The Challenges of Stairs for Seniors Living Independently

It is common for seniors to want to live independently as long as they are able.  Although it is always worth looking into assisted care facilities, this can often be a problem for a senior’s self-esteem as they feel that their independence is at risk. Seniors would generally prefer to find a way to stay on their own and maintain their independence by making other alterations to their lives. Often this can mean modifying their current homes to allow for any mobility restrictions or moving into a new home that already makes it easier for mobility.  One of the toughest challenges for seniors to overcome in their homes is stairs. Stairs can become a large problem for seniors with mobility restrictions, but can also be the cause of falls, which can be the cause of mobility restrictions.

Available Options for Stair Modifications

It is definitely possible for seniors looking to maintain their independence to make modifications to their homes to help them be able to stay in their homes. These modifications will not just help seniors to feel independent, but can also help them to feel safe. Home modifications have been the solution for seniors for many years, but more technologies and modifications for the home are being introduced all the time. Certain simple modifications can eliminate many in home accidents.

Reorganizing Living Space: Many seniors who live in homes that are difficult to renovate, or who do not have the means to afford renovations may choose to reorganize their homes so that the main floor becomes their main living area to avoid climbing up the stairs.  For this to work, seniors will need living space, a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.  Not all homes are built to accommodate this style of living, so it may not be possible for all seniors to modify in this way.

Renovating: Many seniors choose to renovate their homes by installing a chairlift, stairlift or even elevator. These renovations can be quite costly and not all homes are fit or able to accommodate these changes, but for those homes that are, these options can be great for seniors who are facing mobility issues.

Relocating: For seniors who are living in a home that may be hard to modify, the possibility of moving to a home with less stairs can be an option. There are many homes available that will allow seniors to spread their belongings out throughout one floor.

For many seniors, these options are much more attractive as they prevent them from needing to move to assisted care facilities. Seniors will feel more comfortable and independent in their own homes.

 

How Becoming a Caregiver Can Affect You

Becoming a caregiver for one of your loved ones can have a large impact on your life and will often change the type of person you are. Changes will occur not only in your work and social life, but also most likely in you. This is because becoming a caregiver, is usually a selfless act that will teach you a lot about yourself and about helping others. Usually the changes in your life and personality are positive. Caregivers are often more empathetic and compassionate people; however, caregivers also tend to struggle with negative consequences. The negatives many caregivers face include exhaustion, stress and even sometimes anxiety from the challenging work they face in their day to day life. Unfortunately, these stresses can affect your day to day life and personal relationships.

Leadership

Becoming a caregiver requires a lot of work and the ability to be a decision-maker. Not only are you responsible for your life (and possibly the lives of your children and spouse), but now you are also responsible for an elderly loved one. Caregiving is a job that will help you to become more assertive and also one that will force you to make choices; however, it is important to note that it is not your job to parent your elderly loved one. Although they may need help, it is important to also allow them to maintain as much independence as possible, without taking over. This can be avoided by having discussions with your loved ones to see what they need from you and what they are able to do on their own.

Organization

As a caregiver, you are now responsible for keeping track of the things that are going on in your life as well as your elderly loved one’s life. It requires great organization when a person is depending on you to drop them off for an appointment, or make sure they are eating properly. For some people, this sort of organization does not come naturally, and it is a great learning curve. This can be a struggle at first and some may never be able to fully keep on top of everything. Implementing a system to organize everything can be a great help for yourself as well as your loved one.

Stress and Anxiety

Caregiving is a tough job and not everyone is able to do it. Some have a hard time taking on a caregiving role, while others find it comes extremely naturally. The job can require a lot of time and effort which can induce stress and anxiety. For those suffering, it is important to take care of yourself. You will be unable to do your job to your fullest potential if you are not at your best.

If you are a person who is able to overcome this stress and anxiety, caregiving can be an extremely gratifying occupation. It will help you to be more organized and to be able to be more assertive. These are qualities that will help not only in caregiving, but in your personal life as well.

Exercises for Seniors with Mobility Restrictions 

Exercise is always an important aspect of a person’s life, no matter what age they are. For many seniors, exercise can be difficult because their bodies do not respond to movement in the same way. For seniors that do not have mobility issues, exercise is much less limited. Going for walks, taking exercise classes, swimming and many other activities are great for these seniors as they are generally low impact and prevent further injury to the body. For seniors that have mobility restrictions, creating an exercise regime is a lot more difficult. Although the increased difficulty may be discouraging, it is important for these seniors to find out an exercise plan that works for them.

Getting Started

 It may be hard to get started on finding an exercise plan that works for you, but it’s important to figure out exercises that you are able to complete. When figuring out an exercise plan that works best for you, a good first step is to speak to your doctor about what they feel you will or won’t be able to do, or certain exercises you should avoid to prevent any injury. Your doctor will be aware of not only your mobility issues, but they will also be able to speak to any other health issues that may affect your ability to exercise. Your doctor will know how much exercise you are able to undertake and how much you should engage with on a daily or weekly basis.

Once you have spoken to your doctor, you will be able to evaluate and begin your plan for exercising. Motivation is a big factor in exercise for any person and a good way to keep motivated is to set goals for yourself. Exercise goals for seniors with mobility issues shouldn’t be unrealistic. This means setting attainable goals will help you to keep motivated and to continue with your exercise regime.

Exercises

Here are a few types of exercise that work well for seniors with mobility issues:

Water aerobics: Water exercises are great because flotation devices can be used to assist seniors in floating whilst they still get to use the resistance. For example, for seniors who do not have the use of their legs, a flotation device can be worn to support their weight while still using their arms to move through the water.

Resistance Training and weights: The great thing about resistance bands and weights is that they require little movement and can come is various sizes. For instance, seniors can start out using 5 lbs weights and doing just a few reps a day and as they strengthen, they will be able to start increasing the weight or the amount of reps they are performing.

 

Activities for Seniors with Visual Impairments

For many people, ensuring that those seniors with visual impairments aren’t bored and have plenty to do is extremely important. Not only is this an issue in assisted living facilities and senior homes, but also for seniors living at home. Activities, games and events should be accessible to those with visual impairments because it is generally not too much trouble to adapt them to include aids for people who don’t have the best sight. The inclusion of adaptations to these activities can make a huge difference in the life of a senior with visual impairment who may often face isolation or boredom as they are unable to contribute or participate with others who are able to see.

Adaptability

There are many ways to adapt activities to assist visually impaired seniors and keep them included in their surroundings. Whether this involves using large print (such as large print edition books) which allows seniors to be able to read books they would have otherwise have been unable to read due to the small size of the text, or involving more audio so they are able to use their ears instead of their eyes to participate. Another option for a lot of seniors who are visually impaired is to play games, or participate in activities with the assistance of another person who does not have any visual impairments. This way, that person will be able to explain and assist the visually impaired senior in participation. This is important to prevent isolation, boredom and the ability to be involved in a group activity.

Cards and Board Games

Cards and board games are some of the easiest things to adapt for visually impaired seniors. This is because they mostly rely on physical game pieces that must be read or seen. These types of games don’t usually require any abstract description, so they are easy for visually impaired seniors to learn and understand. To help these seniors, trying using large print cards, or those that have raised numbers. This way seniors will be able to play the game without needing someone else to read the card over their shoulders to tell them what cards they have. The same can be done with board games. Many companies sell adapted versions of their games. For instance, dominoes has an adaptive version with raised black dots on the tile. This means that visually impaired seniors can feel which numbers are on the tile for themselves without struggling to see the numbers.

Shows and Events

Many shows and events now include audio description intended for the visually impaired. Audio description is often available at art and history museums and theatres. Options at live plays are available as well as movie theatres which try to have described video in the same way that television does for the most popular shows.

Although it can seem difficult to a senior who is visually impaired to participate with friends and family in certain activities, it is important that they feel included. Having these activities adapted for inclusion of the visually impaired can make a massive difference in a senior’s quality of life.

 

How Caregivers Can Help to Prevent Hospital Admissions

Although not every hospital visit is avoidable, some visits can be preventable and with the help of caregivers, seniors can evade being admitted into the hospital. Many caregivers provide twenty-four hour support for their seniors, or are with them often enough to monitor changes in both physical and mental health. The caregiver plays an important part in a senior’s life because they are so involved. It is often up to the caregiver to notice changes in habits, general health and how the senior is feeling. It is important that seniors are also very open with their caregivers about how they feel and any changes they notice so that the caregiver can assess a given situation and decide upon the best course of action. The senior and the caregiver need to work as a team to combat any possible health issues that may develop.

Monitoring Diet

One of the first signs of changing health can be observed through a senior’s diet. If a senior’s diet drastically changes, or if a loss of appetite is observed, it may be a sign of a bigger issue. Change in diet cab signal many different physical issues, but also mental ailments such as depression.

Medication Reminders

Many seniors are on different medications for their various health issues. It is important that seniors follow the instructions for taking these medications. For instance, some medications require being taken on an empty stomach, full stomach, or at a specific time each day. Following these strict medication requirements can be difficult, especially if a senior is on multiple medications that all require different specifications. A caregiver can be hugely instrumental in helping seniors to take medications at the right time in the right way which can help to prevent further health issues for seniors.

Preventing Falls

Many seniors have some form of mobility issue. Whether a senior requires a cane, walker or wheelchair to be able to move around, caregivers can be involved in assisting seniors getting the place they need to be. This can include helping seniors to remove clutter from their homes and creating large pathways between rooms, but can also include physically assisting seniors when they want to go to a different room or to any place outside of the home.

General Safety Issues

Generally speaking, caregivers are most likely to be the first person in a senior’s life to notice and address any safety issue. If an entryway looks like a tripping hazard, a caregiver is more likely to notice it before the senior in their care trips over it. This is because caregivers are tuned into their senior’s needs and are able to think about how different situations or conditions will affect the person they are care for. Always staying vigilant will bee important for caregivers when it comes to keeping seniors safe and preventing unnecessary hospital visits.

Back to School – The Best Ways to Ensure You’re Prepared!

The beginning of September can be an extremely stressful time for most families. After having two months off school, most children aren’t excited to go back to the routine that is the school week. Children are often stressed about social and academic situations, while parents try hard to ensure they’re children are prepared for school both emotionally and materially. Parents also have the stress of figuring out before and after school care for their younger children. With everything that goes into preparing your child and yourself for back to school, it might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make sure everyone is prepared in the most fun and low stress ways possible.

Back to School Shopping

The first thing you need to do when thinking about back to school shopping is to take an inventory of everything you already have. Once you know what you have, its easier to make a list of what you still need. Although sometimes shopping with your kids can be more complicated than doing it on your own, bringing your children will help them to feel more prepared for school. Letting them make choices for the types of notebooks they get or some new outfits will help them to feel more comfortable with going back to school. This way they will feel like they are going back to school they way they want to look and present themselves which can be a big confidence booster.

Meal Prep

One of the most time consuming and stressful tasks for parents and children old enough to make their lunches, is finding the time to prepare all the meals. Luckily, there are many great recipes and tutorials that can now be found online that show you how to create healthy and varied lunches for an entire week. You and your child can work on most of these recipes together and create their lunches. Choose a night once a week like Sunday, to create the five meals your child will bring to school.

Start Your Routine Early

The summer can bring a lot of bad habits like staying up late and sleeping in. Since these bad habits don’t lend themselves to school and learning, help your children by setting a bedtime and acclimatizing them to it before they go back to school. Starting a week before school starts is a good idea to get your children used to going to sleep and waking up at school appropriate times.

Take Some Family Time

Once the kids go back to school, it becomes a lot harder to make time to spend as a family. With after school curricula’s, work and playdates, sometimes it can feel like there is no time to spend together as a family. Before the kids go back to school, make sure to make use of the time you have left. Plan a board game night, or a nice night out for dinner and a movie. This will be nice time together, but may also offer a distraction from the stresses that can come with going back to school.

Seniors and the Risk of Weight Gain

Weight gain can be a serious problem for people of all ages, but for seniors it can pose a particularly dangerous threat. Many of the usual health issues that we associate with aging are also the same issues that we associate with weight gain. The older we get, the more important that exercise and eating correctly becomes. Younger bodies are able to bounce back a lot better than older bodies, especially with the slowing down of our metabolisms. One of the largest health problems that can stem from weight gain is heart failure. Some other health problems that can arise through weight gain with age are diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

Weight Gain in Seniors

Weight gain in seniors is a common issue. As we age, we tend to gain weight for a multitude of reasons. Lower muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism and the number of calories we lose when we aren’t being physically active decreases. As we grow older, we also tend to be less active in general. Most people work in professions that are considered sedentary and we don’t engage in as many physical activities like we used to. Exercise is usually the first thing that people give up when they find their schedules and other obligations become too time consuming. It is important through any of these lifestyle changes that we keep an eye on our health and weight.

One of the most common reasons for weight gain isn’t necessarily a lack of exercise, but instead an increase of food intake and junk food cravings. High stress levels can cause a lot of issues with us as we age and the more weight we put on at a younger age, the harder it is to lose that weight as we age.

Addressing Weight Gain

Prevention is always the best medicine, so we should always strive to not let weight gain get out of hand. The more we weigh, the higher probability it is that we will encounter severe health issues later in life; however, for those who are overweight and looking to take control of their situation it is important to combine a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

For healthy eating, seniors (or people of any age) should be trying to eat well-balanced meals each day and eliminating junk food from their diets. Learning to ignore food cravings and to listen to your body tell you when it is actually hungry can be a huge factor in keeping your body healthy and avoiding the health issues associated with weight gain.

For exercise, seniors should know the limits of their bodies and not push too far. The first steps are improving mobility, balance and flexibility. At first, it may be enough to go out for a brisk walk, but upon the strengthening of muscles and confidence in your body, picking up weights or participating in fitness classes can help you to either lose the weight that is causing you health problems or prevent them altogether.

Living with and Improving Mobility Restrictions

For many seniors, at some point in their life, mobility restrictions will become an issue. For some, this could entail needing a walker or cane when moving around for balance to ensure that falls are avoided. For others, mobility issues can be more severe and require a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device. This can be a problem for a lot of seniors who find that suddenly they are needing to ask for help a lot more and needing this assistance can sometimes feel like a loss of independence. Loss of mobility can stem from chronic illnesses, falls that result in broken bones, or just regular issues with pain in joints. In most cases, there are many ways that we can help seniors who are struggling with their activity and it’s important to do so, so that seniors can maintain their independence.

Assistive Mobility Devices

Fortunately because there are so many seniors that are facing mobility issues, there are a lot of options available to seniors for assistance in their mobility. For something to lean on, consider using a walker or a cane. These are simplistic mobility devices that can make a world of difference to seniors struggling to get around and perform daily tasks. By offering just that little bit of extra support, these devices can make a large difference in daily life.

For seniors who still live at home who have a bedroom on an upper floor, chairlifts can be installed. Stairs tend to be a large issue for seniors and can, in fact, be a major player in seniors falling. By installing a chairlift in the home, seniors will be able to safely gain access to their upstairs rooms without having to risk taking a nasty fall.

Other devices such as shower chairs, grab bars and ramps can be added throughout the house just to help ensure that seniors are safe in their homes and can be assisted by devices rather than by people. This can mean a lot for seniors who want to maintain their independence.

Use Exercise to Improve Balance

One of the best ways to help a senior maintain as much mobility as possible is to help them with their balance. Falls have become one of the most common reasons for seniors having mobility issues and prevention is always the best medicine. By working with seniors to increase their balance, we can help to prevent nasty falls which will increase and promote independence for much longer. Almost any activity that includes walking will help to increase balance in seniors, but strengthening leg and core muscles specifically will improve balance drastically.

Many seniors fear becoming dependent on others and want to avoid needing any assistance. Mobility issues can exacerbate this fear and allowing your loved ones independence through the means of an assistive device can make a big difference to how they will feel about doing things on their own. It’s important to work on your balance at any age because it can make a big difference in later stages of your life.

How to Help Your Loved One Downsize

Downsizing a lifetime worth of belongings can be an extremely daunting task and for a lot of seniors it can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Downsizing can happen for many reasons. For some, big family homes may feel too big to deal with all the upkeep now that most of the family has left and for others, an entirely new lifestyle in a smaller space may be desired, but sometimes seniors must downsize because they need to move to an assisted care facility and are unable to live in their homes on their own. No matter the situation, downsizing can be difficult because as people, we often become attached to our belongings and it can be hard to decide what will stay and what will go. As a friend or family member of the senior who is downsizing there are things you can do to help.

Time

One of the biggest things an individual can do to offer their friend or family member help in downsizing their belongings is to offer their time. Whether this time is spent helping to sort, organize or move belongings, this can provide a huge relief to your loved one. It can be hard for seniors to ask their families for help spending time with tasks like this because they don’t want to feel like they are burdening them, so if you know a loved one is looking to downsize, offer your time to come and help to go and sort through their belongings with them.

Support

Another way to help your loved one to downsize is to be there for them. Realizing that downsizing can be an emotionally trying situation, there is nothing more important than supporting your family member. For instance, helping your loved one to look at an item and decide whether it should stay or go can be extremely helpful. Since you don’t have emotional attachments to the belongings, you will be able to offer an unbiased opinion while still being able to stay sensitive to their emotions. Having someone in the room to be a trusted voice of reason can be one of the most helpful parts in downsizing.

Everything Else

Although finances can be an awkward discussion, its important that you make sure that your loved ones are in a good place financially. Downsizing can include the selling of big or antique furniture pieces, or realty costs including closing costs, legal costs, etc. Selling a home can be a large and stressful task. Offering to meet with realtors, or even gifting a cleaner to come in clean up the house to show it to prospective buyers are a few ways to assist in a financial way. You can also be there to help your loved ones to meet with potential movers or be there on moving day to ensure their belongings are being treated with care.

Although downsizing a home full of belongings and memories can be a difficult task, being there for your loved one emotionally and in person can make a world of difference to their downsizing experience.

 

Should I Be a Caregiver for My Parent?

As our parents get older and it begins to become apparent that they may need more help in their everyday tasks, it can be a big question of whether or not it is up to us to provide this care? For some, it is not possible to become a parent’s caregiver because of work or childcare obligations, but for those that it is an option, it can become an extremely hard decision.

Some of the most important things to watch out for as a caregiver are hygiene, nutrition and social interaction. A lot of seniors are unable to drive, so being a caregiver can also require driving seniors to appointments or to various locations so that they are able to socialize, run errands or shop. Depending on the general health and abilities of your parent, being their caregiver can be a small task (helping them out here and there to do a few things that are more difficult for them) or it can be a full-time position (cooking all their meals, bathing and ensuring all of their medications are taken on time, etc).

Before becoming your parent’s caregiver, it is important to ask yourself some questions to see if you are prepared or able to take on the extra responsibilities that come with the tasks your individual parents need.

Am I financially prepared or able to take on the extra costs of caring for another person?

This can be a huge aspect of deciding whether to become your parent’s caregiver. If you find it hard to meet your current financial obligations, adding the cost of another person who will need extra medical attention might mean this isn’t a cost you can take on.

Am I able to take care of my elderly parent?

If you are uncomfortable or feel you are unable to perform any of the aspects of taking care of your elderly parent, it might be best to consider hiring in a caregiver or outside help. If this is the case, you can still be heavily involved in your parents care by being in contact with their caregiver. Even if you do feel able to perform the tasks your parents require, you do need to also consider the physical and mental toll that becoming your parent’s caregiver can take.

Will I be able to make time for the rest of my family?

If taking care of your parent becomes your fulltime responsibility so much so that you are unable to focus on the rest of your family, friends or other obligations, becoming a caregiver probably won’t work for you. Not only do you need to make time for your family and friends, but you also need to make time for yourself.

There are many resources available for caregivers and it is important that if you decide to take on becoming a caregiver for your parent to take advantage on these resources. It is also important to remember to ask for help if you feel that you need it. Friends, families and support groups can be a great place to talk through any issues you might be having and to find support for what you’re going through.