Age in Place with a Universal Home Design

age in place with a universal home design

Are you or someone you love interested in aging-in-place. While “aging in place” seems like a contemporary trend, it’s actually a return to the way all of us aged, prior to the post-war era. In the past several decades, both seniors, their families, and their pocketbooks have realized that remaining in a comfortable home, surrounded by the things, people and pets you love most, is often the most desirable scenario for everyone involved. The best way to do this is to create a universal home design.

Not only is aging-in-place proven to improve healing rates, senior mental and emotional health – it’s also considerably more affordable than moving into an assisted living or nursing home facility. When you pair the choice to remain at home – and bring the care to you as needed – and the tenets of universal home design, you create a living space that is entirely dedicated to your safety, comfort, and ease of mobility.

For specific details about universal home design, we recommend visiting the AARP’s article on the subject.

What is a Universal Home Design?

As we mentioned before, the goal of a universal design is to promote safety, comfort, and ease of mobility. In some cases, very little to no construction is required to create a universal design. In others, you may find it’s worthwhile to build an accessibly designed remodel. The latter ensures fixtures and finishes are new, stylish and comply with ADA building codes, all of which can increase the value of the home when/if it is eventually sold down the road.

Also, baby boomers often find a universally-themed remodel allows them to have their parents move in, as well as their own aging-in-place later on, which can collectively save tens of thousands of dollars. You do this by:

Creating a beautiful lighting design

Yes! You might not think of lighting first but lighting designs are an integral part of a remodel and they need to be thought about beforehand to be installed artfully. This includes a range of different lighting types:

  • Windows and skylights for ample daylighting. Not only does this keep electrical costs down during the day, it also helps to preserve human circadian rhythm, which will help to ease the daily rhythms for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Plenty of task-lights set on dimmers. Artificial lighting should be warm, bright and task-oriented to improve visibility for senior eyes once the sun goes down – and ambient light creates attractive night lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Floodlights and outdoor lighting. All of the exterior entrances and immediate outdoor areas should be well-illuminated using floods and other outdoor lighting sources. Special emphasis should be placed on ramps, stairways, walkways, and paths.
  • Motion-sensitive lighting. Motion-sensitive lights are always a bonus, set at certain times to ensure lights turn on when a senior enters a room or opens an exterior door, even if s/he forgets to turn on the switch.

Grab bars at all toilets, bathroom and shower areas

Grab bars are a tenet of senior bathroom safety because the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house – it’s hard, slippery and provides minimal room for comfortable maneuvering. Grab bars should be installed next to the toilet and within easy reach of bath and shower areas, as well as inside the bath or shower.

Flooring that’s compatible with mobility aids

Almost all seniors wind up using some form of mobility aid as they age. For this reason, universal designs automatically focus on flooring that is easy for canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to traverse. Typically, this involves a combination of linoleum (which is softer than tile or hardwood but comes in amazing luxurious patterns these days) and low-profile carpet.

Room to move around

This includes doorways, hallways, the space between the kitchen island and perimeter cabinets, the tables, and chairs, inside the bathroom, etc. Most universal designs will allow at least 38-inches or more so those with a walker or wheelchair can easily get around without having to constantly shimmy, lift, squeeze or reshuffled chairs and other furnishings.

Cabinets, drawers, and faucets that are easy to operate

Small doors and handles that need to be gripped are more difficult to operate when hands are weak and/or arthritis. A universal design eliminates this risk by using bar-style pulls and handles, and easy-lever faucets (or touch-sensitive faucets) to ensure seniors never have a problem accessing their drawers, cupboards, sinks, baths/showers, etc.

Smartly designed storage

Universal designs are often referred to as “accessible.” Not surprisingly, storage areas in kitchens, baths, and hallways are often inaccessible – particularly if they require a fair amount of bending, getting down on hands and knees, getting onto stepladders and so on. Instead, functional storage puts the things you use most within easy reach and utilizes things like pull-out shelving, pull-down racks, and lazy Susans to make cupboards and storage closets safer and more efficient.

As we mentioned before, a simple home rearranging and a few accommodations may be all your home needs to be more accessible. Or, if more significant work is required (like the installation of ramps, railings, new flooring, etc.), it’s worth considering a full, universally designed remodel. The combination of funds saved by aging-in-place, and the increased resale value, will make your new, accessible home well-worth the investment.

Holiday Inspired Mocktail and Cocktail Recipes

Looking for some fun, holiday-inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes for your senior loved ones and/or other family members? Look no further. We have some recipes and references for the hosts/entertainers in the family.

Serve Delicious Mocktail and Cocktail Magic at Your Holiday Feast

There are plenty of reasons senior loved-ones may not be allowed to drink alcohol. From recovering alcoholics and those with dementia, to seniors with dietary restrictions that eliminate alcohol – it’s easy for loved ones and friends to feel left out during holiday toasts.

Fortunately, the following holiday-inspired cocktail recipes are easily converted into mocktails so nobody feels left out of the fun. Even the kids can enjoy their mocktails, without any of the alcohol.


Cranberry Margaritas

These cranberry margaritas from are a host(ess)’s dream. Not only can they be prepared in advance, you can mix whole pitchers at a time without the alcohol so guests can serve themselves. Those who want the alcoholic version can have a shot of the tequila and a splash of Triple Sec added and stirred into their cup.

The recipe includes:

  • Cranberries
  • Tequila
  • Fresh lime juice
  • An orange liqueur (like Triple Sec)
  • Fresh cranberries and lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt for the glass rims

For non-alcoholic batches simply leave out the Tequila and add a splash of fresh-squeezed orange or tangerine juice.

Once your guests arrive – salt the glass rims, fill them with ice, poor the mock/cocktails and garnish with cranberries to float on top and a slice of lime on the rim.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Apple Pie Punch (great iced or hot)

Here’s another one that can be mixed up ahead of time (yahoo!) and is easy to “sneak” as a mocktail. This recipe comes to us via

You’ll need:

  • One ripe apple, sliced into thin, lengthwise slices
  • Apple cider
  • Pear nectar (cans of Kearns are typically on the juice aisles of the grocery store)
  • Ginger Ale
  • Apple Pie Vodka

Just like the Cranberry margaritas, this can be mixed ahead of time and single, 1.5 oz shots of the vodka can be added to those who want them. This punch can be served as an iced-beverage, with an apple slice on the edge, or as a hot punch (heated up on the stove in a pan and ladled) with a slice of apple in the mug.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Pumpkin Pie Martini (and guess what? They’re low-carb!)

What good would holiday-inspired mocktails be if we didn’t include a little pumpkin? Martinis are a favorite of the senior set, and these pumpkin pie flavored versions will be a hit with the millennials too!

We found this recipe on and everyone will be a fan of their low-carb attributes – which are great for any diabetics in the group.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

Rimming sugar: finely ground pecans, Swerve sweetener, ground cinnamon

  • Vanilla Vodka (or a splash of vanilla for the mocktail crowd)
  • Soda water (for the mocktails)
  • Dark rum
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Heavy cream
  • Swerve sweetener
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground nutmeg

Each one is mixed in a cocktail mixer and shaken with ice, poured into a glass that’s pre-coated with the scrumptious Rimming Sugar. The mocktail versions are made using sparkling water to make up the vodka/rum difference – along with a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. Cheers!

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

The Perfect Holiday Drink that can be Made as a Mocktail and Cocktail

We’ll conclude with one of our staff favorites, called The Perfect Thanksgiving Drink, shared by In addition to ease, the most striking thing about this drink is that you can make it in your clear, party-sized, water/iced tea dispenser used to serve cold beverages during the summer months.

In this case, the jugs – one with alcohol and one without – can be set atop your buffet or island bar top for a beautiful, colorful, serve-yourself drink station.

For this one, you’ll need:

  • Your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Sparkling cider, for the non-alcoholic crowd
  • Your choice of fizzy, lemon-lime soda (Sprite, Sierra Mist, 7-Up, etc.)
  • Cans of frozen, cranberry concentrate
  • A bag of fresh cranberries

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, you can put them in your drink dispenser with plenty of ice and get ready for lots of compliments.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Does your senior loved one have a favorite cocktail they can no longer have as the result of their medical diagnosis, dementia or other health issue? You can easily make mocktail and cocktail beverages this holiday! The internet is a wonderful resource for finding non-alcoholic alternatives that can make all the difference in a senior’s ability to “maintain their preferred routine.”

The owners and staff at Bay Area-based HomeAide Home Care wish you and your family a wonderful holiday. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need respite care services over this upcoming holiday weekend or to learn more about the ways we can ensure your senior loved ones receive compassionate and experienced care while you’re out of town or away for a while.

The Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Home Care Agency

the benefits of hiring a licensed home care agency

Home care comes in a variety of forms – from spouses and family members, to friends or acquaintances looking for a way to make extra money, to both a unlicensed and licensed home care agency.

When your loved one requires home care, outside the realm of spouse and immediate family circle – whether that be for respite care, or on a more regular or day-to-day basis – it is always in your best interest to work with licensed home care providers.

What Does Licensed Home Care Agency Mean?

As a means of ensuring education, training and experience – as well as protecting clients from elder abuse – the state of California has created licensing and/or certification boards that govern the home care industry. The Home Care Bureau of California is one such example of this. Working with agencies registered with third-party, industry-recognized entities helps to validate that:

  • Home care providers are licensed
  • The individual caregivers are current in their education, training and industry best practices
  • That caregivers have been screened and passed complete background checks and DMV clearance
  • The any disputes against the agency have been investigated and settled
  • That you are protected and have a means of following through if care is negligible or lacking in any way
  • The agency and caregivers are subject to unannounced visits to ensure the environment they create and the care they provide meet or exceed state standards

When scheduling a consultation with a particular home care provider – whether private or working with an agency – ask for their license number and check it with the governing agency to verify it is both legitimate and current.

The Benefits of Working With a Licensed Home Care Agency

Above and beyond safety, professionalism and accountability – there are other benefits to working with a licensed home care agency:

Education paired with experience

The home care industry is attuned to the latest research and innovations when it comes to seniors and memory care. As a result, licensed agencies are more likely to keep on the latest research by attending and/or sending their employees to classes, conferences and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest-and-greatest caregiving techniques and information. This benefits clients and helps your loved one to receive the best, most relevant care for his/her situation.

You won’t be left in the lurch

If you hire a single, private home caregiver, you can wind up left in the lurch if s/he is sick, a child is sick or a family emergency arises. A  licensed home care agency has access to multiple, licensed care providers so you’ll never be left with an appointment to cancel, having to take additional time off work or with the stress that a long-distance parent or loved one is left without care.

Costs are more likely to be absorbed by Medicare and/or health insurance carriers

Did you know many aspects of home health care are covered by insurance companies, including Medicare, MediCal and/or the Veterans Affairs Administration, depending on the client’s diagnosis and prognosis?

If a client is unable to attend appointments or tend to their own care as a result of being home- or bed-bound – you may find certain aspects of their home care is partially- or fully subsidized. However, these insurance carriers almost always require care be provided by a licensed home care provider or agency.

Employee taxes, benefits and insurance are taken care of

Odds are your caregiver pays taxes and is interested in healthcare insurance, social security and/or some other type of retirement benefit. This can add several dollars per hour to the amount you pay each shift. A reputable licensed home care agency will build these benefits into their payroll so they take on these responsibilities without you having to worry about it. We have access to more affordable, shared-cost benefit options for small- and medium business owners that an individual hiring a caregiver would not have the ability to tap into.

Caregivers are available on short notice

Optimally, we prefer to meet for a full, in-home assessment and consultation before contracting with an individual client. However, life doesn’t always pan out “optimally.” Just as you’ll never be without care if your normal care provider isn’t available, a licensed home care agency has caregivers available on short-term notice if/when you find yourself needing a break or have another emergency that will take you away from your loved one for a day, a night, or even extended periods of time.

HomeAide Home Care, Inc. is a licensed home care agency servicing Alameda County and the surrounding Bay Area. Our team of licensed, experienced and compassionate caregivers have decades of experience and view their work as a joy and a calling. Contact us to learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation. We believe, “there’s no place like home,” and feel confident our loving caregivers are second to none.

Veterans Affairs Benefits Reduce Home Care Costs

veterans affairs benefits reduce home care costs

The good news is that home care costs are far less than the charges associated with assisted living or nursing home facilities. That being said, someone still has to foot the bill for high-quality home care– and that can be difficult for seniors living on a fixed income. Veterans Affairs benefits could be the untapped funding source you need to get the home care assistance you want.

After reviewing the following information, you can contact the Veterans Administration directly via their VA’s Caregiver Support Line —1-855-260-3274.

Veterans Affairs Benefits May Cover a Portion of Home Care Costs

The Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) offers a range of services for veterans with family caregivers. These services run the gamut from free or very low-cost adult day care agencies in your area to home-based care, depending on the individual’s needs.

If you prefer to receive care at home, helping senior loved ones remain more independent, the VA can help with that as well. Currently, some of the home care services supported by the VA include:

Home Care Aide & Housekeeping Services

Does your veteran senior loved one have a hard time keeping up with basic daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meal preparation, etc.?  All of these services and more can be provided by a licensed home care aide.

In addition to these basic services, home care aides can also serve as:

  • Companions
  • Drivers
  • Errand runners
  • Medication reminders
  • Bill payers
  • Home organizers
  • Pet walkers and caregivers
  • And more

You can Click Here to read more about the typical services included in home care services.

Skilled Home Care

For some seniors, getting out of the home independently is impossible, not to mention exhausting. The alternative would be hospitalization or long-term rehabilitation, yet this takes individuals out of the comfort zone of their home, as well as away from the people and things they love most. As a result, both Medicare and the VA offer financial compensation for skilled care to be brought into the home.

Skilled home care is most often administered by CNAs, LVNs, and RNs and covers things like:

  • Intraperitoneal Nutrition (IPN)
  • Wound care
  • Catheter care
  • Administration of prescription medications
  • Injections
  • IV care
  • Assessment and management of health care plan

Often, skilled home care providers and home care aides work together to provide more comprehensive care for veterans with medical concerns that need to be treated on a regular basis.

Respite Care Services

In many case, the primary caregiver is a spouse or family member. Full-time caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. If outside help is unavailable, primary family caregivers eventually burn out. In addition to compromising their own well-being, burned out caregivers are unable to provide quality care to their loved one. Respite care is the solution to this all-to-common problem.

Respite care can be offered on a one-time basis, or it can be provided on a weekly or daily basis to allow primary caregivers a chance to have some time off.  The service provides full-time caregivers the chance to attend important social, religious or family events, observe necessary medical appointments, take a little time for much-deserved self-care and so on.

Read, Arranging Breaks From Family Caregiving, to learn more about respite care services.

Home Hospice Care

Hospice care is an amazing service, allowing those with  a terminal diagnosis the ability to end their life at home or in a designated hospice care community, as comfortably and peacefully as possible. While hospice care is provided on a regular basis, it is not a full-time service. As a result, many families find it necessary to use a combination of hospice care, family caregivers and/or home care aides in order to take more comprehensive care of their loved one.

How Do We Qualify for Veterans Affairs Benefits?

All veterans qualify for these services. However, certain services may require the referral or “prescription” from the senior’s primary healthcare provider and/or a VA physician. We recommend contacting the Veterans Affairs benefits representatives to find out what is required for your specific situation.

Once you’ve found out what you qualify for, begin scheduling consultations with local, qualifying home care agencies. These consultations give you and the client a chance to get a feel for various approaches so you can select the home care providers you feel most comfortable with. Agency representatives can also provide assistance and insight as you work with the VA, Medicare and/or personal health insurance providers to help with the financial aspects of home care.

Interested in learning more about home care services in the Bay Area? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided high-quality, licensed home care to seniors in and around the San Francisco and Oakland Bay areas for decades.

What is the Home Care Bureau of California?

what is the home care bureau of california

It’s not easy to choose the best home care provider for your loved one. There are many factors to consider, including cost, experience, the services required and – of course – the legitimacy of the care provided. The Home Care Services Bureau of California is a state-run agency, dedicated to ensuring professional home care agencies and providers are educated, trained and qualified to provide care. The bureau operates under the umbrella of CA’s Department of Social Services.

We recommend using their search registry to verify the licensing of any home care aide working on behalf of yourself or a senior loved one.

What does the Home Care Bureau of California Do?

In addition to verifying the qualifications and credentials of professional home health care aides, the Home Care Bureau of California:

  • Processes applications and administers licenses to home care agencies and caregivers.
  • Maintains the state’s home care aide registry.
  • Ensures licensees have completed the criminal background check process administered by the California Department of Social Services.
  • Requires re-registering every two years to ensure licensing and criminal background information is current.
  • Receives and responds to complaints from clients or other members of the public about home care aides and/or agencies.
  • Performs unannounced visits to ensure an agency and/or caregiver is in compliance with state codes and regulations.
  • Maintains records regarding complaints and violations for up to five years.

Use the Home Care Bureau’s Search Function to Verify the Legitimacy of Home Care Aides (HCA)

Before meeting with any home health care agency or home care aide for a consultation, we recommend getting his or her:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Personnel Identification Number

This information is required to access the Home Care Aid Registry Search Function. There is no use spending time interviewing, getting into contract with or creating a relationship with caregivers who do not meet the state’s criteria.

The Home Care Bureau Also Provides Resources and Support for both Caregivers, Clients and Family

In addition to promoting the professionalism, integrity and quality of home health care, the Home Care Bureau also provides a wealth of information, resources and support for both caregivers, their clients and/or client family members.

The Home Care Bureau of California offers links to:

  • Search the home care registry. As mentioned above, this search will let you know whether prospective caregiver(s) is licensed. It only costs $25 to apply to the registry, which shouldn’t prohibit any qualified representatives from becoming members of the registry. In most cases, legitimate home care agencies cover these costs for employees who pass their screening requirements.
  • Find licensed community care facilities. For seniors who require adult day care or memory care, community care facilities and home care organizations are lifesavers. These services are significantly more affordable than the costs associated with traditional assisted living or nursing home facilities.For example: Click Here to search for a home care organization in your area. Then search via county or zip code. To find HomeAide Home Care, you can simply select “Alameda” from the dropdown county list, and then click the “Search” tab. There you’ll find us – in alphabetical order – located on page 3. You can then click, “View” to the right of the organization for more information.In our case, you’ll see that we have zero citations and zero complaints – something we are very proud of.
  • The ability to contact a social services agency if needed. In most cases, this wouldn’t be necessary unless you are need to file a complaint or reporting suspected elder or client abuse. Just as the Child Protective Services investigates complaints of child abuse or neglect, the Adult Protective Services investigates cases where adult abuse and/or neglect is suspected.

Schedule a Consultation with an Agency Licensed with the Home Care Bureau of California

Are you interested in learning more about home care services for someone you love? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free, in home consultation and assessment. These are no-obligation visits, giving us a chance to speak with you about your concerns and how we can be of service. We are fully licensed and all of our caregivers have been thoroughly vetted via complete criminal background checks and DMV reports. We offer part-time, full-time and respite care services, and our compassionate touch can be a welcome augmentation to existing skilled nursing care.

We’re also happy to advise you as to lifestyle changes and basic home reorganization that will make your loved one’s living space safer and more accessible.

Dementia: Identify Beginning Signs and Symptoms

dementia identify beginning signs and symptoms

Senior moments are the stuff jokes are made of. When true forgetfulness or confusion sets in, however, it’s no laughing matter. Seniors in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very embarrassed or scared, and their safety can be put at risk, as the result of mental lapses.

For this reason, it’s important to know the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and dementia or other dementia-related cognitive decline. Some of the changes are very subtle, but if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional sooner rather than later. Today’s and memory care and treatment options, as well as new medications, can significantly slow down dementia’s development – but early diagnosis and treatment are key.

If you think you or someone you love suffers from dementia-related memory loss, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Proactive care, including in-home care and support, can make all the difference when it comes to supporting general well-being and independence.

Normal age-related memory loss

All kinds of forgetful moments show up on the very normal spectrum of “age-related memory loss.” These include things like forgetting a person’s name, not remembering where you put the grocery list, having a hard time remembering which year you went on that Hawaiian vacation, etc.

While irritating at best, or embarrassing at worst (like forgetting a person’s name or a lunch date), these memory lapses are completely normal. In fact, while it may be a sign of aging, occasional forgetfulness is just as likely to occur as the result of depression, anxiety, stress, a busy schedule, lack of sleep and so on.

Dementia-related memory loss

Dementia-related memory loss is much more serious than age-related memory loss. It’s important to note the difference because signs and symptoms of dementia can emerge as long as 15-years prior to actual diagnosis, by which point it can be too late to make a difference. By catching dementia early, while in its earliest stages, doctors can prescribe diet and lifestyle changes, brain training exercises and/or certain medications to slow down its onset and preserve mental agility for as long as possible.

The following are some of the mild to moderate symptoms of dementia:

More difficulty with short-term memory issues

During the beginning stages, adults with dementia may remember events or information from long ago in great detail, but they have difficulty with short-term memory. Perhaps they can tell you a funny story from second grade, or an embarrassing moment on their wedding day, but they can’t remember what they did last weekend or where the family spent the holidays last year.

A general and more routine forgetfulness

Age-related memory loss can make it more difficult to remember the name of a casual acquaintance or someone you met last week – every once in a while. Dementia-related memory loss becomes routine. All of a sudden, you’re forgetting names and faces or appointments on a regular basis, rather than just once in a great while. For example, forgetting a doctor’s appointment once is okay, forgetting it multiple times – even when it’s written on the calendar – is another.

Inability to focus and/or becoming distracted more frequently

Those with dementia-related memory problems will find it more difficult to focus on tasks that were easy in the past, such as reading directions while driving or following a new recipe, keeping up with the news, and so on. As a result, they may wander away while the chocolate chip cookie dough was only half finished, and not remember to return. The checkbook that was meticulously balanced previously is now neglected or filled with errors and omissions. A person with dementia might forget the rules of a favorite game or have trouble following along while playing cards.

For most of us, an occasional gaffe is cause for anxiety or defensiveness, but you might find a person with dementia reacts with even more embarrassment, shame, anxiety or even anger because deep down they sense – or know – that something is wrong.

Notable and atypical shifts in mood or temperament

A person who was grouchy in general is prone to being even more grouchy during the senior years. However, those with dementia may experience more severe swings in mood or temperament, ranging from uncharacteristic bursts of anger to bouts of depression or intense clinginess with their partner or another family member.

As things progress, seniors with dementia can get lost on during their daily walk around the block or while running errands in the car. Stove burners might be left on or basic hygiene is neglected. At this point, more serious interventions must take place in order to keep the individual (as well as others) safe and ensure their daily needs are taken care of.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s should be diagnosed by a healthcare professional

While dementia isn’t a disease, it is diagnosable based on established tests and screening available via a trusted physician. Schedule an appointment for an assessment if you feel memory issues are affecting your quality of life. In some cases, you may learn a latent medical condition or the side effects of a particular medication (or even a urinary tract infection!) are the culprits.

If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, we recommend reading, Connecting With And Caring For Those With Dementia. You can also schedule an appointment for a free, in-home assessment with a local home care provider to learn more about the services available to you to help your loved one age-in-place.

Senior Care Tip: Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

senior care tip focus on an anti-inflammatory diet

Seniors face a long list of “health risks” as their bodies age. Some of the most common include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. For some, dementia, Alzheimer’s or other factors causing cognitive decline enter the picture. In every single case, observing an anti-inflammatory diet can do a world of good when it comes to reducing the effects – or even reversing – a spectrum of medical conditions and their symptoms.

Using an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Promotes Health &  Reduces the Effects of Most Medical Conditions

The more we learn about the body and its immune system, the more we realize the toll that inflammation takes. In its purest form, inflammation is a good thing. It’s the body’s “call to arms” so to speak, revving up the immune system response to fight an invader or heal a particular area that is damaged or diseased.

Sometimes, however, when the body is barraged by invaders, is inundated by inflammatory triggers, or is simply rundown – the inflammatory response runs amok, and it winds up compromising an individual’s general well-being. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet – one which decreases inflammation and eliminates food sources that cause inflammation – can have a notable effect on a seniors energy levels, positive mental outlook, pain reduction and overall health.

Some medical conditions are marked by chronic inflammation. These include:

Almost any medical condition is exacerbated by inflammation, because chronic inflammation suppresses the body’s immune system, wearing it down to a point that it can’t do its job, fighting diseases or repairing damaged tissues.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that focuses on healthy foods, and food sources that are known to reduce inflammation. It’s also used to mitigate or eliminate foods and ingredients that contribute to inflammation – namely processed sugars, processed white flour, foods high in saturated fats and so on.

It can take a good few weeks or more to adjust to the new diet, but for those who aren’t used to eating this way, the physical evidence of its positive effects can be downright shocking. Many seniors notice reduced swelling in their joints (if they have arthritis), which also reduces pain and achiness. Some may notice they are able to sleep better or that they have more energy by day. Increased energy means a greater ability to remain mobile and active, which continues the health benefits.

For a complete and detailed account of the ideal anti-inflammatory diet, we recommend reading more about Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet tips. Here are some of the highlights:

Focus on fresh rather than processed foods

Processed foods are typically higher in sugar, salts, fats, and additives that are not good for the body. The fresher food is, the better. Anti-inflammatory diets focus on snacks and meals comprised largely of fresh produce, lean meats, and whole-grains – the less packaged the better.

Eat the rainbow

You’ve probably heard this before, but a plate of food that is colorful – via a range of different vegetables and other food sources – is typically healthier than those that are a single color (namely white, processed foods and/or carbs).

Next time you and your senior loved one venture out to the grocery store, try picking up a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables – including ones you aren’t familiar with. The internet will have a wealth of new recipes for you to try – based on whatever new items you pick up.

Focus on percentages

Active seniors need about 2000 to 2200 calories per day; moderately active seniors require only 1800 calories per day and less-active seniors should consume no more than 1600 calories per day. Start counting calories and learning about portion control to make sure seniors are on target. This single step might result in notable weight loss.

Then, make sure you’re eating the right proportion of calories to food types:

  • 40% – 50% should be complex carbohydrates (potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pastas, cereals or breads, etc. – no white flour or sugar if possible).
  • 30% should be from fats (focusing on lean meats, olive, grape seed or coconut oil, nuts, avocados and other sources of healthy, unsaturated fat)
  • 20% to 30% should be protein (lean meats such as fish, skinless chicken, and turkey are best. Beef should be grass fed and pasture raised, legumes are an excellent source of protein as are eggs, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)

Each of your meals should be balanced this way if possible.

Eat fiber-rich foods

Ideally, adults should consume at least 40 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is good for the body. It keeps you fuller longer, keeps the digestive tract regular and is good for heart health. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber (berries and beans, particularly). Whole-grain cereals are also a good source of fiber, assuming they aren’t too sugary and that they include at least 4 or 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Have a senior who’s particularly stubborn about eating healthy – let alone giving up the “good stuff?” Check out these 21 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes and start experimenting.

Need help with grocery shopping and meal prep to kick-start a new anti-inflammatory diet plan? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. Our licensed home care professionals are happy to make delicious and nutritious meals that adhere to your – or your senior loved one’s – dietary recommendations. We can prepare them and leave them in the fridge for easy eating or heating up, or we can provide meal companionship upon request. Our team is devoted to supporting and facilitating senior health and independence.

Connecting with and Caring for Those with Dementia

connecting with and caring for those with dementia

Sometimes, great advice or information comes from the most unlikely of places. In this case, we’re talking about a parenting podcast that offered transformative information about how to connect with and caring for those with dementia or who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

In December of last year, Zen Parenting Radio (a podcast dedicated to mindful living and parenting) hosted an interview with Deborah Shouse and her brother, Dan. Their mother was diagnosed with – and eventually passed away from – dementia, and that diagnosis and the resulting journey led her adult children on a quest to find ways they could connect with their mother, even when dementia changed so much about who she was and how she interacted with the world.

Creativity is the key to connecting and caring for those with dementia

Not only was that quest fruitful in many ways, the insights gleaned from the journey led Deborah to write and publish the book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together. She has since authored a second book, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Both books offer a rich tapestry of compassionate understanding, paired with practical ideas, for those who live with, love and/or care for adults with dementia in any form.

The siblings eventually realized they were most successful in connecting with their mother when they interacted with her in creative ways and when they were able to release attachments to who their mother had been. They found it most helpful to remain open to who she was in any given day, hour or moment.

We highly recommend listening to the podcast (Click Here to do so) to learn more about their experience and insights. In the meantime, here are some of the most important takeaways from the interview.

Let go of who your parent or loved one was and embrace who they are Now.

For the first little while, your loved one will seem just like they’ve always seemed, with the occasional changes associated with dementia – forgetfulness, confusion, increased inability to find the right words, and so on. Over time, however, they may not recognize you or others, they might not remember what they did the day before, the may say they don’t like the things they used to like, or that they like or want to do things they never cared about before. Rather than resist these changes, Deborah and Dan learned to accept them and did their best to meet their mother right where she was at at any given time. This helped them to have more present connections.

Let creativity be your guide.

Countless studies have shown that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are stimulated, engaged and more lively when participating in creative outlets, ranging from art classes and flower arranging to gardening, singing, baking, sculpting and so on. If they can’t remember the words to a tune, you can hum together. You can be the head chef or baker preparing some of your parent’s favorites (or new requests) and the parent can help you prep or keep you company. If they were amazing artists in the past, you might find their art is no longer up to that original standard but you accept the process for what it is and celebrate engagement and connection wherever you can find it. If they never participated in artistic outlets, keep trying different mediums and you may be surprised your loved one now enjoys watercolors, sculpting, collaging, coloring or drawing.

Never stop visiting or bringing in friends or family.

It’s not emotionally easy to continue regular visits with someone who doesn’t remember you or can’t connect who you are with who they are in their newest incarnation. However, Deborah and Dan noticed that visits from family, particularly Dan (who lives in Japan and could only visit a handful of times per year) were extremely stimulating for their mother. Her energy would be higher and brighter for days after a visit.This helped them to realize that while it may be difficult – and downright painful – for loved ones to connect with someone who they hope will remember them, or show some signs of recognition, visits from loved ones did a world of good for their mother’s well-being. Perhaps the easiest way to handle this is to pretend you’re visiting a friend’s relative or caring for those with dementia – you can be compassionate, kind, loving and tender – without as much of the tension or frustration that can arise when you want your loved one to be someone they are incapable of being.

This helped them to realize that while it may be difficult – and downright painful – for loved ones to connect with someone who they hope will remember them, or show some signs of recognition, visits from loved ones did a world of good for their mother’s well-being. Perhaps the easiest way to handle this is to pretend you’re visiting a friend’s relative or caring for those with dementia – you can be compassionate, kind, loving and tender – without as much of the tension or frustration that can arise when you want your loved one to be someone they are incapable of being.

What we learn over and over again is that connection – in any form – can help to ease the burdens associated with the land of dementia, and can provide an inspiring way to facilitate a loved one’s well-being.

Are you looking to support or augment memory care for yourself, a spouse or a loved one? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and we’ll be happy to discuss the best means of getting the care you need and caring for those with dementia.

Gardening For Seniors And All Its Wonderful Effects


gardening for seniors and all its wonderful effects

If you’re researching ways to keep senior loved ones healthy, you’ll read how important it is to get up and keep moving. A little bit of exercise goes a long way when it comes to senior well-being – mental, physical and emotional.

Gardening for seniors is a very simple way to get your senior loved one outdoors, exercising and doing something productive and enjoyable. In fact, the research around this exact topic is so clear that most assisted living and senior care facilities have some type of therapeutic gardening for seniors on the premises in order to facilitate the healing and health of their residents.

Plant a small garden and reap tremendous rewards

Whether you’re the primary caretaker for a senior or you’ve hired an in-home care provider to help out from time to time, planting a garden is a wonderful way to connect with a senior loved one. If you choose to plant a vegetable garden, you’ll also be helping to provide a fresh, nutritious food source for their meals!

Here are some of the benefits of gardening for seniors:

Access to nature is a balm for many ailments

Research has shown over and over again that access to sunlight, nature and the outdoors helps to remedy depression and loneliness, elevates mood, promotes healing and can improve both appetite and sleeping habits. Since gardening takes place outdoors or in a sunlight-filled greenhouse, seniors reap all of these benefits in a single activity, close to home.

It encourages the use of muscles, bones and motor skills

The more sedentary we become, the more we lose muscle tone, bone strength, and our motor skills. This results in loss of strength, balance, the ability to move freely and can also impact cognitive function. Gardening for seniors requires just enough strength, motion and dexterity that it winds up providing a wonderful workout without the feeling that you have to “get to the gym” or make a conscious effort to leave the home. It can also help to prevent osteoporosis, balance blood sugar levels, and build endurance.

Gardening can support Alzheimer’s and memory care

Gardening is a universal skill and a passion shared by many. When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they can lose the ability to participate in groups, hobbies or activities they used to love. The simple, methodical actions required by gardening make it a creative, productive and successful environment for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It also provides a way for family members and loved ones to connect with a relative with Alzheimer’s in a shared setting.

Gardening for seniors is just plain fun

There is something fun and magical about planting seeds and watching them grown no matter how young or old you are. For elders who no longer have children, grandchildren or pets in close proximity to care for – the garden becomes like a nursery, offering a place for them to nurture living things. It’s not hard to imagine while gardening has been shown to reduce instances of elder depression and loneliness.

Make the garden safe, accessible and senior-friendly

There are some accommodations to be made so the garden is safe and senior friendly. These include things like:

  • Using raised beds or tables to minimize bending and to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids. Vertical gardening, trellises and retractable hanging baskets are also options.
  • Purchasing watering wands and tools with longer handles to improve a senior’s reach. Also, make sure that tools are light, which makes them easier to manipulate.
  • Adding foam or grip tape to handles to improve a senior’s grip
  • Providing plenty of shade and sun protection as well as hydration breaks.
  • Ensuring tables and chairs are completely stable to reduce the chance of tipping or falling as seniors get up and down.

Is your senior loved one spending too much time lying or sitting, feeling lonely or housebound? Perhaps it’s time to make gardening for seniors a top priority. Whether you’re able to build raised garden beds or keep it simple using containers, any amount of physical activity and time spent outdoors will improve their daily life.

Need a little assistance? Contact HomeAide Home Care and schedule a consultation. Our dedicated staff can provide the companionship and assistance to help your senior get out and about, enjoying their favorite daily activities.

Difficult Topics with Elderly Family Members

difficult topics with elderly family members

Transitions are never easy, and that is certainly true for elderly family members making the transition from independent to dependent. While a battle of wills about driving boundaries, mobility aids, hearing aids or moving to a more accessible living space inspires resistance, that resistance is further compounded by dementia behaviors and/or physical ailments that cause discomfort.

That resistance, anger, resentment and frustration is vented on those who are closest to the individual – typically spouses, family members, and immediate caregivers. First, we recommend reviewing this article on Coping with Everyday Challenges, which provide a good overview of typical jumping in points.

Compassionate communication with elderly family members

Here are some of the ways you can facilitate more effective communication with elderly family members, while still remaining a calm, compassionate demeanor.

Keep in mind that seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s can say hurtful things they don’t mean. If your relative is diagnosed with a condition that causes or is related to dementia, try to keep a healthy emotional distance if they are in an agitated state of mind, always remembering their words reflect their condition and not their actual feelings or thoughts. We recommend reading New Approaches for Difficult Behaviors for more specific information on communicating with difficult elderly family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Schedule an appointment to visit the doctor

Would you want your child or grandchild telling you that you shouldn’t drive anymore? That you should leave the home you’ve known and loved? That you need to bring a stranger into your home to help you out around the house or keep you company? None of these are easy or comfortable conversations, especially if you’re worried about the same things but don’t want to admit it.

Hearing it from a third-party, however, especially if that third-party is an authority of some kind, can ease the transition.

When it comes to a senior’s well-being – or the well-being of others – bringing it up in conversation with the doctor is a wise move. Email your loved one’s doctor ahead of time, addressing each of your concerns so that he or she is prepared at the next appointment. Then, ask your loved one if you can accompany him/her to their next appointment to discuss some of your concerns.

Sometimes, a simple eye test will be enough for a doctor to recommend revising driving privileges with the DMV. The doctor can also mention accessibility and safety issues, and so on. Often, elders feel less affronted when instructions are given by a medical professional.

Consider creating an accessible home

If your senior is resistant to moving out of the home they love, perhaps you can make the home they love more accessible. Studies show that seniors who are able to safely age-in-place remain independent longer. The family can make an agreement that if the senior allows you to make their home more senior-friendly, the topic of moving elsewhere will be tabled for a while, with an understanding that help will be brought in as needed.

Make it all about you

Rather than making the conversations about all of the things the senior can’t do anymore, or that aren’t safe anymore, make the conversation about your personal concerns. For example, you can state, “I notice the refrigerator seems emptier than usual, and that you aren’t getting out as much as you used to. I love you and I can’t help but worry a little bit. It would make me feel so much better if you would let us arrange someone to stop by once a week to take you out, so your grocery shopping, make a few meals, clean the house, etc.”

By making it about you, it gives the senior permission to relax into the idea. They are now doing you a favor, while – in reality – they know they need a little assistance and this is a good way to get it. That once-a-week helper can then be a tremendous resource – eventually, transition to increased care as needed. Read, “What’s Right For You, Home Care or Assisted Living,”to see which is best for your senior loved one.Unless there is serious cognitive impairment, it’s critical that you understand your senior family member has the right to choose what’s best for them, even when that isn’t what you feel is best. If necessary, you might want to enlist the help of a therapist in order to discuss your frustrations and concerns and to practice the art of letting your parent, grandparent or loved one make decisions with the knowledge that you bear zero responsibility if there is a negative outcome.

Unless there is serious cognitive impairment, it’s critical that you understand your elderly family member has the right to choose what’s best for them, even when that isn’t what you feel is best. If necessary, you might want to enlist the help of a therapist in order to discuss your frustrations and concerns and to practice the art of letting your parent, grandparent or loved one make decisions with the knowledge that you bear zero responsibility if there is a negative outcome.

Hopefully, over time, and with some heart-to-heart conversations, your loved one will come around and make choices that support their safety, good health and well-being.