September 6, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Nutrition is important at any stage of life, but seniors even more so as their nutritional needs change. Maintaining a well-balanced diet is necessary for health, overall wellbeing, and vitality. Many seniors may suffer from physical health issues, dementia, Alzheimer’s, mood, and/or diabetes. Many of these can be improved with daily nutrition.
Many older adults lack basic vitamins that are especially important to aging bodies:
- Calcium and Vitamin D-needed for bone health, as we age less calcium is absorbed
- Vitamin B12
Pro-active planning for nutritional and delicious meals for a senior may seem like a lot of work on the front end but in the long run may take away the stress of making a variety of meals every night that should to be healthy and nutritious. Seniors need to eat on a schedule, they are very routine oriented especially if there is any cognitive decline. Routines for those suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s can improve their day to day moods and irritability.
While the idea of meal planning may seem daunting, check out these positives:
- Saves Time (all meals completed in one day)
- Saves Money
While a meal of broiled chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice is healthy, you probably won’t have too may asking for seconds. Most Seniors are going to opt for a tasty dish over a healthy dish, they also have diminished olfactory senses with impacts seniors interest in food. In other words, if it doesn’t tickle their taste buds, they will be significantly less inclined to eat a meal.
Now, I mentioned that meal planning can save time. This you will find interesting and requires organization in the beginning. This can be accomplished by utilizing a few cookbooks that are tried and true with recipes that are delicious, healthy and time saving. They must also be easy to follow and uncomplicated. Once you have chosen your cookbooks, code your recipes with colored stickies by which ones are around 20 minutes prep time and protein/vegetable. Develop a meal planning sheet or utilize a Google Meal Planning Doc for 3-4 weeks of meals. Once these have been completed, you can reuse them ongoing week after week. Keeping in mind that a variety is as important as taste, rotating a schedule for example: Chicken, Fish, Beef, Fish, Chicken, Vegetarian, Fish to ensure 3 out of 7 days of fish and only one beef day.
How does meal planning save money? How many times do you “run” to the grocery store? If you are planning ahead with less trips to the grocery store, you are saving money. For example: if you “run” to the grocery store to pick up a lemon for a recipe, do you ever just come home with a lemon?
If you are thinking that this all sounds amazing, but time is truly not on your side. There are other options to consider in food delivery services specializing in the dietary needs of senior adults and more generic health or whole foods centric that offer meal delivery right to your front door. These services may be found online by doing some your research.
As a Senior may transition over from an aging in place environment and meal planning is no longer an option; nutrition, healthy eating, and tasty food should still be an important factor in considering any type of Senior community or Assisted Living. So, taking into consideration the Senior community or facilities dietary offerings is as important as any other amenities. When you begin your research, visit us online at SeniorLivingGuide.com to check out the different menus, Chef’s, and dining options available at Senior communities at any location where you may want to make your next reservation. Bon Appetit!
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August 30, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
The elder abuse epidemic that continues to climb in this country is rarely addressed but is alarming. In the United States, more than a half a million elder abuse are reported while its estimated that millions more go unreported. Understanding the many faces of what elder abuse look like are the best forms of education on prevention. The more informed you are, the more you can do to protect yourself. Elder abuse is actual physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. These can be caused by neglect, abandonment, or isolation. Elder abuse is also found in identity theft and/or taking advantage of an elderly person financially.
The emotional treatment or psychological pain of older adults includes:
- Yelling and Screaming through intimidation
Elder abuse can truly happen to anyone and the abuser could be a friend, family member, caregiver or a stranger. Many times, emotional abuse is conducted by the caregiver. For many caregivers a support system should be in place to help avoid this type of scenario.
Seniors that can be more vulnerable to elder abuse are one’s that live alone. If you live alone, do not isolate yourself and continue to be social with your family and friends. Get involved in your church, local community events, volunteering or senior centers. Keeping your mind sharp and being physically fit will help make you less of a target and vulnerable to elder abuse as well.
The most reported form of elder abuse is financial. You must limit the amount of information that you share with people, including on social media and personal information that you are filling out online. When you receive your bank and credit card statements, review them carefully to make sure that they are correct. Do not just throw documents in the trash, make sure that you shred all your important documents that have any personal information on them; including social security numbers, banking numbers, and any other personal information.
Everyone deserves to live in safety, security with respect and dignity. If you suspect that a senior or elderly person is at risk from neglect or is being abused, or preyed upon financially, speak up. To report abuse, many states have Elder Abuse hotlines or call your local law enforcement. Learn more about signs, prevention and how you can help educate and those abused at elderabuse.org .
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August 21, 2018
Courtesy of Hazel Bridges
If you’ve ever laughed because your grandparents or elderly parents eat dinner at 4:30 p.m. so they can be in bed by 8:00 p.m., you may be unaware that physiological changes brought on by age may cause older adults to sleep less and on a different schedule than they used to. They may be up several times a night and sleep a lot during the day, but experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep each night regardless of age.
If insomnia or some other cause of sleep deprivation is at fault, it needs to be addressed with strategies aimed at making it easier to get to sleep. There are many tips for improving your ability to sleep, and often the simplest ones are the most effective.
A good soak in a warm bath can help lower your body temperature and heart rate enough to make you feel sleepy. It’s a relaxing, soothing way to wind down as bedtime approaches, and scented bath salts can help augment the effect. It’s worth a try, especially if you’re used to pacing the floor and watching late-night television for hours on end.
Create a good sleep space
Setting up a proper sleep environment is essential for improving your night’s rest. That means keeping the bedroom dark, cool (about 72 degrees), and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains if light from outside is a problem, or turning on a source of white noise, such as a phone app or a floor fan, to create a constant source of masking sound so the neighbor’s dog or passing motorcycles don’t jar you awake. Establish your bed as a place for sleeping only and try not to go to bed until you feel tired.
Seniors who suffer from sleep deprivation often make the mistake of getting in bed whether they’re tired or not. Avoid vigorous physical activity an hour or two before bedtime and turn off all electronic devices, including the computer and television, at least an hour before going to bed. Winding down is about easing your mind and getting ready for sleep. Reading a book and listening to soothing music or a CD with sounds from nature can sometimes help overcome insomnia.
The more you sleep during the day, the harder it may be to nod off at night and get the REM sleep your body needs. While napping is something many seniors enjoy during the golden years, don’t let it wreak havoc on your sleep. However, you should avoid taking stimulants during the day to stay awake if you’re used to napping, as they can affect your sleep at night as well. If necessary, establish a sleep routine in which you go to bed earlier than usual each night.
Avoid food and alcohol at night
It can be hard to sleep when your body is digesting, so avoid eating a meal or heavy snacks close to bedtime. Alcohol can also have an unsettling effect at night time and produce repeated trips to the bathroom. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking a lot of water before going to bed.
Regular physical activity which increases your heart rate and metabolism will work to your advantage at bedtime. Walking, jogging, bicycling, or yoga can work your muscles and limbs enough to create a natural and healthy fatigue by bedtime, and are all safe and low-impact forms of exercise that are perfect for seniors. Avoid any such activity within three hours of going to bed so that you have time to come wind down and relax.
Sleep testing and Medicare
Sleep studies help doctors identify disorders and fashion treatment strategies for patients with chronic sleep problems. Such testing measures information while you sleep that can help in fashioning a diagnosis. Medicare may pay for “medically necessary” testing for seniors, while Medicare Part B may cover tests and devices ordered by a doctor to diagnose sleep apnea. Medicare may also cover a three-month trial for CPAP therapy.
Finding a way to get the sleep you need can be as simple as getting more exercise, or it could involve medical testing and a diagnosis requiring specialized treatment. In either event, it’s worth getting restful sleep that helps keep your body healthy and your mind sharp.
Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com.
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July 27, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Its happening, you are making the move from your family home and familiar neighborhood and friends to a retirement community, either active or assisted living. You have worked very hard to make sure that you are making wise decisions and you know what you want or need in the place you will be moving. You know that one of the main ingredients that you need for yourself is to continue to be as active and social as possible. You know that you need to make new friends in your new living environment, as this is important to you. The good news is that it’s very possible.
For older adults, new environments and living spaces, new routines and new faces can be reason enough to become isolated from people and things that they enjoy, become lonely and feel depressed.
It’s important to acknowledge this as a possibility before making the move. Planning ahead to make an effort to meet and interact with the other residents is important prior to the move. Look at the calendar of events and outings. Go ahead and sign up for activities and clubs. Keep your commitments!
There are also other ways to meet new friends daily that share the same common interests. Check out the following:
- Hobby focused groups
- Book Clubs
- Watch TV with groups vs. privately
- Run errands with groups-Ex: grocery store
- Support Groups-Ex: emotional, medical
If your community offers welcoming events for new residents, attend the event! Each new resident needs the same love and support that you did when you first arrived. If you don’t feel that you had a welcoming environment, be the one that makes the change! You never know who you are going to meet. You don’t want to miss out!
Be informed of what resources that you have at your disposal and take advantage of them. If you have a special interest and its not available, find out if you can start a new group.
If you feel like you are taking these steps on your own and you’re still struggling to make friends, confide in a caregiver to see if they can provide a solution. If you prefer, confide in a family member or someone that you feel comfortable talking about your struggle seeking their advice.
Actively taking steps to make new friends can be exhilarating and stressful at the same time. Maintaining healthy friendships in retirement is good for your mental and emotional health. It can help with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Be happy and find your new found lifelong friendships in retirement!
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July 16, 2018
Courtesy of Janet Campbell
When you’re tending seniors, you want to provide the best possible care to ensure the best quality of life. In order to be effective and efficient it can help to create a checklist, whether mentally or physically, of the areas you should discuss on a daily basis. Follow these important guidelines to ensure you’re covering the crucial aspects of your senior’s care and making the most of home health care visits.
Sleep. As we grow older, getting sufficient sleep is an area in which many seniors struggle. It’s also an area that can have ramifications in other parts of life, contributing to a variety of mental and physical health concerns. According to The Guardian lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, reduced ability to focus, poor memory and a shorter life span.
For seniors, the concerns are even more far-reaching, with some studies showing poor sleep quality contributing to dementia, depression and the decline of other mental faculties. These together can be a slippery slope. With health concerns mounting, some feeding each other such as obesity contributing to sleep apnea and heart disease, depression can then worsen, sleep can worsen and a vicious circle can quickly develop.
There are many ways to encourage better sleep quality. One idea is to establish a bedtime routine including a warm, relaxing bath to help unwind. Sunlight can help trigger healthy body rhythms, so spending time in the outdoors during the day can also be a boon. Physical activity can also help seniors sleep, so long as they avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime. Also offer an appropriate sleep environment, free of noise and lights. Seniors should have a comfortable bed that alleviates pain as well. For those who wake up groggy or achy, consider upgrading to a new mattress better suited for an aging body’s needs. It is best to replace your mattress every seven to eight years to get a good night’s sleep. If you dream of reducing the number of times you toss and turn each night, refer to this guide to choose a comfortable mattress.
Diet. Meeting a senior’s nutritional needs is another key way to enhance quality of life. As we age the body’s metabolism gradually slows, and as some experts point out this can mean less calories burned. Seniors should opt for foods that are nutritionally dense instead of consuming empty calories. The diet should be tapered down according to need, rather than adding the nutrient-dense choices.
The diet choices should be simple, satisfying and nutritious. Plates should be half-filled with fruits and vegetables, and whole grains should be the source of at least half of the grain choices. Whole grains include foods such as brown rice, whole grain cereals and whole grain breads. Seniors should avoid consuming excessive amounts of sodium. The diet should include healthy fat sources such as nuts, avocados, vegetable fats and fatty fish. Protein sources should include eggs, chicken, fish, beans and nuts.
Exercise. Getting sufficient exercise is another key component in maintaining good quality of life for seniors. OnHealth explains loss of muscle mass associated with aging contributes to the metabolic decline in seniors. Staying fit helps keep muscles and bones strong, helps maintain a healthy weight, and helps maintain or restore balance. Seniors who stay active can reduce their risk for health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression, obesity and back pain. A senior fitness program can enhance flexibility, memory function and improve mood as well.
Seniors can begin exercising at any age but should discuss a new exercise program with their physicians. Scheduling sessions can help stay on track, and celebrating progress can be an encouragement. Seniors should include aerobic, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises in their regimen. Gentle chair yoga is a good option for many seniors new to exercise.
Easing a worried heart. Has your senior been fixated or overly worried about life lately? Chatting lightly can begin loosening up a senior who has become wound too tight about the ups and downs of life. First and foremost you must listen – most folks benefit from a sympathetic ear even if their listener doesn’t give them a solution to their problem. But if there are recurring issues then you could begin gently guiding them to take some action towards acceptance, no matter how small it might be. It could be as simple as some advance planning for the inevitable, or volunteering part time.
Better health, better life. Helping a senior maintain a good quality of life is paramount. Check off these three things when visiting seniors: Ensure seniors get sufficient sleep, enjoy a healthy diet and participate in an exercise program. Make the most of home visits with these simple guidelines.
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July 5, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Adult Day Care facilities (ADC) are vastly different than any other community than what we have covered in our Senior Housing “Be in The Senior Housing Know” series. The adult senior does not live at the facility but will spend time during the day. It is a professionally managed environment that typically provides senior adults with dementia, or other mental or physical disabilities care. The benefit of an ADC is the option to allow these senior adults to age in place. The facility provides activities during the day while providing a safe and secure place to go. The aging adult is provided with medical care, daily social interaction, meals, cognitive stimulation and in some instances, transportation to the center. Respite Care, providing caregivers to take a break from responsibilities, is also a service that many Adult Day Care Centers provide. The ratio of staff/senior is reported as 1-6 by the NADSA.
One of the most important aspects that Adult Day Care Centers offers a Senior with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is cognitive stimulation. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, 75-90 percent offers these types of services to their senior adults.
Different programs may include:
- Card games
- Board games
- Creative projects (quilting/puzzles)
- Memory training
- Educational programs
- Book clubs
- Current event discussion groups
As the efforts of many organizations continue to recognize the importance of helping people to “age in place”, the social aspects that can be achieved in an Adult Day Care environment can be a major piece of that puzzle for these adults who are physically and mentally challenged who would like to remain at home. As Adult Day Care Centers are growing, the certifications and licenses required are different state by state. Here is the breakdown to be considered:
- 26 States require licenses only
- 10 States require certifications only
- 4 States require both licenses and certifications
- 11 States do not require either licenses or certifications
What is a Certification? The adult day program has been approved by the Department of Human Services by the standards set. Licensing varies state by state depending on their requirements and level of care. States without certification or a license, are generally publicly funded and have official agreements with state agencies.
Before choosing any Adult Day Care Service, visit the facility, talk to the adults there and see how they enjoy their day and what they do with their time. It never hurts to ask for references from caregivers that can provide feedback. For an extensive one stop shop to help you choose a ADS right for you or a loved one, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com’s Adult Day Care section, click on your state and area for an extensive selection of different Adult Day Care options in your area, visit their website and their locations before making a final decision.
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May 31, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
As the rate of Alzheimer’s Disease increases and we seem to be on the brink of a cure or treatment. It still seems all too futuristic to those in the here and now fighting for loved ones with the disease.
As the idea that there may be a cure around the corner lingers, the disease is still growing in numbers and being aware of the signs at home in order to get treatment as early detection are keys to potentially living more independently longer, subsiding the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes the slow decline of memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Let’s review basic warning signs. These signs may be experienced differently by each person to varying degrees.
- Memory loss – One might forget recent information like dates or events. Asking the same questions over and over. Using things like post it notes, reminder notes, electronic devices, or even family to remember things they used to remember on their own.
- Problem Solving – One might have problems developing and following a plan or working with numbers. They may start forgetting to pay monthly bills, work electronics like phones, stoves, and remotes, etc. that were everyday routine devices.
- Losing Track of Times and Dates – One might start losing track of dates and time. They may start forgetting how they got somewhere or even where they are.
- Visual Changes – Some Alzheimer’s patients have experiences changes in vision with judging distance, color, and depth perception. These are problematic to those who may still be driving.
- Problems with Speech – One might have trouble following or joining a conversation, they may stop in the middle of a conversation or have no idea how to continue, repeating themselves. They struggle with their words and sometimes are unable to find the right words, calling things by the wrong names at times.
- Misplacing Things – One might start putting things in odd places, losing things, and unable to recall steps to find them. Some may accuse others of stealing those things. This may start occurring more frequently as they may appear to be paranoid.
- Poor Judgment – One may start having poor decision-making and changes in their judgment. They may not be able to deal with money, giving large amounts away or handling it improperly. This makes them more vulnerable to people who may want to take advantage. They may start bathing less and not taking care of their hygiene.
- Withdraws from Family, Social, and Work – One might begin removing themselves from their social activities, hobbies, projects, and even their own family. They start avoiding these situations because of the changes that they are experiencing.
- Mood Changes – The mood and the personality of someone with Alzheimer’s changes as they become confused and become experiencing depression, fear, and anxiety in their daily lives. They are no longer able to find a “comfort zone”.
Clearly, many of these signs can be normal in aging adults. Recognizing multiple and ongoing signs in someone you love should not be ignored, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
There is treatment available with early detection, relief of the symptoms and will help them maintain a level of independence longer.
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April 25, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Typically, as people age and it becomes increasingly clear that they are unable to care for themselves, their adult children are left to decide on how to care for them and what those next steps look like, especially for those whose parents are living alone.
You may notice that Dad is forgetting where the car keys are or he is misplacing his phone. Maybe he is not as interested in social interaction with family and more resigned to spending time alone. You recognize that these are signs that he should not be living alone. You find yourself saying to your siblings and family members, “What are we going to do about Dad?”. You know that you need to look at the different options available. You may opt to move them in with a capable family member, choose a home care provider, or move him into a senior living community.
To help make these decisions and form a plan that works for everyone, it can be helpful to have a family meeting with your siblings, other relatives, and/or friends. The family meeting should begin by working out any conflicting care option opinions. Ideally, you will be able to compromise and end with a plan. If you do not feel the meeting will be generally agreeable and emotions have the potential to run high, you can involve a social worker, a family counselor, or a mutually agreed upon mediator to help ensure that the meeting is successful.
As these options are weighed, a clear vision of what success looks like is very important. Consider their mental and physical conditions and how they may progress and the kind of care and assistance they will require in the future. Benefiting your parents’ well-being and health, while maintaining a peaceful and balanced family life should be considered the primary objective.
If you choose to move your family member into your home, please be aware that there are some considerations to make before committing to this role, including a large amount of time. You need to take be honest with yourself and your other family members. Make sure you fully understand the commitment and demands of caring for an aging person and ask yourself if you have the ability to take those on. There will be disruption in your life and relationships, frustration, and a large amount of additional stress that you will be adding to your home.
You may want to look into options of in-home providers, they provide a myriad of services that can be very helpful and free up your time while providing different social interaction for your parent. Understanding the pros and cons – such as how comfortable your family member will need to be with their in-home provider – should be considered before relying on them for specific tasks.
Caring for an aging parent and making decisions regarding their on-going care can be overwhelming. Take the time to consider all of your options, use your support system as a resource, and keep your parents’ best interests at heart – you will find a care option that works for everyone.
http://dailycaring.com/7-things-you-must-do-when-hiring-an-in-home-caregiver/ -Tips for Hiring In Home Care Provider
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February 12, 2018
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By: Darleen Mahoney
I could review the statistics of heart disease in America and the surprising fact that women are more prone to die from heart disease than men or that it is the leading cause of death over cancer. Yes, that’s right! Cancer!
“In the United States, 1 in 4 women dies from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease (CHD)—the most common type of heart disease—is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States”. (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-disease-women).
At the end of the day, the important facts that we need to know are how to help prevent heart disease in our everyday lives and the signs that we may be in “trouble” and need to seek medical attention.
Preventing heart disease can be challenging for those who are conditioned to living an unhealthy lifestyle based on their choices of food, alcohol, exercise, etc. Getting healthy doesn’t happen overnight and must become a way of living, not a short-term solution to a medical issue.
Healthy living choices to help prevent heart disease include:
● Eat healthy.
● Get active.
● Stay at a healthy weight.
● Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
● Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
● If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
● Manage stress.
Have you ever been surprised to hear that someone who was “perfectly healthy” died of a heart attack? The people close to that person said, “he was never diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, we all thought he was perfectly healthy. Who knew?” Everyone is shocked when this happens. This is because someone might not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until he or she has a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or angina. Therefore, watching for heart disease symptoms prior to a heart event is critical.
According to Mayo Clinic, (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118), symptoms in men and women can be different. Men will more likely have chest pain, while women may experience chest pain/discomfort along with shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue.
Other symptoms may include:
● Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
● Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
There are also various other symptoms for different types of heart disease:
● abnormal heartbeats (heart arrhythmia’s)
● heart muscle (dilated cardiomyopathy)
● valvular heart disease
● heart infections
In a nutshell, all these different types of heart disease have 3 symptoms in common and they are your keys to knowing that you need to seek medical attention right away. They are chest pains, shortness of breath, and fainting.
Heart disease can be treated more proactively when treated early on. Contacting your doctor to discuss your heart health concerns is being proactive in a longer, happier, healthier heart and life.
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