Don’t Let Superfood Hype Fool You – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Many family caregivers look for a magic bullet to alter the behavior or change the course of a chronic medical condition of their senior loved ones.

Some caregivers hang their hopes on what are known as superfoods.

Is this a good thing? Can eating specific foods really change anything today or tomorrow to make your caregiving journey easier?

That is highly doubtful, based on the science, but many still hold out hope.

It seems each month we hear about another great superfood promising longevity or freedom from what ails us.

Have you heard the latest? Can you even find it? Would your senior even eat it?

Should they?

Latest Superfood Claims

Non-science media sources often share their superfood claims with consumers in the hopes of increasing readership, whether or not the effectiveness of those superfoods has been validated.

Here are some of the latest claims about which you may have read.

  1. Black currants – will taking supplemental forms of this antioxidant containing fruit make a medical difference? Can adding a few black currants to your recipes help? How much antioxidant will you really get eating a few? We have heard for some time that the deeper the color of our produce, the more nutritionally rich the food is. It’s true black currants are deep purple and full of nutrients, but so are grapes and other items that might be easier to eat regularly. Keeping berries and other antioxidant rich foods in the diet is fairly straightforward for most caregivers, but it could be any variety your senior enjoys, not just black currants.
  2. Watermelon seeds – which must be sprouted, shelled and dried for best benefit. Would your senior eat this or can you find them? Most of us grew up being told not to eat watermelon seeds for fear a vine would grow in our belly. Seriously though, this wouldn’t be most seniors’ first choice as a snack. These seeds purportedly have nutrients, including protein similar to nuts.
  3. Mushrooms – edible mushrooms may have compounds that reduce inflammation that could lead to neurological changes. Eating “plenty” of mushrooms could be considered a functional food but how much is plenty?
  4. Beetroot juice, turmeric, ginkgo and green tea – all have some property being reported to fight disease and reduce the risk of dementia but more research is needed to determine how much, how often, what type and if there is any identifiable benefit. If your senior likes these foods, enjoy!

Proceed With Caution

It is important for family caregivers to be able to distinguish what is helpful health advice from what is just hype.

Experts found that, between 2011 and 2015, there was a 202% increase in the number of new food and drink products launched containing the terms “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “supergrain.”

If the food is something your senior loved one enjoys eating, can be easily incorporated into their meals, and won’t break the bank, certainly add away.

Be sure it won’t interfere with any medication they currently take or potentially cause GI upset for them. If you’re not sure, ask their doctor.

Be cautious if the superfood is not well accepted and might cause your senior to refuse a meal, as avoiding it might be the best course of action.

It isn’t super if the food isn’t consumed in the quantity that might actually create a positive physical impact.

Additional Resources

Here are a few other articles that you might find helpful to get your senior loved one the nutrition they need for health.

 




Signs Your Senior’s Dream Life No Longer Works – Family Caregiver Tip

Family caregivers make promises they will care for senior loved ones at home.

Caregivers know they want to age in place and live the rest of their years in the home of their dreams.

Sometimes this desire or dream turns into an unachievable reality, as their personal health needs and safety become more than family caregivers can provide.

Caregivers want what is best for their senior loved ones and sometimes this may mean not following their wishes to stay at home.

How will you know when this line is crossed and seniors shouldn’t be living alone anymore?

Signs A Change Should Come

There are clues family caregivers can observe in their senior loved one that will indicate there may need to be a change for their well-being.

Here are a few signs that should point you to investigate further:

  1. Poor hygiene, lack of showering, wearing same clothes for days
  2. Spoiled food in refrigerator and pantry
  3. Missing appointments
  4. Unpaid bills, inability to balance their checkbook
  5. Clutter in house that makes it unsafe
  6. Balance difficulty; increasing falls
  7. Weight loss
  8. Mood changes
  9. Medication administration problems; missing doses; taking wrong amount or at the wrong time
  10. Driving problems; tickets, accidents, car damage

Exhibiting these signs does not automatically mean it is time to load up the car and move to a senior living facility. There are often options for interventions family caregivers can put into practice to allow them to stay home a little longer.

Home care, sitters, companions, and technology are strategies that can be employed in the home to meet their needs for health and safety.

But planning for the next step should begin in order to be ready should it be best for your senior.

  • Where would they want to go?
  • Is there a facility near family?
  • Have you begun visiting any locations?
  • Is there money budgeted or benefits available to pay the fees?

Planning is important and these warning signs should yield further action for the future.

Additional Resources

Knowing if and when it is time to transition your senior loved one, whether in the home or in a facility, is one of many concerns for family caregivers.

Here are more informational articles that you might find helpful on your caregiving journey.




Plan Ahead for an Aging-in-Place Friendly Home Before It’s Needed

For generations past, aging in place was but a dream for many seniors. More likely they would, at some point, move to a senior living facility or into their children’s home.

Now we know it is a reality for most seniors.

However, this isn’t as easy as some might have thought, causing family caregivers at times to struggle to improve their senior loved one’s quality of life as they age in place.

Seniors and their family caregivers want to avoid being forced to move into a facility because they were no longer safe in their environment.

Some cities have taken the lead in assisting older people in transforming their current homes into lifelong homes, which is a big help for family caregivers.

Partnering with companies and agencies that can renovate their existing homes, bringing services closer to the communities in which they are needed, or helping seniors find more suitable living space to better meet their needs as they age are initiatives that need to happen in all cities so more older adults can safely age in place without depending on family.

We can all learn from what cities and family caregivers are doing now to help their senior loved ones age in place successfully.

Growing Aging in Place

Yes, fortunately, aging in place is no longer a pipe dream for retiring seniors.

AARP found in 2014 that 87% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age.

Among people age 50 to 64, 71% of people want to age in place.

These numbers are growing rapidly as the population ages.

By 2020 there will be an estimated 55 million people over age 65 in America.

Many will have special needs to be met since AARP reports that, by 2025, one in four drivers will be age 65 or older.

In 2011 it was found that more than 50% of non-drivers over age 65 do not leave home most days, partly because of a lack of transportation options.

How are these seniors getting groceries, going to the doctor or pharmacy, visiting friends, getting to church, or doing errands like getting their hair cut or doing their banking?

The majority will depend on family caregivers to help them meet their needs.

Most cities and towns across the country, especially in rural areas, are ill-prepared to transport seniors, keep them safe at home, or assist them with their activities of daily living.

Having access to services including healthcare may mean a relocation for aging in place should be a consideration not just home renovations, especially when cities aren’t able to provide transportation or local services that will meet senior’s needs.

Family Caregivers Face Their Future

Family caregivers are helping senior loved ones make the best of their homes for aging in place.

They are being forced to learn about safety devices and technology that can keep seniors safe at home as the years progress.

They have installed accommodations, such as grab bars and handrails, in the homes of seniors to make them safer.

These upgrades are often being made after a crisis or to fix an older home that needs not just aging makeovers, but in-depth home repairs too.

What about the millions of younger baby boomers (mid-50s to 60 year olds) who are contemplating their own retirement and aging needs at the same time they help their own seniors manage their current aging scenario?

Are they preparing their own homes now for their own aging needs?

Plan Your Home for Aging in Place Now

Most people who purchase a home for their family don’t think about size and layout specifications that will help them in retirement.

However, 50 year olds have begun examining their present living situation so that when they redecorate or renovate they include options that will make it easier for them to remain in their beloved homes.

Simple things you can do now when you repair your home and approach your retirement will benefit you in the long run.

Installing higher toilets and sinks, walk in showers, grab bars, lever faucets, and shower benches when you update your bathroom are wise decisions now and in the future.

If you knock down a wall to make a great room, consider widening your doorways and halls to accommodate a wheelchair, which may be necessary down the road.

Don’t overlook bringing your master bedroom down to the main living floor when you complete a renovation.

Is your front door or porch in need of handrails or fewer steps so you can come and go with ease later?

Do you have enough light in key areas, such as your driveway, walkway, hallways, garage, basement, or closets?

When you upgrade your kitchen, can you add lower cabinets, storage that is easy to reach, or smart appliances?

Are there technology upgrades that you might enjoy now for music that might be able to be used for safety monitoring later in life? There are many technology innovations that are handy for us now and later.

The Rise of Universal Design

Currently it is estimated that 25-40% of home renovations are including strategies to make the living space accessible for future aging needs.

This type of design or re-design is known as universal design. It includes changes that will benefit you at any age.

Unfortunately, many people don’t plan ahead and have a shock when something tragic happens, forcing them to act fast.

It is a lot easier to consider making changes that will carry you through aging in place now when you might renovate your home for either fashion or form.

It is likely cheaper to include certain renovations, like wider doorways or first floor living, now than waiting for later when your resources may be diminished.

A few small changes along the way as you look to your future are likely to pay big dividends later.