Seniors’ Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Aging

The promise of longevity and healthy aging: seniors and their caregivers (and lots of others) are constantly on the lookout for the next great thing, including foods or beverages, carrying that label.

Many of our senior loved ones and their caregivers have heard about a recent diet that promises to reduce the inflammation often linked to chronic diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.  While we do know that chronic low grade inflammation is unhealthy, the research is still lacking to prove that there is a diet that will reverse inflammation.

Many popular diets are encouraging seniors to eliminate whole food groups to help prevent inflammation.  This practice is not recommended by health professionals as it can be harmful and carries no proven benefits.

What we do know that can be healthy for seniors as they age

  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – fresh and frozen varieties to build a rainbow
  2. Eat fish, fish oil supplements and walnuts to get adequate amounts of healthy fats
  3. Include sources of whole grains daily
  4. Include sources of lean protein and low fat dairy everyday (seniors tend to eliminate these foods just when they need them most)
  5. Reduce amounts of saturated and trans fats
  6. Avoid refined and overly processed foods
  7. Drink alcohol only in moderation
  8. Spice up your meals with seasonings other than salt

Until there is more research to support other more drastic changes in your senior loved one’s diet, we can incorporate these healthy lifestyle changes recommended based on adequate research as part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  To read more about these recommendations, you may want to read our guest posts from NutritionForTheHealthOfIt.

These suggestions can help your senior loved ones feel better and be healthier as they age.  We would love for you to share some of your recipes or suggestions about how you helped your senior with diet and lifestyle changes for health!

4 Great Books for Caregivers of Seniors

Losing ourselves in books is a great enjoyment for avid readers like us, many of our readers and our senior loved ones.

One can travel the world and travel through time with a good book — not to mention learning a thing or hundred.

Books can truly give inspiration and enjoyment, frequently leaving us feeling uplifted. Learning something that helps us improve the life an elderly parent or grandparent can be especially uplifting.

We would like to recommend a few of our favorites that you may treasure as well — and from which you may learn, as we did.

Favorite Books for Senior Caregivers

One of our favorite series of books for inspiration is the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. There is a topic for any person or situation. One we recommend to you or a caregiver in your life is Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul: Stories to Inspire Caregivers in the Home, the Community and the World.  This is a collection of tales that you will love and love to share with special people in your life.

A book that offers practical and inspiring tips for those caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease that we think you may find very helpful is Creating Moments of Joy: A Journal for Caregivers, Fourth Edition.  It is a collection of moments you can make with your senior loved one to help bring out their spirit within.

Books can be extremely worthwhile when we are seeking information and guidance on dealing with specific issues.  One such book that covers a wide range of topics dealing with seniors and useful suggestions to help you deal with the care of your senior loved one is The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents: The Complete Guide.

Yet another inspiring type of book is one that helps you cope by offering caregiving experiences through stories of other caregivers in situations similar to that in which you find yourself.  It can offer the same sense of camaraderie that you might feel in a support group by reading others’ stories and seeing what they might have tried that worked or didn’t work for them in dealing with an elderly loved one.  One you might enjoy is Dementia Caregivers Share Their Stories: A Support Group in a Book.

Gifts of books to family members, those who give care to your loved ones or yourself (don’t forget your own needs) will be often welcomed as a respite from the demands of caregiving and a source for ways to meet the challenges.

You can find all the above books and more in the Senior Care Corner Bookstore.

Please let us know if there is a favorite book of yours we should add.

Happy reading!

12 Home Safety Tips for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Who are Aging in Place

Caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease face great challenges everyday.

Significant time and attention is focused on activities to keep your senior loved one healthy and happy, with their safety a continuous concern.

Home Safety Tips

We have some tips that can help you make your senior’s home, or home away from home if they are visiting, a safer place to let them keep both a degree of independence and as much freedom from injury as you can provide – not to mention providing some peace of mind for their loved ones.

  1. Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in hallways near sleeping areas on all levels of your home.  You should also place one near the kitchen area where stove fires may be a risk.  Be sure to replace the batteries regularly.
  2. Install secure locks on all doors and windows.  If necessary, install alarms on key exit points so you can be alerted if your senior loved one attempts to leave the house without your knowledge.
  3. Find a secure hiding spot for a house key outside of your home in case your senior locks you out of the house.  Also keep a spare key handy for any interior doors that may be accidentally locked, such as bathrooms, basement or garage doors.
  4. Use childproof devices such as outlet plugs, drawer locks on kitchen drawers, medicine cabinet locks, nonskid mats and strips in the tub, etc. These are usually readily available and easy to install.  Remove knobs from the stove, oven, washer and dryer. Dismantle or disable the garbage disposal and install traps in kitchen drains to prevent blockages.
  5. Be sure all stairways inside and outside your home have handrails that extend beyond the first and last step.  Install safe, nonskid flooring on the stairs and keep all wooden stairs in good repair to prevent falling.  Install grab bars in the bathroom and any other location, such as closets, that might pose a risk.
  6. Store certain items that can pose a danger out of the reach of your senior loved, including plastic bags, lighters, guns, sharp knives, sharp tools, power tools, alcohol, medications, poisonous plants, cleaning products and chemicals.
  7. Avoid clutter throughout passageways and living areas, as that can pose a fall risk.  Remove portable space heaters or fans. Remove extension electrical cords that can easily be tripped over.
  8. Maintain adequate lighting throughout the interior and exterior of your senior’s home.
  9. Remove throw rugs.  Eliminate any areas of uneven surfaces that could cause a trip and fall.
  10. Keep you senior’s water heater at 120 degrees to prevent scalding.
  11. Place decals on sliding door windows to assure the glass is visible.
  12. Install a yard fence to allow your senior loved one room to roam.  Keep patio areas free from debris, uneven surfaces, chemicals, limit pool access and secure barbecue grill.

Whether or not you can leave your senior loved one home alone after you have improved the safety of his or her home environment is an issue you should discuss with your Alzheimer’s expert or other health care professional.  Allow them to guide you and follow their advice for maximum safety.

The changes that you make now may not be all the changes you will need.  Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, therefore behavior changes in your senior may mean that you will have to review his or her environment on a regular basis to be sure there are no further modifications that are required for safety.

We would love to hear what other alterations or additions you have made to the home of your senior loved one with Alzheimer’s to allow them freedom and safety.

How to Give Your Senior Loved One the Gift of Social Media

Giving senior loved ones the Gift of Social Media is a more than a campaign for us here at Senior Care Corner, but a cause in which we believe because of the benefits to senior loved ones (including the most elderly), family members and caregivers. This gift involves much more than signing a loved one up for a social networking account but is a process that involves many steps and when done right can truly be a shared experience for you and your senior loved ones.

This episode of the Senior Care Corner podcast discusses how to give the gift of social media, laying out the steps involved and considerations that go into making sure the gift keeps on giving.

  • Getting your senior loved one to want to join social media
  • Choosing the right device(s) for your loved one to use in accessing social media
  • Arranging for internet access
  • Selecting the right social networks with your senior loved one
  • Setting up access to the selected social networks
  • Discuss, setting up and reinforcing privacy setting and issue for social media use
  • Practicing and forming the social media habit

We discuss each of these steps in the podcast and lay out the path to making social media an enjoyable and safe gift for your senior loved one and the giving of the gift an experience to remember.

We will have more on the Gift of Social media coming up, including a planned webinar to help put the steps above into action. We hope you check back or subscribe to our posts to assure you don’t miss anything.

We hope you leave us a comment to let us know how the process goes for you or if you have suggestions for making the experience even better.

While we’re talking about social media we want to remind you to Like our Facebook page so you can keep up with the information we share via Facebook!

Podcast Transcript  (so you can follow along or read at your convenience)

Does Your Loved One Meet Level of Care?

What is level of care and what does that mean with regard to the care for which your senior loved one qualifies?

Some caregivers of senior adults will hear this sentence in the future if you have not already heard it.  If your senior loved one had a recent hospitalization followed by a short stay in a rehabilitation facility in order to regain strength back before returning home, you may have heard this.

Unfortunately, sometimes following a medical event requiring a hospital stay seniors get stuck in the crack where they are doing too well to stay in the rehab facility or nursing home but are not doing so well that they can go back to their prior living situation, either alone or without supervision around the clock.

Unless the senior is a private-pay (paying own way) patient, a level of care assessment is required by the government to be completed by a person not affilited with the facility so that impartiality is assured.  This assessment is used to determine whether or not the senior qualifies for Medicaid paid care.  This certification helps to verify the need for program admission and the level and types of services needed.

The assessment identifies long-term care needs, establishes the appropriate level of care (medical eligibility for nursing facility care) and recommends the least restrictive, most appropriate placement.  Medicare pays for services for seniors that are provided by a professional and referred to as skilled services such as therapy or wound care.  Custodial services are those needed that don’t require a professional to provide them such as housecleaning or grooming/bathing.  Medicare or Medicaid does not pay for custodial care.

Some of the criteria for determining if a senior will qualify for Medicaid services in a facility.

  • how they ambulate (get around)
  • how they care for themselves
  • behaviors
  • medications needed
  • whether tube feeding is needed
  • the patient’s prognosis
  • other areas as appropriate for specific evaluations

These answers are reviewed and a decision is made.

The ability to remain in a nursing facility, an assisted living facility or the community is dependent upon this assessment when requesting that Medicaid benefits cover the cost of care.

We all want our senior loved ones to get the care they need to maintain their health and well being but all too often, who will pay for this care is the biggest question of all!

Seniors with a Zest for Life!

Longevity is not simply a word for many seniors. Seniors not only dream about living their lives to the fullest as they age but are really doing it every day!

Recently I spotted an older woman enjoying herself plugging pennies into a one armed bandit.  On her back there was a sign like we used to see on a kid in school that read “kick me”.  Her sign read “Wish me a happy birthday!  I am 99 years old today!”

Naturally, I went right up to her and wished her glad tidings for the day.  The woman had a big smile on her face, thanked me for the well wishes and kept playing the game the whole time.

She was spending her 99th birthday doing something she clearly loved.  She is not alone.

We see everyday seniors doing all they can to live active and engaged lives participating in the activities they love.  This participation in their favorite things not only keeps them physically active, strong, and healthy but keeps their minds sharp!  My 99 year old woman was sharp as a tack and walking with only the help of her family member’s gentle touch.  She appeared to be quite spry.

Seniors are staying active by playing tennis, doing their yard work, traveling the world, playing bocce ball, staying connected on the World Wide Web with people all over the globe, running marathons, playing Wii games, volunteering in all kinds of locations, and ballroom dancing just to mention a few.

I wish I could see what this senior has planned for her 100th birthday and hope I get invited!

The key to healthy aging is to keep moving, keep your brain sharp and interact every day!

Do you have some non-traditional activities that your senior loved one continues to enjoy? We would love for you to share them with us!

By the way, if you haven’t “liked” our Facebook page, we would love for you to do so. Just click here to visit it – and thank you!

Tele-Health & How It Can Keep Your Senior Loved One Safe and Healthy

Technology has the power to help seniors live the life they choose in a safe and comfortable manner while also giving families and caregivers peace of mind.

Technology continues to evolve to better meet the needs of the increasing numbers of seniors who want to live at home as long as possible and the caregivers who want to keep them safe and healthy.

Tele-Health provides two way communication between our senior loved ones, caregivers and healthcare professionals.  The people communicating can be family members, in-home care providers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and others who have a need to monitor a senior’s health and safety.

Tele-Health is poised to help the country’s medical program (Medicare) reduce the cost to provide that care when continuous monitoring of seniors’ medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can occur and timely interventions put in place before catastrophic changes take place.

Medicare has become part of the technology age, trying to combine traditional medical care with the available technology to try to keep seniors out of the hospitals and facilities that have put a strain on the budget and threaten seniors’ health care future.  Tele-health has the potential to improve the quality of health care as well as increasing its accessiblity to seniors and has therefore been included as an objective in the Healthy People 2020 initiative.

What is Tele-health?

Tele-health is using available technology, such as computers and mobile devices like smartphones or tablets using medical apps, to manage your senior loved one’s health and wellbeing.  Other names for Tele-health include e-health (electronic) and m-health (mobile).

What services can be provided by Tele-health?

Many different types of services of interest to seniors can be provided using tele-health in different forms.  The list includes:

  • online support groups;
  • online health information such as WebMD;
  • email or online communication with your healthcare providers;
  • electronic medical records or lab data results;
  • remote monitoring of a variety of key pieces of medical information such as blood pressure, vital signs, blood sugar, pulse, body weight, physical activity, sleep patterns or heart rate; and,
  • video/online doctor visits.

A senior’s caregiver can have access to this valuable information from a distance to monitor the wellness of the loved one. Doctors are also using tele-health to speak with other doctors about your senior’s health.   Consultations can occur more quickly and efficiently, minimizing duplicate testing as the doctors can send records back and forth electronically.

What types of technological medical devices are available to keep our seniors safe at home? 

As a caregiver, you may be interested in tele-health devices that you can start using now to keep your senior safe at home.  There are a multitude of different types of devices, not just for medical safety but also for personal safety in the home.  We will give you a list of interesting and useful devices that fall into the tele-health category in our follow up next week!

Kristi & Carole Yamaguchi: Faces of Influenza

Influenza, or “the flu”, and its complications result in 226,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths in the average year. 90% of those who die are seniors.

Those statistics are why Senior Care Corner has been urging flu shots for senior loved ones each flu season. This year we decided to get help in communicating our message.

We were excited when we learned about the American Lung Association and their Faces of Influenza campaign. They provide a lot of straightforward educational information on their website, FacesofInfluenza.org.

Our Exciting Interview

Even more exciting, Kristi Yamaguchi and her mother, Carole, have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign and are using their voices to spread the word about the benefits of getting vaccinated.  When offered the opportunity to interview one of them for our podcast, we thought Carole’s perspective as a mother, grandmother – and especially as a senior – made her perfect to help us spread the word.

We hope you’ll enjoy this episode of the Senior Care Corner podcast. Even more importantly, we hope you’ll act on it and urge your loved ones, especially those who are seniors, to get flu shots.  We understand getting vaccinated is not for everyone; if there are questions about health implications we suggest consulting your doctor first.

This year more than ever, flu shots seem to be available everywhere – pharmacies, department stores, grocery stores and even traditional healthcare providers.  One of the many resources Faces of Influenza has on their website is a flu vaccine finder.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

We hope you enjoy this episode and share the link with your friends.  Please leave us a comment if you have suggestions or your own stories to share with our community!

Podcast Transcript (so you can follow along or read at your convenience)

DNR Dilemma for Loved Ones and Their Family Caregivers

The doctor says your senior loved one is in the midst of a health crisis and asks if decisions have been made regarding life extending care.  Are you the one who has to decide?  What do you do now?

Many times our loved ones do not create a document that would help direct us regarding what they would want when tragedy strikes or their health quickly declines.

Even worse, we avoid discussing the topic together among family members so we usually don’t know what they would want to have done or not done.

The unfortunate reality is that we all have been or will at some point be in the position in which you may now find yourself.

As a caregiver, family member and healthcare professional, the dilemma over how to decide to initiate a DNR on a precious loved one is something I have had to face all too often, mostly through the eyes of those with whom I have discussed the matter as a healthcare worker.

I know this may well be the most difficult decision anyone will ask a person to make.

Do I let my mother, father, grandparent or spouse die?  How can they ask me that question? What happens if I can’t decide?

What is DNR?

In order to understand fully what DNR means when a healthcare provider asks you if you want that for your loved one, let’s review the definition. DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. It means that if the heart should stop beating and breathing stops that CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation involving chest compressions, assisted breathing or cardioversion) will not be provided.  It is not the same thing as a living will.  It does not mean that treatments such as IV fluids, antibiotics, therapy or nutrition will be stopped or withheld to your loved one.

How Do You Decide?

Whatever ultimate decision you make, right now you probably feel like it is the wrong one.  But that is not the case. Without an advance directive to guide you, you may find it helpful ask yourself several questions.

  1. What would my loved one want?  Did they want everything done regardless of the outcome?
  2. Would my loved one want to live in this condition?  Would they feel they were a burden to you or other caregivers if they were not able to return to their previous status?
  3. Did you ever discuss what they might want or think when others were in a similar situation that you can recall?  What are their moral or religious beliefs?
  4. Will the provision of chest compressions to restart a heart that has stopped cause more pain? What is the likelihood that ribs will be fractured?
  5. Would your love one want to end up on a mechanical ventilator after CPR was performed in case this is the result?
  6. Would your loved one want a natural death free of pain when it was their time to die? Would they just want to be made comfortable without any heroic measures? Where would they choose to die?
  7. What is in the interest of my loved one?  Taking my feelings out of it, what is best for her/him?

If you remember the life your loved one lived and can answer several of these questions after thinking it through, hopefully your decision will be easier and one that gives both you and your loved one comfort.

Sharing Can Help

If you have siblings, a spouse, a close friend, other family members or a spiritual leader that knows your loved one, they can help you come to a decision.  They may have spoken to your loved one about this issue and can reassure you that your decision is what they would have wanted.  Sharing the discussion, even if the decision remains yours, can give comfort that the decision is right.

By following your heart and putting yourself in their shoes instead of your own, you will find solace in your decision.

This is a very personal situation, one we realize you may consider to be among your most private.  However, if you have a story you feel may help others and feel comfortable in sharing it, please know it is appreciated.