How a Hug Can Improve Senior Health

improve senior health

Something as simple as a hug can actually improve senior health!

Everyone remembers the stress of social distancing at the height of the pandemic. One of the most fundamental components of being a human – physical touch – was put aside in order to protect us all from harm.

We learned quickly though, how much harm a lack of physical contact can cause. It is particularly important for older adults who have experienced loneliness or isolation to feel connected to those they love, and there’s an effective but highly beneficial solution: hugs.

Research has revealed the following incredible effects to help improve senior health that can be obtained by giving and receiving hugs:

  • Fewer negative emotions, such as anger and loneliness
  • A strengthened immune system
  • Lower blood pressure and a regulated heart rate
  • Regulation of the production of white blood cells
  • Improved circulation in the body
  • Decreased pain
  • Reduced stress
  • A boost in positive emotions, like contentment, security, and happiness
  • Improved sleep and glucose metabolism

One senior care facility in New York tested the effect of hugs on older adults with a program called “Embraceable You.” 200 participants were involved in this voluntary program, and they rated their current degree of satisfaction with their wellbeing and overall health. In addition, they noted the amount of casual touch experienced in their lives. Trained “hug ambassadors” were brought in to administer appropriate forms of touch, while residents were given buttons to wear if they were interested in participating in the hug experiment.

Throughout the study, residents were given a token for each hug they received. In a short time, residents were seeking out huggers, and by the end of the first week, they had accumulated nearly 1,400 hugs.

At the conclusion of the study, the participants were surveyed and sectioned off into two categories: low contact (one or two instances of physical contact each day) and high contact (more than three instances a day). The high contact participants overwhelmingly noted higher amounts of satisfaction in the following areas:

  • Interest in doing things (88%)
  • Not feeling depressed or hopeless (97%)
  • Sleeping well (71%)
  • Feeling energetic (66%)
  • Able to concentrate well (93%)

It just goes to show what an unbelievable difference such a seemingly insignificant display of affection can make to improve senior health.

Contact Responsive Home Care, the top home care company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas, online or at (954) 486-6440 to learn more ways to improve senior health, and just how our in-home care can make a difference in the life of someone you love.

Bridging the Gap in Dementia Care: Using Food to Engage and Connect

dementia care

Learn how food can help you engage and connect as you provide dementia care.

Food is a universal language, and it connects us all! Think about how many cherished memories have been made through the years that incorporated food at the center of them all: birthday parties, wedding celebrations, holiday meals. Even average days involve routines that become ingrained in us around food, from that first aromatic cup of coffee in the morning to a shared bowl of buttery popcorn with family while watching a movie.

Of course, food isn’t just needed for our physical health, but it is also often a highly effective way to connect with someone with dementia while delivering dementia care. Here are several activities you can try to help spark memories while appealing to all the senses through food.

  • Preparing. Choose a simple recipe to prepare, like fruit salad or sandwiches. Assemble the ingredients and incorporate them into your conversation. While washing and cutting up fruit, for instance, ask the senior what kinds of fruits they enjoyed as a kid.
  • Decorating. Frost cupcakes while reminiscing about the treats Mom would prepare for school birthday parties. Roll out cookie dough and use cookie cutters and sprinkles to make them specific to an upcoming holiday while you discuss holidays past.
  • Storytelling. Take out a vintage cookbook and look through the recipes together to see if any spark memories. The senior may remember food rationing during wartime, or the time they tried a new recipe at the beginning of their marriage that was a total disaster. If a specific recipe is of interest, make it together!

Consider how you can involve the senses into mealtimes as you deliver dementia care. There is so much more to food than taste! Point out the sizzling sound of eggs frying, delicious scent of the chicken you are roasting for dinner, the cool smoothness of bread dough being kneaded. Attempt to make each plate served appetizing to the eyes as well as the palate. And whenever possible, cultivate conversations that link the person to memories from the past.

Quite often, a person with dementia will encounter a diminished appetite and lose interest in food. Activities such as these can be a terrific way to restore the joy we experience together through shared meals and treats.

Our dementia care experts have lots more tips to make life the best it can be for someone with dementia. Get in touch with Responsive Home Care any time online or at (954) 486-6440 to request dementia care resources or to find out more about our home health care services in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas.

Health Concerns That Can Cause Negative Mood Changes in a Senior

Everyone goes through good days and bad days, and everyone is entitled to negative thinking or irritability every now and then. If you are caring for an older adult who appears to have fallen into a routine of continual negativity and complaining, there could be a reason for it. It’s worthwhile to explore whether or not a health issue may be the culprit for negative mood changes in a senior.

The following are several possibilities for chronic negative mood changes in a senior and how you can help.

  1. Urinary tract infections. A UTI’s classic signs and symptoms of pain, burning, and urgency to urinate may include additional side effects for seniors, including angry outbursts, irritability, confusion, as well as other alterations in behavior or mood. Speak with the physician to rule out a urinary tract infection if you observe these types of uncharacteristic behaviors.
  2. Pain. A recent research study discovered that participants who are experiencing chronic pain reported an increase in negative moods, including fatigue, anger, tension, depression, anxiety, and more. It’s worthwhile to share any of these mood changes with the physician, as these kinds of mood changes actually impact the effectiveness of pain management treatments.
  3. Dementia. Mood and personality changes are typical in dementia. It is crucial to understand that these changes are a symptom of the physiological changes in the brain, and are not a representation of the person’s own choices and decisions. There are medicinal and natural treatment choices that can help the person feel calmer and less agitated that you may desire to explore.
  4. Medication side effects. A number of medications – including those designed to help with mood, such as antidepressants – may cause troublesome mood swings. Medications for blood pressure, inflammation, and seizures may cause personality and behavioral changes in some people. Again, talk with the physician and go through the senior’s prescriptions to determine if the problem stems from one medication, or possibly the interaction of multiple meds together.

Negative mood changes in a senior can arise from loneliness or boredom, too. No matter the reason, constant negativity can be taxing for a caregiver’s personal sense of wellbeing. It is important to be able to step away from your caregiving role on a regular basis, and to make this time away a top priority. The senior will also benefit from the chance to spend time with different friends, family members, or a professional caregiver. These breaks are a healthy part of your caregiver/care receiver relationship – for both of you.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are wonderful companions to help brighten the mood of the older adults we serve. All of our care staff are fully trained, background checked, and experienced in a wide range of in-home care services for seniors. If you’re looking for an award-winning home care company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL or the nearby areas, contact us online or at (954) 486-6440 to learn how we can help someone you love, while allowing you the time you need to rest and rejuvenate.

Simple, Effective Strategies You Can Try Today to Improve Memory

Help seniors improve memory with these simple strategies.

Do you recall learning the order of colors of the rainbow as a child? A lot of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to master this feat – one of many mnemonics we learn that, interestingly, often stay with us for a lifetime.

As we age, it’s expected to experience some level of memory impairment; and naturally, it’s even more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Scientists are constantly aiming to locate effective ways to improve memory and cognitive functioning, and have observed some interesting findings on “old school” strategies such as mnemonics. Here’s what they have recently discovered:

Mnemonics

Mnemonics produces a link to a memory through a phrase, abbreviation, song, etc. This training yielded great results in increasing activity in areas of the brain that are affected by dementia, leading to improved retention of information.

There are a multitude of mnemonic strategies that are very effective in improving memory. For example, try mnemonic keywords. Mnemonic keywords are fun and creative ways to memorize words in another language. It involves selecting a word that’s much like the new word you want to learn, and visualizing an image that brings the two words together. For instance, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the term “hat,” you might picture Charlie Chaplin along with his famous black hat. The “Chap” element of his name can trigger the initial letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.

Spaced Retrieval Training

This strategy involves gradually increasing the amount of time between memory tests, and was shown to also be highly effective for those with dementia. Compared to mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, which led medical researchers to determine that the information had been processed more efficiently.

This training method is very effective in increasing independence and minimizing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired event or activity for the person to keep in mind, such as a lunch date with a buddy on Friday. Start by asking the person a question to establish whether or not the memory is already in place. If not, remind them they are having lunch with John on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the individual the question again. If the memory is in place now, increase the time to 30 seconds, and ask again, continuing to double the time and ask again. If the person does not remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the process every 15 seconds several more times before determining that it is not an effective technique, at least not for this particular event or activity.

Both strategies are simple, drug-free approaches to incorporate into the treatment for someone during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or even for anyone who is looking for approaches to improve memory.

Let Responsive Home Care provide additional resources and support for someone you love with dementia. Our creative approaches to help improve memory make the most of an older adult’s cognitive functioning, independence, and wellbeing. Contact us online or call (954) 486-6440 for more information about our home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas.

 

 

Downsizing for Seniors with Dementia

Learn the benefits of downsizing for seniors with dementia.

You’ve come to the realization that the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A smaller home became available just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a lovely flower garden in the backyard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to struggle with change. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to help ease the transition.

  1. Pace yourself. It’s natural to want to rip the band aid off and make the downsizing process as quick as possible for seniors with dementia. However, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Keep a consistent and calm demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible.
  2. Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being donated or discarded and use them to create a scrapbook for the older loved one. This helps aging loved ones to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move.
  3. Create a system. Donating and discarding seniors’ possessions are necessary parts of the downsizing process. Again, include the individual in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be specific items the older adult can’t stand to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement can’t accommodate them. If there are items the senior rarely uses or sees, however, it might be easiest to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Arrange the senior’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photographs of friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and help with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will lessen the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a brand new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond for seniors with dementia. Reach out to us at (954) 486-6440 or online for more information about our caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas.

Potassium May Lower Stroke Risk for Women

Learn how potassium may be able to lower stroke risk for women.

The banana you eat in the car on the way to work could be helping to reduce your risk of suffering a stroke! In a recent study of nearly 100,000 women ranging in age from 50 – 79, it was discovered that consuming a higher level of potassium resulted in a lower stroke risk for women by as much as 12%, and by 16% for the most common type – ischemic stroke. Not only that, but those with a higher potassium intake were 10% less likely to die from any cause.

It’s worth noting that blood pressure also played a role here. Those without high blood pressure showed even more promising results, a full 21% less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke and 27% reduced risk of stroke altogether. This led researchers to suggest that those at risk of developing high blood pressure may benefit from increasing their intake of potassium to prevent future complications.

Great sources of potassium to help lower stroke risk for women include:

  • White beans
  • Bananas
  • Leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy foods
  • Meat

Remember, it’s important to consult your physician before making any dietary changes, including adding more potassium to your diet, as consuming too much can be dangerous, especially for the elderly and those with kidney disease.

Did you know Responsive Home Care offers meal planning and preparation services, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan? We can help increase potassium in a senior’s diet to help lower stroke risk for women as they age.

There are a variety of other ways we can help improve quality of life for older adults, right in the comfort of home, such as:

  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures, enjoyable outings – anywhere and anytime a senior needs or wants to go
  • Companionship for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities, exercising, and more to brighten each day and alleviate loneliness and isolation
  • Assisting with shopping for healthy food choices, picking up prescription refills, and more
  • Light housekeeping and laundry, to ensure a clean and organized home environment
  • Specialized care for those with chronic health needs, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, COPD, etc.
  • And so much more, according to each person’s individual needs

All of our services begin with a complimentary planning meeting in the senior’s home. This provides us with the opportunity to get to know the person and the challenges they are facing, and to create a customized plan of care to enhance safety, comfort, and independence.

Contact us online or call (954) 486-6440 to learn more about Responsive Home Care, the leading home health agency in Hollywood, FL and the nearby areas, and how we can make life the best it can be for someone you love!

Try These Creative Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies Into a Senior’s Diet

Learn how to add fruits and veggies into a senior’s diet.

It’s no surprise that many seniors, just like anyone else, prefer carbs to carrots, making it challenging to guarantee that their nutritional needs are being met. The CDC shares that just one in ten seniors are meeting the recommendation of at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. Many researchers have reported that seniors who do follow these guidelines reduce their risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health issues, and subsequently live longer lives.

Maybe it’s time to think outside of the box to promote healthier eating habits in a senior’s diet. For example:

Make it crunchy. There are so many nutritious alternatives to greasy potato chips for a crispy snack or as a side to enjoy with a sandwich. Pick up a few for the older adult in order to see which ones they prefer: kale, sweet potato, beet, radish, green bean, eggplant, and much more. Or try freeze-dried fruit, another crunchy and nutritious alternative.

Make it smooth. If you’re looking to add a few superfoods to a senior’s diet, smoothies and sauces are great ways to do so. You can create a refreshing, delicious drink by blending a little spinach, yogurt, and fresh fruit. Or experiment with pureeing different vegetables to mix in with marinara sauce: zucchini, carrots, kale, bell peppers, etc.

Opt for convenience. Slicing, peeling, chopping, cooking – the numerous steps needed to prepare some vegetables and fruit make it easier to just grab a prepackaged snack. Try to find healthy alternatives that are just as easy to grab and enjoy, like ready-to-eat salads, baby carrots, or other cleaned and sliced veggies, individual cups of fruit, bananas, etc.

Freeze it up. Make your own simple, healthy frozen snacks by blending fruit with a small amount of juice or water, pouring into popsicle molds, and freezing until solid. These also make a wonderful multi-generational activity! Invite the family members over, let everyone choose their favorite flavor to make, and then spend some quality time together as you wait for them to chill before enjoying your personal creations.

Join a CSA. If you’ve never considered a CSA, now is an ideal time to explore this option. A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a subscription service for fresh produce from local farmers. Discover more and find a CSA near you here.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are skilled in preparing delicious, healthy meals based on each person’s individual preferences. We are available to pick up all of the ingredients too! Just give us a call at (954) 486-6440, or contact us online for assistance with enhancing a senior’s diet with the help of our elderly home care in Hollywood, FL and the nearby areas.

 

 

How to Help Seniors Move Past the Cost of Senior Care

cost of senior care

The cost of senior care at home becomes more palatable when considering its value.

Many of today’s seniors were raised during the Great Depression. They lived through a time when the country was pinching pennies and cutting corners. Frugality was embedded in many very early on and frequently remains firmly in place for life, affecting how they view the cost of senior care.

So what exactly happens when a senior is in need of care at home, has the financial capacity to pay for the care, but will not spend the money required for the cost of senior care?

First, empathize. Understand that the person’s point of view is valid and based on past life experiences. If the senior seems to be resistant to the idea of spending money for the care they need, remind yourself of the emotions behind the behaviors. An additional layer of difficulty might be in simply accepting the need for care altogether, something that is above and beyond mere frugality.

Spend time shopping with the senior. Costs were considerably different years ago than they are today, for everything from a gallon of milk to a new house. If the older adult hasn’t had the opportunity to go shopping lately, go online to show them current pricing for items in general. Or check out this inflation calculator that shows you the value of $100 between one year and another. (For instance, $100 in 1950 is the equivalent of $1,166.59 today!) This will help if a senior is experiencing “sticker shock” at the cost for care services.

Plan ample time for conversations. The commitment to accept home care services is a life-altering one that frequently requires several conversations. Engage in discussions with an older adult concerning the cost-cutting measures they’ve proudly followed over the years. Utilize these strengths to compromise if needed on covering the cost for care needs. For example, it could be that instead of full-time care, the senior would accept a few hours of care each week for help with necessary tasks around the house. After the person is more comfortable with their caregiver and sees what a difference home care makes, they may be more responsive to increasing services.

Additionally, it could be helpful to engage assistance from a third party – a person the senior trusts and respects, for example, their attorney, religious leader, physician, or a close friend. Engaging in a conversation with this particular person about the advantages to be gained through a home care helper might help reduce any doubts about cost.

When a senior is ready to explore home care, get in touch with our home care experts at 954.486.6440. We’ll be pleased to discuss how our Fort Lauderdale senior home care and care throughout the surrounding areas can help and further explain the options/cost of senior care.

How Reminiscence Therapy Can Help Seniors With Alzheimer’s Stay Engaged

eminiscence therapy

To help seniors stay engaged, reminiscence therapy provides a way to walk down memory lane.

Memory loss and dementia may seem synonymous. Yet it is crucial to realize that long-term memory frequently remains intact long into the progression of the disease. Because of this, tapping into those distant memories is an easy strategy to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s stay engaged in current conversations by connecting to the past.

Known as reminiscence therapy, these walks down memory lane help seniors:

  • Minimize some of the adverse effects of Alzheimer’s, for example , restlessness, anger, wandering, and more
  • Decrease negative emotions and stress by shifting the focus to happier times
  • Instill self-confidence by bringing to mind the many accomplishments they have made as well as the lives they’ve impacted
  • Better connect to others through sharing stories

Implementing reminiscence therapy doesn’t need to be elaborate. Start with opening a photo album and simply taking a look at pictures together. Let the person drive the next steps. If a particular photograph sparks a memory and the senior wants to share that, keep the conversation going as long as they would like. If they choose instead to view the photographs silently, you can do the same, while assessing the person’s expression to make sure they are calm and relaxed.

Just as photos can bring enjoyable memories to the surface, they can also remind the senior of friends and family lost, or of a particularly hard time in their life. If the activity invokes anxiety, close the book and move on to something else. It may take a little coaxing to switch gears if the person seems distraught. Moving to a different location, such as outdoors or to the kitchen for a snack, can help. Or try bringing up an alternative memory from a period you know was a positive experience for the older adult.

Other ideas for reminiscing include:

  • Smelling familiar, enjoyable scents which could have meaning for the person: freshly mowed grass, flowers that grew around their family home as a young child, a particular brand of shampoo, bubble bath, or soap they used to bathe the kids when they were little, etc.
  • Making a recipe the older adult especially enjoys and eating it together
  • Engage in an ability-appropriate activity that holds meaning to the past: sorting buttons or nuts and bolts, filing papers, painting, knitting, playing a musical instrument, etc.
  • Listening to favorite music from the past

Let our creative dementia care team help! Find out how a home health aide in Hollywood, FL or the surrounding areas from Responsive Home Care can provide ideas for effective reminiscence therapy that will help a senior you love live life to the fullest. Contact us at 954.486.6440 to learn more.

Are You Experiencing a Lack of Caregiver Appreciation?

caregiver appreciation

Lack of caregiver appreciation can lead to burnout or depression.

As soon as you woke up this morning up until the end of an exhausting day, you have given your all to your older family member. You provided assistance with showering and dressing, prepared nutritious meals, cleaned the house, all while making certain a senior loved one was happily involved in enjoyable activities, made it to their 2:00 hair appointment, and picked up groceries and prescriptions afterwards. And while you are not doing any of these things for a pat on the back, a simple “thank you” would be nice – but is almost never offered as a sign of caregiver appreciation.

If you are feeling a lack of caregiver appreciation or completely unappreciated altogether, you’re not alone. This is a frequent occurrence in caregiving for a number of reasons, and if not addressed, can cause caregiver burnout or depression. These strategies can help.

  1. Learn the skill of self-appreciation. The work you are doing is extremely important, and you deserve to be rewarded for it. Choose something each week that you’re going to do for yourself for a job well done. It could be as simple as one hour spent reading on the porch swing or a dessert from your favorite bakery. You can also plan for larger rewards, such as a long weekend getaway, by engaging respite care services from a dependable care partner like Responsive Home Care.
  2. Try to understand their perspective. There are a number of reasons a senior may not be expressing gratitude for the work you are doing. Someone with dementia or another chronic condition could be fully focused on their own struggles or the day-to-day tasks close at hand which are typically now more challenging. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you accept that a lack of verbal appreciation doesn’t automatically equate to true ungratefulness.
  3. Start modeling appreciative behavior. Let the senior see by example how good it feels to be appreciated by genuinely thanking them whenever the ability arises, no matter how small. If they fold and hang up the towel after their shower, clean off the table after lunch, or help with putting away groceries – be sure to thank them.

By providing home health care in Fort Lauderdale, FL and surrounding areas, we are always here to share in your caregiving duties, to alleviate stress and allow you plenty of time for self-care. Regularly scheduled time away is essential, and we’re here for as much or as little as you will need. While you’re taking care of yourself, we will help a senior you love with:

  • Companionship for conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, exercise, etc.
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Meals
  • Medication reminders
  • Personal care (showers, baths, getting dressed, etc.)
  • Transportation to fun outings or appointments
  • And much more, according to each person’s unique needs

Reach out to Responsive Home Care for a complimentary in-home consultation and let us know exactly how we can help.

What Are the Symptoms of Chemo Brain, and How Can You Reduce Its Effects?

Could memory and focus problems be the result of chemo brain?

Confusion. Short-term memory problems. Inability to focus. Could it be Alzheimer’s?

Perhaps; however if you are a cancer survivor, there is another likely culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can continue for months and on occasion even years post-treatment. Read more

Is it Time To Consider Guardianship of an Elderly Parent?

Learn when to think about petitioning for guardianship of an elderly parent.

In an ideal world, our family relationships would all be positive and helpful. We would manage transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to fulfill their needs today and their needs in the future. Read more