Seniors Going Gluten Free

Caregivers of seniors are often responsible for providing their loved one with foods that are nourishing, healthy and satisfying.  Sometimes that means keeping them away from foods that are not healthy for them.

Recently there have been an increased number of Americans who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, numbering approximately 2 million affected people — 1 in 133 people.  This condition requires following a gluten free meal plan for the rest of our senior’s life to remain symptom free.  However, those of us with affected seniors may not really understand how to incorporate gluten free foods into the daily lives of their seniors.

What is celiac disease?

It is a condition that damages the villi in the lining of the small intestine keeping your senior from absorbing parts of the food that they eat.  A reaction to the gluten in certain items can cause physical symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, inability to absorb nutrients and weight loss.

Where do our seniors get gluten?

Gluten is found in food, medications and fluids that our seniors ingest.  Choosing a gluten free diet requires new eating habits.  Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats that are mixed with wheat during processing as well as most grain, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods.  Not only is gluten found in many processed foods we all eat, but also some medications we take and some other products we may use such as lipstick .

What can your senior eat?

Your senior can enjoy a healthy and balanced meal plan using potatoes, rice, soy, tapioca, amaranth, nuts, legumes, quinoa, cassava, corn, millet, buckwheat, uncontaminated oats and bean flour.  You can select gluten free items which are now more readily available in local grocery stores including gluten free bread, gluten free baking flour mix, and gluten free pasta.  They can eat meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables that do not contain sauces or coatings made from wheat flour.

It is important to read food labels when shopping which are required to list wheat as an ingredient and many are specifically labeled “gluten free”.  You should also ask how food is prepared whenever you eat out to be sure it is allergy free.  Many restaurants are aware of this special food allergy and have gluten free foods available.  Your pharmacist can help you find medications that are gluten free to substitute for those that your senior now takes.

In your role as caregiver, you may want to seek out a support group in your area where you can learn a wealth of tips and strategies to deal with this disease and help others too with your knowledge!

We would love to hear how you overcome this food allergy so other caregivers can help their seniors.

A Tribute to Mom!

 

“All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

We all have moms, or had, that we love and respect.

Some of us have moms that we see every day and some of us don’t see our moms as often as we like.

We look up to our moms, learn from our moms, and try to be like our moms.

Sometimes we think, “The older I get, the more I look like my mom!” or “I sounded just like my mom!”

Being a great mom takes a lot out of a woman-long hours, crabby kids, dirty floors, being the boss, making decisions, and being a role model just to name a few.  All this with no pay except smiles, hugs and smooches if she was lucky.

“Mother is the one we count on for the things that matter most of all.”

-Katherine Butler Hathaway

 

Our moms inspire us to be all we can be, achieve all we dream and be a better person.

We strive throughout our life to make her proud and raise our children in her image.

We will be forever thankful for the lessons she taught us, the patience she showed us and the unconditional love she shared with us.

My mother was the making of me. She was so true and so sure of me, I felt that I had someone to live for – someone I must not disappoint. The memory of my mother will always be a blessing to me.  -Thomas A Edison

 

With love and affection, we remember our mother’s on this Mother’s Day!

Home Seniorization for Seniors Aging in Place – Senior Care Corner Show

Many seniors – and, according to surveys, most of us as future seniors – prefer to age in place in their homes of choice as long as possible. That makes sense, since we want to be happy and comfortable.

How many people, though, chose their current homes with that in mind?

As we age, our physical capabilities and needs change such that the homes that have served us well for years need changes of their own to continue to serve as a safe and comfortable living place. While some choose to move into a home that better meets their needs and others decide to put up with inconvenience to stay in the homes they love, there may be another solution.

For many seniors, that home they love and in which they would like to stay can also be a home that meets their needs as they age so they can do so safely and enjoyably.

In this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast, we discuss the changing demands seniors put on their homes as they age and how those needs can be addressed.

Home Seniorization Checklist

We have prepared the Home Seniorization Checklist, several items to review for potential corrections and/or modifications to seniors’ homes to make those homes a better fit for the needs of older adults.

In this episode we discuss the checklist and some of the thinking behind it.

If you have suggestions for additions to the checklist or other discussion, please leave us a comment below.

References Discussed in This Episode

You can also subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes.

Do you have comments or suggestions based on your own professional expertise or experience gained with loved ones?  We would love to hear it and we know others would value learning from you!

Please leave us a comment on this post or on our Facebook page to share it with others.

Aging in Place Introduction for Family Caregivers

Buzzwords and lingo are common with the senior/aging “industry”, with many having meaning only to industry organizations or service providers. Aging in Place is a buzz word (yes, it’s really a phrase but typically said almost as a single word) that has real meaning to both family caregivers and their senior loved ones.

This episode introduces the concept of aging in place, the ability of seniors to age in the home of their choice, and the implications of that choice for the seniors’ families and other caregivers.

Most of our senior loved ones – and even more baby boomers looking ahead to their retirement years – express in surveys their desire to age in place in their own homes. For some it is not practical due to health issues or physical limitations. For others, though, it is virtually a requirement given the cost of alternatives.  Regardless of the reason your senior loved ones want to live in their own home, there are many things to consider to make sure they can stay safe and enjoy living in that home.

References discussed in the episode and Senior Care Corner posts with more information:

Our plan is to record and post a podcast episode every two weeks.  We jumped the gun a bit with a second episode in a desire to get a second episode on iTunes and because we just loved recording the first one.Come back to check out future episodes and other posts here at Senior Care Corner.

If you want, you can subscribe to our podcast at iTunes or leave your name and email address in the signup box at the right and we will send you periodic newsletter updates with links to our new posts.

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

Vacationing with Senior Loved Ones

Is your senior planning a spring trip or summer vacation?  Are they going alone, with a group of friends, with a church group, with family members or with YOU?

No matter who they go with on a trip, as they age there may be pitfalls for everyone to be prepared to overcome.

What you need to know when you are on a road trip:

  1. Plan, plan and plan.  Know particular laws and customs before you go.
  2. Be sure you are not a victim of crime.  Know where you plan to sightsee and if there are parts of town that you should avoid.  Stay in well-lit areas. Only carry the cash you need in small denominations.   Carry your shoulder bag tucked under your arm and put wallets into front pockets.
  3. Bring the proper clothing and footwear depending on the weather and temperature for the place you will be going.  Ending up in the hospital is no fun time for anyone!
  4. Label your luggage inside and out. Never pack irreplaceable items like medications in your luggage-instead keep with you. Lock your suitcase. Don’t over pack and leave expensive jewelry or family heirlooms at home.
  5. Let someone at home safeguard copies of your documents such as airline tickets, passports, advance directive, driver’s license, medication lists and itinerary.
  6. Travel with emergency phone numbers and contact information for family members.  Keep your important documents with you at all times including medication list with names and dosages as well as an allergy list.
  7. Never leave your car or hotel room unlocked. Store all valuables out of sight.
  8. If traveling abroad, learn a few key phrases in that country’s language such as need help, get police and need medical help or doctor.
  9. Pack an extra pair of eyeglasses in case of loss or breakage.
  10. Select “senior friendly” activities that suit your fitness level and interests.

By planning ahead, preparing for emergencies and staying safe, everyone will relax and enjoy the time of their lives making memories together!

Home Design Trends for Aging in Place

Whether they stay in your home or relocate to another home, more of our parents want to stay out of facilities and in the home of their choosing.

The homes in which aging adults have raised their families, and even most homes built more recently, probably weren’t designed with seniors’ needs in mind. A remodel or relocation may be in order for them to do as they desire so the live in a home that is equipped to accommodate the needs of aging bodies and minds.

Design Trends for Seniors Aging in Place

  1. One floor living with clear movement in the living space.  It is desirable that there are no steps to climb for bedrooms, living areas or garage entry.
  2. Entry into the house from the garage and front door with no steps. It might mean that a ramp will be needed. An awning or cover over the door is preferred.
  3. Maintenance free dwellings. Little or no outside work, living spaces that are easy to clean, and newer appliances.
  4. More storage especially in the kitchen that is more accessible. High cabinets that are difficult to reach are undesirable.
  5. Appliances that are placed at comfortable heights to avoid bending over.
  6. Drawers instead of cabinets which are easier to access.
  7. Cabinet hardware that allows doors to hide away while in use.
  8. Tall knee height counters in the bathroom to allow sitting down for tasks.
  9. Raised toilet seats
  10. No threshold showers that allow open access

Many of us could use these modifications in our homes anyway, but the seniors for whom we care especially could benefit from these changes to their homes as they would make it possible to live more safely and comfortably while aging in place.

Do you have other items on your wish list so that your parents can stay put?  We would love you to share with us today.

Technology Review: Sonamba Wellbeing Monitor for Seniors

We recently had an opportunity to see a demonstration of the Sonamba Wellbeing Monitor , which is designed for use by seniors living independently and their families/caregivers.

While we are holding out hope for whole-house technology solutions for the well-being of seniors choosing to age in place and their family members / caregivers, the Sonamba will meet some of needs of those seniors and their families today.

Both the seniors who want to stay at home and their family members who want them to be happy AND safe will benefit from the peace of mind Sonamba allows.

Key Features of Sonamba

  • Monitors motion and activity in the house, notifying caregivers or family members if everything is normal or if activity is out of the ordinary
  • Stores reminders, such as for medication and appointments, and sends out a notification if the scheduled activity is not completed and confirmed
  • Provides a panic button for use when assistance is needed
  • Includes a built-in text messaging function to provide a streamlined way for seniors to communicate with remote caregivers and family members

For caregivers, there is a web portal that allows designated caregivers and family members to adjust settings remotely.  There is even the now-obligatory iPhone app.

Sonamba carries an up front price of $460 and a monthly subscription starting at $39 so it is not for everyone.  Many will certainly find this to be a good price for the peace of mind that comes with a watchful “eye” that is less obtrusive than a video monitoring system or part time on-site caregiver.  Of course, it may still be more obtrusive than some seniors want.  Families may find it to be a reasonable trade off, though, for the freedom it provides to live at home while still providing some assurance to both the senior and other family members.  In a recent post we discussed the need for a family talk about the desires and concerns of keeping your senior at home.  A device such as Sonamba could be one way to address needs that are identified in that discussion.

Do you have experience with Sonamba or similar systems?  If so, we would love to hear from you.

Pets Improve Health of Seniors

Man’s best friend is more than a cliché.

How many of us have pets that are part of the family?

Seniors have a lot of love for pets whether they are their own or animals belonging to others.

Research proves that interaction with animals can improve the health and well being of seniors.

Pets don’t judge but provide physical contact and stimulation to any person but especially a lonesome elder. Elders want to love, protect and nurture the soft animals who snuggle up for attention. They have an innate need to care for others and be needed as well.

Animals can fulfill that need for seniors. Animals of any kind can act as a substitute for the nurturing desire of an elder for someone they may have loved and lost in their lifetime.

Owning a pet can reduce blood pressure and lipid levels, and increase activity and socialization in its owner.

Many worry about a small animal causing falls which can happen when an older person isn’t cautious. However, the benefits are numerous.

Alzheimer’s patients are often calmed by pets when the pets are regular visitors. They can have reduced confusion, anxiety and agitation as well as increased communication in the presence of pets.

Many Alzheimer’s patients can get isolated in their disease but pets often lead to conversation and reconnection to their world. Pets don’t care if the wrong word is said or you forget a thought, they love the attention no matter what.

The best pets are those that allow petting and loving without getting aggressive. Animals that are not loud or overly active that won’t threaten or scare elders or increase their anxiety are good choices.  Be sure that the older person was not fearful of certain animals before you bring them into their environment.

If they were afraid of dogs all their life, they are still going to be fearful and should be avoided.

Nursing homes have had pet therapy programs for many years and see how the residents brighten up when the pets arrive. The animals usually visit routinely and include pets such as rabbits, dogs, birds, goats and other farm animals. Some nursing homes have pets such as cats, dogs and birds which live full time in a facility and are cared for by the seniors.

Whether they have been in the home for years, newly adopted, family visitors or part of pet therapy in living facilities, all types of animals can improve the quality of life for older adults.