Senior Lifestyle

Fun Fall Activities For Seniors And Caregivers

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Most seniors living at home are only too glad to be involved with a worthwhile activity that makes them feel productive, and which also creates something worthy of admiration. There are tons of fall activities that seniors and their caregivers can do together, and both persons will benefit from having undertaken them. For starters, the five activities described below should help kindle some ideas in your head, but there are hundreds more that can be extremely enjoyable for seniors and their caregivers.

  1. Pumpkin picking and carving

Almost any community you visit in Arizona has a Pumpkin Festival somewhere around this time of year, so you won’t have any trouble finding an event to attend. There are at least half a dozen in the greater Phoenix area alone, and most of them have lots of activities for you and your caregiver to participate in, so as to catch the Halloween Spirit.

  1. Make fall decorations with your loved one

Spending quality time with friends and caretakers is always a rewarding activity, and in the busy world of the 21st century, it seems that there is less and less time for these kinds of rewarding sessions. Fall is a great time to gather up some gourds and corn stalks and create a fascinating porch display that exudes country living. You might want to just cut out some typical fall decorations from construction paper, and hang your pumpkins, leaves, and maize cutouts all around the house, for a great seasonal dress-up.

  1. Outdoor activities

With the weather cooling off a bit, it’s more conducive to taking a stroll through parks and gardens, to appreciate the beauty of nature, and to relax for a while outdoors before returning to the less expansive world inside the home. There are also lots of fall festivals you can attend, such as the Oktoberfest celebrations at Overgaard and Mt. Lemon, the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix, and the Music & Art Festival in Patagonia, AZ.

  1. Go to a football game

Football season has just begun, and now is the best time to go see an Arizona Cardinals game at the University of Phoenix Stadium. All teams are still in the running for making the playoffs, and the weather is great for watching a game at the stadium. You might go with friends and enjoy a parking lot tailgate party, or just have some traditional stadium foods and beverages to enhance your appreciation of the event. While you’re there, make sure to purchase a Cardinals souvenir as a reminder of your day at the stadium, and who knows? – You may even see a very interesting football game.

  1. Make fun holiday/fall treats

When the weather cools off, it’s more fun to get involved with preparing fun fall treats, and special baked goods for the holidays. Cookies are a favorite treat for most people, both young and old, and some pumpkin-shaped cookies are not only great expressions of the coming season, but are a very enjoyable snack to have with some cider or coffee. Apple or pumpkin pies are loved by practically everyone, a flavorful squash soup will satisfy the hearty appetites in your household, and for a really special holiday treat, you could make a Christmas-tree shaped breadsticks-wrapped-in-spinach gourmet treat. If you run out of ideas, there are literally thousands online for you to choose from.

In need of home care services?

There are definitely a number of home health care organizations in Arizona which you might choose for your own home care, but to be sure of having the most professional care, customized to your own specific needs, you should trust MD Home Health. Contact us at MD Home Health with any questions you might have about caregivers, or to schedule an interview for home care.

 


Preventing Boredom: Out-of-the-Box Ideas to Engage Your Loved One 

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The activities you share with your senior loved one during visits or when you’re home from work, can have a tremendous effect on her quality of life and general outlook, so it’s really important that these times are maximized and enjoyed to the fullest. Even if it is not readily observable, the impact of shared activities can go a long way toward boosting her mood, and significantly reducing anxiety or agitation that might otherwise trouble her.

After you’ve gone through some of the old standby shared activities, you should consider some really inventive, out-of-the-box ideas which can maintain her interest and really engage her. Here are a few possibilities to consider.

Playing with children’s toys

This might seem like an odd suggestion, given the fact that these objects were created with children in mind, but older adults can experience these very same objects in an entirely different manner. For example, a simple puzzle might take your senior loved one back to childhood days and recall warm memories of the time. A children’s toolbox might trigger recollections from your senior parent about home repairs or do-it-yourselfer activities that he used to enjoy doing around the household. If you discover that ideas like this work really well with your parent, by all means, get involved yourself, and enjoy playing with children’s toys to engage your loved one.

Fun group activities

There are any of community groups which regularly meet to benefit seniors, and provide them with an outlet for socializing and engaging in fun activities. There are dance groups, card-playing groups, movie-watching groups, and even tap dancing groups, which have formed in almost every community in the country for this purpose, and which can really get your senior your loved one involved, and enjoying life again.

Treasure hunting

One very different way of really engaging your senior loved one is to take her on a treasure hunting expedition with a metal detector. This can be a very exciting time, as new discoveries are encountered, and interest is sustained throughout the entire treasure-hunting experience. It can be even more exciting, when there’s a legitimate chance of finding something interesting, but even without any spectacular discoveries, the whole experience can be a very usual and engaging way of spending some time with your loved one.

Community projects

There are always community projects which you can participate in with your senior loved one, and there is a double good feeling associated with such activities. In the first place, it will be excellent therapy to have your loved one involved and participating in a large project. It will also make her feel good to be contributing to society in general, and performing some kind of action that makes the community a better place. Some activities like this might include planting trees in the neighborhood, gardening around public buildings, and doing sponsored walks for a good cause.

Monthly or weekly game nights

Set aside a regularly-occurring night each week or each month, when you get together with your senior loved one, and play a different game each time. There are numerous board games which you could play that are fairly easy to grasp, and your senior your loved one will probably just love the fact that you’re taking the time to be with her, and share an activity you can both enjoy. Something as simple as Yahtzee might be a wonderful way of engaging with your loved one, and showing her that you really care.

Additional care for your senior loved one

There are of course, situations where your busy life at work and with your own family simply won’t allow for as much regular engagement with your loved one as you would like to have. For these situations, you should contact MD Home Health/MD Home Assist, so we can help fill in the gaps in home health care for your loved one. The compassionate and caring companionship provided by a professional caregiver from an Arizona health care specialist might include many of the same creative ideas, and others like them, which are described above.


What to do When Seniors Stop Eating

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Given that this month is ‘National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month’, it’s a great time to be a little bit more aware of what your elderly loved ones are including in their daily diets, and whether those things are conducive to good senior health. It’s also good to be aware of how fresh the foods in the refrigerator are, because it’s always possible that things aren’t being monitored closely for expiration dates and for freshness.

Then again, there may be times when, even if you are taking steps to make foods appealing and healthy for your senior loved one, they just aren’t interested in eating. AZ Health Care professionals recommend some of the following ideas for encouraging your senior to eat a little more, and if you can’t be around personally to do that, by all means consider retaining Phoenix health care specialists to help support the healthy eating initiatives at home.

Possible Responses

The first thing you should do is make sure that your senior’s disinterest in foods isn’t due to a medical condition, or a result of some medication they’re taking for a condition already present. Assuming that isn’t the cause, it’s worth a try to adjust the timing of served meals, adapting mealtimes to when your senior seems hungry, rather than at traditional times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The way you serve meals may also have an impact. For instance, your senior may feel more confident about eating soup from a cup than a bowl, or he/she may prefer meats which have been cut up into small bites, as opposed to the cuts they were sold in.

Adding a little seasoning might increase the appeal of certain foods, and since seniors typically begin to lose taste as they age, a little extra might be just the ticket. Sometimes, seniors just aren’t interested in eating alone, and might feel more inclined if they had a partner to share with. Inquire about social meals and get-togethers at local community centers to make the experience more enjoyable.

When seniors develop increasingly low appetites, it’s better to provide them with heavy doses of nutrients rather than larger portions. Healthy calories from peanut butter and other foods might strike their fancy. And if the issue is that your loved one simply doesn’t enjoy cooking anymore, why not pitch right in, and share the preparation and cooking tasks with him/her? It will provide some good quality time to be with your loved one, and it may even overcome their disinterest in the whole cooking process.

One or more of these suggestions should do the trick, but if your senior loved one still shows little interest in eating after all your efforts, you might want to consider using an appetite stimulant to be sure they’re getting the nutrition needed.  

Monitoring the diet of your senior loved one

It can be a difficult task to constantly monitor what your senior loved one is eating, especially if you have other commitments at home and on the job. But you don’t have to do all this alone – MD Home Health has been a trusted provider in the greater Phoenix area ever since 1985, and has helped many families through difficult times with health and home care. Contact us today to learn more.

 


10 Tips to Help Seniors Beat the Summer Heat

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With the intense heat of the Phoenix, Arizona summer right around the corner, many area seniors will be more at risk for heat stroke and heat exposure, as rising temperatures begin to pose a potential health risk. When temperatures begin soaring past 110 degrees Fahrenheit, seniors’ bodies simply don’t adjust very well to the higher temperatures like younger persons might, so this makes it extremely important that precautions be taken to keep seniors cool during this time of year. With this being the case, AZ health care professionals and caregivers offer a few home health tips to keep in mind, to help safeguard your senior relative against the potential dangers of summertime heat.

Drink Lots of Liquids

It’s important for all people to stay hydrated during the heat of summer, but seniors are especially prone to becoming dehydrated when exposed to the strong rays of the sun. Make sure your loved one has plenty of fluids to stave off the naturally drying effect of strong sunshine.

Keep Cool When Active

Participating in activities which encourage socialization and exercise are always important, and they shouldn’t be abandoned in summertime just because of the heat. There are lots of ways to stay active while socializing and exercising, for instance engaging in Open Swim time for seniors at the local aquatic center.

Be Aware of How Sun Impacts Medications

There are a number of medications which are not nearly as effective, and can even cause problems with body temperature regulation, when the patient is exposed to prolonged warm conditions. Phoenix home health and Arizona health care professionals urge you to read all instructions on medication labels to make sure that there are no harmful effects caused by being in the sun for a while.

Visit Well-Conditioned Places

When you’re out around town enjoying a short road trip with your senior loved one, be sure to include places which have good air-conditioning and make it pleasant for seniors. Shopping malls, coffee shops, and recreation centers are just a few of the places which might be nice to visit, if they provide well-conditioned air.

Avoid Heavy Meals

Heavy meals put a strain on the digestive system, and since calories are actually measures of heat, it’s better to avoid high-calorie meals which will generate more body heat. Try lighter fare such as pasta salads, garden salads, and fruits or vegetables.

Be Careful of Car Exposure

You should always leave windows open if you’re going into any store without your senior loved one, and even then it should not be for any extended period. While traveling, make sure that there is adequate cooling in the vehicle.

Monitor Sun Exposure Outdoors

Direct exposure to the sun should be limited for seniors, since they will burn much easier and do not cope with extreme heat as well as younger people. Monitor the amount of sun your senior gets daily, and avoid anything excessive.

Keep Indoors Cool

If you don’t have air conditioning running through the heat of the day, make sure that all windows are kept open, and that shades are drawn, so there can at least be good air circulation throughout the home, while also deflecting the sunshine.

Eat Cool Snacks

A good way to cool down is with a bowl of ice cream or a popsicle, even though the cooling effect is only temporary. The important point is that this interrupts the buildup of heat for a senior, and can instantly provide a level of comfort.

Wear Lightweight Clothing

Clothing can have a big impact on anyone’s comfort level outdoors, so make sure your senior is dressed in lightweight attire when outdoors. This should include items which do not absorb moisture or stick to the skin, and if appropriate, items which leave some areas of the body open, so as to benefit from air flow.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, no matter the season. If you are looking for senior health care or home care in the Phoenix area, contact us today. We have home health care options that can be tailored to your needs and budget.

 


The Best Spring-time Activities in the Phoenix Area

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As much as you’ve been looking forward to springtime, there might be an elderly loved one in the family who is even more anxious for the arrival of the season. Of course, Phoenix-area residents aren’t usually obliged to hibernate through winter as people in the Northeast might, but the refreshing cooler atmosphere of spring is still one of the best times to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits of the season.

AZ home health caregivers have many options for spring-time activities which are appropriate for seniors, and which are sure to be much appreciated. Participating in such events can be an important part of Phoenix home health, and the professionals at MD Home Health and MD Home Assist heartily recommend that as a caregiver, you take advantage of these opportunities to enhance your elderly loved one’s quality of life.

Opportunities in April

Springtime means baseball among other things, and that means the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball are back in uniform, and welcoming fans to the ballpark. This can be a wonderful afternoon or evening of relaxing at the stadium, and enjoying the action on the field, as well as indulging in an old-fashioned ballpark feast of hot dogs and french fries. There are an incredible 182 parks in the area surrounding Glendale-Scottsdale-Phoenix-Tempe, so several of those are surely accessible for everyone, and will provide a memorable experience, whether walking or driving through.

Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Performance entertainment – you can enjoy the Gilbert Downtown Concert on April 26th, or the International Jazz Day Festival on April 18th at the Mesa Arts Center.
  • Sporting events – besides professional baseball, you might enjoy the all-girl Roller Derby Championship on April 21st, or the Glendale Family Bike Ride on April 22nd.
  • Nature events – in addition to all the available park experiences, a good idea to promote AZ health care for your senior loved one might include a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion at the Desert Botanical Garden.
  • Cultural – the ‘Embracing Your Journey Expo’ is held on April 22nd in Phoenix, and it’s all about holistic wellness, alternative health services, and other aspects of Arizona health care.


Opportunities in May

Before the heat of summer arrives, you can still take advantage of some May activities planned for the Phoenix area. Here is a sampling, which might include something that tickles your fancy:

  • Musical – on May 3rd, the Rancho Solano Prep School will do a presentation of the very popular musical ‘Grease’, a fun-filled recollection of a bygone era that just might appeal to your senior loved one.
  • Dance – on May 4th, the Pacifico Dance Company will be at the Chandler Center for the Arts to thrill audiences with their talent, grace, and imaginative choreography. If your favorite senior still enjoys some dancing of their own, you might enjoy East Coast Swing Night at the Fatcat Ballroom on May 29th.
  • Classics – a presentation of Victor Hugo’s famed Les Miserables will be staged on May 15th at the Gammage Auditorium.


Stay at Home Ideas

Of course, you don’t really have to venture out into the city or anywhere else to enjoy the delights of the spring season. Home health care can be very therapeutic just by volunteering to help your elderly loved one with spring garden preparation, choosing which plants and flowers to grow, and helping to get things established. After you’ve enjoyed some time outdoors, why not try something totally new inside as well? Discovering and preparing a brand new recipe can be a very satisfying way of spending some quality time with your senior, and celebrating the fresh beginnings of springtime.

Phoenix health care professionals have the same goals for seniors as do caregivers for private home health care – to keep them engaged, active, and physically and mentally fit. If you are looking for senior health care or home care in the Phoenix area, contact us today. We have home health care options that can be tailored to your needs and budget.


Inspirational Ways to Embrace Aging

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Probably most people have their own ideas about how to embrace aging, and how to enjoy those later years in life to the utmost, but there are a few thoughts on the subject that consistently appear, no matter whom you ask. Here are some of the most consistent themes about how to get the most out of aging and improve your overall health care.

Keep Active Physically

This is mentioned first, because it’s literally a foundation for almost every other aspect of growing old gracefully, while still participating in life at a high level. Regular exercise can maintain your flexibility and avoid the stiffness that would otherwise set in, and it certainly contributes to better health and maintaining a strong immune system. But there’s another aspect of exercise that’s just as important – how it makes you feel. Science tells us that regular exercise releases ‘feel good’ endorphins into the body, and causes a person to have a sustained sense of well-being, and that’s a great way to keep a strong daily attitude about life.

Share Your Story with Others

Anyone who has lived a half century or more has certainly got some stories to pass on – to youngsters in the family, to friends, and to other family members. Sharing your story can give you an immense sense of personal pride, because it relates to obstacles you’ve overcome, things you’ve achieved, or exciting moments that were inspirational. Recalling all these events and emotions can not only help you feel good about what you’ve done in your life, but it can be a great way of passing on to others the legacy of your lifetime.

Make a Difference

It’s never too late in life to take up a cause that is larger than ourselves, and has great purpose. You can inspire yourself and others as well by finding something that you truly believe in, and want to support by volunteering your time and efforts. Being involved in this way can give you a real sense of purpose, and it can provide you with daily goals and objectives to keep on achieving things. The fact that your efforts are aimed at making the world a better place is something that can literally lift your life above the ordinary, and make it something that you’ll feel good about the rest of your days.

Stay Socially Active

Sociologists have long been aware that withdrawal and social isolation leads to depression and a sense of disconnection from the rest of the world. By contrast, staying socially active and enjoying the company of others does just the opposite – it makes us feel like an important part of the world because we matter to someone else, or to many other people. Humans are meant to be social creatures, and when our lives lack that social aspect, there’s a big piece of ourselves that goes dormant and unfulfilled.

Establish Bonds

As an extension of staying socially active, it’s also important as an aging adult to establish and maintain at least one strong bond with another person. In some cases, a living spouse will satisfy this role, but when a spouse has passed on, that same role needs to be filled by another person, both for the support it provides, and for the feeling of being needed by another person. Those emotions in turn, can contribute strongly to a sense of inner peace, and contentment with the ongoing process of aging.

Taking care of an aging parent or loved one can be a stressful experience. But you do not have to endure it alone. We take senior health care very seriously, and as one of the top home health care companies Phoenix, you can rely on our expertise and professionalism for your health care needs. Contact us today to learn more.


How to Overcome the Winter Blues for Seniors and Caregivers

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Much of the U.S. has experienced severe weather this winter, and that has caused many seniors who are only partially ambulatory to be shut-in for long stretches of time. However, there are some steps which can be taken for both the elderly and their caregivers, to help beat the winter blues, and forget about what might be happening outside. Here are some home health care recommendations based on scientific findings, that will help to lift your spirits, and chase those blues away.

Brighten up the House

Even if you can’t conveniently get outside to soak up sunshine, you can certainly simulate the sunlight by finding ways to add lighting to your home. Keeping curtains open, having rooms brightly lit, and even sitting next to an artificial light source can all help to lift your spirits. People who live in Alaska routinely undergo six months of near darkness, and many of them overcome the shortage of lighting by taking some of these same steps to make up the difference. This tip can be applied in the home health care world.

Do More Exercise

Because at least 30 minutes a day of good exercise will cause anyone’s spirits to be lifted, it’s a good practice to try and include a half hour every day, if it’s at all possible. Some light aerobics will do the trick, or if you happen to have a treadmill, you can ‘walk’ for 30 minutes every day that you feel up to it. Vigorous exercise causes more endorphins to be released into the body, and these are responsible for the euphoric feeling we all get after a good workout.

Talk Therapy

Scientific research shows clearly that people who have the opportunity to talk to a partner regularly, receive much the same benefit that artificial lighting provides, i.e. it contributes to a sense of well-being and self-satisfaction. This can be especially effective if you have talk sessions where you limit your topics of conversation (and your partner’s) to only positive thoughts and ideas. This has the double effect of forcing you to think about what you’re going to say (keeping you mentally agile), and it creates an attitude of positivism that spills over into your daily routine.

Stay Socially Involved

When you are withdrawn and out of contact with people, that can quickly lead to anti-social attitudes and feelings of depression. On the other hand, if you force yourself to stay socially active, even when you don’t particularly want to, it can automatically kindle feelings of happiness and warmth with your friends or relatives.

Bring the Outdoors Inside

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. As an example, if you’re a person who enjoys summertime gardening, why not buy a plant or two for the inside, and spend some time each day nurturing your wintertime garden? If you’re a person who enjoys walks around the neighborhood or around the local mall, you might want to try going to a nearby fitness center where you can walk or jog laps around the facility. You might even have a local aquatic center where you can enjoy some fun time in the water to lift your spirits, and enjoy socializing with others who are doing the same.

The above tips can help AZ Home Health professionals make the winter months better for the seniors in their care. If you are looking for senior health care or home care in the Phoenix area, contact us today. We have home health care options that can be tailored to your needs and budget.

 


Celebrate National Hobby Month

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Hobbies can be a lot more than just time-filling activities that pass the day for you and your senior loved one. AZ Health Care professionals point out that having a hobby can be something that relieves a great deal of stress for the elderly person in your household, and can provide him/her with an outlet for self-expression that is both fulfilling and enjoyable.

Stress relief may not sound like a huge medical accomplishment, but as both medical experts and home health care professionals know, stress can be a killer and is something to be avoided if at all possible. Here are some ways that hobbies can be an important component of your senior loved one’s Phoenix home health care.

Participate in Sports

Of course, not all seniors are in condition to actively participate in sports activities like golf, swimming, jogging, or power walking. However, there are also lightweight versions of such activities that will provide nearly the same health benefits, such as dancing, gardening, and water aerobics. Free swim time in a pool can be an excellent activity for older people, because it relieves any stress on joints and still promotes good activity levels. Besides the exercise benefit, being active in sports can improve coordination and flexibility, and can even be socially fulfilling.

Become Involved as a Volunteer

The first thing that happens when you or your elderly loved one volunteers for any kind of community service is that you begin thinking about the welfare of others, and focus less on any problems you yourself might have. As an example, if your elderly loved one recently lost a spouse or a close friend, that could trigger an extended period of grief and withdrawal. One of the best ways to curtail this potentially damaging situation is to encourage your relative to become active in volunteering, and draw them out of self-pity and sadness. This is a great way to establish a real sense of purpose for your senior loved one, to give him/her a chance to show off their talents, and to feel good about themselves.

Artistic Pursuits

Many older people had some kind of hobby in their younger days that they were really good at, for instance sewing, painting, baking, or maybe even writing. Senior years are a great time for re-discovering those talents, because they can revive pleasant memories of those former talented times, and they can rekindle a sense of self-worth and personal ability. Even if your loved one had no such hobby as a youngster, it would be a great idea to start one and become really immersed in learning a new skill. This can literally provide endless hours of rewarding activity, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it can become a pretty exciting part of a senior’s life.

Caring for a Pet

All kinds of studies have been conducted and have confirmed the fact that caring for a pet produces increased levels of beneficial hormones in the caregiver, and elevates the sense of well-being as well. Being involved with the care of a cat, dog, or other domestic animal can lower stress and blood pressure levels, and can banish feelings of depression very effectively. Phoenix Health Care professionals encourage home caregivers everywhere to consider the possibility of providing your elderly loved one with a lovable pet that can literally change the life of a senior.


Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

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There’s no doubt about it – we’re right in the middle of the cold and flu season, and we still have weeks to go before the season fades away into springtime. Arizona health care professionals tell us that seniors and their caregivers are the most likely groups to be affected by the flu which is sweeping the country this winter – seniors because their immune systems are less robust, and caregivers because they are in close proximity to seniors every day. This being the case, here are some Phoenix home health care tips which should be observed to reduce the likelihood of contracting the flu, and perhaps lessening the severity of it when it does strike.

Keep the Home Germ-Free

Yes, this is impossible to do with 100% efficiency, but if you do your very best, that will eliminate much of the potential for disease. Here are a few important ways you can keep germs out of the living environment:

  • Wash frequently – you’d be surprised at how effective a simple act like washing your hands can be at killing germs. All it takes is some warm water and soap, and rubbing your hands together for 20 or 30 seconds. When you aren’t near soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer to accomplish the same thing.
  • Household cleaning – when you’re cleaning around the home, use disinfectant agents in the bathroom, kitchen, and other common areas, and give special attention to all those items, e.g. light switches, TV remotes, cellphones, door knobs, that are routinely touched or handled by seniors in the home.
  • Personal hygiene – make sure everyone in the household observes good hygienic practices when sneezing or coughing, so germs aren’t projected out into the environment. Also, it’s a good idea to minimize touching of the facial area with hands, because that has a huge potential for introducing germs into the eyes, mouth, nose, etc.

Keep Exercising

Don’t give up on exercise during the winter, because exercise is one of the best ways of maintaining a healthy immune system. If you have a senior loved one, try and get him/her to take at least a short walk as often as possible, or to get involved with an exercise program at some community center. Studies have shown that regular exercise can lower the risks of contracting colds and flu by as much as 33%, so this should be one of your most important ways of keeping healthy.

Avoid Crowds

Some of the places where germs are most rampant, and where you have far less control of any germs being spread, are in public places where large crowds of people can gather. Every time you go to a department store or grocery store, there’s a chance of being infected by some person you come in contact with, and that’s just simple math – at home, you only have family members that you’re in contact with, but in a store or other public place, you could literally be exposed to hundreds of people in a very short time.

This isn’t to suggest that you make your elderly loved one a shut-in during the winter season, but AZ Home Health professionals recommend limiting those outings to germ-ridden public settings until after flu season passes. You won’t be able to manage absolutely every possibility for removing exposure to colds and flu, but if you are vigilant about handling the precautions listed above, you’ll go a long way toward staying safe for the remainder of the season.


How exercise may help with slow Parkinson’s

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A new study published in JAMA Neurology this week has the potential to dramatically impact one aspect of senior health care: Parkinson’s disease. Clinical trials showed that those who have been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may be able to dramatically reduce its progression through strenuous treadmill exercise. Alternatively, less strenuous exercise for those who have Parkinson’s does not stop its progression.

Parkinson’s Disease and Its Challenges

Parkinson’s disease, a progressively degenerative neurological disease involving motor control problems, so exercise can be potentially dangerous. Though the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be controlled by medication, it is currently incurable, and the drugs used to manage the disease eventually lose their efficacy over time.

How exercise may help with slow Parkinson's

Because medications will ultimately fail patients, researchers have been looking for new solutions in symptom management, with exercise being one of the treatment options. What’s promising about these findings is that if Parkinson’s is caught early enough, and exercise is used as an intervention in Parkinson’s beginning stages, the disease may not only be slowed down significantly and delay the use of medication, but exercise may change the trajectory of the disease altogether, postponing the worst symptoms.

Studying Exercise as a Treatment Option in Clinical Trials

Researchers from institutions such as Northwestern University and the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus investigated whether exercise would be a viable treatment option for Parkinson’s. Although there were animal studies which have shown the results of exercise on Parkinson’s in rodents—a reduction in symptoms and a delay in physical deterioration—those results were not yet shown in humans.

Other forms of exercise and physical activity, including cycling, dancing, and boxing, may have shown promise to help those who are suffering from Parkinson’s, but the studies had inconsistent results as well as used multiple kinds of exercise instead of measuring and comparing specific exercises.

And that’s what this study did in a Phase II clinical trial, using exercise as a treatment in comparison to medication, measuring the efficacy and safety of exercise in different doses. In this study, the researchers recruited 128 women and men with Parkinson’s diagnoses within the last five years. No one had been exercising regularly nor had they been taking medication for Parkinson’s symptoms.

It’s worth noting that the study was not designed to show the effectiveness of intense exercise in comparison to moderate exercise. But what has been surmised from this study is that strenuous exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn slows brain deterioration and boosts overall brain health.

What’s needed now is Phase III clinical trials to test this hypothesis out. But while that study is being organized, a high-intensity exercise routine may be something for those who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed, consult with your physician first before embarking on any exercise routine.

If you are looking for senior health care or home care in the Phoenix area, contact us today. We have home health care options that can be tailored to your needs and budget.