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Living in a big house is nice; many of us enjoy our leisure time with trees and flowers in our backyard, but what about those who live in an apartment or a retirement home, what does gardening for those seniors look like?

Jenny moved into a long-term care home last winter after her husband died. It’s been over six months now, and she misses him more than ever when summer is here. Jenny’s husband used to always make their garden nicely landscaped and decorated. The stone steps to their living room were surrounded by tulips, and there were several ball trees beside their cute little pond. Jenny remembers her husband putting so much effort into their little garden, and spending time with him on their beautiful porcelain tiles when evening came and held some of her favourite memories. Now, Jenny is living in a small apartment. She wants her happiness to last longer, just as if her husband was still alive, so she decided to try having a little garden on her balcony.

Living in a limited space doesn’t mean gardening is impossible; you can still have your beautiful “backyard” with even less mess and maintenance. There are a few things you need to prepare before you start to build your garden, and we will be discussing them below.

 

What You Need to Prepare for Gardening

 

Picture The Garden In Your Mind

What vibe do you want your garden to have? Where do you want to place your plants? It is better to plan the scenery in your mind before making it come true.

 

Invest In Tools

It always requires some investment when you are building your dream green place. For beginners, here are a few tools you might need to get your garden started, and you can either get them online (e.g., Amazon) or at stores like Home Depot:

  • Plants, seeds, or bulbs (of course)
  • Potting soil
  • A handheld shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • A watering can
  • Plastic or ceramic planter containers, according to your taste and need
  • Gardening gloves

 

Choose The Right Plants

The key to building a beautiful and easily maintained small garden is to choose the right plants that suit your residency and your preference.

Hibiscus is a great choice for a room with abundant sunshine, especially if your window faces south or west. Aloe vera, jade, and jasmine are other good options.

A spider plant is an excellent choice for a hanging planter in a room that receives a lot of light but also has a lot of indirect sunshine.

African violets are also a great choice because of their beautiful blossoms, which can brighten up any space.

If your balcony or living room is shady most of the time, it’s hard to provide an environment for your plants to grow well. However, there are still options: A philodendron is a good choice for low-light areas; just be sure to water it once a week. Dieffenbachia and ferns are two other low-light plant options as well.

 

Safe Gardening Tips for Seniors

 

Rest and Stay Hydrated

It is important to remember that as we get older, our physical abilities decline, therefore we need to take more time to rest and avoid pushing ourselves too hard. Fatigue can lead to dangerous falls, so it’s important to take a breather every 10-20 minutes.

It is also important to stay hydrated while you are doing hard work, especially when you are working under the sun. So, remember to bring a water bottle with you and have it in your sights; it will be a good reminder if you are indulging yourself in the blooming buds.

 

Wear Comfortable Clothes To Prevent Falls

Wearing the right attire is as important as getting enough rest while you are gardening. Remember to wear light clothes with some sun protection (e.g., a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat). You can also bring waterproof shoes since the grass can be dewy and wet. Avoid wearing slippers, as they will give no protection from slips and falls.

 

Pick The Right Time Of The Day

We know that gardening is not just about trimming plants, but also about enjoying the sunlight. However, it is important to choose the right time and enjoy it safely. The hours between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm are peak sun hours, so avoid doing gardening or any other intense outside activities during this time.

 

Ask For Help From Others

When it comes to doing heavy-duty tasks, it is good to have a friend or family member by your side in the event of any falls and injuries. On top of that, working with friends and family is also a terrific chance to add some social interaction to your day and tighten bonds.

 

References:

https://www.caringseniorservice.com/blog/gardening-tips-for-seniors

https://www.seedsandspades.com/best-gardening-tools-for-seniors/

 


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As Johnny’s mother’s dementia got worse, he began to worry about himself. His grandma had Alzheimer’s years before she passed away, and now his mom has it.

Johnny has heard before that dementia could be hereditary, and now he kind of believes it. Although taking good care of his mom is now his firstpriority, Johnny thinks that he needs to find a way to prevent, or at least slow down, the progress of developing dementia. Is this actually something that could be achieved, or is it just wishful thinking? Today we’ll find out.

Is Dementia Preventable?

Although there is no clear evidence that dementia can be prevented in all cases, researchers found that a healthy lifestyle could significantly lower the risk of dementia as we age.

Two of the most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. It has been shown that having a healthy lifestyle can decrease some risk factors of developing dementia.

Risk Factors of Dementia

Before we talk about the risk factors, there’s one thing you should know: risk factors are not the direct causes of a disease, rather, they present as the possible reasons that increase the chance of developing the disease.

Below, we have listed several risk factors that were demonstrated to increase the likelihood of developing dementia:

  • Age

The very first rist factor is obviously aging. As we age, we are more likely to suffer from dementia, even though it is not a normal part of the aging process.

The strongest known risk factor for dementia, on the other hand, is advanced age. Alzheimer’s disease affects one in every twenty Canadians over the age of 65. Individuals younger than 65 are not immune to developing dementia.

It’s called “early-onset dementia” for a reason.

  • Sex

Believe it or not, sex is another prominent risk factor for causing the disease, and  women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

A number of factors, including longer lifespans for women and fluctuations in estrogen levels throughout the course of a woman’s life, have been linked to this phenomenon.

  • Genetics

There are at least 20 genes that may enhance the chance of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers.

PSEN1, PSEN2, and APP (the three types of genes) are all known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and familial Alzheimer’s disease generally develops before the age of 65 in those who have one of these gene mutations.

There is a 50% risk that a kid will be born with one of these genes if their parents are carriers. However, the other genes connected with Alzheimer’s disease enhance the risk but do not guarantee that the condition will occur.

  • High Blood Pressure

Dementia is more likely to occur in middle-aged people with high blood pressure (hypertension) than in those with normal blood pressure. Because of its effect on the heart, arteries, and blood circulation, high blood pressure can raise your chances of developing dementia, particularly vascular dementia.

  • Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers or ex-smokers. According to the data from a 2019’s study, current smokers are 30% more likely to develop dementia in general, and 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, a longitudinal study found that smoking habits causes a decline in memory, cognitive function, and attention ability.

  • Diabetes

Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are more common in people with mid-life type 2 diabetes (ages 45 to 65).

  • Obesity

Middle-aged obesity (between the ages of 45 and 65) raises the risk of dementia. A person’s risk of having type 2 diabetes is increased by obesity, which increases the chance of developing dementia, as we explained previously.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Researchers have found that traumatic brain injury has a moderate to severe correlation with dementia. The disease usually starts years after the patient’s original TBI. TBI could be linked to memory loss, decrease in concentration, incapability in communication, and even personality change.

  • Malnutrition

Many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, can be exacerbated by a diet heavy in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. See our blog post on “Senior Nutrition Guide to learn more.

  • Alcohol

Heavy alcohol consumption (more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men) raises the risk of dementia.

  • Depression

People who suffer from depression in their middle or later years are more likely to suffer from dementia.

However, even though dementia and depression may be linked, it has yet to be proven. There are conflicting views on whether depression is a risk factor for dementia or even an early indication of the illness.

  • Loss of Hearing

Dementia and cognitive decline can occur even at low degrees of hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, diminished self-confidence, and difficulty doing daily tasks. However, the specific impact on cognitive decline is still unknown. In our previous blog post, we have explained how to take care of a family member with hearing loss , which we hope can inspire you if you are in the situation.

  • Senior Isolation

Hypertension, heart disease, depression, and dementia are all made more likely by a person’s lack of social interaction. Senior isolation is a serious issue that occurs in many elderly people. If you or your loved one is suspected of experiencing loneliness and isolation, check out our blog post on “Senior Isolation to find out how to avoid that.

After reviewing a number of risk factors, you may now know that dementia is highly related to certain diseases such as diabetes, or stroke. In that, lowering the risk of getting dementia is still possible.

How to Lower the Risk of Developing Dementia

Albeit more studies are needed to be done before researchers know specific means to prevent dementia, there are still some steps we can do to promote our general health and lower the risk of many related diseases.

  • Quit Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop many chronic diseases, and dementia could be one of the consequences. Quitting smoking can be a difficult process, but the end result is worth all the effort. Find support from friends and family; success will be difficult if you walk this road alone.

  • Manage Health Problems Including Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol

Contrel and monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar level. Eat a well-balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Make sure to include particular protein sources that contain omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

  • Be Physically and Socially Active

Being physically and socially active could not only help you to manage your weight, but also keep senior isolation at bay. Try to do some aerobic exercises that could raise your heart rate but won’t harm your joints. Enjoying these activities with others could make the process much less boring!

  • Practice Cognitive Skills

Another way to maintain your brain health is to constantly stimulate it. You can try to learn some new skills or new languages. It is also helpful to play some games that require some brain power.

  • Avoid Head Injury

Always be careful when walking or jogging. Wear comfortable shoes and use the anti-slip mats in areas you constantly use. If you are an aging adult, always use railings in stairwells and wear a helmet when doing sports if necessary.

  • Limit Alcohol Consumption

Try to eliminate alcohol as much as possible in your diet. If it is too hard for you to quit, try to limit your alcohol intake to a certain amount, which means 350ml for beer, and 148ml for wine each day.

References:

https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/brain-and-nerves/dementia/prevention.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-prevention/faq-20058140

 


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“Last Sunday, my grandson brought my beef jerky. He knows that it was my favorite snack when I was his age, but I hadn’t had it for years,” said Richard.

“And then a weird thing happened…I found that it was too tough for me to chew.

I asked my son why it was too dry and too hard, and he said it was the same kind of beef jerky that you can buy anywhere. Then I started wondering if it was my problem.”

“Well Richard,” replied Anthony, Richard’s good friend. “You’re a tough man, but sometimes you gotta admit that you’re old, and not as tough as you used to be! 

I’m not far from you. I haven’t been able to eat hard foods like beef jerky since my neck surgery, and Jane only has liquid food now because of her teeth. Now you won’t spot any crackers or nuts in our house. By the way, I have some really nice juicers if you want one.”

Just like Richard, Anthony and his wife Jane, and many older adults are facing the same situation – not being able to eat certain foods because of chewing difficulties.

In fact, chewing difficulties can also be ascribed to many other reasons, such as gum disease, physical changes from jaw/mouth surgeries, stiffness or pain in the jaw muscles, infections from radiation therapy, etc. These factors would greatly interfere with your eating, and there are risks that come afterward.

Risks Associated With Chewing Difficulties

Malnutrition is the most common outcome related to chewing difficulties. Generally speaking, many liquid foods such as soups, juices, and shakes are not able to provide enough nutrients and calories as foods that are dry and dense in their texture. A lack of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) can cause harmful infection in seniors who already have compromised immune systems, and also increase the chance of developing dangerous heart arrhythmias.

In addition, improper chewing can elevate choking risks, which could be life-threatening. So cultivating good eating/cooking habits and eating the “right” foods become crucial at this point

Tips For Seniors with Chewing Difficulties:

–       Drink Beverages/Soups

Drinking liquid could help moisten the food and make it easy to chew and swallow. It is better to drink beverages or soups than drinking water since these can provide extra energy and minerals with your regular meals. Note that sugar-free and low sodium beverages/soups is recommended, especially for seniors with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

–       Use Dentures

When the teeth don’t work anymore, look for the ally! A set of artificial teeth can work the as same as your old teeth, so letting your “old friends” retire and replacing them with new ones would be a good idea.

–       Pace Your Consumption

A slow eater is always an elegant eater, and they are unlikely to choke. Cut your food into smaller chunks and let your fork rest on your plate between bites would be very helpful for your teeth in order to grind the food thoroughly. It also prevents acid reflux and engages all your senses while you eat.

Tips For Meal Planning: 

–       Follow Nutrition Guides

Even if there are many food groups you should avoid, it is still necessary to follow a nutrition guide to ensure both the variety and the balance of our diet is achieved. Check out the “Health Eating Food Pyramid” or “MyPlate Food Guide” for reference to food portions and types of foods we should include in our diet every day.

In brief, by the healthy eating principle, your diet should be composed of:

–       50 percent of vegetables and fruits

–       25 percent of grains

–       25 percent of proteins

 

–    Use The Right Cooking Methods

Selecting easy-to-chew foods isn’t enough; changing the way we cook is also important, and it gives you more options of foods to add to your diet.

Try to add low-sodium liquid to moisten the foods, and use a food processor to soften them afterward.

Steaming and simmering will also help the food absorb liquid and become soft enough to eat while frying and grilling will take the water away from the food. However, for some vegetables that are moisture-rich, frying and grilling will still make them soft and easy to swallow. So next time your elderly parents use your wagyu beef to make beef stew, don’t laugh. They are choosing the right way to cook for themselves!

–       Remove Seeds/Stones to Avoid Choking

When the teeth can’t process the food well, you will use the tongue. But for the foods that contain seeds, such as watermelon and grapes, our tongues are not useful to grind the seeds down. So it is important to remove the seeds before you eat to prevent choking or to avoid them altogether.

Here’s a chart of the food to avoid and choose for people with chewing difficulties.

Food To Avoid/Food To Choose:

Foods to Choose: 

  • Foods that are soft in texture, easy to chew and swallow.
  • Foods that are chopped into bite-size” (no more than 2 cm in size), ground, mashed and moist

Foods to Avoid:

  • Foods that are dry, hard, and stringy in texture.
  • Foods that are sticky and gummy.

Avoiding certain food does not mean you can no longer taste the gourmet. Here are some recipes that CareStory recommends if you have chewing difficulties. Enjoy!

Recipes: 

1. Pumpkin Sausage Soup 

(Rich and satisfying. This is the perfect soup to enjoy in cold weather!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 ounces unsalted chicken stock
  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp. sugar or sugar substitute equivalent
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups shredded smoked cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1.     Add oil to a soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and carrots, then cook them for 5 minutes as you stir them.
  2.     Add salt, pepper, and chopped garlic to the vegetables.
  3.     Break up the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks in the pot. Make sure the meat is cooked well before you tilt the pot to the side and scoop out any extra fat.
  4.     Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and mix them well. Add water up to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
  5.     Add seasoning, and it is ready to serve.

 

2. Creamy Butter Mashed Potatoes

(It’s easy, it’s creamy, it’s good for any occasion.)

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2  sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 8 ounce sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.     Cut the potatoes into small pieces to ensure they can all cook evenly.
  2.     Boil potatoes in water until they are fork-tender.
  3.     Drain potatoes and add in the cream, sour cream, and butter.
  4.     Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until it’s smooth. Add milk for thinning.
  5.     Add seasoning.

 

3.Tropical Oatmeal Smoothie

(It’s packed with fibers and vitamins, and a load of sunshine!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quick coats
  • 1 peeled banana
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango cubes
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple cubes

Directions:

  1.     Add the oats to the blender, and blend to a fine powder.
  2.     Add banana, coconut milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and continue to blend.
  3.     Add the mango and pineapple, and blend until smooth.

 

4. Peanut Butter Avocado Smoothie

(A one-minute drink that keeps you full and energetic for the whole day. Why not?!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Half an avocado

Directions:

  1.     Blend the above ingredient in a blender until smooth.
  2.     Enjoy!

 

5. Tiramisu

(Who can resist Tiramisu? If you are looking for a no-bake dessert, here it is!)

Ingredients:

  • 9 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces frozen whipped toppings
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 10 1/2 ounces ladyfinger cookies
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  1.     Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth in a large mixing bowl.
  2.     Soak ladyfinger cookies in coffee in a square container.
  3.     Top the soaked ladyfingers with the creamy mixture.
  4.     Layer with whipped toppings by using a spatula.
  5.     Dust cocoa powder on top.
  6.     Refrigerate for 5 hours. Serve cold.

 

References:

https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/nutrition-for-older-adults-chewing-swallowing-and-nutrition.html

https://thegeriatricdietitian.com/nutrition-care-dental-health-in-older-adults/

https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Dental-health/Managing-Chewing-Problems.aspx


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It’s only one week until Mandy’s mom moves into a long-term care home. Sending her mom to a long-term care community is a huge relief for Mandy, since she is moving to another state with her fiancé. However, it is not without any worry – Mandy’s mom has some physical impairments and Mandy is afraid that caregivers won’t be able to offer the best help exactly when she needs it, so she decided to build an emergency kit for her mom on her own.

Whether you are taking care of an elderly person at home or in a long-term care community, a first aid kit is one of the necessary items that you never want to miss. Seniors are more likely to be injured than younger people, since they may have less strength and flexibility, and a higher risk for fracture. Also, their sight, hearing, smell and taste may have declined, making them more vulnerable to accidents. At the same time, seniors are more susceptible to skin infections and diseases. Aging can make the skin less elastic, thinner, and drier, which makes injuries takes longer for them to heal.

Buying an emergency kit is convenient, but customizing your own emergency kit will be suitable for your loved one in a long run. In that, we are going to provide you with some tips and a checklist of what you can add into your emergency kit. Let’s get started.

Tips for Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Loved One

1. Assess Your Loved One’s Health Condition

As we mentioned many times in our past blog posts, the premise of meeting your loved one’s needs is to understand their needs. So, the very first thing you should do is ist all the concerns that your loved one may have, and medicine or any other aiding items that can help them cope with their situation.

Consider your loved one’s mobility condition, hearing and vision status, and also ask the doctor if it is necessary to stock up on certain items according to his or her health condition (some doctors are willing to give you extra amounts of some certain medications, but it depends on the disease and the person). Assessing your loved one’s health condition makes it much easier for you to build a perfectly customized emergency kit. Also, if your loved one has memory problems or cognitive issues, it is not too late to add the things that could comfort them.

2. Know the Drug Regulation of the Long-Term Care Home

Building an emergency kit isn’t about bringing whatever you want; there are laws that restrict medications in long term care home, according to the provinces or states. Inproper usage of emergehcy kits, especially medication, can result in serious consequences for the long-term care home, so it is vital to figure what can be added and what should be avoided in a fist aid kid that your loved one will bring to a community. Here is an example list of what is allowed in long-term care homes, according to the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy:

  • Analgesics, controlled drugs

  • Anti-Infectives

  • Anticholinergics

  • Anticoagulants

  • Antidiarrheals

  • Antihistamine Injectables

  • Antinauseants

  • Antipsychotics

  • Anti-Hyperglycemic

  • Anxiolytics

  • Cardiac Life Support Medications

  • Coagulants

  • Corticosteroids

  • Hypoglycemics

  • Seizure Control Medications

  • Large Volume Parenterals

  • Poison Control

  • Respiratory Medications

  • GI Medications

  • Other Medications as Approved by the Board

3. Make It As Light As Possible

Moving into a long-term care home is already a big project for most seniors. You don’t want to add extra pressure to your loved one to carry a big heavy box around. So, make a list of necessary items, and get rid of, or just leave the extra items in your loved one’s room. Below, we offer you a checklist of what you can include in an emergency kit.

What You Can Add Into A Customized Emergency Kit

Basic Sanitation and Cleaning

  • Antiseptic Wipes

  • Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Antibiotic Ointment (e.g., Neosporin.)

  • Aloe Vera (to heal burn)

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Eye Drops

Wound Dressings

  • Band-Aida

  • Non-Adhesive Pads

  • Tape

Medicinal

  • Personal prescription and over the counter medication

  • Ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, Benadryl, or other painkillers 

  • Antidiarrheal medication and laxatives

  • Antacids such as tums. 

  • A printed list of your loved one’s known medical conditions, their prescribed dosage, and allergies. 

Essential Tools

  • Thermometers

  • Tweezers

  • Scissors

  • Fingernail Clippers

  • Blankets

  • Medicine Cups or Spoons For Measurements

  • Cotton Balls and Swabs

  • Floss

  • Roll of Duct Tape

  • Small Plastic Bags

Others

  • Sunscreen

  • Insect Repellent

  • Instant Cold Ice Packs

  • Items That Accommodate Tour Loved One’s Specific Needs

Takeaway

The above list is only a general guide for your customized first aid kit; what you will actually add to your list depends on what your loved one’s needs. Remember to know your loved one’s needs and list them before your preparation, and ask if the home allows you to bring some medication that you are uncertain about.

Happy prepping!

 

References:

https://seniorsafetyadvice.com/how-to-build-an-emergency-kit-for-seniors/

https://www.pharmacyboard.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/EmergencyKitsLTC.pdf

 


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Shelly’s mom has just recently moved into a long-term care home, and it seems like a new start for her. However, her mom has always been an introvert, and moving into a new environment made her even more reluctant to speak to others. So, Shelly thought that her mom just needed some time to adapt to her new life.

After a few weeks, Shelly called the administrator and asked about her mom’s situation. Her mom’s caregiver reported that she is still shy and afraid to talk to people. As Shelly understands how harmful isolation can be to seniors, she knows that it’s time to seek a way to encourage her mom to interact with her neighbours.

Moving into an assisted living community is usually a huge transition for aged people, especially for those who are used to living alone, or have just lost their partners. In our previous blog posts, we have talked about how Senior Isolation can impact one’s mental and physical wellness, and being socially active is vital in defeating loneliness and depression. Allow me to explain how to get your loved one active in social at a long-term care home.

Make Them Uncomfortable

Yes, the very first thing you should do is to “push” your loved one out of their comfort zone. Getting outside your comfort zone isn’t comforting, but in the long run, if avoided, can only “imprison” your loved one in the cage of isolation. IStart with doing some “uncomfortable activities” such as involving your loved one in a conversation between you and others. Just make them realize the power of small talk and getting proactive in making friends.

However, moving into a long-term care home can also be overwhelming for a senior So, allow your loved one to have some time to progress and take it one step at a time. Living in a community actually provides tons of chances for seniors to socialize, and once the senior is familiar with their new lifestyle, it’s going to be easy and fun. Here, we have several tips on how to help your loved one seize the opportunity while joining a new family.

Tips to Help Your Loved One Socialize at a Long-Term Care Home

  • Familiarize Yourself With the Community Staff

What did you do when you first  sent your kids to kindergarten? – you talked to the teachers and checked on circumstances at school to learn the ropes. Is there a place at the community that your loved one may enjoy? Or are there any activities that your loved one can attend and have fun with at the same time? As long as you find a way to push your loved one out of his or her room, the very first step of getting your loved one to blend in socially is accomplished.

  • Register Your Loved Ones for Activities

Does your loved one like dancing? Knitting? Or Wii bowling? There must be at least one interest group in the community that your loved one can join. Sometimes the “newbie” is usually too shy to socialize with other residents, so now it’s your responsibility to open the door for them. If music is your loved one’s strength, ask the staff to encourage your loved one to play an instrument at community events. It might feel embarrassing the first time, but your loved one will enjoy with everyone’s encouragement.

Also, getting your loved one involved in volunteer opportunities is also helpful. For example, he or she can help with gift wrapping during the holiday season. The core concept here is just to get them engaged in any activities that have more chances to meet and talk to people. 

  • Bring Gifts and Food

Who doesn’t love little surprises?! Another good way to help your loved one to socialize is to ask them to bring gifts to the residents. If you or your loved one loves baking, make some refreshments and distribute them around the community. Sharing food is a very easy way to start a conversation, and your loved one will feel content by surprising others, too

  • Make Use of Social Media and Technology

If your loved one has some physical impairments and stepping outside seems a bit challenging to them, technology can provide many more convenient ways for seniors to connect with others. Setting a profile on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to gain more exposure in the community is a great first step. It also allows other to know more about your loved one, just like how CareStory aims to do: knowing is the foundation of caring and sharing.

Takeaway:

The best time to assist your loved one to socialize in a long-term home always starts from day one. It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for your loved one to get familiar with the community, and it is already an overwhelming process. So, be patient with your loved one, but also encouraging him or her to “jump right in” at the same time is the key to making the process easy and enjoyable.

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/social-life-when-moving-to-senior-living-151725.htm

https://www.caringseniorservice.com/blog/ways-to-help-seniors-avoid-isolation

 


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“My mom has always had bad vision, but it has become weaker and weaker in the past few years. Now, she’s legally blind. I feel bad for her since she enjoys exploring the beauty of nature, but now she’s even having trouble doing housework due to her vision loss. I can tell that she’s getting depressed because she feels that she’s losing part of the joy in her life. What can I do to make her feel happy, and have a better quality of life?”

This is a message we received from a desperate daughter. As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “How to Take Care of Your Loved Ones with Loss of Smell and Taste”, ) we know that sensory deprivation can greatly decrease one’s quality of life and lead to more symptoms. So, today we are going to focus on how to improve the quality of life of your loved one with vision impairment.

Vision loss can be a very gradual process, so it is vital to identify it when your loved one starts to show the following signs:

  • Finds it harder to focus on things

  • Accidentally bumps into things or knocks objects over

  • Stop doing activities that requires vision, such as reading or writing

  • Finds it harder to find nearby items

  • Constantly falls, or has trouble walking

All the above signs can be detrimental to your loved one’s mental health and lquality of life. However, there are ways for you to save your loved one from suffering.

Caring Tips for Seniors with Vision Impairment

  • Good Lighting

Make sure the area that your loved one normally stays around is well-lit. Counter lighting would be a good choice given that it won’t take up too much space in your house. Make sure the light isn’t too dim, but not too bright either,  so it won’t hurt yours and your loved one’s eyes.

  • Minimize Fall Risks: Install Grab Bars, Stair Lights, Remove Unnecessary Items

People with vision impairment have more chances of falling. So, it is important to remove all unnecessary items, such as electrical cords on the ground. It’d also be helpful to install grab bars along the stairs, and you can add stair lights to illuminate the way so the risk of falls drastically decrease. If your loved one has some level of dementia or memory problems, it’s better to reorganize the furniture to make the house easy to navigate.

  • Make the Best Use of Contrasting Colors

Decorating your home in contrasting colors is especially helpful if your loved one likes to move around in the house, or perform tasks that have the potential to hurt them. For example, to prevent your loved one from cuting their fingers, you can purchase knives in bright colors and a dark cuting board so your loved one can distinguish.

  • Labeling 

In our blog post, “How To Take Care of Your Loved Ones With Loss of Smell and Taste, we have talked about how labeling is important for food safety. It is especially important for someone with vision impairment or vision loss . Making a larger label of names and expiration dates on foods and medications can help prevent food poisoning and overdoses. You will be surprised at how a single step can make a significant difference.

You can also do the same thing with your loved one’s personal hygiene products, and condiments in your kitchen. Just make the name on the object visible enough so your loved one can’t ignore it.

  • Provide Mental Support

Whoever suffers from vision impairment can lose their independence and quality of life, and depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and inactivity can all be side effects of vision loss for some people. So, it is important to help your loved ones with acceptance and strive for better entertainment for them. There are several forms of entertainment for  people withvision impairment, which we will discuss below. Hopfully it will inspire you on the way to help your loved one live comfortably.

Entertainment for Seniors with Vision Impairment

  • Let’s Go Audio!

It is time to turn all visual entertainment into audio. You can download audiobooks online for your loved ones, such as Audible by Amazon. Or, use the Audio Description Project (ADP) that’s made by the American Council of the Blind. On ADP, you can access tons of TV shows, speeches, and even podcasts to museums.

  • Games

Remember when we talked about how games can be beneficial to seniors? There are games such as Bingo and Trivia that don’t require strong vision, but also good entertainment as well. If you haven’t seen our blog post on that, go check it out Best Brain Games for Seniors). It is a very good way to improve your loved one’s quality of life, and strengthen family bonds if you join in!

  • Enjoy Fragrances

Sometimes, when one sense weakens, other senses heighten! Getting your loved one involved in activities that can stimulate the sense of smell such as gardening and aromatherapy, which can greatly help them reduce stress and agitation. Enjoying natural fragrances can even help seniors to manage pain and fight against viruses. Candle making is also a good activity for seniors – it will not only relieve tension for your loved one but also give him or her a sense of accomplishment when they finish it.

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/making-life-easier-for-older-adults-with-low-vision-177792.htm

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hobbies-for-blind-and-low-vision-seniors-429359.htm


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Jamie’s mother, Sylvie, has become more and more emotional, which is concerning to him because she wasn’t like that before. Today, Sylvie stormed into his room and yelled at him because the temperature in the living room was too cold. She told him that he did it on purpose to make her to move out. Speechless, Jamie wondered what has changed and how to deal with it.

It’s the middle of July. The hot weather swept across Atlanta, making people desperate for some cool air and an icy Coca-Cola. However, Mrs. Oliver wasn’t one of them. She rushed into her daughter, Ashley’s room, staring at her.

“I know your trick,” yelled Mrs.Oliver.

“You make the room so hot so that I am uncomfortable, and I will have to leave. You just want my money.”

“A wicked woman,” he added.

Ashley was both hurt and confused She had no idea what caused her mom to act out like this all of a sudden.

It is not uncommon that people become more hostile and irritable as they age. Seeing them lose their temper makes you suffer, too. Before we move on to talk about how to deal with your angry loved one, we always need to find out the root cause.

 What Cause Your Loved One to Act Out?

Dementia

In many cases, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia can cause a person’s personality to change. Anxiety and depression over one’s deteriorating cognitive function may also lead to emotional outbursts. Furthermore, because of their desire for independence, it’s not hard to understand seniors with dementia can sometimes be hostile to others.

Medical Issues

Other than Dementia, some other underlying medical issues such as Urine Tract Infections (UTIs) and sleep disorders are also a direct cause of aggressive behaviours in seniors.

Medication Side Effects

Senior can fill up to 14-18 prescription drugs a year, on average. Certain drugs, including asthma inhalers and antidepressants, can cause agitation, impulsivity, and restlessness in seniors. Also, some prescription drugs may cause mood swings and agitation if they interact with each other.

Vision and Hearing Changes

Loss in senses can surely decrease a person’s quality of life. In our previous blog post, “How to Take Care of Your Loved One With Hearing Loss, we have explained how hearing loss can have an impact on one person’s behaviour and way of communication.

Psychological Concerns

Some mental issues such as depression and anxiety can also alter one’s behaviour and personality. This could be due to the loss of a spouse or changes in living environments. Some seniors may not be open to sharing their feelings, but instead, they choose to express it through behaviour.

4 Things to Do When Your Loved One In In Distress

Evaluate the Underlying Cause

After investigating the potential cause of your loved one’s behaviour, you probably already have a general idea of how to help. Is it because of a cognitive condition that continues to worsen? Or is your loved one’s physical health deteriorating? Make sure to confirmt the reason before finding strategies on how to deal the issue.

Ask, Not React

We have talked about this in our blog post, “How to Communicate with Seniors. Ask, instead of assume – it’s the first step in knowing your loved one and starting a healthy and helpful conversation. Remember to have a calm and gentle tone, and don’t use passive aggressiveness in your questions.

Be Gentle and Respectful

Being respectful is always the key in interactions. Be soft in your attitude and be careful of your words; make sure to let your loved one feel that he or she is being heard and loved. It works well for the seniors who have separation anxiety.

Allow Yourself to Take a Break

Dealing with a capricious individual can be quite exhausting. It’s important to let yourself have some time to relax and move away from the routine. it is also important to let other family members get involved in the caring process, or if there’s no one around, you can consider hiring a caregiver to help you.

References:

https://www.homecareassistancearlingtontx.com/why-is-my-older-loved-ones-behavior-changing/

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/elderly-temper-tantrums-156852.htm

 


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John’s father had a stroke a few years ago and now he can no longer take good care of himself. As the situation worsened, his father started to show signs of loss of bladder and bowel control.

Today, John’s father didn’t make it to the bathroom  again, which wasn’t a surprise, because everytime John did his father’s laundry, he finds, stains on his underwear. His father is aware of it and feels embarrassed, too. However, John knows that these infrequent accidents may only get worse in the future.

Fecal incontinence is common among seniors. For persons who are over 65 years old in the US, 17.3% have reported to having accidental bowel leakages of mucus, liquid stools or solid stools. So in today’s blog post, we are going to focus on helping our loved ones with fecal incontinence. If you are experiencing such an issue, just keep reading.

What is Fecal Incontinence and What Causes it?

Fecal incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, which may result in stool leakage. It happens especially when a person is trying to expel gas, and the stoolpasses without control.

While diarrhea and gastroenteritis might cause  temporary fecal incontinence (FL), it can also be caused by some long-term illness or natural aging.

For seniors, FL can occur due to age related deterioration in the bowel’s muscles and neurons. Chronic constipation can also contribute to FL as well, since the stool “overflows” from the rectum if impacted.

Other Causes:

Some other causes, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can cause one to lose bowel control. For some seniors, they can even have a bowel movement outside the bathroom, and in some cases, play with there feces, suggesting a connection to past events. See our blog post on “The Power of Telling Senior Stories for more details.

In addition, stress and fear that are caused by temporary changes in their environment can lead to FL in seniors. So, when a senior moves to a new long-term care home, they may be  more likely to be stressed and have bowel leakage.

Some seniors with physical disabilities would also have higher chance of FL. This is easy to understand since they have difficulties in reaching a toilet.

How to Take Care of Someone with Fecal Incontinence (FL)

  • Identify the Cause

We always stress on finding the caause before moving on to solve the problem. So before you “deal with the mess”, it is always helpful to find out the true reason behind your loved one’s FL – is it because thay are  experiencing an acute change of surroundings? Or has a certain medication caused your loved one to be unable to reach the bathroom when he or she in need?

Once you have found the root, you are safe to proceed to the next step.

  • Make Dietary Changes

Another way to prevent FL is by making some dietary adjustments.

If chronic constipraion is the underlying issue, fibre can play a significant role in decreasing symptoms. Increasing fluid intake can also ease constipation and prevent such accidents. 

  • Exercises

Particular exercises that are aimed at increasing anal sphincter function and strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor may be beneficial to control bowel movements. The most well-known exercise that tightens pelvic floor muscles would be “Kegel” exercises. If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s the instruction of how to complete a Kegel exercise.

Step One: Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscle

When you are urinating, stop it in midstream, and feel the muscles that are holding the urine – this is the pelvic floor muscle that you are going to train during the whole exercise. However, we don’t recommend holding your urine constantly as a way to exercise the muscle, as it will increase the risk of kidney infection.

Step Two: Make Sure Your Bladder Is Empty, And Find a Comfortable Position

Empty your bladder to prevent urine leakages during the exercise. Then, you can sit or lie down to find a position that’s comfortable for you.

Step Three: Tighten Your Pelvic Floor Muscles, And Hold For 5 Seconds.

Step Four: Relax The Muscle For 3 Seconds.

Step Five: Repeat 10 times, 3 Times a Day.

  • Bowel Training

Encourage regular toileting and reduce the likelihood of accidents. This, however, takes time to show results.

This is especially meaningful for people with physical disabilities. So set up a schedule that works for them to have a bowel movement, and stick to the schedule, so incidents of leakage and overflow can be prevented.

  • Increase Hygiene

Stools may cause skin irritation, so regular cleaning  and maintaining skin integrity is very important. If the person is using an absorbent product, change it regularly and constantly, so that it won’t cause further discomfort.

At the End:

Fecal incontinence may be embarrassing for both the senior and the family. If you think it causes too much work for you, it is always better to seek extra help such as hiring a caregiver to handle it.

 

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caring-for-a-loved-one-with-fecal-incontinence-214869.htm

https://www.healthline.com/health/holding-pee#is-it-safe

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000141.htm

 


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Communication has never been more difficult. Jade finds that her mom’s hearing has become weaker and weaker over time. Sometimes when she tries to talk to her mom, her mom thinks Jade’s yelling for no reason. However, Jade’s mom refuses to wear hearing aids and whenever she doesn’t understand Jade, she acts like she can’t hear them at all.

Loss of hearing is a common phenomenon that occurs among seniors. The natural aging process will lead to a decrease in our senses, and this includes our hearing. However, there are a few factors that can expedite this process, such as medications, noisy environments, chronic fatigue, and emotions.

Hearing loss does not just make people “not listen” to you, but it also change their personality – eliciting anger, anxiety, social withdrawal, and even depression. When seniors feel stressed or annoyed, they may just act like they don’t hearing anything. So, when dealing with seniors with a hearing impairment, you need to have more patience, sensitivity, and understanding.

Today, we are going to provide you with some useful tips on how to communicate happily and smoothly with a loved one who has hearing loss. Let’s jump in!

What Is the Best Way to Communicate with a Hearing Impaired Loved One?

  • Find a Quiet Place or Reduce Background Noise

Your loved one may not know you are talking in a noisy environment, so when you are trying to raise your voice, there’s a very high chance that she or he thinks you are shouting and angry. So, make sure there is no music or television playing in the background.

Public places like restaurants with a lot of noise and crowds would make conversation difficult. Selecting locations with fewer background noises and less congested areas can greatly improve communication and reduce distractions.

  • Get Their Attention, and Face Them While Talking

Before speaking, you need to first get their attention. This can be accomplished by touching them on the arm or shoulder in a proper way, and not from behind.

Make sure you are making eye contact, and keep the light on your face. Sometimes, it is also helpful to say their names in a polite way; being respectful is always the key in a conversation.

  • Keep Tour Hands/Mask Away From Your Face While Talking

Same as maintaining adequate illumination on your face while talking, patients with hearing loss need to read your lips. So get rid of your mask or anything that would block your mouth and let your loved one “read” your words.

  • Speak Clearly and Loudly

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “How To Communicate With Seniors, you need to speak clearly, and raise your voice if needed (but don’t scream). Do not speak too quickly or too slowly, and don’t use slang that elderly people may not understand.

  • Rephrase Your Question or Statement

When your loved one seems to not understand what you mean or not hear what you say, try rephrasing it in another way.

Sometimes your loved one may be confused about certain words, so simply repeating your statement isn’t helpful. Try shortening or simplifying your words and see their reaction.

  • Make Wse of Body Language and Visual Cues

Your posture and facial expression conveys emotion, while visual cues provide instruction. However, since facial expressions and nonverbal movements provide additional information, don’t exaggerate them, as they may be distracting.

You can also use aids to deliver your information, such as writing it down, or typing it on your phone and showing it to the person.

  • Ask Them How They Prefer to Communicate

Communication with seniors often requires cooperative efforts. So, it is never a bad idea to inquire about the other person’s preferred method of communication – if verbal isn’t the best for them, ask them if they would like to use any aid such as phones or sticky notes.

In the End

If you have tried many methods to communicate but the condition continues to worsen, it is better to do a hearing test. Specialists will offer potential solutions and techniques to help with hearing problems.

 

Reference:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hearing-loss-communication-techniques-144762.htm

https://www.hearinglink.org/living/partners-children-family-hearing-people/how-to-communicate-with-someone-with-hearing-loss/

 


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Food has always been the main attraction at family reunions regardless of culture and race, and it is especially prominent in Jen’s family.

Today is the day that Jen picks up her mom from the nursing home, and welcomes her back home. Jen has put a lot of effort into preparing this family reunion dinner, and she had been studying recipes for the past few weeks, just to make sure her mom would be satisfied.

The dinner went well, except for the fact that Jen’s mom only ate a little and finished eating very soon after the dinner had started. Jen asked her mom if the food didn’t taste good, and her mom replied: “my taste buds arent as strong as before, not because of covid or anything else; my sense of taste has been getting weaker and weaker over the years.”

This is very normal among seniors. In fact, nearly 5% of seniors who are over 75 years old have  chronic issues with their sense of smell. Loss of smell and taste occurs when people enter their 60s, and some start as early as 40s.

What Causes Loss of Smell and Taste?

Loss of smell and taste can be attributed to many reasons. Certain medications that treat cardiovascular disease that contain beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, may cause lose of senses  in seniors. Also, other common causes such as aging, poor dental hygiene, nasal and sinus problems, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and smoking, etc. are all correlated to loss of smell and taste in elderly people.

Consequence of Loss of Smell and Tast

Our five senses are gifts from nature, and a disappearance of any one of them would lead to serious consequences.

  • Safety Issue

Our smell is linked to sections of the brain that process emotions and memories, and it may alert us to dangers such as gas leaks, fires, or rotting food. It can also trigger pain signals to be sent to our brain when we smell or taste anything unpleasant, as it could be a warning that something horrible is about to happen. For example, some polluted water may taste metallic. If seniors drink a glass of water without being aware of a metallic taste, the chemicals may put them at risk of metal accumulation in their bodies. Therefore, loss of smell could cause safety issues such as food poisoning and chemical poisoning.

  • Change in Dietary Habit

Flavour is a combination of taste and smell, so changes in the senses could also change someone’s food preferences and eating patterns. Seniors with a loss of taste would tend to “over-salt” their food, which is linked to high blood pressure. Also, a loss of interest in certain foods can cause malnutrition, which would cause substantial weight loss in seniors. So, if you notice your loved one skipping meals and slimming down, it is better to get checked out.

  • Decreased Quality of Life

Food brings happiness, and that’s why human beings are so enthusiastic about food. If an individual experiences loss of smell and taste, feasts are no longer appealing, and he or she may find it hard to reminisce by the smell of certain foods.

Smells have the power to evoke deep feelings and memories in humans. So, one’s quality of life might be severely hampered by the diminished or distorted perception of smell.

How to Help Your Loved One with Change in Sense of Smell & Taste

  • Get Checked

First and foremost, get checked by a doctor. You can book a nasal examination for your loved one to see if there’s inflammation or something else, such as  COVID-19. Sometimes it emerges from collective issues, and loss of smell is just a signal of more troubles down the road.

  • Encourage Him or Her to Eat

A loss of smell and taste would alter one’s appetite. In that, encouraging your loved one to savor foods becomes a vital topic here. Making social events and family gatherings is a good way to help seniors eat more food than usual. Also, you can try to use more herbs and spices that stimulate their appetite and increase food flavours without increasing blood pressure. Moreover, food is better served hot than cold in terms of its flavour. However, watch the temperature carefully so it won’t be too hot and burn your loved one’s tongue and throat – the best temperature served is about 150 F.

  • Follow Nutrition Guides

In our previous blog post, “Nutrition Guides for Seniors”, we have provided nutrition requirements and macronutrient charts for seniors. You can use the chart for planning for tasty meals for your loved one. Eating balanced meals is essential for seniors, no matter if they have lost their smell or not.

  • Label Foods with Dates Clearly

Since some seniors aren’t able to distinguish rotten or spoiled food by smell (as the look of food may not change much as they go bad), it is important to label fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and other foods with their purchase date, and best before date CLEARLY. Write the date in a bigger size so your loved one will notice.

  • Make Sure the Gas Detectors and Fire Alarms are Working

Again, guaranteeing your loved one’s safety at home is the primary thing we should focus on. In case he or she may be forgetful, or isn’t able to smell any “dangers”, you need to be proactive. Install and make sure gas detectors and fire alarms are in good working condition to greatly relieve your tension when you are away.

 

References:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/help-seniors-whove-lost-smell-hearing-vision-172651.htm

https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/when-aging-steals-your-sense-of-taste.aspx



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    Contact us


    Call us

    1-647-243-2981


    Visit us anytime

    294 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada


    Send us an email

    info@emersewell.com



    Subscribe


    Sign up for Medicare newsletter to receive all the news offers and discounts.




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      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.