Elderly in Warm Weather

Top health tips for the elderly during hot weather

Summer may still seem like it has yet to get going, but the hot weather will soon be upon us. If you have an elderly parent or relative, now is a good time to start thinking about ways to keep cool should a heatwave strike.

Heatwaves and Health For the Elderly

Few people complain about warm summer days, but when the heat gets too much, enjoyment can quickly turn to discomfort. Even worse, a heatwave can present a danger to elderly people.
According to the NHS, it is the elderly, the seriously ill and the very young who suffer the most when the temperature rises. The over 75s and people suffering from mobility problems like Parkinson’s are particularly at risk.
It cites the 2003 heatwave, which lasted for nine days and saw temperatures of up to 38°C. This heatwave was responsible for between 2,000 and 3,000 deaths in the UK, and across Europe the figure was as high as 30,000.

If you have an elderly parent, it is therefore a very good idea to make sure you prepare properly for a hot summer.

How Hot Is Too Hot

We don’t need to see temperatures in the high 30s before things start to get dangerous for the elderly. In fact, if the temperature is 30°C during the day for two days in a row, the effects on health can start to become a problem.
There are a few major risk areas for the elderly. Overheating is one of the most common risks, and this can also worsen existing problems such as heart and breathing problems. Dehydration is another serious risk, as is heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

How to Help Your Elderly Parent Cope

There are a number of ways that you can reduce the risk for your elderly parent and help them to remain comfortable when the temperature soars. These include:

  • Advise them to stay out of the sun from 11am to 3pm when the day is at its hottest.
  • Close the windows and pull the blinds during the day, then open the windows in the evening if the temperature cools sufficiently.
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of cool drinks throughout the day. Ensure they always have enough in the fridge.
  • Suggest they wear clothing that is loose and cool.
  • Recommend that they do any outside activities like gardening in the morning or evening, and to avoid doing too much physical activity.
  • If they get particularly hot, suggest that they take a cool shower or bath during the day.
  • Forward planning is also a good idea. This could involve stocking up on enough food and drink to keep them going over the duration of the heatwave so they do not need to go shopping on hot days.

    Look Out for the Warning Signs of Overheating

    Overheating can affect elderly people very quickly, so it’s important that you and your home care worker know the signs to look out for. These include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Cramps
  • If any of these symptoms get worse, always seek medical help. If your parent has a breathing or heart problem, be especially vigilant for warning signs because high temperatures can exacerbate these.

    Informations sourced and shared by Kentish Homecare, Beckenham.

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    Personal Home Care

    Can ‘at-home’ care be cheaper than a care home?

    The soaring price of residential care for the elderly means that more families are opting to pay for their parents or relatives to be looked after in their own homes by personal home care services
    Not only is the overall cost usually lower with this method, but by remaining in their own home, those needing care can sometimes qualify for greater financial contributions from their local authority.
    The benefits of familiar surroundings and home cooked food to the client are other powerful factors.

    The growing crisis around care funding and standards is also driving the trend: families want greater control over the quality of care and want to be spared the upheaval if residents have to move homes.

    The funding system means that in almost all cases homeowners have to pay all of their fees if they go into a care home.
    This is because anyone with assets of more than £23,250 does not qualify for funding help.

    But for those opting for personal home care services in their own home, the value of the property is excluded from the means-testing process, so they can qualify for funding if their non-property assets are not above this threshold.
    This can make at-home care an attractive prospect – although, where local authorities are contributing to the cost, choice of provider may be limited.
    A person could qualify for help with their care if they are at home, but must start paying their fees once they enter a care home.

    Why care is becoming cheaper at home

    Britain’s creaking residential care home industry is facing a number of financial challenges, forcing homes to increase fees for those who pay them.
    Residential care homes face the same costs as every household in terms of fuel and food bills and the costs of cleaning and maintenance. But they have additional difficulties in the form of rising wage bills and rents.
    Some groups also have high borrowings.
    However, one of the biggest factors driving up care home fees is the fact that those who pay their own way – because they failed the means-test – end up subsidising those who are paid for by local councils.

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    Homecare Choices

    Homecare: what’s available?

    If you need help around the home, a good option is to have a care worker come into your home to help you.
    Private Home care costs can work out affordable. Depending on your circumstances, this may be funded by your local council or you may have to pay yourself.

    Types of homecare

    Homecare comes in many forms and there are many names used to describe it, including home help, care attendants, and “carers” (not to be confused with unpaid family or friends who care for you).

    Homecare can suit you if you need:

    Personal care, such as washing or dressing.
    Housekeeping or domestic work, such as vacuuming.
    Help with cooking or preparing meals.
    Nursing and healthcare.
    Homecare can be very flexible. The same person or agency may be able to provide some or all of these options for the duration of your care:
    Long-term 24-hour care
    Short breaks for an unpaid family carer
    Emergency care
    Day care
    Sessions ranging from 15-minute visits to 24-hour assistance and everything in between
    If you already know what you want, you can search NHS Choices directories for:
    Local homecare services and agencies.
    A list of national homecare organisations.
    Supported living services – these are services that can help you stay safe and well in your home on a long-term basis, including financial help, help with medicines, advocacy, social support and practical support.
    A place to live with a family who will care for you – this is known as shared lives services or adult placement services

    Funding home care

    If you believe you might benefit from some help at home, the first thing to do is to contact your local authority’s social services department to ask for a care needs assessment.
    If you’re eligible for homecare services funded by your local council, your local council may provide or arrange the help themselves.
    Alternatively, you can arrange your own care, funded by the council, through direct payments or a personal budget.
    If you choose direct payments or a personal budget, or you aren’t eligible for council funding and want to get care privately, you can arrange it in several different ways:
    Using a homecare agency.
    Hiring a personal assistant.
    Getting homecare from a charity, such as Age UK.
    Independent homecare agencies.
    If you use an independent homecare agency, you or the person looking after you has to find the care agency and pay them.
    The homecare agency will provide a service through a trained team of care workers, which means you may not always have the same person visiting your home, although the agency will do its best to take your choices into account.
    Homecare providers are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). They must meet the CQC’s national minimum standards and regulations in areas such as training and record keeping.
    The CQC has the power to inspect agencies and enforce standards. Homecare agencies must vet homecare workers before engaging them by taking up references and carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on potential employees.

    Homecare agencies can also:

    Take over the burden of being an employer – for example, payroll, training, disciplinary issues and insurance
    Train their homecare workers through national qualifications and service-specific training
    Replace workers when they’re ill, on holiday or resign
    Put things right when they go wrong
    An agency will want to see you and the person looking after you so they can assess your needs.
    This also means you can make a joint decision about the right type of care and support.
    Find out more from the UK Homecare Association.

    How much does a homecare agency cost

    Using a homecare agency can be expensive. The agency will charge a fee on top of the payment made to the care worker to cover their running costs and profits.
    You normally have to make a regular payment to the agency, which includes both the worker’s earnings and the agency’s fee.

    Questions to ask when using a homecare agency

    Before deciding to go ahead with an homecare agency, you should ask questions about the fee and what it covers.
    These include:
    Does the agency check references?
    What training and supervision do they provide?
    What’s their complaints policy?
    Who’s responsible for insurance?
    Is there any out-of-hours or emergency contact if needed?
    Will they be able to provide staff if your own care worker is ill or away? If an agency is contracted to provide care every day, it must do that.

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    Essential Gadgets for Carers

    The top 5 essential gadgets for carers

    If you are looking after someone who is no longer physically or mentally capable of looking after themselves, this responsibility could pose a broad array of challenges. However, you could ease many of those difficulties with the use of the right equipment.
    The following gadgets can help carers better handle people suffering progressive or neurocognitive health conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or cancer.

    Motion-sensing alarm

    With this kind of alarm in your loved one’s bedroom, you can be alerted whenever it detects them moving in this room. This can be crucial if the person is prone to epileptic fits or falling off their bed.
    Such an alarm can also help you avoid issues arising from someone getting up during the night for a bathroom trip – or someone suffering from dementia trying to leave the house at inopportune times.

    Devices with large buttons

    Older people can often struggle to see – and also, therefore, use – the small buttons and controls on modern mobile phones and remotes due to failing eyesight.
    However, you can buy alternative devices with buttons large enough for patients to see – enabling them to fulfil tasks as simple as phoning someone such as you.

    Dementia tracker

    Another way of keeping track of unexpected walkabouts made by a person living with dementia is giving them a bracelet-like device known as a dementia tracker.
    This little device can keep you informed of your loved one’s location, which you could also ask the police to monitor in more urgent situations.

    Day clock

    As dementia continues to adversely affect a person’s brain function, they could falter in their efforts to keep track of the time and date. Standard clocks and calendars could soon seem too complex for them to read, perhaps leading them to have difficulty distinguishing between day and night.
    However, it’s possible to purchase a “day clock” which indicates the time with a single, easy-to-comprehend sentence – like “Now it’s Thursday morning”.

    Bulbs which mimic natural sunlight

    Dementia can sap levels of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical; however, a lack of daylight can even further worsen that punishing effect.
    One solution to the problem is installing, in the patient’s most commonly-used rooms, bulbs which replicate organic sunlight and so boost serotonin levels. Nonetheless, such bulbs should be ommitted from the bedroom, where a soothing and non-stimulating environment is necessary.

    You might also need further help with home caring for loved ones. We can provide that assistance if you give our agency, Kentish Homecare, a ring on 0208 658 4455.

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    Care of the Elderly

    How does home care improve the lives of the elderly?

    We know how distressing it could be for you to see a parent or other loved one increasingly losing their physical independence as they age. This can lead them to become more reliant on others. However, you might not always be available when your loved one needs you, while the mere prospect of putting them in a care home could also upset you. Here is where home care can help.

    Older adults get to stay in their own homes

    While the elderly may become more hindered in their independence over time, they don’t want – or, thanks to home care, need – to lose their familiar surroundings as well.
    When cared for by our professionals, your ageing relative can stay in their reassuringly familiar residence – and, crucially, similarly comforting local area – for longer.

    Home care can be tailored to what the individual wants

    Our nursing staff understand that patients can vary in their requirements and preferences for homecare. For this reason, our staff are willing to work alongside you in putting together a care plan customised to take particular account of the individual.
    Our staff are content to not only help look after patients’ health but also handle such routine chores as cooking and cleaning. Indeed, this degree of flexibility, which can extend as far as letting clients choose when to eat their lunch, is not always a practical possibility in retirement homes.

    Home care can give elderly clients valuable companionship.

    Other problems which older adults can face due to their loss of independence include feeling abandoned, socially excluded or simply lonely. However, in retirement homes, care workers can often struggle to find enough one-to-one time with clients to dissipate such adverse emotions.

    Being instead served by a homecare professional – whether through regular visits or a 24-hour residency with the client – can help that client to overcome their emotional issues. The care worker can do this through providing one-to-one attention to that client, with whom they can develop a friendly, personal relationship that will long last.

    Do you need home care for Kent-based relatives?

    We have already brought these benefits to many elderly residents of Kent – and can do the same for other ageing loved ones in various parts of the county, including Bromley and Beckenham. If you require home care for an elderly relative in Kent, we invite you to phone our company, Kentish Homecare, on 0208 658 4455 to arrange a 60-minute consultation at no charge.

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    Exercise in the later stages of dementia

    Can exercise help with dementia?

    The subject of the extent to which exercise can relieve dementia symptoms has recently attracted a fresh flurry of interest due to a University of Cambridge study which took into account more than a decade of research into dementia. The study had some intriguing revelations…

    Physical inactivity: a leading cause of dementia

    Statistics have suggested that relatively few people with dementia physically exercise to an adequate level; however, is this a case of correlation or causation? While more rigorous research is needed to precisely determine exercise’s impact on dementia, the Cambridge study has shed more light on the subject – and particularly Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
    The study found that someone can nearly half their chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease if they simply engage in an hour of exercise weekly. In fact, physical inactivity could increase the Alzheimer’s risk by as much as 82%, making it the biggest risk factor of the seven main ones studied.
    The next most significant risk factor was depression, with a 65% score, while midlife obesity was not far behind with 60%. However, research has vindicated theories that physical exercise can, in itself, help counter depression and obesity. This even further clarifies its powerful anti-dementia effect.

    Could you cut your likelihood of suffering dementia?

    How much exercise should you pursue if you want to lower your own dementia risk? The Cambridge study’s findings suggest that, on a weekly basis, vigorous exercise – like running – over three 20-minute sessions or moderate exercise, such as walking, across five 30-minute sessions is a wise goal.

    Furthermore, in adjusting your exercise regime to suit, you could help yourself to prevent an array of adverse factors which have been attributed to heightened dementia risk. Such factors include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

    What if you care for someone who already has dementia?

    If a loved one – whether that be a relative or friend – has dementia, it isn’t too late for them to reduce adverse effects of dementia by engaging in physical exercise. For example, it could help them prevent their muscles weakening and so contributing to mobility problems.

    Dementia can often cause stress and depression, both of which can be relieved in part due to exercise. However, if you are unsure whether they really should exercise, we at Kentish Homecare employ staff who can discern the answers through providing them with dementia homecare.

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    Activities For The Elderly

    Summer activities for elderly patients

    Now that the summer sun is out, you might be eager to make the most of it, but fear that an elderly patient under our care – or yours – wouldn’t be able to join in. However, fun in the sun can meaningfully benefit old people – provided that you take sensible precautions.
    Here are some examples of enjoyable and safe summer activities for the elderly.

    Watching the sunrise or sunset

    Even for younger people, it can be easy to underestimate the aesthetically stunning effect of a sunrise or sunset – especially during summer, when utterly beautiful colours can emerge.
    Of course, to see a sunset, you and your relative would need to wake up particularly early – and this would also save them from extreme temperatures that can cause dehydration, to which the elderly are especially vulnerable.

    Relaxing or exercising in a swimming pool

    Staying on the subject of keeping cool, your relative can also effectively do that in a swimming pool. Check that the public pool in their area offers swim times especially for the elderly.
    Your relative might be physically capable of taking part in water aerobics classes. These might be held at the local pool – and help your loved one increase their heart rate while easing pain which they may regularly experience in their joints.

    Taking a stroll in the morning or evening

    Your relative could get a much-needed emotional lift from walking in the sunshine. Even if they often struggle to walk, taking that trip in a wheelchair could be nearly as beneficial for them.
    However, you should avoid taking them on walks at midday, when temperatures for the day would be at their highest. Instead, stick to mornings and evenings, when the climate would be cooler, but the patient could still get some healthy vitamin D. Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen for everyone.

    Actually, it can be easy being green

    If your loved one used to spend a lot of time gardening, they may recently have had to hold off due to their decreased mobility. If this is indeed the case, you could take that garden to them instead.
    They could pot plants and advise other, less experienced gardeners. Meanwhile, abundant newspaper coverings beforehand and a bit of vacuuming afterwards can help you deal with mess that they might make along the way.

    If you struggle to care for the elderly while they are in the home, we at Kentish Homecare can step in; call us on 0208 658 4455 to learn how.

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    Signs of a Stroke

    Strokes: the signs to watch out for

    If blood supply is prevented from reaching part of the brain, a stroke will result. Symptoms of a stroke can vary, as they are largely influenced by the stroke’s severity and which area of the brain is affected. However, in this article, we look at the most common signs.
    Symptoms tend to emerge abruptly – and you can quickly recall the main symptoms if you use the acronym “F.A.S.T.”. Therefore, if you care for someone who is elderly or has high blood pressure or diabetes – and, thus, is at high risk of a stroke – you could benefit from learning about these signs:

    Face drooping

    The person’s face – or just mouth or eye – might have drooped on one side. Ask that person to smile. One side of the face might remain drooping, and the smile may look uneven – if they can smile at all.

    Arm weakness

    You should also ask the person to try lifting both arms. They might struggle to do so – or keep them raised – if a stroke has weakened or numbed one of these arms.

    Speech difficulty

    Ask the individual to attempt uttering a simple sentence. Their speech might show signs of abnormality; for example, it may be slurred or incomprehensible. The person might even struggle to speak at all, however awake they may appear.

    Time to call 999

    If you see any of the above signs or symptoms, even if they quickly disappear, don’t hesitate to dial 999. You could reduce long-term effects of – or even the risk of death from – a stroke.

    Are there other signs to consider?

    The F.A.S.T. test can be used to identify the majority of strokes. However, on occasion, a stroke can give rise to other symptoms and signs which you could benefit from learning about.
    For example, one side of the person’s body could become entirely paralysed, or they might suffer abruptly lost or blurred vision. They could also become dizzy or confused – or struggle to comprehend what you or someone else says to them.

    They might also have difficulty swallowing; this is a condition known in a medical sense as dysphagia. This could be accompanied by a sudden, extreme headache causing a blinding pain.
    However, you should remember to initially use the F.A.S.T. test - as, if you see any of the other symptoms, there could be causes other than a stroke. For dealing with strokes or health aftercare issues arising from them, our nursing staff from Kentish Homecare can assist.

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    Hospital Rehabilitation

    Getting back to normal after a long hospital stay

    If you have only recently left hospital, don’t be disheartened if your mood stills feels far from that of your pre-hospital days. Leaving hospital doesn’t strictly mean that your health has been entirely restored; it simply means that you are sufficiently well to be home again. Therefore, leaving hospital can really be just another step on the road to rehabilitation recovery; so, how you can you continue to foster your recovery once you are back at home? Here are some tips.

    Maintain a personal cleaning regime

    Simple routines in looking after personal hygiene, such as showering and washing hair, can feel utterly exhausting in the aftermath of a lengthy stay in hospital. After emerging from a shower, you might feel the need to sit down on a towel for a few minutes to regain your energy. However, it remains crucial that you reliably keep yourself clean. Your hospital stay may have resulted in sores that, on your body, can heal more easily when you preserve your cleanliness.

    Don’t miss follow-up appointments

    Once you are out of hospital, you might still have regular appointments to attend with a medical professional. These meet-ups can leave you feeling like you have barely left hospital life behind. However, attending them is crucial for helping you fully return to wellness.

    You should keep this in mind if your recovery is progressing at such an unexpectedly slow pace that you often feel the need to cancel plans with friends or forgo volunteer commitments.

    Develop and maintain a support network

    Galling though it may often feel for you to forgo meeting up with friends or family, you should still be aware of how much maintaining a broad network of supportive people could make the experience of recovering feel like less of an ordeal.
    That doesn’t just have to mean keeping in touch with close friends, who could come to understand that your energy levels won’t be as high as they used to be. You could also join online communities of other people who have spent a lot of time hospitalised and so can relate to your struggles.

    Don’t be afraid to seek help at home

    In the wait for the more familiar feelings of home life to return, you may appreciate homecare assistance with carrying out a range of household responsibilities. Those could include washing yourself, getting dressed, vacuum cleaning, mopping and, on a once- or twice-weekly basis, doing laundry.

    At Kentish Homecare, we have staff who can handle all of these tasks and more on your behalf. More details about our services in both personal care and housekeeping are on our website, while you can also phone 0208 658 4455 to further educate yourself about our services.

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    Cerebral Palsy

    Cerebral palsy: daily homecare tips

    Cerebral palsy refers to a set of movement disorders that emerge in childhood. However, the permanent nature of the condition means that it can continue to have many adverse effects as people with cerebral palsy progress from childhood to adulthood. It can even have fresh implications that necessitate special homecare for people with the condition.

    If you care for someone with cerebral palsy, here are some tips for how you can help make their day-to-day life easier when they are fulfilling even routine household responsibilities.

    What is cerebral palsy

    Someone with cerebral palsy has a disorder which affects their movement in various parts of their body. The condition typically results from the brain becoming injured during either pregnancy or the birth – or shortly following the birth. This helps to explain why cerebral palsy is often a common concern with children in particular; however, its effects on adults should not be overlooked.

    There is no cure for cerebral palsy, symptoms of which are highly numerous and varied. They include – but are certainly not limited to – stiff and weak muscles, poor coordination, tremors, and impaired vision and hearing. Such symptoms often first emerge during childhood; however, as the disorder is “non-progressive”, it will not worsen as affected children grow into adults.

    How cerebral palsy can uniquely affect adults

    While it is reassuring that the actual condition of cerebral palsy does not deteriorate during adulthood, this is not strictly the case for all of the symptoms of the disorder. A particularly common challenge for affected adults is premature ageing. This will typically become evident between the ages of about 20 to 40; signs of this ageing include struggling to complete routine tasks.
    For these adults, even just ascending a small flight of stairs could take up all of their energy. These people could – as a result of the early ageing – experience increased pain, have more difficulty in walking, or have a greater risk of falling.

    How to make sure such an adult is looked after

    As distressed as you could be to see a loved one suffering such symptoms, and as eager as you may be to help them yourself, effectively fulfilling this responsibility might not be entirely within your ability. You might, for example, lack sufficient specialist knowledge of cerebral palsy to know how symptoms – and, therefore, challenges – of it can differ between adults and children.

    Fortunately, at Kentish Homecare, we do have such expertise. We can provide homecare solutions to people of various ages – from young adulthood to old age – who have cerebral palsy. We are happy to share with you the responsibility of daily looking after a loved one with this condition. Please call us via 0208 658 4455 to learn more about ways in which we can help.

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