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.

Palliative Care and Hospice Care

palliative care and hospice care

The terms palliative care and hospice care are often used interchangeably to describe end-of-life comfort care. This is a mistake. While there are similarities between the two, they are slightly different. Both describe a style of “whole patient” care, that uses a team of specialists that can extend beyond their physicians and specialists, to provide comfort in the face of a serious diagnosis.

The difference is that palliative care can also end up curing or significantly extending the life of the patient – and can be seen as a potential treatment. While, on the flip side, hospice is only provided when a patient has decided to stop actively treating the disease, preferring to accept an end-of-life diagnosis and receive hospice care to enjoy the highest level of comfort and quality of life as possible until the patient dies.

Palliative care and hospice care don’t provide full-time caregivers

Here is an important thing to note: neither palliative care and hospice care provide full-time care providers. These services include regular check-ins from licensed nurses and specialty care providers, advice, and recommendations, 24-hour support lines, access to certain prescriptions and refills as needed, etc. However, neither is a substitute for personal, part- or full-time caregivers.

Caregiver support is expected to come from partners, family members and/or professional in-home caregivers. Otherwise, the patient may require admission to an assisted living community or some other type of residential care. Contact a local in-home care provider to learn more about the way licensed care providers can be put in place to facilitate in-home palliative or hospice care.

What is palliative care?

First, let’s examine a precise definition of palliative care, courtesy of

The goal of palliative care is to help people with serious illnesses feel better. It prevents or treats symptoms and side effects of disease and treatment. Palliative care also treats emotional, social, practical, and spiritual problems that illnesses can bring up. When the person feels better in these areas, they have an improved quality of life.

Palliative care can be given at the same time as treatments meant to cure or treat the disease. Palliative care may be given when the illness is diagnosed, throughout treatment, during follow-up, and at the end of life.

Like hospice care, palliative care provides comfort care for those diagnosed with a serious illness or progressive disease. If at some point down the line, the patient’s treatment is unsuccessful and/or the condition progresses, palliative care can continue until the end of their life.

The palliative care team will typically consist of the patient’s main health care providers and specialists, along with additional palliative care team members, like clergy, social workers, therapists, masseuses, etc.

What is hospice care?

For a detailed description, read our post titled, What is Hospice Care? to learn more about your options, payment, etc. defines hospice care as:

Hospice care is end-of-life care. A team of health care professionals and volunteers provides it. They give medical, psychological, and spiritual support. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort, and dignity. The caregivers try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient’s family. Usually, a hospice patient is expected to live 6 months or less.

So, while comfort and quality of life are goals of both palliative and hospice care, the former is administered even amidst a patient’s treatment and curative prescriptions, while hospice care is only administered when a person ceases curative treatments and is at the end of their life.

Like palliative care, hospice provides support and resources for the family and caregiving team in addition to the patient, and these resources include spiritual counselors, therapists, and masseuses as well as musical and other therapeutic options.

How do I know which one is best for myself, a senior or a loved one?

Most simply put, if you, a senior or a loved one in your life is facing a serious medical diagnosis, and plan to pursue treatment for that condition, a palliative care team will be set in place. If the patient has a diagnosis that is so serious there is no cure, the treatment side-effects are more debilitating than the condition itself and/or a patient simply decides they’re not interested in treatment options, hospice is the best route to go.

If you are in doubt, your primary care provider or the medical facility’s social worker can assist you in figuring out which quality care plan is right for your particular situation. The good news is that both palliative care and hospice care are covered by most health insurance plans as well as MediCal and MediCare.

Senior Craft Projects For Fun With The Elderly


senior craft projects for fun with the elderly

You are never too old to enjoy making art and craft projects. Senior craft projects, art, and other activities can be very beneficial to seniors. The creativity stimulates their minds, improves their concentration and prevents depression. Working on crafts is also a great way to improve their cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. You can plan a fun afternoon with your loved one by checking out the following craft projects for the elderly.

  • Create a Photo Collage: Putting together a photo collage is the perfect way to get their creative juices flowing. You are going to need magazines, glue sticks and construction paper or cardboard for this senior craft project. Your loved one may want to use a theme for their collage, such as their favorite animals or holidays. You can also provide copies of personal photographs to make a collage of their favorite memories.
  • Wooden Clothespin Snowman Ornament: You are going to need supplies such as wooden doll pins, acrylic paint, felt, ribbon and a Sharpie for this project. The first step is to paint the peg white. Once it dries, you can decorate it with more paint, the Sharpie and felt. You are going use a thin ribbon to tie on the hat, and you can use thicker ribbon or string to hang it up.
  • Painted Clay Flower Pots: This is a great craft project for seniors who enjoy gardening or want to dress their room up. Your loved one can start by painting the flower pot in their favorite color. Once the paint is dry, they can add their name, favorite pattern or quote to the pot. Paint pens are perfect for seniors who are only looking to paint certain areas of their pot.
  • Popsicle Stick Tree Ornament: Your loved one is going to start by painting three Popsicle sticks green. Once they are dry, they can use hot glue to create a triangle. Your loved one can use buttons as ornaments, yellow textured cardstock as the star and brown cardstock and chipboard as the trunk. Use a glue stick or hot glue to attach the pieces to the Popsicle stick tree. Your loved one can hang it up by hot gluing a hook to the back of the ornament.
  • Decorative Tin Cans: Tin cans are great for storing small items such as writing utensils, buttons, and spare change. Your loved one can start by wrapping the tin can in colorful yarn and using a bit of glue to hold the yarn in place. They can also glue colorful buttons to the yarn to create a fun vibe. Another option is to paint the tin can just as they would paint the clay flower pot.
  • Glass Gem Suncatchers: Your loved one can use glass gems, plastic lids, and clear glue to create their own beautiful suncatchers. The best part is they can come up with their own pattern using their favorite colors. Use fishing wire to hang the suncatchers in their window.
  • Tea Light Candle Holder: You are going to need empty, clean baby food jars or small jars for this project. Senior craft projects can include glass paint or glass paint markers to decorate the jar with a fun design. Place a flameless tea light candle inside the finished product, and your loved one can decorate with a homemade candle holder.

There are plenty of easy and fun senior craft projects for the elderly. Your loved one may need help with one or two steps, but it is important to let them do as much as possible. Working on crafts is good for their mental and physical health, and it is sure to put a smile on their face!

Getting Seniors Involved In Holiday Activities


getting seniors involved in holiday activities

The holidays are a joyous time, but they are also a nostalgic time. For seniors, this nostalgia and holiday activities can be tinged with a bit of loneliness, sadness and even grief for the ones they have lost thus making getting seniors involved in holiday activities all the more important. Even changes in the weather – clouds, cold and rain that may prevent them from their daily walk or outdoor activities, or that deprive them of much-needed sunshine, can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

We know this time of year is busy – or downright hectic – for the average household, but we recommend taking a little extra timeout to including your beloved senior(s) in holiday activities.

Tips For Getting Seniors Involved In Holiday Activities And Events

Here are some suggestions for how you can involve senior loved ones in holiday events. It can make all the difference in the way they feel this holiday season.

Have them over. A simple pick up and drop off is all that’s required to involve a senior in your holiday happenings. From sorting through ornament boxes and decorating the tree and house, to wrapping gifts or simply watching the hubbub from a quiet corner, the feeling of being included is often just enough to keep seniors feeling wanted and loved. And, don’t forget to head to their place to help with decorating there too. Managing holiday trees and decorations can be more than many seniors can handle on their own. They’ll appreciate your efforts to put up their favorite decorations – and then your willingness to take them back down again after New Year’s – so they can enjoy soaking up the season in all its glory.

Invite them to lead a cooking class. It’s inevitable that older holiday traditions will be phased out as new ones take their place, especially as families grow up and/or blend together in new family units. Some of these lost traditions, disappear by way of new recipe items. This holiday season, why not invite a grandparent over to share their favorite holiday recipes from when they were children. They can provide the ingredient list, you can do the shopping and then they can sit and watch as they teach you how to make the dish. It’s a special way to make memories and getting seniors involved in holiday activities honors the traditions of the past, and you all get to enjoy a delicious new menu item when all is said and done.

Have a gift-wrapping party. There’s nothing that robs us of our holiday cheer like pulling all-nighters wrapping gifts as the holiday’s approach. Instead, why not get a group together and have a gift-wrapping party? Or, bring some of your gifts and wrapping supplies to the senior’s home and wrap them together as you enjoy a little bonding time. While ribbons and bows may be difficult for arthritic hands, wrapping paper and tape will be easier to manage. Seniors can write the name of the recipient on the bottom of the wrapped gift and you can tie them up and label them as time permits when you return home.

Go caroling together. One of the most popular holiday “volunteer events” is to go caroling at nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers and assisted living communities. Rather than have your favorite senior caroled to, why not bring them along on your own caroling party? If the senior is currently wheelchair bound, decorate it festively and wrap them up warm and cozy. If they don’t use mobility aids but might appreciate a little support, choose a preferred mobility aid for when they need a little help. If your loved one is beyond being able to carol, that’s okay too. They’ll still appreciate going along for the ride.

Make homemade gifts this year. Remember we talked about holiday traditions that have disappeared in the past? Only recently has the availability of credit made it possible for our culture to go gift shopping crazy. Not so long ago, presents were much more precious and were often made by hand especially for you. If you’d like to reign it in a bit this year, talk to your senior loved ones about the homemade and upcycled gifts of holiday’s past. Perhaps they’ll be able to teach you a new hobby, art or craft that will add heartfelt homemade gifts for the ones you love. It will be time well-spent.

Getting seniors involved in holiday activities is a win-win scenario for everyone. We’d love to hear how your family helps to keep seniors filled with holiday cheer. Leave us your ideas in the HomeAide Home Care comment box below.

The Benefits of Aging in Place

the benefits of aging in place

When parents and/or grandparents begin to show signs of aging, it’s smart to evaluate which changes – if any –need to take place so that aging in place can be done as safely and gracefully as possible. While retirement community brochures may depict the post-retirement years as a “dream come true,” many seniors find that this era brings the most physically and emotionally challenging years of their lives.

These include physical changes, like diminishing eyesight and hearing or increased difficulty getting around. It can include mental changes, like the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s’. Sometimes aging is harder on one partner than another, which turns a former life mate into a full-time caregiver. Seniors are more prone to experiencing the death of their life partner as well as the passing on of their peers, which can make them feel isolated and lonely.

For all of these reasons and more, aging-in-place can bring a tremendous amount of comfort and stability at a time when changes are entirely outside of an individual’s control.

The NIH Says There’s No Place Like Home…For Growing Old

The NIH’s National Institute on Aging has an entire PDF with strategies aimed at helping seniors age in place. From serious cost savings to the comfort and security of a familiar environment, remaining in place by providing loving and experienced caregivers into the home is often the most beneficial plan for seniors and their families.

Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to accommodate aging in place for yourself or senior loved ones.

Greater Financial Security

Financial stability is key as seniors age, providing the resources they need to pay for additional services like shopping, meal preparation, bathing and dressing, memory care, medical care, driving and so on. What many people don’t realize is that the costs of in-home care services are typically much cheaper than the monthly cost of living in a retirement community. According to, “From 2004 to 2007, in 2009 dollars, the median monthly payment for non-institutional long-term care was $928 compared with $5,243 for nursing homes.” That’s a huge difference. Especially when you consider that those cost savings are paired with other benefits, like familiarity, security, comfort and greater independence.

Even so, the same website observes that “…examining how to reduce costs are focusing on the wrong area; instead, they should be emphasizing the emotional, social, and health benefits of HCBS and aging in place.” We agree. The care providers at HomeAide Home Care witness over and over again how seniors with adequate in-home care fare significantly better in terms of emotional well-being than their facility-bound counterparts.

The Independence That Comes With Aging In Place

Seniors who are aging in place have an easier time maintaining their independence. The familiarity and comforts of home can help to minimize the impacts of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. By making the home senior-friendly, seniors have the ability to get around easier, access their own belongings and possessions, and they enjoy the luxury of maintaining ownership of their pets. Seniors can remain an active part of their neighborhood and community, and they still exercise control over household decisions to the best of their ability.

Preserving Valuable Multi-Generational Relationships

There is a certain romance and novelty to going to grandma and grandpa’s house. Even if one of the grandparents is no longer alive, their memories live longer and stronger in their home furnished with their furniture, photos and signature belongings. The fact of the matter is that visiting a room at a nursing home or retirement facility simply isn’t as comfortable and doesn’t have the same, homey feel as the traditional home environment. By allowing seniors to age in place, they retain a sense of elevated family status. They experience the joy of having family, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – visit, stay over or participate with them in favorite past times such as gardening or taking daily walks, not to mention holidays and other traditional family occasions.

Are you in the process of determining whether a residential or in-home plan is best for yourself or a loved one? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We provide free, in-home consultations to create the best plan of action for today as well as the future. (510) 247-1200.

7 Reasons Seniors Benefit From Pet Adoption

7 reasons seniors benefit from pet adoption

Seniors face an array of challenges they may never have encountered before; perfectly healthy bodies can refuse to cooperate, vision and hearing dim, partners and peers may fade from their day-to-day lives as the result of moving into a retirement community or death. All of these challenges can begin to suck the joy out of living making understanding why seniors benefit from pet adoption all the more important.

In many cases, during our consultations with seniors and their families, we have an unexpected recommendation: adopt a pet.

7 Ways That Seniors Benefit From Pet Adoption And Improve Daily Life

The following are 7 ways that adopting a pet can improve daily life for your senior loved ones, adding a little more love and light in their life.

  1. They know they’ve made a difference. One of the most frustrating things about life after retirement, especially as the body begins to slow down or is compromised by progressive health conditions, is that seniors begin to feel their lives have no purpose. Adopting a pet provides a loving, safe and nourishing environment for a pet – often saving their life – and this makes seniors benefit from pet adoption and feel as if they have been able to make a difference in the life of another being.
  2. They feel wanted, needed and loved. Most families do their best to visit and touch in with parents, grandparents and other aging elders. However, as seniors watch and listen to the ways everyone’s lives are moving on around them, they can begin to feel as if they are a burden to the ones who love them most. When there is a happy four-legged critter to care for, that feeling does a 180°. All of a sudden the senior feels wanted, needed and loved – and that makes it more satisfying to get out of bed each morning.
  3. It inspires daily movement and recreation. Most pets need some kind of exercise or movement to stay healthy and entertained. This can get an otherwise homebound senior inspired to take daily walks again, to go outside and sit in the sunshine while throwing a ball, or moving the upper body to inspire their new kitty to get the toy mouse. Any amount of movement is good for physical and mental health.
  4. It can save their life. If you have a senior who has a serious medical condition, who is blind or has mobility issues – they may be a candidate for a service dog. These dogs provide a tremendous amount of value, including the ability to alert a senior before an epileptic seizure or when their blood sugar levels are out of whack. They can also be used to help the blind and deaf, as well as therapy dogs for seniors who’ve developed anxiety or depression.
  5. It eliminates loneliness. What a terrible feeling it is to be lonely. Even seniors who live in senior communities can feel isolated, especially if they aren’t able to get out and about without help, or if they have recently lost their spouse, partner or closest friends. A pet is a built-in, unconditionally loving family member or friend who can transform a lonely and depressed senior into a more outgoing, positive and active member of their community.
  6. Pets lower blood pressure and improve health. Studies have shown over and over that pet owners report feeling less stressed and have measurably lower blood pressure than their non-petted counterparts. In fact, pets are known to provide multiple health benefits to their owners, and some of these wind up reducing the risk of heart attack, strokes, and other debilitating or fatal conditions linked to heart disease and high blood pressure.
  7. They increase social interactions. There are two things in life that will draw strangers right towards you to engage in conversation – dogs and babies. Many seniors are amazed at the amount of attention they get while out walking their dogs or taking them out to dog parks. Even immobile seniors can enjoy these activities with their companion or home health care provider to accompany them along the way. Those daily chats and personal interactions stimulate the production of endorphins – “feel-good hormones” – and that is a win-win for all.

Have you noticed a dampening of a senior loved one’s inner light or connectedness to the world around them? Consider the reasons why seniors benefit from pet adoption and then go to one of the many Bay Area shelters. That once simple step can make a tremendous difference in the lives of both the pet and the owner.