How Seniors Can Prepare for Emergencies

Hurricane Florence is making the news as the first major hurricane of the 2018 season. Its winds have been battering North Carolina all Thursday, and devastating storm surges and destructive winds are expected when it makes landfall early this morning.

Here in New Jersey our forecast is much calmer for the next few days, but make no mistake: hurricane season has arrived.

While the Southern portion of the East Coast tends to bear the brunt of these fierce storms, New Jersey has not been untouched in the past few years. Hurricane Sandy, of course, was the most destructive hurricane ever recorded in New Jersey, and some communities are still recovering now, 6 years later.

Several other hurricanes and tropical storms in the last few years have swept past our state, leaving damage and power outages in their wakes.

New Jersey has a large percentage of seniors, the most vulnerable population in a hurricane or any other extreme weather event. Today we’ll cover some important safety tips for seniors during hurricane season.

Stay Informed

The biggest cause of weather-related injuries and deaths is ignorance. Seniors who live alone and do not know a weather event is coming can be in serious danger. If your elderly loved one lives alone, make sure they’re aware of the weather forecast.

In any case of extreme weather, check on your elderly neighbors or loved ones in advance to make sure they’re prepared.

Seniors should keep their radio tuned to local weather stations so they can check the weather daily.

Switch Your Benefits to Direct Deposit

This is a good idea in general for seniors. Letting your Social Security benefit check come in the mail can put your put money at risk of theft. And after extreme weather, your mail service can be disrupted for days or weeks. To avoid any delays that can cause you to fall behind on paying your bills, you can choose to have your benefits deposited directly into your checking account, or onto a prepaid debit card. Call (800) 333-1795 to set it up.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Seniors should keep enough emergency supplies in their home to last at least three days. Here are some things to stockpile in a safe, accessible place:

  • Bottled water—one gallon per person per day, for at least three days. You can use this for both drinking and sanitation, if necessary.
  • Non-perishable food, for three days. Tuna, canned vegetables, crackers, and beef jerky are all good options. Make sure to include a can opener!
  • A week’s supply of all prescription medications or treatments you currently take, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra blankets or sweaters, in case the power goes when it’s cold out
  • Copies of all your important documents—family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, social security numbers, credit card and bank information, and tax records. Keep these documents in a waterproof case, along with the names and numbers of your loved ones and doctors.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, if necessary
  • Enough colostomy bags, incontinence supplies, hearing aid batteries, etc. to last a week
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
  • Pet supplies, if applicable

Make a Plan

Your emergency plan will depend on your circumstances, the amount of family you have in the area, and how mobile you are. In some cases, you may decide to ride out the storm at a relative’s house or other place where you can get help.

If you receive regular household help, or you travel to a hospital or clinic for regular treatment such as dialysis, speak with your care providers about how you can continue to receive the care you need should the roads be impassable.

For families who are worried about how their elderly loved ones would manage in a weather-related crisis, it may be time to consider moving them to a long-term care home. At long-term care facilities like Regency Nursing, we have detailed emergency plans in place for all scenarios.

Whether its hurricanes or winter storms, we make sure our residents and staff stay safe and sound throughout the incident.

Bruising in the Elderly: Causes and Prevention

If you suddenly see bruises on your elderly mom’s skin and she can’t tell you where they came from, don’t assume the worst. It’s actually quite normal for elderly people—especially women—to have unexplained bruises. The goal is to minimize their occurrence and treat them if they are especially severe.

How Bruises Form

When you sustain an injury, it may damage your small blood vessels beneath the skin without actually breaking the skin. The blood vessel can burst, leaking blood into the surrounding tissue. But the blood has nowhere to go, since your skin is still whole. It pools under the skin, causing discoloration and sometimes swelling.

Then the blood clotting action kicks in, and the bruise gradually heals itself. In the meantime, its colors wane from red to purplish-black, to green or yellow-brown, until the bruise disappears completely after about two weeks. The area feels tender at the beginning, but the pain fades together with the bruise.

Seniors bruise more easily because their skin is much thinner and less flexible. The blood vessels also become more fragile with age, making them more likely to burst from an injury. In addition, wounds heal more slowly as we age, so bad bruises will hang around longer.

Causes of Elderly Bruising

1. Mild Trauma

Bruises can come from some kind of blow to the body. Falling is one common way to sustain bruises. But if your parent is sure they didn’t fall, it’s equally likely the bruise came from bumping into something or knocking against a piece of furniture. Since seniors bruise much more easily, it was likely just a minor bang and they already forgot about it.

If they recently had a blood test or IV, the needle could have caused bruising as well. Whenever trauma is the cause of the bruise, or if you’re not sure where the bruise came from, apply ice and raise the area above the heart if possible.

2. Medications

Seniors who take medications such as blood thinners, aspirin, corticosteroids, or chemotherapy can develop bruising as a side effect. If your parent or loved one is taking one of these treatments and suddenly develops bruises, speak to their doctor about adjusting the dose. Changing the medication may also help reduce or eliminate bruising.

3. Actinic Purpura

This kind of bruising doesn’t come from impact. Actinic purpura comes from years of sun exposure. Too much sun weakens the blood vessel walls and eventually causes them to burst. The bruises this condition causes often look like large, purplish freckles. They show up clearly on aging skin, and may alarm you at first. In most cases, actinic purpura is harmless and does not need treatment. However, you should mention them at your parent’s next medical appointment so the doctor can check them out just in case.

4. Vitamin Deficiency

Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can cause bruising. Among these are vitamin C, vitamin D, and folate. Speak with your loved one’s doctor about adding vitamin supplements to their diet.

5. Serious illness

Significant bruising may point to health issues such as leukemia or other blood diseases. Liver disease can also cause bruising, since it’s the liver that’s responsible for producing blood-clotting factors.

How to Prevent Elderly Bruising

You can’t prevent all bruises, but you can take some steps to lower your parent’s chances of injuring themselves.

First, make sure their surroundings are safe. If your mom is a resident in a skilled nursing facility, she’s in a safe environment with care professionals always nearby to keep a close eye on her. But if she’s at home alone, she’s at higher risk of sustaining injuries, including bruises.

Make sure your parent’s room is lit with a nightlight, so if they get out of bed at night they can avoid bumping into things. Follow fall prevention guidelines, as outlined in our blog post How To Prevent Senior Falls . 

 

Meet Beverly, Director of Nursing at Regency Park

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence Nightingale was the pioneer of nursing as we know it, and has become the gold standard for nurses everywhere. Every year on her birthday, we celebrate International Nurses Day—a day to fete our amazing and dedicated nurses.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we spoke with Beverly, our beloved Director of Nursing at Regency Park, to get her take on nursing, long term care, and what she loves about being part of the Regency family.

Beverly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

photo of Beverly Sevilleno
Beverly Sevilleno, RN DON

I obtained my  Bachelor’s Degree of Nursing from the Universidad de Sta. Isabel, and became a registered nurse in the Philippines in 1994.  In 2004 I became certified here in the US, and licensed to practice in the states of New Jersey and New York.  I joined the Regency Grande as a night shift nurse in 2005, and was promoted to assistant to the Director of Nursing in 2007.  After two years of being ADON, I  transferred to my current position at Regency Park.

I’m also a devoted wife to my husband of 21 years, and mother to two exceptionally wonderful children ages 18 and 12

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Growing up in the Philippines, I knew I would fulfill my mother’s dream for me to become a nurse,  so I could go abroad and explore greener pastures. But looking back now, I can say that it was always my calling and destiny to be a nurse. Relatives who needed care always came to me, and even back then I found I had the heart and passion for it.

The first job I got when I arrived here was in long-term care. Over the years I’ve come to embrace and love it. Being in  a long-term care setting requires patience and diligence, which best fit my personality. I can now say this has become my passion and calling.

So you’ve been a nurse for nearly 20 years. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field in that time?

Yes, I have been in nursing since year 2000.  The biggest change I observed over the years was how computerization has taken such a vital role in patient care .The transition from pen and paper to electronic medical records is just one example.

Regency is at the cutting edge of healthcare technology, enabling us to provide the best possible care for our residents. What does a typical day look like for you?

Aside from my administrative routines, on a normal day I solve the daily issues and concerns that come up. I also like to be proactive rather than reactive in my approach to nursing concerns. One thing I’ve ensured as DON is that the shift nurses take the time for personal interaction with the residents. Our nurses have a full schedule: dispensing medications, providing treatments, following up with the doctors, and completing paperwork. On top of that, they also make time to build relationships with our residents.

That’s incredible! In your opinion, what’s the most important quality of a good nurse?

The most important quality of a good nurse is service before self. To be available when needed, and to have the ability to give of yourself to provide that care. Nursing at that level is very fulfilling, because you know you’re part of the patient’s healing process.

What’s the best way for residents and their families to show appreciation to their nurses?

Appreciation is earned. As a nurse, the best is always expected from us, in terms of giving care and service. We feel appreciated when our residents and their families are satisfied and happy. Simple, sincere words of appreciation go a long way.

That’s so true, Beverly. What do you like best about being the DON at Regency Park?

Being a DON gives me satisfaction and pride.  I find mentoring others fulfilling. Also, extending and realizing  Regency’s vision and objective of providing excellent care, “Where Care Comes to Life,” actualizes my calling as a nurse.

Thanks for giving us this insight into nursing, Beverly. We appreciate your devotion to the Regency Park family. Happy Nurses Week!

Regency Nursing Excels in Key Areas, According To Study

This past April 11, there was a webinar hosted by the American HealthCare association, whereby they identified seven elements which are common to the experience of every satisfied nursing facility customer.

The webinar leaders Stan and Chris Magleby (founder and CEO of Pinnacle quality insight) are no strangers to surveys, having conducted over 500,000 customer satisfaction phone surveys since 1996.

Their findings lend further credence to the growing stellar reputation of the Regency Nursing & Rehab facilities in New Jersey, as being amongst the finest skilled care providers in the country.

The seven identified elements are as follows:

  1. Treat everyone with importance. This encompasses everything from knowing a patient and/or resident’s name, to being genuinely interested in their care plan and welfare. At Regency Nursing facilities in New Jersey, we take exceptional pride in our unsurpassed commitment to the welfare of our patients and residents and we are on a first name basis with every one of them and their extended families.
  2. Explain what you will do, are doing, what you did and what you expect to do. Be proactive about involving the patient in his or her care plan. This includes everything from a Certified Nurse Assistant explaining why she is leaving a pitcher of water in the room, to explaining the more esoteric nuances of the patient’s Medicare coverage benefits.
  3. Exceed expectations. It’s no longer enough to be “good,” Magelby says. Consumers expect to get good care in a clean facility with good food. “We are looking for wow moments,” which can be a “long process of consistent behavior,” he says.
  4. Lose wait. Don’t keep people waiting long for call buttons to be answered, food to be delivered to their table, rooms to be prepared for admission, or phone inquiries to be picked up.
  5. Make lemonade from lemons. When negative things happen, look for the silver lining and the inevitable lessons to be learned and transform those experiences into something positive.
  6. Bragging right. Do not promote what you cannot deliver upon, but be extremely proud to highlight that which you excel in. At Regency Nursing & Rehab facilities, we are always proud to point to our many varied accomplishments, but we never rest upon our laurels and always seek to grow in new areas and tackle new frontiers.
  7. Invest in employees. Respect their need for the knowledge necessary to do their job, respect their feelings, respect their desire to have an impact and respect their workspace and time. At Regency Nursing & Rehab facilities, our employees are our biggest asset and we treat each and every one of them with the highest level of respect and appreciation for their work. The level of trust and support which we impart to our employee’s, is manifest and evident in the huge degree of motivation and compassion which they bring to their work. In the final analysis, the biggest beneficiaries of this exceptional dynamic are the patients and residents themselves.