothing and relaxed and engage in physical contact such as hugs if your loved one permits this.
  1. Understanding and minimising the meltdowns-There will often be triggers which you will eventually start to notice, which lead to your loved one feeling very frustrated and scared. When you begin to see these signs, check the room around your loved one to make sure it is warm enough, they are seated comfortably, they have taken their medication, they’re not hungry or thirsty and so on. If everything seems fine, distract your loved one. Take them for a walk or use a favourite item or conversation topic. As you begin to understand dementia, you will get better at minimising these meltdowns.
  1. Medicine-Maintain medicine, medical appointments and care and ensure you see a doctor regularly with your loved one. Sometimes the symptoms of dementia can be exacerbated by other illnesses and it is important that these are dealt with immediately.
  1. Be informed and keep reading-Understand dementia. Read about it and regularly and communicate with your loved one’s doctor to understand the progression of their symptoms. Understanding the problem will help you deal with the effects.
  1. Look after yourself-Really assess your own feelings and mental state. Many people who are carers for loved ones with dementia will feel depressed and helpless. Make sure you communicate with your own doctor about your situation if you are feeling unwell or overwhelmed.
  1. Don’t take it personally-Is it the person or the symptoms that are speaking?

 

 

How to Make your Home Wheelchair Friendly

disablility care

How to Make your Home Wheelchair Friendly.
As a health care provider in Perth, we understand the importance of designing the home with the needs of the elderly and disabled in mind. It is essential to take home accessibility issues into consideration when a loved one is wheelchair bound. It is important for anyone in a wheelchair to feel a sense of independence and control over their own lives. A way to do this is to ensure that the home is wheelchair friendly.

Home Entrance: This is the first modification which should be made. Build a wheelchair ramp at the house entrances, making sure that the pathway is wide enough. You can also consider adding handrails and a non-slip surface for extra stability and safety.

Hallways: Hallways, like doorways, should be wide enough for a wheelchair to comfortably pass through. Make sure the floors surface is non-slip. Stairs: Stairs are extremely difficult for anyone in a wheelchair to use. In order to make stairs wheelchair safe, you should install a stairway lift at every stairway in your home.

Floors: If possible, replace all carpets with hardwood or tiles. Rugs can be especially difficult to navigate because they are not secured to the floor. Installing ramps will make thresholds safer. Importantly, make sure that you secure any electrical cables which may be exposed.

Doorways & Doorknobs: Widen doorways in your home and ensure that doorknobs are placed low enough for someone is a wheelchair to access. Alternatively, doors can be made automatic, allowing them to be opened and closed at the press of a button.

Kitchen: Lower cupboard handles, bench tops and light switches, and install appliances which are easy to access. Install a sink which allows space for a wheelchair to roll under it.

Bathroom: To make your bathroom wheelchair accessible, create a shower with a lower threshold or install a walk-in bathtub. Lower light switches and counter tops.

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