Aging & Aphasia

aging-aphasiaYou know the feeling, when you’re in the middle of a sentence and you just can’t think of the right word? It’s there somewhere; in fact, you may even make the comment that “it’s right at the tip of your tongue…” This is a very mild form of what some seniors experience on a regular basis.

When the loss of words, or the inability to retrieve words, begins to hinder a person’s conversations and daily routines on a regular basis, it is called aphasia.

Aphasia is Often a Symptom of Aging and Age-Related Conditions

Aphasia is a common symptom, and often a “primary” symptom of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related conditions. In addition to word loss, your aging relative or friend may notice they are more prone to getting lost, feeling confused, forgetting to pay bills or neglecting to recognize birthdays and special days that were once priorities on their calendar. These may indicate something more serious is at work.

There are several situations or conditions that can cause aphasia. These include:

  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Medications or changes in medication doses
  • Dehydration
  • Strokes
  • Hearing loss
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease (medically referred to as “amytrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS))
  • Parkinson’s disease

In many cases, the ability to speak disappears long before the ability to understand. As a result, the onset of aphasia can be extremely frustrating and frightening for seniors. This is especially true if they are treated like they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, when in fact they still have many of their mental faculties intact.

For this reason, it’s important to schedule an appointment with the senior’s primary healthcare provider as soon as you notice aphasia has become an issue.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment ASAP if Seniors Have Difficulty Communicating.

Note: if the onset of aphasia seems extremely sudden, it could be that your loved one or client is having a stroke. In this case, it’s always better to call 9-1-1 or take the individual immediately to an ER. Often, a stroke caught early can be stopped in its tracks, before it causes more debilitating side effects. Please read, Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke, for more information about that topic.

Otherwise, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with the senior’s caregiver to identify the cause of the issue. In some cases, something as simple as drinking more water or taking an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection (UTI) may be the solution. Seniors are extremely vulnerable to dehydration as well as asymptomatic UTIs, both of which can cause dementia-like symptoms.

Other times, a new medication, combination of medications or a change in dosage can be enough to trigger mild or more moderate aphasia. Once the right prescription balance is restored, the aphasia may begin to resolve and normal language function will be restored.

If a more serious medication condition, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease is the cause, early detection is important in prolonging the progression of the disease. We are learning a great deal about how diet, lifestyle and activity levels help or harm a person’s long-term prognosis. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications work best at the disease’s onset rather than later on.

In the case of Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, there are non-verbal therapies – like art or music therapy – that can help the individual find their community as well as involve other parts of the brain to help them become more functional when areas in charge of language or cognition become more faulty. Learning about adult day care options, community gardening opportunities and other outlets can help to keep the senior more involved in the community so they don’t feel so isolated.

The senior’s healthcare provider will be able to provide a full physical assessment, and may also schedule more tests to determine the aphasia’s cause and to provide options and suggestions regarding treatment, therapy and/or lifestyle changes.

If it turns out that the aphasia is, indeed, caused by a progressive condition, this is the time to begin discussing long-term care options and what those options look like. Please feel free to contact us here at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about in-home and independent living options, or to schedule a free in-home consultation. There is never any obligation.

Common Skin Conditions that Affect the Elderly

common-skin-conditions-that-affect-the-elderlyTaking care of skin is a lifelong endeavor, but it should be a particular focus for seniors and their caregivers. As we age, the collagen in our skin is diminished, as is our protective layer of fat. This leads to thinner and less durable skin. Years of sun exposure takes its toll, as can the side effects of certain medications or dehydration. Even the sheer act of laying down or sitting too much in one position can cause serious skin discomfort and even open wounds.

Here are some of the most common skin conditions that affect the elderly, as well as how you can help to prevent them, treat them and/or provide some relief:

Dry and/or Itchy Skin

Not only will the skin feel dry and itchy for the senior, caregivers may notice patches of white, scaly or rougher skin – most notably on the arms and legs. Dry skin can be caused by a range of triggers, including dehydration, a dry interior climate, drinking and/or smoking, excess sun exposure, using soaps and body care products with fragrance.

  • You can relieve dry skin by:
  • Applying a fragrance-free lotion, targeted for dry or extra-dry skin
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • Minimizing sun exposure
  • Using a humidifier indoors
  • Taking cooler baths/showers (hot water contributes to dry skin)
  • Using mild soaps, shampoos and body washes

If dry skin becomes a problem, it’s worth having a conversation with the senior’s doctor to determine if there is something more going on, like a skin allergy or a reaction to a particular medication.

Bruising

Thin skin means greater vulnerability to bruising. Ouch! Even a simple knock against a table edge or counter corner can leave a frightening bruise behind. Also, older people take longer to heal, so bruises can seem to last an inordinately long time. While there isn’t anything that can be done, shy of keeping vulnerable areas clothed as an extra layer of padding, it is worth checking in with the doctor if bruising seems excessive or if the senior can’t remember how the bruises were formed.

Age Spots

Age spots, also called “liver spots” are larger than freckles, and appear as large, flat brown spots on the skin’s surface. Since they are actually caused by sun exposure, age spots are typically found on the head, face, hands/arms and legs. They can’t be treated, and shouldn’t cause any pain or discomfort, but the use of a gently sunscreen can prevent more age spots from developing

Skin Tags

Skin tags are a type of raised, flesh-colored mole that can sometimes grow quite pendulous. Women are more prone to developing skin tags than men, due to hormone differences, but anyone can get them. Skin tags are typically found on the eyelids and neck, as well as the folds of the body – the armpits, underneath the breasts, in the groin, etc. While usually painless, the tags can become irritated – especially if they are raised and get caught by clothing, nails or jewelry. If particular skin tags cause discomfort, they can be easily removed by a doctor or dermatologist.

Skin Cancer

One of the most common types of cancer, skin cancer is usually nothing to worry about – as long as it is caught soon enough. It’s a good idea to check the entire body once a month so you get used to the various moles and freckle formations found on the skin’s surface.

By performing a visual inspection each month, you’ll be more likely to notice if any of the moles change. You should also schedule an annual appointment with a doctor or dermatologist for a professional once-over.

Use your ABCDE’s when evaluating moles:

  1. Asymmetrical borders – one half of the mole looks different than the other half.
  2. Borders that seem irregular.
  3. Color changes or more than one color, make a note if a mole seems to be darkening or changing colors from the last time you checked it.
  4. Diameter – the diameter of moles should be no bigger than a pencil eraser.
  5. Evolving – if the mole seems to be changing in terms of shape, color, size, pain or tenderness, from flat to raised, etc., it should be examined

If you notice any of these ABCDEs, schedule an appointment with the doctor.

Does your senior loved one live alone? Is your parent or grandparent unable to take care of themselves the way they used to? Consider taking advantage of in-home senior healthcare. Even a visit or two a week can be enough to ensure that your loved one is safe, healthy and happy.

Contact HomeAide Homecare to learn more about our services or to schedule an in-home consultation.

Making Seniors Feel Wanted, Needed and Loved

making-seniors-feel-wanted-needed-and-loved

While a senior citizen’s body may seem to change – silver hair, wrinkled skin and changes in mobility, for example – their hearts and desires are the same as anyone else’s: seniors want to feel loved, wanted and needed.

The problem is that some of those aforementioned physical changes can leave them feeling depressed, isolated and alone. As spouses and peers pass away or move to various retirement homes, seniors lose their social networks. When elderly adults relinquish their car keys, they surrender their independence and their ability to get out and about in the community. If they succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it becomes harder for family and friends to enjoy their company, which often translates to reduced visits and outings.

Even so, there are things you can do to make senior family members feel needed and valued. Here are some suggestions:

Get them volunteering. There is great benefit in being of service to others, and this is a benefit that many seniors lack once they lose their independence. In fact, when a senior requires in-home care or lives in an assisted living community, it can feel like they’re always “taking” rather than “giving,” and that is crushing to the ego and an individual’s sense of self-worth.

Look for opportunities for you and your senior family members to work together in acts of service. Is there a soup kitchen looking for volunteers? Does a local homeless shelter need someone to make and serve coffee in the mornings? Perhaps a local orphanage or children’s home could use someone to hold the babies or read to the older children. If you have the time, volunteer with your senior loved one. If not, see if different members of your family can take turns volunteering once a week or once a month. It’s a two-for-one benefit – more time with your loved one as well as a chance to give back to your community.

To start, visit HandsOn Bay Area or The Volunteer Center of the East Bay to explore possibilities in and around the Bay Area. You can also contact local churches and non-profits to see if they need extra hands or hearts.

Inspire Involvement in Local Clubs. Working adults have all kinds of plans for when they retire. However, the retirement years aren’t always as free as one may have imagined them to be. Then, as the social calendar clears and children/grandchildren get older – each day can feel like a void without any way to fill up the empty hours. This is where local clubs can be of assistance.

Ask senior loved ones about any prior or current hobbies and then find a local club or chapter that matches. Perhaps your grandmother used to love ballet, now she can enjoy a local ballroom dance group. Maybe your parents used to play bridge with neighbors; odds are there is a local bridge club looking for members and on-call extras. Seniors who love music may enjoy singing in a community choir or volunteering for the local orchestra or choir for their concerts and performances, while avid gardeners may enjoy volunteering in a community garden project. Joining a club helps to provide a sense of purpose and provide seniors with a sense of responsibility, “I can’t miss bridge on Tuesday, I’d let my partner (or the foursome) down…”.

Make Use of Their Skill Sets. Most seniors were taught skills that are “dying out” in our more disposable culture. Things like darning socks, mending clothes, knitting, refinishing, cooking homemade meals from scratch, basic woodworking and repairing – all of these are going by the wayside. However, as much as our culture has a reputation for purchasing disposable goods – it is becoming increasingly focused on reusing, recycling and repurposing.

This makes for a perfect opportunity for children and grandchildren to learn from their elders. In addition to acquiring important, basic life skills – a mix of generations makes for a synergistic experience – talking, sharing stories, hearing different perspectives and providing mutual love and support to one another.

Have you noticed a senior loved one is feeling a bit down, depressed or lonely lately? Is a parent or grandparent looking fragile than usual? Contact HomeAide Health Care and we’ll be happy to provide an in-home assessment. It might be that a little extra companionship or weekly transportation to social events and groups will help to renew their inner spark.

Arranging Breaks From Family Caregiving

arranging-breaks-from-family-caregiving

Caregivers spend the majority of their time ensuring that someone else’s needs are taken care of on a 24/7 basis. This includes things like researching disease prevention and treatments, learning to identify the signs of depression in seniors or how to prepare meals that are both tasty and nutritious. Caregivers schedule and observe their loved one’s medical, dental and vision appointments and make sure prescriptions are filled on time.

The question quickly becomes, “Who is taking care of the caregiver?”

Respite Care Ensures the Caregivers Needs Are Taken Care of Too

Here at HomeAide Home Care, we specialize in home healthcare services for the senior population. While our team of licensed caregivers work both full- or part-time, we’re often hired to provide respite care services for spouses or family members who do the lion’s share of caregiving for senior loved one.

The irony is that many of the same symptoms full-time caregivers work to alleviate in their “patients,” wind up becoming their own symptoms if they aren’t careful. According to the Office of Women’s Health, the stress associated with caregiving can compromise a caregiver’s health.

Caregiver stress and/or burnout contribute to:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • A weakened immune system
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Obesity
  • Higher risk of chronic diseases
  • Short-term memory loss and difficulty paying attention

If you are a caregiver and any of these symptoms resonate with you, it’s a sign you need a break.

Ideas For Getting a Break From Family Caregiving

The first step is to be willing to admit you need help. Another irony about caregiving is that full-time caregivers unknowingly become micro-managers (also known as “control freaks). They start to think that their way is the best way, and that nobody else can take care of their loved one as well as they do.

While the latter may be true, it’s equally true that plenty of people are willing, able and more than qualified to take very good care of your loved one. It’s also a fact that your continued stress and burnout diminishes your caregiving ability, and then where will your loved one be? Therefore, take a deep breath and accept the fact that you could use a little help.

Contact a local senior or adult day care. Most communities have some type of adult and/or senior day care communities designed to help people just like you. In addition to providing safe, knowledgeable care for seniors and those with memory disorders, adult day care services also include things like healthy meals, fun and varied activities, exercise programs, games and so on. They can allow you to take a day off, take care of your own medical and self-care appointments or even get a part-time job so your life can achieve a sense of balance again. Visit Bay Area Community Services to learn more about adult day care programs here in the Bay Area.

Send out an email. So often, friends and loved ones say, “If there is anything I can do, just call…,” but nobody ever calls, and the well-meaning individual goes on with their life. Now’s the time to send out a mass email, or pick up the phone yourself, and get the word out that you would like a few hours off here and there. You may be surprised who responds, eager to spend some time with their loved one too, or to express their thanks to you by relieving you of your duties. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Take advantage of respite care services. Almost any home health service offers respite care as a part of their services menu. These licensed caregivers can be hired for a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks at a time. Ideally, caregivers should take advantage of respite care services on a weekly basis. If that isn’t possible, use them for weekends here and there so you don’t miss out on important family events, or hire them for a couple weeks so you can still take a restful summer vacation.

One of the benefits of hiring respite care services is that most in-home care providers offer a free consultation and in-home assessment, which can be a valuable resource for you and your family.

Are you feeling the pressure of the caregiver’s daily grind? Contact HomeAide Home Care so we can help you strike a healthier balance.

Seniors and Allergy Season

seniors-and-allergy-season

The return of spring is a welcome change of seasons. Increased sunlight and warmer weather provides us all with more opportunities to be outside. This is particularly important for seniors, for whom bed- and chair-bound winters can lead to stiffness, rapid loss of muscle tone and a lack of energy.

Of course, there is always a balance in life, so we trade all that rosy sunshine and an abundance seasonal allergies for a healthy dose of pollen and other allergens. What is typically a minor nuisance to the young and healthy can be a bit more threatening for the senior population.

Tips to Help Seniors Survive This Year’s Allergy Season

For one thing, seniors often have pre-existing medical conditions that make it more difficult for them to cope with the respiratory problems that accompany allergies. Also, senior immune systems are often weaker than those of their younger counterparts, which can result in more intense allergy symptoms and discomforts and can also make seniors more prone to new allergies.

Signs of seasonal allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy and/or watery eyes
  • Itchy and/or sore throats
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Congestion

Often, seniors are wary of accepting they have allergies because they’ve, “never had them before…” However the experts say that adult-onset allergies are on the rise, so any senior experiencing these symptoms for the first time should schedule a visit to the doctor.

Please Be Advised: DO NOT purchase over-the-counter allergy medications for seniors unless you have been advised to do so by their doctor. Seniors are more sensitive to the negative side-effects of antihistamines, the active ingredient in most allergy medications.

There are several things you can do to help seniors weather the spring allergy storm.

  1. Schedule a visit to the doctor. Do schedule a visit with the doctor if it’s the first time a senior has experienced allergies to make sure you choose an allergy medication that works well with any other prescriptions they’re currently taking.
  2. Avoid over-the-counter medications. One of the most important reasons to go to the doctor, rather than the pharmacy, is that traditional over-the-counter allergy medications contain antihistamines. Not only can these cause seniors to become drowsy, foggy, forgetful and confused, they can also cause mood swings and dangerous interactions with other prescription medications. Often, doctors will prescribe nasal steroid sprays or other medications to assist with allergy symptoms.
  3. Check pollen counts. Look at local weather forecasts and schedule outdoor activities for days when the pollen count is lower.
  4. Wear protective clothing and gear. Wearing sunglasses, long sleeves, pants and a mask can protect sensitive seniors from excess pollen and airborne allergens. Once seniors are back inside, have them change clothes and wash their hands. Outdoor clothes should be placed directly in the washing machine. This will help to eliminate the transfer of allergens to the inside of the home.
  5. Change HVAC air filters. Sometimes, the level of dust mites, pollen and dander inside the home are higher in concentration than those outside. This is because once allergens make their way in, they can have a hard time getting back out. Schedule an HVAC tune-up this time and year and have the technician replace the filters while he’s at it. Old HVAC ducts may need to be cleaned. Air filters are very affordable so, during allergy season, it may be worth it to change them every month to maintain healthy indoor air quality.
  6. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Some foods, like white, refined sugars, processed carbohydrates (like crackers and many snack foods), saturated fats and aspartame (a common sugar-free sweetener) actually increase inflammation in the body. Increased inflammation leads to a hyper-active immune system, and that will lead to more severe allergenic responses. A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet can reduce allergy symptoms as well as other conditions linked to inflammation such as arthritis. Focus on eating whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and minimal amounts of processed foods.

Feel like your senior loved one needs a little extra care this season? Contact HomeAide Home Care. We can provide any level of home-based senior care you need, whether it be weekly check-ins and errand running to full-time or respite care services.

Tips for Helping Seniors with Spring Cleaning

tips-for-helping-seniors-with-spring-cleaning

Spring cleaning is hard enough when you’re young and able; the task is even harder when you throw a senior body in the mix. Not only does it become more difficult – or downright dangerous – to bend over, reach into far corners of lower cabinets or to access light fixtures or upper shelving – poor eyesight and reduced stamina make it impossible to do a thorough job.

That being said, cleaning and organizing is important for senior health and well-being. A dirty house is unsanitary and can become a health hazard for seniors. Cluttered rooms and floors are trip hazards and plenty of studies show that a clean, organized space is associated with a brighter and more content mental outlook.

The following tips will help you and your senior loved one to get spring-cleaning done in record time:

  1. Create a schedule. In most cases, a thorough spring-cleaning can’t happen in a day or two, or even a single week. Help seniors create a realistic schedule – tackling one thing at a time. Maybe there will be one schedule for the senior – listing one manageable task per day – and one for the helper(s) – including the more difficult or dangerous tasks. If the senior is able, have him or her create the list of what needs to be done so they have some degree of autonomy. Then the rest of you can divvy it up accordingly as a team.
  2. Recruit friends and family. Spread the deeper cleaning and organizing chores up over a series of weekends, and recruit family and close friends to help out. This is a fun way for seniors to get to visit with people they haven’t seen in a while and gives the visitors a way to feel needed and useful. In four weeks, eight weekend days, you can get a house into ship-shape order – outside and in. An added bonus: having loved ones visit on a regular basis is a key component to preventing loneliness and depression, two common states of mind for seniors.
  3. Evaluate senior safety. Use the spring-cleaning experience as a way to assess how the senior is getting around on his/her own, and how the home could be made a little more senior-friendly. Eliminate trip hazards, increase safety lighting, install grab bars in the bath/shower and at the toilet area. Change batteries in smoke and CO detectors. Rearrange cabinets so items that are used most often are placed in the most accessible locations.
  4. Hire a professional. This may be a good time to looking to senior home care options. If seniors are no longer able to clean their own home, a home healthcare provider can do it for them. They can also help with grocery store and errand runs, driving, laundry, meal preparations and other tasks that become more tiring and difficult to manage in the senior years. As a senior’s physical and/or mental health deteriorates, those services can be extended, without requiring a move.
  5. Figurative Spring-cleaning. Tax time is the perfect time to do a figurative form of spring-cleaning, taking stock of the financial, medical and legal picture. If you haven’t done so already, consider bringing up the subject of Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directives, estate or trust plans as well as preferred long-term care plans to get everyone prepared – and on the same page – should the senior be unexpectedly incapacitated by a sudden illness, stroke or the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Things are much less complicated for everyone involved if these items are put into place well before they are actually needed. You can also schedule important annual wellness visits, including a visit with the General Practitioner, the dentist and the optometrist.

With the return of spring comes the return of the light. Your willingness to help out with your loved one’s spring-cleaning will certainly be a ray of light in the senior’s eyes. Need a little assistance with cleaning and organizing this year? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and we can schedule a free consultation.

Making Any Home Senior Friendly

making-any-home-senior-friendly

Creating a safe environment is one of the most important steps in helping seniors to age place. Typically, this involves things like being proactive in terms of fall prevention, moving seniors from an upstairs bedroom to a first-floor room and making the home as accessible as possible for mobility aids.

However, unless a senior is bedbound, odds are they are spending time in your home or the homes of close friends and family members in addition to their own. In this case, it’s important that all homes are as senior friendly as possible. In fact, this tenet is becoming so widespread that many contractors and remodeling professionals are advocating “livable” home designs – interior designs that are safe and accessible for all.

If you happen to be planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel, talk to the design-build team about accessible or universal design changes that will adapt your kitchen for seniors, children or adults with mobility aids. In addition to making your home safer for senior friends and relatives, you also benefit from a safer and more occupant-friendly environment as well as wider resale appeal.

Things to consider include:

Minimal stairs and easy-access-entryways. Even the slightest of injuries, like a sprained ankle, can make it tricky to navigate stairs. So, imagine what it’s like when you are weaker, suffer from arthritis or have to use a cane or walker on a regular basis. Stairs are in impossibility for those in a wheelchair. For these reasons, accessible homes include at least one, single-level entryway or a gently-sloped ramp so access in and out of the home is both safe and comfortable.

Wider doorways and hallways. Again, mobility aids make it challenging to navigate narrow hallways and doorways. Even access around dining room tables, kitchen islands, perimeter countertops, and living room furniture can be a problem. When arranging furniture or designing permanent features, try to keep a width of at least 32-inches between objects so individuals with walkers, crutches or wheelchairs can maneuver without a struggle.

Slip-free floors. Here’s another area where livable designs make for all-around safer homes. Hard surface flooring can be dangerous for adults and children if they aren’t made using slip-proof materials. This is especially true for kitchens and bathrooms, where wet floors are more common. That being said, hard-surfaces and low-profile carpets are the easiest for the elderly and those with mobility aids to navigate, so be thoughtful of that when choosing flooring surfaces.

Downstairs bedrooms. Even if stairs aren’t impossible to navigate, they can exacerbate latent physical issues – like arthritic knees and hips, weaker muscles or equilibrium challenges. Stairs also make for a much more dangerous fall if seniors lose their balance. If at all possible, senior guests should have access to a downstairs bedroom, even if that means temporarily converting a den, office or child’s room into a guest room.

Re-organize cabinet spaces. If a senior will be staying with you for more than a day or two, or if a senior relative will be moving in, you may need to re-organize your cabinets. Keep everyday dishware, mugs and cooking utensils in easy-to-reach places. Typically, this includes the upper-shelving in bottom cabinets and lower-shelving in the upper-cabinets. The same goes for the bathroom. The ideas is to eliminate as bending/crouching- or requiring a step stool – as much as possible. If you’ are considering a remodel, look into cabinetry with pull-out shelving, which makes storage even more convenient.

Need help making your home more senior-friendly? Consider a consultation with HomeAide Health Care. Our consultations are always free and we’ll leave you with tips and recommendations on simple changes that will make your home more safe and accessible for all of its occupants.

Helpful Tips on Cooking for Seniors

helpful-tips-on-cooking-for-seniors

Nutrition is such a critical part of senior health. Eating the right foods and staying hydrated decrease the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimers, keeps seniors strong so they are less prone to falls and helps elderly adults remain active.

Cooking healthy meals for seniors is a single step that leads to multiple, long-term benefits.

Things to Consider When Cooking for Seniors

Even so, there are things you need to take into consideration when you prepare meals for seniors. Their dietary restrictions may prevent common ingredients like butter and high-fat meats. They may have a sensitivity to acid as the result of medications they are taking, and so on. First, be aware of any dietary restrictions by speaking with the senior’s doctor.

Then, use the following tips to create delicious, healthy meals:

  1. Skip the salt. Most seniors are on some type of salt restriction so paying attention to sodium content is key. Use low-sodium products whenever possible and then beef up the flavor by adding white wine, lemon juice, vinegar and other acids that can replace the need for salt.
  2. Make it easy to chew. Even if seniors have their own teeth, it chewing and swallowing is more difficult once we’re older. Swap out some of the traditional “meat and potatoes” meals for stews, soups or braised versions, which are softer in texture and easier to chew and digest. Using fresh, moist ingredients also keeps food from being tough. Invest in a slow cooker cookbook, or check out slow-cooking websites for great recipe ideas. Dishes made in the slow cooker typically cut down on kitchen labor and you can make freezable leftovers to boot – so it’s a win-win.
  3. Look into a cooking class. There are cooking classes and other programs geared to senior health. Check with your local senior center to see if they know of anything in your area. They may also have cooking classes or short tutorials aimed directly at seniors, focusing on low-maintenance meals they can put together without a whole lot of standing or food prep.
  4. Learn about smart substitutions. There are some pretty smart substitutions you can make in order to cut down on fat and cholesterol. Once example is to use a can of white beans or boiled, diced potato that can be pureed and used as a substitute for cream in soups. Adding canned beans – like white beans or pinto beans – to soups is also great, zero-fat, zero-cholesterol way to boost protein content. Try swapping equal parts applesauce for oil in any baking recipe.
  5. Let them choose. Do you remember going to the cafeteria at your high school or university? The good news was that you didn’t have to cook; the bad news was that you didn’t have a choice in the food selection. Give seniors some autonomy by letting them choose recipes from a favorite cookbook or cooking-oriented magazine. Then make sure you incorporate the recipes they choose in with your weekly menu plans.
  6. Use whole-wheat whenever possible. The benefits of whole-wheat are incontrovertible. They are higher in protein and fiber, both of which are better for seniors. They are also lower in carbs, which makes them better for seniors who are pre-diabetic or who have diabetes. Look for whole-wheat pastas, tortillas and breads and get rid of the white stuff.
  7. Ask them about their favorite childhood food memories. So many dishes from the past have been sort of lost along the way. Sometimes, this is for health reasons. Other times it’s simply the result of a shift in food trends. Ask your senior clients or loved ones what their favorite foods were as a child and then try to prepare them. Make healthy substitutions wherever you can, but remember that once in a while, it’s okay to splurge.

Are you concerned your senior loved ones aren’t eating nutritious meals? Does your busy lifestyle make it difficult to keep track of what is being eaten and what isn’t?

That’s what HomeAide Home Care is here for. We have an entire team devoted to providing compassionate senior care, right in the comfort of their home. This includes meal planning and preparation. Contact Us to learn more.

Helping Elderly Relatives Stay Independent

helping-elderly-relatives-stay-independent

While our culture celebrates the wisdom of our elders, their wisdom is often negated when they wind up feeling more like a child as the result of physical deficiencies or the loss of their independence. This loss of mobility, ability, friends and loved ones and a sense of autonomy often leads to depression, loneliness and anxiety. And, who wants their loved ones to feel that?

Independent Elders Are Happier Elders

So, the trick becomes coming up with health and safety-oriented changes that continue to foster a sense of autonomy and empowerment.

Here are five ways to help your senior loved ones remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.

  1. Let them stay at home. Unless the senior is voluntarily moving to a retirement or assisted living facility, trying to force their hand is a dangerous game. Take into consideration that the National Institute on Aging states, There is No Place Like Home – For Growing Old. Facilitating a safe way for seniors to age in place is one of the most cost-effective and emotionally rewarding things you can do for parents, grandparents and other seniors. According to Financial Advisor Magazine home-based care is more affordable than both nursing home and assisted living facility options.
  2. Create a safe living environment. Fall prevention is essential for a healthy senior life. Diminished vision, brittle bones and lack of balance are a recipe for trip-and-fall disasters, many of which lead to expensive and debilitating surgeries. If seniors live in a multi-story home, move their bedroom to the first floor so their life revolves around a safe, single level.
  3. Keep them mobile. As we age, balance becomes more of an issue. Eyesight and hearing start to diminish diminish along with muscle mass and bone density. Regular exercise is instrumental for keeping seniors fit, active and as physically strong as possible. Studies also show that it is good for overall mental and emotional well-being. Senior centers, yoga studios and local gyms offer fitness programs and classes tailored to seniors. Visit these places with your loved one to find the right fit. Also, research and invest in the right mobility aid(s) before they are absolutely essential. The more familiar and comfortable a senior is with a cane, walker or other form of aid, the easier it will be to implement it into their life when needed.
  4. Invest in pre-made meals. Preparing and cooking food is no easy feat and the lack of good meals takes a disastrous toll on a senior’s physical and cognitive health. There are several options for seniors who no longer want to cook. Meal delivery services, like Schwans, offer door to door service, providing a wide range of tasty foods, meals and desserts that are flash frozen and easily prepared. You can order food online to be delivered anywhere in the county. Meals on Wheels is another option, which delivers prepared foods once a day to the senior’s door. In-home care providers often offer meal preparation as a part of their service menu and this is a good way to have a homecare provider get their foot in the door – providing meals, light cleaning, transportation and so on, setting the stage for when more regular care and assistance might be required.
  5. Provide transportation. One of the greatest losses of independence occurs when a senior can no longer drive. For many, this is the beginning of a home-bound life that shouldn’t be! From transportation offered by local senior centers to public buses and dial-a-ride services, there are plenty of options. Again, many in-home care providers offer transportation as a service and a friendly caregiver can be scheduled as many times a week as senior clients like, ensuring they don’t miss out on favorite games, hobbies, movies, church services, restaurants and other social events.

Is it time to make a few changes that will establish a greater sense of independence in your elderly loved one’s life? Schedule a FREE in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided all manner of in-home caregiving services for Bay Area senior clients for almost two decades.

Minimizing Loneliness During the Holidays

minimizing-loneliness-during-the-holidays

The holidays can bring a mixed-bag of emotions for any of us, but they can be especially bitter-sweet for the elderly. Memories of times-gone-by are often layered with sadness and loneliness because so many of the individuals present in those memories are no longer alive or live far away.

Tips For Preventing Seniors Holiday Season Loneliness

One of the greatest gifts you can give your senior loved-ones this time of year is the gift of attention. There are all kinds of ways – both big and small – that you can make a difference and minimize elderly loneliness during the holidays.

  1. Help to plan their social calendar. There are myriad of free and very low-cost events taking place around the holiday season – yet many seniors are cut off from them because they no longer drive, or perhaps they don’t like to drive at night, when many of these activities take place. Look online and search for holiday events where your loved one lives. If you can’t take them yourself, consider enlisting the help of other friends or relatives who can volunteer a few hours to help. Many local senior centers and communities offer low-cost shuttling services. You can also use a companion service, hiring professional caregivers to transport them to and from the event, keep them company while they’re attending and ensure they’re comfortable.
  2. Make contact more often. Since this time of year is known to exacerbate senior stress, loneliness and depression, this is a good time to add another day of the week to visit or call. If you typically stop by on Sundays, maybe you could add a Wednesday dinner or special dessert to the mix. Or, if you call every Saturday morning, try calling again on Monday or Tuesday to check in. The added attention and connection can do wonders.
  3. Be present to their grief. Your grandmother isn’t the only one mourning the loss of your grandfather. Odds are you, your mother or father and the children miss him too. Sometimes, seniors feel guilty sharing their grief or sadness – especially if the loss is many years ago, because they want this to be a happy time of year for you. However, if you open the topic up for conversation, saying something like, “You know, this time of year is so special – but it also brings up so many memories of grandpa (or dad, or Uncle Bill) that I feel sad, too. I really miss him.” This can open doors of communication, allowing the senior to express her feelings of grief and loneliness. It’s a special opportunity for you both.
  4. Fly them to see you. Does your elderly loved one live far away? Perhaps you can look online and fly them out for a visit – if not on the actual holiday, maybe for a long weekend before or after. The whole family may be willing to go in on the cost. If traveling is difficult, hiring a temporary caregiver from a licensed home healthcare agency can ensure your loved one travels safely and comfortably on both legs of the journey.
  5. Surprise them with packages. A gift basket is nice, but what if you sent them little cards or packages for the 12 Days of Christmas, or honoring the 8 days of Hanukkah. Receiving one small gift or a card in the mail each day gives your loved one something to look forward to – not to mention the love and appreciation of receiving such a fun and heartfelt surprise.
  6. Reach out to local music groups. Is there a local music group in your area that carols or volunteers to sing at senior centers? They or a small group of them may be more than willing to reach out to your loved one’s senior community – or maybe even make a special visit to their home – to play and sing favorite holiday tunes.
  7. Send them their favorite meals. Can’t visit and can’t fly them out? Make sure they eat some of their favorite foods and treats over the holiday season. Companies like magickitchen.com offer delicious, home-cooked meals that are flash frozen and delivered to the senior’s doorstep. They include desserts and when all’s said and done, each meal is less than $20. They also cater to special dietary needs.

Read How to Help a Client or Loved One Avoid the Holiday Blues for additional tips on adding holiday cheer to those who need it.