Everyday Tasks Pose Challenges For Seniors

everyday tasks pose challenges for seniors

It’s easy to take the completion of everyday tasks for granted. For example, getting up out of bed, making a cup of coffee and breakfast, light housekeeping, running the errands, etc. – and all while being safely mobile all become challenges for seniors. 

As we age, however, these everyday tasks pose challenges. So regardless of whether or not a senior seems perfectly capable and independent, we recommend taking an objective and attuned assessment of how they’re really doing.

7 Everyday Tasks That Become Challenges For Seniors

Don’t assume your mom, dad, or grandparent is “doing just fine!” because they sound great on the phone. It’s a rare senior who lives alone or wants to age in place who doesn’t need some assistance with daily tasks – and the need for support increases with every passing year or the diagnosis of chronic health conditions or memory loss. Seniors frequently tell us they didn’t want to admit they needed help or, most often, they didn’t want to burden their families. 

Your proactive attention and preparation are essential to keeping ahead of the curve. Take an honest look at your aging loved one’s life and see if they could use help with the following daily activities.

Everyday accessibility around the home (age-in-place safely)

Balance, strength, endurance, and mobility depend on overall health and attention to diet and exercise. Even so, age-related weakness, stairways, curbs, or uneven ground make seniors more prone to tripping and falling – a leading cause of senior hospital admissions. 

Proactively creating an accessible household before a near-accident or bonafide injury occurs is a must. You can read our post on how to age in place safely with accessible home designs for details. However, the most critical points are:

  • Declutter
  • Invest in ramps if stairs are required to access the home
  • Install grab bars near toilet and shower areas (towel racks are NOT stable)
  • Relocate main bedroom/bath to downstairs if possible
  • Install an electric rise chair if stairs are a necessity in the home
  • Minimize slip/trip hazards
  • Provide adequate exterior/interior lighting using motion-sensitive sensors
  • Reorganize most-used items, so they’re accessible without the need for a stepladder or bending over

Creating an environment where seniors age in place safely conserves their energy and minimizes injury risk.

General mobility

Is a parent or grandparent looking more unsteady than before? Are they apt to hold onto rails or use the walls to steady themselves? Are they having difficulty getting into or out of chairs without lurching or using chair/couch arms or nearby tables for stability? These are all signs a senior is ready for the right type of mobility aid.

Driving and running errands

When’s the last time you returned from running errands – including grocery shopping – and felt energized and refreshed? Those must-haves are exhausting, and fatigue increases as stamina decrease. Then, the reality is that the ability to drive safely diminishes with age – especially after 75 to 80. 

Diminishing eyesight, hearing, and slower reflexes are partially to blame when it comes to challenges for seniors. Then there are the potential side effects of health issues or medications that make the brain fuzzy. Finally, Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related memory loss make it easier to become confused. The first step is convincing seniors to restrict driving to daylight hours or short, familiar routes. After that, transportation services that include support with driving and running errands are essential.

Healthy meal and snack preparation

The same decreases in energy that make it difficult for seniors to keep up on daily tasks, errands, and grocery shopping make it hard to prepare healthy meals and snacks. As a result, most seniors rely on very simple processed foods that aren’t good for them or go directly opposite to their physician-recommend dietary restrictions. In fact, seniors are at one of the highest risks for malnourishment in our nation, regardless of their socio-demographic.

Noticing that a senior loved one’s cupboards are bare is one of the first signs they need support to remain at home. There are plenty of options to support this cause, including part-time in-home caregivers who do the shopping and create delicious and nutritious snacks that are easy to reheat or tasty eaten cold. Our caregivers also make sure expired or rotting foods are discarded, so everything is fresh.

Keeping the house clean and tidy

Decreased energy and vision loss makes it harder to keep a clean and organized home. Most seniors 70 years or older benefit from professional weekly housecleaning, including laundry and linen changes. If you work with a senior home care agency, weekly cleans are a great place to start – especially if your loved one resists the idea of professional caregiving.

Instead of hiring a professional cleaner, hire a licensed home care agency. Our caregivers can come once or multiple times per week to perform light housekeeping duties. As clients adjust, we can add grocery/errand running or meal prep. These services also provide a barometer for you as they notice other “red flags” indicating that more support is needed.

Getting out of the house for social and physical activity

Getting out of the house is trickier when seniors are chair- or homebound. Every study supports senior social engagement, which is proven to benefit mood and physical health and slow down the decline of memory loss.

Finding a way to get your senior back into their social groove – including attending community events, their regularly scheduled club/organization meetings, hobby groups, etc., is essential for their wellbeing. Start with your local community resources for seniors. If they aren’t the right fit, look into companion services, which provide a regular source of social connection and transportation services to get seniors where they want to go.

Personal care (including medication) can be added to the list of challenges for seniors

Seniors with memory loss, physical discomfort, or lower energy resources begin to let go of personal care and hygiene. They stay in pajamas all day – often the same set for days in a row. They don’t bathe/shower as often, eat at regular meal times, or take a daily walk. As a result, they stagnate, which is often the sign of a rapid downward spiral in terms of their well-being.

Professional senior caregivers ensure your loved one is clean, fresh, and ready to start each day. We provide important medication reminders and ensure their medication dispensers are organized correctly. Just a shift or two a week is a great way to help seniors remain motivated and engaged in the world around them. This also creates an opening to add more services when they see the improvement in their quality of life. And, many seniors report that the increased activity levels and social stimulation help them to sleep better at night – which has a cumulatively positive effect.

Schedule A Free Assessment To Identify Current Challenges For Your Loved One

HomeAide Home Care provides free, no-obligation assessments to identify the current or immediate challenges for seniors throughout the Bay Area. Contact us to schedule a consultation at (510) 247-1200. Our experienced, compassionate, and objective observations help seniors, and their families create long-term care plans to support aging-in-place safely and with a high quality of life.

What To Do After A Dementia Diagnosis

what to do after a dementia diagnosis

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can feel devastating, but odds are it also provides answers to concerns resulting from the disease’s first warning signs and symptoms. Once you’ve had time to come up for air and process your new future reality, long-term care planning is essential.

First and foremost, it’s important to honor and experience the range of emotions that are common after a diagnosis. These include anger, sadness, rage, deep grief, depression, relief (to finally know what’s wrong), hopelessness, and feelings of loss. It’s a good idea to seek support processing these feelings – for both the one who is diagnosed as well as their spouse, partner, children, etc. This may include spiritual counselors, professional therapists, a local dementia support group, or longtime friends or neighbors who have experience with the disease. 

This is the beginning of a journey for both the diagnosed and their loved ones, so it’s never too early to begin building a support network. Once you’ve had time to process, it’s critical that you begin making informed, long-term care plans. 

After The Diagnosis: Personalizing Long-Term Care Plans

Dementia is a progressive disease, but the speed at which the disease progresses is largely affected by the steps you take right now. Research shows that access to dementia medication as well as lifestyle changes can notably slow down the disease’s progression. Also, creating a tiered, long-term care plan means care is brought in as needed and in response to the client’s (and spouse/family) needs, which improves quality of life. 

Establish a relationship with a neurologist after a dementia diagnosis

Work with your primary care provider and insurance representatives to find a specialist. Booking an appointment with a neurologist specializing in dementia is a powerful first step. S/he’ll be your primary ally as you create a long-term care plan that keeps the disease’s progression in mind. The specialist is also on the frontline of treatments that reflect the latest research-based findings. 

Alz.org offers a list of questions to ask your doctor, and recording the session is a smart idea so you can play it back later when you are more relaxed. These include:

  • What test(s) or tools did you use to determine my diagnosis?
  • What are you measuring with the tests you performed?
  • How will the disease progress?
  • What can I expect in the future?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • Which symptoms are being targeted by each medication?
  • What clinical trials are available?
  • Where can I find published information about clinical treatment studies?
  • What care planning services do you provide?
  • What support services and resources are available to help me live well with the disease, for as long as possible?

Answers to these questions point you in the right direction and will help to guide your long-term care plans.

Start making positive lifestyle changes that support memory care

Perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that diet and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on how dementia progresses. The healthier you are and the more nourished the body is, the slower the disease progresses. 

Start researching things like “eating for dementia” or “foods that prevent memory loss.” Odds are you’ll come across recommendations for a MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH-Intervention-for Neurodegenerative Delay). The Mediterranean diet is respected for its attention to nutrient-rich foods that minimize inflammation. The DASH diet is geared to prevent and manage heart disease. Together, they form a dietary guideline that promotes healthy brain function and eliminates ingredients/toxins known to exacerbate inflammation, which increases dementia symptoms and progression.

Regular exercise is also a key part of dementia care. In addition to boosting moods, getting seniors outside as often as possible, and supporting overall health/weight management, daily exercise also helps to tire the body and mind, making it easier to sleep at night.

Focus on healthy sleep habits

Adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of insomnia and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can make the symptoms of dementia even worse. Establishing routine sleep habits that support natural circadian rhythm reduces daytime/evening agitation (sundowner’s syndrome) and supports healthy brain hygiene.

In our post, ...Tips For a Good Night’s Rest, we cover the basics of establishing a regular bedtime routine, including:

  • Going to bed/waking at set times each day
  • Minimizing or eliminating stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine (all of which are recommended to avoid with dementia anyway)
  • Getting adequate daylight during the day and dimming lights at least 30-minutes prior to bed
  • Staying off screens at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime
  • Establishing a relaxing wind-down time using a bath/shower, calming essential oils, relaxing music, reading or being read to, etc.

In the case of seniors with dementia, it’s a good idea to have locks installed above eye level and begin preparing the safety precautions necessary to prevent wandering.

Get estate plans, legal affairs, and medical directives in order

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get all of your financial and legal affairs in order, which includes establishing your POA(s), preferred healthcare agent (the person in charge of making healthcare decisions when a person is no longer able to do so for themselves), and advanced medical directives. 

Share these plans with your closest family members and friends so that everyone is on the same page and any potential issues or concerns are addressed ahead of time.

Begin planning for memory-specific homecare

A recent comprehensive study from Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that remaining at home…helps adults with dementia stay healthier and happier and live longer. However, that is only true when the individual has access to high-quality, memory-specific care. 

Spouse and family caregivers can only do so much. Eventually, there will come a time when in-home care services are necessary to facilitate daily tasks and general life happenings. The sooner you begin consulting with local licensed home care agencies, the sooner you can begin forming a gradual relationship that evolves in sync with your progressive needs. Enlisting support from in-home caregivers can begin with weekly visits to provide respite care for primary caregivers, run errands or prepare meals, to daily, overnight, and live-in care services as needed over time.

Schedule Home Care Consultations After A Dementia Diagnosis

Ultimately, long-term care planning makes it possible for those with dementia and their loved ones to live longer healthier, and more meaningful lives. 

Did you or a loved one recently receive a dementia diagnosis? Contact HomeAide Home Care. Our caregivers provide at-home memory care for Bay Area clients and their families.

Senior Sleep Issues: Tips For A Good Night’s Rest

senior sleep issues tips for a good nights rest

Sleep disturbances or trouble getting to sleep are common issues for adults 65+. Most commonly, senior sleep issues are caused by a range of factors, including medication side effects, lack of sufficient physical/mental exercise during the day, poor diet, or physiological changes in the brain that disrupt the circadian rhythm. 

Unfortunately, seniors with sleep disorders increase their risk of memory loss, fall accidents, mood swings or depression, chronic daytime sleepiness, and exacerbated symptoms of existing health conditions. The more seniors and their caregivers support healthy sleep conditions, the better quality of life the senior will experience.

7 Tips To Help With Senior Sleep Issues

 These seven tips will get your senior loved one on a healthier sleep schedule, and the effects will be noticeable.

Establish consistent sleep and wake times

The body likes to be on a schedule, and that supports a healthy circadian rhythm. To figure out what your loved one’s natural rhythm is, eliminate alcohol and other stimulants for at least 14 days. Then, each evening/night, have them go to bed right when they feel tired. After two full weeks of this, they will have reset their biological sleep/wake clock, and you’ll know how many hours of sleep they need each night.

Use this information to set consistent sleep and wake times and stick with it. 

Limit intake of stimulants at least 4 hours before sleeping

If your loved one hasn’t switched over to decaffeinated beverages, now is an excellent time to start. High-quality coffee and tea makers offer products that taste as good as the caffeinated version, without the risks. Within the handful of hours before sleep, cut out all stimulants:

Reducing stimulants in the brain and bloodstream makes it easier to fall asleep – and stay asleep.

Adequate sunshine exposure

Yes, seniors need to protect their skin from the sun and hydrate in the warmer months. Even so, adequate exposure to natural sunlight is key to helping the body maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Open blinds and shades during the day to keep interior rooms light and bright during the day. 

Also, try to get outside at least once a day for a natural dose of sunlight and vitamin D. If weather permits, outdoor activities are the optimal way to get exercise, fresh air, natural sunlight, and “nature baths” – proven to improve moods and mental outlooks.

Build exercise and physical movement into each day

Despite its innate need for sleep-related restoration balance, a body that isn’t tired has a more challenging time falling asleep. Our caregivers are always happy to exercise with clients, so they have company, or we can take them to their favorite community exercise center/class.

Walking the dog, hiking on accessible trails, riding a bike (or an adult trike for stability), senior or restorative yoga classes, stretching, or having a dance party are all ways to keep a rotating list of activities. For more tips, we recommend learning more about:

Engage and challenge the mind

Similarly, a bored brain is a lethargic brain. Failing to ensure seniors are mentally stimulated, including learning new tasks, hobbies, or skills, puts them at risk for insomnia. It also makes them more likely to feel isolated, lonely, depressed, or anxious. 

Make sure aging loved ones have access to their social network, even if that means finding them a new source of transportation. They should also be reading or listening to audiobooks, engaging with word or number puzzles, playing card or board games, taking a class at local junior college (or online!), or joining classes or activities offered by local art and community or senior centers. The more active and engaged their mind is by day, the more easily it stays asleep at night.

Senior sleep issues can be helped by establishing a pre-sleep routine

Remember we mentioned that our bodies prefer a routine? The pre-sleep routine is a great place to establish that. By repeating the same types of behaviors or activities each night before going to bed, the brain responds by relaxing once the routine begins. 

Examples include:

  • Taking a warm bath or shower
  • Getting into clean and cozy pajamas or sleep-friendly clothing
  • Using calming essential oils in a diffuser or misting them onto a pillow
  • Closing all the window shades to block out exterior lighting and distraction
  • Turning all the lights down in the house (prioritizing ambient safety lighting)
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading or being read to

Focus on red light spectrums after lights out

Melatonin plays a significant role in healthy sleep patterns. It’s naturally released via the body’s circadian rhythm and the darker, post-sunset hours. We recommend switching from bright to ambient light at least one to two hours before bedtime. You should turn off the TV and all screens/gadgets at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. 

Interestingly, the red light spectrum does not affect melatonin and other sleep-friendly hormones, so we recommend switching all of your nightlights to the red light spectrum, allowing seniors to get to/from the bathroom without disrupting the melatonin feed. 

HomeAide Home Care Can Help With Nighttime Senior Care

Sometimes, sleep issues are a sign of dementia or Alzheimers, and both of these can make it harder for seniors to get a good night’s rest. Certain medical conditions may also play a role. Working with a home care agency can be a good way to ensure your loved ones can remain safely at home while still getting the sleep they need. Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more.

Caring For Someone With Incontinence

caring for someone with incontinence

Incontinence is a common manifestation of aging, often hastened by underlying medical conditions or medication side effects. Research shows that as many as 50% of adults 65 years old and older experience some form of incontinence, ranging from mild urine leakage to complete loss of bladder or bowels.

Lack of bladder or bowel control can negatively affect anyone’s life. The embarrassment and shame can cause seniors to withdraw from their social life and retreat into the home, which leads to loneliness, depression, and anxiety. 

9 Professional Tips For Helping Someone With Incontinence

Fortunately, a solid incontinence care plan changes everything. The combination of honest conversation and a step-by-step plan means adults with incontinence can confidently embrace their lives.

Here are nine professional incontinence care tips to support your loved one.

Schedule an appointment with the doctor

Yes, incontinence is indeed a “normal” part of aging for many. However, that doesn’t mean you should accept it without question. Some factors increase the chances of becoming incontinent and may be addressed by your physician. Examples include:

  • Urinary tract infections (which are commonly asymptomatic in seniors. This should be the first line of investigation)
  • Weak bladder/pelvic floor muscles (see #3)
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Medication side effects (medications linked to incontinence include some blood pressure medicines, diuretics, and sleeping pills)

Addressing these issues with the professional facilitation of a physician eases the conversation. While it may not eliminate episodes, it can minimize their frequency or severity. Your physician should look at your medical history and current prescriptions and then make recommendations to support the way forward.

Have an honest conversation (or two, or three)

The loss of bladder/bowel control can feel like the final straw for many aging adults because they see their senior years as losing control of everything. And, of course, the stigma of “embarrassment” they feel makes it tempting to try to hide the issue rather than face it head-on. Our recommendation is to find ways to bring the subject up gently. Also, keep a very pragmatic, calm, and businesslike tone about it. This is something that happens to everyone at one point or another. If you suspect resistance, start by bringing it up and letting it go. For example, “I want to mention a sensitive topic, and then you can just think about it if you don’t want to talk about it now. Are you open to that?” 

If they are open, mention that you want to talk about incontinence care sometime in the next week or two, and ask them to let you know a good time to chat? For some, the conversation will be immediate. It may take a while for others, and you may need to follow up. Then, slowly but surely, you can create a plan together. 

Support abdominal/pelvic/bladder strength

Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are three reasons women are more prone to urinary incontinence. Even so, hormonal changes and a decline in physical strength also play a part. The weaker the abdominal, pelvic, and bladder muscles are, the more likely people are to leak or have trouble “holding it” when they need to go, and there isn’t a bathroom nearby. 

Spend a little time each day on exercises that strengthen the core muscles and pelvic floor. We also recommend joining a senior yoga or pilates class and letting the instructor know you’d like to focus on pelvic floor strength. Doing daily kegel exercises strengthens pelvic muscles and may improve bladder control in just three to six weeks. Visit WebMD’s post, Kegel Exercises for Pelvic Muscles, for instructions.

Rethink how you view incontinence support

We admit the term “adult diapers” is off-putting. No wonder seniors are offended. The good news is that pads and underwear designed for incontinence have come a long way in the past couple of decades. They are more streamlined and comfortable than ever. Come up with a nickname together or just call them what they are “underwear.” 

And, if it’s embarrassing to buy them at the store, purchase them online. Most online retailers have regular shipping options, so the pads, underwear, or overnight protection options are delivered at regular intervals right to your door.

Evaluate the diet and reduce foods/ingredients that increase incontinence

Some foods make seniors more prone to incontinence, so reducing their intake can help. These include:

  • Caffeine (caffeinated coffee and teas)
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Sugars and artificial sweeteners
  • Tomato products
  • Some acidic fruits and fruit juices

Try a week or two of cutting these ingredients out. Switch from caffeinated to decaf options. See if it makes a difference. A healthy senior diet goes a long way towards supporting a range of medical conditions.

Protect the skin

Even with pads and underwear designed for incontinence, the skin can stay moister than usual and become irritated. Consider using products designed to provide a skin-moisture barrier. Creams or ointments that contain zinc oxide, lanolin, or petrolatum form a protective barrier on the skin. Some skincare products, often in the form of a spray or a towelette, create a clear, protective film over the skin. These are typically available on the same shelves as pads and incontinence underwear. Examples include Calmoseptine, A&D Ointment, Calazime, Lantiseptic, Z-Gaurd, and Aquaphor.

A bathroom schedule can help someone with incontinence

Timeliness is everything when it comes to incontinence. You want to get to the bathroom before the urge becomes so strong that the nerves and muscles give way. Create a bathroom schedule and stick to it. Start by visiting the bathroom every hour and then every two hours and see what makes the most sense. Once there’s a regular routine, people with incontinence often notice their stress and anxiety around the issue dissipates. Technology can help with this so consider setting a reminder on a phone or tablet to support the cause.

Keep up on the laundry and linens

Noticing strong odors related to incontinence is one of the common signs seniors need more support to live independently. Above and beyond the concerns around untended incontinence, they deserve to have access to clean clothes, linens, and towels on a daily basis. If laundry has become too much of a chore and clothes aren’t clean, it contributes to seniors’ desire to recluse rather than remain socially engaged.

This might be a good time to hire a caregiver who comes in once or twice a week to do the laundry, change the linens, and provide light housekeeping duties. It also serves as a regular wellness check and the caregiver can provide family members with an objective view of how things are going and any changes or signs your loved one needs more help.

Give yourself a break

If you’re a spouse or family caregiver, incontinence is not an easy thing to handle on a daily basis. We mentioned above that, “loss of bladder/bowel control can feel like the final straw for many aging adults.” It can be the final straw for their family caregivers, too. That is especially true if incontinence care requires assisting a chair- or bed bound senior

Let Us Help

Full-time caregiving without help from others is exhausting and leads to fatigue and burnout. If you find yourself getting stressed, resentful, angry, or overwhelmed, it’s time to give yourself a break. Take advantage of professional respite care services to recharge your battery. Could you use support navigating incontinence care for a loved one? Schedule an assessment with HomeAide Home Care. We have decades of experience supporting Bay Area seniors and their families.

Balance Exercises For Seniors

balance exercise for seniors

Keeping seniors healthy, strong, and mobile is one of the best ways to prevent trip and fall accidents that land seniors in hospitals, surgery suites, and post-acute rehabilitation centers. As an article on agingcare.com warns us, “…even minor trauma can require hospitalization, and [seniors] many never regain the level of functionality and confidence they enjoyed before falling. 

Don’t let that happen to your senior loved one. Instead, make sure s/he has access to regular exercise support, as well as good nutrition, social engagement, and regular wellness check-ins. 

7 Balance Exercises You Can Do With Seniors 

Exercise is always more fun when you can do it with a partner or group. Whenever possible, enroll seniors in senior-specific or senior-friendly exercise classes in the community. This can range from water exercise classes to taking senior yoga or pilates at the local senior center. 

Whichever exercise options you choose, make sure that part of their exercise time is dedicated to balancing exercises. Balance exercises specifically work to strengthen core and leg muscles, and also to hone the connection between the eyes, brain, and ears to strengthen an individual’s center of balance. In addition to minimizing a senior’s fall potential, better balance helps seniors recover in a shaky or “almost tripped” moment. 

First: Review Some Senior Balance Basics 

Before starting any of these exercises or postures, make sure to review the basics, which include: 

  • Getting approval from a physician or primary healthcare provider 
  • Using good posture throughout the exercise to work all of the core and peripheral muscles at the same time as you focus on specific muscle groups 
  • Start each exercise on the “non-dominant” or “weaker” leg or side, so the other side feels easier 
  • Always perform balance exercises with a sturdy chair, tabletop, counter, or couch back within easy reach so you have stability when you need it 
  • Don’t be afraid to widen your stance or stop and start over if you start to lose your balance 
  • As balance improves, try to hone balance even further by shutting one eye, both eyes, or looking up at the ceiling to give yourself fan extra  

Rock the boat  

(healthline.com

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. 
  • Lift your arms and extend them out to the sides. 
  • Lift your left foot off the floor and bend your knee to bring your heel toward your bottom. 
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds. 
  • Then do the opposite side. 
  • Do each side 3 times 

Walking heel to toe 

(Philips Lifeline

This exercise uses a “concentrated” dose of walking to strengthen legs, which increases overall balance when walking in real life. 

  • Put your right foot in front of your left foot so that the heel of your right foot touches the top of the toes of your left foot.  
  • Move your left foot in front of your right, putting your weight on your heel.  
  • Then, shift your weight to your toes.  
  • Repeat the step with your left foot.  
  • Walk this way for 20 steps. 

Backward leg raises 

(canohealth.com

For this exercise, stand up straight with your feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart, holding the chair in front of you for support. 

  • Slowly lift your right leg out behind you. 
  • Keep your leg straight and avoid bending your knee. You do not need to go far back to feel the benefits of this exercise.  
  • Hold the position to work the muscles in your bottom, your core, and the lower back.  
  • Repeat with the left leg and work up to ten repetitions, perhaps noticing any change in how far back your leg naturally reaches. 

Sit-to-stands 

(silversneakers.com

  • Stand tall with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance.  
  • As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything. 
  • From here, sit back and slowly lower your hips onto the chair as gently as possible. 
  • Pause, and without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up.  
  • Perform 10 repetitions. 

Clock reach 

(Philips Lifeline

You’ll need a chair for this exercise. 

Imagine that you are standing in the center of a clock. The number 12 is directly in front of you and the number 6 is directly behind you.  

  • Hold the chair with your left hand, and look straight ahead the whole time. 
  • Lift your right leg and extend your right arm so it’s pointing to the number 12.  
  • Next, point your arm towards the number three, and finally, point it behind you at the number 6.  
  • Bring your arm back to the number three, and then to the number 12.  
  • Repeat this exercise twice per side. 

Do it with a balance exercise video 

Do you prefer to exercise with some visual examples or the voice of an encouraging instructor? There are so many YouTube videos out there, all dedicated to balance exercises and strength training for seniors. Some of our favorites are: 

Take a senior yoga class 

Would you rather take a class? We understand. Taking an exercise class not only optimizes overall health, but they also foster social engagement and connection. If you can’t find a yoga class offered at the local senior center or a senior yoga section isn’t available at a local yoga studio, look for yoga classes advertised for beginners or as “gentle yoga” classes, and the instructor can modify exercises, stretches, and poses as needed. 

Also, read our post, The Benefits of Yoga For Seniors. 

Caregivers Can Get Your Senior Loved One Motivated 

Did you know that companion services offered by home care agencies can be used to support senior exercise routines? Our caregivers love to exercise with our clients because it keeps them fit as well. Plus, seniors and their families benefit from all of the other service benefits that come along with in-home care, such as transportation around town, errand running, meal preparation, personal care, light housekeeping, and more.  

Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how our caregivers can support the overall health and wellbeing of your senior loved ones – including getting some balance into their lives. (510) 247-1200.

Spotting Signs Of Depression In The Elderly

spotting signs of depression in the elderly

Seniors have a much higher risk of experiencing depression, primarily due to social isolation. The combination of mobility issues, inability to drive, or the loss of a spouse and close peers contribute to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. In addition, medication side effects can compound the problem. 

Signs Of Depression And Social Isolation In Older Adults 

Proactively preventing senior depression by providing a solid social support system is a significant first step. However, depression can “creep up” on anyone. If you live far away from your parent or grandparent, it can be even more difficult to notice their depression or low moods because they can put on a brave face during video chats or phone calls. 

According to the National Insitute on Aging

Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression 

9 Signs A Senior Is Depressed 

The following are some of the most common signs of depression. Check-in with senior loved ones regularly – using your eyes, ears, and heart – and take note if you register any of the following: 

A persistent worried, sad, or vacant mood 

Some seniors may openly voice how sad they are feeling. Or, they may begin sharing constant worries – a sign of anxiety. These are worth exploring to learn more about what type of support would be best. You may also notice a vacant, absent, or apathetic mood. Those are also signs of senior depression. 

Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless 

For many seniors, aging means relinquishing abilities, hobbies, and activities that make their lives rich and meaningful. In addition, the inability to walk independently, giving up the keys, incontinence issues or diminishing sight and hearing make it difficult to engage in the world around them. As a result, seniors retreat into themselves and begin to feel unwanted, unneeded, and unable to contribute to or participate in the world around them. 

If you notice any of these signs, read Senior Health & Wellbeing Depends on Social Interaction for tips on keeping seniors engaged in their communities. 

Restlessness, irritability, having trouble sitting still 

Does your senior loved one resemble the fidgety youngsters in your life? The core causes may be the same. Without a purpose, something to captivate their interest, and an energetic outlet, seniors get restless, and the lack of inspiration in their lives depresses their mood.  

An excellent place to start is to make sure they’re getting regular daily exercise in a way that fits their physical health and lifestyle. The following posts are good places to start. Once a physical routine is part of the mix, you can branch out to support a depressed senior in other ways. 

Lack of interest in activities, hobbies, or social engagements that used to be pleasurable 

Is your loved one starting to skip activities or engagements that used to bring him/her pleasure? No longer attending religious services or affiliated groups? Avoiding the bunco or men’s club meetings? Letting their beloved garden go limp or to die altogether?  

All are signs of depression. If not depression, it is a sign that something needs to be addressed – vision, transportation, new glasses or hearing aids, mobility support, etc. – so seniors can take part again. If the lack of engagement continues, depression is sure to follow. 

Decreased energy or general fatigue 

Depression affects both mood and energy levels. Unfortunately for depressed seniors, it’s easy for busy family members to assume their lack of energy or general fatigue is linked to aging or medication side effects. However, seniors who are eating well, getting regular exercise, and have regular social interaction are far less likely to experience chronic fatigue unless it is a symptom of a medical diagnosis. 

Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions 

Sometimes, issues around memory, concentration, and decision-making are signs of dementia, so families may assume that’s the case or just laugh off “senior moments.” However, the same apathy, lack of interest in life, and decreased energy mentioned above can lead to cognitive glitches. 

Any signs of memory loss should be noted and attended to by the senior’s healthcare provider ASAP to assess the cause. 

Sleeping issues 

Sleeping issues can vary from insomnia (inability to sleep or stay asleep) to sleeping too much. Sleeping issues are a common senior complaint. Not surprisingly, low daily activity levels and lack of social engagement are huge contributors. The body needs to expend energy in order to sleep well.  

Visit Insomnia & Seniors by The Sleep Foundation to learn more. 

Eating less (or more) than usual 

Signs of unusual weight loss or weight gain is always a sign that seniors may need more support. It can also be a sign of depression or anxiety. A combination of skipped meals, diminished appetite, or binging on junk foods eventually takes its toll, setting the stage for malnourishment. 

Wishing to die or suicide attempts 

Seniors who live alone and become depressed are more prone to suicidal thoughts or to feel their life is no longer worth living. They may make comments along the lines of, “I wish I would die,” “I’m ready to die,” or thoughts along those lines. Take comments like these very seriously. They are a cry for help and indicate that a shift must be made to increase your loved one’s quality of life. 

We Are Here to Provide Support 

Have you considered enlisting the help of an in-home caregiving agency? Senior caregivers can pop in as little or as often as you wish. Depending on the needs of your loved one, we can provide companionship, help with grocery shopping and meals, and we can also transport them to their favorite activities, meetings, or meals with friends.  

Contact HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how our senior care services can prevent or eliminate senior depression. (510) 247-1200. 

Core Exercises For Seniors Stability & Health

core exercises for seniors stability health

Those of us who work in homecare know firsthand what a difference regular physical activity (aka “exercise”) makes in the lives of our clients. The clients who move their bodies more on a daily basis enjoy better moods, remain more engaged with the world around them, are less likely to fall, and sleep better at night. Who doesn’t want that? 

Plus, exercise is necessary to manage existing health conditions and weight goals. 

Add Core Exercises To The Senior Movement Routine 

We recently posted a blog about Safe Summertime Exercises that help seniors get the daily movement they need, even when it’s hot outside. Today, we want to focus on exercises that strengthen the core muscles. 

Core strengthening exercises have a range of benefits. In addition to providing cardio and strength building, core muscles support healthy digestion, strengthen the pelvic floor -reducing or eliminating incontinence, improve balance, and make it easier for seniors to do daily tasks that keep them feeling productive

What Are Core Muscles & What Do They Do? 

Many people equate “core muscles” with “abdominals.” While your abdominal (stomach) muscles are part of the core group, the term refers to a much wider and more complex group of muscles. In addition to abdominal muscles, the core group includes all of the muscles that support and stabilize the spine and the muscles that make up the pelvic floor.  

In other words, it’s a whole lotta different muscles, and they all do essential jobs. When these muscles get weak, things go amock, such as poor posture, less overall strength, pain in the back, shoulders, and neck, and lack of balance. Flacid core muscles also put seniors at risk for incontinence (or make existing incontinence worse) and prevent efficient digestion and waste elimination. 

We feel core exercises for seniors are a must! However, as with any new activity, always speak to your loved one’s physician before adding or changing their exercise routine. 

5 Examples Of Core Exercises 

Here are five examples of core exercises you can do with seniors on a daily or weekly basis. Make any or all of these a regular part of the exercise rotation. 

Bridge pose 

Anyone can do a bridge pose because the beginning posture requires lying flat on your back on the ground (using a yoga mat, sleeping pad, or folded blanket provides extra cushion). Once you are relaxed, bend the knees with the feet still flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Straighten your arms and lay palms flat on the ground. 

Then, slowly lift the hips up and off the ground, focusing on the lower back and stomach muscles, if possible, rather than using the thighs. Make sure the thighs remain parallel (no angling of the bend knees to either side) and hold the hips as high and you comfortably can for a few seconds. Then lower your bum back to the ground.  

Click Here to see what it looks like. Note that the woman in that post has her hands clasped underneath her. That is an advanced version. You can work towards that but, to start, just keep your hands along your sides for better stability, comfort, and balance. 

For some seniors, this is immediately available, and the hips will get a good way off the ground. For others, an inch or two may be all they can do. That’s just fine. Over time, the core will get increasingly stronger, and those hips will rise higher and higher. 

Senior yoga (or pilates) classes 

The bridge pose is a well-known yoga pose, so it makes sense that we segue into #2: Take a Senior Yoga (or Pilates) class. As with the bridge pose described above, a good senior yoga class meets you where you’re at. Trained instructors provide all types of supports and modifications so that even chair-bound, bed-bound, or home-bound adults can participate.  

Read our post, The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors, to learn more about it. There, we share examples as well as video links to get you started. 

Standing or sitting side bends 

This one feels great any time of the morning, afternoon, or evening. Standing and sitting side bends help to get rid of the tension from too much sedentary or screen time and help seniors feel more alert and refreshed since it immediately increases circulation.  

Whether you opt to do the bends standing, seated, or both ways, always hold the tummy in a bit and keep the core muscles activated while bending and straightening for best results. Also, don’t forget to breathe! 

  • Standing: Stand with knees straight (but not locked) and with feet hip-width apart. Raise the arms overhead and clasp hands with fingers interlaced. Make sure the shoulders are lowered, and the chin is parallel to the ground. Slowly and gently bend to the side while keeping the spine facing forwards (bend but don’t twist). Go as far as it is comfortable and hold the stretch for a moment if it feels good to do so. Then slowly raise back to the center position.  
  • Switch the interlace of the fingers (so the other thumb is on top) for an extra brain boost, and then slowly repeat the side bend to the opposite side. Try to do at least five of these repetitions to start, then add more as you like until you reach 10 cycles. 
  • Sitting. Sit cross-legged if you can. If not, feel free to place pillows on each side of your knees so they’re supported or sit with your legs straight out in front of you. This exercise can also be done in a chair, preferably one without arms (just make sure to provide fall protection if needed). Extend the arms up and clasp hands together with interlaced fingers, just as you would if you were standing, and do the bends as written above. 

Enroll in a water exercise class 

Like yoga, water exercises constantly make the Top 3 list of best senior exercises. The water is very supportive of aching joints or muscles that are out of shape. Also, it provides resistance for muscle strengthening and buoyancy to prevent falls or injuries. Finally, the continual process of remaining afloat and upright in the water constantly utilizes contractions in core muscles. 

So, even if a particular exercise isn’t specific to core muscles, your movements to perform any exercise in the water also support core tone and strength. If you already head to the pool or an exercise class regularly, or you have a hot tub, pool, or jacuzzi at home, begin adding some of these Swim Workouts That Target Your Belly and focus on the core. 

Do a senior core workout at home 

Just as there are videos available for yoga, exercise, dancercise, pilates, and everything else under the sun, high-quality exercise videos focus on senior-friendly core routines that take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.  

Check out: 

Wish your senior loved one had a companion to make daily activities and exercises more fun? Consider hiring a companion through a licensed senior care agency. Contact us at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how we can support and care for your favorite senior. 

Managing Medications For (Grand)Parents With Dementia

managing medications for grand parents with dementia

Those Day-of-the-Week pill containers and written instructions are insufficient to manage medications for parents or seniors with dementia. Forgetting what date, day, or time it is is a common side effect of memory loss and dementia in seniors, yet essential prescription medications depend on accurate dosages. 

8 Tips For Safe Senior Medication Management 

Your caregiving team’s dedication, combined with some other “tricks of the trade,” ensures your loved one gets the medications s/he needs at the right time and the right doses – regardless of dementia or other age-related memory issues. 

When managing medications maintain an updated medication list 

Recent data show that upwards of 85% of seniors take prescription medications, and 36% of all seniors take five or more different medications. In addition, these prescriptions and physician-recommended over-the-counter (OTC) medications can change regularly, so it’s essential to keep and maintain an updated medication list to avoid confusion.  

This list also helps to ensure you dispose of meds or supplements that are no longer required and refill or renew prescriptions that are soon to run out or expire. A simple Excel or Google spreadsheet is all that you need to print things large and clear. It can be printed and hung in a visible location for all to consult and amend as required. 

This list should include information such as: 

  • Names of each prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and supplements 
  • The symptoms or conditions the medication/supplement targets 
  • What dosage of each item is used 
  • How often each item is taken 
  • The healthcare provider who prescribed each medication, along with their contact information 
  • Any other pertinent details (better taken with food, between meals, etc.) 

Keep all medications and supplements in the same location 

In the past, it might have made sense to have some pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet, others on the nightstand, and supplements in a convenient kitchen location. Now, as different caregivers and helpers work together to provide consistent medication doses, it’s time to gather them together in the same spot.  

Grouping everything together makes it easier for both family and professional caregivers to keep track of what’s what, refill pill organizers, look out for expired prescriptions, etc.  

Store medications as instructed 

Some medications may require storage in a dark place or the refrigerator. However, almost all medicines and supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place. Keep this in mind. Bathrooms (often filled with steamy shower water) and cabinets near the stovetop (which may be more humid due to steam/moisture from cooking) are not the ideal medication storage areas. 

Mark medications clearly 

We talk quite a bit about age-related vision loss in our elderly client lives, but this same vision loss is typical for their caregivers in the 50+ bracket. In addition, prescription medications can have almost impossible-to-read labels, and that leaves increased room for error. 

Use masking tape and clear printing to re-write medication names and dosing instructions as needed on pill bottles. If bottles are too small, empty the contents into securely zip-locked/resealable bags and label those with the masking tape instead. 

Check for contraindications or negative interactions 

Physicians do their best to keep track of their patients’ medication prescriptions to make sure they aren’t prescribing medications that interact negatively with one another. Even so, mistakes are easy to make.  

So, when managing medications, review all of the medications with your favorite pharmacist to double-check s/he doesn’t have additional recommendations or warnings about your parent’s or grandparent’s current medication list. There are online drug interaction tools available for cursory checks, but we feel in-person assessments by a qualified pharmacist are best whenever possible. 

Create a reminder and tracking system 

Your medication list is an excellent place to begin, but we recommend creating a medication reminder and tracking system whenever possible. The good news is that technology is in your favor. The reality is that time can feel loosey-goosey when caregiving, especially when a loved one is on hospice or dealing with a critical illness or medical emergency. It’s easy to lose track, and a tracking/reminding system ensures you don’t miss a beat. 

There is a range of apps for managing medications at your disposal. Some of the top recommendations include: 

  • Medisafe Medication Management. In addition to providing reminders for specific medication doses, you can add Medifriends (aka, other caregiving team members) so everyone is synced together. 
  • CareZone. In addition to syncing medication reminders, including when your device is “asleep,” CareZone also provides PDFs of medication logs (like the type we recommended in #1) that you can print and hang on the fridge or a visible cabinet. 
  • RoundHealth. If your loved one takes almost as many vitamins and supplements as prescription medications, you may prefer RoundHealth. It’s suited for more complicated schedules and dosage instructions and provides an easy-to-read calendar that tracks what has and has not been taken. 

Get to know potential side effects 

Almost every medication has a list of potential side effects. It’s crucial for you to learn the most common of these and keep an eye out.  

For example, many medications used for heart disease cause dry mouth or make seniors more prone to dehydration, so your attention to senior hydration is important for your loved one’s comfort. Others may make them sleepy or decrease appetite, so smaller, nutrient-rich snacks help to fight drowsiness and keep them well-nourished. 

Keep a list of the most common side effects and simple solutions to combat them on hand, so everyone knows the warning signs. 

Take advantage of pharmacy mail or delivery services 

Most pharmacies provide mail or delivery services for free or at a very low cost. It’s worth it to sign up for these services to ensure you never run out. It’s not always easy to run out on a last-minute pharmacy run, especially if you’re caring for a homebound or chairbound senior. Having refills on hand when you need them is essential. 

Need Assistance Managing Medications?

Are you having a hard time finding medication management support for your senior parent or grandparent? Schedule a free, in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care. Our experienced team of caregivers can provide customized solutions to ensure your loved one takes his/her medications as prescribed.

Safe Summer Exercises For Seniors

safe summer exercises for seniors

Summertime heat and increased sun exposure are no reason to stop exercising. While seniors are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat-related side effects, not to mention dehydration, there are plenty of ways for caregivers to keep seniors healthy and active during the summer months. 

In addition to the many physical and emotional benefits of exercise, physical exertion is also essential for maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep schedule

7 Ideas To Keep Seniors Active With Safe Summer Exercises 

Here are 7 ideas to keep your senior loved ones active and moving this summer. 

Focus on hydration and healthy snacks 

Seniors’ “thirst-meters” can get a bit wonky as the result of age-related changes in the brain as well as medication side effects. Do your best to keep seniors hydrated by providing a fresh supply of cool liquids wherever you go. Packing refreshing and easy-to-eat snacks keeps energy stores up, so consider keeping a lunch tote filled with fresh fruits and veggies, cheese and crackers, or baggies of mixed nuts.  

Read our post on 10 Simple Ways to Keep Seniors Hydrated for more ideas. 

Water exercise classes 

Most community pools offer water exercise classes for people of every age, including seniors. Classes are provided by qualified instructors and typically occur in the mornings or evenings when the sun isn’t as intense. Water exercises are healthy for seniors because they support the joints while providing just-right muscle resistance (good for healthy bones) and cardio.  

Make sure to apply sunscreen and wear a hat and glasses. A light, long-sleeved shirt is easy to maneuver in the water or look for a long-sleeved water-specific shell for extra sun protection. Our post Seniors Should Have Fun in the Sun…Safely has more tips and reminders about seniors and sun safety. 

Tai Chi 

Tai Chi is “…an art embracing the mind, body, and spirit – Originating in ancient China, tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body. Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits. For many, it continues as a lifetime journey.” (taichiforhealthinstitute.org). 

Because the movements are slow and fluid, it is a wonderful way for seniors to strengthen balance, flexibility, and range of motion with minimal risk of injury. It is known to support a myriad of senior health conditions, including arthritis. Some Tai Chi groups meet outside in parks or other public spaces in the early morning to get outside and enjoy cooler temperatures. Others are offered indoors. Click Here to find a senior Tai Chi group near you. 

Walking or hiking 

Depending on an individual’s physical health and stamina, walking and hiking are two of the best and easiest ways to get out there and move. Walking sticks, canes, or walkers can be used for extra stability, and you can choose the day(s) of the week or time of day based on the weather forecast. Most seniors prefer walking in the mornings when it’s cooler or after their afternoon nap or dinnertime.  

Safe summer exercises like gardening

Most people don’t realize how much physical exertion is required to work in the garden. The body stretches, pulls, grabs, and moves – all of which exercise the body. If you don’t have space in the yard for your garden, contact your local garden supply store or senior center to ask whether or not there is a community garden in your area.  

Our post Gardening For Seniors… shares some of the proven benefits gained by seniors who garden, including a reduction in depression or feelings of loneliness, increased mobility, and memory care support. It also has tips on how to make gardening safer and more accessible for seniors. Plus, growing your veggies, fruits, and herbs supports healthier snacks and meals

Have a dance party 

Exercise classes are great, but they may not be ideal for homebound seniors or those who can’t drive. Putting on some favorite music and having a dance party – either solo or with a favorite caregiver – is a great way to get the blood flowing, enjoy some cardio exercise, and have lots of fun and shared laughter in the meantime. 

Dance parties are also an excellent way for seniors to connect with dance-loving family members and grandchildren online via Zoom or your preferred video platform. 

Throw a ball for a human or a dog 

Playing catch, frisbee, or shooting some hoops are all easy ways to get a workout. If you have friends, neighbors, or local children around, see if they’re up for playing with you. Odds are they’ll say yes, especially those who don’t have their own grandparents living nearby.  

Whether you have a dog or not, throwing a ball for a dog is another great way to get some safe summer exercises. Visit your local dog park with a few extra tennis balls, and you’ll have friends for life. Odds are, some of those dog owners will gratefully make “play dates” with you to make their dog happy. If balance or mobility is an issue, find a safe place to sit down or bring a lawn chair with you.  

Bonus Tip: Exercises from the chair 

Are you a homebound or chair-bound senior? There are still plenty of ways for you to stretch, move, and burn some calories. Read our post on Exercise for Homebound Seniors for more on that topic. 

We Can Help

Are you worried your senior loved one spends too much time alone, or that s/he isn’t getting enough exercise? Perhaps it’s time to consider hiring a senior companion service for just that purpose. Our caregivers enjoy getting senior clients out and about the Bay Area and can happily support a healthy lifestyle with safe summer exercises. Contact HomeAide Home Care, Inc. to learn more or to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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.