In the summer heat

In the summer heat, it can become a great challenge to heat our homes without skyrocketing the electricity bill. Additionally, many of us may not have a cooling system. These situations can become dangerous for the elderly who demand a safe room temperature, particularly those living alone on the hot summer days. This article presents nine ways that you can help seniors stay cool to beat the heat, without beating the budget.

1. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Investing in drapes or shades for windows to block the sun’s rays can avoid heating the home through direct sunlight. The first step to a cooler and safer home is through the elimination of sunlight, which causes heat to increase through the sun’s warming rays.

2. Windows: Although this may sound contradictory to the first step, use a white or light colored window dressing to reflect the sunlight to have the windows open to let cool air in, without being subject to the sunrays. Additionally, leave cabinets open, as they tend to hold in heat.

3. Turn you fan into an air conditioner: Placing a frozen bowl of ice or milk in front of a fan can make the fan act as an air condition. The ice emits cooling air, which is distributed through the home with the fan.

4. Electronics are hot: Keep in mind that electronics create heat. This heat may be very minor, but if you have many electronics in your home on at the same time it can slightly increase the temperature.

5. Avoid Heat: If you use the oven frequently in the home, consider switching to an alternative such as the microwave. The oven can get over 500 degrees and releases its heat into the surrounding area, which can heat the home.

6. Humidity: A high humidity can increase the feeling of a temperature in a room. Obtaining a dehumidifier may assist, particularly if you live in a humid climate.

7. Landscaping: For a more long term solution, planting trees around the home can give shade, which will cool the home by preventing sun rays from going through your windows or hitting your home.

8. Attic insulation: One of the best ways is to insulate the attic, especially when an attic-ventilating fan is used. This can reduce the temperature from the outdoors and cause hot air to be removed from the home.

9. Light Bulbs: Light bulbs give off small amounts of heat, but having them on can increase the temperature of a room, particularly if several are on at a given time.

 

Elder Helpers’ Standard for Volunteers: The Code for Caregivers

Care about your important volunteer position in order to provide the best help possible. The more that you care about helping the elderly, the more emotionally rewarding and meaningful the experience will be. Demonstrating that you are concerned about providing help for the elderly will show them that they are respected and valued.

Compassion in actions through understanding. The elderly sometimes have difficulty communicating or mobility restraints and it is important to not get frustrated. Remember that it is not their fault; it is just part of the aging process. By reading the Caregivers Guide to Compassion, you can understand what the elderly may be experiencing to provide the best experience for you and them.

Trust must be established with every relationship from the beginning. It should grow and strengthen with time. It is the foundation to all great relationships, your building blocks to success. By maintaining integrity with the elder, you can gain their gratitude and the satisfaction of helping others.

Reliability demonstrated in the relationship by arriving at a previously agreed upon time and consistently. The elderly can become accustomed to a daily routine and interrupting it can cause stress and anxiety. Being reliable in this context means keeping your promises, mainly with scheduling. While your visits may not be the most important activity on your agenda for you, it may be for the elder.

Respect of the beliefs held and lifestyle lived by the elder that you care for.  Our organization operates around the world, honoring all backgrounds and we expect volunteers to do the same. This is for the best interest of you and the elder.  Achieving this may mean some personal subjects like religion; political beliefs or finances are better left unmentioned.

Genuine companionship and care should be provided for the elderly. We believe that this is possible by not accepting money for yourself or our organization. You are very smart because as a volunteer, you understand that there are more satisfying rewards when you provide authentic compassion.

Safety should be practiced and not dismissed when volunteering for the elderly. This may include taking preparation before engaging in athletic activities, sustaining a healthy diet or ensuring that the home is free of potential hazards.

Honesty should remain among the most important factors in your relationship. It is the quality that binds the code together, allowing the relationship to flourish and your care to be the best available. There are no exceptions to not being honest or compromises for integrity.

Friendship will develop over time when the ethical code is practiced. You may not need to take special measures, just be yourself and the relationship will prosper. This is a result of your compassionate care and companionship over time.

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

Cranky Old Man

The context below is imaginary, the poem was written originally by Phyllis McCormack and adapted by Dave Griffith.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.Cranky Old ManWhat do you see nurses?…….     What do you see?
What are you thinking…….   when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man,…….    not very wise,
Uncertain of habit…….    with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food…….    and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice…….    ’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice…….    the things that you do.
And forever is losing…….     A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not…….     lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding…….    The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?…….    Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse…….    you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am…….     as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, …….     as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten…….    with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters…….   who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen…….   with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now…….     a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty…….    my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows…….    that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now…….    I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide…….     And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty…….     My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other…….   With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons…….    have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me…….     to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more,…….    Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children…….    My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me…….     My wife is now dead.
I look at the future…….    I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing…….     young of their own.
And I think of the years…….      And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man…….      and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age…….      look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles…….      grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone…….    where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass…….    A young man still dwells,
And now and again…….    my battered heart swells
I remember the joys…….    I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living…….     life over again.
I think of the years, all too few…….      gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact…….     that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people…….     open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer…   see…….   ME!!Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

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.

Parkinson’s Disease & The Elderly : Early Indications

Our brain stores information like a computer and different parts have different functions. When we are young, our parts are constantly being upgraded because our brain increases the numbers of cells it contains, which are like the memory in your computer.

Everyday a person generates brain cells and older brain cells deteriorate, this is the cycle of memory in the brain. When we get older, the brain cells can deteriorate more rapidly and we experience a loss of memory because of this. In some cases, the loss can occur with cells such as dopamine, which are important to our bodily movements.

Because the deterioration of brain cells gets worse with age, Parkinson’s also gets increasingly worse. It is important understanding the signs early:

• Stiff muscles

• Slow movement

• Problems with balancing or walking

• Trembling or shaking in the hands, arms or legs

Be careful when considering if someone you know has Parkinson’s disease, as stiff muscles could be an indication of Arthritis and slow movement or problems balancing could be the result of Osteoporosis. Trembling or shaking is the most distinctive symptom of Parkinson’s from the list above.

We will post additional information in the future about caring for treatment. Seniors in latter stages of Parkinson’s disease may benefit from Parkinson’s disease volunteer caregivers and can search for volunteers their community  by clicking the link above.

Caring for Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease

In an earlier post, (Early Stages of Alzheimer’s: Helping Elderly Parents through Understanding) we presented the signs of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly and how taking immediate action can help the elder and the family in the long-term. We are optimists at Elder Helpers and believe that with adaptation and care from the family, people can still live happy and fulfilling lives when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We will present strategies for you, the caregiver, to help the elder achieve this and enable your non-medical care to be the most rewarding and effective as possible.

We have broken down the care for Alzheimer’s into three categories: prevention, protection and support:

Kick the smoking

It has been shown that smokers or alcohol drinkers have a mental decline faster than people who do not engage in the same activities. Avoiding smoking and drinking can also help prevent other aging diseases.

Eat Healthy & Exercise

High blood pressure has been linked with reduced brain function. Eating healthy and exercising can also help to prevent or alleviate diabetes, another serious aging disease.

Stay Mentally Active

Many believe that by exercising the mind by practicing math or learning a new foreign language can strengthen it by giving the brain cells generated during the day a reason to ‘stick around’.

Protection

With protection, we mean keeping the elderly and caregiver in a safe environment by taking simple steps that anyone can follow to enable the elder to stay safe and independent. Later stages of Alzheimer’s can especially dangerous for both the seniors and the caregiver, during this phase you are advised to seek medical attention.

Familiarize Routines

 Try to keep their routine simple and easy to understand. You can try creating a spreadsheet of activities with dates and times, posting it on the refrigerator to help them remember.

Keep Your Message Simple

Try repeating the key points several times if necessary or using non-verbal communication to convey your message. You may also write down the message and give to the elder, or touch their hand when speaking with them if  you have a close relationship. These strategies may help them to remember the message that you are sending them.

Know the ‘Quirks’

Target the behavior changes or actions that the elder may have and find preventative measures to take and help keep them safe. Some elders may consistently misplace their keys, adopt strange eating habits or other abnormal behavior. When you understand them, you can take measures to reduce the consequences and help them to live a productive life.

Support

Experiencing Alzheimer’s disease is not easy for the elder, the family or their caregiver. It is important for not only the elder to know that they have support, but also those affected by the aging disease  to understand that there are resources available.

Dementia Treatment Guide : A free, downloadable PDF from the University of California Davis with more information on dementia for elders and their caregivers.

Alzheimer’s Support Forum:  : A free forum to connect with other families or Alzheimer’s patients or gain support or first hand knowledge about the experiences of the aging disease.

Elder Helpers: A non-profit program that connects elders with volunteer caregivers in their community.

Volunteering for the Elderly: The Win-Win Relationship

Last week, I met someone in a coffee shop that had worked for fifteen years at a retirement home for the elderly. We had an enjoyable conversation about how several people would come in and request volunteer work or be searching for volunteer services in his area. I could relate to his experience, being affiliated with a non-profit is very rewarding because it enables me to share happiness with others.

Volunteers for the elderly come from all over the planet, each with a different motive or reason behind their desire to care for the elderly. Each is just as important as the next, no matter what sector the volunteer work is in.The man explained to me how one of the most rewarding parts of his job was not just caring for the elderly, but also encouraging others to live more rewarding lives by helping them volunteer for seniors.

Caregiving services for the elderly are in high demand these days, but we believe that the ones supported by volunteers will continue to be the most cherished and rewarding available.When Elder Helpers connects the elderly with our volunteers, the seniors may often will ask if it is necessary to pay them or give them tips. People who have seen both the volunteer side and the elder side of care know that our volunteers are sometimes being helped just as much as the elderly.

They receive an emotionally rewarding experience, that cannot be bought or sold on any market. People in the elder care sector understand that volunteering for the elderly has its rewards and that community service in general is making the world a better place to live and work. By donating your time to help the elderly or volunteering a few hours a week you are contributing to bring our society into a better tomorrow.

It may seem like just one relationship, but it is setting an example for others in your community. Volunteering for the elderly is making progress to change the way that elder care services are operated forever. You are not just helping an elder to live happier and healthier, you are also supporting an organization that is revolutionizing the way elders receive care.

Whether you are doing volunteer work at a retirement community, doing general community service or supporting Elder Helpers you are working with us to make the world a better place. As an elder, your affiliation with our program allows us to find help for seniors in your community. If you are a volunteer, your contribution is the heart of our program and providing essential services for seniors.

What starts as a simple conversation in a coffee shop, develops into ideas that help change the world. With technology, communities and volunteers we can work together to achieve much more than we can alone. Remember that it all begins with an idea, made into a reality by working together. Volunteering for the elderly has helped us to achieve this for volunteers, the elderly and the world.

Popular iPad Apps for Seniors

We presented earlier on a post about caring for the elderly, the top devices for seniors. While many elders do not enjoy using technology, it helps to simplify other elders’ lives or enables them to overcome challenges. If the senior does not want to adopt technology, do not force them to use it. When sharing activities with seniors, you may introduce technology to them, but some people still prefer methods that are more familiar. The IPad is one of the devices presented, that may be enjoyed by some seniors.

The IPad is becoming a popular device with many seniors because of its simplicity and functionality. Some seniors use it as reading device to enlarge the text of their favorite books, others watch television programs with headphones to help with hearing problems. Here are some of the top IPad apps for seniors:

 ABC: The television network ABC has many programs that are available on the IPad application.

Netflix: This is only available for people who have a subscription to the Netflix service, enabling the user to access a limited availability of movies instantly on the IPad.

NPR: Has music, news and videos from National Public Radio (NPR), enabling the senior to read articles and access public radio stations in the United States.

iBooks: Turns the IPad into a E-Reader, enabling seniors to purchase and read books instantly by downloading them from their device. Classic books by authors like Herman Melville, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are usually accessible at no cost.

Google Earth: An interactive world map that enables anyone to zoom in or out to just about anywhere on the planet using satellite imagery. It is like having a powerful  and easy to use telescope in space.

Zinio: Provides articles from top magazines for free. The magazine publishers want to distribute free articles to interest the reader to buy them, but seniors can still enjoy a variety of great articles at no cost.

The Weather Channel: Has information on local weather including daily temperatures, forecasts and even weather radars to detect potential storms.

Epicurious: Enables seniors to search for recipes and their ingredients. It also helps them to make a shopping list and find recipes for foods that they already enjoy. Cooking is a great activity for volunteer caregivers and seniors  to enjoy.

Pandora: Has stations for many genres of music that also introduces seniors to new music artists.

 

Activities for the Elderly in Nursing Homes

What’s the recipe for success when it comes to helping your elderly charge or loved one stay active in their nursing home? Try a dash of creativity, a pinch of health benefits, and a mix of the following 7 (fun!) ideas:

Gentle Yoga: Gentle yoga or chair yoga incorporates relaxation and meditation with gentle flowing movements and stretches. This mindfulness practice is great for seniors in nursing homes and is proven to help boost overall mood, improve blood circulation, alleviate back and joint pain, and even combat cognitive decline.

 

Board Games: Board games, card games, and puzzles are favorites of seniors, including Chess, Checkers, Rummicub, Pictionary, and Backgammon. Mentally challenging games and puzzles not only fight memory loss, but they help residents practice problem-solving and interact with others socially.

 

Community Gardening: Get residents in on the beauty and enjoyment of maintaining the grounds by having flower planting or watering projects where they can take part in the work. Not only is getting outside in the sun beneficial for their health and wellbeing, but actively taking part in an activity (like planting or watering flowers at the entrance of the facility), which also benefits others, is fulfilling and confidence-building.

 

Spa Day: Soothe the senses with a simulated spa day that involves listening to peaceful and meditative music, aromatherapy with fragrant candles, and mini hand, foot or head massages by volunteers or staff. Sensory activities like this are great for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s and can foster peace, relieve stress and boost positive moods.

 

Low-impact Games: Fun physical games that involve moderate activity are great for elderly residents. Target throwing can be done sitting down or standing up – simply place a large circular target on the ground with colored areas that correspond to point levels, and have residents take turns tossing bean bags onto the target to get points.

Another FUN, heart-pumping, game is Paddle Balloons. Quickly construct paper paddles out of large popsicle sticks and paper plates, and have residents use them to hit blown up balloons back and forth to one another.

 

Karaoke Night: Really hit the nostalgic notes with a karaoke night filled with old standards and classic hits residents will love hearing again and again. Music can be particularly positive for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s – songs evoke emotions and memories, and singing with others is engaging and stimulates brain activity.

 

Digital Puzzles: For elderly residents with arthritis or who have some visual impairment, playing cards or handling small board game pieces can be difficult. A digital alternative for the games and puzzles they love might just be the answer instead. Free games like Sudoku and Scrabble can be downloaded to a computer or tablet, giving players the option to enlarge the screen and play with the simple click of a mouse or tap of their finger.

 

Don’t forget the importance of staying active.  Find ways to keep your loved one busy to really reap the rewards.  Keeping busy as we age not only improves our physical health but mental health as well.  You’ll see that providing challenges and activities each day stimulates the mind and leads to happier (healthier) aging.
If you don’t use it…you’ll lose it!

 

Written bye Joe Fleming