Supporting a Family Caregiver: Alleviating Stress and Anxiety

As more of the population continues to age, many older adults are relying on friends and family caregivers to close the gap in the demand for healthcare. There are more nonprofessional primary caregivers than ever before.

According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute, in 2015, an estimated 43.5 million American adults provided unpaid care, with nearly 85% caring for a family member or parent. Caring for an aging parent can often fall on one person in the family, especially those who live nearby. While caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it can also present many issues for a family caregiver. The same survey reported that 40% of caretakers felt emotionally stressed, and almost 20% said caregiving caused financial problems and physical strain. When unaddressed, long-term stress, often referred to as caregiver burnout, can negatively affect overall health and increase the risk factors for chronic illnesses and depression. The first step in addressing caregiver stress is to be able to recognize and identify the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Stress
For most caregivers, providing care for a loved one can be a fulfilling responsibility. However, with any transition or life event, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. At some point, family caregivers will likely experience burnout, which may manifest itself with symptoms such as anger, stress, exhaustion, or loneliness. According to the Mayo Clinic, these factors can increase the risk of caregiver stress in individuals:

Living with the person for whom you provide care
Feeling socially isolated
Living with a depression diagnosis
Experiencing financial strain
Caregiving most hours of the day
Lacking coping skills and problem-solving abilities
Lacking choice in being a caregiver

If you or a loved one is caring for a family member, such as an aging parent, it’s important to look for the signs of caregiving stress and acknowledge them quickly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here are a few of the most common signs of caregiver stress:

Watching your loved one deal with an illness is both emotionally and physically difficult. Denial is a natural coping mechanism and can be a sign that a caregiver is beginning to experience tremendous stress. Denying a loved one’s disease or even denying feelings of stress are common among family caregivers.

It’s common to feel anger toward the person with the disease or illness for not being able to do the things they once did. Role reversal can spark anger in family members, especially adult children, as they begin to care for their parents.

Social withdrawal. You may notice a caregiver has withdrawn from people or social events they once enjoyed.
Anxiety. Primary caregivers experiencing stress may also show signs of anxiety about the future. It’s common for caregivers to worry about how they’ll provide care as their loved one’s condition progresses.
Exhaustion. Caregiving is a physically and emotionally demanding responsibility, which can result in exhaustion. Caregivers may experience sleeplessness due to distress or disrupted sleep if care is needed throughout the night. Either way, sooner or later exhaustion will set in, adding to caregiver burnout.
Irritability. Coupled with exhaustion and anxiety, you may notice a caregiver becoming irritable. Moodiness and unlikely behaviors are also signs of caregiver stress.
Lack of concentration. A primary caregiver can become so overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks that they lose the ability to concentrate on one task at a time. This can lead to missing appointments or mismanaging medications.

Tips for Preventing Caregiver Burnout
When you notice a caregiver struggling or experiencing stress, there are several things you can do to help. It can be difficult for a primary caregiver to admit they need additional support. The best way to help is to offer. Here are a few ways to alleviate stress and anxiety for a family caregiver:

Prioritize caregiver health. Caregivers are better able to take care of their loved ones if they prioritize their own health. You might consider showing your support to your family caregiver by preparing healthy meals or taking over caregiving duties so they can exercise, go to their own doctor appointments, or spend time doing something for themselves.
Create a support group. If you have a family member acting as a primary caregiver, there are many ways to help out even if you live far away. Consider organizing other family members or friends to chip in with peripheral support.

Some examples include:

  • Schedule a regular phone call for social support.
  • Offer to deliver meals from time to time.
  • Help with bill-paying, medical paperwork or other accounting necessities.
  • Provide respite by taking over caregiving for a few hours.
  • Caregiving really can’t be done alone. Family caregivers need support, even if they’re reluctant to ask for it.
  • Encouraging breaks. Taking a break is one of the best things a caregiver can do for themselves. Family members can help support their caregivers by encouraging things like respite care and adult care centers. Medicare will usually cover most of the cost of respite care in which an aide comes to the home to provide care or the individual stays in a hospital or nursing facility. Adult care centers can also provide a nice break during the daytime, so caregivers can attend to their own needs or use the time to take a break.
  • Help set realistic goals. If your family member is feeling stressed about their responsibilities, consider helping them break down large tasks into smaller steps. When we feel stressed, it can be difficult to remember how to prioritize tasks and organize our days. Offering help and encouragement can make your family member feel supported.
  • Provide resources. There are a variety of resources designed specifically for family caregivers, but it can be difficult to look for them when experiencing stress or anxiety. Other family members can compile and organize a list of resources for additional support. Providing links to websites, such as the Family Caregiver Alliance, support groups, and respite care options can help your caregiver find the support they need when they need it.

Supporting Caregivers at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, we know caregiving has its joys and challenges. That’s why we offer a wide variety of support for caregivers providing care for family members. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

How to Communicate with People Who Have Dementia

Dementia is a progressive illness. It affects how the brain functions and leads to memory loss and other cognitive problems. Dementia can ultimately affect one’s ability to speak and communicate with others. All this can leave those in the family or social orbit of the sufferer at a loss as to how to communicate to people with dementia.

In some stages of dementia, it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience difficulty recalling words or focusing during a conversation. As the disease progresses, many individuals rely on other forms of communication, such as hand gestures and some vocal sounds. While nearly 50 million individuals suffer from dementia worldwide, many caregivers still struggle with how to communicate with someone with dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, these are common effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia on the ability to communicate:

  • Losing a train of thought when speaking
  • Having difficulty understanding what words mean
  • Not paying attention during long conversations

Communication During Stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, communication can look very different during each stage of the disease. As your loved one progresses through the disease, keep these communication tips in mind:

Early Stage
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, an individual will be able to participate in conversations and engage in normal social activities. However, the sufferer may notice some difficulties with word recall and be overwhelmed by excessive stimulation. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important not to make assumptions about the person’s ability to communicate because of a diagnosis. Instead, take time to listen and engage with the person, giving them the time they need to respond. At this stage, it’s appropriate to discuss which method of communication is most comfortable for them, such as face-to-face conversation, email, or phone calls.
Middle Stage
Moderate Alzheimer’s, or the middle stage of the disease, is the longest and can last for many years. As the disease progresses, communicating can get more challenging. It’s most important to engage with the person in one-on-one conversations while limiting distractions. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly while maintaining eye contact and physical touch, if appropriate. Be patient and give the individual plenty of time to respond.
Late Stage
In this stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, an individual may fully rely on nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, touch, and vocal sounds. When you’re communicating with a person in late-stage dementia, always approach the person from the front (Alzheimer’s can reduce a person’s peripheral vision). Identify yourself by name and relationship. Use touch, sight, and sounds as methods to communicate with people with dementia.

Phrases to Avoid
While the stages of dementia are good markers for when communication skills may decline, each individual is different. However, the words other people use to communicate to a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can influence how successful the connection is. Practicing good communication techniques can help our loved ones feel heard and live well. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, these are a few phrases to avoid in conversation:

  • “Remember when?” This phrase can often evoke feelings of frustration, even if it’s meant to be encouraging and helpful. While talking about the past can bring up wonderful memories, try leading with a different phrase such as, “I remember when…” This way, your loved one won’t feel embarrassed if they can’t remember, or can join in on the conversation if they recall the memory.
  • “I’ve just told you that.” It’s normal to feel frustrated when a loved one has difficulty remembering words or thoughts you’ve just said. However, the most important part of communicating with someone suffering from dementia is to have patience and compassion. While it can be tempting to use this phrase, think about some tools that might help you when you’re feeling frustrated.
  • “What did you do this morning?” Open-ended questions can become challenging to answer as the individual moves through the stages of dementia. Instead, focus on the present situation as a conversation starter. One of the most common concerns is whether your loved one is eating well. Don’t ask, “Did you have breakfast this morning?” Stay in the present and ask, “Are you hungry now?”

Tips for Communicating
How you communicate with a person with dementia will change. However, your communication and connection don’t have to be less effective. As you learn to change the way you communicate based on your loved one’s needs, consider using these simple tips:
Be attentive — Your loved one may need time to recall words as they speak, especially in the middle and late stages of the disease. A good communicator will show they’re listening by using eye contact and friendly facial expressions.
Prioritize clarity — It’s important to speak clearly and avoid slurring words or mumbling when you’re speaking to someone with dementia. In addition, try to keep your hands away from your face when having a conversation. This can help your loved one understand what you’re saying and know how to respond.
Rephrase — It can be tempting to repeat what you’ve said if your loved one isn’t understanding. However, experts agree the best thing is to rephrase what you’re trying to communicate, using different words or gestures.
Offer choices — If your loved one begins to resist a basic daily task, like eating or showering, consider providing options to inspire a sense of independence. For example, you could say, “Would you like to eat now or after we take a walk?”
Avoid arguing — If your loved one says something you disagree with, avoid arguing with them. Instead, you might redirect the course of the conversation.

Providing Care at Maplewood Senior Living
Living with dementia or caring for someone who has it is difficult and almost always requires help. In addition to providing assistance with daily activities, Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support groups for both the individual and the caregiver to help navigate life after a diagnosis. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Osteoporosis- How to Improve Bone Health

It’s not uncommon for older adults to feel a bit weaker than they used to in their younger years. However, maintaining bone health and muscle strength becomes increasingly important as we age. Keeping our bones healthy is vital to our overall well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, “bones play many roles in the body by providing structure, protecting our organs, anchoring our muscles, and storing calcium.” While all people should monitor their bone health, it’s especially important for older adults as bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, are more prevalent in adults over the age of 65.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”.  Healthy bones look like honeycomb but as they age the spaces get bigger causing bones to become more brittle.

Our bodies naturally change. Our bones are continuously breaking down and rebuilding. By the time we reach the age of 30, the rate at which our bones rebuild decreases. When older adults have low bone mass, they are more at risk of osteoporosis. People who are diagnosed with osteoporosis easily break their bones, especially in their wrist, spine, and hip. Unfortunately, a broken bone is often the first sign of the disease. While we are all at risk of osteoporosis to some degree, certain factors increase the risk of developing the disease.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

According to the National Institutes of Health, many risk factors play a part in developing osteoporosis. Here are some of the most common factors that we can’t control:

• Age- As we get older, our chances of developing osteoporosis increase. Women should get screened for the disease at age 65 and men at age 70.
• Gender-Women are at greater risk of developing the disease when compared to men. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that women are more at risk of osteoporosis because they are likely to have smaller bones than men. The hormone estrogen, which protects bones, decreases when women go through menopause and can cause bone loss.
• Ethnicity- Women who are white or of Asian descent are statistically more at risk of the disease.
• Family history- If your family has a strong history of broken bones, or if a family member has been diagnosed with the disease, you are at a greater risk of developing the disease yourself.

Fortunately, there are some risk factors that we can control. When the proper steps are taken to address these risk factors, they become less of an issue.

• Diet- Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies have been linked to osteoporosis.
• Physical activity- Those who are inactive for longer periods are likely to have weaker bones than those who exercise.
• Body size- Those with a body mass index (BMI) of 19 or less are at risk of developing the disease because bone mass is likely to be too low.
• Eating disorders- People who have struggled with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are likely to have impacted their bone mass without fueling themselves properly. Diseases such as Crohn’s, celiac, and Cushing’s can impact the body’s ability to absorb calcium, affecting our bone density.

5 Ways to Improve Bone Health

Whether you’re looking to prevent osteoporosis or strengthen your bones after a diagnosis, there are many different ways to improve and maintain bone health. Here are a few recommendations made by the National Institutes of Health.

1. Physical activity
Exercise is important for our overall health, not just our bones. However, consistent daily exercise can help improve bone strength and decrease our risk of osteoporosis. Certain exercises such as weight lifting and strength training focus on bone strength and can improve our exercise performance. The next time you go to exercise you might consider walking, climbing stairs or dancing.

2. Prevent falls
Falling is the leading cause of injury in older adults. Falls can be especially harmful to those with osteoporosis. However, most falls can be prevented by clearing hallways, installing good lighting, and removing other fall risks in the home.

3. Consult with a doctor
If you’re at high risk of osteoporosis or are concerned with developing the disease, you might consider making an appointment with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can give you a bone density test and prescribe medicine if needed.

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Overall health will help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Limiting your alcohol and tobacco consumption will help protect your bone mass along with other healthy habits like a healthy diet.

5. Eat a well-balanced diet
Just like exercise, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to our overall wellbeing, especially as we age. Certain foods can help prevent bone loss and ultimately reduce our risk of osteoporosis. There are also certain foods to increase bone density that you should include in your everyday diet.

Foods that Help Prevent Osteoporosis

While eating a well-balanced diet and focusing on fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help our bodies get the nutrients they need, there are some foods and food groups that have been linked to bone health:

• Calcium: This mineral is primarily responsible for maintaining our bone health as well as supporting our heart and nerves. Unknowingly, many people suffer from calcium deficiency. You can add more calcium to your diet by consuming dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale, fish, nuts, and enriched foods.
• Vitamin D: This vitamin is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Most of our vitamin D intake comes from getting exposure to the sun’s UV rays, however, it can also be found in food. Salmon, swordfish, tuna, orange juice, milk, and egg yolks are all high in vitamin D.
• Protein: Many older adults struggle to consume enough protein, which is vital for bone strength. Protein is found in meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, and beans.

Protecting Bone Health at Maplewood Senior Living

Helping our residents live healthy lives is our number one priority at Maplewood Senior Living. Our team of dedicated foodservice professionals uses their experience and knowledge to provide a variety of meals that promote wellness and healing. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Recognizing Signs of Stroke in Older Adults

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and we want to make sure our families and their loved ones are aware of the signs of a stroke and are prepared to act quickly.

According to the National Institute of Aging, strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and cause more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, which prevents brain tissue from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When this happens, brain cells can die within minutes. Unfortunately, aging disproportionally increases the risk of stroke. The risk for stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55, with nearly three-quarters of all strokes occurring in those over 65. However, knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can help you identify one in yourself and others, and allow you to act quickly if it occurs.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
Getting help quickly in the event of a stroke can lessen brain damage and decrease the risk of stroke-related long-term disabilities. Knowing the signs of a stroke will help you take quick action and may even save a life. Stroke patients have greater potential for recovery when the signs of stroke are recognized within the first three hours of occurring. If you think you or someone else might be having a stroke, remember to act F-A-S-T and look for the following warning signs of a stroke:

Face – Does one side of the face droop? If you think you might be having a stroke, or are noticing symptoms in someone else, ask them to smile or look at your own. Often when a stroke occurs, one side of the face will be uneven or lopsided.

Arm Weakness – Stroke will often affect just one side of the body. Usually, one arm will feel weak or numb. If you or another person is unable to raise both arms, or if one arm drifts downward, it could be a sign of stroke.

Speech – Is speech slurred? If you can’t understand what the person is saying or if you’re having a difficult time speaking, it’s time to move on to the last step. Hurry, every minute counts!

Time – to call 9-1-1. If you or another person experiences one or more of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, it’s time to call for help.

Here are some additional signs of stroke common in both men and women. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, don’t wait to call 9-1-1.

• Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Risks of Stroke in Older Adults
While anyone can have a stroke, certain risk factors increase the chances of experiencing a stroke. For example, those who have a history of stroke in their families or have genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease have a higher risk of developing a stroke than those who don’t. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to understand the risk factors and what you can do to lower the chances of stroke.

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain medical conditions can increase your risk of stroke. If you have any of the following, consider talking with your healthcare provider:

Previous stroke – If you’ve already had a stroke, or a transient ischemic attack, the chances of having another stroke are much higher. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the risk of experiencing a second stroke is highest within the first two days, but you remain vulnerable for up to one year after the first stroke.

High blood pressure – High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke in older adults and can often go unrecognized. Cholesterol can build up in the arteries leading to the brain, which can also contribute to the risk of stroke. Getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet can help lower your risk of stroke. Those with diabetes are also at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and should consult with their doctor.

Heart disease – Common heart conditions found in older adults, such as coronary artery disease and atrial fibrillation, can also increase the risk of stroke by blocking the oxygen flow to the brain and causing blood clots.

Preventing Stroke in Older Adults
Your lifestyle choices can also impact your risk of developing a stroke. Some habits like eating an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and obesity, and abusing alcohol and tobacco can dramatically increase the risk of having a stroke. However, making small and easy changes that can be implemented each day can help prevent a stroke from occurring. According to the Mayo Clinic, these stroke prevention strategies can help reduce the risk of stroke and help you live a healthier life:

● Control high blood pressure. One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stroke risk is to manage your blood pressure. This can be done by eating a balanced diet and using medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
● Exercise and diet. Eating foods low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated and trans fats, can help reduce build-up in your arteries. Also, a healthy diet should contain five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Exercising regularly can help lower your blood pressure, increase levels of good cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart, all of which can help reduce your risk of stroke.
● Treat sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing for short periods during sleep, can increase your risk of stroke. If you experience symptoms of this disorder, it’s important to consult your doctor.

What Happens After a Stroke?
If a stroke does occur, stroke rehabilitation is designed to help you regain independence and improve your quality of life. While stroke complications vary from person to person, many rehabilitation plans include the following activities:

Physical activities
Stroke rehabilitation can take place just several days after the stroke occurs. The sooner rehabilitation begins, the more likely you are to regain abilities and skills. Some physical activities like motor-skill exercises and mobility training will help you improve muscle strength to help with walking and swallowing. Some mobility aids such as walkers, canes, or wheelchairs can be used to assist in recovery.

Technology-assisted activities
As technology continues to advance, especially within stroke rehabilitation practices, new technology is often used in therapy. Functional electrical stimulation, designed to help stimulate weakened muscles, and wireless technology, used to monitor post-stroke activity, can also be used during stroke rehabilitation.

Cognitive activities
Occupational therapy and speech therapy can help with stroke-related memory loss, speech processing, problem-solving and social skills. Speech therapy is often a part of the rehabilitation process, designed to help you regain lost abilities in speaking, listening, writing, and comprehension. Psychological evaluation and treatment, including counseling, can also be helpful for those adjusting to life after a stroke.

Stroke Support at Maplewood Senior Living
Recovering from a stroke can be a long process. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities are designed to support those who have experienced a stroke in a variety of ways. Our rehabilitation teams and support groups are there to assist those who need it every step of the way. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or want to schedule a tour, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is Sundowning?

Worldwide, nearly 50 million people are living with dementia with 10 million new cases being diagnosed each year. While each individual can experience various symptoms and side effects, sundowning is common in the later stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a journal published by the US National Library of Medicine, as many as 20% of dementia patients experience sundowning. Sundowning, also known as “late-day confusion” can cause symptoms such as confusion and agitation that worsen later in the day.

As the evening and nighttime approaches, sundowning can often trigger sudden changes in cognition and emotions. Behavior changes can range in each person but often include suspicion, hallucinations, confusion, and anger.

Sundowning Symptoms

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can become disoriented and confused quite easily, especially during the later stages of the disease. With this, many patients become more vulnerable to sundowning and the symptoms that come with it. Many will experience confusion, anxiety, and agitation beginning later in the day. Sundowning can also interrupt sleep schedules, which can lead to additional behavioral problems.

While researchers don’t know exactly what causes sundowning, some factors can make it worse. These factors can include:

• Mental and physical exhaustion and fatigue
• Reduced lighting and increased shadows
• Reactions to nonverbal cues from caregivers who may be feeling frustrated and exhausted themselves
• Consumption of caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
• Disruption in circadian rhythms
• Thirst and hunger
• Stress and depression

How to Cope with Sundowning Symptoms

Many people experiencing sundowning might cope with what they’re feeling by pacing, rocking, screaming, or even becoming violent. For some, the behaviors might leave quickly, but for others, these behaviors can last for hours and severely interrupt their sleep schedules. Seeing your loved one suffer or caring for someone who experiences sundowning can be awful and leave you feeling hopeless. However, there are many different ways you can work to help manage these symptoms and lessen their severity.

Minimize Triggers
When your loved one has a sundowning episode, record what happened before, during, and after. Look for patterns in their behavior and try to identify some of their triggers. For some, triggers might look like fatigue, cross-talk during meal times, loud noises from the television, or a change in caregiver.

Maintain Routines
If your loved one isn’t sleeping well at night, make sure to minimize napping during the day. Keep your evenings quiet and peaceful by avoiding stressful tasks and prioritize activities during the daytime. Regular daily schedules can help your loved one feel safe and secure, so try and establish a routine that is easy to follow each day.

Simplify Surroundings
Too much clutter or stimulation can cause anxiety and stress, both of which have been linked to sundowning. Experts suggest creating a calm space wherever your loved one sleeps. This includes setting the temperature between 68-70 degrees, using light-blocking curtains, and installing night-lights for safety.

Increase Light Exposure
Sundowning often occurs during the evening and can be brought on by the transition of daylight into the evening darkness. Keep your house well lit, especially during the evening, and make sure your loved one is exposed to direct sunlight as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, use bright lights or a lightbox in their room.

Play Calming Music
Music has shown to have healing properties for those suffering from memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Music can provoke memories and act as a mood booster. You might consider playing calming music throughout the day, but be sure to monitor the volume, as loud noises can be confusing and cause agitation.

Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can be great tools to use for calming and soothing your loved one. Scents like lavender and chamomile can be diluted and used as aromatherapy during the evening to promote feelings of calmness and safety. If your loved one needs help with waking up or completing activities, you might consider using grapefruit, lemon, or orange scents. Essential oils are wonderful tools when used properly, but make sure to do your research before using them and never apply them directly to the skin.

Connect Through Touch
Physical touch can be a great way to ease anxiety and transition into the evening. You might consider giving your loved one a hand or foot massage or gently massaging their head. Even a simple hug can help break the cycle of anxiety and stress.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat anxiety, stress, and depression and is especially helpful for those suffering from dementia. You might consider asking your doctor to refer you to an acupuncturist who specializes in dementia or is familiar with the disease.

Adjust Eating Patterns
Large meals before bedtime can cause agitation and disrupt sleep patterns. You might consider serving a light meal for dinner and limiting heavy foods and caffeine for lunchtime. This can help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of sundowning.

Coping Strategies for Sundowning

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia comes with many challenges, especially when dealing with sundowning. Here are a few ways you can cope with sundowning while also making sure to care for yourself.

• Talk to a doctor. If you need additional assistance, consider making an appointment with your loved one’s healthcare provider. Many times, they can offer support and medication when necessary.
• Recognize your own needs. Caregiving is a rewarding and exhausting job. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, your loved one might be able to recognize these emotions and begin to feel the same way. Try to manage your stress and anxiety by taking time for yourself.
• Share your experience with others. You are not alone! The Alzheimer’s Association has an online support community where caregivers share their own experiences and support those in the same position. These groups allow others to share strategies and inspire others.

Sundowning Support at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be extremely challenging. However, our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support groups and activities for those who have been diagnosed and their caregivers.

Krystal Martin, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Chardon suggests “A short nap in the early afternoon (20-30 minutes) can help to re-energize the person and prevent the tired, “want-to-go” feelings. Knowing about the person can help the caregiver—whether a family member, professional caregiver or a caregiver in the assisted living setting—can assist to help the person navigate through this challenge.

Helping the person maintain familiar routines can help minimize feelings of restlessness and anxiety and ultimately agitation. As the day gets later, allow activities to wind down, planning more relaxing and less involved activities. Playing familiar music that invites positive, warm feelings can help to calm the person. Finally, if the person is still feeling anxious or restless, validate their emotions, empathize with how they might be feeling and join them in their reality rather than attempting to orient to the here-and-now.”

If you would like to learn more about our Memory Care offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Holiday Safety Guide for Seniors and those with Alzheimer’s

As we haul out our decorations and special furnishings to welcome in the holiday season, it’s easy to overlook safety measures that protect our families and our homes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 30% of all home fires and 38% of fire-related deaths occur between December and February. Also, the holiday season is associated with an increase in fall-related injuries both in and outside the home. Whether you’re caring for a loved one or are preparing to visit an aging parent, there are simple precautions you can take to decrease the risk of injury this holiday season.

Safety Tips for the Home

Between decorations and visitors, homes can become danger zones during the holidays. Since many people will be staying at home this holiday season, it’s important to ensure the home is the safest place you can be, especially for older adults. Here are a few tips to consider as you take precautionary measures to ensure safety:

Clear the clutter
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among seniors. Tripping and fall threats can be great concerns for older adults during the holidays. Make sure to keep floors and hallways clear, tightly secure extension cords to walls, and add non-slip pads underneath rugs. You might also consider using decorations that are secured to walls and do not interfere with walkways.

Safe lighting
We all love holiday lights, but it’s important to ensure all areas of the home are properly lit. Dim lighting can make it difficult to identify new home furnishings you might not be used to seeing. Always use a nightlight in hallways and bedrooms, especially where your loved one will be sleeping.

At home dementia tips
Those with dementia have added safety challenges during the holidays. Here are a few ways to make sure your home is especially adapted for their needs according to AARP:
• Mark edges of steps with neon, glow-in-the-dark tape.
• Repair any cracked pavement and uneven bricks, especially if you’re expecting snow or inclement weather.
• Install safety and grab bars, especially in bathrooms and in hallways.
• Unplug all kitchen appliances like your microwave or toaster oven.

Safety Tips for Decorating

Decorations make the holidays feel special and festive. However, they can also present a lot of safety concerns, especially for those who are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Stick to these rules when you plan out your decorations:

Avoid twinkling lights
Lights that flash or twinkle are commonplace when it comes to Christmas and holiday decorations. However, these lights can often confuse those with dementia or memory disorders and can be disorienting for older adults in general. Instead, use lights that have a consistent glow.

Use flameless candles
Candles can add a beautiful ambiance to a home during the holidays, but the risk of starting a house fire increases greatly with real candles. Instead, you might consider using flameless candles to add a holiday glow to your home.

Identify choking hazards
Food plays a large role in celebrating the holidays. Be aware of choking hazards such as hard candies and other foods that are often used as décor in gingerbread houses and to decorate Christmas trees. If you’re celebrating with someone living with Alzheimer’s it’s important to avoid these foods or to closely monitor the situation.

Safety Tips for Gift Giving

Exchanging gifts plays a big part in holiday celebrations. Gift-giving also allows people to show their loved ones they’re thinking about them, especially when they’re unable to celebrate in person. While gifts are special and exciting, they can also pose safety concerns for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If you’re preparing to send a gift to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or need to provide gift-giving guidelines to family members, stick to these easy safety tips provided by the Alzheimer’s Association:

Provide suggestions
You might consider providing gift suggestions for your family if they’re interested in purchasing a gift for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Comfortable clothing, an identification bracelet, photo albums, and medical alert pendants are all great options.

Avoid dangerous items
You may need to remind your family to avoid giving dangerous tools, utensils, sharp objects, challenging games, or electronic devices as gifts. These could lead to injuries or moments of frustration and confusion for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Be practical
Everyday items can be helpful for caregivers as well. Gift cards, laundry, maintenance, and housekeeping services make great gifts for people with Alzheimer’s and their support team.

Protecting Your Loved One during the Holidays

If your loved one has been newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or you’re preparing to see them over the holidays, these tips, crafted by AARP, can help you avoid some general safety concerns that come with the holiday season.

Monitor skills and abilities. If it’s been a while since you’ve last seen your loved one, it’s important to reassess their abilities when it comes to balance, coordination, strength, and motor skills. If you notice a change inability, you might consider adding safety features, such as slip resistance rugs or grab bars, where you see fit.
Evaluate safe areas and danger zones. Those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia can often forget what might hurt them and how to use everyday appliances. Consider storing dangerous substances like bleach, cleaning products, sharp knives, and power tools in an area that’s hard to access, like a locked cabinet or shed.
Utilize technology. Wandering devices can be especially helpful during the holiday season. Seat cushions, floor mats, and bed pads that are designed to alert you when your loved one gets up or leaves the room can help reduce the risk of wandering. You might also consider purchasing motion-sensor alarms for the outdoors.
Patrol the home. Make sure to continually assess your home for items that can be tempting and dangerous. In the kitchen, be sure to monitor expired, raw, and moldy food as those with dementia might be tempted to eat those items. Foods that are choking hazards like cherries and coffee beans should also be stored in a safe place. Be sure to keep potentially harmful items out of sight such as firearms and car keys.

Celebrating Safely at Maplewood Senior Living

At our Maplewood Senior Living communities, the safety of our residents will continue to be prioritized as we navigate through this holiday season. If you would like to learn more about the safety measures we’ve put into place or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

The Best Technology for Seniors

For most of us, technology is ingrained into our everyday lives, from our cell phones and cars to toothbrushes and watches. In general, older adults have been slower to integrate and adopt new technologies. However, that’s beginning to change. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, only 14% of seniors aged 65 and above had Internet in their homes 20 years ago. Now, that number has increased by 67%. Of those who have the Internet, nearly 71% use it every day. As the number of older adults who use technology continues to rise, senior-specific devices have also increased.

IoT devices, or “The Internet of Things,” refers to any device that can connect to the Internet to send and receive data. IoT devices are everywhere—in our homes, cars, and even on our wrists. Not only are these devices convenient and easy to use, but they also can allow older adults to stay independent for longer.

Benefits of IoT for Seniors

Technology can seem intimidating at first, especially for some older adults. However, there are several ways technology can help seniors live longer, healthier lives. Here are just a few of the reasons seniors have chosen to integrate technology into their daily lives.

Convenience

As we get older, everyday tasks can become a burden. Taking care of our homes and cooking meals become responsibilities that take a lot of energy. Instead of relying on family members for help, many seniors are relying on technology to help bridge the gap. Instead of going to the store, smartphones can do the shopping for you. Remembering appointments and birthdays can become more difficult with age but smart home devices can be programmed to remind you of special occasions.

Safety

The biggest concern many family members have for their loved ones is safety. As we age, we become more at risk of falling, cognitive decline, and illness. Thankfully, technological devices can monitor these safety concerns and offer peace of mind to family members and caregivers.

Home security

Smart devices also have the capability of making homes safer, especially for older adults who live alone. Home security cameras now can connect to cell phones, allowing homeowners to monitor their safety. Smart locks, security systems, and smoke alarms add a layer of security.

Emergency services

Some older adults rely on IoT devices and sensors in the event of a fall or injury. Many wearable devices can dispatch emergency services or contact a family member in times of distress or physical injury.

Healthcare

One of the most innovative ways IoT has influenced seniors is through devices specifically designed to monitor health and wellness. From medication management to controlling diabetes and heart disease, smart devices allow older adults to manage their conditions, while also avoiding emergency room and hospital visits.

Technology and Healthcare

With nearly 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the demand for healthcare providers will increase each year. Many older adults are looking to technology to bridge this gap. Here are a few of the most common conditions that can be regulated and censored through the use of technology:

• Medication Management. Apps and Bluetooth pill dispensers help older adults stay on track with their medication without relying on friends, family members, or healthcare providers. Many smartphone apps also can order medications automatically, which minimizes the risk of ever running out.

• Telemedicine. Now older adults can see their healthcare provider from the comfort of their own homes. Using video conferencing platforms allows both the provider and patient to see each other, minimizing the risk of contracting illnesses.
• Diabetes. Technological advances make controlling diabetes efficient and simple. Some sensors, like the smart sock, help track temperature, and identify inflammation before they worsen.

• High Blood Pressure. Smartwatches and bands can track blood pressure and send an alert when levels become too high.

• Arthritis. When arthritis worsens, daily tasks can become difficult. Devices that help with writing, opening and closing doors, smart lighting, and thermostats allow those with arthritis to keep their independence.

Senior Friendly Technology

The New York Times and Tech For Aging conducted extensive research on a wide variety of smart devices available to seniors. Here are some of the best products they found, ranging from wearable devices and sensors to security systems and automatic lighting.

In the Home

Our homes should be the place where we feel safest and most comfortable. Smart devices such as the Google Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that sends warning signals by voice and also sends alerts to up to six contacts. It also has a built-in night light to reduce the risk of falling.

The Amazon Echo Dot is an affordable voice control device that can provide in-home entertainment like playing music and games, while also providing security features like the ability to make calls to loved ones.

For those looking for a smart system that can monitor the entire home, Sense is a great option. This monitoring system connects to an electric panel and tracks energy usage. If a person uses certain devices every day, Sense can be programmed to alert caregivers and family members if the device does not get used, allowing them to call and check-in on their loved one.

For the Body
Wearable devices have many different capabilities. From monitoring heart conditions to tracking sleep patterns, older adults now can take control of their health.

The most comprehensive wearable device, as reported by Tech for Aging, is the Apple Watch Series 5. This watch can detect falls and includes an ECG/EKG monitor with atrial fibrillation detection. Besides, this watch tracks fitness activity and heart rate.

To Aid with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Some of the most exciting technology has been designed to help those living with memory-related conditions like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. New GPS shoe inserts allow caregivers to track their loved ones, especially if they tend to wander.

The Alzheimer Master, an app designed for Android devices, allows family members to record their voices for their loved ones. Familiar voices can be used to remind a loved one to take their medication and turn off the lights.

Utilizing Technology at Maplewood Senior Living

Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are adapted to work with various technologies, from wearable devices to automatic lighting. Technology allows our residents to age gracefully and stay independent longer. During the pandemic, this has been particularly helpful for keeping our residents engaged with families. Our teams assist residents with their devices while making sure the newest technologies are available in each community. While all these devices can certainly be helpful for those living alone, sometimes that is not enough.

Maplewood Senior Living is here for you and your family if you feel living within a community may be better suited for you. To learn more about these special offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Why You Should Consider Assisted Living

There are nearly 12 million Americans over the age of 65 who live alone, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. While living independently certainly has its benefits, it can often become a point of concern for family members, especially as their loved ones continue to age and lose the ability to completely care for themselves. At some point, many older adults have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living facility. This decision-making process can be challenging and made more complicated when failing health and finances are important factors to consider.

While there are many different options, most older adults typically decide between hiring outside help while staying at home or moving into an assisted living facility. According to U.S. News, senior home care typically includes assistance with daily activities such as eating, taking medication, bathing, cooking and cleaning. The level of assistance depends on one’s overall health and ability to care for themselves. Although assisted living requires moving from home, it also provides additional services such as planned activities, 24-hour care and additional security measures to keep residents safe. When deciding which option is the best, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.
Declining Health Conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities take pressure off of managing these conditions, which allows residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Difficulty Managing Finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This makes paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills or filing taxes properly.
Inability to Care for Oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves or complete basic daily tasks, it’s time to consider assisted living. A lot of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding it can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet and live in a clean environment.
Lack of SocializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Benefits of Assisted Living

While the thought of moving out of your home and into an assisted living community might seem intimidating, the benefits are overwhelming. Instead of thinking about moving as another reminder of aging, you might consider it as an opportunity for something new and exciting. Here are a few benefits of assisted living that you might not have considered:
You Gain Independence– While many people think of assisted living as a way to lose independence, the opposite is true. Instead of relying on a family member or outside party for assistance, all of those daily tasks, like shopping and cooking, are taken care of by staff. This leaves you with plenty of time to discover your interests and renew your hobbies instead of thinking about who will come to help.
More Value for Your Money– Many individuals are afraid to consider moving into an assisted living community because they think they can’t afford it. However, that’s not necessarily true. Many assisted living facilities offer many services under one fee. For example, you might find that meals and activities are included in your monthly fee, where in-home care is usually priced a la carte. While assisted living can be expensive, you might find it to be a better deal based on your needs.
A Safer Living Option– As we age we are more at risk of health emergencies, such as falling. When living alone, these injuries could become life-threatening. However, at assisted living facilities, there is always a staff person or registered nurse available to help, no matter the time of day.
Socialization- Assisted living communities provide a wide variety of activities for their residents. From sing-a-longs to arts and crafts, there’s always an opportunity to learn and socialize with others. Socialization is proven to be beneficial for one’s overall health, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Things to Consider

If you decide it’s the right time for assisted living, there are a few things to keep in mind. As you start touring different communities, they can all start to feel similar. At Maplewood Senior Living , we know what that can feel like. That’s why we have compiled a list of things to consider and questions to ask when looking for an assisted living community:

1. Ask to meet the team. How can a resident or family member get in contact with the management team?
2. Do they have apartments available? What sizes are offered? Is the furniture provided?
3. Ask about the culinary program. Is food prepared from scratch? You might consider asking for a menu or schedule a time to have lunch or dinner on the campus.
4. Are nurses available 24 hours a day?
5. What type of training is provided for the staff?
6. Do they provide call lights, pendants or life alerts? What’s the protocol for responding?
7. Is transportation available for outings, doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping?
8. What accommodations are available when more care is required?
9. What type of programming and cultural enrichment opportunities are available?
10. Ask to speak with a current resident who would be willing to share their experience with you.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living Communities

We know transitioning into assisted living from an independent living situation can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities provide support and transitional care to make the change an easy one. If you’re interested in learning more about our assisted living communities or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Navigating Travel with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Dementia is used to describe a group of medical conditions related to memory loss. While long-term memory loss isn’t a normal part of aging, there are many older adults living with various types of dementia. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. However, with summer approaching, Alzheimer’s and dementia don’t have to stop you from exploring new places or visiting family and friends. In fact, many people living with these diseases continue to travel and even do so alone in certain circumstances. While travel has been severely curtained in recent months throughout the country, you may need to travel for unforseen circumstances. Even a trip to the store, or to visit family may need some preparation and of course, if you need to travel to a new living situation you may need to fly or take a long car trip.  If you are planning to travel with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the best way to  have a safe and enjoyable trip is to be prepared.

Preparing for Your Trip

According to the National Institute on Aging, as dementia progresses, it can impact our, “behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with daily life and normal activities.” Depending on the stage of dementia, traveling will pose different challenges. Your loved one’s ability to communicate, behavioral patterns and mood changes can all be affected by a sudden change in routine or venturing into unfamiliar environments. As you prepare each aspect of your trip, from accommodations to transportation, it’s important to think about your loved one’s needs and abilities.

Evaluating your transportation options

Depending on the nature of your travel, you will have to decide how to get to your destination. When traveling with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, simplicity is key. You might consider minimizing your travel time by taking fewer stops or avoiding airport layovers. Whether you’re traveling by air or by car, there are a few important elements to keep in mind as you prepare your itinerary:

Traveling by Air
The Dementia.org team surveyed caregivers and those diagnosed with dementia to explore their experiences when traveling by air. Those who participated were asked to describe the challenges and surprises they encountered throughout their travels. Here is what they found:

Traveling through airports can be challenging for all people, especially for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, following instructions can become increasingly difficult.
Nearly half of the participants encountered problems with checking in, bag screening, finding the boarding gate and restrooms, hearing announcements and reading information on signboards.

Navigating the security checkpoint was exceptionally difficult for those with severe cognitive impairments, specifically those in the later stages of the disease. While it’s helpful for the person with dementia to travel with a caregiver, oftentimes caregivers are unable to help with security checkpoints such as individual screenings.

All of the participants noted that while there were challenges, traveling by air was possible if both the caregiver and loved one were prepared. The following tips helped ease the traveling process for participants in the study:

• Arriving to the airport early to leave time for unexpected challenges
• Notifying airport staff that you are traveling with a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease before your travel date and at the time of arrival
• Minimizing stressors including hand-held luggage
• Going through security checkpoints behind your companion. If you enter through security in front of your loved one, you won’t be permitted to return to them.
• Seek out quiet spaces of the airport including unused gates or sitting areas. These can be helpful in times of stress and chaos.
• Bring noise canceling headphones to help minimize distractions and agitations.

Traveling by Car
It’s recommended to travel by car when traveling with someone with dementia, especially if your destination can be reached within one travel day. Traveling by car gives the caregiver and loved one more control over their journey. Rest stops, food options and overall environment can mostly be controlled.

If you are in the midst of planning a road trip, remember to plan out your rest stops. Searching for a rest stop can be stressful during an urgent situation. Knowing where you will stop and which rest sites are close by will give you a better sense of control. It can also be helpful to consider how long your traveling day will take you, factoring in your loved one’s behavior and mood.

If your loved one is feeling overwhelmed or agitated, you might consider moving on to your safety plan. As you create your safety plan, make sure to consider where you might stop if something comes up or who you will need to contact in the case of an emergency.

Travel Considerations to Keep in Mind

In general, traveling can be stressful for all people with various ability levels. Once you’ve decided to travel, there are a few simple things you can do lessen the stress and anxiety surrounding the trip:

Start your trip prepared- You want to start preparing and packing for your trip a week or so before the travel date. As you begin packing, make sure to take extra clothing and personal care items with you in the case of an emergency. Get plenty of sleep the night before and bring foods that your loved one enjoys and will eat without hesitation. Lastly, leave yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning before beginning your road trip or heading to the airport.

Write and share your itinerary- Before your trip, write down all of your travel plans, including hotels, and even rest stops you plan to visit. This itinerary should be shared with family and friends who will be available to assist you if needed.

Take important documents with you- In the case of an emergency, you will need to access important documents. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is suggested to take the following essential documents with you while traveling:
• Doctor’s name and contact information
• A list of medications and dosages
• Phone numbers of local police, hospitals and poison control
• Copies of all legal papers including a living will, power of attorney and proof of guardianship
• Name and contact information of emergency contacts
• Insurance cards and information

Be alert to wandering- If your loved one is at risk of wandering, make sure they are wearing an ID bracelet or write their name and your contact information in their clothing.

Dealing with an emergency- If your loved one is prone to outbreaks and aggression, make sure to pay attention to their warning signs. If you are driving when an outbreak takes place, pull over immediately. If you need to calm down someone with dementia, there are proven techniques to help you.

Embracing Summertime Travel at Maplewood Senior Living

Travel doesn’t always have to be a source of tension for you or your loved one. Our staff at Maplewood Senior Living are seasoned professionals who can help you prepare for your trip and provide you with travel tips and tricks. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Importance of Hydration for Older Adults

The summertime can be a great opportunity to spend time enjoying the outdoors and beautiful weather. However, as temperatures continue to rise, dehydration can pose a serious threat, especially to older adults. When our bodies expel more water than is put back in, we can become dehydrated quickly. Our bodies need water in order to perform basic functions like regulating our temperature, emitting waste, and lubricating our joints, among many others. Dehydration can cause a number of serious side-effects, especially if it goes unaddressed for long periods of time.

Causes and Symptoms of Dehydration

Because our ability to store fluid decreases as we age, older adults are more at risk of dehydration. In fact, according to an article published by the Journal of the National Medical Association, “Dehydration is the most common fluid and electrolyte problem among the elderly.” Many older adults experience a weakened thirst response, which keeps them from feeling thirsty and can often lead to dehydration. In addition, various underlying health conditions, such as decreased kidney function, and the medications used to treat them can cause increased urination, leading to significant fluid loss if it doesn’t get replaced. While these conditions can pose an increased risk, there are several common causes of dehydration:

Heat Exposure– Hot and humid weather conditions can lead to increased sweating and loss of fluid. If these fluids aren’t replaced, they can cause dehydration quickly.

Diarrhea and Vomiting– When we are ill, it’s not uncommon to experience both diarrhea and vomiting. However, when this happens, our bodies discard both fluids and electrolytes which can cause massive dehydration if it persists for a long period of time.

Fever– An increased fever can often lead to a lack of thirst and loss of fluid.

Underlying Health Conditions– Some diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease, can cause you to lose additional fluid. Those who suffer from diabetes can experience an increase in blood sugar levels. When the kidneys are unable to retain the sugar, it gets dumped into the urine and can cause increased urination.

Decreased Mobility– Older adults who need assistance with eating and drinking have an increased risk of dehydration.

It can be difficult to identify when we are dehydrated, especially if we think we are getting enough fluids. While thirst and dark-colored urine are obvious signs of dehydration, there are more subtle signs that can present themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the most common symptoms of dehydration in older adults:

• Extreme thirst
• Less frequent urination
• Fatigue
• Dizziness
• Confusion
• Muscle weakness
• Rapid heart rate
• Low blood pressure

If you ever experience diarrhea for 24 hours or more, can’t keep fluids down, or have a bloody and black stool, make sure to contact your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Benefits of Staying Hydrated

We lose water just by breathing! In order for our bodies to function properly, we have to consistently replenish our water supply. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need to consume 3.7 liters of fluids each day, while women need 2.7 liters. Exercise, sickness, and weather can all contribute to our daily hydration needs. While the importance of hydration often goes unrecognized, staying hydrated has many health benefits:

Helps maintain bodily functions– Our bodies are mostly made of water, so it makes sense that we need it to function. Normal bodily functions like producing saliva, digesting food, regulating our internal temperatures, excreting waste, and absorbing nutrients all require water. The more we pay attention to how much water we consume, the more likely we are to have a body that functions well.

Repairs our muscles– When we use our muscles, both during a normal day and during exercise, they can become fatigued without adequate fluids. When we drink water, we ensure our muscles have the nutrients they need to recover and get stronger.

Increases energy levels and brain function– Research suggests that mild dehydration can have a negative effect on our mood, cognitive skills, and memory.

Decreases risk of headaches– Some individuals experience headaches as a symptom of dehydration. When our bodies are dehydrated, our brains can actually contract from the loss of fluid, resulting in a headache. Replenishing our bodies with fluids can decrease the risk of a headache from dehydration.

Aids in weight loss– Consuming water can increase feelings of fullness and also helps boost metabolism. Our brains can also mistake dehydration for hunger, so if it’s not time to eat, you might consider drinking water before consuming food. Always remember to consult your doctor before making changes to your diet, especially when weight loss is your goal.

Tips for Consuming More Water

Staying hydrated can be a constant challenge for older adults, especially if they struggle with feeling thirsty or take medications that compromise their fluid levels. A good place to begin is to add more water to your everyday routine. You might consider consuming a full glass of water with every meal or starting each day with a glass of water. This way, drinking water becomes a habit. If you or your loved one have a hard time remembering to drink water, setting a timer for certain times throughout the day can help. In addition to consuming water, there are a number of different ways we can stay hydrated from the foods we eat. Here are a few suggestions to start with:

Eat more fruits and vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables have high water content, which means in addition to receiving nutrients, your body also gets refueled with fluids. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, and oranges are mostly made up of water and have added fiber and nutrients that help boost immune function and promote feelings of fullness. Vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, and zucchini are high in water and low in calories. You can find a full list of hydrating foods provided by Healthline magazine here.

Soups
Consuming hydrating meals, like soup, can help you consume more hydrating fluids as opposed to only drinking a glass of water. Adding in additional hydrating vegetables can make soups filling, hydrating, and nutrient-dense.

Smoothies and Beverages
For some people, staying hydrated is easier when it comes in different forms. Smoothies made of yogurt, berries, and other liquids like milk or water, are high in vitamins, nutrients and will also keep you satiated. Adding raspberries, lemons, and cucumbers to your water can add a subtle flavor which makes it a tastier option than plain water.

Staying Hydrated at Maplewood Senior Living

Our staff at each of our Maplewood Senior Living communities make it a priority to provide plenty of options for hydration to our residents. Infused water beverages, soups, smoothies, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are provided with each meal. In addition, our staff hosts educational seminars for residents to learn more about nutrition and ways to stay healthy and active. To learn more about our offerings, please contact us!