Don’t Believe All You Read & Hear – Be An Educated Research Consumer

It seems that every new day brings a new research study telling us to do something, such as “eat special superfoods” or not to do something, as in “don’t eat special superfoods.”

It is really hard to know what is real and what isn’t, what could help our seniors or harm them. We have heard for years not to eat eggs, then just eat the egg whites, then eat a mixture of whites and yolks, and now it seems we shouldn’t worry about cholesterol anymore after all. That is the message for today. Tomorrow it may be taboo again.

The reality is that one small research study that is poorly designed or improperly run and can’t be validated by other researchers doesn’t really add to the body of scientific knowledge that will make our seniors’ lives and health better.

Some studies can be picked up by the media or those favoring a certain position and touted as the truth, leading many to jump on the bandwagon. The only real benefit may be, perhaps, someone making a quick dollar selling us something ‘revolutionary’.

The research that we present to you for your senior loved ones is only that which we find to be credible and meant to make you think about what habits you and your senior have developed and how a few small changes may benefit your health. Much research is occurring in how our lifestyle choices, such as what we eat, how much we move, whether we smoke, if we stay in the sun too long and how much alcohol we consume, can negatively impact our successful healthy aging.

We have to take the credible information along with the suspect information and try to make good judgments about what changes will help us be healthy.

Yes, that can be just as difficult and confusing as it sounds.

Red Flags in Research

There is an enormous amount of medical and health research happening around the globe at this time. It can be difficult to tell what is helpful or just downright wrong.

Here are some ways to evaluate the research you encounter and some red flags that should make you hesitant about a study.

  • Research should be able to prove a cause and effect. If I drank a cup of coffee this morning, I killed half a million brain cells. (This is an exaggeration for illustration purposes so don’t get worried if you drank several cups today!) Many research studies can show a correlation but not causation, such as many coffee drinkers will eventually have damaged brains. There is no real proof that coffee causes damage but that many people have brain damage. Just because both A and B are happening doesn’t prove A caused B. There may be no idea why or how it happens but we have linked these two ideas together. Do you see the difference?
  • Research should occur under carefully controlled and monitored circumstances. There is usually a control group which doesn’t get the real study object, coffee in the above case. They might get another type of warm beverage, such as tea. The participants are in a double blind situation, where not only are they unaware of which group they are in but the researchers also are unaware of their grouping.
  • The size of the group should be large enough to draw statistical significance to the data. If only twenty people were given coffee, the group would be considered too small to be of real value from which to draw a plausible conclusion applicable to the general population.
  • The biggest red flag in many studies is whether or not it is funded by the very people who are getting the good result. In the demonstration case, it would be people who grow tea who would benefit since we are now going to say stop drinking coffee and start drinking tea. The tea growers are poised to advertise that their product is superior because coffee is bad for your brain. And oh yeah, they paid for the study! It doesn’t mean there was bias in the study — and often there is not — but it’s a valid basis upon which to question the results.
  • Another red flag is who benefits. Will the researchers now sell books and products perhaps vitamins that they say will block the brain effects of drinking coffee? It is good to know if there is a conflict of interest.

Being an Educated Consumer of Research

We need to be educated consumers of the information we receive via the media, including the web and social media. If we are interested in the particular research, we could read the actual study, not just a newspaper’s account of the study, to see how it was set up and who funded it. You can see what the recommendations of the researchers were and whether or not it will help your senior loved one.

If we hear about something that we find interesting and we have read the research further to determine if we think it has some merit, what next?

  1. Decide if doing what the researchers suggest will harm your senior. If you don’t see any reason for harm, then try it. An example of something to try from the recent research is the claim that drinking one 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda per day could lead to the equivalent loss of 4.6 years of extra aging over time, as the sugar shortens telomeres that predict longevity. Would it hurt your senior (or you) to stop drinking or reduce the amount of sweetened soda, at least on a trial basis?
  2. Talk to your doctor about whether your senior should start or stop doing something recommended in the particular research study you read. Will taking fish oil help your senior’s cardiac health or eating an egg or two a day hurt their heart?
  3. Learn more. Read more similar research to see if it was validated by the article you read. When the benefit of fish oil was found, did another study confirm or deny it?
  4. Don’t believe hearsay from people you may meet without reading about it for yourself. Remember, what is good for one person could harm your senior because everyone is different. Medications your senior takes or medical diseases they have may cause a different reaction in them than others experience.

We all benefit with good quality, verifiable research that can help cure disease, prevent diseases and help us all manage the chronic diseases we already have. Being part of a clinical trial to help further knowledge of specific diseases is a wonderful gift to the world.

Family caregivers should just be careful when buying something that is being called the next ‘miracle cure’ because not only could it be costly in money, but it could be harmful to your senior’s health.

Holiday Family Gatherings: A Time for Enjoyment & Meaningful Discussions

Once again we’re preparing for families to come together over the holiday season. We long to see how our seniors are doing, especially those who are far away from us and living independently.

Are they ok? Have they been eating well? Is the house in good repair? Are they paying all the bills on time? Have they been keeping things from us?

Hopefully, during our visit with them to celebrate a time of family sharing we will be able to observe them for any signs that they need a little bit more help. There are many things we should be on the lookout for in their home, their own health and appearance, the car, the home and the yard.

You can read more about the warning signs in one of our earlier articles.

Another important thing we should do while we are visiting our senior loved ones is talk.

“Talk about what specifically,” you ask?

Serious Discussions with Parents & Other Senior Loved Ones

We might find some discussions hard to begin and others may be taboo in your family or culture. Unfortunately, once your parents reach a certain age (and you as well) it is recommended that these uncomfortable discussions happen and the answers clearly brought out into the open.

Whether you want to or not, some things are just better to know.

  1. Do they have any advance directives? Is there a living will created about which you should know? What are their wishes for end of life care? Do they have a DNR or a healthcare proxy to speak for them if they can’t? It is important to hear directly from them what they anticipate their end of life to be. What if they get into an accident or have a medical emergency? If you don’t talk openly about this eventuality it will be more difficult, especially if you are at a long distance, to make decisions in an emergency without prior knowledge. Do they have burial plans already? Read more in one of our articles about advance directives.
  2. If they have executed these documents, where are they kept? Can you get a copy? Does the doctor know about them and do they have a copy on file? Do they need to be updated?
  3. If they don’t have them created, can you do this during your visit so all their wishes are documented in case of an emergency? Now is a good time to get important documents executed while you are there to get the necessary information. These decisions must be made before your senior is no longer competent to make his wishes known legally.
  4. Do they have a will? Who is the executor? Where is the will kept – who is the attorney? Where are the contact numbers for lawyers, doctors, and other people if you need them?
  5. Are they still competent to drive safely? Has the car been damaged since your last visit? Take a ride as a passenger to test them, even if it is without them knowing your purpose for going for an ice cream cone together. We talked more about our senior loved ones and driving in an earlier article.
  6. Are they declining in functional status? Does it look like they are having difficulty keeping themselves neat and tidy? Are their clothes clean and in good repair? Are they shaving? Do they have unexplained bruises? Are they appearing thin or weak? Are they having trouble balancing themselves when they walk or get up from sitting? Do they need more help?
  7. Is their home still adequate to age in place? Is it where they want to be or would they rather come closer to you, go to a senior living area or move to a smaller home that is easier to care for alone? Some seniors enjoy living in an assisted living facility where they have less responsibility and more opportunity for social engagement. Is their current home accessible to transportation services if they can no longer drive? Is their home in good repair with adequate safety modifications to prevent accidents? Can you work on some modifications while you visit and schedule other more involved upgrades for when you are not there?
  8. Are they depressed or isolated? Some seniors choose to stay home and reduce their visits to places, people and events that they once frequented for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are afraid to drive, don’t want to go alone, can’t leave the house for too long for fear of needing a restroom quickly, or have side effects of medications that keep them from being active. Seniors need to be social, mentally stimulated and engaged to prevent boredom and loneliness. It might be a good time to get them reconnected, take them to the senior center and arrange transportation if necessary. Find things for them to be active and involved from home. Set up some technology and teach them to use it so they can use social media, Skype or Facetime to engage with distant family and friends.
  9. What about their finances? Do they have enough money to meet their needs? Are they paying their bills? Do they have a supplemental insurance policy or long term care policy which you should be aware? Are they struggling to make ends meet? Are they getting the benefit of all — well — benefits to which they are entitled?

And you thought you were going to get a vacation and enjoy some turkey or cookies? Just waiting for your senior to cook you your favorite meal?

Make the Most of Holiday Visits

Spending time with your senior loved one can be purposeful and a source of enjoyment at one time. Be observant in all the activities you share during your visit. Keep communication open and ask leading questions that require them to make full answers not ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘fine’.

You may be surprised what you can learn by keeping your eyes and ears open to nuances and maybe even the obvious.

Some of these discussions will be hard, some of these topics are difficult for you and them. They don’t want to think they are near the end but should be able to discuss it so that you are all prepared. Some subjects could be thought to be too personal such as finances and personal health. They don’t want to feel like they are burdening you.

Being prepared and able to plan ahead instead of trying to handle affairs in emergency situations will make you glad you had these holiday talks and got the answers you need to be a successful long distance (or nearby) caregiver.

Don’t forget that some of the things on the list above are things you should also have done for yourself as caregiver so that if something should happen to you, others know what to do to take over what you do so well if you get sidelined. Is your living will completed or advance directives? Have you gotten your preventive health care so that you don’t get pneumonia or flu that keeps you from being a caregiver for an extended period of time? Do it for them!

Be sure you also enjoy the time spent with senior loved ones over the holidays. This time is precious, after all.

Seniors’ Teeth Are Health Heroes – Mouth & Dental Care Protect Them

Dental care – can it really be all that important to seniors and their family caregivers?

Family caregivers have so much responsibility every day just getting all the jobs done. We often don’t get all the daily tasks completed as the sun begins to set. We merely add the unfinished tasks to the next day’s list in hopes they will finally get accomplished then.

One task that we should all ensure is completed every day is good oral care for our senior loved ones.

Having a healthy mouth and teeth help to keep our seniors healthy overall. If they experience mouth pain, bleeding gums, poor dental health and infections in the mouth it will impact their eating, nutrition and medical health.

Our senior loved ones (and those assisting them) should not overlook keeping their teeth, gums and mouth in good condition with daily care.

Whether they have all their teeth, some of their teeth or none of their own teeth, they need to keep the dental care coming.

Common Senior Mouth Care Issues

Many seniors have to fight with a variety of different mouth care issues when it comes to the aging process. Hopefully these tips can help you help them overcome those issues.

Dry Mouth — also called Xerostomia

Having a dry mouth is not a normal part of aging and can be very serious. When your senior complains about having a dry mouth it means that the mouth is not producing enough saliva to keep their mouth wet. There are consequences of having a dry mouth, so it should be evaluated by your senior’s doctor.

A dry mouth could lead to cavities, difficulty chewing, mouth infections and even stop them from talking. If they have dentures, a dry mouth could make them fit uncomfortably and even lead to gum sores.

There are causes of a dry mouth.

  • Medications can cause dry mouth.
  • Some medical diseases, such as Parkinson’s and diabetes also result in dry mouth.
  • Cancer therapy, including radiation and chemotherapy can cause dry mouth.

Check with your senior’s doctor to see if these causes can be corrected to prevent other problems. Some seniors get relief from hard candy, such as lemon drops, or from artificial saliva.

The doctor can guide your senior on the correct treatment including medications to help your senior’s glands work better. Your senior’s dentist may suggest a special mouth rinse to help with dry mouth.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and tissues that help to hold the teeth in place. It can happen at any age and is not about aging. It occurs when bacteria in the form of plaque builds up along and below the gum line. Bacteria is naturally occurring in our mouths, but when left to buildup it can lead to damage.

There are two kinds of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Red, swollen and bleeding gums is an indication of gingivitis while periodontitis is a more severe condition in which gums pull away from teeth and form infected pockets that damage teeth. Many times, periodontitis leads to tooth loss.

Smoking is the greatest risk for gum disease.

Cavities

Children are not the only ones who can get cavities. All teeth can become damaged. Plaque buildup on the teeth can create acid that in time will eat away at the tooth causing a cavity. A cavity can form around an old filling or in between teeth too. Tooth roots can also be affected by tooth decay when the gums recede with age.

Darkened Teeth

Some seniors have teeth that have discolored over time. This can be due to a lifetime of stain-causing foods, smoking or a thinning of the enamel allowing dentin to show through casting a shadow on the teeth. Your senior can avoid foods and drinks that can cause further discoloration such as coffee or talk to his doctor about possible medication causes.

Tooth whitening, for which there are several options, can be done if their tooth color bothers them.

Sore Mouth

Many seniors who have dentures or other dental appliances can get inflamed sore mouth cavities caused by rubbing dental appliances. It can happen in the cheeks, gums, tongue and palate. If dentures become loose they can rub on the gums or cheek causing sores.

Get your seniors’ dentures checked by the dentist, who might be able to reline them or advise adding foam inserts or denture cream to avoid further rubbing or even simply make a new set.

Your senior may also need treatment to help heal the sores and a change in diet texture so that they can eat enough nutrition until the pain is relieved.

Thrush

Some seniors get thrush when they take certain medications. Thrush is an infection in the mouth caused by yeast. A white tongue, mouth or cheeks is a distinctive sign of thrush.

Attempts to clean the white spots lead to red, inflamed tissue and might even cause bleeding. Your senior’s doctor will need to diagnose the problem and may prescribe antifungal medications to clear the infection.

Protecting Aging Teeth and Mouth

Protecting their mouth, teeth and gums is especially important for seniors, since having mouth trouble can lead to a host of problems.

When your senior can’t eat all kinds of foods due to mouth pain or trouble chewing, they can lose weight and muscle mass. Malnutrition has consequences, including frequent falls, bone fractures and potential loss of the ability to age in place at home.

Here are some things you can encourage your senior to do to keep their mouth healthy and help protect their physical well-being.

  1. Brush regularly. Most dentists recommend twice a day but your senior could also brush after meals to keep their teeth and gums clean and prevent plaque buildup if they are at risk.
  2. Use a fluoride toothpaste. This will help prevent decay. It’s not just for kids!
  3. Floss often to keep plaque from building up between the teeth.
  4. Drink fluoridated water to further help keep your senior’s teeth healthy. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
  5. Visit the dentist regularly.
  6. Eat a well-balanced diet to stay healthy inside.
  7. Stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco or snuff, all of which can harm teeth and mouth.
  8. Chew sugarless gum.
  9. Avoid sticky foods that can cause decay if allowed to stay on the teeth. If your senior eats sugary foods, be sure to encourage brushing afterward.
  10. If your senior has trouble holding the toothbrush due to arthritis, try an electric toothbrush that will do more of the work to clean all teeth. Your senior’s dentist may be able to recommend a more effective prescription toothpaste or mouth wash/rinse that will help clean teeth if it is difficult to maneuver the toothbrush. You may need to provide the care for them if holding a brush is too difficult or painful.

It is very important to help protect your senior’s overall health by ensuring that they care for their teeth and gums.

Seniors typically not have dental insurance so may refuse to see the dentist regularly. You can purchase a dental plan specifically for them or visit a dental school in the area that will provide very low cost care. There are also many dentists who will offer special prices for seniors knowing they have no dental coverage.

We couldn’t agree more with this quote from Miguel de Cervantes:

Every tooth in a person’s head is more valuable than a diamond

In Alzheimer’s Disease Fight, Good For The Heart = Good For The Brain

Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise and will continue to strike increasing numbers as more of us live longer, since it is a disease that is more prevalent with age.

This degenerative, debilitating and irreversible disease is rising, not only in the United States but also across the world.

Due to the growing numbers of people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the cost of healthcare, the burden on family caregivers and the fact that there is currently no treatment or cure for the disease, our world leaders have defined it as a crisis. They have made a commitment to fighting this disease by preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

The United States has created a National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s and has committed to funding research to find a cause, treatment and cure.

Senior Care Corner is passionate about the fight for a cure to end Alzheimer’s. We have personally been affected and have supported many family caregivers and persons with dementia for many years. We follow the research advances closely and bring you information about the latest developments.

And we will continue to do so…

What’s Known About Alzheimer’s Disease

The latest research has been informative about numerous aspects of dementia. However, it feels like every step forward leads to two steps backward for many of us as, at least according to researchers, the cure could be more than ten years away.

We know more than we did even five years ago about dementia. Here’s what we know today:

  1. The current prevalence of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the US is estimated to be 5.1 million people and 36 million people worldwide. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
  2. Someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds. More research has shown that there is a multifactorial cause of prevalence that occurs over a long period of time, damaging the brain, and which includes genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors leading to the development of the disease.
  3. A definitive diagnosis is made after death by examining brain tissue during an autopsy but there are tools that physicians now use to test people who have memory problems and make a diagnoses of Alzheimer’s. An examination includes questions, past medical history, ability to carry out daily activities, behavior changes, problem solving, medical tests, and brain scans. Under the Affordable Care Act, doctors are mandated to pursue cognitive testing as part of preventive care of our seniors.
  4. There is a family connection in Alzheimer’s disease via genetic mutations. One of many studies into this genetic link is testing underway as part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project, which is investigating the gene sequences of participants, including large families with multiple members diagnosed with dementia, to determine what genetic variants are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Genome mapping of families continues and is expected to identify high-risk of even protective variants in the genes.
  5. More and more young people are being diagnosed and early-onset diagnosis in those 30 to 60 years old accounts for about 5% of diagnoses. This usually occurs due to familial dementia. There are three known genes inherited from a parent that are linked to Alzheimer’s.
  6. Funding into research has greatly increased and there are over 90 drugs in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s and more are waiting to be approved for human testing. The National Institute on Aging is working diligently to promote scientists, researcher and physicians who work together to make preventing the disease a reality.
  7. Plaques and tangles in the brain along with the loss of connections between the neurons in the brain are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that damage to the brain begins the process about a decade before diagnosis is made. When nerve damage reaches the hippocampus the person begins to have difficulty with memory and the brain begins to shrink.
  8. Effects on family caregivers are powerful – physical, emotional, financial, and often longer term than anticipated. There is the necessary day-to-day care, the often overwhelming decisions to be made, the cost of care, but also the change in the dynamics of the family caregiver and senior. You may no longer feel like the child but the parent, perhaps the wife has become the mother or the friend now the care taker. Where does that leave the self-identity of the family caregiver? Learning about the disease, connecting with others to gain support and learning to deal with the stress add to the tasks required but the needed resources are more prevalent. Supporting the family caregiver is one focus of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
  9. Stages of Alzheimer’s disease have been identified – mild cognitive impairment, mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer’s disease each accompanied by their own specific, progressive loss of function. The more we know about each stage, the easier it is to cope with the progressive changes in our senior loved ones.
  10. Because lifestyle factors have been shown to influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing the disease is becoming very important. Lifestyle factors such as vascular and metabolic relationships are being researched so that we can impact our own health. Healthy diet, physical activity, socialization, and mental stimulation will help reduce the risk of developing dementia. Clinical trials with healthy participants are underway and researchers encourage us to participate.
  11. There is still no viable treatment or cure on the immediate horizon. There may be a vaccine in the future or a drug that impacts the disease. Many experts feel that the answer may lie in a drug cocktail to treat Alzheimer’s disease similar to AIDs. It becomes even more important from the knowledge we are gathering to get an early diagnosis so that the treatments that are coming can be effective.

Heart / Brain Connection

Research has shown us that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. But why? Our hearts pump blood to our brains in order to provide oxygen and energy (fuel). When our heart doesn’t function properly it will negatively affect the nourishment our brains receive, inevitably leading to damage.

We all need to keep our hearts healthy and help our senior loved ones stay healthy also. Lifestyle changes will help us to achieve that goal. It may not always be easy each day to avoid whatever temptations plague us, but it is worth it to preserve and protect our brains.

Here are some strategies to protect your heart that you and your senior loved one can do:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat foods that are minimally processed without added fat, sodium and sugar. Increase the fiber in our diets by eating more whole grains and fresh foods. Limit the overall fat in our diets but avoiding fried foods, trans fat, and saturated fat. Increase the good fats – monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, and omega 3 fatty acids. Choose baked or grilled food, eat fish twice a week, and include antioxidants in your meals. Limit cholesterol containing foods as you manage your overall fat intake.
  • Watch your sodium intake. Limit excessive sodium in the foods you buy or when you add it to your food yourself.
  • Exercise daily. You and your senior need to make an effort to move every day. Find activities that you all enjoy and participate in them actively and consistently.
  • Stop smoking!
  • Manage your weight. If you or your senior are overweight, find ways to reduce your portions, use more energy than you consume and stay active.
  • Be aware of your numbers and your senior’s so that you can focus your efforts on the areas that require lifestyle changes. We are all different and have different issues to overcome. If you are fully informed you can target the correct habits to overcome for your improved health.

We know that knowledge is power so the more we know about Alzheimer’s disease and our ability to prevent its affects will only help us and our senior loved ones. Let’s all support research, clinical trials and lifestyle changes for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Solving the Annual Holiday Dilemma: Choosing Gifts for Senior Loved Ones

When we are young, time just seems to drag on so slowly as the holiday season nears. It just feels like it will never arrive.

When we’re adults, sometimes it feels like the calendar is on hyperdrive, the holiday season is upon us so fast.

No matter our time perspective, it’s not too early to start planning the gifts we will get our senior loved ones for the holiday — and start making purchases.

You may decide you need a little time to get some of these ideas ready for the big day, so let’s get going…!

Some of you are groaning, I can hear you. Getting gifts for our senior loved ones is not the easiest thing to do. We all want to get just the right thing that they will love and use all the time.

It feels like we have the same challenge year after year — we don’t want our gifts to be dust collectors, leaving our senior feeling guilty that we spent so much money on something they don’t use.

We have some ideas for you to begin thinking about and start acting on before it’s too late! Most of these ideas will give you opportunities to do things together as a family, get your senior moving and stimulate their brain to keep them mentally sharp.

They might not be asking for these things and won’t really know that they want it when they get it but will thank you later for being so thoughtful, especially if you help them put your gift to use.

These won’t be as easy as getting some socks and putting them in a gift bag, but will be rewarding for everyone!

Fun, Games & Family Time Together

One valued gift is that which can be used by the family all together, creating moments and memories that you can all share. Some of these ideas will help the grandkids (or even great-grandkids) interact with the older loved ones in the family.

  • You might try a gift basket of games and goodies that had some good old time play for everyone. You can buy one ready-made or design your own using what you think would be most appealing to everyone. Include things that you all can do together such as board games like checkers, puzzles, brain teasers, Mad Libs (remember those?), card games, candy, popcorn and other family friendly treats.
  • Get a family picnic basket, foldout picnic table, blanket for impromptu picnics. You can go on picnics and jaunts together all year long with activities such as nature walks, bird watching, feeding the ducks at the pond, sports events, concerts in the park and family togetherness events.
  • Try one of more of a collection of family games for your video gaming system that will allow multigenerational play to stay engaged, stimulated and active; oh yeah-and is super fun! Some great games that everyone will love are bowling, Family Feud, Family Game Night, or Wheel of Fortune.
  • Get some outdoor fun and game items such as a badminton set, croquet, bean bag toss, Frisbee Golf set, horseshoes, giant bowling game, or any other family favorites you have that get everyone involved.

Technology Gifts

There are more and more new innovations in technology that can provide real value in terms of aging in place when used to their maximum benefit. Some of these tech devices can be a shared gift that the siblings get together and do as a family unit if cost is prohibitive.

  • A tablet computer, with which they can do so much. In addition to typical holiday prices, new versions (such as with the iPad) are pushing down prices with older generations of the devices — which will meet the needs of most users.
  • Smartphone (need we say more?)
  • Apps that would benefit them, such as those that mental stimulation, motivate them to become active, or help them organize their lives.
  • Load the tablet or e-reader with some of their favorite book titles or crossword puzzle games.
  • Video camera — if you don’t get them a smartphone or tablet — to record their stories and making a movie of them interacting with the family for everyone to share now and in the future.

Wearable Safety &  Technology

There are more and more wearable technology devices coming to the market that can help keep your seniors’ lives safer and healthier. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Wearable GPS tracker – there are watches with GPS trackers that are an unobtrusive way to give you both some peace of mind if your senior loved one sometimes forgets the way back home when taking a walk.
  • Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) device, for senior loved ones who are living independently but may need some help in an emergency and not be able to get to their phone.
  • Wearable fitness tracker to provide reminders and motivation to become active each day. It doesn’t take being a runner or fitness enthusiast to benefit from one of these devices, just a desire to improve one’s health.

This is an area that is continuing to develop, with new devices going on the market frequently. It may be tempting to wait for the market to mature, so the device you give as a gift is the latest and best for a while, but the relative low prices on many of the current devices should provide comfort about getting a needed PERS or other wearable now.

Audio & Visual Memories

What a better gift than putting family memories, stories, and mementos together for all to enjoy. There are a variety of different ways we can bring photos, videos and treasures together.

  • Create playlists for your senior and put it on an MP3 player, smartphone or tablet. Set up a variety of different lists, including soothing time melodies to calm them, favorite melodies, big band sounds, church hymns, sing-along songs, holiday music and nature sounds — all tailored to their taste. These are just some ideas but you can get creative with this. You can make the playlists as long or short as each application needs.
  • Create a photo collage or presentation that can be played on their tablet. You can use it to let them reminisce or provide a distraction from other behaviors. You can add a script in your voice or another familiar voice so that it becomes a movie of their life. You can also use a digital photo frame instead of tablet if that is more appropriate for your senior.
  • Scrapbooking supplies you, younger family members and your seniors can work together to bring the story of their life alive.

Don’t Forget Caregiver Gifts

While planning what to get your senior loved ones, you might also think about getting a gift to let the caregivers in their lives (including you) know their efforts and sacrifices are seen and appreciated.

You can get many of the items above for caregivers as well as senior loved ones. Family caregivers, after all, tend to overlook their own health and other needs. Look around for something they wouldn’t get themselves – or a treat you wouldn’t normally get yourself – to express appreciation.

Sometimes a card, book or small token says a lot when “thank you” is the intended message. Knowing you care enough to take the time to  express those thanks is often most meaningful.

Make the Gift Last Through the Year

Any of these things would be a great idea for your seniors. In some instances you may have to demonstrate to them yours is a gift that will provide them value. You may also have to participate in activities with them and recruit family members to join in the activities too. That may be seen as a gift in itself.

What you are really achieving is a way to spend time with your senior loved one, finding ways to make more memories, and sharing quality time with them. It isn’t the same as getting them a sweatshirt that says “Grandmas Are the Greatest” or ties that will never be worn.

Naturally you can add some practical gifts into the mix, like new pajamas or a new pair of khaki pants if that is essential but getting creative will be enjoyed by everyone.

We hope these ideas help you find success and get your holiday season off to a great start.

Parkinson’s & Dementia: Caregivers Challenged by Double Diagnosis

We cringe at the thought of our loved ones being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or dementia – – and too many of them have been already.

What if they are diagnosed with both?

Alzheimer’s and other dementias have become the focus of much-needed research. One outcrop of that research is the ability to learn more about other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia.

Parkinson’s disease result from a reduction in dopamine production in the brain causing an inability to control the bodies’ movements. Parkinson’s usually manifests with tremors, muscle stiffness or rigidity, slow movements, and balance and mobility problems. The disease itself is not fatal but the complications that can arise generally are.

Like Alzheimer’s there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. At this point, symptom management for the highest quality of life possible is the treatment.

Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia

People with Parkinson’s disease have brain changes, in fact damage, as a result of deposits of alpha-synuclein called lewy bodies. This is a protein found in all brains but we are only beginning to understand how they cause damage. This particular protein is found along with the other known hallmarks of dementia – plaques and tangles in people with Parkinson’s disease.

When a person already diagnosed with Parkinson’s exhibits certain symptoms, they may be at greater risk for developing dementia in the years to come. These symptoms include hallucinations, excessive daytime sleepiness and the “freezing” movements characteristic of Parkinson’s, causing problems with balance and leading to falls.

Many are not familiar with the number of people who are currently affected by Parkinson’s disease in this country. Perhaps they know that Michael J. Fox developed the disease early in his life and is fighting it diligently and raising funds for research.

Disturbing Statistics

Did you know that almost 2% of all adults are affected by Parkinson’s? It is estimated that 1 million people in the US have Parkinson’s disease and 5 million worldwide.

More men than women will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It affects young and old alike. The exact cause is still being studied but there is some link associated with genetics and perhaps also environmental exposure to toxins such as pesticides. Approximately 50,000 people are diagnosed each year.

The startling statistic is that as many as 50-80% of those people with Parkinson’s disease could eventually experience dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, but others estimate the prevalence to be 20%.

50% of those with Parkinson’s have mild cognitive impairment. The usual rate of development of dementia is ten to fifteen years after the original Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Dementia

Because Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, those struggling with the disease and the family caregivers who provide daily assistance know that a slow decline in functional status, both physically and mentally, are part of this disease.

When a dementia diagnosis is added to the Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, it signals a progressive decline in the overall condition as dementia occurs after motor function is diminishing.

Parkinson’s Dementia is more difficult on caregivers than some of the other dementia types, including Alzheimer’s, because of the added impact of motor loss in Parkinson’s.

These are some symptoms of Parkinson’s Dementia that may vary from those of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

  • Muffled speech and difficulty with word finding
  • Trouble shifting attention from task to task
  • Difficulty concentrating, slowed thinking
  • Moodiness
  • Problems with calculations
  • Trouble completing tasks
  • Trouble interpreting visual information, depth perception or visual illusions
  • Sleep disturbances and daytime drowsiness
  • Delusions especially paranoid ideas, depression
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Changes in memory, concentration and judgment (similar to other types of dementia); short or long term memory loss

What Family Caregivers Can Do

If your senior loved one is experiencing memory changes there are some things you can encourage them to do to help with their symptoms. At some point, family caregivers are encouraged to learn themselves and teach their senior loved ones ‘work arounds’ or strategies that will help complete necessary tasks.

  1. Stay mentally active
  2. Stay physically active
  3. Get enough sleep
  4. Stay socially engaged
  5. Stay positive
  6. Relax
  7. Play
  8. Modify the environment by reducing stimulation that could distract and provide adequate lighting; make living areas safe from falls or other accidents
  9. Stay on schedule to reduce confusion
  10. Incorporate strategies to deal with behavior issues including wandering, aggression or impulsivity
  11. Learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver
  12. Care for yourself as caregiver – caring for someone with both motor and cognitive impairments can be exceptionally physically exhausting, get respite!

At times, dementia in a person with Parkinson’s disease can have another cause so your senior’s doctor should investigate their symptoms thoroughly. Other possibilities include Vitamin B12 deficiency, depression or thyroid dysfunction.

Learn About Parkinson’s Dementia

Family caregivers of those people with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia will benefit from learning about the disease process, strategies to manage the disease and the environment, connecting with others and finding time to care for themselves throughout the day.

This disease, while progressive, can run a course of many years. Protecting yourself as a caregiver in order to continue to provide care for many years should be considered part of the treatment plan.

There are support groups specifically for those dealing with Parkinson’s disease. You may also benefit from Alzheimer’s support group meetings to learn more about caring for someone with dementia. There are also online support sites and other social media platforms that can help you cope with your daily obstacles without having to leave your loved one’s side.

Dealing with the physical changes of your senior loved one, in addition to the emotional changes you feel as you watch them decline, will likely be very stressful. The more help, support and even counseling you can get, the better caregiver you will be able to be for the long run.

How do you cope with the changes? Do you have strategies to share with others? We would like to hear from you!

Deep Vein Thrombosis – What Family Caregivers Need to Know & Why

Deep vein thrombosis doesn’t sound like something that should strike fear in your mind or even be a serious condition…

…unless you or a loved one have faced it head-on.

Doctor’s warn that we, as family caregivers, should know the signs of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots in veins in the lower extremities of our senior loved ones — and what to do if you encounter them.

DVTs can be dangerous, especially if the clot breaks off and finds its way into the lungs, where it becomes a pulmonary embolism (PE).

The clot could even be fatal.

DVTs do not lead to strokes or heart attacks as many might think since they occur in veins. Arterial blood clots however can lead to heart attack or stroke as the clot occurs in an artery in the heart or brain.

Unfortunately, DVTs are not an uncommon occurrence. Blood clots can happen in the legs, pelvis or arms and often create pain. Usually seniors recover from DVTs with the correct treatment and catching them quickly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 300,000 to 600,000 Americans have DVTs each year. It is estimated that one half of the people with a DVT will have long term complications such as discoloration or pain in the affected limb. One third of people with a DVT will suffer from a recurrence within ten years.

Unfortunately, 60,000 to 100,000 people die from a DVT each year. Yes, it is that serious.

Risk Factors And Symptoms

An estimated 5% to 8% of us have a genetic factor increasing the risk for blood clotting. Far more, however, who develop a DVT exhibit one or more of these risk factors.

  • Age – over 40
  • Obesity – body mass index over 30
  • Surgery – within the past three months
  • Injury – fractures, muscle injury
  • Hormone replacement therapy or estrogen containing contraceptive use
  • History of prior blood clot
  • Mobility limitations – leg cast, ambulation impairment, confined to bed
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Family history of clots

Many seniors don’t realize that they have a blood clot because about half will have no symptoms. Fortunately, there are common symptoms that can be found in the affected area of the body for many seniors.

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Warm to touch skin
  • Redness

DVTs are diagnosed through a variety of procedures including ultrasound, venography or a blood test called D-dimer. An MRI is used less frequently but useful for diagnosing DVT.

Some type of test is needed to make a diagnosis because other conditions, including swelling of veins or muscle strains, can cause the same symptoms.

Treatments for DVT

There are several treatments that your senior will find helpful that his doctor will recommend. As with any treatment, they will best be effective when used according to the instructions of your healthcare team.

1) Compression stockings

Your senior’s doctor may recommend special hosiery called compression stockings. They are made of special elastic fabric that squeezes muscles and vein walls. Stockings will help blood flow in the legs or affected area.

Your doctor will prescribe the type that your senior needs, as they come in different tightness or millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Ask the doctor when to put on and take off and how long your senior will be expected to wear them.

There are different sizes so be sure your senior is fitted for the most appropriate treatment. They also come in different styles such as knee high, thigh high or full length. Usually knee high are used because they are easier to put on and will provide good relief even when the clot is above the knee.

Be sure your senior wears these special stockings if prescribed. He or she usually needs to put them on in the morning before the swelling makes it more painful or difficult. Your senior will probably not need to wear them in bed but verify this with your senior’s doctor.

The heel should be in the correct position and then smooth the stocking over the leg. They should not be rolled up, especially behind a need or ankle. Don’t roll at the top if it is too long, you may need to be measured for a different size.

Caution your senior loved one to be careful when putting on compression hose not to get jewelry caught on the fabric, as it might tear the hose and cause it to lose effectiveness. Avoid lotion or wait until it is completely dry before putting on compression hose. Talk with your senior’s doctor if their leg is too swollen to get the stockings on.

Most compression hose are sold in pairs but only the affected leg needs this special hosiery. Some people wear them as long as two years after a DVT so your senior may need to have several so one is always available. Order extras when you know the size that fits correctly. Most should be replaced after being used for four to six months as the elastic will lose its effectiveness.

Special care is needed when cleaning compression hosiery. Use warm water and a mild soap, either by hand or in the washing machine on gentle. Air dry the stockings or dry by rolling in a towel.

2) Anticoagulants

Medications that help keep the blood thin are called anticoagulants and are used to prevent DVTs. They don’t actually thin the blood, but instead work to prevent a clot from forming. Anticoagulants include heparin and warfarin (Coumadin).

If taking warfarin your senior needs to take certain precautions since it can interact with food and other medications. Being careful to prevent bleeding is very important and includes steps such as using an electric razor instead of blades, using soft bristled toothbrush to avoid gum bleeding, always wearing shoes to avoid inadvertent food/toe injury, caution when cutting finger and toe nails and any other activity that can leading to bleeding.

There are newer oral medications that can help prevent blood clots, such as Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis. There are specific considerations when taking these medications such as history of atrial fibrillation so be sure to talk with your senior’s doctor to understand all the risks and benefits.

3) Improved Circulation

Legs should be moved frequently and sitting too long in one position should be avoided.

Encourage your senior loved ones to get up and walk around every two to three hours, stretch their legs, and extend their legs out straight and flex their ankles.

Movement will help improve the circulation in your senior’s lower legs. Suggest they avoid crossing legs for extended periods, which will also help keep circulation flowing. Avoid tight fitting clothes (excluding compression stockings) to maintain adequate blood flow.

Pain Killers & Blood Clots – A Link?

If your senior has a history of using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers (NSAIDs), including naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin, they could be at increased risk for developing blood clots such as DVTs and pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lung, according to a new study.

This study showed an association between NSAID use and blood clots, but not a direct cause and effect. The association was found in the analysis of six studies of more than 21,000 cases of blood clots pointing to an 80% increased risk of venous clots in users of NSAIDs. Because it is unclear if one particular NSAID increases risk, researchers warn our seniors to be careful when using NSAIDs in general especially if seniors are already at risk for clots.

Due to the seriousness and prevalence of DVTs in our senior loved ones, it is important to be on the lookout for symptoms, especially for those who might be at greater risk. If you suspect a problem, contact your senior’s doctor and seek treatment quickly.

Tech Innovation Racing to Meet the Needs of Seniors & Family Caregivers

Technology has some catching up to do when it comes to meeting the needs of older adults, but the tech industry is showing real signs it plans to do just that.

Senior Care Corner is following the innovations that are poised to improve the lives of our current seniors as well as those of us who will be walking in their shoes sooner rather than later.

Family caregivers (and the seniors for whom they care) need an assist from technology to help them provide care, stay connected from a distance, and manage multiple medical challenges while still living their lives.

There continues to be much discussion about exactly what family caregivers need to help them meet the needs of senior loved ones and keep them safely independent as long as possible. The discussion encompasses not only products but also processes and government initiatives both locally and federally that can impact the lives of our senior loved ones.

The innovations need to be user friendly, cross platforms and be affordable for seniors and family caregivers – – or be covered by the seniors’ health plans.

The latest news about increasing life expectancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could be considered a double-edged sword for family caregivers and those who help keep our senior loved ones healthy and safe at home.

Life Expectancy Report

The latest report, based on data collected by the CDC from 2012, tells us that we are moving in the right direction with improvements in health and wellness. This has made a great impact on reducing deaths from major diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes in the last several years.

  • The average life expectancy has increased to 78.8 years
  • Women have an expected 81 years of life
  • Men have an expected average 76 years of life

What that means for our family members who were 65 in 2012 is that women can expect to live an additional 20 years and men an additional 18 years on average, with some living a lot longer.

The CDC reports that 8 of the top 10 causes of death had declining death rates: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease.

What this tells us is that we are making strides toward improving our health through improved lifestyle choices by becoming more physically active and eating a better diet. People are also quitting smoking and getting the medical attention and preventive health screenings they need.

What impact will that have on family caregivers? What about the healthcare system and government funded insurance? How will we be able to keep our seniors healthy and safe at home during their ‘golden years’?

Double-Edged Sword?

Because the good news that our senior loved ones are living longer doesn’t change the fact that not everyone is living well, which will cause family caregivers to look for solutions to caring for seniors who may not be functionally independent at home or who need modifications to stay home safely.

Many of our senior loved ones are getting help from family caregivers like you to control their chronic medical conditions, seeking medical treatment or losing functional mobility as they age.

Living longer when our seniors aren’t at the peak of health means that many family caregivers will be spending more time in the role of caregiver, not only in the number of years spent but also the number of hours that care requires each year.

With seniors living longer and needing more assistance from family caregivers, it will be increasingly important to be able to face the future embracing the latest technology to help our seniors live healthy, engaged and independent lives.

Advances in Health & Wellness Technology

The numbers of seniors aging, both totally independently or with help from family caregivers, is growing rapidly, as we all know. Our seniors will need help from technology to get medical treatment, either in person or remotely using tele-health strategies and digital monitoring of their health and functional status, to continue to age in place.

An interesting statistic that can help drive future technology is that US adults over 50 control more the three quarters of the total wealth of the country.

Let’s review some of the advances and vehicles for advance that could help family caregivers and seniors now and in the future.

1) Smart care spaces

We see what is being described by some as “smart care spaces” to be an even smarter smart home, designed to meet the needs of seniors and others who need health services at home.

These intelligent homes are spaces that are sensored and linked to intelligent computer systems in the home care environment, constantly assessing the needs of those receiving care.

A smart space should include a means to proactively sense changes in comfort, symptoms and potential for interventions required in the person being monitored. A smart care space should also keep the person who is being cared for (in this case our senior loved ones) in an environment that is friendly and maintains their dignity.

Sensors could include monitoring of the living area, kitchen, and bedroom combined with tele-medicine and be monitored by all caregivers both family caregivers and medical personnel. The sensors should function in such a way as to uphold the elders’ independence.

The cost of a smart care space could be offset by the reduction in other medical expenses, a real savings to Medicare and other health insurance providers, when this proactive approach is taken. That gives us hope insurers will cover most, if not all, the cost and make this technology feasible for more seniors and their families.

2) Using big data in the fight against dementia

Supercomputers are being put into service to search through masses of medical data, including MRI results, blood work, and cognitive testing results, in the hopes of isolating any patterns that could link the development of dementia with a cause or contributor.

There is naturally a roadblock to this approach, namely security of a person’s private medical information, as well as ethical considerations. It could also prove to be a logistical nightmare given that there are over 35 million people worldwide diagnosed with neurodegenerative disorders.

Still, with that many people impacted and the number only increasing as the population ages, there will be many benefits from putting in the effort to address the issues and move forward.

3) Retirees become ‘tinkerers’ to drive innovation

We have long thought that much of the innovation to meet the needs of seniors and their family caregivers would come from those seniors themselves.

While many of today’s seniors grew up in a world without the internet, mobile,  and other technology that will enable much of the innovation in care, that will not be the case with future seniors. Once those seniors-to-be retire and start experiencing issues associated with aging and health, many will utilize their newfound time to develop answer to those issues.

A recent study published at PLOS ONE is based on that same idea, that there will be more highly educated people with time on their hands who are more financially stable to create innovations that are useful to them and their peers.

Considering that life expectancy has again risen, there will be many years that retirees will need to fill with purposeful activities like invention. The retirees and their family caregivers will be primarily healthy and inquisitive about what technology can do for them according to the researchers.

4) Aging 2.0

Aging 2.0®, a self-described “global organization on a mission to accelerate innovation to improve the lives of older adults around the world,” was by Katy Fike, a PhD gerontologist, and Stephen Johnston, a Harvard MBA, both of whom has some time before they become seniors themselves.

Their goal is to improve the quality of life for seniors across the globe by using technology and the innovations that it brings. Aging 2.0 collaborates with entrepreneurs, tech companies, distributors and investors to create a network of innovators who can bring fresh ideas to seniors.

They have begun piloting many of their programs and products in senior care facilities and are closing some of the gap between technology and meeting the needs of seniors and family caregivers.

Aging 2.0 also has a Consumer Panel Community that includes people over 50 and those who care for them who are interested in innovation to help entrepreneurs develop products and services tailored to seniors. You might want to check it out.

Senior Care Corner – Family Caregivers’ Resource

We can look to a happy, healthy and long future enjoying our seniors, many of whom will live to be 100 and beyond. Family caregivers will be able to continue to provide support for their senior loved ones with the help of innovations coming to market.

We still consider this area of innovation to be in its infancy – – but it’s growing up rapidly, with great strides coming soon.

Family caregivers are beginning to embrace the technology, actually seeking it out and perhaps even getting involved in the process recommending — nay, demanding — from manufacturers how to best meet their needs as caregivers and future seniors.

Senior Care Corner will be a part of the process, learning about and recommending technological innovations for the benefit of us all.

We would love to hear your experiences about how you have adopted technology to care for your senior loved ones. We can all learn from each other!

Senior Volunteers Enhance Their Own Lives While Serving Others

Many family caregivers are worried about their seniors who are living independently and may be alone much of the time.

There are only so many hours in the week that a working family caregiver can devote to spending with a senior when there is no crisis requiring undivided attention. What that might mean is that your senior loved one could be getting bored or lonely. He or she may need some encouragement to get active and stay engaged.

How else can you get your senior to socialize and engage with others so that they are not isolated or at risk for depression?

Volunteerism is one good way to encourage your senior loved one to get out of the house and help others who could benefit from their expertise and life experience. Not to mention the joy it will bring them when they can help someone or make a difference.

Our grandparents were volunteers delivering home bound seniors meals well into their 80s. They would often joke that they were caring for ‘youngsters’ since many of those they served were younger than they were at the time. They did this for over twenty years and only stopped when the driving and carrying boxes became more difficult.

In other words, you are never too old to help others — and, in doing so, yourselves.

Benefits for Seniors Who Volunteer

We all can see how seniors who are more engaged socially and physically when they have scheduled activities to complete receive physical and mental benefits. A recent study published in the Physiological Bulletin completed a meta-analysis of over 70 studies that included those over 50 who participated in formal volunteering roles.

The studies all measured outcomes such as happiness, physical health, depression, cognitive functioning, feeling of social support and life satisfaction. All things we hope for our senior loved ones!

Their findings of those actively volunteering included a reduction in depression, improved overall health, fewer functional limitations and even improved longevity. The ideal amount of time spent volunteering was 2-3 hours per week. More hours spent volunteering did not appear to correlate a greater benefit for these seniors, nor was a negative impact implied.

Researchers found that when seniors felt appreciated or needed as a volunteer it further improved the relationship between volunteering and their well-being.

Win-Win from Volunteerism

It is amazing to see the way our seniors can be inspired to help others and also to improve their own health and happiness. We can see their sense of purpose, the stories they have to tell about their adventures, and the bonds of friendships they make with those they work with as well as those they serve. What we don’t want to overlook is the other side of the coin, the communities and people that they help! Everyone benefits from volunteerism – it’s a win win!

Seniors have been enlisted to help in innumerable ways that benefit so many. If your senior can envision it, has an interest in it or has a location to serve, there is an opportunity waiting for them. These are some examples.

  1. Senior Corps – seniors are involved in government programs, including the Foster Grandparent Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and the Senior Companion Program. In 2010, more than 440,000 Senior Corps volunteers provided 98 million hours of service worth over $2 billion.
  2. Long Term Care Ombudsman – a program of the Administration on Aging which provides advocacy for those in long term care situations.
  3. Organizations of interest to the senior such as the Audubon Society, Library, Quilt Guild, Alzheimer’s Association, Rotary Club, Pilot Association, Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, United Way, Church, Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Senior Centers, Meals on Wheels, and a multitude of other groups.
  4. Mentoring school children, tutoring, reading stories, and other tasks as needed to help school children of all ages.
  5. There are meaningful causes for which your senior can volunteer, including helping the homeless, beautifying the shoreline or roadways, saving the whales, rescuing animals from harm, recycling, and other activities that will improve the community and the planet.
  6. Political party or campaign supporter. It doesn’t matter what their opinion might be, they can help local politicians get elected or get others out to vote.
  7. Share their knowledge or work experience such as helping others complete their taxes.
  8. Serve as a docent at the museum or help guests find their seats at the theater and take advantage of the arts.
  9. Visit local senior living facilities, play cards, sing songs, play an instrument, deliver their mail and brighten someone else’s day.
  10. Work with Veterans Affairs, help a vet or a wounded soldier. There are things that your senior can do even if it is simply being a friend.

Encourage Action

You can encourage your senior to become a volunteer if they are hesitant or are not sure what they could do to contribute.

You may need to set up some situations to check a few opportunities out before they feel they have to make a firm commitment. It would be a good idea to be sure they have adequate transportation to get there and back safely.

Caution them to not overdo any activities. Just because they are volunteering doesn’t mean they have to lift things or stand all day just because someone else might be. Remind them to do what they are capable of doing so as to remain safe while they are giving back.

Let them know they have something to contribute to the lives of others.

They will certainly feel a sense of accomplishment, a purpose to the day and socialize with a variety of people. Who knows what other good things it could lead to…friends, good health and fun!