ALS Care Strategies for Family Caregivers

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Caregiver uses ALS care strategies while helping an older man use his walker.

Use these ALS care strategies to help ensure your loved one receives the best care possible.

As a degenerating neurological illness, ALS (sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease) can cause a wide variety of physical hurdles that can lead to clinical depression. For people providing ALS care for a loved one, it’s hard not to become overwhelmed and unsure about how to help the person live life to the fullest and stay optimistic.

When providing ALS care at home, it is essential for family caregivers to fully grasp the challenges that the condition produces in order to provide the very best care.

San Diego Home Caregivers, the leading home care provider in La Mesa, Carlsbad, North County, and the surrounding areas, has developed the ALS care strategies below to help ensure the best care for loved ones with the disease:

  • Set up a computer and internet access. Computers, along with other assistive tools, offer entertainment and social interaction and make it possible for the person with ALS to help with tasks like paying bills, tracking down information, hiring services, and shopping.
  • Patience is a must. Even though it may often seem quicker and more efficient to take over certain tasks, demonstrate patience and allow the person to accomplish the tasks that they can.
  • People with muscle diseases like ALS are competent thinkers, even if they are generally unable to communicate clearly. Talk through choices openly while making joint decisions about the individual’s ALS care.
  • Use adaptive devices. The utilization of adaptive equipment like wheelchairs is a move in the direction of self-sufficiency, not away from it. Adaptive tools are obtainable for assorted everyday tasks, like eating, opening jars and doors, buttoning or zipping up clothing, writing, and taking a shower.
  • Ask if the person wants support before assisting. Never take over tasks that still can be performed if the person is provided with adaptive tools and time.

Is Home Care Right for Someone With ALS?

For individuals with ALS, self-reliance and comprehensive ALS care strategies are imperative. The home care experts at San Diego Home Caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in providing the care and assistance needed to ensure those with ALS live their best lives. Home care can greatly benefit someone with ALS, through customized services such as:

  • Help with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Transportation and errand-running
  • Companionship
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • And so much more

Contact us any time at (619) 487-9000 for additional information.

Understanding the Stages of ALS and How to Care for Them

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Several pills and a needle lay on a table with ALS written in the middle to represent the stages of ALS.

While symptoms can vary from person to person, the stages of ALS tend to follow a particular pattern for all.

Receiving a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as ALS) can create plenty of questions and apprehensions, both for the individual diagnosed and their family. What’s the cause for ALS? What are the symptoms of ALS which may be experienced now, and how will they change in the future? Where can I go for support?

Approximately 30,000 people in America are presently diagnosed with ALS, and around 5,600 new patients are diagnosed with the illness every year. And although the specific cause is not yet determined, some studies point to complicated risk factors, such as a twofold risk of ALS in people who served during the Gulf War.

Though each individual can be impacted by ALS in different ways from others, the progression of the condition does seem to follow distinct stages. Understanding the stages of ALS can help those diagnosed with the disease and those who care for them execute the most appropriate plan of care.

San Diego Home Caregivers, the leading provider of home care services in San Diego, La Jolla, Point Loma, and the surrounding areas, shares details below:

Initial Stages of ALS

  • ALS signs may be detected in only one single area of the body
  • More mild symptoms may affect more than this one region
  • For some people, the first impacted muscles are those used for swallowing, breathing, or speaking
Possible Symptoms:
    • Weakened grip
    • Stumbling when walking
    • Fatigue
    • Poor balance
    • Slurring of speech

Middle Stages of ALS

  • Indicators of ALS are now more substantial
  • Twitching could be noticeable
  • Some specific muscles may be paralyzed, while others are weaker or totally unaffected
 Possible Symptoms:
    • Difficulties standing without support
    • Struggles with eating and swallowing, which can cause choking
    • Possible uncontrolled and inappropriate crying or laughing, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)
    • Difficulty breathing, particularly when lying down

Late Stages of ALS

  • The person can no longer drink or eat by mouth
  • The person with ALS needs full assistance to care for their needs
  • Speaking may no longer be possible
Possible Symptoms:
    • Breathing is significantly affected, leading to fatigue, unclear thinking, headaches and vulnerability to pneumonia
    • Paralysis in the majority of voluntary muscles
    • Mobility is dramatically impacted

Obtaining care from a professional caregiver, like those at San Diego Home Caregivers, can increase the quality of life for people affected by ALS symptoms. Our care providers work with families to develop an individualized plan of care, allowing those with ALS to maintain dignity and the greatest level of independence at all times.

Contact us any time at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about how our services can help someone you love.

The ABC’s of Caring for the Heart for Older Adults

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Go back to the basics of caring for the heart using these simple guidelines.

Almost half of all Americans have one of the three key risk factors of heart disease: high blood pressure, smoking, and high LDL cholesterol. Too many people make poor lifestyle decisions every day that adversely impact their heart. Excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and physical inactivity are just a few things that can do permanent damage. It’s easy to forget to put into practice the fundamental ways of caring for the heart, but it’s one of the most important things to remember. Go back to the basics and look after your heart with the following guidelines: Read more

Tips for Helping a Loved One Living With COPD

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COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the term for two lung diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Essentially, for people living with COPD, breathing is severely affected by an airflow obstruction. Common symptoms include an excessively wet cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.

By 2030, the World Bank and World Health Organization estimates that COPD will be the third leading cause of death globally. COPD as an economic problem is a top cause of disability-induced unemployment.  

You, as a family caregiver, are on the front line of relieving this burden. Even though there is no cure, COPD can be treated, and your caregiving is crucial to an effective treatment program. San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of home care services in La Mesa and the surrounding areas, recommends diet, exercise, and environmental maintenance as ways in which you can substantially assist someone who is living with COPD. 

Diet

A healthy diet provides people with COPD with the energy and extra calories necessary to combat chest infections and to deal with their more labored breathing. Planning and preparing meals and otherwise advising your loved one concerning which foods to include are important ways you can help.  

Lethargy often prevents those with COPD from consuming enough calories. Starting the day with a more substantial, more nutrient-dense meal when the individual you love has the most energy to eat can be helpful. Following that with smaller meals during the day will not only help maintain calories, but also prevent the person from feeling too full, which can make it more difficult to breathe. 

Although a morning cup of coffee may once have been the normal routine, unfortunately caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and cause restlessness or nervousness, leading to exacerbated symptoms. Additionally, help the senior stay away from foods high in salt, as water retention caused by salt also makes for tougher breathing.

Exercise 

Regular physical activity is fundamental for effective COPD symptom management. Generally, it enhances endurance and increases blood circulation, making for better use of oxygen. Upper body exercises help with breathing and the ability to perform daily activities. Lower body exercises such as stair climbing and treadmill or track walking have also proven to benefit those with COPD. 

Breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, result in stronger breathing muscles, increased oxygen, and all-around easier breathing. An ideal plan consists of sessions of five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.

Environmental Maintenance

Finally, it’s also wise to think about environmental concerns in the senior’s home, especially as they relate to air quality. A good place to start is to keep the individual’s home properly ventilated through exhaust fans, open windows, and filtration systems. However, windows should remain shut during poor air quality days and dusty conditions, such as construction projects. Also, sustaining a balanced humidity level counters dry air from home heating systems and discourages irritating pests that are attracted to more humid conditions.

Avoiding or managing very cold air, fireplace and cigarette smoke, and other air pollutants are ways you can best serve a loved one with COPD, as does reducing the use of personal care products like perfumes, hair sprays, and lotions.

Housekeeping can go a long way towards minimizing irritants in the home. Eliminate and properly store dust-collecting clutter. Weekly bed linen laundering minimizes dust mites, as does keeping rugs and carpets vacuumed and floors clean. At the same time, reducing exposure to harsh household cleaning products and other chemicals, including air fresheners, is essential. 

Find more tips on helping a person living with COPD to enjoy the healthiest possible life and how our in-home caregivers can work together with you to ensure quality, seamless care. Contact us any time at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our home care services in La Mesa and the surrounding areas.

Diaphragmatic Strengthening Exercises for COPD

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These diaphragmatic strengthening exercises for COPD can help ease symptoms of the disease.

COPD can make the daily tasks of life feel like a struggle. The positive news is that there are diaphragmatic strengthening exercises for COPD that may help ease the symptoms and enhance quality of life.

San Diego Home Caregivers, a leading provider of in-home care in Carlsbad and the surrounding areas, outlines how to breathe from the diaphragm along with recommended exercises to help strengthen the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, so those with COPD can take in more oxygen and put less effort into breathing.  Read more

Watch for These Signs of Depression in Senior Loved Ones

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Senior woman with sad expression

Be aware of the signs of depression that could present in senior loved ones.

Most people go through times when they simply want to be by themselves for a while with their thoughts, to sort out issues in their lives without any distractions, or just to experience some downtime. For older people, however, being isolated for an extended period of time might be indicative of a more concerning condition: depression.

At San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of professional home and memory care in La Jolla and nearby areas, our team has shared the journey through depression with many older adults, and we want to offer help. The most important first step is to contact the older person’s doctor right away if you believe he or she may be struggling with depression. Depression in seniors is treatable, and the sooner, the better.

Watch for these signs of depression in your senior loved ones:

  • Loss: A variety of kinds of loss can trigger depression or other medical concerns: losing weight, losing the desire to eat, a loss of self-worth, disinterest in activities or hobbies that were formerly enjoyed, or a reduction in time spent with family or friends.
  • Slowing Down: Notice if the older person’s movements or speaking have slowed down, if it takes the senior longer than usual to talk about or recall memories, or if drive or energy are reduced.
  • Sleeping Changes: Depression in seniors can have significant effects on sleep patterns, causing trouble with falling or staying asleep, issues with awakening, or struggles with being alert and awake for the duration of the day. 
  • Forgetfulness: Watch for differences in how the senior takes care of herself; for instance, if she was always careful about maintaining good personal hygiene and taking care with her appearance, but abruptly begins to ignore personal care, or any other critical changes like forgetting to take medicine, to eat a well-balanced diet, etc.

Various other medical conditions may also make depression worse. Be especially mindful if the senior has been affected by any of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Thyroid conditions

If you suspect depression in a senior loved one, it’s crucial to take action and not to disregard it as something the senior will get over in time. Depression is a chronic medical condition that requires treatment in order to recover. 

And keep in mind, you are not alone! The caregivers of San Diego Home Caregivers are here to help older adults, and their family members, through senior depression or any other condition of aging. We’re experienced in providing caring, compassionate in-home services for older adults, offering friendly companionship to help encourage participation in exercise programs and social activities, to prepare appetizing, healthy meals, provide transportation to medical appointments and to run errands, and more. 

Reach out to us any time online or call us at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our in-home senior care and memory care in La Jolla and the surrounding communities.

The Right Choices for Making Heart Healthy Meals for Seniors

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Heart shaped dish with vegetables isolated on wooden background

For more tips on heart healthy meals for seniors, call San Diego Home Caregivers!

Our senior care experts realize that it’s challenging to make heart healthy meals for seniors when nutrition recommendations appear to constantly change. We had been told that saturated fats from options such as butter, red meat and fried food were harmful and could affect a person’s chances of developing heart issues, but later research revealed there isn’t enough evidence that those who gave up these delicacies improved their heart health – and so, we went back to our previous ways due to the go-ahead to choose butter instead of margarine.

And yet, as reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, scientists clarify that the lack of apparent results in reducing fatty foods is likely associated with equally poor dietary choices selected in the place of those fats – such as refined carbs. In the study, it was shared that those who exchanged fatty foods in their diet with healthier options, such as olive oil (a polyunsaturated fat) and whole grains did reduce their heart disease risk up to 25%.

As stated by Adela Hruby, one of many researchers in this study, “We know that people don’t just drop 10% of their calories…and not replace them with other things. What they’re adding in to replace what they’re not eating is really important.”

The study, led by Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was amazingly in-depth, monitoring the results of almost 130,000 participants of both genders over thirty years. Keeping an eye on dietary choices and any heart-related conditions, it was determined that both women and men who consumed carbohydrates instead of fatty foods were attaining a nearly equal threat of cardiovascular disease – a statistic overlooked in previous studies that had determined there was no benefit to decreasing the level of saturated fat in a meal plan.

So, what might be the takeaway from this study? Improved heart health may be gained by not just reducing the total amount of saturated fat in a dietary plan, but also by choosing healthier items instead of foods with high levels of sugar or processed flour-based foods.

San Diego Home Caregivers is always available to plan and prepare heart healthy meals that are not just nutritious, but tasty, helping older adults reduce their risk for heart attacks and disease. We are able to also assist older adults with:

  • Making appropriate dietary choices, and shopping for groceries so that fresh, healthy foods are always on hand
  • Medication reminders
  • Carrying out physician-recommended activity programs
  • Safe accompaniment to doctor appointments as well as other outings
  • And more

You can reach us at (619) 487-9000 to find out more about our home care in Carlsbad and the surrounding areas. For more information on on each of the communities where we provide care, please see our Communities Served page.

10 Tips on Medication Management for Elderly Parents with Heart Disease

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Worried wife supporting sick husband taking drugs for hypertension

Call our care team for help with medication management for elderly parents and to learn more about our home care in Carlsbad and surrounding areas.

If a senior you love has been diagnosed with heart disease, you’re aware that medication management for elderly loved ones is critical. But what specifically does that mean? Here are ten helpful tips from San Diego Home Caregivers, leading provider of elderly care in La Mesa and nearby areas, that can help your loved ones get the most from their medications:

  • Know what medicines they are taking. Find out the brand and generic names and be sure you understand what each one does. Thoroughly read the patient informational sheet so you’re informed about possible side effects.
  • Take the meds at the same time each day. When you partner with San Diego Home Caregivers, your loved one’s home care companion can give reminders when it’s time to take a dose. Don’t stop or modify any medication without talking it over with the doctor first.
  • List out all of the medications. Include the daily dosage for each one. Keep a copy at home as well as one in a wallet or purse.
  • If your loved one is having a hard time paying for the medications, ask the doctor for advice. Don’t skimp on dosages to try to save money. Doing so could be harmful to your loved one’s health.
  • Speak with the doctor before taking over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Some may aggravate heart failure symptoms. These include antihistamines (like Benadryl), antacids and NSAIDS (like Motrin or Advil).
  • Refill prescriptions before running out of medicine. If it is difficult to get to the pharmacy, a caregiver can help you pick up the medication.
  • Take medicines along when travelling and continue to take them on a normal routine. If your loved one will be away from home for a long time, take an extra week’s supply. Be sure to bring a copy of the prescriptions in case a refill is needed.
  • At times, ACE inhibitors may can cause coughing. If your loved one is coughing too much and can’t sleep or perform daily activities, call the physician.
  • If taking diuretics (also referred to as water pills), your loved one probably has to visit the restroom more often. If the doctor has advised one dose of a diuretic each day, take it in the morning. If two daily doses are advised, be sure to take the second one by late afternoon to avoid additional trips to the bathroom during the night.
  • Be alert for signs of dehydration whenever taking diuretics. These might include intense thirst, dry mouth, dark-colored urine or reduced urine output, constipation and feeling lightheaded. If any of these red flags occur, consult the doctor prior to making any modifications in medication or fluid intake.

Professional home care companions from San Diego Home Caregivers can make life with heart disease easier to manage. They can provide support with everyday activities, prepare nutritious meals, offer medication reminders and take your loved one to doctors’ appointments and the pharmacy. Call (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our elderly care in La Mesa and other surrounding areas. For more information on the different areas we serve, please see our Communities Served page.