10 Simple Ways To Keep Seniors Hydrated

10 simple ways to keep seniors hydrated

The senior population is more sensitive to hydration during the warmer months. There are several reasons by seniors are more prone to dehydration, including: 

  • Medication side-effects 
  • Age-related reductions in the sensation of being thirsty or the urge to drink 
  • Immobility complications 
  • Not enjoying “plain water” 

Family members and caregivers should make it as easy as possible for seniors to get enough fluids. In addition to causing side effects such as weakness, lethargy, and foggy brains, dehydrated seniors can also experience symptoms of dementia, including memory loss, confusion, agitation, and delusions.  

Keep Seniors Hydrated This Summer  

Feeling thirsty is often the first sign of dehydration. But, since seniors are less apt to experience that as they age, there are other signs you can look out for that indicate a need for fluid intake. These include: 

  • Fuzzy or dry mouth 
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Foggy or fuzzy brain 
  • Dizziness 

These signs often go unaddressed because well-meaning family members assume it’s nothing or seniors have become so used to it they don’t realize it’s actually a problem. If you see signs, get your loved one a glass of water or a favorite beverage to see if that helps.  

Further and more advanced symptoms of dehydration include: 

  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Lack of balance or mobility (increasing the risk of falling
  • Confusion or seeming delirium 

If left unaddressed for too long, seniors can wind up hospitalized, when all they needed was to drink more often. Don’t let that happen on your watch! 

10 Ways To Make Hydration Easy For Seniors And Caregivers 

The following 10 tips can help you and your senior loved ones keep hydrated during the warmer months of the year.  

Set water reminders on gadgets 

Seniors and caregivers can install hydration reminders on their smart gadgets with a simple trip to the app store. Programmed to go off at set intervals, these alarms remind you to take a few sips of water from a nearby cup or bottle. A good example is WaterMinder, which is available on both Apple and Android products.  

Is your senior newer to technology? Read our post, How to Support Seniors with Technology. 

Keep water or other favorite (non-alcoholic) beverages close by 

Proximity is everything when it comes to keeping seniors hydrated. If there isn’t water or something to sip nearby, it’s easy for seniors to pass up the urge to take a drink if they are tired, not feeling well, or having a bad day.  

Keep spill-proof water bottles at the bedside, near their favorite chair, at their place at the table, on the bathroom countertop, or anywhere else they are apt to spend time with. Keep them clean and fresh. The minute s/he feels thirst, their instant hydration should be in reach. 

Have popsicles on hand

You can buy healthy, 100% juice (no sugar added) or diabetes-friendly popsicles at any grocery store. These are delicious, fun to eat, and full of water in the frozen ice crystals. You can also purchase popsicle molds online or at your local grocery store to make your own popsicles. Seniors may also appreciate smoothies in popsicle form for added protein and nutrition. 

Make a morning and/or afternoon smoothie ritual 

Speaking of smoothies, they are a great way to boost senior nutrition and hydration. In addition to added liquid intake, the ingredients you select can also boost a senior’s nutrient intake via vitamins, protein, calcium, fiber, and other minerals. Smoothies can also help to nourish seniors who don’t’ have a big appetite or who aren’t feeling well, and you can tailor the ingredients based on their taste preferences.  

Use bottles or lidded cups with straws 

Shaky hands can make it more difficult to drink comfortably for fear of spilling or knocking the cup over. Use bottles or lidded cups that have straws, rather than spouts, for drinking. This is easier for seniors to access and use without the embarrassment or compilation of a spill. 

Stock the fridge with hydrating foods and snacks 

Drinking fluids isn’t the only way to boost hydration. Fruits and vegetables are full of water too. Stock the fridge and pantry with foods that are hydrating. Pre-cutting and preparation make them an easy, go-to snack for seniors. Examples include: 

  • Veggie trays with ranch or hummus dip (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery, jicama, snap peas) 
  • Watermelon (or any melon) cut into slices or balled 
  • Fruit salad with bite-size pieces of fruit for easy nibbling (stir in some yogurt for added protein and probiotics) 
  • Fruit cocktail (softer fruit can be easier for seniors with dentures) 
  • Grapes 
  • Applesauce 
  • Lettuce (salads are a great way to hydrate) 

Harder vegetables may need to be steamed or boiled to soften them up if seniors have dental issues or their dentures make it difficult to chew.  

Create a (non-alcoholic!) happy hour tradition 

Why not create a tradition of happy hour at a certain time in the late afternoon. This can be a fun way for seniors and their caregivers to connect socially, rather than business-mode, while they enjoy a delicious non-alcoholic drink. Happy Hour can also be a time to invite neighbors, family, or friends over for a social call or patio visit, keeping seniors socially engaged

We put together a list of Holiday Inspired Mocktails a couple of years ago, and that’s a great place to start. If the senior still enoys alcohol, limit it to one drink only as alcohol is actually dehydrating. You’d be amazed at how satisfying something as simple as tonic with lime or soda water with lemon can be without the addition of alcohol. There is also a range of flavored sparkling waters on the market. By a half a dozen different flavors and taste them to find a favorite. 

Infuse water with other flavors 

Some people aren’t fond of drinking plain water, and certain medications can change the palate, so that water tastes a little bitter or stale. Infusing water is a simple solution that avoids added sugar or calories, but makes water more palatable and helps keep seniors hydrated. 

Cutting a slice or two of lemon, lime, or cucumber is delicious. Throw in a sprig of mint while you’re at it. Other delicious infused water options are:  

  • Watermelon 
  • Berries 
  • Ginger 
  • Rosemary 
  • Pineapple 
  • Orange or grapefruit 

If infused water is a hit, consider purchasing a water infusion pitcher so you can make more at once.  

Experiment with beverages at different temperatures 

Sometimes it’s the temperature of a beverage, rather than the flavor, that prevents seniors from drinking enough. Try serving the same beverage at different temperatures. You may prefer hot tea or coffee while seniors prefer it iced. Iced beverages may be too cold for sensitive teeth or gums, so drinks may need to be brought to room temperature or warmed up to taste and feel good.  

Swap sweet liquids for savory alternatives to keep seniors hydrated 

Have a senior who prefers savory foods or is restricted on his/her sweet intake? Try sipping soups or broths from a mug, rather than from a bowl. This can be a comforting way to keep hydrated while also boosting calorie intake and/or nutrition for seniors who aren’t getting enough to eat or don’t have much of an appetite. 

We’re Here To Help

Are you noticing signs that your Bay Area senior loved one is dehydrated, doesn’t have enough food in the house, or may need extra support to remain independently at home? Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how we can help. 

Know The Warning Signs Of Dementia

know the warning signs of dementia

It is easy to miss the first warning signs of dementia, either because we laugh them off as “senior moments,” or because the undeniable red flags feel too scary or sad to address head-on. That said, it is essential to know and honor the first warning signs of dementia or age-related memory loss.  

Doing so ensures you get an accurate diagnosis, can create a customized long-term care plan that includes input from the person while s/he can still speak for him/herself, and gives you time to make lifestyle changes that notably slow down the disease’s progression. 

First and foremost, your care plan should consider whether the goal is to age-in-place with graduated in-home care as needed or whether it is time to transition into an assisted living community. Studies are clear that creating and implementing a care plan immediately, rather than when dementia gets to the mid to later stages improves the quality of life for both the patient and their spouse and family members. 

In addition to knowing and recognizing the warning signs of dementia, we recommend visiting our page on Connecting With and Caring for Those with Dementia, which can help spouses and family members learn new ways to enjoy quality time with loved ones when memory loss moves into the mid to later stages of the disease. 

Dementia: A Broad Term Describing Progressive Memory Loss 

Dementia is defined as a “decline and/or loss of memory, reasoning, judgment, behavior, language and other mental abilities that are not a part of normal aging; it usually progressively worsens over time.” It is a broad term that encompasses many of the other diagnoses that lead to dementia, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia yet, nor can it be reversed in most cases. Some patients who catch it early and make significant lifestyle changes – specifically in regards to diet, supplementation, exercise, and sleep habits – can find their symptoms diminish for a while.  

That said, the early diagnosis and treatment of dementia can notably increase the patient’s quality of life. 

9 Common Warning Signs Of Dementia 

Here are nine common warning signs of dementia. Not everyone experiences the same thing. The main thing is for partners, spouses, and family members to pay attention and consider scheduling an appointment with their senior loved one’s general practitioner (GP) if any of these signs become apparent or are in direct opposition to the senior’s normal way of being. 

Forgetting names, faces, appointments, and due dates 

Of course, we all forget these things from time to time, but someone in the early stages of dementia forgets more often than usual. This can lead to the moodiness and irritability cited below because s/he feel embarrassed, ashamed, and defensive when these lapses are caught or obvious. Forgetting names and faces can also cause people with early stages of dementia to retreat from their social groups and favorite activities. 

NOTE: This level of forgetfulness also leads to forgetting to take medications, which can make dementia worse and exacerbate underlying medical conditions. Read, Medication Reminders are Lifesavers for Seniors with Dementia to learn more about how you and caregivers can help.  

Easily confused and disoriented in new (and familiar) places 

You may get a call from your loved one that s/he is in a parking lot and can’t remember his/her way home. Or, you may wind up with a knock on the door, only to find a neighbor or police officer returning your senior spouse or family member after s/he was found wandering, lost or confused.  

This easy confusion and disorientation is unnerving and is a major red flag that something needs to be done to keep your loved one safe and secure at all times of the day and night. 

Losing or forgetting their words 

In the beginning, losing a word here or there may seem funny or almost like a joke. Enough repeats of this, though, and both the individual and those closest to him/her will realize it is more than just the occasional glitch. In the beginning, s/he may compensate for word loss by finding a synonym or describing what the word means.  

Over time, word loss will become more common and by the later stages of dementia, the person will experience aphasia, which is the loss of intelligible speech and conversations. 

Difficulty performing familiar tasks 

Cooks may struggle to follow recipes or to make their favorite dishes; avid gardeners might be found repeatedly weeding the same patch or pulling out flowers or plants instead of the weeds. House Cleaning and laundry may be left undone or only partially completed and you may notice that the pantry has 12 cans of beans but nothing else. All of these are signs of potential memory loss and that additional care is required.  

FYI: Difficulty performing familiar tasks may not be related to dementia but are still a sign that your loved one requires additional support. Click Here to read about the most common signs that a senior needs more help around the house. 

Personality changes

Short-term memory loss can result in personality changes that are noticeable pretty early on. This can mean a retreat from favorite activities or groups to moving from a meticulous housekeeper to a hoarder. Moodiness and irritability can also plague typically cheerful people. On the flip side, previously serious or quiet people can become quite giddy, childlike, or silly. 

Mood swings 

The effects of dementia can be devastating for couples or close family members if it goes undiagnosed for too long. All of a sudden, your formerly loving and gentle spouse can become irritable, short-tempered, and even verbally or physically abusive. You may also notice signs of depression or anxiety

Poor judgement

The decline in short-term memory and critical thinking can lead to poor judgment. For example, taking the keys and driving when it has already been determined that s/he shouldn’t be behind the wheel

Paranoia or suspiciousness 

This can be challenging on so many levels. People with dementia may hear voices or see people or things that aren’t there. They may feel they are being recorded or surveilled, or they may accuse family members of caregivers of being thieves, undercover agents, or always under suspicion. 

Working with a licensed caregiving agency is one of the best things you can do to help eliminate your own suspicions. Licensed caregivers perform thorough criminal background checks on all of their employees and are also bonded and insured for your protection. 

Fabrication of memories is another warning sign of dementia

During the early stages, people with dementia are aware of their memory lapses, which can be extremely embarrassing for them. As a result, they will often feign remembering or will even fabricate memories or stories to appear as if they are on top of it. 

Schedule A Free Assessment Today

Have you noticed the warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s in your spouse or family member? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free assessment. We will listen to your story and are happy to provide no-obligation tips on how to move forward with a comprehensive memory care plan. 

Are You Taking Advantage Of Respite Care?

are you taking advantage of respite care

Caregiving takes its toll. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, how much you feel they deserve, or the strength of your conviction that nobody can take care of him/her like you can – caregiver burnout is absolutely inevitable unless you take care of the big picture. 

If you are a caregiver or are planning to take over caregiving duties for an aging parent or senior loved one, make sure to read our post, How to Recognize and Prevent Caregiver Burnout.  

Big Picture Planning: Respite Care Is An Essential Part Of Caregiving

Respite care should automatically be included in any long-term home care plan. Period.  

When you hire a full-time professional caregiving agency, this is automatically taken care of because our employees are only allowed to work a specific number of hours per shift, and per week. In the spouse/immediate caregiver plan – things get murkier. 

What Is Respite Care? 

Respite care is a way to provide a break for primary caregivers while ensuring your loved one has expert and compassionate care in the caregiver’s absence. If your niece or sister offers to come and stay with your parent for a day or overnight, they are offering respite care. Friends or volunteers from your spiritual community may also provide occasional relief from the rigors of caregiving.  

When a care plan includes regular respite care or long-term respite care, it’s a good idea to meet with a licensed caregiving agency – especially if the senior loved one has a progressive condition.  

Professional home care providers are educated, trained, and experienced at providing care for seniors in all stages of the aging process – from those who need a bit of help getting around and preparing meals to seniors who are completely bed-bound, which demands a different level of care and attention. 

While respite care shifts typically have a minimum billing window, typically three to four hours, they can be used as intermittently as you like. Respite care can be used to help caregivers: 

  • Attend their own health and wellness appointments 
  • Resume regular religious/spiritual services and events 
  • Participate in special family events, ceremonies, and gatherings 
  • Take days, weekends, or weeks off for the sake of time off, and not because you’re having to accommodate yours or someone else’s need(s) 
  • Have the freedom to take “sick days” when they or family members are ill or experiencing an emergency and need to “take care of business” 
  • Get together with friends for weekly lunches, self-care, or whatever else you need to fill your cup and nourish your dedicated, hardworking spirit 

In addition to preventing caregiver burnout and supporting caregivers by providing regular breaks, respite care also establishes a rapport between the client and other caregivers. This can come in handy in the event of a sick day or emergency because the client already feels comfortable with the caregiver replacement. 

Make Respite Care Part Of The Plan When… 

Here are some signs that you and your family should take advantage of respite care as part the home care plan from the very start: 

There are only one or two family caregivers 

The reality is that it is impossible for one or two caregivers to provide quality, patient, compassionate, and attentive full-time care, 24/7. You will become depleted and that depletion will take its toll on your ability to care for your loved one, not to mention the negative toll it can take on your health and wellbeing. 

If your loved one requires care around the clock or more than just a few hours each day, you will either need to assemble a team of caregivers to observe regular shifts or you will need to ensure you have adequate respite care each week to give you a break. 

Your loved one has Alzheimer’s/dementia or other “progressive” diagnosis 

The care required at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s/dementia or other “progressive” medical conditions, like Parkinson’s, is 180-degrees from the constantly increasing levels of care required as the disease progresses. Enlisting the support of respite care providers and building them into the care plan from the beginning, makes it easier to get the support you will need when things get more intense. 

You are working and/or still have children at home 

In the realm of senior care, we refer to you as “The Sandwich Generation” because you are sandwiched in between your children/work and your aging parents. It is absolutely consuming and completely depleting. Respite care is an affordable way to buoy you up as you work to meet everyone’s needs while still fulfilling your work obligations, family fun, children’s extracurricular activities, etc.  

Visit Parents Caregiving for Parents: Support for the Sandwich Generation, to learn more about that topic. 

Your family takes an annual vacation, holiday(s), etc. 

If you have to miss one family vacation or a string of traditional holiday gatherings for a single year, that is one thing. However, a decline from Alzheimer’s or dementia, chronic illnesses, or general aging decline can last for years. 

If your loved one isn’t on hospice or in the last weeks or months of his/her life, you are going to need respite care so you have the ability to balance your life while simultaneously caring for the needs of your loved one. 

You need respite care if you have children living at home 

If you have children living at home you absolutely must find a way to have stand-in caregivers at the ready. Your senior loved one enjoyed a rich, full life and s/he almost undoubtedly wishes the same for you and your family. Childhood is fleeting and so it’s imperative that in the midst of honoring your senior loved one that you also honor your children’s milestones and important events. 

Respite care is the way to make sure you can be at the game, attend the school pageant, volunteer in the classroom, or chaperone field trips.  

Would you like to learn more about how you can take advantage of respite care when creating a long-term senior home care plan? Contact HomeAide Home Care, Inc. and schedule a free assessment and consultation.

Senior Care Resources In The Bay Area

senior care resources in the bay area

Bay Area residents are fortunate to have an impressive array of options when it comes to senior care resources. From home care and adult day care options and providers to transportation support, meal delivery, and support groups – there is a myriad of agencies and organizations dedicated to making your life easier. 

Our List For Top Bay Area Senior Care Resources 

Here are 7 of our favorite organizations that serve seniors in the Bay Area. They can be especially helpful if you are a spouse or family caregiver who is sandwiched between the demands of caring for your senior loved one and your job or children who still live at home. 

Bay Area home care agencies 

Licensed home care agencies in the Bay Area can provide invaluable support to seniors and their caregiving loved ones. Yes, we are available to provide care full-time or live-in, around the clock support. More often than not, however, we simply help to fill in the gaps for spouses or the family team of caregivers.  

We can provide errand running and shopping/grocery delivery. We can provide respite care when you need a break, or work just a day or three a week to relieve the regular caregiver(s). Our agencies are here to listen to your needs and fill those gaps with compassionate professionals. 

Your local senior center can help with senior care resources  

Do a search online for the local senior center(s) in your immediate community. First and foremost, these centers have their fingers on the pulse of senior resources within their immediate proximity. Plus, they offer their own social events and community meals that help seniors get out of the house and engage with others

While we’ve provided recommendations based on our knowledge and experience in and around our own and our clients’ communities and neighborhoods, senior centers often know about smaller or lesser-known senior care resources that aren’t on our radar. 

Meal delivery services 

If your senior loved one lives alone, or with a partner who also requires some level of caregiving, undernourishment is a real threat. Meal planning, shopping, and cooking require a substantial level of energy. If dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other age-related disabilities are in the mix, eating three healthy meals a day becomes an even greater challenge – but is of the utmost importance for managing those conditions. 

Here are a few suggestions: 

If you have plenty of family living nearby, this can also be a great way for everyone to contribute to their beloved senior’s wellbeing. Have a family meeting and brainstorm ideas for senior meal planning. The ultimate goal is to ensure seniors have nutritious and delicious meals that are easy to heat up and that align with any relevant healthcare recommendations. 

Encourage everyone to make extras and freeze them or deliver them with clearly marked labels as to what they are and how to heat (masking tape and sharpies are perfect for this). Or, consider using free, online platforms such as Meal Train to create a meal calendar and delivery schedule. 

Here are some links to help you get started: 

Adult day care centers 

Adult day care centers allow primary caregivers to go to work every day, observe routine appointments, get some weekday respite care, or enjoy a few hours off to catch up on rest, self-care, or much-needed social time with other friends and family. The following is a list of some of the most reputable adult day care centers around the Bay. 

Live Oak Adult Day Center (San Jose) 

DayBreak Adult Care Centers (12 Locations around the Bay Area) 

Mt. Diablo Center for Adult Day Health Care (Pleasant Hill) 

Mental health & grief support  

The Institute on Aging has incredible mental health and grief support options for homebound seniors. The mental health professionals who work with seniors have niche expertise in many of the areas that trouble seniors most, including: 

  • Isolation 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Grief 
  • Cognitive decline 

While their services used to be provided in the home, technological platforms are used as much as possible to support social distancing when needed. If your senior loved one isn’t already familiar with tech, we recommend getting him/her a senior-friendly tablet to support their process. 

Read How to Support Seniors with Technology for additional tips on creating more successful tech transitions. 

 Your local hospice provider 

Hospice is an incredible organization with an often mistaken identity. For many, the idea of “going on hospice” is the equivalent of saying, “I’m dying…” That is not the case. We’ve learned through experience that hospice clients benefit most when they sign up for available services months or even a year or so before death would be on the horizon. From in-house social services and therapeutic support, to comfort care and immediate delivery of home hospital equipment that makes life easier, hospice can help home caregivers in exponential ways. 

If your loved one has any terminal medical diagnosis (cancer, COPD, dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.), schedule a consultation with a few local hospice organizations to learn more about their services. 

We feel the same way about home care. The earlier you begin researching your options and learning more about the home care agencies near you, the more informed you’ll be when it is time to make a decision or enlist the next level of care for your loved one.  

Transportation support 

Is your senior facing the reality that it’s no longer safe to drive? That’s a difficult transition to make because, for most, it feels like the end of independence and autonomy. Help your senior loved one embrace that transition by offering transportation services s/he can use on his/her own. 

Visit the Institute on Aging’s Bay Area Guide to the Best Transportation for Seniors, which has an independent transportation option for a variety of senior needs. 

We’re Here To Help You

The caregivers here at HomeAide Home Care, Inc. have decades of experience serving Bay Area seniors and their families. We offer free, no-obligation consultations and can answer any questions you may have about the types of services that make the most sense for your loved one. Contact us today to schedule your free, in-home assessment. 510-247-1200. 

Ending Social Isolation In Seniors

ending social isolation in seniors

AARP and other senior surveys cite that up to 90% of seniors would prefer to age-in-place, in the comfort of their neighborhoods and home if it were safe to do so. 

And, while safety measures such as accessible home improvements and scaled, in-home care providers are often a focus, family caregivers can forget that supporting a senior’s social life can be equally as important for his/her health and wellbeing. 

Social Isolation Causes Loneliness, Depression, & Anxiety 

Aging-in-place translates to “living alone” for the majority of seniors, and this can lead to social isolation. Age-related decline and mortality, combined with driving restrictions and mobility issues, can cause a senior’s social life to shrink at exponential rates.  

Unfortunately, a lack of social interaction leading to social isolation in seniors is linked to escalating health conditions such as: 

  • Depression 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • More rapid cognitive decline 
  • Stroke 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep disorders 

These findings exemplify how important it is to prioritize the health of your senior loved one’s social life, as well as their physical and mental health. 

Ideas to support a vibrant senior social life 

Here are ideas that support a senior’s social life and that work to end senior social isolation.  

Provide the support required to maintain their current social calendar 

Does your parent have a busy social calendar, filled to the brim with lunch dates, Rotary or Kiwanis meetings, social functions at their local spiritual center, hair and nail appointments, etc.? Don’t let those fall by the wayside just because s/he can’t drive anymore or isn’t able to safely or confidently use public transportation. 

Take some time to organize carpools with other members of those groups who are still able to drive, take advantage of senior-specific public transport such as Dial-a-Ride, or begin interviewing local, licensed senior care providers that offer driving as part of their services menu. 

Hire a companion to prevent social isolation

Companion services are one of the most popular in-home care options. When you hire a companion, your senior loved one instantly gains a social connection with benefits. In addition to keeping seniors company, reading, listening to music, and driving clients to and from regular social engagements, companionship services can also be expanded to include things like errand running and grocery shopping, cooking meals or keeping seniors company while they eat, dining out at a favorite restaurant, attending community events, and so on. 

Even if your loved one has transitioned into an assisted living or nursing home facility, caregivers can still support their social interaction with regularly scheduled visits that are tailored to the client’s interests and hobbies. 

Get them active as community volunteers 

There are loads of non-profit and volunteer-driven groups in your area who are looking for caring individuals with time on their hands. Does that sound like your senior loved one? Getting seniors active in their communities, providing much-needed hands-on support is a win-win for everyone.  

In addition to providing help and care to those in need, volunteering helps to make seniors feel productive, needed, and essential – something that can slip by the wayside if their long-term care plan doesn’t include social interaction. Read our post Volunteer Opportunities Are a Win-Win for Everyone to learn more about potential volunteering needs here in the Bay Area. You can double-down on the wins by getting the whole family involved in Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite charity every once in a while. What better way to spend time together as a family? 

Make sure they’re getting ample time with grandchildren 

Speaking of win-winds and time spent together as a family, study after study shows how important it is for children to spend time with their grandparents. If Alzheimer’s or dementia make it unsafe for unsupervised visits, there are still so many ways children can benefit by reading to their grandparent, listening to their favorite songs or hearing grandparents’ stories as they watch old movies or pictures. 

Grandchildren are young, vibrant, and have a unique, heart-to-heart connection when they have the time to develop a relationship. Countless studies show the benefits for children who have the opportunity to spend more time with grandparents, including greater self-confidence and more focus in school. Visit The Benefits of Spending Time With Grandparents to learn more. 

Optimize the benefits of technology for face-to-face time 

If your parent or grandparent isn’t a natural technophile, s/he is still in luck. Companies like Samsung are creating tablets that are specifically geared for seniors by simplifying the connection process. While Zoom has become a superstar during the era of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place, Skype and Google Video Hangouts also offer opportunities to connect “face-to-face” with children, grandchildren, or peers who have relocated over the years.  

Piggy-backing on our advice to spend more time with grandchildren, seniors with younger grandkids can check out software platforms like Caribu, that allow adults to read with children while looking at the same book (via the screen, of course) – no matter how many miles are between them. 

Ending social isolation in seniors means finding ways to make seniors feel needed, wanted, and loved – something we can all understand.

We’re Always Here

Interested in learning more about companion services and other in-home care options that provide sparks of warmth and human connection in your senior loved one’s life? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided personalized, person-to-person care and companionship to Bay Area seniors for 20-years and counting. 

How To Detect Undernourishment In Seniors

how to detect undernourishment in seniors

It may be difficult to imagine that the parent who consistently put food on the family table each and every night, and who insisted you eat all of your peas and carrots, is now malnourished herself. Sadly, that’s the case for many seniors who lack the energy, strength, or mental ability to properly plan, shop for, and prepare nourishing meals.  

Senior Health Risks Increase With Poor Nutritional Intake 

A recent post in the Journal of Clinical Medicine states, “Malnutrition is reported in up to 50% of older adults, although prevalence estimates vary substantially…and represent a major geriatric syndrome with multifactorial etiology and severe consequences for health outcomes and quality of life.” In other words, in addition to being a more widespread threat than you might realize, malnutrition results in a wide range of physical and mental side effects that compromise overall health and a senior’s ability to enjoy life to its fullest. 

Some of the most common health issues related to poor nutrition include: 

  • A weakened immune system, making seniors more vulnerable to contagions and can exacerbate existing health conditions 
  • Diminished wound healing, of particular concern to seniors with diabetes 
  • Increased risk of hospitalization 
  • Higher fall risk, which leads to more invasive medical treatment(s) 
  • Mental decline that can replicate dementia or accelerate/exacerbate existing dementia 
  • Elevated mortality rate  

Common Signs Of Undernourishment In Seniors  

Here are some of the most common symptoms or signs that a senior may be undernourished: 

Decrease in food intake 

There are multiple reasons seniors may decrease their daily food intake. This includes diminished smell and taste, lack of energy to prepare tasty foods, medications that alter the taste of foods and/or suppress the appetite, or memory issues that cause seniors to forget (skip) meals altogether.  

Poor oral hygiene leading to sore teeth/gums, missing teeth, or poorly fitted dentures also diminishes a senior’s interest and/or ability to eat. This is one of the reasons why oral hygiene should be a high priority for seniors. 

Weight loss 

Weight loss is a natural result of undernourishment in seniors. If you don’t live with or near a senior loved one, it can be hard to tell whether s/he is eating well. However, over time, you’ll notice a decrease in weight and this should never be ignored. In addition to being a sign of poor nourishment, weight loss is one of the major red flags indicating seniors need support to remain safely and independently in their own homes. 

They seem lonely and/or depressed 

Loneliness and depression are common in the senior population. The combination of age-related decline, limited mobility or driving privileges, the loss of a spouse and one’s peers over time, or having to downsize or relocate put seniors at risk for the blues or bonafide depression. For many, this also results in a lack of appetite, or the tendency to gravitate towards salty, fatty, or sugary foods rather than the healthy and nourishing foods the body needs. 

More frequent bruising or illness 

Seniors who aren’t getting their adequate doses of daily vitamins and minerals are more prone to bruising. They also may get sick more often than normal or may comment about more intense side effects of existing health conditions – all a sign of immunosuppression that accompanies poor nutrition. 

Forgetful or more extreme dementia episodes 

Nutrition is key to mental health, and that includes cognitive (memory) function. Seniors who are not eating well can become more forgetful than normal – scaring themselves and others into thinking they have dementia (FYI: UTIs also lead to dementia-like symptoms. Click Here to read more about that). Poor nutrition also exacerbates and can accelerate the side effects of existing dementia. 

Fatigue and/or increased sleeping habits 

Not surprisingly, those who aren’t eating as they should are more likely to feel lethargic and sleepy. They may even start to nap more or sleep longer at night. Lack of energy and extra sleepiness are also signs of depression and/or maybe a sign that medications need to be re-evaluated by their healthcare professional(s). 

Additional signs of undernourishment in seniors are: 

  • Unusual irritability 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Feeling cold more frequently 
  • Longer time required to recover from illnesses or for wounds to heal 

Any of the above signs and symptoms should be noted and reported to your senior loved one’s physician. It may be time to put a more solid nutrition plan into place. 

Tips For Preventing Or Amending Poor Nutrition 

There are several things you can do to prevent or amend undernourishment in seniors: 

  • Implement a weekly weigh-in. Have seniors or their caregivers track weight on a weekly basis for a more accurate record of weight fluctuations. This will also come in handy when you need to schedule a visit with a physician because it provides quantifiable evidence for the staff to analyze. 
  • Observe their eating habits. If you’re nearby, schedule more frequent visits around mealtimes and sit with the senior while s/he eats, noticing what is eaten and what isn’t. This can provide important clues. Is it loneliness that leads to skipped meals? Are there difficulties chewing or swallowing? Have their tastes altered (adjustments in certain medications and altering spice levels can help with that)? Are they unable or uninterested in preparing meals? Consider implementing a meal delivery service or working with an in-home care agency so seniors have an ample supply of easy, delicious, and nutritious meals and snacks on-hand. 
  • Make healthy and tasty meals readily available. From meal services such as Meals-on-Wheels (available from most community senior centers) to caregivers who can grocery shop, meal plan, and cook meals for seniors, there are ample ways to ensure seniors have access to delicious and nutritious meals. Click Here to read about anti-inflammatory diets and how they support senior health and wellbeing.  
  • Keep seniors socially engaged. Social engagement boosts energy levels, enhances mental wellbeing, and can help to increase senior’s appetites – especially if they’re gathering together for meals. If transportation is an issue, reach out to local home care providers to discuss how companion and driving services can support your loved one’s social activity and appetite. 

We Can Help You And/Or Your Loved One

HomeAide Home Care is a licensed, Bay Area home care agency. Contact us if you are concerned your senior loved one is suffering from undernourishment or may need more mealtime support. The loving attention from a caregiver, combined with easy-to-heat or eat meals and snacks can notably improve a seniors physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Importance Of Oral Hygiene In The Elderly

the importance of oral hygiene in the elderly

Taking on the role of caregiver for senior loved ones is challenging (major understatement!). It’s easy for things like oral hygiene and routine dental appointments to take a back burner as other, more immediate issues are addressed.  

However, oral health is increasingly a focus for senior healthcare providers as we learn more about gum disease and tooth decay, and their link to serious health complications. 

Oral Hygiene And Dental Care Begin At Home 

While dentist appointments are important, oral hygiene and dental care begin at home. If your senior loved one requires medication reminders, s/he might also benefit from brushing/flossing reminders. Both of which should happen at least two – if not three – times per day. 

Adequate nutrition is another staple of healthy teeth and gums – and healthy teeth and gums rely on adequate nutrition to keep them strong. It can present a conundrum. If you notice the fridge and cupboards are bare, check the medicine cabinet and see if there are a nice, fresh toothbrush and visible signs the toothpaste is used regularly. 

Consider adding meal support into the weekly plan, and talk about other senior caregiving services that might keep your loved one living at home independently, while still meeting their daily needs. Replace toothbrushes as needed (every season is a good reminder…) 

7 Reasons Oral Hygiene And Dental Health Is A Priority For Seniors 

The irony is that seniors are more prone to dry mouth, forgetting to brush their teeth, and malnourishment than younger sectors of the population. Yet, it can be more difficult for seniors to get to the dentist – particularly when they live alone, no longer drive, or have a hard time making/remembering their appointments.  

Also, seniors are the most likely demographic to have bridges or dentures, which require regular cleaning, maintenance and “fit-checks” to ensure they’re working well and have a comfortable fit.  

Just as it’s essential to keep in touch with your parent’s doctor(s), it’s equally important to communicate with their dentist to ensure they’re making – and keeping – their appointments.  

Here are seven good reasons why oral health is so important for seniors: 

Gum disease is linked to heart disease 

Seniors with gum disease and/or rotting teeth are linked to higher rates of heart disease, as well as strokes. The American Academy of Periodontology states that adults with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease than their peers with healthy teeth and gums. 

It prevents dementia and cognitive decline 

Some studies show that individuals with severe gum disease are more likely to develop dementia. This is a result of chronic inflammation that exacerbates existing Alzheimer’s/dementia – or that continuous inflammation might catalyze their onset.  

Seniors are more prone to dry mouth 

Seniors are more prone to dry mouth because of the medications they take and because they can easily suffer from dehydration. Seniors taking diuretics may intentionally drink less to prevent the more frequent urge to urinate. Unfortunately, dry mouth elevates the risk of gum disease. Find ways to encourage senior loved ones to drink more fluids, and schedule more frequent dental appointments if dry mouth is an issue. 

Good oral hygiene is a diabetes management tool

Is your parent currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or at risk for developing it? Periodontitis, or severe gum disease, actually hinder the body’s natural ability to make insulin. If it is already in a diabetic state, blood sugar levels become even more difficult to manage in combination with gum disease. The American Dental Association states, “As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.” 

Prevent a bad denture fit 

The ultimate goal is to keep as many of your own teeth as possible, avoiding the need for dentures. If, however, teeth must be pulled – oral health is even more important in some ways. If dentures aren’t cleaned regularly and maintained to keep a good, comfortable fit, senior nutrition suffers. Also, poorly fitting dentures cause swelling, sores, and gum infection that are incredibly painful and debilitating. 

Minimize the risk of root decay

If the tooth is rotted enough, or the gums are receded enough to expose tooth roots, the root starts to decay. This is bad news. While a root canal may be able to treat a minor to moderate infection, severe infection or decay results in pulling the tooth. 

Avoid catching pneumonia 

Seniors with gum disease are more likely to develop pneumonia, which is a leading cause of death in the elderly population. The same bacteria that build up in the teeth and gums, causing gum disease, can be breathed into the lungs. Once there, they settle in and can cause respiratory infections, including pneumonia. 

Don’t let a simple thing like not brushing his/her teeth or missing dental appointments catalyze malnourishment, poor health, or an unnecessary hospital stay.  

Need Help?

Need support getting a senior loved one to and from appointments? Feel like grocery shopping or meal preparations would help a parent eat better and more often? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and schedule a free, in-home assessment to learn more about our senior care services. 

The Benefits Of Aromatherapy On The Elderly

the benefits of aromatherapy on the elderly

Sometimes we get so focused on the nuts-and-bolts of senior care, such as diet and meal support, or ensuring their home is safe and accessible – we forget about the peripheral ways to support elderly family members and clients. Aromatherapy offers multiple benefits for seniors, as well as their caregivers. 

Aromatherapy can be used for relaxation and sleep support, for pain relief or to relieve inflammation, to improve the mood, or to infuse our living spaces with favorite smells. 

Integrate Aromatherapy Into Your Senior Care Plan 

Here are some of the ways to integrate aromatherapy into your senior care plan.  

Start with an aromatherapy diffuser 

Perhaps one of the simplest and easiest ways to use aromatherapy is to diffuse appealing scents into a room. Diffusers are affordable, and our favorites are the ones that utilize a liquid humidifier to distribute the smell. Those are especially beneficial this time of year when the air tends to be drier. Moisture-based diffusers also aid in relieving chest congestion and dry sinus passages, another common ailment for seniors since they are easily dehydrated

Visit mindbodygreen.com’s post, Essential Oil Diffusion: Everything You Need to Know, for more information, and to decide which diffuser style is best for you.  

Mood elevation 

Finally, aromatherapy can support mood elevation, helping to relieve depression and anxiety. The diffuser is an ally hear as well since the continued inhalation of the oils typically has the most strong effect on mood-boosting. Read Medical News Daily’s post on Essential Oils for Depression, which includes evidence from clinical studies.  

Oils to consider to alleviate depression, and elevate the mood, are: 

  • Lavender 
  • Bergamot 
  • Yuzu 
  • Rose otto 
  • Roman chamomile geranium 
  • Sage 
  • Jasmine 
  • Rosemary 

Boost immunity 

Once you connect with a local health food store that carries essential oils or a qualified aromatherapy specialist, you’ll have access to a wealth of information about scents and their specific benefits. 

Essential oils come in various formats and types, used in diffusers, added to smoothies, rubbed onto the skin or ingested in pellet form (never consume an essential oil unless you’ve checked the product with your senior’s healthcare provider) to boost immunity. Diffused versions are making their way into schools, offices, and other public buildings in addition to homes. 

Some of the most common essential oils for immunity-boosting purposes are lavender, lemon, eucalyptus (helpful for stuffy/congestion), rosemary, tea tree, clove, and others. You can also look for immunity boosting-specific blends, such as On GuardThieves Blend, or Immunity

Relieve arthritis pain and inflammation 

There are different grades and types of essential oils, and some of them can be applied topically, mixed with a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or blended into a salve. When applied topically, they relieve pain and inflammation without the use of harsh or synthetic chemicals. Plus, the scents are often less intrusive, and more appealing than many OTC products. 

Read this Eden Garden article, Should I Diffuse or Topically Apply Essential Oil, to review the difference. Again, it’s worthwhile to check into a local health food store or herbal apothecary when you are first starting out. Essential oils are distilled and very potent, so you only want to apply essential oils that are specifically intended for topical application, or it can lead to itching, a burning sensation, or an undesirable skin reaction

Aiding digestion 

The combination of aging and medication reactions/side-effects can negatively impact digestion. You can mix essential oils such as marjoram, ginger, chamomile, or digestion-specific blends into a carrier oil and gently massage it right onto the abdomen. This provides comfort and can relieve indigestion. 

Stress relief, relaxation, and sleep support 

Another popular benefit of aromatherapy for seniors and their caregivers is stress relief, relaxation, and sleep support. Typically, diffusers are the best ways to administer essential oils for relaxation, to reduce stress or to support sleep because inhaling them provides quick access to the nervous system. 

Some of the essential oils known for their relaxing and sleep-supportive properties are: 

  • Lavender 
  • Valerian 
  • Clary sage 
  • Sweet marjoram 
  • Roman Chamomile 
  • Bergamot 
  • Ylang Ylang 
  • Sleep- or relaxation-specific blends 

When mixed with a carrier oil, these can be gently rubbed and massaged into the feet, hands, shoulders, back, forehead, etc., which provides double the relaxing benefits. 

Improve mental alertness 

While essential oils can reverse dementia or Alzheimer’s, certain oils and their scents boost mental alertness. Some of these include lemon and lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint, basil, and clementine. As with other target-benefits, there are also blends available to promote mental alertness, focus, and concentration.  

Notice that the bulk of the oils associated with mental alertness are found in the garden? Consider adding aromatic herbs and citrus fruits into the garden plan. The leaves or flesh of the fruit can be pressed between the fingers and inhaled right from the garden. 

The good news is that aromatherapy for seniors also benefits their caregivers too, many of whom suffer from similar ailments due to the hard work and energy demands associated with caregiving. 

Call Us For A Free Assessment

Are you interested in working with a senior home care agency that provides the full-spectrum of senior-centered support? Contact the team here at HomeAide Home Care. We provide licensed caregivers and personalized care in homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

Arthritis Diet: What To Eat And What To Avoid

arthritis diet what to eat and what to avoid

Did you know the foods you eat can worsen your arthritis pain and inflammation? Adhering to an arthritis diet – nearly identical to an anti-inflammatory diet – can make a substantial difference in the swelling, stiffness, and pain commonly associated with arthritis. 

Whether you’re a senior, or you’re caregiving for a senior loved one in your life, it’s almost inevitable that arthritis will become a factor in your life at some point. According to USpharmacist.com, “OA is the leading cause of disability in individuals older than 65 years and affects 70% to 90% of those older than 75 years.” 

Knowing that it makes sense that any adults, 50 years and older, begin focusing on foods that reduce arthritis symptoms and flare-ups as a proactive self-care option. 

What Is An Arthritis Diet? 

The good news is that while an arthritis diet includes the dreaded word, “diet,” it is quite expansive and has far more to do with what you should be eating, than what you shouldn’t. Similarly, the foods and beverages known to increase inflammation, which exacerbates arthritis, are also triggers for a range of senior-related health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.  

When you follow the dietary guidelines outlined by The Arthritis Foundation, you benefit your body in exponential ways. 

In a nutshell 

In a nutshell, the arthritis diet operates on the premise that “following a diet low in processed foods and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans is great for your body.” 

In that way, the diet shares the same principles of the Mediterranean Diet, or the anti-inflammatory diet listed above. And, the great news is that while you may have to cut down on some of those sweet treats, there are plenty of delicious food products that are yours for the eating. 

Foods To Avoid (because they “feed” inflammation) 

The foods to avoid are pretty straightforward. They are the foods or beverages that “feed” inflammation, which leads to increase swelling, redness, stiffness, and joint pain. Chronic inflammation also compromises the immune system. 

The 9 food or beverage items most likely to trigger inflammation are: 

  • Sugar (this includes high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, fructose, sucrose, anything with an –ose suffix). Instead, switch to stevia, agave, or other sweeteners rated lower on the glycemic index
  • Saturated fats 
  • Trans fats 
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids. While Omega 6s are essential in moderation, they’re toxic in large quantities or when out of balance with their Omega 3 companions. Omega 6s are found in most vegetable oils (so stick with olive oil) as well as mayonnaise and most salad dressings. 
  • White flour products (refined carbohydrates). 
  • MSG 
  • Gluten and casein (found in wheat and other grain products)  
  • Aspartame (the sweetener found in most sugar-free or diet products) 
  • Alcohol. Swapping out your favorite happy hour drink with one of our Mocktail Recipes can help you reduce your alcohol intake. 

While you don’t need to eliminate any of these items completely (unless your physician(s) states otherwise), taking stock and minimizing their intake can provide an immediate reduction in arthritis-related symptoms. 

Foods To Focus On 

Now, let’s move to the positive – the foods that taste great and are known to reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory).  

Ultimately, it’s about consuming lots and lots of fresh fruits and veggies – preferably those grown locally and in season, so you benefit from maximum nutrients and flavor.  

The 12 best foods for arthritis, are: 

  • Fish. Particularly those high in Omega 3s, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. 
  • Soy. Also high in Omega 3s, it’s best to use fresh soybeans, edamame or tofu. 
  • Healthy oils. Especially those high in Omega 3s, including extra-virgin olive, avocado, safflower, and walnut oils. 
  • Cherries 
  • Low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt) 
  • Broccoli 
  • Green tea 
  • Citrus Fruits 
  • Whole grain. As we mentioned above, swap whole grains and whole-wheat flour for processed white flours anywhere you can 
  • Beans 
  • Garlic 
  • Nuts. Lightly salted nuts are a healthier alternative to chips or crackers and they’re good for you, too. 

Visit arthritis.org’s post on these 12 Best Foods for Arthritis for more specifics about the ways these food items interact positively with your body to reduce inflammation. 

Need help with arthritis-specific meal support? 

There’s no denying that eating well, and regularly, is more challenging for seniors. From mobility issues to the energy and work required to shop for – and cook – meals, bare cupboards and an excess of processed snacks is one of the most common signs that seniors need more support to remain independently at home

Feeling Overwhelmed?

HomeAide Home Care provides meal support, grocery shopping and errand running, companionship services and other key home care services that help senior loved ones adhere to an arthritis diet. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a free, in-home assessment. 

Senior Health And Wellbeing Depends On Social Interaction

senior health and wellbeing depends on social interaction

Social spheres shrink rapidly for seniors who don’t remain engaged in the world around them. Living alone, losing the ability to drive, decreased mobility, and inevitable side effects of aging – such as vision and hearing loss – make it more difficult for seniors to remain social.

However, research continues to correlate that senior health, quality of life, and longevity are directly proportional to social interaction and community engagement.

Social seniors are healthier seniors – and they live longer, too!

An article by Harvard.edu titled, Social Engagement and Healthy Aging, begins, “A rich web of human relationships enhances your health and stimulates your mind and memory.”

That’s a succinct way to express the myriad of correlations researchers are learning about senior health and its dependence on social interaction and engagement.

For example, the National Institute on Aging shares that seniors who are more socially connected:

  • Have more positive health biomarkers
  • have lower decreased levels of an inflammatory factor associated with Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, arthritis, and other age-related conditions)
  • Have healthier appetites and report leading happier, more active lifestyles
  • Are less likely to suffer from loneliness, depression, and anxiety
  • Have longer lifespans, with a higher quality of life

The bottom line is that our senior loved ones need to be brought back into the fold, front-and-center, so they can feel loved, needed, wanted, and essential to the “village” as a whole.

Ideas for Keeping Seniors Socially Connected

There is a myriad of ways to keep senior loved ones socially connected and active within and around their communities. The following are just the tip of the iceberg. We also recommend consulting with your local senior center or an experienced senior home care agency to learn more about the opportunities that abound in your area.

Keep them mobile – on foot or by wheels

Mobility is key to seniors feeling independent, which allows them to be active.

There are a few tenets to ensuring seniors can get around independently:

The ability to get where you need to go means the world when it comes to remaining social, particularly when seniors live alone. Dependable transportation means seniors can keep saying, “Yes!,” to the things they’ve always done – church, self-care appointments, meals with friends, community events, etc.

Connect them with local volunteer opportunities

It’s harder to feel needed, productive, and like your life has meaning when you spend most of your time alone in your home. However, community volunteer opportunities are everywhere. Most schools, non-profits, libraries, homeless shelters, pet shelters, etc., are hungry for people who have the time and reliable interest to help out.

Visit our post, Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors are a Win-Win for Everyone, to learn more about how seniors, family members, and/or caregivers can get involved.

Join a senior exercise class for social interaction

Talk about a twofer; joining a senior exercise class, be it yoga, dance class, water aerobics, spinning – or whatever activities they’re drawn to – gets seniors moving and connected with local peers. This often creates opportunities for further socializing via tea or lunch before/after class, invitations to other gatherings or events, or a good conversation and laugh before heading back home.

Involve them in family activities, holidays, and outings

So, your grandma used to be the hostess for the holidays, but now she’s relegated to a corner of the room to visit with others? If this is what she wants to do, fine. However, there may be other roles for the seniors in your life over the course of holidays and family activities – you just need to check-in and see what they’d like to do.

Being a seated sous-chef, prepping the veggies may be a better fit. Maybe you need to have some photos labeled or organized? Could they teach the grandkids a dance from their era? Finally – don’t forget to ask if they’d like to come along to school plays, movies, occasional family meals (or pack food up and bring it to their house) – all of which keep them feeling included and getting more social interaction.

Companion services

Do you live far away from your senior loved ones? Does a busy work and family schedule make it difficult to include your parents or grandparents the way you’d like to? Companion services may be just the thing. In addition to weekly or more frequent visits from a professional caregiver and companion, you gain peace of mind knowing they’ll stay on top of any signs your loved one needs more support. Caregivers also provide transportation, meal support, and help come up with ideas to keep their clients engaged.

We Can Help With Social Interaction

Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about optimizing social interaction and community engagement for the beloved senior(s) in your life.