Managing Your Medication

Medication management is an important preventive measure to avoid potentially serious health hazards. Simple mistakes can become dangerous and even fatal. 87% of seniors take one prescription drug and 36% take 5 or more. If you or your loved one need extra help staying organized, there are plenty of tools and devices to keep you on track.

Regular use of five or more medications can pose a serious health risk to seniors. Nearly 350,000 patients each year are hospitalized for further treatment after emergency visits for adverse drug events. People typically take more medicines as they age, and this increases the risk of adverse drug events, which cause approximately 1.3 million emergency department visits each year.

Older adults tend to have multiple illnesses and therefore take more drugs and polypharmacy increases the risk of poor outcomes. The number of medications a person uses is a risk factor for adverse drug reactions, nonadherence, financial burden, drug-drug interactions, and worse outcomes, according to a study by Steinman MA.

Medications only work if taken consistently and as directed by your doctor. Medicines may stay in the body longer and cause side effects if doses are not properly adjusted. If you are forgetful or having trouble tracking your medications, a reminder system may be helpful. Those with a cognitive impairment may need to have their medications carefully managed and monitored.

How this can help seniors:

Grasp the dangers of medication mismanagement
Seniors typically don’t enjoy taking prescription and over-the-counter medications, which can result in changes in medication adherence. Understanding the potential extreme dangers of medication mismanagement is vital because even small changes in a drug regimen can have big health consequences.

Have a Chart or plan to make things easier
Having a large, easily visible and readable medication plan or chart, with alarm reminders, can greatly reduce the confusion of what medications were taken and when.  reduces the pressures and stresses of keeping up with things in your head. Having a reliable family member or caregiver making check-ins is a great idea for those who cannot maintain a plan on their own.

Diversion can reduce stress and struggle
A method for dealing with someone who does not enjoy taking medication is “diversion.” Simply walk away and go back after a couple minutes. Start a conversation to get them reminiscing and talking. Then, while they are sharing and talking, just hand them the pills and a drink without saying anything. If it seems they’re going to focus on the pills, ask another question about what they were just discussing.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Check thresholds. Raised flooring between rooms can be a significant trip hazard.

Tip #2 – Smart home devices. Benefit from medication reminders, landline-to-landline emergency calls, and access entertainment like audio books and music with smart home devices.

Tip #3 – Light the way. Use LED plug-ins to light common paths and easily locate light switches at night.

Tip #4 – Gather all medications, OTC meds and supplements in one location. If they are all stored in different locations, it is easy to lose track of what is being taken and when.

Grandparents with grandkids

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Why and How You Should Increase Your Fiber Intake

Why and How You Should Increase Your Fiber Intake

By The WellNest Company

You’ve heard that it’s important to get enough fiber, especially as you grow older. Numerous studies have proven that fibrous foods help seniors age healthier because they lead to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, normalize bowel movements, and help manage a healthy weight. Fiber is found in a lot of foods, so it’s easy to add to daily meals.

Be sure to start slow when adding foods that are rich in fiber as snacks and meals because too much fiber too fast can potentially cause pain and discomfort. Add a few fiber rich foods each day until you meet your goal. When adding fiber to your diet, be sure to drink plenty of water. This will keep fiber moving through the digestive tract.

There are two types of fiber— insoluble and soluble. Soluble does not dissolve in water, and does not change its form as it moves through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber performs functions like controlling pH acidity levels in the intestines, eliminating toxic waste through the colon and moving roughage through the digestive tract.

Dietitians say your ratio of soluble versus insoluble fiber should be 25 percent insoluble to 75 percent soluble. Overall fiber in whole grain foods helps prevent constipation by moving waste through the body and lowers the risk of hemorrhoids.

How this can help seniors:

Improve heart health
Fiber helps fight heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Eating high fiber foods like beans, oats, barley, almonds, and walnuts can help some seniors lower their cholesterol.  A high fiber diet can also help lower the chance of getting certain types of cancers, such as colorectal cancer.

Combat diabetes
Diabetes is health concern for many senior adults. If you have diabetes, fiber can help control your blood glucose levels. Fiber slows the breakdown of nutrients. This allows glucose from foods to move into the blood little by little. 

Stay healthy during your “golden years.”
Generally, five servings of fruit and vegetables and servings of whole grains each day should allow you to meet your daily fiber requirement. High-fiber foods are generally low in fat and calories, yet packed with essential minerals and vitamins that promote healthy bodily functions. Try to avoid foods such as processed pastas and white breads. The refining process of these foods take the nutritional and health values out.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Reduce the risk of car break-ins and lost valuables. Keep all your valuable items locked and out of view, in your trunk.

Tip #2 – Rest easy in your new home with new locks. When moving into a new home, it’s important to have new locks installed.

Tip #3 – Maintain independence in your home. If you have trouble going up and down the stairs, consider installing a stair lift.

Tip #4 – Remain mindful when heating your home. Heat your home safely – do not use an oven as a heating source, under any circumstance. Turn off all heaters when you leave your home.

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Preventing Kitchen Fires

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) people over the age of 65 have a 2.5 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than the general population. Cooking is one of the leading causes of fire in the home, FEMA says, accounting for thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

Knowledge and awareness are the keys to preventing fires. Never leave food that is cooking on the stove unattended. Never leave the kitchen — even for a short time — when food is frying, grilling, or broiling. Don’t leave the house if food is simmering, baking, or roasting.

Keep pot handles turned inward. When handles are turned outward, or even to the side, they can be easily bumped, causing the pot to spill or fall over. Heavy pots and pans are an accident waiting to happen – especially if the pan is full of grease, which can easily ignite if spilled. Two handled pans allow the senior to lift and maneuver hot heavy pans with more stability.

Keep cooking surfaces and surrounding areas free from clutter. Many cooking aids can be combustible. Use pot holders and oven mitts, but keep them away from the stovetop when not using them. The accumulation of grease on kitchen appliance hoods and in exhaust systems can lead to disaster. Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup, which can start fires.

How this can help seniors:

Don’t give up your love of cooking
Seniors don’t have to give up their love of cooking just because they’ve lost some mobility or mental capacity. The key is to provide a safe environment for them to cook in. Giving seniors something to look forward to is one of the most important aspects in their care.

Better Nutrition
Cooking your own meals allows you to choose what goes into your food. You can pay attention to eliminating calorie-dense additional ingredients or limiting your fat intake. Choosing your ingredients is an opportunity that fast food simply doesn’t offer in the way home cooking does. Not only do you know your food better when it comes to ingredients, you can serve better portions.

Cooking has many benefits
Mental health professionals are beginning to use the culinary arts as a form of therapy for a wide variety of mental illnesses. Not only can cooking help feed you, it can provide numerous physical, emotional and mental benefits.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Avoid being a target for burglary. Never let strangers know that you live alone or that you are home alone.

Tip #2 – Avoid preventable slips and falls. Remove all carpets from stairs and staircases to prevent slipping.

Tip #3 – Check your home safety equipment. If your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace them! Remember that carbon monoxide is a deadly, odorless, colorless gas – you cannot smell it or see it. Having a working carbon monoxide detector is crucial to senior safety!

Tip #4 – Seatbelts protect lives. Always wear your seat belt – this is particularly important for senior safety.

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Caring For a Loved One With Dementia

Caring For a Loved One With Dementia

Caring for patient with Dementia
By The WellNest Company

Caring for senior parents is not easy, and dementia care can be daunting, especially when they are stubborn. Resisting care and digging in their heels are two hallmarks of dementia. But it may not be as challenging as you would expect. Whether you care for a parent or senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, the right attitude is crucial to success.

Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges. People with dementia from conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, and take care of themselves. Dementia may also cause mood swings and even change a person’s personality and behavior. 

Ask simple, answerable questions. Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. Break down activities into a series of steps. This makes many tasks much more manageable.

Respond with affection and reassurance. People with dementia often feel confused and anxious, and get reality confused. They may recall things that never really occurred. Avoid trying to convince them they’re wrong.  focus on the feelings they are demonstrating and respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support, and reassurance.

How this can help seniors:

Improve communication and relationship
We aren’t born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementia—but we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.

Develop a positive mood for interaction. 
Your attitude and body language communicate your feelings and thoughts more strongly than your words do. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.

Familiarity and Quality of Life
The greatest value that home care offers is allowing elders to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. This option is far less disorienting for a senior with dementia than a move to an assisted living facility, a memory care unit or a nursing home. Familiar environments offer a great deal of security and peace of mind for individuals with dementia.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Prevent unnecessary risk of falls. Declutter your house to make sure you have plenty of space to walk around. Less clutter also means less risk of falls. 

Tip #2 – Easily reduce the risk of laundry fire. Don’t leave your dryer running when you are sleeping, or not at home.

Tip #3 – Use caution when driving at night. Avoid driving at night. However, if you must driver while it’s dark outside, make sure to use well-lit streets, well-known roads and try to have a friend or family member accompany you. 

Tip #4 – Protect yourself with a fanny pack. Consider replacing your purse with a fanny pack – it’s more accessible to you and harder to reach by any potential thieves.

Read about kitchen fire safety in the next articles.

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Age Safely at Home

According to an AARP survey, roughly 90% of American seniors wish to live at home for as long as possible. Seniors vastly prefer aging in place to facility care, even in cases where physical or cognitive decline makes it difficult to live independently. It can also be very difficult to choose between aging in place and senior living facilities. This decision is easier for many families when they’re aware of how living at home benefits seniors.

Mortality statistics show that a 78-year-old that lives an independent and active lifestyle has a life expectancy of 15 years+. If that same individual suffered physical injury or a disorder that required a move to a care facility, their life expectancy could be reduced by 50%-75%.

The mortality rate of individuals moving into a nursing facility increases within the first 12 months by as much as 50%-60%. And, the mortality rate is even higher when just looking at the first 6 months. Studies show better outcomes in cognition, depression, activities of daily living, and incontinence in the independent group when compared to the control group in nursing home care.

How this can help seniors:

Healthier & Safer Environment
In a large share of cases, seniors choose to live in nursing or assisted living facilities because they believe this will be safer and healthier than living at home. While true in some cases, this belief is often unfounded. Several studies have found that nursing home residents have worse health outcomes than seniors who choose to age in place, even if seniors are in similar health.

 Maintain independence
Age-related physical and cognitive decline can make day-to-day life difficult for seniors. At a certain point, elderly adults need help from others to accomplish everyday tasks. But, with help from family, friends, and professional caregivers, seniors can maintain aspects of independence while still living at home. Most important of all, elderly adults have control over their routine, activities, and life decisions.

Proximity to everything you know and comfortability
A person’s home is the most important place in their life, offering a sense of familiarity, comfort, and security. While some seniors quickly adapt to facility living, many seniors never truly feel at home in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Aging in place, meanwhile, allows older adults to stay in a familiar and cherished space. This is a critical and underrated factor in seniors’ quality of life.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Poorly lit spaces can lead to falls. Where possible, install smart lights or motion sensors with bulb alerts. Check for burnt-out lightbulbs and replace immediately.

Tip #2 – Easily reduce the risk of laundry fire. Clean washer and dryer lint filters after every use. Do not leave an accumulation of lint stored in the laundry room. Never use an extension cord to run a washer or dryer.

Tip #3 – Recognize the 4 signs of an online shopping scam. It isn’t secure, it has a sense of urgency, the deal is too good to be true, and it is using a non-secure payment method. 

Tip #4 – Get regular checkups. This gives you a chance to keep tabs on your physical and emotional health which may detect potentially life-threatening health conditions or diseases early.

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Senior Crime Prevention

Criminological research indicates that it is not vulnerability but lifestyle and amount of time spent out of the home which are pre-disposing factors to offenses against seniors. However, there is a disproportionately high personal impact. Ways of reducing exposure and impact include: hardening targets, creating protective environments, encouraging self-help, awareness of crime and prevention techniques, and Risk avoidance.

Because of their anxiety about crime, many seniors live a life of self-imposed confinement. Isolated from much of the outside world, they have been described as prisoners in their own homes (Braungart et al., 1979). Many seniors exist on small incomes, making it more difficult for them to recover financially from crime. Those living on fixed incomes, in particular, may suffer relatively more severe losses from crime.

 If an attacker only wants your purse, wallet or other valuables, DO NOT RESIST! Your life and safety are far more valuable than your possessions. Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of the attacker and call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are able to do so, write down as many details about the attacker as possible. Contact your local victim assistance agency to help you deal with the trauma that crime victims experience. Staff there can direct you to counseling opportunities, victim compensation laws, and how to follow your case’s progress.

How this can help seniors:

Get to know your neighbors and community
Neighborhood Watch Programs Senior citizens can be encouraged to actively participate in Neighborhood Watch programs and/or programs specifically targeting the needs of senior citizens may be developed by Neighborhood Watch groups.

Telephone Reassurance Programs for Seniors
Seniors who enroll in this program are called daily by telephone to see if they are OK. Such calls can either be automated or manned. · Senior Volunteers Seniors can provide volunteer assistance to law enforcement agencies. Seniors have been sworn in to issue handicap parking citations. Seniors have been used to operate neighborhood speed detection equipment or to make home vacation checks.

National Association of Triads
The National Association of Triads is a cooperative agreement between the AARP, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) to work together to reduce both criminal victimization and unwarranted fear of crime affecting senior citizens. Triad is community policing, developing improved ways to reduce crimes against senior citizens and enhance law enforcement services to them.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Utilize telehealth services. These services provide seniors, especially those with mobility issues, access to doctors and nurses without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Tip #2 – Limit risks with occasional inspections. Inspect racks, mats, knobs and handles to make sure they’re secure throughout the house. Unsecured objects create great potential for injury.

Tip #3 – Get to know your doctor. Seeing a doctor regularly allows them to really know you and your well-being. This creates more comfortability with sharing information and asking questions, resulting in more confidence in your care.

Tip #4 – Protect yourself from infections. The CDC also recommends pneumococcal vaccines for those 65 or older. These protect against diseases seniors are more susceptible to like pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

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Senior Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse is defined in the Older Americans Act of 2006 as:

The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.”

Financial abuse can take place in many ways, ranging from investment scams, stolen jewelry and bogus lottery schemes to forged checks, identity theft and credit card misuse. Unfortunately, most perpetrators of senior financial abuse aren’t strangers to them and view them as easy prey. Guard yourself or loved ones against financial exploitation by knowing the warning signs and what to do if you spot them.

It’s estimated that older adults lose more than $36 billion every year to scams and fraud. Half of that money is lost due to tactics that are legal, albeit deceptive in nature. Experts predict that the problem is going to dramatically worsen as the aging Baby Boomer population retires, while nearly 37% of seniors in the U.S. have already experienced some form of financial abuse.

How this can help seniors:

Know what signs to look for
The key to spotting financial abuse is a change in a person’s established financial patterns. These red flags include: Unusual activity in bank accounts, ATM withdrawals when a debit card was never used, New “best friends” accompanying to the bank, Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills and many more.

Know what preventative measures can be taken
Speak to an attorney or financial advisor about your best options. Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers. Carefully select a trustworthy person to act as your agent. Never give your SSN, account number or other financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.

Know what to do in the case abuse does occur
If you suspect elder financial abuse, don’t hesitate to confront the perpetrator and get the proper authorities involved. Theft should be reported to law enforcement officials, and there are local and state social services agencies in every state to help elderly victims of financial abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse (ncea.aoa.gov) can point residents in every state to an elder abuse hotline.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Protect yourself and your home. Be sure your aging relative can work their locks properly. Seniors can be targets of break-ins and theft so preventative measures are key.

Tip #2 – Keep an eye and nose out for waste. Check for trash buildup and bad smells. It is not uncommon for some elderly people to become unable to carry heavy trash or unclog toilets on their own. Look for signs of hoarding or excess waste.

Tip #3 – Build a close circle of family and friends. One of the biggest risks to a senior’s mortality rate is isolation. Maintaining a healthy social life is a great way to stay safe, active and healthy in a community where they feel appreciated and loved.

Tip #4 – Get tested for pneumococcal. The CDC also recommends pneumococcal vaccines for those 65 or older. These protect against diseases seniors are more susceptible to like pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

Please, don’t be a sitting duck. Click the next article to read more about Senior Crime Prevention.

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Chair Yoga for Seniors

Chair yoga benefits seniors, those with limited mobility, disability, or acute injuries. Wheelchair yoga and gentle chair yoga strengthen body and mind, with research-backed benefits. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Geriatrics found that chair yoga participants with osteoarthritis experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain with daily activities and improvement in walking speed.

A 2012 study found that chair yoga reduced the risk of falls and moderated the anxiety many seniors felt around falling. Falling is the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. It is estimated that 50% of adults over the age of 80 fall annually. This study, along with an earlier study in 2010 conclude that chair yoga for seniors can help reduce the risk and fear of falling.

Researchers examined the effects of chair yoga on physical function, including balance and mobility and found that chair yoga significantly improved the quality of life in the participants. “We think that the physical poses we used in the chair yoga and chair-based exercise groups were an important factor in improving quality of life for the participants in our study,” said Juyoung Park, Ph.D

How this can help seniors:

Stay Active
Part of getting older is gradually slowing down. Far from the frantic pace of youth, many seniors have the unique opportunity to take their time in their daily activities. For some, injuries or chronic pain may require a slower pace or to be more intentional as they move about their day. Fortunately, chair yoga for seniors can accommodate the natural aging process while also helping those with limited mobility stay active.

Get fit and healthy with reduced risk of falls and injury
Chair yoga provides a safe environment for stretching, strengthening and flexibility while decreasing the risk of falls by using a chair. It also provides important breathing and relaxation techniques utilizing stationary poses that use isometric contraction and guided relaxation of various muscle groups.

Improve balance control 
A new study finds that a chair yoga program can help to significantly improve the balance control of older adults with Alzheimer’s, indicating that motor learning is still possible, even in people with dementia. What’s more, this study suggests that the program is not only safe and feasible but enjoyable as well.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Avoid burns in the shower. Install a thermostatically controlled or pressure balance shower valve to prevent scalding.

Tip #2 – Reduce the risk of harm from adverse drug events. Keep a list of your medicines and take all medications only as directed.

Tip #3 – Reduce back strain caused by reaching.

Tip #4 – Ensure gas leaks are noticeable. Request that your gas company modifies your stove so that the gas odor is strong enough to be noticeable if your pilot light goes out.

Financial abuse affects seniors differently than younger adults. Find out how by visiting the next article.

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Grab Bar with Sliding Handheld Shower Head

Grab Bar with Sliding Handheld Shower Head

Image 3
By The WellNest Company

According to a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 200,000 Americans are treated in emergency departments for bathroom-related injuries annually.

A recent study shows that 55% of bathroom falls reported by a sample of 550 older adults occurred while bathing, with 70% of the falls occurring during unsuccessful transfers. Nearly one-third of the participants reported difficulty getting into or out of the tub as well as sitting down or getting up from the floor of the tub.

Bathrooms have unforgiving and slippery surfaces, and few dependable things to grasp onto, which greatly increases the chances for harm. Fall-related injuries range from minor cuts, scrapes and bruises to more severe injuries, such as broken bones (especially hip fractures), head contusions, and even spinal cord injury.

Like standard straight wall grab bars, slide bars can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The bar can be easily adjusted so that the water can reach every part of the body, making it much easier for those who are disabled to take a shower. The bar allows the shower head to be adjusted easily to allow showering without needing to stand.

How this can help seniors:

Assistance and increase in range when showering
For people with limited mobility or who prefer to shower while seated, a handheld shower-head is a terrific help. Even better, is a handheld shower-head on a sliding rail that allows for individual adjustment. Look for an ADA-compliant grab bar with a sliding handheld shower-head.

Regain your shower independence
Being elderly does not mean that one should have to give up all independence and ask someone to help them bathe. Grab bars with a portable sliding shower head provide simple solutions to help the elderly remain independent in their later years, and the comfort of knowing that something once difficult is now easy again.

Alleviate the stress and worry of comfort and cleanliness.
These shower heads come with many options such as adjustable height and extendable slide bar shower heads, making all parts of your body easier to reach. Comfort and   showering can become a chore because of all the hard to reach places and the constant reaching of the arms. Being elderly does not mean that one should have to give up all independence and ask someone to help them bathe.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Check common outdoor areas for tripping hazards. Check the driveway for cracks regularly and be sure there’s a clear path to the mailbox. Remove rocks and roots from the yard.

Tip #2 – Invest in a senior friendly cell phone. Help older adults stay connected with friends and family, and make emergency help more easily accessible in case of an accident.

Tip #3 – Ask questions and read medication labels. If starting new medications, ask the doctor questions such as, how and when to take it, with or without food. Read all medication labels thoroughly.

Tip #4 – Display emergency numbers in a conspicuous place. Always keep a list of emergency numbers should you need to call someone for help.

Learn the importance of physical care through movement in our next article.

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