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Archive for March, 2021

How Seniors Can Safely Manage Allergy Season

Monday , March 29 , 2021

How Seniors Can Safely Manage Allergy Season

While most of us look forward to the warmer weather that marks the beginning of spring, the time of year comes with severe seasonal allergies for some individuals. 

For older adults, it is imperative to look for signs of springtime sensitivities, such as runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes. For seniors aged 65+ – especially those with cardiovascular issues – allergies and the medications used to treat them can pose a severe threat. 

Here are some simple tips on managing allergies in the elderly, so you or your older loved one can enjoy the season without the sniffles:

Be Aware of Allergy Symptoms

 Don’t assume that just because you’ve never had allergies before, you can’t suddenly get them. Adult-onset allergies are not unusual, and they’re on the rise in the U.S. 

Learning the symptoms of seasonal allergies is critical to managing them for yourself or your loved ones. Here’s what you should look for: 

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Though most of these symptoms may seem harmless, they can cause extreme discomfort and complicate the treatment of other conditions. 

Avoid High-Pollen Days

The amount of pollen in the air can vary from day to day, so plan your time outdoors to avoid exceptionally high pollen counts. Many news services report the daily pollen count during the weather forecast, and you can always find the information online.

If you’re unable to find the information, stick to these basic guidelines: 

  • Stay inside if the weather is warm, dry, or windy
  • The pollen count is usually highest from 5 am to 10 am every day
  • The best time for people with allergies to be outside is after a heavy rainfall

Keep Your House Pollen-Free

During spring, it is nearly impossible to keep your home allergen-free, especially if you spend a lot of time coming and going. Still, there are several things you can do to help keep your home allergy-safe:

  • Avoid opening windows and doors
  • If you get warm, use an air conditioner rather than a fan
  • Vacuum and mop floors frequently
  • Wash your hands and shower often
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors to help keep irritants out of your eyes
  • Change your clothes after coming in from the outdoors
  • Use the dryer rather than hanging clothes outside

Try Natural Remedies

Although allergy treatment usually involves over-the-counter antihistamines, experts say that adding certain foods to your diet may help alleviate symptoms. From reducing inflammation to boosting the immune system, these snacks may help ease the struggle of seasonal allergies: 

  • Apples, berries, garlic, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower contain quercetin, a bioflavonoid that can help prevent your body’s immune system from releasing histamines
  • Citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli contain immune-boosting Vitamin C, which can help shorten the duration of symptoms
  • Fatty fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation
  • Bee pollen can have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties in the body

Final Thoughts

If you or an older loved one have symptoms of seasonal allergies, bring it up with your healthcare provider. Allergies can easily get missed during a fast-paced doctor appointment, and some older adults, such as those with dementia, may not be able to express how they’re feeling on their own. Don’t be afraid to advocate! 

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Understanding the Three Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression

Monday , March 22 , 2021

Understanding the Three Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression

Older adults are at high risk for depression and cognitive disorders such as dementia and delirium. Clarifying the diagnosis is the first step to effective treatment – but it’s not always easy. 

Delirium and depression can cause cognitive changes that may be mistaken for dementia, such as poor memory. And people who have dementia often develop signs of depression, like poor appetite and low self-esteem. 

There is also the genuine possibility that an older adult may have a combination of all three issues concurrently. 

So, how can you tell the difference between dementia, delirium, and depression in older people, to ensure they receive the proper care? Keep reading to learn more about the signs and symptoms of each condition. And make sure to sign up for our “Understanding the 3 Ds” webinar at the bottom! 

Delirium

Delirium is a neuropsychiatric syndrome that causes sudden changes to a person’s thinking and attention, causing them to become confused. Episodes of delirium are common among older adults, especially those who are ill, in the hospital, or recovering from surgery. The condition develops acutely and is temporary and reversible. 

The most common symptom is inattention, though a person experiencing delirium may also suffer from difficulty with orientation, memory, or language and thought. Hallucinations or illusions may also be present. 

Depression

Depression is a common mood disorder. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, over more than 264 million people suffer from the illness, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. 

The diagnosis of depression depends on the presence of two main symptoms: persistent and pervasive low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. Other signs include: 

  • Increased fatigue and sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability (primarily in men)
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Uncontrolled emotions

Symptoms are of clinical significance when they interfere with everyday activities and last for at least two weeks. 

Along with apathy, depression is one of the most common symptoms in Alzheimer’s Disease – especially those with Lewy bodies. 

Dementia

Dementia is not a single disease but an umbrella term covering a wide range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.”

Signs of dementia can vary greatly, but some common examples include: 

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Increased confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Depression or apathy

Complications in Diagnosis

Symptoms of delirium, depression, and dementia can be pretty similar. For instance, delirium and depression may present with apathy and withdrawal, while delirium and dementia are characterized by confusion and disorientation. 

To further complicate matters, delirium and depression often occur in a person with dementia, so it is common to have all three issues at once. 

Differentiating delirium from depression and dementia requires knowing the characteristic features of each condition and knowing the patient’s history (either personally or from a family member or friend). 

The Victoria State Government has a helpful chart with a side-by-side analysis of all three conditions and their key features. 

Attend a FREE ComForCare Workshop

ComForCare is offering a free virtual workshop on Wednesday, March 31st, from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm. 

The workshop entitled “Understanding the 3 Ds: Dementia, Delirium, and Depression” will count as one continuing education credit for social workers and case managers and 1.5 contact hours for RNs/LPNs.

By the end of the program, participants will be able to: 

  • Distinguish between dementia, delirium, and depression and the causes and prevalence of each
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms that overlap across all three conditions, as well as the differences that set them apart
  • Identify common scenarios in which combinations of conditions may occur
  • Explain why people need a thorough evaluation of any changes in mental status, including those already diagnosed with dementia
  • Take the appropriate actions to connect families and individuals to evaluations and resources if dementia, delirium, or depression are suspected

Go to bit.ly/delirium2021 to sign up today! 

Posted in: Aging

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How Can I Eat Healthy as I Age?

Tuesday , March 16 , 2021

How Can I Eat Healthy as I Age?

In March, people across the country focus on healthy eating in celebration of National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, centers on creating nutritious meals based on individual needs and preferences – because no two people are the same.

At ComForCare, we know that no two seniors are the same! We all age differently, and that often means different nutritional goals and needs.

Keep reading to learn more about the history of National Nutrition Month and how you can continue to eat healthfully as you age.

National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It began in 1973 as National Nutrition Week and became a month-long observance in 1980. Each year centers around a different topic focused on nutrition education and information.

This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals’ cultural and personal food preferences.

According to Su-Nui Escobar, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Miami, Florida, “America is a cultural melting pot, so you can’t expect everyone’s food choices to look the same. Eating is meant to be a joyful experience. As supermarkets increasingly diversify their shelves to meet the needs of their customers, it’s becoming easier to create nutritious meals that align with a variety of cultural preferences.”

Unique Challenges for Older Adults

Developing a healthful eating pattern is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The key is tailoring your favorite foods to meet your individual nutrient needs – including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals. Meeting these nutrition goals is essential at any age, but especially as we grow older.

As our bodies age, they change. For example, you may have noticed that the nightly bowl of ice cream you used to enjoy now gives you indigestion or that having a glass of wine before bed now keeps you up all night. Some of these changes are easy to deal with, but others make it harder for seniors to eat healthy.

Here are just a few of the issues that can make it difficult for an older adult to maintain a balanced diet:

  • Changes to home life, such as suddenly living alone
  • Health issues which can make it harder to chew and swallow food
  • New medications which can change how food tastes, make your mouth dry or take away your appetite
  • Decreased income and less money for groceries
  • Altered sense of smell and taste

Healthy Eating as You Age

These tips from MedlinePlus can help maintain a healthy diet, despite challenges:

  • Eat nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins
  • Avoid empty calories, like soda or alcohol, candy, and baked goods
  • Choose foods that are low in cholesterol and fat
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear fluids, eating soups, or snacking on fruits such as watermelon
  • Keep physically active to help stimulate your appetite

Tips for a Custom Eating Plan

Our partner in caregiving, Stein Hospice, is offering a wonderfully informative Zoom seminar on Thursday, March 25th, entitled “Personalize Your Plate: Nutritional Considerations for Older Adults Living with Chronic Illnesses.” The presentation will offer expert tips to customize a healthy eating plan for yourself or your loved one by creating a balanced diet, increasing fluid and protein intake, and incorporating immune-boosting foods into your life. A Q&A will follow.

Register here, or for more information, call 732.649.3502, ext. 104

Posted in: Health

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