Dental Care for the Elderly

dental-care-for-the-elderlyWhat does your smile and mouth health say about your physical well-being? You’d be surprised. Periodontal disease is a precursor for some pretty serious medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The healthier senior citizens’ mouths are, the healthier their bodies will be.

Dental Care For the Elderly: Make Sure Your Scheduling Six-Month Checkups

The aging process begins to affect oral health and puts seniors at higher risk for several common oral health problems such as:

  • Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is a condition where the mouth stops making necessary amounts of saliva. It’s a common side effect of many medications, cancer treatments and dehydration. More than being a nuisance, decreased saliva production puts seniors at higher risk for developing gingivitis, tooth decay and mouth infections such as thrush. The dentist may recommend specialized mouthwashes or the implementation of a humidifier to help keep the mouth moist.
  • Root Decay. Typically, gums begin to recede with age and as a result of gum disease. This will eventually leave the higher parts of the tooth, which are the lower portions of the roots, exposed and vulnerable to acids and other substances that lead to their decay. If dental roots are damaged beyond repair, it leads to dental extractions.
  • Gum Disease. Also called periodontal disease or gingivitis, gum disease is most commonly caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth and along the gum lines. This hard substance allows bacteria to grow, causing inflammation (gingivitis) that leads to gum disease – the leading cause of tooth loss. Other common causes include smoking or the use of tobacco products, dentures, poor diet and certain diseases.
  • Tooth Loss. As mentioned above, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Losing your natural teeth is a serious business. While dentures may seem synonymous with old age, they are also synonymous with poor diet and a deterioration of the gum tissue and jaw bone. Dentures are typically uncomfortable and make it difficult for seniors to eat well, which leads to malnourishment, a compromised immune system and susceptibility to other medical conditions. The longer you can keep your own healthy teeth, the better!
  • Uneven jawbone. Your teeth, gums and jaw have a very close relationship. When the teeth go missing or are extracted, the gums and jawbone begin to diminish, which can lead to misshapen jaws. If a senior does break or lose a tooth, get to the dentist immediately to determine the best solution. Implants or well-fitting bridges and dentures will help to slow down receding gums and jaws.
  • Denture-induced stomatitis. Dentures must be cleaned, maintained and fitted on a regular basis or they can contribute to disease of the mouth. Denture-induced stomatitis occurs when poorly fitting dentures, poor oral hygiene or an accumulation of a fungus called Candida albicans, which causes the gums to become inflamed and potentially infected.
  • Thrush. This is the same condition that can affect babies and young children. It is a symptom of a compromised immune system and is the result of a build-up of the aforementioned fungus Candida albicans.

Seniors are the most likely to stop seeing the dentist, especially in cases where dental insurance is no longer covered by a retirement health plan. The good news is that most dentists offer special rates for seniors and those who do not have dental insurance. They are often willing to work with you on payment plans. Seniors can also apply for CareCredit, which can be used like a credit card for dental and other health services and provides 0% financing for a set term limit.

Schedule your next dental checkup today!

Everything You Need to Know About Parkinson’s Disease

everything-you-need-to-know-about-parkinsons-diseaseWhile the human body goes about it’s day-to-day business, there are countless chemical reactions taking place each second that facilitate all of the body’s activities – both the conscious and the unconscious. If the production of one of these chemicals subsides or ceases altogether, there are often dramatic effects. Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain reduces its productions of an important neurotransmitter called dopamine.

While Parkinson’s Disease is not considered a fatal disease, the side effects have serious implications for the quality of life for the patient. From a loss of sensory perception to Parkinson’s telltale tremors, there is hardly any part of a patient’s physical, mental and emotional well-being that is left untouched by the disease. As a result, modern medicine’s goal is to find ways to slow down its progression and alleviate the symptoms as much as possible to maintain and/or enhance the patient’s quality of life.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

The substantia nigra is located in the mid-brain and is responsible for the production of the aforementioned dopamine. This neurotransmitter (a chemical that helps to transmit messages from one neuron to another) is critical to some pretty important biological and physiological processes including:

  • Muscle movement
  • Emotional responses
  • Sensations of reward, desire or pleasure
  • Memory, problem solving and other cognitive skills

When the production of dopamine is reduced the side-effects are most typically noticed in these areas.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Tremors are the most typically recognized side effect of Parkinson’s disease although the symptoms often begin to emerge years or even a decade before tremors or other significant motor skills are affected. Some of the earliest signs of the disease are a decrease in the sense of smell (hyposmia), constipation and sleep disorders. Doctors are being trained to pay attention to these subtle clues to facilitate treatment as soon as Parkinson’s can be diagnosed.

Additional Parkinson’s symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Speech difficulty, including softer vocalizations
  • Walking without swinging the arms
  • Rigid muscles
  • Less expressive facial expressions (called the Parkinson’s mask)
  • Stooped posture
  • Changes in writing, typically the writing becomes much smaller

If you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one, schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible so diagnostic testing can begin. There isn’t a specific blood test or brain scan that “guarantees” the diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Rather, your doctor will run a series of tests and the results of these will lead to a diagnostic conclusion.

What is the treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?

There is no cure for Parkinson’s treatment. Instead, doctors will use a combination of drugs, physical therapy and lifestyle recommendations to slow down its progress, alleviate as many of the side effects as possible and to help a Parkinson’s patient to become more comfortable.

Not surprisingly, a healthy diet is important since the body needs all the nutrients it can get to remain as strong, energized and alert as possible. Regular exercise is also important to keep the muscles and bones of the body strong and to maintain balance. As the disease progresses, an occupational therapist may be necessary to help the patient and/or caregivers learn how to make day-to-day tasks as easy as possible.

Parkinson’s patients are very susceptible to falling since their motor coordination and balance deteriorates overtime. Making appropriate changes in the home in regards to lighting, handrails, the elimination of trip hazards, ramps, etc. are advised sooner rather than later to avoid an unnecessary trip and fall accident.

Alternative medicines, including Coenzyme Q10, acupuncture, massage, music and art therapy have also shown beneficial for some Parkinson’s patients. You can read more at

Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

recognizing-the-signs-of-a-strokeStroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and almost 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. In some cases, if the stroke is small, the effects can be minimal and may be able to be corrected with time and physical therapy. In others, the effects of a stroke are devastating, rendering adults incapable of speech, motility and motor coordination. Often, swift action on the part of caretakers or those who are near by can significantly minimize the effects of a stroke.

Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke Can Greatly Improve the Chances of Survival and Recovery

Recognizing the signs of a stroke – in yourself and/or others – can ensure you do what’s necessary and get immediate medical attention for the victim, thereby preventing worse-case-scenario brain damage.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs in one of two ways:

  • Ischemic stroke. This is the most common, comprising 87% of all strokes. It happens when a fatty deposit develops in a blood vessel in the brain or a blood clot becomes lodged in a blood vessel in the brain, stopping the blood supply. Risk factors for ischemic strokes include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes are only responsible for 13% of strokes. They occur when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and allows blood to seep into surrounding brain tissue, slowly increasing the pressure on the brain.

What are the signs of a stroke?

Because early treatment is critical in stopping the detrimental effects of a stroke in their tracks, the CDC, the American Heart Association and the National Stroke Association are promoting the acronym, FAST, as an easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke:

F – Face. Strokes are often first noticed in the face. Brain impairment will occur on the opposite side of the brain (a stroke in the right side of the brain will cause the majority of the physical impairment in the left side of the body, and visa versa). Ask the person to smile and you will notice drooping or seeming paralysis on one side of their face.

A – Arms. Ask the person to raise their arms above their head. A stroke victim may not be able to lift one arm, won’t be able to raise it as high or the arm may slowly drift back down.

S – Speech. Have the person repeat a simple phrase back to you. Their words may sound slurred, garbled, or completely unintelligible.

T – Time. Time is of the essence in stopping and treating the stroke, in order to minimize the damage. Call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY so the stroke victim can receive medical attention as soon as possible. Stroke patients who make it to an emergency room within three hours or less of their stroke have lesser degrees of disability three months after their stroke than those who have to wait longer for help.

Other signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in an arm, leg or the face.
  • Sudden confusion or difficulty understanding.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes.
  • Sudden or intense headache with no known cause.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or poor coordination.

Strokes can happen at any age, however, more than 60% of all strokes occur in adults 65 years old and older. The most common risk factors include ethnicity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking and drinking.

Eating well, exercising and eliminating unhealthy lifestyle habits are the best things you can do to prevent the risk of a stroke.

10 Tips for Preventing Elderly Falls

10-tips-for-preventing-elderly-fallsElderly falls are a serious issue. Every year, more than 30% of adults over the age of 65 fall down. These falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for that age bracket and in 2010, direct medical costs as the result of an elderly fall totaled more than $30 billion dollars.

Of course, the “cost” of an elderly fall isn’t purely financial. Minor brain injuries can be more detrimental for adults diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s and increasing medical studies show the anesthesia associated with knee/hip replacement surgeries have more negative cognitive effects than we realized.

For these reasons, we highly recommend you adhere to these 10 tips to prevent elderly falls and increase your quality of life.

  1. Keep exercising. The more weak your muscles are, the more prone you are to falls. Exercise is good for the mind, body and spirit. Plus, it will strengthen muscles and help to maintain your sense of balance.
  2. Eat a well-balanced diet. If your body is malnourished or your blood sugar drops, you are likely to become shaky, dizzy and/or disoriented. All of these side-effects put you at risk for falls. Drink lots of water. Eat five small meals a day, concentrating on healthy proteins, whole-grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  3. Observe your annual physical. Things like low blood pressure can also contribute to falls. Make sure you observe your annual physical, even if you’re feeling “fit as a fiddle” so your doctor can catch and monitor things you might not be able to feel going on with your body.
  4. Visit the eye doctor. Eyesight is a funny thing; the brain is good at compensating even when vision has diminished considerably. Unfortunately, vision loss causes depth perception issues and makes it harder to see things in your peripheral. Have your eyes checked at least once a year after you turn 65.
  5. Schedule a consultation with your pharmacist. Doctors and pharmacists try their best to make sure your medicines work in harmony with one another. Even so, there can be occasional glitches. Schedule a consultation with your pharmacist and have him/her review your medications to make sure none of them cause dizziness or drowsiness that may make you more susceptible to a fall.
  6. Take your time. Try not to rush around. This is especially true after moving from a seated or prone position to standing. Sudden drops in blood pressure can make you dizzy, and it increases the chances of instability or even a small fainting spell that can cause you to fall.
  7. Install grab bars. Hire a handyman to come install grab bars near your toilet, shower, bath tub, etc. You might feel like you don’t need them but you’ll be surprised how often you use them once they’re in place.
  8. Remove trip hazards. This is a good time to evaluate your home and eliminate trip hazards, such as cords, area rugs, small tables, etc., that are easy to stumble over.
  9. Provide adequate lighting. Make sure your lighting is adequate. If you have macular degeneration, cataracts or other vision issues, increase your bulb wattage just a bit to compensate. Put exterior lights and strategically placed interior lights on motion sensitive and/or time-sensitive timers so you never have to navigate your home or exterior in the complete dark.
  10. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t hesitate to get professional help for tasks like cleaning, yard work, running errands, etc. You can pick your favorite tasks and let a professional home care provider help with the rest.

Schedule a free consultation with HomeAide Home Care, Inc. and we’ll assess your home for potential fall risks.

The Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

the-benefits-of-pet-ownership-for-seniorsThere’s no question that pet ownership in the United States has taken on a whole new vibe. All you have to do is look at pet-specific clothing and accessory lines, or the number of people bringing pets with them to run errands, to know pets have become official members of the American Family. However, when you’re going through the stress and trauma of finding home healthcare for a senior loved one, or helping them transition from their home to a senior community, their pet(s) may be the last thing on your mind.

How Much Is That Doggy in the Window? Priceless!

You may want to think twice before choosing a living arrangement that doesn’t include pets. Or, if your beloved senior doesn’t have a pet, this might be the time to adopt one for him/her. Scientific findings regarding the benefits of pet ownership on human mental and emotional well-being is astounding. Not only that, the positive emotional impact of connecting with pets translates into improved physical health.

Here are some amazing facts regarding the benefits of pet ownership for seniors. It’s like therapy everyday!

History matters. Did your parent or grandparent own a pet as a child? If so, pet ownership is probably even more important to them at a time in their life where they are being increasingly isolated from others and have lost the daily physical touch that is part of most people’s day to day lives during the “family years”. According to, “Among individuals aged 65 – 87 years, pet owners reported a past history of pet-keeping more frequently than did the non-pet owners. In a study of adults, 88% of the pet owners had owned pets as children…”

Pets decrease emotional outbursts in Alzheimer’s patients. One of the most unfortunate consequences of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be the angry and emotional outbursts that occur. These episodes are traumatizing for everyone involved. Lynette Hart, a professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says, “Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home.”

It’s an excuse to get some exercise. You can’t begrudge your elderly relatives for not getting out more often. We all know that exercise is healthy, but it’s easy to get into a rut. Dogs, however, need their daily exercise everyday. Canadian researchers at the University of Victoria found that dog-owners spent twice as much time walking as those that didn’t own dogs and, more specifically, Johns Hopkins research says the elderly population is the most likely to walk their dog at least three times a week or more. Pets can be a great way to get seniors moving.

They may be the first to know there’s a health problem. There are amazing statistics coming out regarding normal dogs and their ability to sniff out health problems such as low blood sugar. More than 1/3 of diabetic patients with dogs have been alerted to their plummeting blood sugar by their dog’s unusual behaviors. This is important, especially for diabetics who are living alone. Dogs have even been shown to sniff out cancer in its early stages.

Pets can facilitate rehabilitation. Many rehabilitation centers are using professional service dogs to help their patients heal. These dogs encourage mobility, provide unfailing encouragement and love, and improve the mental outlook of patients, which facilitates the overall healing process.

These facts are proof that pets are more than just a cute furry body. They may even be life savers. Do what you can to facilitate pet ownership in your seniors’ lives.

Hospice Care and Caregivers

Do you have a loved one who is about to go on Hospice Care? If so, it can raise many questions as to how your day-to-day life will progress. One of the most regular questions from caregivers is, “what do I do now?”. The best hospice-care-and-caregiversanswers to this question will unfold once Hospice Care is in place and you see how things progress. Caregivers still provide a vital role in their family member’s or client’s lives.

Here are some things to consider in regards to Hospice Care and caregiving.

Hospice Care is NOT a substitute for a caregiver. Many people mistakenly believe that once Hospice Care is initiated, there is no longer a role for the caregiver. Not only is this untrue, Hospice Care will not commence until the family has established that some form of caregiving service will be available 24-hours a day. Hospice is an amazing end-of-life service and will involve a network of people, including healthcare professionals, grief counselors, spiritual advisers, a social worker, etc. But these individuals come in, do their jobs and leave. A caregiver is still required to assist with the normal day-to-day chores and caregiving needs. These services can be provided by a spouse, family members, professional caregivers, or a combination of them all.

Hospice does not provide 24-hour medical care. In most cases, a home health nurse will be checking in daily once an individual is placed on Hospice. However, the nurse will train family members to take care of any daily medical tasks, certain injections, dressing changes, geriatric massage, etc., that may be required throughout the day or night. Hospice can also train family members on how to help your loved one turn over in bed, move from the bed to a chair or wheel chair, bathe, etc. If any of these tasks are too physically demanding, Hospice requires you to have a caregiver on hand who can help you with these tasks.

Caregiving tasks can be many and varied. Many of the services provided by caregivers during Hospice are dedicated to companionship, errand running, housekeeping, meal preparation and other tasks that may be too difficult for family members to tend to around their other family and work responsibilities. Hiring a professional caregiver, even if it is only a few days a week, allows loved ones to spend as much quality time as possible with each other, without having to divide themselves between the patient and mundane daily tasks.

You may decide caregiving services are required at night. Often, our clients have family members who take turns in shifts during the day, and use caregiving services for the later evening and nighttime hours. This can be of benefit for patients who require medications at night, or who suffer from insomnia and want to have company or be read to without disturbing their sleeping partners or family members. Overnight home care services can be invaluable because it allows you and other caregivers to get the rest you need without having to worry about the well-being of your loved one.

Respite caregiving services can be a lifesaver. Respite care services are one of the most underused services available from professional home care services. You can hire a caregiver to fill in for an hour, a day, a week or a month. This allows the regular caregivers to have time off to tend to their own needs, take a vacation, or to attend appointments and social gatherings.

Interested in learning more about how Hospice Care affects caregiving?Contact HomeAid Home Care.

7 Misconceptions About Home Care

7-facts-about-home-care1. Home Care is Only for the Sick

While it is partially true that residential care is for a sickly or recovering individual, it is not always the case. There are four types of home care: home health care (provided by a licensed medical professional), non-medical care such as homemaker, personal care or companion. Home health care may be needed for such extremes as post-operation rehab, skilled assessments, teaching, speech therapy and other assistance. Non-medical care would involve daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing.

2. It’s Permanent

Most individuals that need residential care usually assume that it is permanent and that they will lose their independence. A professional home care giver is responsible for being the individuals extra eyes and ears around the home. This helps prevent accidents such as falls, slips and spills that lead to serious injury. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of injury related death is due to imbalance in individuals over age of 65.

3. It’s Costly

It is thought that home care isn’t affordable when in fact it is the most affordable option because of the flexible hourly service. In 2010, a survey showed that 22 percent of the networks employ home care service for only hours or less a week. Furthermore, 49 percent of family home caregivers overestimate the cost of non-medical related care but approximately $6.00 an hour.

4. No Control over Who Comes To My Home

For the most part, each home caregiver is matched with a client that has similar interests. A company’s home caregivers should always be screened, insured, trained and bonded. A reputable company should always offer background checks at the time of the meeting set up. They should also offer steady and reliable backups or replacements for emergency purposes.

5. Caregivers Don’t Care About Their Clients

A good residential care associate will take time to understand the client’s needs, listen thoroughly, establish a rapport and overall, make them feel at ease. To make it official, the agency should analyze the client’s needs to make sure that they are being placed correctly. If a client should feel that they are not being treated properly, the family needs to contact the agency immediately.

6. Only Old People Need Home Care

Again, individuals with chronic illness, recovering from surgery pr rehabilitation are welcome to and encouraged to rely on this kind of help. Even though home care is recognized but individuals over the age of 65, it is important that anyone in need of care should be able to get these services.

7. Basic Hygiene Clean Up Doesn’t Qualify

Whatever you may need that will be of help to you, you should be able to receive. Whether it is bathing or making the bed, it is best to find an agency that provides full service for all and any of your needs.

Should you need more information before making your decision, please visit us here

The Dangers of Dehydration

the-dangers-of-dehydrationDehydration is an elder care problem. In multiple studies of senior patients in long-term care facilities and those admitted to hospitals, as many as 40% of seniors were dehydrated. When left to their own devices, most seniors simply don’t drink enough water to remain properly hydrated, and this causes serious physical, mental and emotional side effects.

Understanding how dehydration affects the body as well as dehydration symptoms will improve a senior’s overall well-being.

Hydration is The Foundation of a Balanced and Healthy Body

Our bodies are predominantly comprised of water; it is responsible for balancing the body’s fluid levels, facilitating circulation, digestion, transportation and absorption of nutrients, etc. Water is also required for eliminating toxins, kidney health, energizing muscles and maintaining normal bowel function. A breakdown in any of these processes causes medical complications.

Before age 60, the average person is about 56% water, after age 60 this percentage decreases to around 49% due to lost muscle mass. That reduction means seniors are even more prone to the effects of dehydration and the symptoms can be more serious.

Causes and Symptoms of Senior Dehydration

Dehydration occurs for a variety of reasons:

  • Not drinking enough water or liquids
  • As a side effect of certain medications, especially diuretics
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes

Symptoms of dehydration comes in many forms. The following are some of the most common:

Mild dehydration

The first symptoms of dehydration are easy to miss.

  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Thick saliva
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dark colored urine, typically dark yellow, orange or even brown
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Headaches or mental fogginess
  • Cramping, especially in feet and legs
  • Fatigue, weakness or general malaise
  • Crying without tears or very few tears
  • Unusual sleepiness or irritability

Symptoms of more severe dehydration

By the time dehydration progresses from mild to severe, the senior will need immediate medical attention so s/he can be placed on intravenous fluids until stabilized. Signs of severe dehydration include:

  • Severe cramping in limbs, back and stomach
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Convulsions
  • Eyes appear dry and/or sunken
  • Little to no skin elasticity (if you gently pinch the skin on the back of the hands, it will remain in the pinched position and/or will retract very slowly)
  • Rapid breathing

If you notice any of these signs in a senior, call 911 or take them to the nearest urgent care facility immediately.

Simple Tips For Keeping Seniors Hydrated

While water is the best fluid of all, it’s not the only option for hydration. Here are some simple tips that can keep a senior better hydrated:

  1. Have a beverage (non-caffeinated is best) with every meal or snack
  2. Keep fresh water in a glass with a straw near the bed and chair-side tables at all times
  3. Eat an array of fruits and vegetables, which have naturally high water content
  4. Maintain an assortment of favorite beverages on hand to keep it interesting
  5. Try adding lemon, cucumber or strawberry slices to cold water to make it more palatable.

Adequate hydration is not just a warm weather issue. Focus on hydration year-round for optimal senior health.

8 Signs of Elder Abuse

8-signs-of-elder-abuseElder abuse can take place in many forms – physical, verbal, emotional and financial. While physical elder abuse can often be evidenced in person (although not always), verbal, emotional and financial elder abuse can happen insidiously and often goes undetected for long periods of time.

Whether you look in on a loved one on a regular basis, or live across the country and are only able to visit every once in a while, the following information can help you to determine whether or not your senior loved one is a victim of elder abuse. Never hesitate to begin an investigation the minute you suspect elder abuse.

8 Signs of Elder Abuse

  1. Constant and repeat bruising, injury or broken bones. True, senior citizens are more prone to bruising from even the mildest of bumps or knocks that occur in day-to-day activities. Yes, the elderly are also apt to lose their balance and/or fall more easily. But, if you feel like accidents occur more frequently than normal, it’s worth looking into.
  2. An unusual dynamic with a caretaker. Pay attention to his/her relationship with the caregiver(s). If your loved one seems afraid, tense, excessively argumentative or withdrawn around the caregiver, it can be a sign of abuse or mistreatment.
  3. Sudden financial difficulty. Financial elder abuse is one of the most common, and silent, forms of elder abuse. Sometimes it’s as simple as a caregiver or family member who keeps the change for grocery bills or writes frequent small checks to him/herself. In worst case scenarios, entire savings accounts can be drained, lines of credit can be taken out in the senior’s name and then maxed out, etc. The effects can be devastating. If you notice a sudden and unexplainable shift in a senior relative’s finances, take note. Try to keep personal/sensitive documentation out of caregiver’s hands and range of access.
  4. Unusual depression or sudden withdrawal. Verbal and/or emotional abuse is another silent from of elder abuse. Adults who are experiencing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, may not be able to communicate what is happening. In cases of sexual abuse, the individual is often too embarrassed or ashamed to come forward. If your loved one becomes unusually quiet, withdrawn or depressed – especially if it’s over a relatively short period of time, take time to investigate.
  5. Rapid weight loss or lack of energy. Sometimes, the abuse happens via neglect, rather than any physical or verbal impact. Sudden weight loss, dehydration, or a rapid decline in energy can be signs of malnourishment and neglect.
  6. Bed Sores. If the senior is bed-bound, it is imperative that he or she is moved on a regular basis to keep the blood flowing and the skin from becoming irritated. A neglected, bed-ridden senior will end up getting bed sores on the areas of the body that are in contact with the mattress.
  7. They are dirty and/or smell badly. A well-cared for senior should have their hygiene needs met on a daily basis. There is no excuse for being dirty, smelling bad, or having to wear soiled clothing. This is a sign of caregiver neglect.
  8. Poor living conditions. If your elderly relative is living in a senior care facility, the environment should be clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing. Dirty, dingy, or facilities with old, malfunctioning equipment should be considered suspect.

Never ignore the signs of elder abuse – take action!

Before you sign the dotted line, make sure you hire a home healthcare provider who has an excellent reputation and reviews, and who screens caregivers thoroughly to help your senior loved ones get the attentive care they deserve.

Gardening with Seniors

Gardening is good for the mind, body and spirit, and these benefits can be even more dramatic for seniors. As seniors become more restricted in their daily activities, gardening offers a low impact way to connect with the earth and do something productive. Plus, gardening-with-seniorsthe results will yield healthy, organic produce that has added benefits for nutrition and health.

Are you looking for activities to engage senior loved ones in your life? Whether its a small window box, patio containers, or raised bed planters in the backyard, these facts, tips and safety recommendations can improve a senior’s well-being.

Gardening Can Improve the Quality of Life for Seniors

A recent study by Texas A&M found that older adults who spend regular time in their garden reported a higher-quality of life than their non-gardening counterparts. The researchers stated, “Gardening is one of the most popular home-based leisure activities in the United States and has been reported as the second most common leisure activity, after walking, of adults older than age 65 years.”

Benefits of Gardening with Seniors Include:

Increased movement. Many physical ailments suffered by adults 65 years and over are connected to decreased activity levels. This is why senior centers, senior living communities and in-home caregivers place such strong emphasis on regular, low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, water exercise, etc. The activities involved in gardening also provide low-impact exercise. You’d be amazed how much bending, stretching, reaching, and weight resistance is experienced through the regular gardening routine.

Fresh air and sunshine. The best source of vitamin D comes straight from the sun. A little exposure to sun and fresh air, when paired with adequate sun protection and hydration, can help to improve nutrition and mindset. Natural light is a proven mood elevator so tending to a garden on a fairly regular basis keeps the body in touch with nature’s rhythms.

Improved nutrition. There’s nothing like growing your own vegetables to inspire you to eat them. Planning a garden with seniors is a fun way to grow their favorite fruits and vegetables, which can be eaten right off the vine, out of the ground, or used in recipes for nutritious meals.

Seeing the fruits (literally!) of your labor. Perhaps one of the most uplifting things about gardening is the feeling of being productive, essential, and needed in some way. These feelings and experiences can diminish for seniors who do not remain active, or for whom part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities have disappeared as the result of mobility issues. Tending a garden requires meticulous and regular care and day by day, older adults get to watch the fruits of their labor.

Tips For Maintaining a Safe Senior Garden

Gardening is low-impact but it also has its fair share of risks. The following tips can ensure a senior’s gardening activities remain as healthful and beneficial as possible.

  • Wear gloves and protective clothing. Thinner skin is more apt to bruise or become cut on branches, thorns and the edges and points of gardening tools. Gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants will help to protect delicate skin.
  • Raise the beds. If seniors have a difficult time getting up and down, raise the gardening beds so they can be accessed in a wheelchair or while standing. You can buy accessible gardening products online or use containers on tabletops for easier access. Have a stool nearby for resting.
  • Cool gardening. Avoid full sun exposure by gardening in the earlier morning or later afternoon hours.

Spring is the season to start planting a garden with your senior and bring a little sunshine to their life.