October 18, 2018

Navigating Flu Season for Seniors

Filed under: Caregivers,Healthcare,Seniors Health — Tags: , — seniorlivingguide @ 10:16 am

By: Darleen Mahoney

As the hot days of summer fade away and the leaves begin to change and the weather gets crisp, the season of fall is most welcome. Fall is not the only season that arrives in October, but a most unwelcoming season arrives as well…. flu season. Flu season is most active between October thru May.  As this season is upon us, its important to be proactive in flu prevention, symptoms and treatment. The flu season seniors with the fluis not the only season you want to experience, but the one you want to avoid.

While a flu diagnosis is serious regardless of age, a flu diagnosis in Seniors carries greater risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that adults 65 and older are at greater risk of complications from the flu because they may have weakened immune systems. The CDC estimates that between 70%-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths and 54%-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in those over the age of 65.

A flu vaccine is the best option in flu prevention. It is recommended that Seniors and their caregivers receive the flu shot every year. The best time to get a flu shot is October thru November, so mark your calendars! The CDC reports that the flu vaccination may reduce the risk of getting the flu by 40-60%. The CDC recommends that even Seniors with weakened immune systems receive the vaccines, the vaccine can still protect against the illness and can weaken the flu strain if the immune suppressed Senior comes in contact with the flu virus.

Other ways to avoid getting the flu:

  • Washing hands and wrists/ Hand sanitizer when more convenient
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat healthy, boost immunity
  • Getting exercise-this could reduce your risk by a third
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth-this is how the germs enter the body
  • Sanitize your Mobile devices
  • Adding Vitamin C-Boost your immune system

The onset of flu symptoms can happen very quickly, some people developing symptoms one to four days after exposure to the virus. Seniors may develop the flu and their symptoms look very different than typical flu patients. Therefore, Seniors who have the flu are misdiagnosed or delayed in their diagnosis and therefore can progress into a more serious health problem. Most flu symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees, many Seniors with the flu do not have a fever, cough, or a sore throat.

Symptoms in a Senior may include:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • General discomfort, knowing something is clearly wrong
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Delirium
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that get better and then worse
  • Swollen mouth/throat

If you’re over the age of 65 and experience any of these symptoms, visit your physician right away to reduce the potential risk of a flu diagnosis. If you see your doctor within the first 48 hours, your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral medication. When taken at the onset of the flu, this medication can reduce the symptoms and the severity of your illness.

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October 11, 2018

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome

Filed under: Alzheimer's,Caregivers,Dementia — Tags: , , , , , — seniorlivingguide @ 11:07 am

By: Darleen Mahoney

You’ve heard the term Sundowners syndrome. Are you a caregiver or know someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s that has sundowning? It is a neurological phenomenon that exists with those suffering from a form of dementia or delirium. Sundowning understanding sundowningseems to be more frequent in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and mixed dementia.

What causes this syndrome is believed to be caused from the inner “body clock” of the brain that signals when you’re awake and when your asleep, this breaks down in people with Alzheimer’s. There may be specific triggers in your loved one, taking notes to understand these triggers is a good idea.

Factors that may aggravate Sundowners Syndrome:

  • Shadows and low light, causing fear
  • Separating dreams from reality
  • Infection, more commonly a UTI
  • Low Lighting
  • Unfamiliar environment

Sundowning isn’t a disease on its own, but it is a variety of behaviors that typically occur at a later time of day and may go into the night that affect people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with sundowners are confused, experience anxiety, ignore directions, and potentially show aggression. They may begin to pace or wander.

There are steps that you can take to help manage this challenging time of day as it seems the fading light is the trigger, but the symptoms can get worse throughout the night. As a caregiver, this can be frustrating and exhausting for you. The steps you take will help keep your loved one safe, but also help them reduce their Sundowners symptoms.

  • Have a regular daily routine
  • No smoking or alcohol use
  • Limit sweets and caffeine to the morning
  • Smaller meals at night, larger meals at lunchtime
  • Avoid late day naps

When it is time to go to sleep, take extra steps to provide a quiet relaxing environment:

  • Close curtains and blinds, shadows are a huge problem
  • Fix the room temperature to their liking
  • Keep the house quiet, noise can make them paranoid
    • Especially a visible television with the flashing lights and noise
  • Put on relaxing music

You may also consult with your loved one’s physician about Melatonin at night time and any other recommendations that they may have.

You have tried to keep your loved one that is experiencing Sundowners quiet and relaxed, but they are still getting up and they are confused, and you are unsure how to respond.

  • Do not argue with them
  • Tell them everything is OK, be reassuring
  • Let them get up and move around, just stay close to them making sure they are staying away from stairs and anything used to harm themselves
  • Remind them what time it is and that its nighttime or bedtime
  • DO NOT physically try to restrain from walking around
  • Above all….STAY CALM

You may want to consider purchasing a baby monitor to be aware when they are getting up in the middle of the night.

As a caregiver with a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s it’s such an emotional, physical, and time-consuming journey that Sundowner’s is just another piece of a puzzle to this disease that will never truly fit together and make any sense to most caregivers. Taking take to take care of yourself will only make you a better caregiver for your loved one, there is help in the form of support groups in your local areas and The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center offers support as well. Its also important to get away and have time for yourself, its important to have a well trusted Home Health provider that allows you time away to decompress and refocus so that you can be a better caregiver.

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September 6, 2018

Meal Planning For Seniors: Tips and Tricks!

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
  • Fiber
  • Potassium

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
  • Variety
  • Taste

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

Elder Abuse: Live with Dignity and Security

Filed under: Elder Abuse,Seniors Health — Tags: , — seniorlivingguide @ 11:04 am

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
  • Humiliation
  • Blaming
  • Ignoring
  • Isolating
  • Terrorizing

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 Stop Elder Abusecaregiver. 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

Advice for Seniors Looking to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Filed under: Seniors Health — Tags: , — seniorlivingguide @ 12:24 pm

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.

Warm bath

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. Sleep for SeniorsThat 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.

Winding down

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.

Avoid napping

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.

Exercise

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

Making Lifelong Friendships in Retirement

Filed under: Seniors Health — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 9:54 am

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 Making lifelong friendships in retirementknow 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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