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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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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

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National Napping Day: The Perfect Way to Recover from Daylight Savings Fatigue

Tuesday , March 9 , 2021

National Napping Day: The Perfect Way to Recover from Daylight Savings Fatigue

This weekend, people across the country will “spring ahead” and set their clocks forward an hour in observance of daylight savings. What’s that mean? As DST starts, the sun will rise and set later than it did the day before. While the change, in theory, helps us make better use of daylight, it also leaves many people feeling drowsy.

Luckily, the following day has officially been designated “National Napping Day,” and it’s the perfect time to catch some much-needed Zs.

Types of Naps

You may have thought that a nap is simply a quick afternoon sleep session, but as it turns out, naps can be categorized depending on the function they serve. According to the Sleep Foundation, there are five main types:

  •  Recovery Nap: Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling tired the following day. If you are up late or have interrupted sleep one night, you might take a recovery nap the next day to compensate for sleep loss.
  • Prophylactic Nap: This type of nap is taken in preparation for sleep loss. For example, night shift workers may schedule naps before and during their shifts in order to prevent sleepiness and to stay alert while working.
  • Appetitive Nap: Appetitive naps are taken for the enjoyment of napping. Napping can be relaxing and can improve your mood and energy level upon waking.
  • Fulfillment Nap: Children have a greater need for sleep than adults. Fulfillment naps are often scheduled into the days of infants and toddlers and can occur spontaneously in children of all ages.
  • Essential Nap: When you are sick, you have a greater need for sleep. This is because your immune system mounts a response to fight infection or promote healing, and that requires extra energy. Naps taken during illness are considered essential.

How to Take the Best Nap 

If you want to get the most out of your nap, there are some Do’s and Don’ts. Napping at the wrong time of day or for too long can leave you unable to sleep later at night. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you sleep, the more likely you are to feel groggy after you wake up.
  • Nap in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 pm can interfere with sleep later at night.
  • Create a restful environment. A dark, quiet room at a comfortable temperature is best. Blackout curtains can help eliminate unwanted light, while a white noise machine can drown out any household commotion.

Benefits of Napping

There’s no need to feel lazy for indulging in daytime sleep. As it turns out, a nap can have dozens of health benefits including improved memory, better job performance, and increased alertness. Here are a few more:

  • It may lift your mood. Experts say that napping, or simply laying down for an hour, can help improve your outlook on life, whether or not you actually fall asleep.
  • It can ease stress. Just 30 minutes of sleep can help decrease anxiety and improve your immune health.
  • Sleep is good for your heart. One study found that people who napped for 45 to 60 minutes had lower blood pressure after going through mental stress.
  • Naps can help you sleep better at night. Although it seems counterintuitive, sleeping during the day, combined with light to moderate exercise, can improve nighttime rest.

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