Could Vitamins Benefit Your Senior Health Or Is It All Just a Marketing Ploy?

Lady holding vitamin and glass of water

Vitamins can help provide extra nutrients aging adults need.

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements – oh my! Seventy percent of older adults are taking them; but could vitamins benefit your senior health? After all, a healthy, balanced diet offers seniors essential nutrients. But there are particular areas of deficiency which could call for the addition of a supplement. Be sure to check with the doctor before making any changes, but with their approval or recommendation, consider the following:

Calcium

Aging bones are susceptible to fractures and breaks when calcium intake is inadequate. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, with a full 50% of those over age 50 breaking a bone as the result of osteoporosis. However, men are also in danger for serious complications from calcium deficiency. A hip fracture in men, for example, is much more likely to be fatal than it is for women.

The very best natural sources for calcium are salmon, leafy greens, kale, broccoli, and dairy products, but most women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting sufficient calcium from food alone. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium per day for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg daily for men ages 51 – 70.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is calcium’s best friend. They work most effectively when taken together to improve not just bone health, but the immune and nervous systems and perhaps the heart as well. Sunshine is the best source for vitamin D, but aging skin as well as the risk of skin cancer may cause roadblocks to obtaining adequate levels.

Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for people over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by the doctor, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.

Vitamin B12

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are common in older adults, and even more so for those who take certain medicines (especially gastric acid inhibitors or metformin). Without sufficient vitamin B12, older adults are far more vulnerable to developing anemia, nerve damage or neuropathy, balance problems, depression, confusion, poor memory, and dementia.

The NIH recommends 2.4 mcg per day, which can be obtained through a diet high in fish and clams, liver, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and fortified cereals. And unlike other minerals and vitamins, even large quantities of vitamin B12 haven’t been shown to cause harm, according to the NIH.

Unsure which dietary supplements are appropriate for a senior you love? Let one of Responsive Home Care’s care providers accompany you to the doctor’s office to find out. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for more information on how we can help boost older adult health by providing Hollywood, FL home health services. See our service area page for all of the Broward County communities we service.

How to Build New Senior Friendships

Senior friendships can make the days a little brighter.

If you’ve ever observed young children at the park, you know how quickly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing hide-and-seek, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” In most cases, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and thus – instant friends. Read more

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

The Importance of Advocating for Your Parent or Loved One

Medical professional talking to senior and her family caregiver

Advocating for a parent can be stressful, but our home health care services in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area can help.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Advocating for your parent or loved one is probably one of the biggest honors – and responsibilities – you will have as a family caregiver. It means fully comprehending the other person’s wishes and needs, and communicating those wishes to people who can help make sure they are fulfilled.

If the role seems intimidating and possibly more than you feel equipped to handle, there are a number of actions you can take to bolster the relevant skills you will need to be successful.

Observe. It may seem to go without saying, however with so many issues vying for your focus, it may be very easy to pay less attention than needed to slight shifts in a senior’s condition, behaviors, or mood. It’s beneficial to first make sure your own self-care needs are met so you’re sharp and well-rested. Then implement a system to take and share notes with any other members of the family or friends who are in close contact with the senior to detect any changes.

Communicate. Effective communication with medical, legal, or financial professionals is vital to successfully advocate for a senior. Since these professionals are extremely busy, keep your communication style clear, concise, and to the point. Bring notes so you’re certain to cover all the bases. Remain respectful, and keep in mind listening is just as crucial to good communication as speaking. And, thank the professional for hearing you out and for their assistance in coming to the best resolution.

Learn. Continue to educate yourself on the particular health condition(s) a senior loved one is navigating, along with aging in general, and legal/financial matters. While you find out more, it’s possible that subsequent questions will surface. If you can’t get the answers you require from one particular professional, try another trusted source until you have the understanding necessary.

Be tenacious. Advocating for an older adult member of the family effectively has been referred to as serving as “chief bulldog.” It means giving it your all, finding creative solutions to challenging dilemmas, always with the older adult’s best interests at heart. Be ready for frustrations to develop, and to have to advocate for exactly what your loved one requires!

Most importantly, maintain an optimistic mindset, and surround yourself with a strong support system, including the senior care team at Responsive Home Care. We are here to partner with you to ensure the absolute best quality of life for a senior you love. We also provide you with the chance to take a break from your caregiving role to recharge and refresh – something extremely important both for your loved one and yourself.

Give us a call at (954) 486-6440 any time and let us know how we can help provide home health care services in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the surrounding area! We offer a free of charge in-home assessment and the creation of a customized plan of care that will help ensure each of your care bases are covered!

Six Simple Steps to Improve the Health and Wellness of Older Adults

Health and Wellness of Older Adults

Simple changes can help improve the health and wellness for older adults.

Many individuals have left their New Year’s resolutions by the wayside by the end of January, but who says resolutions should only be made at the start of the year? There’s no time like the present to start a brand new habit or goal, especially when looking to improve the health and wellness as an older adult.

We have six recommendations you can implement today. Pick one to begin, or jump right into all of them to achieve the most benefit:

  1. Schedule a physical. As opposed to waiting for a sickness or injury to call the doctor, a yearly check-up is an excellent method for older adults to remain on top of their health and potentially prevent problems before they occur.
  2. Get physical. With the physician’s approval and recommendations at hand, kick off a new health and fitness routine – together! Working out with a senior you love enables you to motivate one another and serve as accountability partners. Commit to sticking with it for a minimum of 21 days, after which it should be an ingrained, pleasurable habit you’ll wish to continue.
  3. Stay connected. Help the senior keep up friendships and contact with loved ones to defend against loneliness and isolation – something we’ve all become too familiar with throughout the pandemic. Offer transportation, if necessary, for dinner dates or with setting up technology to stay virtually connected.
  4. Update vaccinations. Along with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines ought to be up to date. As people age, there is an increased risk for severe effects from these illnesses, so vaccinations become even more crucial.
  5. Don’t forget mental health. A mental health provider will help determine if depression, anxiety, or any other concerns should be addressed, offering both therapeutic tools and medication if needed. Maintaining mental sharpness through brain enrichment activities can also help with the natural cognitive decline that is experienced in aging.
  6. Watch what you eat. If the pantry and fridge are full of fatty or empty-calorie foods, replace them with proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. An extreme change in diet can be overwhelming and difficult to stick to, so start simple with one replacement at first – carrot sticks instead of potato chips, for instance – and work up to a healthier overall diet.

Responsive Home Care is here with personalized in-home care and companionship to help improve the health and wellness of older adults and to help seniors accomplish any other goals. From accompaniment to medical appointments and exercise classes to prepping and preparing healthy meals, all while giving socialization a much-needed boost, we are empowering seniors to live their best lives every day. Email or call 954-486-6440 for more information on how our caregivers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the surrounding areas can help a senior you love!

Discussing a COPD Diagnosis: How to Communicate Well with Those You Love

happy-senior-man-holding-oxygen-mask-with-copdIt began with those in your inner circle, and it has gradually been spreading outward to friends and acquaintances. Discussing a COPD diagnosis and knowing how to reply to the various questions that arise about it could be uncomfortable – for you personally, and for those you are speaking with as well.

Surprisingly, you could find that the largest challenges come in speaking with your primary caregiving partner – the individual who is closest to you. The caregiver/care receiver relationship can bring up a number of emotions. The individual on the receiving end of care may feel self-conscious and insecure as a result of needing assistance, which may result in feelings of anger and frustration, just to name a few. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting each of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright fatigued from trying to handle someone else’s care needs with their own.

There are several key techniques to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you are both completely knowledgeable about COPD, the corresponding symptoms and treatment plans, as well as its typical progression. The doctor can offer educational materials for both of you to better understand what you are facing.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Honestly and clearly express your emotions and needs.
  • Listen to your partner – and let them know they’re being heard. Maintain eye contact, nod or use other nonverbal indicators to demonstrate you’re listening.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be shared in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Avoid argumentative phrases and words, such as, “You always…” or “You never…”. The individual is probably going to become defensive, intensifying hurt feelings.
  • Remind yourself that no one is a mind-reader. If you are assuming your caregiving partner knows what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling simply by your actions, it opens the door to misunderstandings.
  • Maintain empathy and respect for each other. You both are facing new and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a wise idea to call a time-out if emotions start to intensify. Take a break from one another and concentrate on calming activities, such as reading, listening to music, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At Responsive Home Care, we understand the frustrations that can arise when managing a chronic health condition like COPD, and we’re available to help. Our friendly caregivers make ideal companions to talk with and to spend time with, engaging in enjoyable activities together. We work with family caregivers to make sure they have time required for self-care, while enhancing the lives of the seniors for whom they care. Contact us any time to find out more about our home care in Plantation and throughout the area.

Does Having a Sense of Purpose Help Us Live Longer?

What motivates you to get up out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it could allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are answering the question, “Does having a sense of purpose help us to live longer?” with a resounding “Yes!” as evidenced in Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.

Interestingly, there’s no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a focus on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions.

So just how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few inspiring ideas to get you started:

Cultivate a sense of compassion for others. There’s no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that all of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about who or what touches their hearts the most – homelessness, mental health, single parents, stray animals, veterans, etc. Direct that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.

Prioritize family. With so many families living far away from each other, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard holiday gathering or family reunion. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.

Redefine retirement. For a senior loved one who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unrealized dream that could be explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time job opportunities that offer the opportunity to learn something new while serving others.

Take time to play. Meaning and purpose are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities provide possibilities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “… the creative part of me is forever young.”

Responsive Home Care’s caregiving team is full of innovative ideas to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Contact us any time online or call us at 954-486-6440 for additional tips and to find out more about our personalized senior home care in Pembroke Pines and the neighboring communities.

How to Help Your Loved One When Alzheimer’s Affects Sleep

If it feels like a senior with Alzheimer’s has completely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you are not dreaming—Alzheimer’s affects sleep. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, a number of people with dementia experience changes to their circadian rhythm, leading to sleepless nights and drowsy days.

The progression of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making everyday activities and tasks exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further exacerbate the issue.

Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial for a Senior with Dementia

Decreased sleep quality in dementia may lead to an increase in restlessness and delusions and can result in serious safety concerns, including the potential for a senior to wander away and become injured or lost. Not just that, but a senior loved one who is sleepy during the day will also be less likely to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time outdoors and exercising.

And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs rest, it is typically quite a challenge to meet all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.

Ways to Help

Try these strategies for a senior whose sleep patterns are disrupted:

  • Talk to the physician, first of all, for a review of medications. Changing the dosage timing every day may be all it will require to make a difference.
  • Maintain a routine like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Limit caffeine, naps, and heavy meals later in the day.
  • Incorporate bedtime activities that are soothing, for example, a warm bath, reading, turning off the television, and playing quiet, calming music.
  • If wandering is a concern, a wireless bed exit pad can notify you as soon as the senior gets up so that you can assist.
  • Try placing a clock that distinguishes between nighttime and daytime near the senior’s bed.

You may want to encourage a senior to try sleeping on their side rather than the back or stomach as well. Recent reports revealed a possible link between side sleeping and much more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Note that this study was conducted on laboratory animals, and it’s unclear yet whether the results carry over to humans.

Responsive Home Care is available to help as well, with overnight caregivers who are awake and alert, looking after the older adult’s needs throughout the night, so you can get the rest you need. Our care team members are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to meeting the unique care needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 to learn more about our specialized Fort Lauderdale elderly care offered throughout the greater metropolitan area.

Why Strength Training for Seniors Is Imperative Post-Pandemic

strength training for handicapped seniorAs we’re finally easing our way out of this pandemic, we’re finding more about how it has harmed senior loved ones – both physically and emotionally. We know older adults have been at a higher threat of serious issues and death due to the COVID-19 virus, although the impact of 15 months of social isolation and physical distancing is similarly distressing.

Dr. Jonathan Bean of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System has noticed a “significant decline in functioning” in both his elderly patients and his own mother. Whereas she had been able to walk with the assistance of a walker, be involved in conversations, and participate in other activities of day-to-day life independently pre-pandemic, her self-care and cognitive abilities have diminished dramatically.

Physical therapy Linda Teodosio confirms, explaining, “Immobility and debility are outcomes to this horrific pandemic that people aren’t even talking about yet.” She is noticing a considerable uptick in both falls and chronic disease exacerbation – likely based on poor lifestyle choices due to the pandemic, such as unhealthy food intake and reduced exercise.

As a result, increasingly more older adults require physical therapy as well as other rehabilitative services. Some health plans are addressing the issue by following up with seniors to confirm their wellbeing and also to help connect them to the services they require to restore their strength. Surprisingly, as much as 20% of an older adult’s muscle mass may be lost by just not walking for up to five days, according to physical therapist Sabaa Mundia.

Before leaping into a new exercise routine, however, it’s essential that seniors first schedule an appointment with the physician for a complete exam and recommendations on safe, ability-appropriate exercise. Then make a plan to help the seniors in your life to follow a healthier lifestyle that includes a good amount of exercise.

Let Responsive Home Care help the seniors in your life stay as physically active and engaged as possible to remain strong post-pandemic. Our home caregivers are always on hand to supply the motivation and encouragement to help seniors make physical activity a routine part of every day. We are able to also provide accompaniment to exercise classes, the fitness center, the pool – wherever and whenever a senior wishes to go. Sometimes, just adding in a regular walk with one of our friendly caregivers can make a world of difference in how older adults feel!

Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Learn Why the Progression of Dementia May Vary for Latinos

progression of dementia in senior hugging caregiverA new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is uncovering some striking findings in how dementia may present differently in Hispanic people. While additional exploration is required to fully understand whether these differences are the result of social/cultural nuances or perhaps the dementia itself, it’s worthwhile information for Latino families to know.

Daily Activities

One feature of the study was the considerably faster decline in the capability to execute everyday activities, like walking, getting dressed, and taking a shower, when compared with other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who conducted the research, clarified that the cultural dedication to looking after older loved ones may be a contributing factor.

“Some families want to start doing everything for their older members to try and remove some of the burdens and make their lives easier,” she mentioned. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people actually do better when they stay active. And there is also still stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”

Depression and Anxiety

While we realize anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate research study of 5,000 people showed a significantly higher percentage of Hispanic individuals reporting these issues: more than 25%, as compared to approximately 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic white participants, respectively. Centering on the mental health of people with dementia is vital. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro points out, “We have lots of great evidence that medications and talk therapy help, but minorities have the lowest rate of getting this help.”

Although more thorough scientific studies are necessary to better comprehend these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to be involved in research is still challenging. Latinos currently comprise fewer than 8% of present dementia scientific studies – regardless of the fact the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% more than it is in non-Hispanic whites.

Families interested in current Latino dementia research opportunities can visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch website to learn more.

At Responsive Home Care, our professional caregivers are fully trained and experienced in helping seniors with whatever their particular challenges are, making life the very best it can be. We accomplish this by consulting with each senior in his or her home before the start of services, enabling us to create a customized care plan. We then carefully monitor the care plan over time to make certain that needs are always completely met, both now and as needs change as time passes.

If the need is for only a little assistance with housework and meals, transportation and companionship, or if some more specialized dementia care is needed, Responsive Home Care, the expert provider of in-home caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale and nearby areas, provides the ideal solution. Contact us to set up your free in-home consultation to learn more.

Searching for an Alzheimer’s Cure: The Link Between Cold Water and Dementia

Alzheimer's cure - link between cold water and dementia

There may be a link between cold water and fighting dementia, according to experts.

In this striking new development towards an Alzheimer’s cure, a “cold-shock” protein, which is found in swimmers’ blood, is showing promising results in slowing and even reversing the progression of dementia in mice – leading researchers to further explore this link between cold water and dementia.

Related to the hibernation capacity in all mammals when exposed to cold weather, the research ties in to knowledge we already possess about how cooling body temperature can sometimes protect the brain. For example, those who experience a head injury are often cooled during surgical procedures.

And while it’s not yet fully understood, researchers know that even though some brain connections are lost during hibernation, they’re fully restored upon the mammals’ awakening in the spring. For those with Alzheimer’s disease, the lost connections lead to confusion, loss of memory, behavioral challenges and mood swings, and more – and to date, once lost, cannot be restored.

In the study, both healthy mice and those with Alzheimer’s were cooled to a level of hypothermia. Rewarming the healthy mice showed a restoration of synapses that the Alzheimer’s mice did not experience – thought to be due to the “cold-shock” protein RBM3 that was evident in only the healthy mice. As a result, researchers surmise that RBM3 may be the key to regaining functionality of brain connections.

At the time of the study, RBM3 had not yet been detected in humans, leading researchers to seek out volunteer winter swimmers, who were already becoming hypothermic on a regular basis and could help researchers determine whether the cold prompted the production of RBM3. The result: a significant portion of the volunteers were found to have high levels of RBM3 in their blood.

There are inherent dangers in exposure to the cold, however. It raises heart rate and blood pressure, slows responses, and increases breathing rate, and is too risky for researchers to recommend for seniors with dementia. The goal is to develop a drug to stimulate RBM3 production in humans and to determine its impact on dementia, in particular, to delay or prevent the disease.

“If you slowed the progress of dementia by even a couple of years on a whole population, that would have an enormous impact economically and health-wise,” explains Professor Giovanna Mallucci, head of the UK Dementia Research Institute’s Centre at the University of Cambridge.

We look forward to learning more about this link between cold water and dementia, and other promising research to help diminish the effects of dementia or possibly lead to an Alzheimer’s cure. Always here to match you with a caregiver in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or the surrounding areas, we at Responsive Home Care are premier providers of highly skilled and creative dementia care. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to learn more.

Safely Celebrating The Holidays During a Pandemic

holidays for older adults during the pandemic

Discover how to make holidays for older adults the best they can be during COVID-19.

Imagine the most perfect holiday season ever. What would it look like? While that image will vary a bit for each of us, it might include gifts, lights, good food, and traditions passed down through the generations. However, what absolutely rings true for all of us is the joy in spending time with the ones we love – and in particular for all of us at Responsive Home Care, safely celebrating the holidays with the seniors we love.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to reconsider how to safely experience the holidays with our older loved ones. With a bit of creativity and ingenuity, however, it’s feasible to bridge the gap while making new memories with the older adults you love, even if you are not able to be with them in person this season.

Our aging care professionals have gathered several ideas to help you get started:

  • Adjust traditions. Consider the traditions that mean the most to you and your family, and how you can modify them to help keep everyone safe. For example, if the family usually gets together each year to bake cookies, you can utilize Zoom or a similar platform to stay connected while baking from home. Select a favorite recipe, have everybody log on at a specific time, and bake away while talking and listening to some holiday music.
  • Don’t do away with decorations. Seniors who live alone usually look forward to having loved ones, especially grandchildren, visit to assist with holiday decorations. Without in-person visits, older adults might not be motivated to bother with decorations. Again, using a software program like Zoom, schedule for a time for everybody to get together online and share the stories behind the most loved decorations.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Safely celebrating the holidays with loved ones doesn’t always have to happen virtually. If weather allows, plan brief visits with older adults outside, safely socially distant and with face coverings. String lights on bushes in the yard and decorate the front porch together.
  • Send smiles. Cards, letters, pictures, telephone calls, small gifts, etc. will all mean a great deal to older adults who will be missing time with loved ones. Coordinate with members of the family to take turns reaching out as much as possible in ways like this so that your older family members are flooded with expressions of love.
  • Share your feelings. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as hearing from someone you love about the impact you’ve made on his or her life. Take this time to convey your gratitude to the older adults you love for the difference they have made in your life, and be specific: “Grandma, your patience with me when I was an adolescent taught me what unconditional love looks like, and thanks to you, I’m a more patient person with my own kids.”

Responsive Home Care, experts providers of senior care services in Pembroke Pines and the surrounding areas, employs caregivers who are fully trained and experienced in enhancing total wellbeing for older adults at home, and we follow rigorous safety protocols for each person’s protection. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to find out how we can help make this holiday season the best it can be for a senior you love with customized, professional home care services.