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.