AlastarHomeCare.com

Posts Tagged ‘seniors’

5 Winter Hazards and How Seniors Can Avoid Them

Everyone is affected by the bitter cold weather that the winter season brings each year. But, for seniors in particular, this time presents many winter challenges and hazards.

Fortunately, with knowledge and planning, seniors can avoid them.

1. Cold, Ice and Snow

The most obvious perils of winter are from the weather itself:

  1. Driving: Ice and snow can present major dangers on the road. Seniors should avoid driving when road conditions are at their worst, and those who do drive should be prepared for the conditions. Drive slowly. Make sure snow-tires are installed when appropriate, and keep blankets and food in the car should the vehicle be stranded or disabled.
  2. Falls: Slips on ice are a major risk for seniors in winter, so it’s important to wear shoes with appropriate traction.
  3. Frostbite and Hypothermia: Cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. According to Centers for Disease Control, more than half of hypothermia deaths are among seniors. Older adults who do venture outside in cold weather should make sure to dress warmly. Among some vulnerable seniors, hypothermia can even occur indoors if the air temperature in the home isn’t warm enough, so seniors should keep their thermostats above 65 degrees, and seek assistance if they lose heating in an emergency.

2. Decreased Daylight, Dementia and Sundowning

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia sometimes experience Sundowners Syndrome, which manifests itself as increased agitation, anger, confusion and memory loss during the evening hours. Sundowning is often exacerbated during the low light conditions of winter, because the season’s low light can disrupt our body’s internal day/night clock (known as circadian rhythms).

Quoted in an article about daylight saving time and sundowning, Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born says, “Seasonality can definitely impact symptoms, which is why it’s so important to maintain a regular schedule and do things to lessen the impact of loss of light for these individuals.” Our in-depth article on sundowners syndrome lists a number of steps that family caregivers can use to prevent or minimize sundowning, such as establishing a routing, letting light into the home, and promoting a relaxing environment in the evening (for example, by reducing noise).

3. Flu Season

With winter comes the flu, which seniors are especially susceptible to developing because of weakened immune systems. The flu causes a significant number of fatalities among seniors each year, and it can also lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia.

For our article about senior flu prevention, we got in touch with Dr. W. Paul McKinney, associate dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Louisville. McKinney told us, “They [seniors] should make every reasonable effort to get vaccinated early in flu season,” adding that even seniors who feel robust enough to fend off the flu should be vaccinated: “There is no reason a healthy senior should defer a vaccine,” McKinney says.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “the Wintertime Blues”

Many people experience a decrease in energy and mood during the winter, which is caused by decreased daytime light in winter. This phenomenon is known as “seasonal affective disorder” or “SAD.” Those who live in northern states (where daytime is shorter) are at highest risk. Open blinds and curtains during winter to let natural lighting in. Light therapy, using full-spectrum lights available at many box stores, can also be used to prevent or alleviate the wintertime blues. Seniors experiencing depression should talk to their doctors.

5. Social Isolation

The very hazards that we outlined above can lead to seniors becoming socially isolated. If your older loved one has been spending a lot of time alone at home due to inclement weather, try to spend extra time there. You can also arrange transportation to the local senior center, your loved one’s place of worship, and to other places where opportunities to socialize are available.

 

Posted On 10 Jan 2017 in a Place for Mom

Accommodating Elderly Loved Ones on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and is often enjoyed in the company of family members. If you plan on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, it is important to take into consideration the special needs of your elderly loved ones. With assistance from Alastar Family & Senior In-home Care, we offer some helpful tips to ensure your Thanksgiving gathering is enjoyable for everyone.

 

Cosy Thanksgiving dinner with the family

 

1. Develop a Schedule that Works for All – It is important to schedule your Thanksgiving gathering well in advance. Spontaneity is often more challenging for the elderly than for younger family members. A wheelchair bound elderly loved one may require special transportation that is unavailable at certain times, or a dinner that ends at 8 p.m. might be a strain on someone who typically prepares for bed around this part of the day. Avoid complications by factoring in the availability and needs of all your guests, particularly the elderly.

2. Be Conscious of Dietary Restrictions – For many, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge and shy away from their regular diet. However, certain dietary restrictions can impact how seniors enjoy Thanksgiving. For example, if someone has trouble chewing, make softer foods. Plan out meals that everyone in attendance can enjoy.

3. Keep Everyone Involved – Whether taking a group walk, watching a movie or playing a board game, it is important to incorporate activities that everyone can partake in. Aging is often accompanied by an increase in the appreciation of quality family time and Thanksgiving activities will not be nearly as enjoyable for your elderly loved ones if they find themselves unable to participate.

4. Take Time to Reminisce – With everyone gathered together, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on positive memories and bond as a family. Additionally, if your elderly loved one suffers from dementia, discuss older memories as short-term memory is usually impacted first.

5. Keep a Positive Attitude – Coordinating a Thanksgiving meal can be stressful, especially when it requires specific attention to the needs of an elderly loved one. Remember to remain positive and appreciate the moment. Life is finite, and succumbing to negative thoughts ultimately squanders the precious moments we have to share with our family.

6. Engage in Conversation – Seniors are a living treasure trove of experiences and knowledge that they are often more than happy to share. Ask questions that elicit conversation. You will be amazed to discover what you can learn from an elderly loved one and they will often be delighted to see you are interested.

7. Surpass Expectations – Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to go the extra mile. While it initially may seem like a nuisance to prepare a special dish or travel long distances, this extra effort will ultimately play a major role in ensuring your elderly loved ones experience a great Thanksgiving.

 

I attended a presentation given by Robin Lombardo of Music & Memory and was blown away by their program. If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia I highly recommend you look in to this.

Posted by Alastar Family & Senior In-home Care, LLC on Friday, November 20, 2015