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Seniors Archives - LifeCall Medical Alert Systems

What Seniors May Not Know About Water

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You’ve probably heard this one before … you can live for days, weeks, and even months without food, but 2 to 3 days without water could kill you.

But at a certain age (over 65), daily hydration becomes a challenge as well as a matter of life and death.

Why? Because dehydration is common in seniors due to decreased feelings of thirst, medications and diseases that increase fluid needs, and decrease in overall food and beverage intake.

Dehydration can cause confusion, fatigue, hot or cold sensations, muscle cramping, headache, dry mouth, eyes and skin, constipation, dangerous changes to blood pressure, and abnormal blood chemistry (ex: blood sugar, electrolytes).

Dehydration left untreated requires medical attention and can be deadly. It can send you to the hospital in a hurry and into a coma.

How much fluid is this, exactly?
If you are 65 or older, your mission is to get in at least 8 glasses (1 glass=8 oz) of fluid every day.   If you have kidney or heart problems, please ask your doctor for specific amounts.

Remember that all liquid counts (milk, soup, coffee and tea) and some fruits and vegetables too.

Caregivers should make sure the older person has water by his or her side at all times.  Encourage frequent drinking in moderate amounts.

How to reach this goal?
Drink 1 glass with each meal and one in between meals to make sure you get enough.
Keep fluid in arm’s reach throughout the day and stash one in the car or your bag when you leave the house.

Worth Noting

  • Older people who get enough water tend to suffer less constipation, use less laxatives, have fewer falls and, for men, may have a lower risk of bladder cancer. Less constipation may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Drinking at least five 8-ounce glasses of water daily reduces the risk of fatal coronary heart disease among older adults.

The Science of Aging
Scientists warn that the ability to be aware of and respond to thirst is slowly blunted as we age.  As a result, older people do not feel thirst as readily as younger people do. This increases the chances of them consuming less water and consequently suffering dehydration.

Less body fluids, lower kidney function.
The body loses water as we age because of the loss of muscle mass  and a corresponding increase in fat cells.

In addition, the kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood progressively declines with age. This means the kidneys are not as efficient in concentrating urine in less water, thus older people lose more water than younger ones.

Bottom Line
Drink lots of water!  The chances of your getting too much water are slim to none, so drink up!

Contact LifeCall Medical Alert Systems, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes. www.lifecall.com

Aging In Place

By | Aging in Place, Blog | No Comments

What is “aging in place”?  Simply, it describes a cultural shift in which older people are choosing to stay at home, rather than live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

The National Association of Home Builders describes the term as:  Remaining in one’s home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.

It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout one’s maturing years and the ability to enjoy the familiar daily rituals and the special events that enrich all our lives.  It means the reassurance of being able to call a house a “home” for a lifetime.

It Could Be Cheaper To Stay At Home
The average annual cost of nursing home care in 2011 was $86,040.  Hiring in-home assistance is cheaper—but still not ideal—with annual fees averaging $38,000.  But is it possible for seniors to maintain independence without completely surrendering themselves to someone else’s care?  Yes.  It just takes some determination and room-by-room modifications.

Solutions can be simple, no-cost or low cost changes to make your home more livable. Solutions can also involve larger-scale modifications such as structural changes.

Some low cost home improvements:

Enhance natural lighting
Improve lighting in bathrooms, hallways and staircases
Install lever handles on doors and faucets
Install handrails on both sides of the staircase
Use non-slip strips in the shower or tub

An Aging in Place Plan Is Not Just For Old People
Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently.  But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life.  Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place.

For a complete list of home assessment tips, changes related to aging, safety tips, pointers on hiring help, and much more, click below:
http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm

Contact LifeCall Medical Alert Systems, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes. www.lifecall.com

Falls by Elderly, Perilous But Preventable

By | Blog, Elderly Fall Prevention | No Comments

Fall Prevention Tips

Who would have thought that popping a pill could help prevent falls in the elderly? According to a new report on fall prevention, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, vitamin D may help adults age 65 and older stay steady and upright.

Falls are the leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older, and preventing them is much more effective than treating them.  Thirty percent to 40 percent of the elderly fall at least once a year; many who had been living independently never regain their previous functioning, ending up in assisted living and nursing homes.

According to MayoClinic.com, older individuals have higher instances of vitamin D deficiencies.  This deficiency is often caused by poor diet, bad absorption of the vitamin in their intestines, not receiving enough sun light and liver or kidney diseases that affect the metabolism of vitamin D metabolism.  Many people are not aware that they have a vitamin D deficiency.  Doctors can check the level of vitamin D in your body through a blood test.

Taking vitamin D supplements daily is one of three major recommendations on fall prevention recently issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

The task force is the first major medical group to recommend vitamin D supplements for those who live at home (not in assisted living or nursing homes) and are at higher-than-normal risk of falling — that is, those over age 65 who have already fallen or who have had limitations in mobility within the last year.

The task force’s last recommendation for fall prevention involves exercise.  Appropriate exercise should be any balance, strengthening and aerobic moves the patient likes enough to actually do regularly.

Hazards Around The House

The task force did not address home-grown pitfalls, so here are the prime places to start on your own:

  • Stairs  – obviously the most likely place to experience serious falls. Put up railings on both sides. Replace worn carpet, as it can be slippery. Install lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. Mark the top and bottom steps clearly with a different color of carpeting (tape tends to need replacing too often).
  • Bathrooms – clearly the next big fall zone.  Secure grab bars (not the suction-cup variety) into the walls at varying easy-to-grab angles in addition to vertically and horizontally. Place them not only where you enter the tub or shower but also in a second midway spot — for example, where the built-in soap holder usually is, and by the toilet.
  • Good lighting –  an easy and inexpensive safety improvement throughout the home.
  • Getting rid of clutter – a  critical but not so easy safety measure, especially if you are a hoarder!
  • Pets and their paraphernalia – when our furry friends can also pose a hazard.

The Use It or Lose It Category
Confidence is important to fall prevention.  Fear itself in this case can lead older people to cut back on activities they used to enjoy. The less they do, sadly, the less they eventually are able to do.

Resources
For the first time since 2001, the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society have updated their guidelines for preventing falls in older people. The update includes two notable changes:  One recommends tai chi as an effective way to prevent falls, while another suggests that doctors review medication use by all elderly patients, with an eye toward reducing use of those drugs that increase the risk of falling.

Click HERE for their recommendations in PDF form.

Contact LifeCall Medical Alert Systems, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes. www.lifecall.com

Tips for Adult Children Caring For Aging Parents

By | Blog, Caregivers | No Comments

Caring for an aging parent can be a daily juggle.  It is estimated that up to 7 million people in the United States help care for an older relative long distance. If you are the designated caregiver in your family and you live more than an hour away from the relative who needs help, Consumers Union suggests these ways of preparing for the next crisis.

Maintain a care notebook
Keep a file of your parents’ medical records, including test results, current medication, allergies, insurance coverage and Social Security numbers, along with their physicians’ contact information. Collect e-mail addresses and phone numbers for neighbors and close friends, as well as the phone number for the nearest hospital.

Develop a relationship with your parents’ doctors
If possible, schedule your parents’ appointments while you’re visiting. To avoid future frustration, ask your parents to sign privacy releases giving your doctors authorization to speak with you by phone regarding their care.

Find a local senior or geriatric care manager
These professionals are usually trained in gerontology, social work, nursing or psychology, and can identify problems and help provide solutions that you might not be aware of. They can also screen, place and monitor in-home help, and arrange for short- or long-term assistance for long-distance caregivers.

Set up an Medical Alert System
If your parent lives alone, talk with him or her about an electronic alert system for emergencies such as LifeCall. These systems, typically lightweight devices worn around the neck or wrist, require only a push of a button to generate an automatic call to summon emergency help. You might also want to arrange a daily check-in call or e-mail message.

Don’t go it alone
If you have siblings, try to split doctors’ visits, financial costs and other responsibilities with them as much as possible. Make a list of family members, friends and neighbors who are willing to help with transportation and home visits. Check into senior day care or recreational programs available through local governments or nonprofit groups. Also investigate the availability of meal-delivery programs and transportation services.

Additional resources

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Contact LifeCall Medical Alert System, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes.