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senior health care walkingEveryone knows they are supposed to exercise, but isn’t it too late to start an exercise routine once one is elderly, sick or under home health care?  The good news it is almost never too late to introduce some kind of exercise.  Obviously high-impact aerobic classes are not going to be a starting place for the elderly who have not previously been active, but walking for about 30 minutes a day is manageable for many seniors. Studies have shown that, even into one’s 90s, cardiovascular health and strength can be improved with regular physical activity.

Before beginning an exercise routine, it is best to check with a doctor about the best strategy for that individual and to make sure that any activity undertaken will be safe. Most people, especially older adults, are not getting enough regular exercise and often walking seems manageable since it is something most seniors are already doing each day to carry out the basic activities of daily living.  The key for those individuals is to increase the amount of time they are walking and make sure they are doing it daily.

The potential benefits of walking are many.  Senior health care studies have shown that:

Walking can increase one’s life span by promoting better health: Leading a sedentary lifestyle results in lower aerobic capacity and in loss of muscle.  Muscle loss affects flexibility and sense of balance which can increase the risk of falls. Walking as a form of exercise, helps combat these, and can also help maintain a lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure from developing or worsening.  Walking also seems to help stave off or lower the effects of osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, disabilities and weight gain.  Regular exercise diminishes the risk of premature death.

Walking can provide mobility and independence: Being able to get around can help give seniors a sense of purpose and helps them avoid feeling like a burden on others. The longer a senior is able to remain independent, possibly even continuing to work part-time or be involved in volunteer work, the better for his or her overall sense of purpose and feeling like a contributing member of society. Even if they rely on others for some assistance or have home health care assistance, being able to do some things on their own helps prolong a sense of independence, which in turn helps promote good mental health.

Walking promotes good mental health: Being mobile and having a sense of purpose can improve self-worth.  Together, these benefits can help seniors avoid feeling like a burden, which in turn helps seniors avoid falling into depression.

Walking can affect your brain: Regular exercise can promote better reasoning, memory and reaction time.

Given all of these benefits, walking can be a great way to promote all aspects of health and physical and mental wellbeing.  Whether it’s at a mall in combination with some shopping, out enjoying nature or walking in the community and connecting with others, getting out and walking is a great way to go for older adults.

At some point, most seniors will either realize they can no longer drive, or they will lose their driver’s license and no longer be able to drive.  Having to depend on others for transportation can be difficult for some seniors to accept.  Others may sink into misery and become hermits in their own homes, not wanting to inconvenience others or admit their dependence.  But losing one’s ability to drive should not mean the end of social contact and active participation in the world around us.  Although it may require rethinking transportation, there are many options to remain engaged in the activities one loves.

Remaining socially connected is important for seniors.  It can prevent depression and promote mental well-being, which in turn can affect physical health.  It also simply improves overall quality of life.  Luckily, there are many transportation options to keep seniors socially engaged that will work for most seniors if they are willing to put in a little effort.

Public transportation can be a great option.  For seniors who are still mobile, taking regular public transportation offers many options in most major cities and many cities offer discounts or even free transportation to seniors. Many cities’ public transportation systems also have transportation services specifically for seniors or those with disabilities that is destination specific.  Seniors or family members would do well to investigate public transportation options available in their area.  If seniors have not previously used public transportation they may appreciate going with a family member or friend initially to help them become familiar with the procedures or route.

Family members and friends would also do well to encourage their loved ones to ask for and accept rides from neighbors, friends and people who participate in the activities they enjoy. Not only does this provide the senior with transportation, but it also gives them an opportunity have additional social interaction. A senior may even be surprised to find that the young mother from church actually enjoys driving him or her to church services and values the opportunity to talk to and learn from the senior’s experience and perspective.

Staying involved in daily activities like shopping for groceries, going to doctor’s appointments, participating in worship services, and attending social functions is important to keeping a senior healthy and engaged.  There are many ways for seniors to deal with transportation issues after they stop driving, and finding a solution that works for the senior can be the key to their mental and physical wellbeing in their post-driving yeras.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas

 

Keeping hydrated is important at any age. Everyone should drink 64 ounces (8 eight ounce glasses) of water daily, regardless of age.  Additional water should be consumed if one exercises or is otherwise active, or if the weather is particularly hot.

For seniors, there is an increased risk of dehydration due to the side effects of medications and the effects of other medical issues which can cause an increase in fluid loss through vomiting, diarrhea and sweating.  Some symptoms of dehydration can be similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s, which can cause undo alarm or confusion.

Signs of dehydration can be mild and vague in many cases.  They include but are not limited to: mental confusion, dizziness, irritability, disorientation, constipation, weight loss, fever, sunken eyes, muscle weakness, tachycardia (heart palpitations), pneumonia, urinary tract infection, dry skin, low blood pressure, decreased urine output, and increased rate of infections.

If any symptoms of dehydration occur in the elderly, a doctor or other senior care provider should be consulted immediately. Seniors under home care or nursing home care may have their weight monitored to check for significant weight loss due to dehydration.

Dehydration is preventable. By drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids most people will be able to avoid dehydration.  For those who are suffering fluid loss due to illness or as a complication to medication, medical intervention by a trained senior care professional may be necessary.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas

 

Some studies have shown that senior adults who are overweight or obese are more likely to require nursing home care.  This may happen because:

  • Being overweight can cause or exacerbate symptoms of medical conditions like type-two diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in seniors.
  • Obese seniors may develop respiratory problems as obesity causes the lungs to decrease in size.
  • Seniors who struggle with obesity, especially seniors aged 60-75, have higher rates of depression.
  • As adults age, they lose about 20% of the dermal thickness of their skin, which can make it much easier for seniors who are overweight or obese to develop pressure sores.

These and other factors may help explain why the risk of death from a weight-related disease increases as people get older. With as many as 70 percent of adults over age 60 obese or overweight, it is important to consider ways to maintain or reduce weight to avoid developing or worsening medical conditions and improve overall quality of life.

Are the reasons for weight gain the same for seniors as they are for everyone else?

Seniors tend to gain weight for different reasons and in different ways, although the basic concepts for managing weight remain the same.As seniors age, fat mass increases as muscle mass decreases. High fat mass has been shown to result in decreased physical function, higher risk of disability and limitations on mobility. In spite of decreased mobility and being less active, seniors tend to continue the eating patterns of their youth.  If adjustments are not made to diet to take into account decreased physical activity, seniors will tend to gain weight.

Changes in hormones and metabolism occur as people get older which can result in increased fat mass. It is believed thyroid hormone responsiveness decreases with age. Since the thyroid is primarily responsible for regulating metabolism, a decrease in responsiveness can very directly impact weight. Another change in hormones which occurs as people age involves a protein hormone called leptin, which regulates energy levels. Additionally, as people get older, their digestive system becomes less efficient which means that less food calories are burned off as energy, and more are stored as fat.

Genetics and environment also play a role in senior obesity and thus individual seniors will be impacted differently by each of these factors.  In genetics, certain genotypes are believed to produce a different sensitivity to changes in body fat after overeating. In terms of environment, not all seniors have access to fitness centers that offer specialized exercise and weight programs designed for seniors.  Similarly, not all seniors will have safe places to walk or bike that are readily accessible.

One factor seniors do have control over is how much they eat out. A societal lifestyle change has occurred and people are eating out more and more.  This trend has affected seniors as well. Studies have shown that when eating out, people consume more food and more foods that are higher in fat. Cooking at home tends to lead to making healthier food choices and consuming less.

How can seniors maintain a healthy weight?

The good news is that there are many factors seniors do have control over in maintaining or returning to a healthy weight.

Develop a community: Finding others who want to have a healthy lifestyle and developing a community of mutual support can help seniors maintain a healthy weight.

Keep moving: Stretching, aerobics and strengthening excises adapted to ability and done routinely can preserve muscle and bone mass in seniors, which can help in the struggle against weight gain.  Even those who are very old or frail can avoid obesity and related illnesses by engaging in appropriate physical activities. If one long 30-minute session is too strenuous, seniors can benefit just as much from three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day.

Sleep: Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain because hormone changes make the sleep-deprived individual crave more food and feel less full. Particularly, a lack of sufficient sleep makes the body crave high-energy foods full of sugar and salt.  Getting enough sleep can therefore help the senior make healthier food choices.

Evaluate medications: Talking to health care providers about the effects of prescription drugs on weight gain may help identify ways to address or reduce their impact.

Eat protein: Protein is necessary for healthy muscle development.  If eating meat is difficult, other sources of protein like yogurt or eggs also make good choices.

Eat at home: Eating at home helps avoid the large portions and high-fat foods that are found in restaurants.

Determine a senior-appropriate weight management plan: Weight management strategies that worked for a senior in his or her youth may be unhelpful or even dangerous in older adulthood. A dietician or doctor can recommend a Senior Home Health Care partner who can also help with a weight management plan that will be safe and effective.

Home Health Care – Getting help form a home health care agency can make big difference in the health and well-being of a senior.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas

Regardless of a senior’s previous levels of alcohol consumption, it is important to reevaluate one’s level of alcohol consumption as one ages. Numerous studies have found that moderate drinking by seniors can actually have a positive impact on overall senior health. Yet, heavy drinking can have adverse effects, so a careful balance must be reached.

Guidelines for alcohol consumption by seniors are different than for younger individuals. Several factors should be taken into account when determining appropriate levels of alcohol consumption for a senior, including physical changes due to age, chronic conditions and medications a senior is taking.

Generally, a healthy senior might consume the U.S. equivalent of one 12-ounce beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits a day. Women may need to consume less, and these amounts may need to be adjusted with age as an older person will metabolize alcohol differently than a younger one. These amounts may be lower for women and should decrease the older a person gets due to age-related physical changes that significantly affect the way an older person metabolizes alcohol.

The good news for healthy seniors who would like to keep alcohol as a part of their lifestyle is that there are benefits to moderate consumption of alcohol when compared with abstaining entirely. These moderate levels have been shown to increase bone density in women, protect the vascular system and protect against cognitive decline and dementia. Also, both heavy drinkers and those who abstain completely from alcohol were found to have higher morbidity rates than those who drink moderately.

In spite of the potential benefits of moderate consumption for healthy seniors, there may be serious consequences for seniors who have a chronic health condition or who are ill, or for those whose medications – including over-the-counter medications – could cause serious health complications or even death. Due to these factors, a senior should pay careful attention to his or her alcohol consumption, and those who provide the Senior Health Health Care should monitor to make sure alcohol consumption has not turned into alcohol abuse.

Failure to Identify Alcohol Abuse

Typical warning signs of alcohol abuse include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, chronic pain, or impotence. However, these same signs can also by symptoms of a variety of physical conditions as well. Therefore, alcohol abuse may be overlooked as doctors or other Senior Health Care providers attribute them to another of their physical or medical conditions.  Other reasons alcohol abuse could be overlooked include that medical personnel may be more focused on the senior’s current medical concerns, take less accurate histories regarding alcohol use (as they might for a younger patients), or be uncomfortable with questioning or trying to change a senior’s established habits out of respect.

Concerns about alcohol abuse may not be addressed by family members or an agency offering senior home health care because they believe the senior should be allowed to enjoy his or her final years as he or she wishes.  Yet failing to intervene can have serious negative consequences on the senior’s quality of life. Alcohol problems are missed within the health care setting at an alarming rate which means that family members, friends, those who provide home care to the senior, and other members of the senior’s community are vital to identifying and addressing the issue.

Home caregivers, family and friends should pay particular attention to seniors who have suffered a major loss, such as losing a spouse or close friend, experiencing a decrease in income, becoming disconnected from a social network due to a move or retirement, or who have had a significate change in lifestyle due to their health. Seniors who have had a substance abuse problem in the past are also at a high risk of developing late-onset alcoholism. Depression and other mood disorders can also contribute to a senior abusing alcohol.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Physical symptoms of alcohol abuse may include the following:

  • sleep difficulties/changes
  • blurred vision
  • dry mouth
  • cognitive impairment
  • incontinence
  • poor hygiene
  • changes in eating habits
  • difficulty concentrating
  • frequent falls & unexplained bruising
  • slurred speech
  • unexplained stomach upset, vomiting or nausea
  • unexplained chronic pain complaints
  • restlessness and agitation

Seniors who are abusing alcohol may also:

  • become increasingly isolated
  • lose interest in friends, family, and activities that they used to enjoy;
  • be irritable, depressed, or sad.
  • drink while taking prescription drugs
  • drink against the advice of doctors
  • have a large number of empty beer or wine bottles in the trash
  • drink with every meal or
  • drink in secret.

Addressing Alcohol Abuse

Family, friends, home caregivers, and other community members who suspect a senior may have a problem with alcohol should talk with a professional such as a doctor, counselor, social worker, or the senior’s pastor or minister. It is important that the professional has worked with seniors and is aware of the special circumstances seniors face. These professionals may offer guidance on how to approach the senior with their concerns. Alcoholics Anonymous and other organizations may also be able to provide assistance on how to address the issue of alcohol abuse with the senior.

In Home Health Care Can Help

Families may want to consider outside home care for their loved one, especially if they do not live nearby. Depression symptoms can ease if a senior has someone come in to provide home health care services on a regular basis, as this can provide a source of companionship and make the senior feel less isolated at the same time. Additionally, the home health caregivers can let the family know if there are changes in the senior’s behavior that might indicate alcohol abuse. Home home help experts can also monitor medications and read labels to avoid dangerous alcohol interactions. For more information on how in home health care can help, visit Reliant Home Health.

Reliant Home Health serves the following cities of Texas with home health care:

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Azle, Bailey, Balch Springs, Bedford, Bells, Blue Ridge, Bonham, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Colleyville, Collinsville, Commerce, Copeville, Coppell, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denison, Denton, Desoto, Dodd City, Duncanville, Ector, Era, Euless, Farmersville, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forestburg, Fort Worth, Frisco, Gainesville, Garland, Gober, Gordonville, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Honey Grove, Howe, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Ivanhoe, Josephine, Justin, Keller, Kennedale, Klondike, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lindsay, Little Elm, Lone Oak, Mansfield, Mckinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Muenster, Myra, Naval Air Station, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pecan Gap, Pilot Point, Plano, Ponder, Pottsboro, Princeton, Prosper, Quinlan, Randolph, Ravenna, Red Oak, Rhome, Richardson, Roanoke, Rosston, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Sadler, Saint Jo, Sanger, Savoy, Seagoville, Sherman, Southlake, Southmayd, Sunnyvale, Telephone, Terrell, The Colony, Tioga, Tom Bean, Trenton, Valley View, Van Alstyne, Westminster, Weston, Whitesboro, Whitewright, Wills Point, Wilmer, Windom, Wolfe City, & Wylie, Texas