According to the study “A Review of Social Isolation” by Nicholas R. Nicholson, which was published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, over 40% of Seniors who live at home are living in isolation. This is an alarming statistic in light of the fact that there is an increasing trend for seniors to “age in place” and the senior population in the over 65 age group is predicted to more than double in the next 25 years. The alarming part is that social isolation is a major health problem in older adults and is expected to dramatically increase in the near future. Studies have proven that this isolation and resulting lack of social activities can be directly linked to an increase in cognitive decline. In addition, by not belonging to a social network seniors don’t benefit from the positive encouragement of their friends to comply with healthy practices such as not smoking or staying active. Another health risk of isolation is depression which can worsen many conditions that seniors suffer from such as chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Isolation can happen for a variety of reasons—some by choice and some as a result of unexpected events. The death of a spouse often leaves the mate feeling alone and so sad that they can’t bear to keep up their old friendships with others. It’s also not uncommon for children to live a long distance away leaving get-togethers something that happens during the holidays or vacations. Getting older with now impaired vision or hearing can prevent a senior from driving and thus limit opportunities to get out. Problems with urinary incontinence may make it seem inconvenient to go anywhere and sleeping issues at night may make daytime drowsiness a deterrent from outside activities. If there are any safety issues with crime in the neighborhood, the senior may be reluctant to leave their home.
If you know or care for a senior living alone, there are things you can do to help prevent their isolation from the community. Encourage them to stay connected whether by phone or email or Skype. Make sure to regularly schedule and keep doctor and optometrist appointments so that vision or health problems are dealt with and won’t keep the senior house bound. Encourage involvement with others, whether it’s the local senior center or church group. If transportation is a problem, check into public transportation or community based volunteer drivers.If your senior is capable of and interested in caring for a pet it can give them a sense of purpose. It’s amazing how many people you meet just out walking the dog! You may also consider hiring a companion from a home care agency to assist with transportation and running errands or simply to provide some social contact and interaction. Small changes add up and make a big difference. Social isolation doesn’t happen overnight and can’t be remedied overnight. Do you have any tips on how to keep your loved one involved in life? Share below and visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com
Now that we’re without a doubt in the clutches of Old Man Winter, we have to be especially vigilant about the problem of dealing with low temperatures while caring for a senior friend or relative. Cold weather can create serious problems and health concerns for seniors. Two very important issues to be aware of are slip-and-falls and hypothermia.
It’s probably best to stay indoors in very cold weather but if your loved must go out, it makes sense to take precautions against falling. One of the most important things your senior can do is to dress appropriately with “sensible” shoes or boots. They need to have good ‘non-skid’ soles and be as waterproof as possible. Wet feet are very quickly cold feet. If your senior uses a cane or walker, this is not the time to leave it at home. Be sure the rubber tips on these devices are not worn down. It’s also important to make sure walkways and entrance areas are shoveled and salted if needed. Even a small amount of slush will make these areas slippery.
Another concern for seniors during cold weather is hypothermia which is an unusually low body temperature which can result in illness or death. According to the National Institute on Aging, over 2.5 million seniors are especially vulnerable to hypothermia. As many as 25,000 of them die each year. Seniors are particularly at risk because they may not feel the cold as easily as younger people do. They end up losing body heat faster than it can naturally be replaced by the body and temperatures do not have to be below freezing for hypothermia to occur. In addition, statistically, seniors take a lot of prescription drugs and these drugs also predispose them to hypothermia. Carefully monitor your senior if they take anti-depressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, or cardiovascular medication. Medical conditions your loved one may have can also cause a lack of feeling in their extremities and they may not realize how cold they are. These conditions include diabetes, arthritis and stroke complications.
Take some precautions with your senior or loved one when it’s so cold. If they live alone, check on them every day. Be certain that the thermostat is set no lower than 68 degrees. Make sure they dress in layers of light clothing and have extra blankets on the bed at night. Hypothermia can develop even during sleep. If you see them shivering or acting particularly drowsy, or they seem unusually confused or fumble with their hands, head for the emergency room. Don’t let your loved one become a statistic. Do you have any other tips for handling all this cold weather? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
The holiday season is finally in full swing and before your know it, we’ll be ushering in the New Year. We’ll be looking at the past year and promising ourselves that this new year will be different. We’ll think of all the things that went wrong and come up with a nice list of changes for the coming year that will make everything so much better. Sound familiar? As caregivers, it’s easy to blame ourselves for anything that might have gone wrong while we cared for our loved one. Did we put our loved one first? Were we attentive to their needs?
I’m sure the list of New Year resolutions will look something like this:
#1. I will get all the sleep and rest I need.
#2. I will do all I can to have a healthy lifestyle.
#3. I’ll ask for and accept all the help I can get.
#4. I will do something every day to de-stress a bit.
#5. I promise to keep up a social life.
#6. I will communicate and share with others who are going through the same experiences I am.
#7. I will use respite care whenever I can.
#8. I will learn all I can about my loved one’s condition.
After looking at all of these resolutions, you can see a common thread. They can all be replaced with an attitude adjustment. As caregivers, we need to shift our concerns to caring for ourselves! Somehow it seems wrong to even say that. We’ve spent an awful lot of time putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own and just thinking about yourself seems so selfish. The thing to remember is that if we aren’t in good shape physically and emotionally, we’ll be ineffective as caregivers and end up being useless to those we care for. This year my goal is to wake up every morning and remind myself that it’s all about me. What resolutions are you making for the new year? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
It’s that time of year when we wrack our brains trying to select that perfect something to give the special people in our lives. If there is a caregiver who helps us or who cares for a family member or loved one, this is an especially difficult decision to make. What can we possibly get them that would be both meaningful and helpful? What could the caregiver in your life use the most? It seems to me that all caregivers are short of one special thing — time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to work, care for one’s own family, and care for a loved one. Don’t even mention having a social life or time for simple personal interests. If you think about it, anything you can do to free up some time for the caregiver would be appreciated. You can volunteer to do some grocery shopping or you can provide some meals. Better yet, you can stay with the loved one for a while to free up some time for the caregiver to do something for themselves. Volunteer to do some household task like doing the laundry or cleaning house. If you personally don’t have time to do these things, perhaps you could arrange to pay for some of these services to be provided.
It’s important for caregivers to know they are not alone. Providing an opportunity to vent without being judged or criticized can be an invaluable gift. Caregivers often have to deal with family members who provide little help but lots of ideas on how things should be done. Just lending an ear can help relieve the constant stress they are under. In that same vein, a gift certificate for a day at a spa or for a relaxing massage while you take over the caregiver duties would allow for some much needed “me time”.
If you’re more inclined to giving tangible things as gifts, you might consider gift cards for restaurants, grocery stores, or services. Anything that would help defray the costs of living would surely be appreciated. Caregiver reference materials like books or caregiver magazine subscription can help provide tips and advice on how to ease the burden of their duties. Paying for a personal emergency reporting system for their loved one can provide some piece of mind for the caregiver when they are not there. The bottom line is, give the gift of YOU. They surely don’t need another knickknack. Do you have any other caregiver gift ideas? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com