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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Types of Canes and Walkers

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Mobility aids can completely transform a senior’s life. At the most basic level, canes and walkers provide the stability and balance necessary to prevent falls. In some cases, they make a chair-bound senior free again – able to take walks around the block, visit a corner grocery store or to bet able to get outside and garden again without fear.

The key is to choose the right cane or walker for the elderly person’s needs, and to make sure the equipment is a good fit for the person’s height and weight. Failure to select the right type of walker, or to ensure a good fit, can cause discomfort and will compromise their safety.

A Guide to Selecting a Cane or Walker For the Elderly

The first step is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Let the doctor know you’re interested in using a cane or walker and he can assist you in selecting the right one.

The following are basic guidelines for selecting the right type of mobility aids for your needs.

Determine the amount of support you need

Canes can support as much as 25% of your body weight, while certain walkers can support up to 50% of your body weight. You want to choose the type of aid that will provide the most support for where you are at today – taking into consideration that the need for more support will increase as you age.

Many seniors opt to get one of each and use them in different scenarios. Perhaps a cane will be used around the house, to putter in the yard, or to make short trips to doctors or friends’ homes. A walker may be used for longer jaunts or to take advantage of the basket option if you will be carrying or purchasing small items.

What is the main reason you’ll be using the device?

Typically, canes are used for:

  • Arthritis in the knees and hips.
  • Minor issues with balance, especially on stairs or uneven ground.
  • An injury to the foot, ankle or leg.

Walkers are recommended for:

  • Arthritis pain in the knees and hips is more severe.
  • Moderate to severe balance problems or more serious issues with gait.
  • More generalized weakness in the knees, hips or legs.

Things to Look For in a Cane

Canes are typically made from wood or metal, aluminum being the most common. They come with single, triple or quad-feet – the latter two providing the most stability. The bottom should always have a rubber non-skid tip to prevent slipping. Handle options are curved, rounded or gripped and it’s important to try out different types to see what feels the most comfortable.

Things to Look for in a Walker

Most walkers are made from aluminum to ensure they are light weight. There are generally three types of walkers:

  1. Standard, pick-up walkers.
  2. Walkers with wheels on the front and feet on the back (the feet should have rubber, non-slip tips).
  3. Rolling walkers, which have 4-wheels, hand-brakes and come with or without a seat/basket attachment.

Most seniors find that the rolling walkers with the seat/basket option make the most sense. Not only do they provide support, but the built-in seat provides a place to rest comfortably on a longer walk or while cooking or cleaning. The basket allows seniors to get the mail, carry a purse, or pick a few things up from a nearby store without having to carry the bags.

A proper fit is important for an elderly person’s ergonomic health, safety and comfort. Your healthcare provider can help you order the right size and ensure a proper fit.

 

What is Sitting Disease?

what-is-sitting-disease

Technological innovations have created a world where humans can sit much more than we stand, walk or move, leading to a new health condition called Sitting Disease.Headlines reading “Do You Have Sitting Disease?“, “Sitting Disease is Killing Us,” and “Sitting Disease: The New Health Epidemic” abound on websites and publications dedicated to health. The term “sitting disease” is actually coined by the scientific and health communities as a way of summing up the leading cause of other major health concerns in the late-20th and 21st centuries.

Sedentary lifestyles are responsible for a range of other diseases, including heart disease and high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even some hormonal imbalances.

Stand Up & Get Moving: Seniors Are Prone to Sitting Disease

According to Mayo Clinic, researchers analyzed data compiled by National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. This data was taken from more than 5000 individuals and the results revealed rather startling information:

  • The large majority of American adults (up to 70%) sit for more than six hours per day.
  • About 20% to 35% of people watch four or more hours per day.
  • Sitting is actually shortening American life expectancy.

That last fact is rather startling, isn’t it?

The researchers found that cutting one’s “sitting time” down to less than three hours a day increases life expectancy by as much as two years.

Reducing TV time to less than two hours per day increases life expectancy by about 1.4 years.

What Can Seniors Do if They Lead a Sedentary Lifestyle?

So, how can you actively reduce the amount of time you sit down each day? There are several, simple things you can do to get up, get your body moving and make changes to a sedentary lifestyle.

  1. Get a standing work station. If you still work at a desk job or spend a lot of time in front of the computer, purchase a work station with a standing option. Standing while working enhances posture at the same time that it increases blood flow, tones muscles, increases metabolism and burns extra calories.
  2. Make time to exercise. Exercising for 30-minutes a day, even something as simple as taking a walk to the mailboxes, working in the garden or riding an exercise bike makes a big difference. If you can, increase that time by an extra five or 10 minutes. Experts say that even 30-minutes of exercise may not be enough anymore to counteract the effects of sitting eight or more hours each day.
  3. Get a stationary bike. Stationary exercise bikes are sold left and right at garage sales and on websites like craigslist.com. Take advantage of these great deals and get yourself a low-profile stationary bike for your living room. Try riding it while you watch one of your favorite programs. Or, hop on the bike during commercials and for every hour you watch television you can enjoy approximately 15-20 minutes of exercise without leaving the room!
  4. Talk and walk. Do you have a regimen of friends and family you talk to on the phone? Try standing up and moving around while you talk. Use a cordless phone and do laps around your house while you catch up, or do some gentle stretching exercises.
  5. Sign up for an exercise class. The more active you are, the more likely you are to remain active. Sign up for a senior exercise class to ensure you move your body at least a few times a week. Yoga, water exercise, senior aerobics or Tai Chi are all great options.

Life is too precious to shorten it a single minute. Get up and get moving!