Preparing for a Safe Winter Season

Preparing for a Safe Winter Season

male senior working with physical therapist

After a lovely summer filled with pleasant weather, friends, and walks outside, the impending doom begins to set in; winter is coming. The demands of winter can be tougher and tougher as we age and as parts of us don’t work like they once did. Suddenly, the shoveling workout becomes a mountain of a task instead of an opportunity for exercise. Maybe you’re not moving around as much because the risk of falling is high or the tasks are too complicated.

If this sounds like you, our friendly advice is, don’t wait until you’re injured or sick to ask for help. If you wait too long, the support you might need could be beyond just a little. Untreated illnesses, injuries, and overall decline may compromise your independence.

Consider Home Health Services

If you’re like many people, you don’t want to leave home even if you need help in the winter, and it gets downright lonesome sometimes. If leaving home is hard, consider asking your doctor for a home health referral.

Home health can provide a registered nurse to monitor your vitals and medical conditions. They can help educate you on your medications and monitor you for any side effects that might go unnoticed over the winter if you don’t go out as much.

Maintain or Regain Strength

Physical or occupational therapy can come right to your home as well. Whether you need one or both, these can help you do range of motion exercises, strengthening, or balance-improving movements to help you maintain your independence.

Each therapy is designed to help you improve and maintain your strength and balance. They might also help you avoid falls. Did you know that someone 65 or over falls every second? That’s an important stat from the CDC.

Here is some additional info on falls:

  • 1 out of 4 older adults will fall each year.
  • 1 in 5 falls causes an injury like broken bones or a head injury.
  • Each year, 3 million older adults are seen in the emergency rooms after a fall-related injury.

Fall Prevention Tips

  • See your doctors—notice we said more than one doctor! See your primary care physician, optometrist, and hearing specialist. Be sure you’re on the proper medications and can see and hear your surroundings.
  • If you have clutter or risky throw rugs lying around your house, remove them.
  • Be sure your outside walkways are clear of snow and ice.
  • Take your time when walking. Falls happen quickly!
  • Ask your doctor if you need home monitoring of your medications by a registered nurse. If you live alone and manage chronic illnesses, you may not notice the side effects of meds or symptoms of your condition.
  • Use proper lighting. Keep a flashlight handy for those late-night trips to the bathroom, install a night light, or buy a smart bulb and ask Alexa to turn your light on.
  • Be aware of pets as you walk. Fluffy pups or clingy kitty cats can trip you up when you least expect it.
  • Wear supportive, nonslip footwear.
  • Get an emergency pendant system if you live alone and are concerned about an emergency or fall that could make getting to the phone difficult.
  • Go-go Gadget! Railings, grab bars, and hand-held showers can all be helpful—so can a shower bench. A home evaluation by a physical or occupational therapist could be a great way to get recommendations for the exact gadgets you need to be safe.
  • Consider taking classes on fall prevention. There are a variety of curriculums available across the United States. These can be easily found by an internet search such as “Fall prevention classes near me.”

If you’re concerned about old man winter causing a ruckus in your life this year, don’t wait. Find out if you qualify for home health services and if CaringEdge can help! Reach out to us at

Now That’s Hard to Swallow!

Now That’s Hard to Swallow!

image of female and female senior seated

One minute you’re in the backyard visiting with your neighbors over a picnic meal, and before you know it, a delicately prepared bite of steak has become stuck in your throat.  As you’re coughing, sweating, and panicking, it’s Heimlich’s miraculous maneuver to the rescue! If you’re fortunate, the maneuver works as intended, with no harm or foul, but choking can have more detrimental effects. The National Safety Council reported that in 2020, 3,000 choking deaths occurred, and nearly half of the victims were over age 74. Many things change with age, including the ability to swallow easily.

Because it’s Heimlich Maneuver Day, we also want to highlight a possible choking preventative: speech therapy. Unfortunately, speech therapy isn’t given proper credit. When many think of it, grade school may come to mind when it helps youngsters pronounce their /r/s correctly, but it’s far more than linguistics. Did you know it can also help with swallowing?

The same structures involved in speech and voice production are also part of the swallow mechanism. When muscles become deconditioned and weak, the risk of aspiration increases. Aspiration is when food or liquids enters the lungs. Aside from discomfort and a choking sensation, pneumonia can also be a severe complication of aspirating foods and beverages.

Signs of a Swallowing Impairment

Swallow studies are ordered by a medical doctor and completed in a hospital or clinic. During the study, participants may be asked to swallow various liquids. This can help to determine if there are significant problems with the muscles in their throat that contribute to swallowing. Participants may also undergo a scope evaluation that can show physicians the inside of the throat to find areas of weakness or structural deficiencies. After the assessment, doctors may recommend dietary changes such as thickened liquids, speech therapy, or surgical procedures to address the problem. If you or someone you love shows signs of swallowing impairment, seeking a medical evaluation promptly may help reduce the risk of unwanted complications like choking.

Additional Tips to Prevent Choking:

  • Eat appropriately sized food (cut into bite sizes)
  • Don’t speak or laugh while eating
  • Chew food carefully/adequately
  • Allow enough time for meals (avoid rushing the process)
  • Ensure dentures are properly fitted to reduce gaging
  • Provide water or a beverage to help wash the meal down safely

Dementia & Increased Choking Risks

Memory loss can cause someone to forget to chew at all or adequately before they swallow, leading to significant choking and aspiration problems. While a speech therapy evaluation to learn best practices for mealtime is ideal, check out the tips above and below to increase safety at mealtime for those suffering from dementia:

  • Calm, verbal reminders to chew and swallow
  • Comfortable, distraction-free environment
  • Supervision during the meal

If you’re seeking outpatient speech therapy or memory care services for your loved one, contact us at We offer a variety of support, such as adult day services and memory care, and many of our communities also offer on-site outpatient speech therapy services provided by CaringEdge to help.

Should I consider Reducing My Medications?

Should I consider Reducing My Medications?

As we get older, it’s not uncommon for the number of medications we take to increase. Worsening or new medical conditions may require additional prescriptions, and before long, we could be taking a handful of pills each morning and night.

Did you know that more than 40% of older Americans take 5 or more prescriptions? This is a statistic provided by the Lown Institute. They also reported that each day, 750 older Americans require hospitalization due to the side effects caused by taking multiple medications. These numbers are certainly eye-opening, which is why we wanted to offer some helpful education on why you may want to have a conversation with your doctor about your prescriptions.

Reasons to consider a medication reduction:

Medications may increase the risk of falling: As you age, your balance and coordination may be affected, and conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis can affect your strength, all of which increase your risk of falling. Some medications you’ve been prescribed may have listed side effects such as dizziness, vertigo, or drowsiness that may add to the problem.

Potentially dangerous interactions: More than likely, doctors will check medical records before prescribing a new drug to ensure that it won’t interact negatively with other medications you are taking. In some cases, one drug may negate the effects of another prescription, meaning that your high blood pressure medication may be ineffective.

Possibility of overdose: Seniors experiencing memory issues may forget they’ve already taken a dose of their prescriptions, which could cause them to accidentally overdose. If you live in an assisted living community, staff members may offer medication monitoring to avoid this situation.

Drugs may cause insomnia: For a variety of reasons, you may find that you have more trouble sleeping in your later years. This could be because of additional aches and pains but it could also be a side effect of one or more of your medications. If you begin to experience sleep issues, check the labels on your medications to find out all of the possible side effects.

Possible alternatives to medications:

In some cases, making lifestyle changes like eating better, losing weight, and introducing a regular exercise routine will negate the need for some drugs once you experience improvements to conditions such as blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.

If exercising or daily movement causes you extra pain, consider outpatient therapy. Outpatient therapies can offer education and help you make adjustments to the way you move and complete your activities of daily living. That may help you reduce your pain, which can in turn reduce your need for some pain medications.


If you’re interested in exploring how home health could help support you in your medication reduction plan, give us a call. Through CaringEdge, we offer in-home therapy services to help increase strength and potentially reduce some pain involved with the activities of daily living.


For more information, please contact us at, or call us at 1.877.651.5839.

4 Ways To Help Seniors With Arthritis

4 Ways To Help Seniors With Arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 52.5 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with arthritis or a similar chronic pain disease. As we get older, our joints and bones become more susceptible to these types of health conditions and they can have a big impact on our quality of life. Here are a few tips to help your loved ones manage the pain associated with arthritis:

Lend a hand:

There are many things your loved one may struggle with, like putting groceries into a basket or using a vacuum cleaner.

Offer to help them grocery shop once a week or consider using home-delivered grocery services. Meals on wheels can also be a possible solution if cooking is becoming too difficult.

Offer help with home cleaning or help them to explore home care service agencies that provide help with vacuuming and other home management tasks.

Encourage movement:

Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercising can be a very good thing for arthritis sufferers. When you move about, it loosens your muscles and lubricates your joints which can do wonders for easing pain. Your loved one may be hesitant to exercise because they are concerned about pain, but you can be at their side to be sure they don’t fall or have any other issues.

Talk with their doctor about the range of motion exercises that might be good to help their arthritis issues, or ask if they may qualify for outpatient therapy at home which Medicare may cover.

Monitor their medications:

If your loved one resides at home alone, check in with them to be sure they’re taking the medications as prescribed by their doctor. If the pain is too great, be sure they’re not overmedicating which can put them at risk for falls and other adverse health events.

Arthritis may cause pain and limitations to hand dexterity. If your loved one has difficulty opening bottles or retrieving the pills, find out if their pharmacy offers bubble packing for easy access. Or, ask their doctor if they can be referred to a home health agency. Home health agencies can offer support from a registered nurse, or “RN” to help them right at home by putting the medications into a planner.

Help them explore outpatient therapy:

Pain can make us move differently, or less. Pay close attention to how your loved one is moving. If they’re using objects around the house to brace themselves to transfer out of chairs, or if they’re grabbing onto things to brace themselves as they walk, physical and occupational therapy could help. Ask their doctor for a referral.

Physical and occupational therapies can help them adjust the way they move to avoid or reduce pain. Therapy can also help them evaluate what durable medical equipment could help them too. Walkers or canes may help them in moving about, making them safer and potentially reducing pain. Therapy can also recommend helpful gadgets like grabber sticks, hand-held showers, or sock aides to help them regain independence in completing important tasks.

Lastly, outpatient therapy could help their condition improve reducing your loved one’s need for outside assistance once they regain their capabilities.

If you’re interested in how home health or outpatient therapy could benefit your loved one to manage their arthritis pain at home, reach out to us at CaringEdge! Email us at, or call us at 1.877.651.5839.