Monday, June 30, 2014

The Healthiest Summer Foods for Seniors

Senior health starts with a great diet, and summer is the perfect time to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables. Durham farmers’ markets are filled with the season’s best foods that can give your elderly loved one the nutrients they need to feel great. Before planning your next meal, check out our summer’s best picks to help you and your family make the most of the season.
Watermelon. This fruit is great for hydration, especially on hot summer days. Your older family member or friend should pay close attention to staying hydrated this season, and watermelon is an easy and tasty way to do just that. Plus, it is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. Even more, it is a great source of lycopene, a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant. Watermelon also offers up L-citrulline, an amino acid that can help regulate blood pressure and arterial function.
Shrimp. As a barbecue favorite, shrimp contains lots of protein, it is low in fat, and it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the heart.  
Mangoes. Not only are they rich in vitamins, particularly vitamins C and A, but mangoes are also a fantastic source of fiber. Fiber is especially important in constipation relief, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. 
Cucumbers. Add cucumbers to salads and use them in place of chips when eating summery dips. They are low in calories, but high in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that can help keep your loved one’s mind sharp as they age. Even more, cucumbers offer an array of anti-inflammatory benefits.
Tomatoes. From pizza sauce to salsa, tomatoes are a versatile fruit that offers a variety of powerful health benefits. They contain lycopene, which has been shown to guard the heart, lower cholesterol levels, and even reduce your loved one’s chances of sunburn during the summer’s brightest days.
Berries. Like many other fruits, berries are a potent source of antioxidants. Blueberries and strawberries, for example, have been shown to stave off mental decline by up to 2.5 years. Even more, berries are known to reduce plaque in the arteries, which may otherwise lead to heart attacks or strokes. 
Bell peppers. Red, yellow, and green bell peppers offer up a lot of vitamin C in every serving. They also have compounds that contain sulfur, which has been known to guard against cancer. 
Corn. Summer is prime corn eating season, which is great news. It can be classified as a fruit, grain, or vegetable, and delivers two powerful antioxidants: zeaxanthin and lutein. Both compounds can lower your loved one’s risk of macular degeneration, meaning they can help keep vision at its best. 
Iced tea. Not only is iced tea refreshing on a hot, humid day, but it could also lower your loved one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. It can even promote healthier gums and teeth, as well as stronger bones. Tea is rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids, which provide these protective properties. No matter the type of tea your loved one chooses, a freshly brewed cup is most potent.
You can help support your elderly family and friends by providing senior care right at the kitchen table. This summer, check out your local produce section or farmers’ market to find these incredible foods and create delicious meals that are not only tasty, but can also help keep your loved one as healthy as they can be.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Planning for Your Parents’ Elder Care Costs

When it comes to planning for elder care, Durham families should start considering arrangements early on. Preparing for the costs of your parents’ care services needs advance attention. But with sufficient planning, families can budget wisely and successfully provide care for their aging parents and their needs.
First, consider the many different ways you could deliver care to your parents. Many older adults are aging in place. They are upgrading their homes and designing them to make life easier and more suited to their changing mobility. Other parents are moving in with children or relatives where family can provide senior care themselves or through a trusted home care service. The third common option is to help your aging parent or parents move into an assisted living facility. 
Consider what works best for your parents. They may need more supervision or they are able to thrive with maximum independence. However, you may need to still fund some or all of the costs of care. Consider each of these ideas and if they are relevant, helpful, or feasible for you and your parents’ individual situations.
Plan in advance. If necessary, consider creating a legal document to designate yourself or another family member as having “power of attorney.” This will allow a person to authorize decisions if a parent experiences memory loss or severe illness.
Get expert advice on improving your savings. Your employer may offer financial planning assistance. If not, you may also be able to contact an independent financial planner or credit union. Getting expert investment advice can help you start preparing in advance, allowing you to better support your parents later.
Learn more about insurance. Insurance can come in handy when financing senior living or care. Reach out to your employer or conduct your own research to learn more about insurance plans that may be able to help offset the cost. 
Think before quitting a job to support a parent. Having more time to help out a parent may not be feasible, considering lost income. It could also hinder your own retirement savings. If you did choose to leave your job, how easily could you find new employment in the future? Consider if your job skills would still be enticing for employers if you had a gap in employment.
Learn if you would lose helpful benefits if you quit. Your health insurance may no longer be provided if you left your job. You may also lose life insurance, long-term care policies, or employee disability. Rather than leaving your job, explore your employer’s family leave or flextime policies. They may allow you to still spend time with your parents while also retaining your employment status.
Develop a caregiving budget. Prior to making a big life change that could come with financial setbacks, develop a comprehensive budget. Consider what you will need to spend on caregiving to help keep your parents safe and healthy. Write out a list of your parents’ own resources, and see how they might be used to help support caregiving.
Explore low-cost or free public benefits. You may be able to receive assistance in paying for or getting help with caregiving. The National Council on Aging offers a benefits checklist, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging offers lots of helpful information on caregiving, in addition to a location service that helps you find your nearest office.
Do your own research. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to take charge over your own financial future. As early as possible, start conducting your own research, reaching out to resources, and learning as much as you can. The more options you know about, the better you will be able to make sound decisions that can help you and your parents as they age.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips for Incontinence Care while Traveling

Including your older family member or friend on your summer vacation is a fantastic way to spend time together and bond with one another. But if they face incontinence issues, travel away from Durham might require a bit more preparation to make sure everyone involved can vacation safely and comfortably. Millions of Americans who experience incontinence find it difficult to travel on trains, in cars, or on planes. But with the help of their family and friends, and a little planning ahead, they can make the most of their trip and enjoy it to its fullest. Here are some ways you can help provide personal elder care to your loved one and make sure they have a great vacation. 
While on trains or planes, make sure your loved one is in an aisle seat and has easy access to bathrooms. An aisle seat will make it simpler to get to the restroom when necessary.
Because planes or trains have minimal waste disposal areas, an older relative or friend might find it difficult to dispose of any incontinence products they use. Consider suggesting a product designed for superior protection, like specially designed underwear. These can hold greater amounts of leakage and can better control odor when on long trips.
Car rides are often a more convenient way to travel for those facing incontinence. Rest areas are strategically placed along interstates and highways. When traveling in a car with your older loved one, bring along your GPS system or smartphone. This will allow you to more easily locate gas stations, restaurants, and other areas where your loved one can use a bathroom.
Food and Drink
Providing proper care for elderly loved ones involves keeping communication open. Before the trip, work with your relative or friend to learn which foods or drinks worsen their symptoms. Certain items could stimulate incontinence and exacerbate the problem. Make it easy for your loved one to reduce their consumption of caffeine, salty foods, or alcohol. Don’t stop for refreshments at a place that only serves problematic foods. 
Travel Kit
Prior to heading out on the road, put together a travel kit for your older family member or friend. The kit should include:
-Plastic bags with seals or twist ties to make disposal of soiled items easy and hygienic.
-Antibacterial cleansing liquids and hand wipes.
-Incontinence products such as liners or pads for lighter urinary leakage. Pack incontinence pants for moderate or light leakage, if also used with liners or pads. Also consider packing protective underwear for heavier leakage. In addition to these, also make sure your kit includes:
-Extra pants, outerwear, and undergarments.
-Travel soap and paper towels.
Pack these items in a small backpack or bag that is light enough to carry around. 
Advance Planning
While planning out your vacation agenda, try to schedule in bathroom breaks after meals. Also, while visiting tourist attractions, ask guides or check maps to locate the nearest restrooms. Since your loved one’s daily routine will differ on vacation, try to monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure while traveling. These are important for overall good health, and can help you assist your loved one in protecting against incontinence.
Providing care for seniors on vacation just means a little planning ahead. With some preparation and open communication, you and your older loved one can plan for a fantastic trip that everyone can enjoy comfortably, safely, and fully.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Benefits and Challenges to Postponing Retirement

Depending on your older loved one’s personal situation, there are many different benefits and challenges associated with delaying retirement. Here are some points to consider, and why retiring later might be beneficial or a big problem for your elderly friend or relative.
Advantages of Retiring Later
Spending a few more years at work may not seem like the most attractive prospect for your loved one. But, for some, it could greatly improve the quality of their life after they do retire. Postponing retirement will allow their investments to grow even more and will reduce the amount of time spent that they are withdrawing from their investments. 
In addition, each year of full-time work adds an additional year of earnings to his or her security record. That could lead to improved benefits when they do leave their job. Furthermore, those who do so can receive delayed retirement credits. These increase with every year your loved one works after their retirement age. 
Beyond financial advantages, there are some well-being benefits associated with continued employment. If your loved one is still vibrant, energetic, and full of life, maybe they will need something to work for and to hold their interest. Maintaining employment and postponing retirement could help stave off boredom that many able-bodied retirees experience after ending their employment too early. 
These employees can continue to be stimulated each day and engage in social interaction. Retirement makes it easy to become more withdrawn, as people could simply stay at home rather than interact with others. But by continuing to work, your loved one will be immersed in social situations, keeping them fresh and on their toes. 
Challenges of Retiring Later
Delaying retirement can come with lots of financial and social benefits. Unfortunately, for some people, these benefits don’t outweigh the chance to spend more time how they want. The freedom that comes with retirement is unique and special, but it does mean withdrawing from investments and savings. 
Furthermore, working past the age of 65 is not always easy. Your loved one may not be passionate about his or her job. He or she may also be in a physically demanding job. Their body may not be able to handle the continued stress, and the idea of staying in this position might be frustrating. In addition, for some people, working past this age might not be safe at all. Senior health is an important fact to consider. 
Even more, older people may find it difficult to pay bills and maintain good credit if they choose to retire at the traditional age. They might have to continue working because they cannot afford to retire. There is a nationwide problem with seniors surviving in poverty—and sadly, that’s something we face right here in Durham. There is sometimes an overwhelming financial demand to continue working past the traditional age of retirement, which is not always good for the elderly. 
Choosing whether or not to retire is a highly personal decision. Support your older family member or loved one in their decision making process, and help advise them wherever you can. Consider their physical and mental capabilities, as well as their financial stability. Each of these will work together to determine the right choice for your friend or relative. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Activities for Elderly Dads on Father’s Day

Spending time together is one of the best gifts you can give your older dad on Father’s Day. But if you both are up to it, you can do so much more than have a serene visit around the kitchen table. There are lots of ways to get out and do fun, safe, enjoyable activities together. Depending on your dad’s personal needs or mobility level, consider these fun ways to spend time in each other’s company on his special day. 
Go to a game. Summer is in full swing, and that means baseball games are scheduled all season long. Consider taking him to a game to watch the fun, catch up, and cheer for your favorite team. However, take into account the walk to the stadium from the parking lot and back. Also think about how far up seats are in the stadium. By considering senior care and the level of physical activity involved, you can better determine the best tickets to purchase. 
Plan a picnic. This activity will get your dad up and moving, which not only helps boost his spirits, but it is also great for senior health. If you visit a Durham park that has a grill, you two can cook the meal together and get him involved. When choosing your spot, again, consider the walk to and from the car. Also take into consideration how far away or close by the nearest bathroom is.
Stroll through the old neighborhood. Take your dad on a trip down memory lane. If you used to spend time together in a neighborhood nearby, go for a leisurely walk and take in the scenery. Look at what has changed and point out what has stayed the same through the years. Reminisce together and stimulate the mind and body while walking around the area. 
Play a team sport. Your dad might still be able to play many games that get him moving in a safe way. A slow pitch softball game, a free-throw contest on a basketball court, or a game of horseshoes can all be fun, competitive, and safe games for you two to play together. Try to find something that will get your dad moving without straining his body too much. Also, take lots of water breaks. No matter how much time you spend playing or just resting between rounds, you will get to spend some fantastic quality time together.
Play a board game. Grab a card game, puzzle, or board game and head somewhere nice. Maybe sitting out on the porch or picking a spot in the park is the ideal spot for you two to spend time together on Father’s Day. This activity will stimulate the mind and urge you both to be strategic, engaged, and involved.
Volunteer. Volunteering together is a great way for you to both join in on an activity and work for the greater good. Take this chance to help out at a soup kitchen, youth outreach program, or a community garden. Choose activities that your father will enjoy as much as you, and keep his strengths in mind. If he’s a great communicator, maybe he will want to spend time joking around with and inspiring kids. If he has a green thumb, helping out at a local garden will put his skills to use. Plus, bonding over something as wonderful as volunteering is a creative, special way for you two to make memories together on his special day. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Assisting Elderly with Personal Hygiene Issues

Helping promote your elderly loved one’s personal hygiene will not only support their health, but it can also enhance his or her emotional well-being. Good hygiene can affect a person’s self-esteem, and being less able to groom one’s self can make anyone feel frustrated. But helping your loved one manage their hygiene can help them stay healthier and even feel better about themselves. 
How You Can Help
  1. Before helping your family member or friend with their personal care, always wash your own hands. This is one of the most effective ways to protect both yourself and your loved one from infection or illness.
  2. When providing in-home care, let your friend or relative know what they can expect. This is meant to help them relax. Letting someone else clean your body may not be easy to adjust to. Always approach this type of care with seriousness and make sure your loved one maintains their dignity and self-respect. 
  3. Always be considerate when conducting elder care and assisting with personal hygiene. Encourage your loved one to do as much for him or herself as they can. You are there to be of assistance but to also promote their independence. Allowing your loved one to do what they can on their own will also give them more motor skill practice, and prevent them from becoming overly reliant on you. 
  4. Test the water before helping your family member or friend with bathing. In some cases, it is better to only wash one part of the body at a time. This is particularly helpful if your relative or friend is modest. 
  5. While assisting with hygiene, look for any changes in your loved one’s skin. If there are any bruises, lumps, or physical changes, report them to the doctor. These could be early warning signs of infection or other medical conditions.
  6. Shampoo hair carefully. If necessary, purchase an inflatable shampoo basin or hair-washing tray to help make the process easier. These are especially useful if your loved one has limited mobility and must stay in bed. It can also help ease the process if he or she is in a wheelchair.
  7. When helping your relative or friend brush their teeth, use a soft bristled brush. If he or she has dentures, carefully help remove them. Then, clean the dentures as directed. While doing so, always encourage at least some independence in your loved one, even if he or she is only able to move slowly while completing these tasks. 
  8. Cut toenails and fingernails regularly. If nails become overgrown, they can cause irritation or feel uncomfortable. Even more, they could become infected and even lead to certain types of ulcers. Cut toenails in a straight line across the top of the toe, and gently file down any sharp edges. 
When providing home care, Durham families should put their loved one’s dignity above all else. It may be difficult to adjust to having someone else assist in hygiene and personal care. But by always showing absolute respect for your older loved one, you can help promote a healthier lifestyle and even improve their self-esteem and sense of well-being. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Checklist for Keeping Your Senior’s Home Safe

With the popularity of in-home senior care, it is important to make sure that you and your older loved one know about potential dangers around the home. Together, you two can take steps to prepare for safety and ensure that your loved one’s house is a senior-friendly environment they can feel comfortable in. 
Every year, one in three older adults will fall. These events can lead to life-changing injuries, such as head trauma. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury in the elderly. But by planning ahead, you can reduce the risks and help to keep your loved one safe. Conduct a home safety check around your friend or family member’s house to spot major risks and learn what you can do to remove them.
Bathroom Safety
-Keep a nightlight on in the bathroom after dark.
-Use bath aids, such as support bars, in the bath, shower, and by the toilet. 
-Install non-slip stickers in the bath or shower. 
-Keep the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid scalding.
-Clearly mark hot and cold faucets.
-Install door locks that can be opened from the inside and outside of the room.
-Bathe when other people are in the home. 
Kitchen Safety
-Remove any clutter or obstructions from the floor or walkways.
-Keep work areas well lit.
-Clearly mark “off” and “on” positions on appliances with brightly colored stickers.
-Store knives in a sturdy rack.
-Keep heavy objects stored at waist height.
-Always separate hazardous items from food.
-Check expiration dates on foods regularly.
Medication Safety
-Regularly review medications with your loved one and his or her doctor.
-Clearly label all prescriptions.
-Throw away any old, unnecessary, or expired medications.
Living Room Safety
-Make sure that all furniture is secure and will not easily slip.
-Opt for furniture that is easy to get in and out of.
-Choose furniture with full arms to provide support while standing up or sitting down.
-Clear all walkways of obstructions or cords. 
Bedroom Safety
-Keep a flashlight within reach of the bed and check batteries regularly.
-Use a nightlight to illuminate the bedroom after dark.
-Install low-pile, wall-to-wall carpeting or opt for a smooth surfaced floor covering.
-Keep a phone on the nightstand or within reach while in bed.
Outdoor Safety
-Check walkways and stairs to make sure they are not uneven and could not cause tripping.
-Securely fasten all handrails.
-Install proper lighting near steps, doorways, walkways, and porches.
-Trim shrubs, hedges, and trees to make sure they do not block the view of the street while pulling out of the driveway. 
-Ensure that the garage is properly ventilated and that the doors are easy to operate, even if snow is weighing them down. 
General Safety
-Develop a buddy system or consider investing in a medical alert system.
-Make sure there is a smoke detector and fire extinguisher on all floors of the house.
-Remove all cords from trafficked areas, such as hallways.
-Use non-skid wax on floors.
-Ensure that proper lighting is installed in all rooms, including at the top and bottom of all stairways.
-Remove any slippery surfaces from stairs.
By following this checklist and looking for any other hazards around the home, you can help keep your older loved one safe in their house. When it comes to elder care, Durham families can use these tips to conduct a safety check and protect the family and friends they love. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Helping Your Older Loved One Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery

When an elderly loved one undergoes a knee replacement surgery, you might not be sure of how to help them and make their recovery easier. Luckily, there are many things you can do to assist in their healing and make them feel as comfortable as possible. 
The first few days after their surgery will likely be difficult. Your loved one will probably be worn out and even in pain. This, as well as their limited mobility, could make it easy for them to feel frustrated or nervous, as they are unable to get around as well as usual. While they may be upset about losing independence during recovery, this is exactly the time your help is most important. A post-operative senior may need your assistance in getting around, grooming, or cleaning. It is important to be patient and to help your loved one in their hour of need. 
Assist with Medications and Healing
If you are helping with home care, make sure that your loved one takes all of their prescribed medications as directed. If possible, be in attendance when a nurse or doctor explains what mediations are required after the operation. If there are multiple medications, especially if they need to be taken at different times, consider making a calendar to keep everything organized.
After a surgery, senior health also depends on keeping the operation site clean, too. You might need to monitor the wound and take note if there is any inflammation or swelling. If any occurs, reach out to the patient’s medical care provider right away. You might also need to change wound dressings and put together a kit of supplies, such as bandages. 
Help Out Around the House
After a knee replacement surgery, your older family member or friend won’t be able to take care of their home as well as they usually can. If possible, lend a hand and help out with grocery shopping, cooking meals, washing and putting away laundry, and other household chores as needed. 
While providing senior care in the post-recovery stages, it is also important that you make sure your loved one is taking medications correctly, eating the proper foods, and getting enough rest. These components all work together to help support the healing process and ease the burden on your older family member or friend. 
Attend Medical Appointments
If you are taking a lead role in caring for an elderly patient after a knee replacement, you should try to stay in contact with medical providers, too. You can help your loved one by monitoring appointments with both the doctor and the physical therapist. If a knee replacement patient misses any of their appointments, they may experience a setback, or worse, a complication, in their recovery. In addition, it may also help if you manage transportation to and from these appointments. Driving may be difficult or entirely impossible after surgery. 
Perhaps most importantly, a big role you can assume in helping your older loved one recover is providing them with motivation and support. It can be easy to feel down after a surgery that reduces a person’s independence, even if only temporarily. Parents or older loved ones might need some extra inspiration to continue their rehabilitation, exercises, or other routines to facilitate their healing. You can take this opportunity to act as their “cheerleader” and offer them the support and inspiration they need to heal properly and feel as great as they deserve.