Health

Depression & The Elderly

Depression in seniors in not uncommon, but that does not mean that it lacks seriousness or should be taken lightly. By definition, depression is a prolonged state of sadness that is different from grieving and can last a very long time. In this post, we will help you to understand if you or an elder you know has depression. It can sometimes be difficult to determine this, as many aging diseases or other aging traits can be perceived as symptoms of depression. The good news is that you can take steps to help reduce the stressors in the senior’s life or get them professional assistance to help them feel better.

Common symptoms of depression

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Fatigue and decreased energy

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Restlessness/IrritabilityInsomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

Overeating or appetite loss

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

What you can do to help

If the elder that you care for experiences these symptoms, it may alert you that they could have depression. You may instinctively want to help them or change it, but the best things that you can do for is being a faithful friend or seeking professional help. Sometimes people like to talk about their feelings, but in most cases, discussing it only makes it worse and can cause anger towards your attempts to help. If you know the person well enough that they like to openly express their feelings, you can subtly ask them if there is anything that they would like to talk about or that has been bothering them. To not be persistent or aggressive, if they want to talk they will when they are ready.

Depending on the severity, attempting to get an able-bodied homebound senior outdoors and interacting with other people may help. Doing light exercises like water aerobics can also do a great deal of good, provided that the senior is willing and their doctor enables the activity. If the depression is more serous and the senior denies the opportunity to do any activities because he or she no longer finds them enjoyable or ‘worthwhile’, you should contact a medical professional. Their extensive experience in having elderly patients with depression gives them expertise and the elder’s doctor may know private information about their health that could be linked to the depression.

Depression is not an easy thing watch a loved one experience. With a watchful eye and caring heart, it can be spotted early and its chances of getting worse can decrease. Just be careful not to assume too quickly or ask too many personal questions, as some of the symptoms can be the result of an aging disease and not depression. You should never, under any circumstances recommend or give the senior any medication that is not prescribed by their doctor. Medication is very complex and when it is taken in combination with others or not under professional circumstances, the consequences can be very negative physically for the senior and legally for the person that recommends the medication.

Senior Nutrition: Recommended Calorie Intake

It is important for seniors to stay healthy by eating the ‘right’ diet. This can help them to live a longer and healthier life in which they feel better and can help to alleviate or prevent some aging diseases. Eating healthy is very important at any age, but in seniors it could have serious adverse effects on the body due to the aging diseases that it may cause.

So what is the ‘right diet’ for seniors and how do you know what seniors should eat? The senior’s doctor should give the specific answer to this question, however we will present some general tips and diet information to help them stay healthier and happier for longer.

To begin, it is important to know an estimation of how many calories seniors should be consuming based on varying fitness levels. Too many calories can result in weight gain that could increase the chance of falls with osteoporosis and cause or worsen diabetes that can result in life threatening health problems. Here are the recommended calorie intake levels by the National Institute on Aging:

 A woman over 50 who is:                                                          A man over 50 who is:

Not active: 1600 calories a day                                                       Not active: 2000 calories a day

Somewhat active: 1800 calories a day                                          Somewhat active: 2200-2400 calories a day

Very active: 2000 calories a day                                                     Very active: 2400-2800 calories a day

Help Seniors to Prevent Falls

As the elderly age, they become increasingly susceptible to falling and the dangers can be much worse. With aging diseases like osteoporosis decreasing stability and others with symptoms of nausea, fatigue and a decreasing eye sight, we must be alert for potential hazards. A fall or injury that may be considered lightly to a younger adult, can be very harmful to an elder.

So what should you do to keep the elderly safe a protected? The good news is that many falls happen in the senior’s home and could have been prevented if the hazard was removed or precautions were taken. By leaning from previous faults, we can help to create a safe home environment to keep seniors healthy, happy and independent.

To help keep the senior safe, go through each one of these observations in every area of the house and ask yourself the questions. Your response could mean that there are potential hazards in the home that can be resolved, it may only take 5 minutes to be the difference between a safe home and an medical visit.

Once the steps have been taken to create safe home environment, you can also help seniors to prevent falls and stay independent by taking extra steps according to disabilities or aging diseases. Many of these steps can be done both outside the home and inside the home and could have a tremendous benefit on their health and overall wellbeing.

If a senior has osteoporosis, it may help to work on balance exercises in the home. These can be learned at the local senior center and more information can be found in the Elder Helpers’ guide to caring for seniors, the Caregivers Guide to Compassion. They can also use a cane or walking assistant in the home, many are available online or at your local retail stores.

For vision problems, speak with the senior’s eye doctor about solutions that can be taken outside the home. When the elder is at home, you can increase the lighting during the day, leave lights on at night and clear unnecessary objects from the walking paths. The specific assistance depends on the level of severity for a loss of eyesight, if it is much worse, the elder should consider also staying away from driving activities and obtaining a dog trained to help her.

There are many steps that you can take as a caregiver to help seniors to stay healthy by prevention. However, if a fall does occur and they cannot get back up without assistance, they should be able to easily call for help. If a senior owns a cellular phone, make sure that they have it on them at all times in the case of an emergency. It is important they if they need help, they have access to it and if you are not available they can call another person as a backup.

How to care from afar

It is called many things, from remote caregiving to long distance caring or caring from afar, but essentially if it takes you an hour or more to travel from where you live to the older person you want to look after, then you can consider yourself a long-distance caregiver.

Tip 1: Look for the signs

When you live further away, you may have to look more closely for any signs that additional care and support is needed. Our elderly loved ones don’t want to burden us with any worries and they obviously want to hold on to their independence for as long as they can. But how can we really help them if we aren’t there physically everyday to see for ourselves how they are coping alone?

Initially, phone calls at specific times are an easy way to do this without causing offence. Cooking a meal, for example, can be one of the first everyday activities that become physically or emotionally too draining for an elderly relative to do. So calling at lunch time or dinner time and casually asking what they’re cooking for tea can give you an insight into how they’re looking after themselves from a nutritional point of view.

Tip 2: Provide emotional support

There can be feelings of guilt and sadness for family and caregivers who live far from an older person. And this is fuelled further when there are other family members who live closer and are therefore shouldering more of the caregiving.

A good workaround for this is to yourself more as an emotional support and online support service. Long distance help can still do many of the admin tasks required in looking after someone, because so many organisations and government services are now available online, if not by telephone. You can help with researching local services, ordering medicines or food shopping or managing banking and benefits.

You can also provide respite to those living closer, even if you can’t be there in person. Simply providing a listening ear to vent any difficulties or negative feelings they’re experiencing can really help them to keep going, without of course getting defensive or feeling worse yourself. Offering them appreciation and reassurance is as important as physical assistance, although you could also provide that respite care if you can travel.

Ultimately it all relies on good communication and clear delegation of tasks between the family or team of people who want to work together to care.

Tip 3: Know your strengths and set limits

When it comes to delegating the tasks, it’s a good idea to sit down together, or organise a group chat online or by phone, with the primary aim of just thinking through who is good at what aspects of the caring.

That’s because there is often the propensity to assign a role – such as grocery shopping, for example – to a young family member or external care provider, when they don’t cook or know what the elderly person likes to eat. They simply do the job because they live closest to the supermarket. In reality, this role would be best suited to someone who knows the person well and finds a food shop easy to do. Plus, these kinds of tasks can be easily done from afar, online.

Setting personal limits is also important, as is allowing the discussions on roles to change over time.

Older members of the caregiving group may be “sandwich caregivers”, i.e. they have support roles for elderly parents and younger children of their own. They may also experience physical or mental ailments themselves, and so it’s important to bear in mind the need for personal care as well as wanting to help care for others.

As a long-distance carer you may hope to, even intend, to travel perhaps more often than you eventually end up being able to, for financial reasons or otherwise. Try to foresee what you can in your planning but also know that it’s ok to rethink the support you can give if your circumstances change over time. Often, caring for an older relative is a long journey, and your life and needs will change as much as theirs do.

Tip 4: Make the most of your visits

When you do get precious time together, it is of course important to spend that quality time just enjoying each other’s company, perhaps giving other carers and family members a rest and relishing the opportunity to really help out, person.

However there is more to be gained from such a visit, so don’t waste the opportunity. Discreetly look around the house and watch your older loved one as they go about their day. You’re looking for signs that they are struggling with anything new that you weren’t aware of. This is particularly important as months and years pass by, because their support needs will change with time. Potential hazards can appear in the home, with potential to fall or slip, that can be easily fixed with minor home improvements.

Similarly, a visit is a great time to introduce yourself to the other people in the wider caring team from the neighbours to the doctor and any external care providers. You can learn a lot from conversations with people who interact daily with your loved one and if nothing else, this can reassure you that you aren’t missing anything important while you are far away.

Tip 5: Invest when caregiving needs grow

There will inevitably come a point when it becomes obvious that more care is needed, and hopefully you and the caregiving team will spot these signs before an accident occurs.

One of the first issues is usually mobility-related, and yet there simple home improvements that can make the living situation instantly more manageable, giving you as carers more time and more importantly, buying the elderly person more freedom and time living in their own home.

Ramps and hand rails on drive ways and front doors are easy to install, as are larger modifications such as stairlifts. Modern stairlift designs can cope with even the most unusual stairwells. They are designed for safety, tilting to help people get on and off the seat, and their generators mean even a power cut won’t stop them functioning. It can give real peace of mind to long-distance carers and a newfound mobility to the elderly person who wants to remain in their home.

If you still feel you need more advice with remote caregiving and the challenges it brings, seek out the professional advice that exists from many of the charitable organisations and government groups dedicated to issues of ageing and the elderly.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you seek to give help yourself

For more Info visit Olympic Lifts’ website

http://olympicstairlifts.co.uk/

 

Written by Laura Fulton

Exercises for seniors: Moving into a Better Tomorrow

Many people know that exercising can improve the health of an elder, which may be important to reducing the stress from their changing physical condition or increased dependence. Simple movement can also help home bound seniors to get the necessary exercise that they need, without having to leave the home. As a safety precaution, we always recommend that the elders ask their doctor if any exercise is right for them before they begin, but here are some fundamental ways to help the elderly to stay fit and active.

Stretching: Simple yoga can be done to help with stretching, but as daily activities decrease, yoga could become more important and may be the only physical activity that is reasonable for some elders. For stretching exercises, visit this link.

Strength: As we get older and decrease our activity, our muscles may tend to also decrease in mass and we may become weaker. Muscle mass is important to achieving stability, so that we can prevent falls from occurring and be capable of more exercises or public activities. You can view some strength training exercises in a video, by visiting this link.

Balance: This brings it all together and may be among the most important to helping the elder achieve more mobility and keeping them safer at home. A simple fall can result in serious injury that might have been caused because of reduced balance. Some elderly diseases such as osteoporosis, reduces the elders balance and increases the necessity of balance exercises. For videos on improving the elderly’s balance, visit this link.

Tips For Visiting Elderly Relatives During The Holidays

Elder care is a growing issue in society. Caregiving at a distance can be difficult, stressful and time-consuming. And often the only time caregivers see the loved one is on a family visit, more than not tied around a holiday. It is very noticeable when something is awry when visits are infrequent. This holiday season be aware of your older loved one’s physical and mental capacity and take notice of their environment. Whether visiting someone in senior care centers or at home, here are some tips to help.

Where do you start?

First use your senses. Observe with your eyes, ears, and with your senses of taste, touch and smell. Look at the house/apartment. Is it being kept up? Is the environment unsafe, unsanitary? Track the chores you do while there as they could point to services your loved one needs after you leave. Is there any thing obviously missing or large-scale new purchases? This could indicate some type of exploitation/abuse by others.

How can you tell if a loved one has been abused?

As a healthcare conference speaker, I often need to remind my audience members of their responsibility in the community. And watching out for abuse of elders is one such responsibility.

There are different types of abuse, some initiated by others and those of self-neglect. Again use your senses. Observe physical or sexual abuse — bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.

Is there a new best friend around? Does a home care worker refuse to allow you to see your loved one alone?

Emotional abuse — is a loved one being emotionally upset or agitated; being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or self report being verbally or emotionally mistreated? These are signs that something is up.

Is mom or dad just slowing down or is there more going on?

It could be natural old age setting in or there could be signs of bigger health issues going on. Has there been excessive weight gain, weight loss, decline in general hygiene? How is their strength and balance? Does it prevent them from doing things? Will they accept help, say when you go to a mall and offer to get a wheelchair? Check for dehydration or undernourishment. Are your parents eating nutritious meals regularly? Are they able to prepare meals?

Are they wearing inappropriate clothes? Is their clothing inadequate? Check that they have all of their medical aids — eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures.

Look for signs of declining memory. Are loved ones placing items in wrong places, missing appointments? Are they forgetful?

Check expiration dates on medications. Are loved ones forgetting to take medications? Can they afford their medications? Has the number of prescriptions increased significantly?

Signs of Financial Stress

Unopened mail could indicate memory problems, vision problems, or hint at financial problems. Sweepstakes circulars could indicate they or someone is responding to offers. Are there overdue bills? Are bill collectors calling or showing up at the house?

Check for any changes in the loved ones bank account. Check for any additional names on a bank signature card. Check their bank statements. Is there unauthorized withdrawal of funds?

What Do I Do If They Need Care?

First, there is a delicate art on how to communicate with an elder loved one. You want to enjoy the time you have with them and ease into the conversation. Gather information on community services that can meet their needs. Take notes of services, fees, waiting lists.

Schedule a visit with your elder’s physician during the time you are there. Identify a social support system for your loved one. This includes people they can call on such as friends, neighbors, clergy, and others in regular contact. Meet these people while you are there.

Even if loved ones are fine, advance planning can help you to avoid a crisis in the future. Take a medication inventory. Document the names of physicians. Make sure they have a living will and durable power of attorney. Know where to find their financial information.

Enjoy your time with an elderly parent, relative or friend this season but be watchful of their needs. They will not let on or ask for help. So be a good observer, listener, and friend.

Written by Anthony Cirillo.

Taken from: The Huffington Post

Information on Medicare (Part 1): Finding Medical Help for Seniors

There are many ways that information about Medicare coverage can be obtained online, several are fraudulent or unreliable. We only use information from government websites and simplify it to help you find reliable resources for seniors. In this post, we will only be using information from the government website and putting it in an easy to understand and simplified manner for you.

First, it is important to understand if the elder in need of assistance is eligible for Medicare coverage by the United States government, click this link to use their simple tool that asks questions to check for eligibility of elder care coverage. If the senior is eligible, there are four types of Medicare benefits that help you to afford care for the elder.

Part A (Hospital Insurance): This coverage helps to alleviate expenses associates with hospitals. This can include hospices, inpatient care and skilled nursing facilities in assisted living facilities.

Part B (Medical Insurance): Coverage of this type would cover more general and everyday medial expenses that cover care for seniors like outpatient doctors visits, medical equipment and home health services.

Part C (Medicare Advantage): Medicare coverage of this type includes hospital insurance; medical insurance and many also include prescriptions drug insurance. Some Medicare advantage programs also include additional coverage for eye exams, dental/hearing checkups and general wellness.

Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage): All seniors in need of help that are covered by Medicare are eligible for prescription drug coverage that helps to cover the cost of certain prescription drugs. The specific coverage depends on the type of medication.