ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged older adult

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Monday , June 15 , 2020

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Exercise is an important part of daily life for seniors, and its benefits are well-documented. A regular fitness routine not only helps improve strength but can also enhance mental health and delay the onset of many age-related diseases.

Despite these benefits, many older adults don’t love the idea of going to the fitness center several times a week. We get it – exercise can get boring.

Luckily, fitness doesn’t have to mean aerobic exercise or weight training. It can be as simple as puttering around in the garden!

Studies show that spending time weeding, planting, and sowing is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health. It stimulates the senses, provides physical activity, and helps us reconnect with nature.

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of gardening for seniors – and how to best grow your own garden.

How Does Gardening Benefit Seniors?

 

  1. It lowers stress. Studies have shown that gardening can lower levels of the stress-producing hormone cortisol and raise the levels of serotonin, a calming chemical that helps improve mood. Some studies have even linked gardening to a reduction in symptoms of depression. In addition, gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync.

 

  1. It boosts heart health. Did you know that in the 60–79-year-old age group, 69.1% of men and 67.9% of women have cardiovascular disease? Luckily, studies have found that regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. Additionally, gardening can help you burn 200 to 400 calories and hour, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

  1. It increases mobility. Mobility problems in seniors can stop them from taking part in activities they enjoy and can lead to social isolation and depression. Many older adults begin to limit what they do physically, believing they are saving themselves from injury – but remaining active is the key to good health. Gardening is known to engage lesser-used muscles and to help build strength and mobility.

 

  1. It increases brain health. No one knows exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease or how to prevent it, but studies show that positive live choices, such as gardening, can have an impact. In fact, the physical demands, critical thinking skills, and sensory awareness have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

 

  1. It encourages healthy eating. There are many reasons why it can be difficult for seniors to stick to a healthy diet. New food aversions. Difficulty chewing. Dietary restrictions. Boredom. The list goes on and on. But growing your own garden makes it easy to access healthy, delicious foods in season – including many you can pluck off the plant and eat on the spot, like snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or berries.

Final Thoughts

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity when the weather is nice, and the benefits are many. One of the best things about gardening for seniors is that it is adaptable for all skill and ability levels – for example, potted plants or raised beds can be used instead of a traditional garden for those who can’t bend or kneel.

Know your limits, take breaks as necessary, but – most of all – HAVE FUN!

Happy gardening!

Posted in: Health

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Age is Just a Number

Monday , June 1 , 2020

Age is Just a Number

A few days ago, I got this text from a caregiver who has been with us since 2006: “I will be back in Jersey June 4th. Hope u have a job for me. It’s very hot here. I am ok, just very bored.”

Amazingly, this lady is 86 years old!

For the past few years, she has stayed with family in Florida every winter and returns in the summer. I never thought she’d be returning to New Jersey on the same schedule during Coronavirus, but you just can’t keep her in the rocking chair!

This woman is an excellent aide – smart and gracious – and she works harder than many aides a quarter of her age.

Moral of the story? Seniors can help other seniors – and we shouldn’t make assumptions about people’s ability and energy based on age!

Here are some ways we often underestimate seniors’ abilities and strength and what you can do instead:

We Meddle in Decisions

Do you often find yourself jumping into the middle of a situation where you don’t necessarily belong? Much like parents try to shield their children from harm and pain, we often do the same to protect older loved ones.

By making decisions for older adults (whether it’s what they should be eating or where they should live), we rob them of the chance to control their own lives. Don’t forget, seniors have overcome many challenges and difficulties throughout the years, and they’re often much more capable than we give them credit for.

We Don’t Recognize Strengths

Many of today’s older adults did not grow up in an easy environment. They’ve lived through wars, recessions, and social justice movements. They may have had limited resources in the forms of health care and education. If they are immigrants, they may have faced a language barrier or racism.

Even though these older adults are nearing their end of life, they still have a lot of reliance and strength. What you see as “protecting,” they may see as undermining.

We Limit Learning Opportunities

Growing older does not mean that a person is limited in their capacity to learn and grow. In fact, experts say that lifelong learning can help improve brain health!

Despite this, relatives and caregivers of older adults often underestimate the ability of seniors to learn. It is sometimes so bad that seniors are viewed as having child-like abilities, unable to understand simple instructions or comprehend normal adult conversation. Unless there is an underlying mental illness or significant health condition, this is not the case.

We Don’t Value Opinions

The opinions of older adults are often brushed aside as unimportant or trivial. We don’t recognize the importance of their views, even when it comes to their own finances or healthcare. An important first step is to take the time to actually talk to your older adult and find out what’s important to them. This can be a general conversation or about something specific.

Ultimately, whatever decisions you make for your older loved one should occur with their consent, as much as possible. In the long run, having honest conversations leads to better solutions!

Final Thoughts

Respecting seniors and involving them in the decisions surrounding their own lives helps to set the foundation for a honest, open relationship between you and your older loved one.

Posted in: Aging

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Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Monday , May 4 , 2020

Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Self-care is always essential for caregivers, but even more so during periods of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the ongoing illness ravaging the country, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care to those in need. And while the everyday demands of caring for a loved one is already a fulltime job, it’s even more challenging when trying to cope with an infectious disease.

During this difficult time, caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own health and well-being. This helps avoid the risk of caregiver burnout as well as reducing the likelihood of transmission.

Here are some tips for conscientious caregiving in the age of COVID-19.

Reduce the Likelihood of Transmission

As a caregiver, your number one concern is likely for the health and safety of your loved one. To help keep both of you well, follow CDC guidelines for personal hygiene:

To help stop the spread of germs:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw used tissues in the trash
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands
  • Wash hands frequently, especially
    • Before, during, and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After touching garbage

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19-related news in your area – but don’t obsess over it. Constantly checking your social media feed or the local news can be mentally draining and increase stress. Choose a time each day to catch up on relevant information and don’t look at it otherwise.

Make time for self-care

Your loved one’s well-being relies on your ability to take care of yourself and stay well. To keep yourself healthy and fit:

  • Eat balanced meals on a regular schedule
  • Maintain a regular sleep routine
  • Fit in exercise whenever possible
  • Find opportunities to relax
    • Take a walk around the block
    • Go for a drive
    • Try gardening
    • Take small breaks and read
    • Check out a new recipe
  • Try meditation
    • Many apps, like Headspace, can help with relaxation and sleep

Stay connected

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing. It IS possible – and recommended – to maintain your social connections despite not being able to see each other in person.

  • Reach out to friends and family for regular chats and wellness checks
  • Consider spending time together virtually – watch a movie together or play an online board game
  • If you live with loved ones, figure out ways you can have fun together, rather than just falling prey to the doldrums of isolation

Watch for signs of burnout

Caregiver burnout can happen in any situation, but it’s far more likely during periods of high stress. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overwhelming anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks

Final thoughts

Though it may be difficult right now, make time for yourself whenever possible. Caregiving can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting – and if you are not well, you can’t care for another.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and reach out if you feel like you need some outside support.

Posted in: Caregivers

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