Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Foods That Promote Brain Health

While a person’s body may age, there’s no reason that their mind needs to decline too. In fact, there are many foods that are readily available in Durham grocery stores that can help keep a person’s mind sharp and functioning well, despite their chronological age. These “super foods,” which are great for senior health, include:


Blueberries have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress, which can reduce the impact of age-related issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Blueberries have also been found to boost a person’s learning capacity and motor skills, thus making them mentally younger. Incorporate blueberries into smoothies, baked goods, or cereal for a delicious treat that your senior’s brain will love.


Salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are a key component of proper brain function. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory properties, which keep the body healthy. Doctors recommend a four-once serving roughly two to three times per week in order to enjoy the full benefits of this tasty fish.


Avocados are another key component of proper senior nutrition, in that they are nearly as effective as blueberries when it comes to brain health. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow and lowers blood pressure. They are high in calories though, so a little goes a long way when it comes to incorporating avocado into a daily diet.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds provide plenty of vitamin E, which can help prevent cognitive decline as a person ages. Your elderly loved one should incorporate walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, or sesame seeds into their diet for a brain boost. They can also try using unhydrogenated nut butters, like almond butter or peanut butter.

Whole grains are another essential part of good senior nutrition, as they’ve been shown to reduce a person’s risk of contracting heart disease. Eat a few slices of bread per day, or try taking two tablespoons of wheat germ daily. 

Fortunately the foods that promote good health are readily available in your local grocery store, making it easier than ever for your elderly parent to eat a diet that will nourish them and keep their mind and body feeling healthy. There are many different ways to incorporate these items into meals, so try experimenting and find combinations your senior loves to eat. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Help Your Senior Attend to Home Maintenance

If your senior is still in their own home, it’s probably because they value their independence and freedom. While this is terrific, sometimes your elderly parent’s wishes and goals don’t match up with their physical abilities. In this situation, they can typically benefit from some assistance from a senior care professional.

Particularly when it comes to home maintenance, help from a Durham elder care professional can become tremendously useful. They work with your senior to maintain their property, leaving their living space beautiful. This individual can also help to hire professionals to tend to the home, doing gardening, painting, and other necessary tasks. 

If your senior is resistant to the idea of hiring others to take care of their home, respect their feelings. Have an honest conversation with them about why they may benefit from this kind of assistance, and don’t dismiss their emotions quickly. For many people, taking care of their property is a point of pride, and not being able to do this anymore can upset them greatly. 

If your elderly loved one is showing resistance to the idea of having help at home, try saying something like, “Mom/Dad, I know you love your home. Let’s keep it looking beautiful by hiring someone to help out. This way you don’t have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, but you can still enjoy a home that looks great.”

Also make sure that your elderly parent is able to weigh in on issues surrounding the house. For instance, if the kitchen needs to be painted, let them select the color. They can also work with you to make a decision about which painter they’d like to use. This allows them to feel involved in the process, without forcing them to take on taxing labor on their own. 

However, while it’s important to protect your senior’s health and well-being, it is also necessary to understand when to let them get more closely involved in the day-to-day maintenance of a home. Gardening, for example, is a hobby that many seniors find therapeutic. While it is somewhat physically demanding, it is not nearly as labor intensive as shoveling a walkway or painting a room in a home. For this reason, family members should encourage their elderly loved ones to get active in the garden. So long as they focus on proper posture and listen to their bodies, this is a highly relaxing and enjoyable way to make a home look beautiful.   

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Care Options Available To Your Senior After a Stroke

After your senior has suffered a stroke, you’ll need to dedicate a significant amount of attention to helping them rehabilitate and regain their skills. Those who work in elder care services explain that the recovery that takes place in the days and weeks immediately following the stroke becomes essential to your loved one’s long-term prognosis. As this recovery happens, your elderly parent has a number of different care options available to them. These options include:

In-home care

This is a good option for a senior who still enjoys significant physical abilities, but could use a little assistance with daily errands and chores. They may need help cooking, cleaning, or getting in and out of the shower. This kind of care ensures that the elderly individual is getting proper nutrition, living in a clean home, and taking their medication on time. However, it is not a viable solution for someone who was left immobilized after a stroke. In many instances, this option is only feasible if the stroke that your loved one suffered was mild. 

An assisted living facility or nursing home

For many stroke patients, this is the ideal choice when it comes time to recover. They can get more extensive medical care in a Durham nursing home or an assisted living facility, and will have someone to assist them with all necessary daily tasks. Those who care for seniors explain that both a nursing home and an assisted living facility can ensure that the elderly individual is well cared for. The best option for them simply depends on the severity of the stroke. 

When residing in one of these facilities, an elderly person has access to all of the care they need to get them started on the road to recovery. Family members can feel at ease too, knowing that their senior is not trying to bathe, cook, and clean on their own without assistance, which can be highly risky. Many facilities also make it easy to get necessary therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. These kinds of programs are important as your elderly parent works on recovering and getting back to their pre-stroke health. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What to Know About Sundowner’s Syndrome

While the sunset typically signals a time of relaxation for many people, for those with Alzheimer’s, quite the opposite is true. Dementia care professionals explain that it’s common for a senior with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia to become agitated, angry, or confused in the evening. Their memory may get worse, and they may become increasingly disoriented. This unique phenomenon can be devastating for the loved ones of these elderly individuals. 

The triggers of Sundowner’s Syndrome

There are many different triggers that can cause Sundowner’s Syndrome to kick into full effect. Common triggers include:

  • Winter: The shorter days of winter can cause a senior to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or depression that sets in when a person doesn’t get enough natural sunlight. 
  • Internal imbalances: Some scientists believe that this condition is a result of hormone issues or other disruptions to a senior’s biological clock that leave them struggling to get into natural rhythms between sleeping and waking.
  • Low light: As the sun begins to set and darkness falls, elderly individuals with poor vision may have an even harder time seeing. This can cause them to feel agitated and fearful, explain Alzheimer’s care professionals. 
  • Fatigue: Many elderly people get highly fatigued at the end of the day, often worsening their symptoms.
  • End-of-day activities at a care facility: As the day comes to a close and shifts change at nursing homes or assisted living facilities, seniors may pick up on this energy and become disoriented and stressed. 

To overcome these struggles and keep seniors feeling safe and calm, the leading senior health professionals in Durham advise controlling noise. Keep televisions and radios to a minimum, and make sure that noise-generating activities are done as far from the elderly individual as possible. This helps to promote an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. 

Additionally, create a calming evening routine for your elderly loved one. This routine prevents surprises and can keep agitation levels to a minimum, as they know what to expect. Also discourage napping, as this can make it harder for your senior to fall asleep at night and can disturb the body’s natural rhythms. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Could You Spot a Stroke? Warning Signs to Watch Out For

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, but many of those who care for seniors or older parents are not sure what a stroke really looks like. As a basic rule, if you think someone is having a stroke, it is crucial that you spot it FAST.
Face. Is it drooping?
Arm. Is there weakness?
Speech. Is speech difficult?
Time. If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, do not waste time. Respond quickly and call 911 immediately. 
One stroke will happen approximately every 40 seconds, and almost 800,000 Americans will have one. Because they are so prevalent, it is absolutely crucial for senior health that you and other loved ones know the warning signs. If these signs do occur, the brain is not likely getting the blood it needs. Damage could be temporary, but it could also be permanent. The most important thing in minimizing damage is to act quickly. The sooner a person receives medical treatment, the less chance they will have of experiencing permanent disability. 
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America. It is also the number one cause of long-term severe disability. That is why it is so important to seek medical care as soon as possible. The American Stroke Association conducted research that showed that patients who take clot-breaking drugs within three hours of their first symptom had a lower risk of long-term disability. This is especially true for those who suffered from an ischemic stroke, which is the most common variation and accounts for nearly 90 percent of cases. 
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Symptoms of a stroke may not be visible right away. In fact, they could slowly develop over time. If a loved one is having a stroke, these warning signs could occur either immediately or gradually:
-Weakness or numbness in the face, leg, or arm. This is more likely to happen all on the same side.
-Difficulty understanding other people or general confusion.
-Inability to speak clearly.
-Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
-Difficulty staying balanced, walking, or maintaining coordination.
-Severe headache that may come out of nowhere. 
What to Do if Symptoms Occur
A stroke is a critical medical emergency. It is absolutely imperative that you act fast and take the situation seriously. If any of the above symptoms have occurred, take these steps right away:
-Never ignore symptoms. Even just one symptom could be a powerful warning sign that something is wrong.
-Call 911 immediately. Do not wait, as every minute counts. If one or more symptoms are present for more than a few minutes, your loved one should receive medical care as soon as possible. An ambulance can ensure they arrive at a hospital right away.
-Note the time and remember when the first symptoms appeared. This is very important information that you will want to share with the doctor who is providing care. 
How to Prepare for a Stroke
Not many people think a stroke will affect them or their family. But if someone you love does have a stroke, having taken the following steps in advance could make a big difference:
-Learn which medical facility or hospital is nearest to their home or work. A doctor or human resources director may be able to help you locate the closest facility. By knowing where to go at the first sign of stroke, you can act faster and get help for your loved one more quickly.
-Ask a Durham nurse or doctor which medical facilities have 24-hour emergency stroke care. These facilities will be the best equipped to deliver care for anyone who has had a stroke. 
Knowing what the symptoms look like, what to do if they occur, and preparing in advance can make all the difference for your loved one. If a stroke happens, remember to act FAST, and give them the absolute best chance of a happy, healthy outcome.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Celebrating Mother’s Day with Your Elderly Mother

Choosing the perfect Mother’s Day gift can be tough, especially when you are trying to find the right present for an older mom. Her interests might differ greatly from yours, making it even more challenging to know just what to give her. Whether you want to purchase something special or create a memorable do-it-yourself present, you might need a few ideas to get started in the right direction. Most importantly, always consider her unique preferences—that is the key to finding the right gift that celebrates her and all she has done for you.

Memory Jar 

Rather than giving a jar of candy or treats, this is a jar that highlights some of the most important things you two have shared together. Find a good quality, attractive jar, gather some pieces of decorative craft paper, and set aside a bit of time to reflect on the memories you have spending time with one another. Consider things you have done together, some of her favorite family traditions, or special things she has said or done that has impacted your life. On each piece of paper, write a unique memory of a great time you have shared with her. Fold the pieces and place them neatly in the jar. She can read them all at once, or set aside time each day to read a new memory.

Pass things up

Instead of your mom passing things down to you, pass some of your most cherished items up to her. Look through your drawers, closets, the attic or basement and search for special mementos. If you have an old pair of your mother’s  earrings, or an old playbill that has been forgotten in storage, consider offering them up as a heartfelt gift. Care for elderly moms starts with remembering what is most important to them. Many of her greatest memories might be tucked away in your home, and Mother’s Day is the perfect time to bring them back into the spotlight.

Plan a date

Providing care for seniors, especially for an older mother, means tuning into their personal needs. Consider taking her for a pedicure if she has trouble with her feet, or for a special meal if she has dietary restrictions. Remember that, even though she may have a limitation, there are even more ways to make her feel special and let her enjoy the special, little things in life. Even more, spending time together is one of the most precious gifts you could give an older mother. Don’t rush through the meal or treatment. Rather, slow down and listen to what she has to say. Enjoy the conversation and put your full attention on her. It is her special day, after all.

Order delivery

If you live far away from your mother but still want to show her how special she is to you, consider doing something that will make her life a little easier. Even from a distance, you could make a big difference. For example, consider signing her up for a meal delivery service. A hot, homemade meal sent right to her door is sure to put a smile on her face, especially if she knows it was sent from you with love.

Rather than buying any old gift, consider what would mean the most to your mom this year. Consider these personalized present ideas, and reflect on how you can make this year’s Mother’s Day the best ever for your amazing mom.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Helpful Books for Families Dealing with Alzheimer’s

Coping with Alzheimer’s can be a challenge for the whole family, so it’s important to rely on various forms of support. Though there is nothing anyone can do or say to fix the situation, many families find that reading books about the condition allow them to understand it better and realize that they’re not alone. Some useful titles on the topic include:

A Personal Guide to Living with Progressive Memory Loss by Sandy Burgener and Prudence Twigg

This book offers helpful advice for those living with family members with early stage dementia. It is highly insightful, and offers pertinent examples about others who have dealt with the challenges that memory loss creates. The book is both practical and comforting, making it a must-read for families of seniors with memory-related conditions.

A Return Journey; Hope and Strength in the Aftermath of Alzheimer’s by Sue Petrovski

In this book, Petrovski offers words of wisdom from a support group of caregivers who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. The emphasis is placed on the person providing the care, as opposed to the person dealing with the condition. Families of those with Alzheimer’s will find the tips useful and comforting.

Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook by Howard Gruetzner

This is a highly regarded book recommended by many elder care professionals. It offers a realistic portrayal of life with this devastating disease. It offers a look into symptoms, stages, treatments, and support services available to family members. It has a hopeful tone that makes a person feel optimistic about dealing with the disease. However, it also accurately puts into words the stress, grief, and depression that can come from the condition. 

Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Family, Friends, and Caregivers

This book is another must-read, note dementia care professionals. It is highly useful for a family that has just received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It provides insight into the kinds of symptoms and situations the disease brings with it, and also assists with long-term planning. 

Many families of seniors with a memory-related disease find reading books about the topic to be both useful and comforting. They can learn to cope with the disease in a productive way, while ensuring that their senior’s needs are met as time goes on. Take solace in reading the words of others who have been in a similar situation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Home Care Can Prevent Hospital Readmission for Seniors

The United States spent more than $2.6 trillion in healthcare in 2010, which puts us ahead of any other nation. Research illustrates that uncoordinated care, unnecessary care, and avoidable care are major causes of this astronomical number.1  In order to cut down unnecessary healthcare spending, it’s important to focus on avoiding rehospitalization for patients. If your senior has recently spent time in the hospital, you want to do everything you can to prevent them from winding up back there at a later date. One way to do this is by bringing in an experienced home care professional to assist them.

How does home care help?

Elder care professionals explain that seniors are often discharged from the hospital before they are fully ready to return home. They come home, often to a place where they live alone, and try to go about the tasks of daily living. Because of weakness, fatigue, balance issues, and other problems leftover from their hospital stay, they often end up reinjuring themselves or getting ill again, thus landing them right back in the hospital.

Proper home care can prevent this tragic situation from occurring. Instead of having to try to clean the house, carry groceries in, and get in and out of the shower alone, a professional is there to assist your senior. This takes the burden off of your elderly parent, and helps to keep them safe from reinjury or further illness. 

According to those who work in home care, Durham families can help prevent their elderly loved ones from winding up back in the hospital by investing in home care for them. It doesn’t matter whether you have someone come in daily or a few times each week. This additional help and support can make all of the difference necessary to preserve your senior’s health and independence. 

A person who works in home care can attend to a number of different tasks that your elderly parent needs to complete to stay healthy. When they no longer have to worry about the physical demands of these necessary chores, they feel much more relaxed and there is a significant amount of strain taken off of them physically. As an added bonus, proper home health care can prevent your elderly loved one from having to move into an assisted living facility. With this kind of professional assistance, they can enjoy their independence while preserving their health and safety.