Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tasty, Hearty Winter Recipes for Seniors

As temperatures drop, it can be easy to turn to fatty, heavy comfort foods. But even though the weather outside is frightful, your senior can still enjoy healthy, nutritious meals. These dishes will warm them up, without lots of fat or grease.

Skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans
This dish is easy to make, tasty, and packs a nutritional punch. In one pan, combine dark leafy greens, tomatoes, white beans, and gnocchi. Top it off with mozzarella for the perfect winter meal. This dish is perfect when served with a green salad.

This simplified version of goulash skips the extra steps but not the flavor. It works served over whole-wheat pasta or alongside gnocchi. The spices come together for a rich dish that doesn’t take too long to make.

This recipe takes bland cauliflower and amps it up, using olive oil and herbs. Cut the florets into slices and toss them in the mixture. The result is a deep brown cauliflower dish that has a sweet flavor.

Nothing is better on a cold winter day than soup. It works for lunch or dinner, and makes plenty for leftovers. This recipe incorporates veggies (including green beans and carrots) to up the nutritional value. It also uses beans for protein. Throw the ingredients together into the pot and enjoy a hearty winter soup that will keep your senior warm and satisfied. 

If your elderly family member loves sweet potatoes, they’ll adore this recipe. It requires few ingredients, and yields a delicious winter treat. It’s a unique recipe, and one that they’re sure to want to make again and again. 

It’s easy to go overboard on desserts in the winter, especially since your elderly loved one will probably be spending more time in the house, meaning that any cookies or cake become even more tempting. Encourage them to enjoy a lightened up dessert by trying this recipe. It’s easy to make and has a lot of nutrients in it. They’ll love the sweet treat, and won’t miss calorie-heavy desserts. 

Skip heavy cream-based soups, fried foods, and cake and cookies in favor of lighter options. They’ll leave your elderly loved one feeling energized, yet still completely satisfied after mealtime.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Signs of Dementia You Must Know About in 2014

Though a decline in memory is a regular part of the aging process, it’s also important that families understand the signs of dementia, as they are different from normal memory loss. If your senior forgets the day of the week or struggles to recall a person’s name, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that they are suffering from a memory related disease. However, it’s important to be aware of some of the hallmarks of dementia, and to seek guidance from a medical professional if these signs appear. 

Some of the common signs of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Trouble with abstract thinking
  • Poor reasoning skills
  • Disorientation regarding place and time
  • Poor hygiene
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Issues with balance or fine motor skills

Those with dementia frequently ask the same questions over and over. They may have issues remembering where they are or how they got there, and they may have a hard time following simple directions or getting to places that they’ve visited many times. 

Additionally, seniors who are suffering from dementia may also deal with the results of poor nutrition. This is because they often forget to eat, or end up living off of unhealthy meals with no real nutritional value. You may find that the food in their refrigerator has gone bad, or that their cupboards are full of strictly junk food.

Elderly individuals who are dealing with dementia typically also show a shift in their personality. They may get agitated easily, or demonstrate erratic behavior. While this can be frustrating to family members and friends, it’s important to understand that this is a direct result of the disease, and is not happening because the person is trying to be spiteful. 

While there is, unfortunately, no vaccination or preventative treatment for dementia, studies show that mental stimulation and good health habits can help to slow or delay the onset of this devastating condition. Make sure that your elderly loved one gets plenty of sleep, eats nutritious food, and challenges their mind daily. This could be through stimulating conversation, reading, or doing crossword puzzles and other word games. 

Understand that some cognitive decline is normal as your elderly loved one ages, but regularly forgetting common words, losing items and finding them in strange places, or getting lost in a familiar area may indicate that something more serious is taking place. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Essential Principles of Saving for Retirement

While saving for retirement is a crucial part of any person’s life, less than half of Americans know exactly how much they need to accumulate in order to safely retire.  Since the average person in the U.S. spends more than two decades in retirement, it’s essential that proper saving occurs, thus allowing that person to live out their golden years comfortably.1 Here are some tips for helping your senior get ready to retire:

Set goals

Regardless of how long your loved one has been saving, it’s important to set goals and to continue working toward these goals. Ideally, your senior should try to increase the amount they contribute to their retirement fund each month. They can do this slowly, since even a small increase can make a major impact on the amount that they save. 

Stick to the plan

Some people get off track with their retirement savings because they set a monetary goal but fail to take the steps necessary to actually reach this number. Once a savings plan is made, stick to it. Even if retirement seems far away, it’s never too early (or too late) to start saving.

Understand exactly what is needed

Your loved one should know exactly how expensive retirement is. In fact, many experts state that a person needs at least 70 percent of their pre-retirement income in order to maintain their quality of life when they do retire. This is a tall order, and it’s one that seniors must be fully aware of. 

If your family member isn’t sure exactly what retirement will look like for them, have them meet with a financial expert who can provide up-to-date guidance on the situation. This financial professional can offer facts and details about the type of savings that will be necessary in order to support retirement. 

Also, remember that a retirement savings fund should never be touched. Seeing large sums of money sitting there may be tempting, but encourage your loved one never to tap into that supply. Though it may seem necessary at the time, it can seriously impede their desire to retire when they want to. 


Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Keep Your Parents Safe from Financial Fraud

Unfortunately, many scammers prey upon the elderly. They know that these people are often home during the day, and may be lonely and looking for someone to talk with. As a result, it’s easier to get them to listen and then act on various scams. To protect your elderly loved one from various forms of financial fraud, keep these tips in mind:

Offer explanations, not just rules

While your parent should know that they shouldn’t give out personal information over the phone or respond to letters from unknown people, they also need to understand why. Instead of just saying, “hang up the phone” or “throw that out,” offer insight about why they must do this. Explain that the government wouldn’t call them at home and ask for their social security number as they have that number on file already. Remind them that they can’t claim winnings on a contest they never entered. When your senior understands this information, it helps them to more effectively identify a potential scam.

Monitor who they’re talking to

If your elderly family member lives nearby, keep a close eye on their mail and phone correspondence. Scammers are relentless, and may even add your senior onto their list of vulnerable targets. It’s not uncommon for an elderly individual to be bombarded with e-mail, snail mail, and phone calls from scammers on a regular basis. Keep an eye on who’s calling and what they’re calling about. If you suspect that they’re trying to turn your senior into a target, get the authorities involved.

Make them harder to find

If your parent is constantly receiving phone calls from scammers, make them harder to find. Unlist their home phone number, or have them use a cell phone, where it’s less common to receive calls from scammers. You can also put Mom or Dad’s address on opt-out lists so that they don’t receive junk mail. Should a piece of mail arrive that appears to be from a scammer, report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Keep an eye on your senior’s credit reports and bank statements to pick up on any fraudulent charges right away. This makes it easier to reverse the damage, thus preventing long-term financial harm to your parents. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Cope with the Loss of a Parent

Regardless of how expected it may have been, the death of a parent can shake a person to their core. Grief has a profound impact on a person’s life. In fact, studies show that about 40 percent of those grieving will experience some form of anxiety disorder in the year immediately following their loved one’s death.1  While nothing can take away the pain of losing a parent, here are some tips for coping and regaining happiness once again:

The tools for coping with grief

There are many different forms of assistance available to a person who is dealing with the profound grief of losing a parent. Though scientific research is conflicted about which method works best, a person should know that they have many options available to them as they try to work through this difficult time. 

Counseling can be a powerful tool for a person who has lost a parent. Many people find that they feel an obligation to be strong in the weeks and months following the death of their mother or father. They may put on a brave face for children or other family members, and may begin to bottle up their emotions as a result. This can become quite unhealthy, and may even cause the grieving process to worsen. 

For this reason, speaking with a mental health professional can be prove to be a great source of relief. The sessions are a place where the person can express their true emotions without worrying about how this will impact others. Knowing that someone is listening and providing support is an important part of healing and moving on. 

Others find that journaling helps them to gather their thoughts and feel more positive once again. For those who may not feel comfortable trusting a stranger with their most sensitive emotions, this is the perfect outlet for self-expression in a healthy way. Studies show that even just 15 minutes of journaling per day can help to lessen depression and to prevent grief from worsening. 

Self-care is also highly important as a person works through the mourning process. This includes eating well, getting extra rest, and setting a routine. There is comfort in the routine, and this can be useful as a person tries to readjust to life without Mom or Dad around. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Exercise Ideas That Your Senior Will Love to Do

Though your senior’s body will change as they age, regular physical activity should remain a major part of their life. Some people falsely believe that there is no point in working out as they get older. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Regular workouts keep a person mentally alert and feeling positive. Additionally, regular workouts may help to ward off illness or injury. If you’re looking to help your elderly loved one get up and get active, consider these tips:

Try light cardio

A cardio workout can be customized based on your elderly family member’s ability level. Popular options for cardio workouts include:

Walking around the neighborhood
Stair climbing

Whether your senior chooses to head out for a bike ride or to walk around the mall at their own pace, getting in some cardio each day is a necessary part of staying healthy. Cardio workouts boost endurance and help to cut down on fatigue. 

Incorporate strength training

Strength training workouts are not just for bodybuilders looking to pile on muscle. In fact, strength training can be the perfect workout for an elderly individual. These types of workouts improve balance and prevent the loss of bone mass, which matters to seniors.

Your elderly loved one can strength train using free weights, machines, their own body weight, or elastic bands. Depending on what they feel comfortable with, they can head to a local gym, purchase equipment to use at home, or even use items they have lying around the house (such as cans of soup) to get a workout in. There is no need to spend a lot of money or get fancy training in order to enjoy a workout focused on strength. 

Put a focus on flexibility

Your senior should also focus on their flexibility as they exercise. This helps the body to stay limber, and makes it easier to tie shoes, shampoo hair, and play with grandkids. Yoga is a great way to boost flexibility. Poses are easily modifiable based on skill and ability level, and the experience is a relaxing one.

Regardless of how fit or active your senior is, it’s important that they get in some sort of physical activity each day. Ideally, this exercise will include a mix of strength, cardio, and flexibility workouts. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tips for Seamlessly Moving Your Senior from the Hospital to a Nursing Home

Making the transition from hospital to nursing home can be a challenge for the elderly individual and their family alike. Your loved one may be resistant to the idea of heading to a nursing home, and you may feel concerned about whether they’re actually ready to leave. Use these tips to help make the transition seamless:

Figure out who’s in charge

You’re not alone when it comes to making this transition. Eldercare professionals advise families to figure out who’s handling your senior’s discharge from the hospital. Some hospitals may have a discharge coordinator, while others rely on the primary nurse to navigate the transition. 

This individual can become a powerful resource when it comes to getting your senior accustomed to their new living conditions. They can ensure that your loved one is heading to a place where they’ll be well cared for. Additionally, if you’re wary about letting your elderly loved one leave the hospital, they can have a discussion with you about what’s appropriate given their current state.

This person can also help to give you a sense of what your loved one’s recovery process will look like. They can provide guidance about the kinds of medications your senior will be taking, and may also offer information about training or other services that are available for the family.

Do your own research

However, senior care professionals explain that a family shouldn’t rely fully on hospital staff members or nursing home personnel to help guide the transition. To ensure that your elderly loved one receives the best care, you’ll want to do your own research too. Look into the top nursing homes in the area, learn about the side effects of the medications your senior is taking, and figure out what the healing process entails. When you have information, you feel better equipped to help them make the transition seamlessly.

Another way to prevent errors as your elderly family member moves from hospital to nursing home is to get copies of medical records. This allows you to ensure that they are sent with any and all necessary medication, and that everyone is on the same page about dosage. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why You Should Have a Long Term Care Plan

Though it’s not always pleasant to acknowledge that your senior is getting older, long term care plans are an essential part of ensuring that your elderly loved one lives a high quality life in a comfortable setting. Start these discussions early in order to ensure that plans are in place when they are needed, and that everyone’s goals are met. There is a number of different long-term care options, including:

Home care

Home care professionals can assist your elderly family member with important daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. They can also ensure that your loved one is taking their medication each day. This option is beneficial for seniors who live well independently, but could use a little extra assistance. 

Day programs

Day programs allow seniors to interact with other people their age, while enjoying nutritious snacks and stimulating activities. This option is a great one for an elderly individual who doesn’t need constant supervision, but could benefit from some additional socialization during the day. They’ll participate in light exercise, field trips, arts and crafts activities, and other events, while getting help with their medication.

Assisted living

For seniors who need help with daily living tasks but don’t need the intensive level of care found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities are ideal. Eldercare professionals handle bathing, dressing, and administering daily medications. Your loved one resides in a safe place, with plenty of opportunity for socialization. They also enjoy much of the independence that they experienced when living on their own, without the risks that come along with it. 

Nursing homes

Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care for your senior, and are necessary for those who can no longer care for themselves independently. Services include help with bathing, using the restroom, eating, dressing, and taking medication. Elderly individuals can also get wound care and rehabilitative therapy.

With so many different long-term care options, a family must decide what appeals to their senior. Planning early allows those family members to assess all options thoroughly, and find an option that works with their senior’s needs and wishes most effectively. The ideal option will depend on your senior’s health, necessary care regimen, and ability to take care of themselves.