Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. For seniors, being dehydrated could cause confusion and anxiety, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, infection and falls if not getting enough fluids.
Severe dehydration is serious, and even life threatening.
There are many reasons older adults do not drink enough water. One is that as we age we may lose our sense of thirst, so they may not seem thirsty. Also because of continence issues, frailty or forgetfulness. Below are tips for incorporating more liquids into your daily life for people of all ages.
Avoid soda, coffee, tea, and alcohol.
Your body needs fluids, but not all fluids are equally beneficial. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas have a dehydrating effect. The same is true for alcohol.
Keep a water bottle handy at all times.
Because seniors can have a diminished capacity to recognize thirst, and some seniors might have difficulty moving around, keeping a full water bottle with you will remind you to drink up each time you look at it.
Drink a full glass of water with any non-mealtime medication.
If you take non-mealtime medication three times a day, this will automatically get you three glasses of water.
Replace water lost through environmental factors and exercise.
Since water is lost through perspiration, keep a water bottle with you when you exercise and when you’re outside in warm weather.
If you hate the taste of water, add a little natural flavor.
There’s no need to pay for fancy water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange to flavor your own water. For more variety, try putting some sliced melon or cucumber into a pitcher of water.
Eat foods with high water content.
Fresh fruits and veggies, along with broth, gelatin snacks, ice pops, and Italian ices contain lots of water — and they can help hydrate you.
If you start to feel sick, start sipping water immediately.
Vomiting and diarrhea can dehydrate you. If you can’t tolerate water, suck on crushed ice or an ice pop.
Use a straw or squeeze bottle.
Either method can help when you’re not up to sitting up and drinking directly from a glass.
Drink throughout the day.
Consistent hydration is better than flooding your system with a large quantity of water all at once. Independent seniors need to remind themselves about hydration, and setting alarms at intervals throughout the day can help. You can also leave sticky notes around your home to remind you to drink more water.
Aging. The five-letter word that scares us. Not just because of our physical appearance changing, but our health, especially our cognitive health, begins to deteriorate.
Thankfully there are signs to detect cognitive issues in seniors, as well as ways to prevent or slow down cognitive impairment, such as having a healthy planned lifestyle.
The Warning Signs
We all experience those moments when we walk into a room and forget why we went there in the first place. Or forgetting what you were going to tell someone. However, for seniors, these experiences can be a tell-tale sign of a decline in cognitive skills. Making decisions, concentration and even learning can become harder.
These symptoms may be natural side effects of aging, but sometimes they can be an indication of more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Due to the severity of these illnesses, you should seek medical advice for you or your loved one immediately to determine what is causing the cognitive distress.
Signs of Cognitive Issues
Trouble recalling people, places, or memories
Poor decision making/ judgment choices
Decline in vision
Struggling to find the “right words”
Misplace items on a regular basis
Having trouble processing things
Remaining active as a senior is imperative not only to physical health but also to cognitive health.
Stress can wreak havoc on our mental health by debilitating learning and memory functioning. Exercising releases endorphins, which helps improve mood and release stress.
Along with physical activities, mental activities help strengthen our brain’s functionality. Reading, taking adult education courses, playing sudoku or crossword puzzles are great ways to keep one’s mind challenged and working in order to help in preventing Alzheimer’s.
Having a healthy diet is not only important all the time, but even more essential for seniors. Healthy breakfasts consisting of eggs, yogurt, fruit, and cereal are a great start to a senior’s day.
Along with a nutritional breakfast, there are other foods that are good for cognitive health.
We’ve all been told to grow up to eat our veggies and for good reason! According to Harvard Health Publishing greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli have vitamin k, lutein, folate, and beta carotene- all of which are nutrients that promote brain health, even helping slow cognitive decline.
Who knew fatty fish could help with Alzheimer’s?! Fatty fish such as sardines,
Salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been related to lowering the blood levels of a protein that forms clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s: beta-amyloid.
The natural plant tint that helps give berries their color, flavonoids, can help improve one’s memory!
Tea and Coffee
Harvard Health Publishing notes that in a study, those who had a higher caffeine intake scored better on tests of mental functions! Get concentration and mental function from a daily dose of caffeine.
Nuts are a great source of protein and walnuts can be linked to the improvement of memory.
As humans, we need social interaction to promote healthy cognitive health. This becomes even more important as we age.
According to the National Institute on Aging being socially active can be linked to low levels of interleukin-6: “…an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”
There are many ways seniors can socialize. Visiting with family and friends is a great way to catch up and socialize with ones they love.
If your loved one is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, they can participate in group activities, such as game nights, classes and more. Sometimes these facilities may offer pet therapy which is a perfect way to socialize with four-legged companions.
Intergenerational programs are also a great source of socialization. Facilities or nursing homes may have partnerships with local schools and organizations, which allows seniors to bond with a younger group and learn from them and keep their minds active.
Cognitive issues are scary. But there are ways to prolong the severe effects. If you or your loved one are having trouble with memory or anything related, try some of the solutions above to help slow down cognitive decline.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
Finally, there is good news for seniors amid the global pandemic. Because aging Americans are one of the most vulnerable populations, they will also be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after its approval. Below are some COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Senior Care
The vaccine will be available to seniors residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities first and to Americans 65 and up living at home shortly thereafter.
Just how effective is the vaccine? “Pfizer’s vaccine, produced in partnership with BioNTech, has an overall efficacy rate of 95% and efficacy of 94% in people 65 and older. Moderna’s overall efficacy is 94%, with 87% efficacy in preventing moderate disease in older adults,” CNN reports. Both vaccines may be approved in late December.
Currently, Pfizer and Moderna estimate that they will have 40 million doses to distribute before the end of the year. Each vaccine requires two doses. A COVID-19 panel hosted by the National Academy of Medicine and American Public Health Association (APHA) suggests that this will be enough to vaccinate all seniors in assisted living centers and nursing homes as well as frontline healthcare workers.
Even with a vaccine, it is absolutely critical for relatives, home care services, and medical personnel to treat the vulnerable senior population with extreme care and all due precautions. Here is what that looks like — down to the specifics. Use these frequently asked questions and examples of caregiving situations to navigate these tricky times.
Is it safe to visit seniors right now?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unless the visit is absolutely necessary, it is safest to avoid visiting seniors altogether, especially seniors who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. If you must visit, try to meet senior relatives outdoors and maintain safe social distancing or remain at least six feet apart. Should indoor visits be unavoidable, keep them short, and wear a mask at all times. In general, it is wise to practice frequent hand washing and avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes whether you visit senior relatives or not.
Keeping visits to an absolute minimum helps reduce exposure to the virus and that, in turn, reduces risks of transmission. See below for tips about reducing loneliness and maintaining strong connections during this time.
How can you limit transmission in seniors’ homes?
If you do enter seniors’ homes, living space, and/or bedrooms, what are the best ways to reduce the likelihood of infection?
In addition to wearing a mask, wash your hands every 30 to 60 minutes you spend inside their living space or home. Regularly clean phones with an alcohol-based wipe, containing at least 70% alcohol. Avoid anyone who is not wearing a mask, and limit physical contact.
Arrange your visits carefully. Make sure to schedule visits only when senior relatives or patients — and only seniors — are present. Avoid doubling up on visits. Keep your social circle small and avoid large gatherings when you are not visiting your senior loved one. If you are visiting seniors in a nursing home, try to avoid the most popular visiting hours.
Is it necessary to sanitize groceries, household supplies, medical supplies, and packages?
According to The New York Times, germs from the virus may live on plastic and steel surfaces for up to three days. As for packages, germs are likely to linger for hours — if at all.
While seniors are significantly less likely to catch the virus from surface transmission than physical contact or droplets, “it can’t hurt to wipe down non-porous containers like glass or cans with disinfectant wipes,” Consumer Reports suggests. Use sanitized carts while at the grocery store, and wash fruit with warm water (and scrub fruit with skin!) when you get home. This may help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and it will definitely remove harmful pesticides.
The virus does not survive long on cardboard. Pack away cardboard food packages after a few hours and leave packages in a safe spot outdoors for a few hours to be extra safe. After a few hours, there is little need to sanitize them.
What are some safe ways to keep connections strong?
Keeping in-person visits to an absolute minimum does not mean unnecessarily isolating your loved ones or jeopardizing your relationship with them. Get creative. There are plenty of ways to ensure relationships stay just as strong as ever. Consider:
Scheduling video calls via computer or phone. Depending on how tech-savvy your senior relative may be, ask them to video chat with you using their computer or smartphone. Seeing your face often feels more personal than other methods of communication, like texting or emailing.
Sending care packages or dropping off essentials. Wash your hands, and drop off letters, postcards, care packages, or groceries for seniors. If you choose to send care packages or drop off groceries, take the extra step to sanitize any solid items just in case.
Talking on the phone. Many aging Americans are accustomed to using landlines and talking over the phone, so connecting this way will feel personal to them.
Can you catch the coronavirus from airborne particles?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not entirely clear. “The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person,” The New York Times writes. However, if your senior patient or loved one is bedbound or sitting in a chair, it may be possible for lower-level aerosols to be of concern.
To be as cautious as possible, limit in-person visits, visit outside, and/or keep any visits that are indoors short and sweet. If you must visit indoors, rooms with greater air circulation pose less risk. For example, a wide, open room with high ceilings is much safer than a cramped, enclosed elevator.
This may not be the primary means of infection or transmission, but it is always best to be as careful as possible around vulnerable populations, including aging Americans.
Yes, it is absolutely necessary to take extra precautions around seniors now and even for months after effective vaccines become available. Follow the guidelines above to keep your loved ones or patients safe.
We all seek safety in our lives, whether it’s job security or a safe grab bar in the bathroom – and of course everything else in between. One such safe environment for individuals living with dementia and those who care for them is a Memory Cafe. Memory Cafes offer safe and comfortable dementia friendly outings.
What is a Memory Cafe?
A Memory Cafe is any sort of event or outing designed to be dementia friendly. Why is that important? It is an unfortunate reality that many people living with dementia have unpleasant experiences with going about their normal lives. Often, they are misunderstood, judged, and the target of a wrongly placed stigma.
Memory Cafe is a wonderfully welcoming place for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease or any other form of dementia, as well as other forms of cognitive impairment. This “no judgement zone” is a great opportunity to interact with others in a safe and friendly environment.
There are as any different types of Memory Cafe as there are… well… Memory Cafes! Each one is a bit different, based on the personalities and backgrounds of the facilitators and the participants. Some are activities-based, while others focus on education. You might have one enjoying the connections of demographic-appropriate music and dancing. Others might focus on crafts and painting. Some simply guide the participants in exercises that foster reminiscing.
There truly is something for everyone!
Not Respite Care
While a Memory Cafe is beneficial for those living with dementia, it is also beneficial for their caregivers as well. It is not a place to “drop off” your loved one for a while, but a way to enjoy activities with them as a break from the normal routine that you share.
A Memory Cafe is a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other appropriate activities. They provide mutual support and exchange information. This by itself is valuable if for nothing more than to obtain information about additional resources.
The Memory Cafe’s Roots
With roots in the Netherlands, Dr. Bere Miesen, a Dutch psychiatrist introduced the Memory Cafe concept in 1997 as a way to break through the stigma associated with various forms of Dementia. It simply “wasn’t discussed” and those living with the disease – and their caregivers – were suffering as a result.
The concept spread throughout Europe, to Ireland and England, Australia and eventually to the United States. As the Memory Cafe concept evolved, it grew into a very open culture, including more than just those living with various forms of Dementia.
Memory Cafes Today
New Memory Cafes, with a diverse collection of focus areas, continue to open across the country – and around the world – as a natural response to a growing health concern. However, that growth nearly stopped, and has evolved significantly, once we entered the COVID era.
MemoryCafeDirectory.com had over 900 Memory Cafe listings in 5 countries when COVID restrictions took place. Now late in 2020, some “in-person” Memory Cafes have started to very carefully test the water for resuming operations. Time will tell if their effort is successful.
Memory Cafes Today – And in the Future
One very encouraging development that came out of the COVID challenges has been the move to an online “virtual” Memory Cafe format. Just as many businesses around the world have moved meetings online, the Zoom platform is a favorite of Memory Cafe operators. It’s easy to both set up and to use.
With this move to an online format, geographic boundaries no longer are in play. In fact, the “COUNTRY/STATE/CITY” format in use on the rest of the site doesn’t pertain to the online format. To accommodate a “scheduled” instead of a “zip code” MemoryCafeDirectory.com now uses a calendar format in a new section called Cafe Connect.
Cafe Connect allows those seeking an online experience to select the day and time that works for them, read about that gathering, contact the organizer, and get registered – all from the safety and comfort of their own home.
Safety and Comfort
The move to online Memory Cafes started with the demands placed on society by COVID. Staying engaged in appropriate activities by individuals living with dementia is important, but of course, staying safe is critical. What better way to stay safe, than in the comfort of home?
While COVID caused it to start, many believe the virtual Memory Cafe will live on well after COVID is behind us. This new tool has allowed many to stay engaged easily. Social isolation is a significant problem in the senior community, and is often exacerbated for those in the dementia community.
Anyone who aligns with the Age Safe America mission will quickly see the value Memory Cafes – and virtual Memory Cafes – hold for our dementia friends. Keeping our loved ones safe and comfortable is a mission for all of us.
About the Author
Dave Wiederrich is the founder of JADCOM Media LLC, (JADCOMMedia.com) an online publishing and marketing company. One of JADCOM Media’s web properties is MemoryCafeDirectory.com. With over 900 Memory Cafes in 5 countries, and with over 75 virtual Memory Cafe listings, the site draws thousands of visitor monthly, seeking valuable caregiving resources. It also offers Memory Joggers (a free, fun recall exercise) and the Guest Author program to allow dementia authors to share the backstory behind their books.
Adults aged 65 and over are the largest and fastest growing age group in our society. Historically, older members of our society were valued for their vast knowledge and contributions to society. Unfortunately, older adulthood is not universally celebrated and valued here in the US. Ageism (negative attitudes and behavior toward older adults) continues to be a serious national problem. Senior Citizens Day was created as a day to support, honor, and show appreciation to our seniors and to recognize their achievements. President Reagan established this day in 1988 and the Proclamation is still relevant today.
“Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.
With improved health care and more years of productivity, older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders and as links with our patrimony and sense of purpose as individuals and as a Nation. Many older people are embarking on second careers, giving younger Americans a fine example of responsibility, resourcefulness, competence, and determination. And more than 4.5 million senior citizens are serving as volunteers in various programs and projects that benefit every sector of society. Wherever the need exists, older people are making their presence felt — for their own good and that of others.
For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”
In honor of this day, call your grandparents, mother, father, brother, sister, or old high school teacher; and tell them that you appreciate everything they have done for you. Today is also a great day to volunteer at a retirement home and visit someone who may not receive many visitors.
Being diagnosed with dementia is life altering, not only for the one who has the disease, but also their friends and family. Most people are overwhelmed with all the new precautions and information they are given at diagnosis. We’ve done the research for you to help make this difficult time just a bit easier. Here are tips for caring for loved ones with dementia, and memory care activities for seniors.
Try to Ease Frustrations
One of the side effects that is common with dementia is increased agitation and frustration. Mayo Clinic gives essential tips on how to help alleviate these side effects.
Make a daily routine- By maintaining a daily routine such as waking up and going to bed around the same time, this can help limit confusion among your loved one. Also, notice when your loved one is most alert and try to schedule doctors appointments or bathing during those times.
Be patient- Simple tasks may become longer than they used so make extra time when scheduling out your loved one’s day. And always try to be patient, you have to remember this is a difficult time for your loved one as well.
Give independence- Try to allow your loved one to do daily activities or tasks by themselves, or with little assistance, if they are able to. This can be done simply by laying out their clothes and having them dress themselves. This will help bring some normalcy to a difficult time.
Avoid napping- Your loved one may often be exhausted and want to lay down for a midday nap. Do not let them do this. This will disrupt their sleep cycle and leave them feeling restless at night. Perhaps try to recommend doing activities, such as going for a walk instead of taking a nap.
Give choices- Allow your loved one to make some of their own choices, however, be supervised by you. For example, give them two choices of outfits and they can choose one they want to wear. Or you can have them choose between going for a walk or playing a board game.
Seniors with dementia may often forget about activities they once used to love. As a caregiver, try your best to incorporate those activities back into their everyday life, as they can help stimulate their memory and emotional connections. Here are some activities your loved one can do:
Read Books, Newspapers, Magazines
Arts and Crafts
Take long walks
Sing and Dance
Make their environment as safe as possible
Dementia also affects one’s ability to make judgements and their problem solving skills. These losses can often lead to an increased chance in one being harmed if precautions aren’t taken. Mayo Clinic provides some guidelines to help ensure your loved one is protected while at home.
Try to prevent falls- Loss of stability can be common in dementia, therefore making extra precautions to avoid falls is highly recommended. Put handrails and grab bars in areas where your loved one may be prone to fall i.e. the bathroom, shower. Check out these home safety tips for seniors from Age Safe® America.
Install locks- Place locks on doors leading outside. This will help prevent your loved one from wandering off when you are not home or when you are in a different room. It is also important to place locks onto cabinets that contain items such as sharp utensils, alcohol, or medicine, that can cause harm to your loved one.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
It is very important to not neglect yourself while caring for a loved one with dementia. HelpGuide notes to create a personal support plan so you don’t neglect your own health while caring for someone with dementia.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help- Reach out to family and friends if you are needing some help or simply just need a break. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day for time for yourself. Incorporate hobbies and activities that you enjoy into your daily routine to help boost your mood and health. It is also important to remember that you are not neglecting your loved one by taking care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself to better take care of your loved one.
Join a support group- It is integral to remember that you are not alone during this time. There are other caregivers out there who are willing to help and give tips and advice on caring for a loved one with dementia.
Plan your life outside of caregiving- Schedule time for your family. It can be easy to forget to spend time with family and friends while you are caring for a loved one with dementia. Make time and plan activities with your friends and family outside of caregiving to maintain your health.
Exercise- Try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Exercising can help increase endorphins, thus boost your mood throughout the day.
Relieve stress- Don’t bottle up all your stress. Talk to someone about what you are going through. This could be a friend, family member or a therapist.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be scary and uncertain. But there are tips out there to help you alleviate some of the stress that comes along with being a caregiver, as well as help your loved one with their cognitive skills. Make sure to take extra precautions and to always make some time for yourself.
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and c