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Brighten the Day for an Isolated Senior

Monday , March 1 , 2021

Brighten the Day for an Isolated Senior

Visits from family and friends are often the only link isolated seniors have to the outside world. Yet now, in the wake of COVID-19, getting together face-to-face is considered unsafe and even dangerous.

Isolation and loneliness – already a problem for so many older adults – have dramatically ramped up worldwide. More than ever, these issues are taking a toll on the homebound, both mentally and physically. In response, we’ve put together this guide with a few ways to help older adults feel a little more connected to the world and their families.

Keep reading for some simple ways to help brighten up someone’s day.

Send a handwritten letter.

COVID-19 has limited our ability to see people face-to-face. Still, notes provide a simple way to maintain a connection – and in the age of email and text messages, receiving a handwritten letter or card in the mailbox is a fun treat. Not much of a writer? Try sending family photographs, interesting articles, or fun recipes instead. It’s more about making an effort than anything else.

Tip: If you want to help even more people, consider sending a note to an organization like Letters of Love. They sends cards and letters to elders all around the world to help ease loneliness.

Organize drive-by visits. 

Almost as soon as COVID-19 hit, people started coming up with new and fun ways to stay connected. One of our favorites is the “drive-by party,” in which loved ones and friends drive down the street honking horns, flying banners, and shouting greetings out the window. Traditionally, these are reserved for birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions, but why not set up a drive-by visit for your homebound loved one? It’s sure to brighten their day!

Try a video chat.

Just because you can’t get together with someone in person doesn’t mean you can’t see them! Phone calls and letters are great, but seeing someone’s facial expressions on a video chat creates a more intimate experience. Most seniors have a smartphone or laptop that can be used for Zoom or Skype. If they are interested in trying a video chat but don’t know how, hundreds of online tutorials can help.

Help them pick up a new hobby or get reacquainted with an old one.

Being stuck inside is a great time to learn a new craft or hone a current skill. From painting to scrapbooking to photography, art is one of the best things a senior can do from the comfort of their home. Many older adults also enjoy things like playing games, reading, doing puzzles, or even dancing. As a fun surprise, sign them up for an online class or club that caters to their interests – it will offer the opportunity to learn something new and a chance to socialize with others.

Run errands or help with chores. 

Many older adults have trouble running errands on their own, even under the best of circumstances. These days, due to social distancing, restrictions placed on businesses, and other factors, it can be even more difficult. So whether you’re picking up takeout and dropping it off or making sure your loved one gets their prescription refill from the pharmacy, the effort is sure to be appreciated.

Final thoughts

Being thoughtful doesn’t require a lot of time, effort, or money. A small, simple gesture is all it takes to let someone know that you’re thinking about them and to brighten their day. Tell us, how do you show your older loved ones that you care?

 

Posted in: Aging

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February is American Heart Month

Monday , February 1 , 2021

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month – a time to reflect on heart health and the lifestyle choices that can affect your wellbeing.

Heart disease is a major threat to senior health: According to the CDC, 17.0% of adults aged 65 years and older report having coronary heart disease. But though the risk of developing heart health problems increases with age, it doesn’t HAVE to be a part of getting older.

Keep reading for more information on heart disease, what it is, and how to protect yourself from its deadly effects:

 

How Your Heart Changes with Age

Anyone can die from a sudden heart attack or stroke, but it is far more likely in older adults. For those aged 65 and older, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke are very real threats.

Why? Because the heart changes as we age. When combined with poor lifestyle choices, it can spell disaster.

These are some of the ways age can affect your coronary health:

  • Aging causes changes to the heart and blood vessels, such as the heart not beating as fast during exercise
  • Age-related stiffening of the heart can sometimes lead to heart failure
  • Arteries and arterioles become less elastic over the years, making them stiffer and less resilient
  • Risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase the chances of developing atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup inside the arteries
  • Long-standing lifestyle choices such as poor diet and heavy alcohol use can lead to heart damage

 

Symptoms of Heart Disease 

Many older adults are not aware that they have heart disease until after they’ve already had a heart attack. Why? Because often, the symptoms of heart disease can often be attributed to other conditions – especially in older adults.

Here’s what you need to know: Heart Disease refers to a range of conditions that affect your heart, but many of them have similar symptoms.  These can include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • An altered heartbeat (too fast or too slow)
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Swelling and/or numbness in the extremities
  • Fatigue

If you have these or any other symptoms, it’s important to reach out to your doctor – heart disease is best treated when caught early!

 

How to Reduce Your Risk 

Many health conditions (aged-related and otherwise) can contribute to heart disease and increase your risk of having a heart attack. It is therefore vital to keep all contributing health problems, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, under control.

Other efforts, such as eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, can help keep your heart healthy. Here are some tips:

  • Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake
  • Minimize stress in your daily life
  • Eat a diet heavy in fresh fruits and vegetables, while limiting saturated fats, salt, and added sugar
  • Get regular check-ups to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, and other conditions that affect the heart
  • Watch your weight – too many pounds can create heart disease risk

 

Final Thoughts

Remember: It’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle! Work with your doctor to monitor any current health conditions and help stop new ones from developing.

Posted in: Health

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How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

Monday , January 25 , 2021

How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

By now, we all know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But many people, especially seniors, are experiencing symptoms that aren’t typical – and those symptoms can last for quite some time.

Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 infections in older adults and what to expect in the long run:

 

COVID-19 in Older Adults 

Senior citizens don’t always display the same signs and symptoms of a coronavirus infection as younger adults. Instead, seniors may just seem “off” or like they’re not acting like themselves. They may sleep more or less than usual, stop eating, or appear confused. They may become dizzy or stop speaking. They may even collapse.

Because seniors often have underlying health conditions to begin with, it may not be obvious that these atypical symptoms are the cause of COVID-19. Unfortunately, missing the early signs of COVID, or attributing them to something else, can stop your older loved one from getting the proper care. In addition, people may go in and out of their homes without adequate protection measures, further spreading the infection.

 

Ongoing Effects 

As many people have learned, the troublesome effects of COVID-19 don’t necessarily stop after you’ve tested “negative.” This is especially true for older adults.

Many seniors who’ve become critically ill from the coronavirus report an ongoing “brain fog” – difficult putting thoughts together or problems with concentration – even after the virus has subsided. This can make it challenging to plan out their day-to-day activities, remember appointments, or even have a conversation.

Other reported issues include muscle and nerve damage, continued shortness of breath, lethargy and fatigue, and depression or anxiety.

According to Dr. Zijian Chen, medical director of the Center for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai Health System, while many younger adults experience these same issues, seniors tend to have “more severe symptoms, and more limitations in terms of what they can do.”

Recovery for older adults may take months, not weeks. Many of those who were critically ill may still feel unwell after a year or more and can require rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation.

A Long Road Ahead

Researchers have found that frailty, a clinical condition caused by lack of reserves or energy, leaves those recovering from COVID-19 at risk for sudden changes in health and a higher risk of needing hospitalization or long-term care.

Older adults, especially, may suffer from Post-intensive Care Syndrome – a group of psychological, cognitive, and physical disabilities that may develop after treatment in the intensive care unit.

To help combat these ill effects, doctors suggest starting various therapies as soon as a COVID-19 infection is discovered. Treatments to assess lung capacity, improve cough effectiveness, and increase trunk muscle strength may help reduce the care needed later and lead to less pain.

They note that an emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation is significant for seniors because there is often a limited window in which they can improve. Once muscle strength, function, and flexibility are lost, they can be exceedingly difficult to restore.

While recuperating from COVID-19 may be challenging for our nation’s seniors, it’s not impossible. Catching the virus early in combination with the appropriate therapies can help facilitate a quicker and more complete recovery.

ComForCare can help make the recovery process more manageable. Our in-home care specialists are not only highly qualified, but they’re also kind and compassionate – and whether your loved one requires 24-hour care or only a ride to the doctor, we’ve got you covered. Reach out today to learn more.

Posted in: Health

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