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The 3 Secrets of Seniors Who Stay Active

Bingo is so overrated. After all, it’s completely sedentary, and keeps mental stimulation quite lax. Thankfully, there is an abundance of better activities for the seniors we know and love. Below are some of the superior alternatives that can offer lots of room for creativity or rigorous thinking.

Pottery classes

Although this one requires sitting often, the upper body can get quite a workout from it. If the seniors in your life love getting their creative juices flowing, pottery classes can be excellent opportunities for them to build masterpieces. Getting one’s hands dirty with slimy and sticky substances can also stimulate sensory skills, since tactile and olfactory skills are crucial here. Having others besides oneself doing the same activity can be great for socialization, as well as intellectual stimulation. Transforming a lump of clay into an ordered form takes planning, calculation, and aesthetic evaluation. What a wonderful thing pottery is!

A potter shapes an earthen vessel.

Water aerobics

Osteoporosis is seriously excruciating, which is why water aerobics (also called waterobics) is a fantastic alternative to exercising on land. Regular aerobics is designed to strengthen the heart, and water aerobics accomplishes the same without putting unnecessary strain on ligaments and joints. Water aerobics is not only suitable for the elderly, but also for those who wish to exercise without blowing out one’s knees. Warm water, in particular, is great for those with arthritis. Overweight individuals too should be able to participate in the activity without being concerned about messing up their spine or hips. And the best part? All the laughter one gets to share with others doing the workout! Doing cardio doesn’t have to mean smashing one’s soles against the hard pavement; simply encourage your elders to oxygenate aquatically! (Better yet, do it together!)

Elderly people participate in water aerobics.

Gardening/Landscaping

This third activity incorporates both creativity and movement. An art form that combines physical coordination and artistic coordination, gardening can be a marvelous outlet for the homemaker, the artisan, and the homebody. The wonderful thing about gardening is that the complex cultivation of various flora and management of the fauna is available for all skill levels. The superb flower arranger can find room to experiment, while the novice can help hose the beautiful mini forest and make it sparkle in sunlight. Watching the colors harmonize and the birds sing can make for great places at which grandparents can play with their grandchildren. (All the more reason to pick up that shovel and start planting!)

An elderly couple play with a water hose in a yard.

Conclusion

Climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator can be a great method for exercise, except for the monotonous aspect; and participating in a book club can be a valuable way to socialize and make friends, except for the sedentary aspect. Putting a slight variation to any number of activities can make them fantastic and creative. For more senior care ideas, simply reach out to Home Instead Senior Care!

Home Modifications for Your Senior

Home modifications can make it possible for seniors to live a comfortable life at home. Some modifications, such as ramps and walk-in showers, are just a few ways to improve safety inside the home, while also adding convenience for daily activities. Follow along in our blog for ways to make your senior’s living space more accessible!

Ramp Modifications

Indoor ramps are a useful home modification for older adults who use wheelchairs. These indoor ramps provide smooth transitions from one surface to another, making it safer to move throughout the home. We recommend threshold ramps, which are made from rubber components. They can easily be adjusted to the height of the door jamb or steps.

Kitchen Modifications

Washing dishes can be a challenging task if the sink is too deep or hard to reach over. Countertops and cabinetry may also be too high, especially for those using a wheelchair. To fix this problem, hiring a contractor to come in and adjust the counter height or lower the sink may be necessary. Moving tableware to lower shelfs, like bowls and plates, can also make everyday items more accessible!

Bathroom Modifications

Getting in and out of the shower may prove difficult for seniors as they age. One way to solve this problem is to replace the bathtub with a walk-in shower, which provides a much easier (and safer) entry and exit compared to a bathtub. In addition, installing a shower bar can give seniors something to hold onto while maneuvering to and from the tub. If an elderly person is having difficulty standing for long periods of time, consider a bathtub bench for more convenience!

Conclusion

Caring for an elderly loved one means making changes around the house as they grow older. If you have a senior that needs home assistance, contact Home Instead Senior Care. We provide the best quality care from the comfort of your elder’s home, with services tailored to you and your family’s needs. Visit our website for more information!

Picking a Pet for Your Elderly Loved One

Loneliness is common for those who are growing old. During this time, friends and other loved ones are passing away and daily activities are getting harder to partake in. While these situations can’t always be controlled, there is one sure way to provide your elderly loved one with some enjoyment – a pet! Animals are a great source of companionship and stress relief, making them the perfect investment. Follow along with our blog to learn how to pick the perfect pet!

Consider Disability
As you age, certain physical limitations can start to arise. It is important to keep in mind these disabilities when it comes time to select the pet. A dog is a friendly and lively companion, however, most dogs are very active. If your loved one has mobility struggles, a dog may not be the right fit. An animal like a cat or a bird may be a better and safer option!
Consider Pet Age
Young pets, much like children, require near-constant care. On top of that, a puppy or kitten is going to need intense training in order to learn how to function properly within a home. While care and training may not be an issue for some, another thing to keep in mind is lifespan. The last thing anyone wants is for a pet to become abandoned should their owner pass on before them. When picking a pet for a senior it is smart to keep in mind the age and lifespan of each animal.
Consider Temperament
Just like humans, animals all have different personalities and characteristics. The temperament of each pet is something to keep in mind before purchasing for a senior. Many character traits run in specific breeds, especially in the case of dogs. It is important for you to do some research before impulsively making a decision. Talk with your loved one and see what characteristics they may prefer and which ones they will want to avoid.
Pet Health
If age is an issue, adopting a pet that is a bit older is common. If this is the case, it is important to get the animal you adopted checked out by a vet before introducing them to your home. There are a variety of illnesses and diseases an unhealthy pet can have that will compromise the health of a senior. Ensuring that your new furry friend is healthy is a great way to keep your loved one safe.
Finances
If you’ve ever owned a pet before, you know how expensive they can be. Between food, toys, and vet visits having the funds to own an animal is important. Before jumping out and making the big purchase of a pet for your loved one, check into their financial situation. It would be a terrible situation to find yourself in should a pet prove to be too expensive. Checking out the financial situation will help you decide what pet is a good option.


Back-Up Plans
While it may not be something you want to think about, backup plans are necessary when owning an animal. If something should ever happen to your loved one, it is important to think about what will happen to their pet. Sorting who will step in to help care for them while your loved one is in the hospital is a good start. Other plans include who will take on full care of the animal if your loved one passes on or ends up unable to care for them any longer.
Conclusion
Helping your elderly loved one find companionship during lonely times is one of the best things you can do for them! While it may seem stressful to try and figure out which animal will be best, we are here to help. For more information regarding the care of your elderly loved ones, head on over to our website!

My Parents Won’t Eat Healthy. Help!

Finding the perfect nutritious menu for oneself can be quite a challenge, but getting one for another—especially someone who has a particularly strong penchant for greasy foods—can be a whole other conundrum. If you’re trying to help your beloved parents practice healthy eating habits, this blogpost is for you!

1. Research avidly.

If we’re willing to look up the restaurants with the best prices and best quality, why not do the same for our loved ones, especially the ones who nurtured you? Go the extra mile by being familiar with the stores with organic foods, and restaurants that use top-notch ingredients. Does your old man enjoy that salad along with too much dressing? Does that fast food meat even qualify as real meat? Does that “healthy” snack contain a vile amount of high-fructose corn syrup? Get your parents to be students of Nutrition Facts and food labels. It’s pretty fun, too!

2. Sit them down and have the talk.

Swaying someone from their favorite heart-attack-inducing foods is often difficult, and may get very messy; however, recognizing that it is a necessary confrontation will help you stand your ground. Remembering you are trying to save a life or lives—the very ones of your precious folks—is crucial. Don’t mince words about obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Help your parents grasp the gravity of the situation; at the same time, help them count the cost, and fully mourn with them what they will lose: their high-sodium morsels and processed foods. Spend enough downtime with them; give them the love and encouragement they need from you.

3. Have a blast with the alternatives!

Here comes the fun part. Whether it’s grocery-shopping with your parents to help them grab those fiber-rich snacks or making a list of fruits and veggies that they enjoy, you can collaborate with your parents to come up with a meal plan that suits them. Show them a world devoid of preservatives and additives! Let them pick out their favorites from the shelves. Recommend those lesser known items that have done wonders for your own health and share those health hacks that you’ve picked up.

4. Hold them accountable.

Now that your folks themselves realize that what they put into their bodies really matters, their relationship to their food should inevitably be affected, right? Well, it’s easier said than done. In order to truly reap the benefits for the long haul, discipline must be established. Check in with your parents regularly, and ask them how they are keeping up with their goals. “Are you skipping the sugar when eating cereal, Dad? Is the juice in the fridge freshly squeezed or artificial, Mom?” The best and most effective way to change your own eating habits is to become fully convinced about your need to change; the same goes for your parents. Remind them if they seem to forget. Patience is key.

 

Conclusion

Strategize, strategize, and strategize. Meal preparation and nutrition takes work and sacrifice. Your parents were there to feed you only the best, and now you can return the favor. Have their back by giving them those words of praise when they stick by their new meal plan. And if they slip up, don’t be harsh; bear with them just like they bear with you. For more advice, call on Home Instead Senior Care today!

Health Benefits of Swimming for Your Elderly Loved Ones

When you find yourself looking for some great summer activities for your elderly loved ones to participate in, consider swimming as your go-to activity. Whether you want to get them out of the house for a small period of time or simply want to give them a great way to stay active year round, swimming is one of the best ways to achieve both of these goals. Keep reading our blog to learn just a few of the positive health benefits that swimming can bring to your loved ones.

Elderly man swimming.

Elderly man swimming.

 

Good for Their Heart

If you have a loved one entering their golden years, swimming and other water activities are a great way to promote heart health. Swimming is one of the best exercises for lowering blood pressure and improving circulation because it’s a low impact activity that gently uses a majority of the body’s systems and muscles.

 

Good for Their Joints

For those struggling with joint pain, swimming is one of the greatest ways to exercise without putting extra strain on their joints. Swimming is a low impact, full-body workout that allows everyone to experience a fun method of staying in shape. Due to the non-weight bearing nature of this activity, even those that struggle with hip, spine, or knee pain can find enjoyment.

 

Improves Their Flexibility

Did you know that swimming is a great way to improve flexibility? The gentle and effective resistance that water provides improves strength and flexibility. Because of the simple movements involved, they will be able to notice an improvement in the range of motion in parts of the body including hips, legs, arms, and neck.

Swim class.

Swim class.

Helps Their Mental Health

This is more of a double benefit for your elderly loved ones. Because swimming is generally a relaxing activity, it’s great for reducing stress and improving mental health. Another aspect of swimming is that it’s a social activity, which means that your senior is able to interact with other people around them and start new friendships. Through their interactions, many of their feelings of loneliness are also greatly reduced.

 

Conclusion

No matter the activity, you always want to be sure that it can have a positive impact on your loved one’s physical and mental well-being. Swimming is one such activity that checks both of these boxes in a way that’ll allow your loved one the freedom and ability to safely enjoy themselves. Let our team at Home Instead Senior Care help the elders in your life find an activity that’s right for them.

What Happens When Our Elders Watch TV All Day?

Watching TV is easy. Onscreen virtual reality effectively keeps both the young and old occupied and visually stimulated, so much that it has long become a nationwide pastime, if not the most popular one. But does this casual, fun activity come with strings attached? After all, how bad can streaming Teletubbies or those flashy infomercials be?

 

1. It strongly encourages sedentary behavior

It turns out that sitting and binging TV shows for five hours or more (which roughly translates to five episodes) per day can lead to fatal blood clots. For the elderly, the destructiveness tends to be even worse. This correlation is similar to that observable between in-flight entertainment and pulmonary embolism; not standing up, not drinking water, and not moving seem to add up to spell blood flow trouble. The perils remained the same even in Japan—well-reputed for the longevity of its senior population; the Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study found that fifty-nine deaths resulted from pulmonary embolism. Participating in sports, increasing heart rate, and—perhaps most importantly—limiting TV viewing time are some strategies to counter such dangers.

 

2. Thwarts intellectual stimulation

Although documentaries and educational content abound today, one of the main reasons people flock to the TV screen is relaxation. Reality TV, celebrity gossip, and vapid entertainment only require that we fix our gaze at the glowing colors and laugh along. Unsurprisingly, persisting in this passive, unthinking, and unchallenging mode slows down our ability to recall memories. The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing reported that watching more than 3.5 hours per day was linked to a decline in verbal memory, most acutely in those who displayed higher cognition beforehand. So don’t flip to that channel with those petty catfights or ugly brawls; instead, consider reading thought-provoking and high-concept material with your elders, as it pushes our minds to crank the gears of our imagination.

 

3. Stifles Relationships

The absence of intellectual workouts reinforced by mindless TV not only rots our critical thinking and memory, but also inevitably our social skills too. Private binge-watching can rob opportunities for communal watching, and can isolate us away from tight-knit friendships and affirmation. Instead of turning to TV, we can turn to our peers; playing golf is an excellent way for elders to stay physically active and exercise friendly competition. In the case of the viewer who has obesity from binge-watching and has trouble moving, television addiction is not only a distracting hindrance to social interaction, but a physical one; however, regularly oxygenating the brain by going on a simple stroll can go a long way in crushing that couch potato inside all of us.

 

Conclusion

Being bombarded with promotions of all those unhealthy food products is unnecessary, and diverting our attention from vapid entertainment is avoidable. At the same time, trying to incorporate every healthful strategy simultaneously is not only exhausting, but also often ineffective. Thinking through each one carefully and applying it creatively and in a fun way, though, can spruce up your daily activities. Let Home Instead Senior Care help you decide those strategies!

Unpaid Millennial Caregivers are Growing in Number

Millennials in Changing Roles

When you hear the word “millennial,” the image that comes to mind might not be entirely positive. The media often portrays millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, as being spoiled, lazy, and overly dependent on their parents. However, a new growing statistic might change that image; more and more millennials are taking on the role of an unpaid caregiver for sick and elderly family members. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, the rate of millennial caregivers is about 1 in 4.

Understanding the Demographic Shift

In the past, most people did not find themselves in caregiving roles until they were in their 40’s or 50’s; however, that’s because prior to the baby boomer generation, people had children at younger ages and lived shorter lives. Many baby boomers, who make up 25% of the population, had children much later in life than their parents, and many of those children are millennials. Baby boomers are now reaching retirement and experiencing higher rates of chronic illnesses. Because many boomers are divorced, they’re relying on their children or grandchildren for care.

The Challenges

Many millennials who are now in their late 20’s and early 30’s are struggling to pay off student debt and are spending their limited funds on caregiving costs. At work, they may often be late or absent, leading to disciplinary action and missing out on opportunities for advancement.

Also, the stress faced by millennial caregivers can cause problems with their own health. While they want to make sure their elderly loved one is comfortable and feel positively about being able to help, they lose the opportunities to socialize and have fun. This adds to emotional and mental strain.

Most do not have any kind of formal caregiving training or skills, such as how to recognize a stroke, which is problematic for the people in their care. Without skilled care, sick and elderly people can suffer from worsening health. There is also frequent guilt about burdening their millennial caregiver.

Conclusion

The number of millennial caregivers will continue to increase as more and more baby boomers become elderly and experience fragile health. One solution available that can make life easier and more enjoyable for both the senior and the family member is in-home care. For example, Home Instead Senior Care provides clients with companionship, personal care, transportation, and help with household duties. If you’re currently struggling with your responsibilities as a caregiver, let Home Instead Senior Care help today.

Easy and Safe Exercises for Seniors to Stay Active

As you get older, you want to place more emphasis on your health and activity levels. When you are trying to stay active, it can be difficult to find safe exercises that meet your needs. If this is an issue that you are facing, keep reading to discover some safe and easy exercises you can do to stay healthy!

Elderly woman holding a pair of dumbbells.

Elderly woman holding a pair of dumbbells.

Wall Pushups

If you used to be able to perform pushups flawlessly, this is a great way to keep it up without overexerting yourself. Wall pushups can still strengthen your upper body with the added element of pushing against a wall instead of the floor. Make sure to keep your body straight and bend your elbows to save your body any undue stress, allowing you to keep working out with enjoyment.

 

Tippy Toe Lifts

When you need to give your upper body a break, tippy toe lifts can be a great way to strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Holding onto a counter or the back of a sturdy chair, slowly raise yourself onto your toes, then slowly bring yourself back to standing flat on the floor, and repeat. The easiest way to do this exercise is to pretend you’re a ballerina and imagine you’re going en pointe and then coming down gently before repeating. Doing this exercise slowly while holding onto the back of a chair will ensure that your body reaps the benefits of the workout while improving your balance.

 

Chair Squats

Another great way to continue building strength in your lower body is by doing chair squats. By performing this exercise, you’ll be able to build your glutes and legs. Similar to a normal squat, a chair squat just implements the added measure of having you sit down in a chair before rising back up to your starting position. The important thing to remember with this exercise is to keep your torso and shoulders straight to avoid bad form.

Group of seniors exercising together.

Group of seniors exercising together.

Conclusion

When it comes to staying active and healthy as you get older, finding exercises that will let you perform the movements without compromising your safety is important. Whether you choose to do wall pushups, tippy toe lifts, chair squats, or another workout customized for your body, remember to listen to your body when working out; and if you have a senior care service, ask them for advice or suggestions on exercises.

Tai Chi: A Low-Impact Exercise with Proven Benefits for Seniors

These days, with rising health care costs, many people are turning to Eastern medicine to promote wellness and to ease the symptoms of various ailments. For seniors, relief from health problems such as arthritis and even dementia can be found in practices such as tai chi.  Recent studies by Harvard have shown that tai chi promotes increased flexibility and strength.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi is a slow and meditative exercise in which participants try to focus and guide their energy flow through a sequence of movements and postures. It hails from ancient China, where it started as a martial art. Today, many elderly people in Asian countries can be seen practicing tai chi at parks and public squares. They believe that practicing tai chi daily can increase their longevity, and there is research suggesting that their belief is true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is Tai Chi Practiced?

Tai chi is done mostly standing up, unlike yoga, which requires participants to sit or lie on a mat. Many people do tai chi in groups, often outdoors in a park, or in a classroom. A teacher guides the participants through the slow, low-impact movements and poses, many of which are named after animals. Deep breathing and gentle stretching are part of the exercise, which relaxes the mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Start Your Tai Chi Practice

First, always check with your doctor to make sure you’re fit to begin any exercise regimen. Once cleared, it’s recommended that you find a class or group so that you can learn the basics. Many city recreational centers have tai chi programs. Another alternative is to watch videos on the internet or buy instructional DVD’s that you can follow in your living room. Just make sure you have enough space to stretch out.

Next, make sure you wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move and stretch. Most people practice barefoot or in lightweight shoes. Make sure to have water on hand, too.

Finally, enjoy your practice and the resulting health benefits! Of course, for seniors, it’s always a great idea to have a caretaker nearby to assist you and give you encouragement. At Home Instead Senior Care, our experienced and friendly team of caretakers will do everything they can to make sure you live a healthy and fulfilling life in your own home rather than a care facility. Call us at (910) 342-0455 to learn more about our services.

How to Lower the Risk of Dementia

There is a list of general advice that emerges from reading about dementia prevention. Many know the drill: constant exercise, nutritional diet, and abstinence from smoking. But the specifics can get fuzzy; what does “constant” exercise look like? Is it a daily thing? Is it perhaps a weekly thing? Or maybe it’s even hourly. In addition, excusing laziness and not adhering to these rules becomes terribly easy in the hustle and bustle of life. And after a while, the effectiveness of those vague listicles fades. So below are some specific examples to help:

The ravages of dementia.

  1. TRITE: HEAL FROM YOUR DEPRESSION.

BETTER: Face your fears. Make new friends. And we can do it together.

What does “healing from depression” look like exactly? Is it taking antidepressants until one feels better? What about the side effects? And what about the side effects of those side effects? Thankfully, there is one suggestion that has stood the test of time: “Face your fears.” Of course, contextualization is important here. This doesn’t mean “Go endanger your own life by wrestling with the Nemean Lion”; it means getting out of one’s comfort zone and attempting some derring-do. What better way to snap out of a slump than to be exhilarated by surviving that ‘nightmare scenario’? So go strike up a conversation with that “unapproachable” neighbor. Go mingle with those nerds from that photography club. Be reconciled to that estranged family member. You’re in for a surprise! (Social isolation is not just linked to dementia and depression, but also chronic illness and early mortality.)

  1. TRITE: AVOID OBESITY AND STOP SITTING DOWN SO OFTEN.

Better: Reduce the use of immobilizing devices.

High blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to the narrowing or bursting of blood vessels. And, it is this reduction of blood flow that is detrimental to the supply of oxygen and can, in turn, lead to the blockage or even death of brain cells. The affected person may experience trouble with communication, memory, or speech. Because obesity can increase blood pressure, it can also bring about vascular dementia (a type of dementia in which the patient has trouble making judgments, recalling things, and other mental activities).

So what is the guideline for combating obesity? Well, it would include a nutritional diet, of course. But it also means ditching sedentariness-encouraging devices like those hoverchairs in WALL-E that perform nearly every task for you. It means taking the stairs instead of the escalators, walking the bike instead of riding it, and sleeping right.

  1. TRITE: DO SUDOKUS AND SOCIALIZE.

Better: Join our acapella group. Let’s listen to this physics-themed podcast together.

The assumption in that first bit—“do sudokus or suffer dementia”—is not only hackneyed but also has been debunked; doing crossword puzzles and sudokus had been thought to stop cognitive decline. While it may give a headstart of sorts, it apparently cannot actually deter deterioration.

But that does not mean keeping the mind active is unnecessary. Dissect that movie that has a convoluted plotline. Memorize that Shakespearean sonnet. But if film analysis and iambic pentameters are not one’s specialties, that is no problem at all. Music is another great way to achieve that same goal. In fact, because music enables the simultaneous use of various parts of the brain, it apparently prolongs the period for which even those with dementia can retain their linguistic skills.

“Knew it. Never touch the sudoku!”

  1. TRITE: STOP SMOKING.

Better: We can be your accountability partners. Call us whenever.

Although one of the most preventable causes of early death, cigarette or tobacco addiction is yet a stronghold in the lives of many. Smoking can lead to chromatic pulmonary diseases, asthma, coronary heart disease, strokes, lung cancers, and more. But, temptation can make one believe all sorts of lies; one can believe that a moment of fleeting pleasure is worth suffering all these things. And isolation only makes temptations easier to fall prey to.

One helpful way to quit smoking is to form an accountability group that is full of immovable members who are committed to being vulnerable in the presence of all. And don’t forget to celebrate all the victories over temptations along the way, of course.

  1. TRITE: LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE. LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL.

Better: I made this fresh-squeezed fruit juice. Want some? It’s way better than booze.

Even better: I have a new recipe. These new berries and tuna salad are the bomb. I can cook these for you whenever. It helps lower your cholesterol.

This one is similar to #4. Accountability and unconditional love go a long way.

  1. TRITE: EXERCISE REGULARLY.

Better: Let’s do the floss dance. And then do some gardening.

Research shows that those who are frail are often more prone to falling prey to dementia. But not everyone is a natural gym rat. And even for the overachiever, exercising is an acquired taste. Imposing this way of life on those who are wheelchaired or have arthritis-ridden joints will not be easy. But with unconditional love and whispers of encouragement, many can conquer mountains. Exercise, when done right, not only lowers cortisol levels (often indicative of stress) but also releases endorphins (analgesic hormones).

Switching up a regimen or two can also make things more adventurous. Try cycling for a change instead of jogging along that same route. And perhaps for starters, aerobic activities such as gardening or dancing can suffice. Playing “The Floor Is Lava” with grandchildren may also be a fun switch of pace. After all, it’s like slow parkour!

“I shall deflect you, dementia!”

More Dementia Prevention Hacks:

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