Does Your Spouse Need Caregiving Support?

Caregiving Staying Put at HomeHe’s been your partner for decades. She’s been your companion for years. Lately, though, you’ve noticed changes. Perhaps your husband forgets words and dates more often, or your wife seems more weary and withdrawn. Age can make many of us feel worn out after going to the store or forget where we left our keys, but some changes can signal a more serious problem. A time may come when your spouse needs you to be more than a partner; he or she might need a caregiver as well.

Drug Complications

Does your spouse take medications? Many seniors do, but with the use of prescription drugs comes the risk of abuse or adverse interactions. Early dementia could cause your husband or wife to forget medications or accidently overdose on them. So if your spouse appears lethargic or confused, it may be because of a drug interaction. To ensure safe medication usage, you may need to manage the dosing schedule and hold onto prescriptions to stop unintentional mistakes.

Home Concerns

Drug interactions can sometimes lead to unsafe situations. For instance, has your spouse ever forgotten to turn off the oven or stove? A bad drug interaction could make your husband or wife unsteady and cause a slip and fall accident as well. Also, take a look at the appearance of your house. Does it look as tidy as it normally would? Conditions such as dementia and depression can make it difficult for your spouse to remember or have the energy to do the dishes and dust the shelves.

Appearance Changes

A healthy diet can be difficult for seniors to maintain. With older age, taste diminishes and appetite can fade. The Department of Health and Human Services created a list of warning signs for spouses and other loved ones. Unexpected weight loss, which can happen if your spouse skips meals, might mean that he or she needs help. Poor hygiene is another sign. If your husband no longer bathes on a regular basis, or if your wife often forgets to change her clothes, it may be time to talk about your caregiving options.

Summary Points:

  • Older age might require some spouses to take on caregiving duties for their partners.
  • Noticing early physical and mental warning signs can prevent future accidents.
  • Weight loss and poor hygiene are two signs that your spouse might need help.

Exercise Now–Avoid Falls Later

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home SafetyGetting your vision checked. Removing loose rugs and stray cords. Avoiding medication interactions. Each of these actions can reduce your fall risk. But to keep falls from being part of your future, exercise is a must. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists physical activity first among its fall prevention tips.

When exercise isn’t part of your daily life, though, knowing where to start can be a challenge. So first things first: consult your doctor before you begin a workout regimen. Depending on your preferences and restrictions, he can guide you toward the activities that will best improve your fall safety.

Go for a Walk

Walking is an excellent way to get in your daily exercise. With this one activity, you can bolster your leg strength, stamina and balance. Even better, you can do it anywhere. If you’re new to working out, ask a friend to accompany you on your walks. Prioritize safety over speed. You don’t have to walk fast to get its perks, but you do need to do it regularly to enjoy its benefits.

Lift Some Weights

Mother Nature can sometimes throw a wrench into your outdoor workout plans. But even when it’s too wet, windy or chilly to go for a walk, you can still work on your fall prevention exercises. All it takes is a few free weights. Weightlifting is a form of strength training, which can help you build muscle mass and improve bone density.

Take Up Water Aerobics

Do you suffer from stiff joints? Though walking and weightlifting can eventually ease arthritis pain, taking a dip in a pool can also help you fight falls without stressing your joints. When you work out in water, the resistance against your movements can boost your endurance and promote stronger muscles. Plus, water aerobics lets you socialize with friends and meet new people.

Learn Tai Chi

You may have never heard of tai chi, but experts laud it as an essential tool against falls. This ancient tradition focuses on slow and steady movements, making it an ideal exercise to better coordination. Students must also shift their weight, which can improve balance. Facilities around the country offer tai chi classes, so call your local gym or recreation center for more information.

Have more exercise suggestions? Tell our readers about your favorite fall prevention exercises in our comments section.

Senior Living: What Are Your Options?

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthThe United States is home to more than 75 million baby boomers. If you’re among them, odds are you’ve thought about how your needs might change over the coming years. AARP reports that many seniors want to stay put at home, and with safe houses and healthy lifestyle habits, they can age in place for decades. A time may come, though, when outside care is necessary for health and safety reasons.

Home Care

Older age can bring on health issues such as arthritis, glaucoma and dementia. Just because you have a harder time walking or seeing your surroundings, though, you can still enjoy a high quality of life at home. If you need only minimal help to keep up with your household chores or medical appointments, consider home care. For just a few hours a week, professional aides can make your meals, launder your linens and drive you to the doctor.

Independent Living

If you want to permanently relinquish your homeownership responsibilities, an independent living community might be the right choice for you. Sometimes called retirement communities, independent living communities can provide the comforts of home within a group environment. Many entities offer meal service, housekeeping and even entertainment, but you can still have the privacy of your own apartment or bungalow.

Assisted Living

When a condition such as Alzheimer’s disease reaches an advanced stage, assisted living care can often address the particulars of such a serious medical situation. In fact, assisted living can prove integral to anyone with substantial health limitations. With compassion, expertise and discretion, personal care aides can oversee bathing needs, incontinence issues, and other health and hygiene needs.

Nursing Home

Infirmity is not a certainty in older age, but a steep decline in health may demand nursing home care. What some people may not realize, though, is that nursing homes are not always permanent living situations. For instance, if you suffer a heart attack and require rehabilitation, you may go to a nursing home for only a few weeks until you are strong enough to move back to your own home, independent living community or assisted living community.

Continuing Care

Independent living communities, assisted living communities and nursing homes cater to distinct senior demographics. So what does that mean? Should you ever experience a major health event while living in an independent living community, you may need comprehensive assistance beyond what it can provide. That’s why continuing care communities might be the best option for seniors who anticipate changing medical concerns. As the name implies, continuing care allows residents to remain in the same place even as their healthcare demands increase.

The landscape of senior living is constantly changing. What are your thoughts on the many senior care options available? We’d love to hear them in our comments section.

Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of Your Health

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mental HealthThe golden years.

It’s a phrase that suggests an existence of unadulterated serenity. However, the reality of older age can sometimes play out differently. Especially when you suffer from a health problem or care for a spouse with a medical condition, the golden years can quickly tarnish.

Seniors are no strangers to stress. But what you may not realize is that it can complicate existing health issues, including heart disease and diabetes, or increase the likelihood of their development. So it’s important to cultivate effective strategies to keep stress at bay.

Reach Out to a Friend

Socializing does more than give you an excuse to try out that new restaurant. Spending time with friends can also suppress the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels remain high over a sustained amount of time, they can negatively impact many facets of health, including immunity and metabolic function. So when you’re feeling stressed, grab a friend for coffee or a movie. If you live far from loved ones, research senior centers in your neighborhood. It might take a few visits, but as you meet people, you can form new nurturing friendships.

Find an Activity You Love

There’s no denying that exercise is imperative to your physical health. Did you know, though, that physical activity can also boost mental wellness? According to the Mayo Clinic, working out is one of the best ways to alleviate anxiety and improve mood. Want more good news? You have a seemingly endless array of exercise options. Love feeling the wind in your hair? Go for a bike ride. Too cold or rainy for a bike ride? Then step on a treadmill to stay warm, dry and stress-free.

Indulge Every Once in a While

When stress initiates a fight or flight response, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. So go ahead and book that massage. Research shows that massage therapy can be a highly effective stress management tool, though individuals with certain conditions like osteoporosis should first consult their physicians. Not comfortable with the intimate nature of massage? You can still reap its benefits without a masseuse. Products such as walk-in bathtubs often come with water jet systems that can massage away tense muscles, stiff joints and stressed bodies.

How do you respond to stress? Let other readers know how you handle your stressors by leaving your tips in our comments section.

Senior Isolation: How to Stay Connected

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthBack in the day, if you wanted to talk with someone, you walked to his house. If he happened to live the next town over, you drove to him. In today’s world, though, staying social is much different.

Communication technologies now make it possible to instantly connect with anyone around the globe with just a keystroke or mouse click. But even as ways to connect with others is rapidly increasing, the social wellbeing of many seniors is dramatically decreasing. AARP reports that social isolation, which is frequently linked to feeble health and premature death, is a common concern among older individuals. If you feel isolated from others, know that you have options. Whether it’s signing up for a painting class or signing up for Facebook, you can cultivate new relationships and stay in touch with loved ones no matter your location or physical limitations.

Volunteer to Help

Growing a community garden. Playing with puppies. Teaching kids to read. These activities might just sound like fun ways to spend an afternoon, but each is an example of a volunteer opportunity. Non-profit organizations big and small are always looking for eager individuals to help with their needs. When you lend a hand, not only will you provide assistance to a good cause, but also you can get to know others with similar philanthropic passions.

Find a Senior Center

Would you like to meet other seniors, but you’re not quite sure where to find them? Just call up your neighborhood senior center. You might also try your area recreational center or active adult center. Regardless of labels, though, these organizations cater to seniors looking for ways to socialize with other older local residents.

Learn a New Skill

Senior centers offer more than a place to play Canasta. They also provide opportunities to explore different interests. So if you always wanted to sculpt or sew, ask your senior center if they offer that particular class. If they don’t, don’t give up. Art galleries and craft stores often host classes for those who want to pick up a hobby and meet people while doing it.

Get Online

If health problems restrict your ability to leave your home, you may be wondering how exactly to stay in touch with the rest of the world. In a word? The Internet. Email, Facebook, Skype and other online services now let anyone maintain their social ties regardless of mobility issues. Not sure how to get online? Ask a friend—or perhaps a tech-savvy grandkid—to help you set up your Internet and social media accounts.

Do you have other staying connected tips? Add your suggestions in our comments section.