Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

bathroom safety tips for seniors

Not only are bathroom falls dangerous – they can be fatal – particularly for seniors who are more fragile or who wind up requiring surgery. Post-surgical declines and complications are known for stripping seniors of their original mobility, health, and well-being. So knowledge of bathroom safety tips should always be collected.

The bathroom is one of the major causes of senior slip-and-fall accidents, so bathroom safety tips are an important step in helping a senior to age safely in place. Within the bathroom – the biggest offenders are:

  • Low toilets
  • Slippery floors/wet floors
  • Shower/bath floors that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Shower/bath chairs that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Grab bars and/or towel racks that aren’t sufficiently secured

7 Bathroom Safety Tips to Make the Bathroom One of the Safest Rooms in the House

The good news is that the following improvements aren’t just good for seniors – they’re good for everyone who lives in or visits the home. In fact, while universal and accessible home designs were initially tailored towards the senior population, they’re quickly becoming a tenet of good home design in general. When done professionally, these accessible bathroom improvements can increase the resale value of your home down the road.

Use slip-proof mats in tubs, showers and bathroom floors

Slip-proof mats provide significantly more grip than slick bath/shower floors. Even the most subtle shift or slip of the foot can knock seniors off balance and the only surfaces to land upon are hard ones. Similarly, invest in high-quality shower chairs that have slip-proof feet.

Note: It’s a good idea to purchase a shower chair before a senior feels s/he needs it. They come in handy, even in the event of a bad flu, the end of a long day, or even something as simple as a sprained ankle.

Have a contractor install grab bars in appropriate locations

The first thing we do when we fall is reach out for something to hang on to. If that “something” is a regularly-installed towel rack, odds are one or both sides will pull out of the wall – and that’s a dangerous situation. Instead, have a contractor or licensed, professional repairperson install grab bars that are securely anchored into wall studs- rather than sheetrock.

ADA approved grab bars should be installed:

  • Near the toilet
  • Inside the shower or bath
  • Near the shower or bath
  • Anywhere else that makes sense depending on the bathroom’s size, layout or usage.

Keep in mind that grab bars can be used as a towel rack too, which provides a twofer!

Use non-slip, ultra-absorbent bathroom mats

Make sure the rugs in the bathroom are designed for bathroom use – including non-slip backs and ultra-absorbent materials. These wick surface water from the floors, helping to minimize slip risks.

Install an elevated height toilet

Switching a lower, outdated bathroom toilet for a higher-seated counterpart is a quick fix that makes it easier to sit down and get back up without a struggle. If this isn’t possible where you live, you can find different types of raised toilet seats online for very reasonable prices. If it isn’t possible to install secure grab bars in the toilet niche, order a seat that has safety bars included.

Keep things within close reach

Make sure seniors can access all of their everyday toiletries, shower/bath items, and extra rolls of toilet paper easily and accessibly. This may require a re-organization of the cabinets and drawers (minimizing the need to bend over or get down on hands and knees), using a shower caddy that hangs from the shower faucet, etc.

Update bathroom (and household!) lighting

The slow loss of vision is a common side effect of aging, and it requires improvements in household lighting. The bathroom is particularly important, as seniors need ample light to read the labels on prescription and over-the-counter medications, and night-lighting allows seniors to find and use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ensure safe entrance/exit and maneuverability

Is the bathroom doorway causing problems for mobility aids? Can the senior make their way into and out of – as well as around – the bathroom without a struggle. It may be time to change door hinging, remove the door altogether or work with a contractor to expand the doorway to an ADA-accessible width. Re-locating towel racks may gain extra inches that help a senior to turn around and access the entirety of the bathroom without getting tripped up.

For More Bathroom Safety Tips…

Interested in learning more about rearranging, updating – or remodeling – to create a safer, senior-friendly bathroom space? Schedule a consultation with a local home care agency. The consultations are free – no-obligation – and provide a wealth of information to help seniors age more independently in place.

Preventing Malnutrition in the Elderly

preventing malnutrition in the elderly

Many experts feel that at least 56% or more of the senior population in the United States suffers from inadequate nutrition, and this includes seniors who live in hospitals, rehab centers, assisted living communities and nursing homes. While there is a range of reasons for this collective malnourishment, malnutrition exacerbates any latent physical or mental conditions – including Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. This is why preventing malnutrition is so importanat.

Thus, it’s important that seniors, their loved ones, and caregivers take proper precautions to ensure elder individuals are properly nourished and hydrated.

Simple Steps for Preventing Malnutrition in Senior Loved Ones

Inadequate nutrition shows us via a range of symptoms, including:

  • Loss of energy
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Depression
  • More frequent illness
  • Memory and cognition deficits
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Mobility and balance issues
  • Increased falling incidences
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Worsening of current health conditions

The bottom line is that seniors need a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet in order to remain as healthy, positive and independent as possible.

The following are simple, affordable and actionable steps you can take to ensure your senior loved one is eating well and getting the nutrients s/he needs regularly:

Seek meal assistance

There are several ways seniors can receive well-balanced meals on a daily or weekly basis. One of these is via volunteer, senior-services type options, like Meals-on-Wheels. Organizations like these bring meals right to seniors’ doors on a sliding scale basis – with some seniors qualifying for free meals.

Is the senior a member of a charge or a spiritual congregation? Contact the pastor or spiritual leader and see if their community provides meal services or support of any kind.

Companion and home care services also offer meal services to their clients. These services cost a reasonable amount but are far less expensive than costs associated with assisted living or nursing home care and can also include other caregiving services as needed, including driving, errand running, light housekeeping, organization, medication reminders, grooming, and hygiene, etc.

Preventing malnutrition with easy snacks

Preparing and cooking food is a labor-intensive endeavor, and the labor intensifies when paired with memory- or mobility issues. Instead of seniors having to prepare large meals for themselves, stock their fridge each week with easy-to-assemble and/or ready-to-eat foods.

Ideas include pre-cut veggies with ranch or another tasty dip, pre-made deli sandwiches, fresh fruit cut up into bite-sized pieces, cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Meal replacement drinks, like Ensure, are fine once in a while but should not be used as meal supplements on a regular basis.

Company’s like Schwann’s or Blue Apron are also a great idea for seniors who are able to cook their own meals but want to simplify the shopping and preparation steps required to eat a good meal.

Stay in touch with healthcare providers

Sometimes a lack of appetite turns out to be an unaddressed health issue, the beginning stages of dementia, an undiagnosed infection or an adverse reaction to a medication. Contacting the senior’s healthcare providers is an important step in ruling out and/or identifying the causes of appetite loss so they are immediately addressed.

Read, Communicating with Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor, for tips on how to facilitate a collaborative relationship without overstepping any bounds.

Make food compelling

Have you reviewed the individuals’ list of dietary restrictions? It could be that the only foods s/he is allowed to eat are bland and unappealing. If this is the case, it’s time to spice – or flavor things up – introducing new vegetables, using lemon juice, salt substitutes, herbs, and spices, etc.

Read, Helpful Tips on Cooking For Seniors, for more along those lines.

Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet

We also recommend reviewing the tenets of an anti-inflammatory diet. Our post, Senior Care Tips: Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet, goes into this in greater detail. However, this “diet” includes plenty of delicious and healthy food options but eliminates the processed food, simple carbs and excessive sugars that lead to inflammation and exacerbate the large majority of senior-centric health ailments.

If you follow an anti-inflammatory or similar dietary guidelines, you’ll be hard-pressed to not get the nourishment your body needs!

Get plenty of exercise

Yes, moving burns calories – but that’s what’s so great about it. Sedentary lifestyles are no good for anyone. Regular, daily exercise – tailored to the senior’s physical ability and needs – will ramp up a lagging appetite. When you provide the right foods, snacks and meals, any increase in exercise results in an improved appetite and a greater amount of nutritious calories consumed; it’s a win-win for all.

Let Us Help

Would you like to provide healthy meals for a senior you care about? Contact us here at Homeaide Home Care. We’ve provided high-quality, licensed, compassionate care for seniors in both homes and assisted living communities – helping them by preventing malnutrition and to thrive. We look forward to doing the same for your loved one.

Senior Prescription Medications: Hoarding, Borrowing & Sharing

senior prescription medications hoarding borrowing & sharing

There’s a reason why prescription medications reminders are one of the most sought-after senior services for home care providers. Even without dementia or dementia-related diagnosis, seniors often have so many meds to take that it becomes difficult for them to track what to take, when.

Money-conscious seniors may find it difficult to dispose of “perfectly good” expired meds and opt to continue taking them, allowing their new meds to accumulate. Other times, unsuspecting seniors wind up “sharing” strong pain meds or other medications with relatives to take them directly from their medicine cabinets. These are all examples of why medication management is so important for seniors and their loved ones.

If your parents or grandparents have medicine cabinets chock-full of prescription medications and other pill bottles, take the time to organize them, secure them in a restricted access container or location, and determine best-practices for keeping both your loved ones safe.

Prescription Medications Management for Seniors

Medication management for seniors ensure medications are taken as prescribed, are not expired, and don’t find their way into the wrong hands.

Prevent medication hoarding

Hoarding takes place in multiple ways. Sometimes, it’s the inadvertent hoarding that occurs when seniors neglect to safely dispose of old and/or expired medications causing them to accumulate en masse. Other times, it happens because seniors find great deals online and can’t resist “bargain bin” prices offered online or on TV ads (both of which are suspect).

In addition to clutter, medication hoarding increases the chances of a senior taking the wrong medicine by mistake or someone else illegally getting their hands on a prescription medication that is addictive or can be sold on the black market. Either scenario is a recipe for serious harm.

To prevent medication hoarding:

  • Routinely go through medicine cabinets, drawers, closets and cupboards, safely eliminating any medications that are expired or outdated.
  • Make sure prescriptions are clearly labeled, which may mean creating brighter labels with larger print for ease of reading.
  • Remain in touch with your senior’s physician so you can keep up communication as needed around new medications, any undesirable side-effects and/or the senior’s resistance to taking a medication. You should also let the physician know if the patient is insisting on taking old meds so the doctor can speak to them about it and advise against it.

Prevent medication borrowing and sharing

Often, medical conditions create a fair amount of pain or discomfort for seniors, which paves the way for prescriptions to serious pain medications. Heavy medications, like opiates and antianxiety meds, are commonly included as part of hospice or palliative care, and they require careful monitoring to ensure they’re being used as directed, and only by the patient for whom they were prescribed.

Unfortunately, prescription opiate and pill addictions are at an all-time high so it’s important that you monitor the senior’s pain medication intake, taking them only as prescribed, while restricting others’ access.

To prevent medications from being borrowed or shared by others:

  • Keep medications locked up or in a safe. Any prescription medications – narcotics or otherwise – should be kept in a safe or in a locked medicine cabinet. The combinations or keys to the cabinet should only be given to seniors and their immediate caregivers. If a senior has dementia, the combination should be changed. Inventory should be done regularly to ensure medications are being taken as prescribed.
  • Immediately investigate missing medications. If you notice medications are missing, begin investigating immediately. If you suspect the senior is taking more than prescribed, or that cognitive decline is causing them to unwittingly overdose on meds, consider working with licensed home care professionals who can provide medication reminders as well as other services that increase support so the individual can continue to age in place.
  • Complete POA and Advanced medical directives. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to complete a Power-of-Attorney (POA) and an advanced medical directive. This helps to prevent seniors with dementia or cognitive decline from harming themselves by retaining full control of their medication prescriptions when they’re no longer able to make healthy choices. If you notice your loved one is taking old medications, is suffering negative side effects from a current medication or is not taking their medication as prescribed, a POA can be your greatest ally as you work with their physician to come up with solutions.

Read Guide for Managing Medications and Prescriptions for more tips on how to keep seniors and your loved ones safe.

Do you worry a senior loved one isn’t taking their meds as prescribed, or that they may be abusing prescription medications without realizing it? Contact us here at Home Aide Home Care. Often, daily check-ins from a licensed home care provider is exactly what’s needed to ensure medications are taken as prescribed and to keep seniors eating well, active and socially engaged – a recipe for a longer, healthier and more independent senior life.

Exercises For Homebound Seniors

exercises for homebound seniors

Homebound seniors need exercise even more than their outwardly active counterparts. Homebound often equals sedentary if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that you can do right in the comfort of your own home – even if you’re wheelchair or bedbound.

Please Note: Seniors and/or their caregivers should always speak to their physician about any new exercise routine to verify it’s advisable for their physical condition. If not, the doctor will have specific exercise instructions more personalized to the individual’s needs.

5 Exercises For Homebound Seniors

Here are 5 exercises that are safe for seniors to do at home. The benefits will be noticeable via improved muscle tone, increased strength and stamina and better balance. Plus, most experts agree that regular exercise – at least five days a week – improves mood and can improve sleep habits.

Chair-specific exercises

The HASFIT YouTube channel has to great chair exercises. If you’re just starting out, we recommend the 10-minute version. Once you’ve built endurance, move on up to the 20-minute version. With everything from brisk “marches in place” to arm exercises, these well-planned sequences get almost every part of your body moving.

If you are able, we recommend adding one or two-pound weights to wrist and ankles, as weight-bearing exercises are better for bone-building and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.

Get out to the garden

Have access to a small backyard, patio or balcony? Take advantage of the space you have and plant a garden. Gardening gets homebound seniors outside and working – not to mention producing nutritious vegetables and fruits and or gorgeous ornamental flowers that add meaning, flavor and value to life. If you don’t have the space for a raised bed, you can grow virtually any vegetable or fruit you can think of (climate-relevant, of course) in containers.

Read, Gardening For Seniors, for tips on how to make gardening a regular part of seniors’ lives.

Take a yoga class

There was a time when taking a yoga class meant leaving the home and visiting a yoga studio or a senior center that offered yoga classes. Now, all you need is a TV, the right DVD, a computer, a tablet or some other form of screen technology and you can take a class at home.

Amazon.com has multiple DVD options for senior-oriented yoga poses – both seated and standing. You can also visit YouTube to watch senior yoga classes filmed at yoga studios by certified yoga instructors. Two of our favorites are:

As Tatis Cervantes-Aiken reminds us, always listen to your body. Never force any exercise motion or pose, and always modify any exercises, stretches or poses that triggers or exacerbates an existing injury.

Overhead arm raise

This seated exercise helps to strengthen the arms. We like that if you don’t have weights, you can copy the picture Shown Here and use soup cans or small water bottles instead. Even that little bit of resistance makes a big difference when you’re exercising.

  • Sit comfortably in a chair with your body straight
  • Place feet flat on the floor, hips-width apart
  • Hold the weights in your hand and raise your forearms up, as if you’re making muscles with each arm, with the upper-arm perpendicular to the body, elbows bent at 90° angles. Palms should be facing forwards.
  • Take a deep breath in and out, and in again.
  • As you exhale, slowly reach your arms up until elbows are almost straight, but not quite. Take a breath and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Rest between each set and try to work up to 10 to 15 sets per session.

Leg straightening

Now it’s time to balance that upper-body workout with a lower-body workout. Still seated, roll a towel and place it under your thighs on the chair, right behind the knee, providing thigh support. You can see what this looks like by Clicking Here.

  • Take one full breath, in and out.
  • Breathe in again and as you breathe out, slowly raise one leg out in front of you, without allowing your knee to lose contact with the chair.
  • Flex your foot so your toe is in the air and hold this position for one or two seconds.
  • Slowly lower your foot to the ground, take another breath and repeat.
  • Do this 10 to 15 times. Then switch and repeat with the other leg.
  • Do 10 to 15 different sets, per leg, each day.

Visit Go For Life’s, Try These Exercises page for more exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.

Are you interested in integrating at-home exercises for homebound seniors into your life? Consider working with HomeAide Home Care’s team of caregiving professionals. Our licensed caregivers can do these exercises with you or your senior loved ones and we also offer a range of senior-oriented caregiving services that promote health and well-being.

Age in Place with a Universal Home Design

age in place with a universal home design

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

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

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

What is a Universal Home Design?

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

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

Creating a beautiful lighting design

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

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

Grab bars at all toilets, bathroom and shower areas

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

Flooring that’s compatible with mobility aids

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

Room to move around

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

Cabinets, drawers, and faucets that are easy to operate

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

Smartly designed storage

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

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

Dementia: Identify Beginning Signs and Symptoms

dementia identify beginning signs and symptoms

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

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

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

Normal age-related memory loss

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

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

Dementia-related memory loss

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

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

More difficulty with short-term memory issues

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

A general and more routine forgetfulness

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

Inability to focus and/or becoming distracted more frequently

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

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

Notable and atypical shifts in mood or temperament

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Care Tip: Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

senior care tip focus on an anti-inflammatory diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

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

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

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

Focus on fresh rather than processed foods

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

Eat the rainbow

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

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

Focus on percentages

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

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

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

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

Eat fiber-rich foods

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

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

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

Connecting with and Caring for Those with Dementia

connecting with and caring for those with dementia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let creativity be your guide.

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

Never stop visiting or bringing in friends or family.

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

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

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

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

Gardening For Seniors And All Its Wonderful Effects

 

gardening for seniors and all its wonderful effects

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

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

Plant a small garden and reap tremendous rewards

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

Here are some of the benefits of gardening for seniors:

Access to nature is a balm for many ailments

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

It encourages the use of muscles, bones and motor skills

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

Gardening can support Alzheimer’s and memory care

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

Gardening for seniors is just plain fun

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

Make the garden safe, accessible and senior-friendly

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

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

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

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

5 Reasons Dental Care For Seniors Should Be A Top Priority

 

5 reasons dental care for seniors should be a top priority

Lots of emphasis should be placed on dental care for seniors as it is for babies and young children, but it seems that attention to teeth and oral hygiene slips by the wayside as we age. Unfortunately, this has negative ramifications on seniors’ health and well-being.

In worse case scenarios, seniors lose their teeth, which makes it more difficult to speak and be understood clearly (isolation and difficulty communicating), losing teeth can also affect self-esteem. Then, of course, there is the nutrition factor; when seniors have sore, loose, decaying or missing teeth, it affects how they eat and that contributes to malnourishment.

What Does Dental Care Mean?

By definition, dental care is, “the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean in order to prevent dental disorders.” In daily practice, it means:

  • Brushing teeth at least twice a day (and after ever meal is even better)
  • Flossing after you brush (this helps to remove food that gets trapped between teeth and gums, and that becomes a stomping ground for bacteria).
  • Getting a dental checkup at least twice a year (some seniors need to go three or four times a year, depending on the state of their teeth and gums)
  • Observing denture cleaning and maintenance requirements to prevent gum soreness, inflammation or poor fit.

If financing is an option, note that Medi-Cal covers basic dental needs through their Denti-Cal program so you may find that dental care for seniors is free or very low-cost. You can also seek routine dental care through low-cost dental clinics in your area – many of which will accept payment plans.

5 Reasons Dental Care For Seniors Needs to be Prioritize

Making dental care for seniors a priority as we age ensures seniors have strong, healthy teeth, healthy gums and confident smiles for as long as possible. Or, in cases where teeth are pulled, routine dental care means bridges instead of dentures, or more common fittings and adjustments, which increase daily comfort.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s time to make dental care and oral health a priority for seniors:

  1. Gum disease. Here’s where it all gets started. Gum disease sets in when latent bacteria – much of which can’t be reached by the average daily brushing routine – builds up and begins infecting the gums. Inflamed gums, gingivitis, are the beginning of a long and winding dental road that ends with seniors having their teeth pulled. Gum disease is also linked to…
  2. Heart disease. What do gums/teeth and the heart have in common? Plenty, it turns out. Adults with gum disease are significantly more likely to have heart disease, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, strokes and other medical conditions. In fact, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, routine dental care for seniors is associated with fewer hospital admissions and reduced medical care costs for people with similar health conditions.
  3. Diabetes. Those who are pre-diabetic or have diabetes must be especially diligent about observing good oral hygiene and visiting their dentist on a regular basis. Firstly, high blood sugar levels lead to gum infection; secondly, severe gum disease hinders the body’s ability to use insulin. It’s a double whammy.
  4. Dentures. At some point, dentures and aging became associated with one another. NO! Get that association out of your heads. While dentures are better than no teeth, they are not ideal. Once your teeth are pulled out by the roots, the jaw bone begins to diminish and recede, affecting the set of the jaw, bite and the way you look and sound. Those with dentures also struggle with getting a comfortable fit and painful gum inflammation (denture-induced stomatitis). Keeping your own teeth should always be Plan A. Plan B, if you can afford it, is to get dental implants, rather than dentures, for key teeth. Implants help the jaw maintain its natural structure and strength. If dentures are the only option, get the best set your budget can accommodate so you can eat and speak more comfortably.
  5. Dry mouth. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many common medications – both over the counter and prescription. This includes certain allergy medicines and diuretics, as well as medications for meds for high blood pressure, urinary incontinence, and depression. Saliva is nature’s first defense against bacteria, keeping the mouth wet so it can soften, dislodge and wash away food particles and other remnants that attract bacteria so they don’t contribute to gum disease and tooth/root decay.

If you or a beloved senior are no longer able to drive to routine dental appointments, contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ll be happy to pair you up with a safe, friendly, and responsible driver who can drive you to and from dental care for seniors appointments.