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.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocacting for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. “Hand Hygiene for All” is the theme of this year’s Global Handwashing Day, following a recent World Health Organization initiative calling for improved hand hygiene. Global Handwashing Day was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. Though it requires few resources—soap and a small amount of water—the benefits are significant. Handwashing with soap helps prevent the spread of infections including influenza and Ebola.
Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important habits we can adopt to prevent contracting Covid-19 and spreading the coronavirus that causes the disease to others. Without washing properly and killing off the coronavirus — and other viruses, bacteria and germs we pick up from raw meats, fecal matter and respiratory droplets — it can spread between people and cause disease.
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After handling pet food or pet treats
After touching garbage
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Worried about dry hands? After washing your hands, simply pat them dry with a clean towel but leave them slightly damp “to lock in the moisture” from ointments and creams that you’ll work into your skin, fingertips and nails.\
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.
It’s your heart. Don’t hesitate. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, doctors urge you to not delay seeking treatment because of COVID-19 concerns.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors across the nation are reporting a sharp decline in patients coming to the hospital for heart attacks and strokes. These conditions don’t stop during a pandemic, and the decline has doctors worried that many people experiencing symptoms may not be seeking treatment, or that they are seeking treatment only after their condition has worsened. Delaying care could pose a significant threat to your health.
“Heart attacks and strokes required emergency care before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to require emergency care now,” said Sean D. Pokorney, MD, MBA, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the division of cardiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor or call 911 now, as you may need immediate care to save your life.”
Contact your doctor for these heart attack & stroke symptoms
You may be having a heart attack if you have symptoms such as:
* chest pain
* difficulty breathing
* discomfort in your chest, arms, back, neck, shoulder or jaw
You may be having a stroke if you are experiencing:
* numbness, weakness or loss of movement in your face, leg or arm, especially on one side
* loss of balance
* confusion, including trouble speaking or understanding
Health experts urge you to contact your doctor or call 911 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Hospitals have safety measures in place to protect you
Patients may be understandably nervous about going to a hospital during COVID-19, but hospitals have implemented many safety measures to protect you from coronavirus. These facilities are ready now to safely care for you if you are experiencing serious health issues.
“Hospitals are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of patients who need critical care,” said Pokorney. “With all of these measures, going to the hospital is probably at least as safe as going to the grocery store. Certainly the consequences of not seeking timely care for heart attacks and strokes are far greater than the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the hospital.”
Facilities have implemented routine screening procedures to evaluate if any visitors entering the facility might have a risk of COVID-19 exposure, even before they step foot inside the building. Many facilities are separating COVID-19 patients into separate wards or buildings to ensure other patients are protected and not exposed. Routinely checking temperatures, masks and protective equipment for healthcare workers and other staff are some of the other measures that help to ensure a safe environment.
Waiting now can cause complications later
Bad news doesn’t get better with time. Delaying treatment for a heart attack or stroke can have serious consequences, causing a bad condition to worsen and making recovery more difficult. For some patients, postponing care can be the difference between life and death.
“I’ve talked to patients who are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or warning signs for sudden cardiac death and some are choosing to take their chances at home,” explained Pokorney. “The unfortunate result is that those patients may die at home or have worse long-term outcomes from the delays in care – and that’s avoidable.”
The recovery period after a heart attack may also require critical care. “A heart attack is a potential risk factor for sudden cardiac arrest, a life-threatening condition that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating,” said Mary Newman, Executive Director of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. “If you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor can help to determine if you are at risk and can discuss treatment options to keep you safe. But they can only help if you follow up on your symptoms.”If you are having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, getting care quickly is critical to your treatment and recovery. When you seek help immediately, the care you receive is more likely to be lifesaving, you can likely get better more quickly, and you can limit the damage to your heart and your overall health.