Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

4 Home Improvements Caregivers Should Make

Paige A. Mitchell

If you’re caring for a family member at home, you’ll want to ensure your house is a safe, healthy environment for everyone involved. You’ll likely have some adjustments to make in order to make your home more comfortable for an ill or impaired loved one. Consider the four home improvements below.

1. Declutter and re-decorate
Keep floors clear of toys and shoes. Strategically rearrange the furniture, so that your loved one is able to remain stimulated and engaged while they sit. For example, they may enjoy some natural sunlight and the view of nature from a comfortable chair near a window. Personal touches and familiar objects can make Alzheimer’s patients more comfortable.

2. Enhanced access
It’s important to review each room in the house to determine how accessible it is to someone who is ill or impaired. The American Association of Retired Persons checklist includes zero-threshold and wide entrances for wheelchairs and walkers, low light switches and door knobs that are reachable to someone in a wheelchair, and non-slip flooring and grab bars in at least one bathroom.

3. Maintain your home
Whether you’re caring for someone who is ill or not, it’s important to conduct regular home maintenance to ensure it’s a truly healthy environment. For example, replacing batteries in smoke detectors is especially important if your loved one is forgetful and susceptible to forgetting that something is on the stove. Take full advantage of your home repair insurance to save time, energy, and money on repairs.

4. Ask for help
Fifty percent of caregivers report feeling depressed. If you’re suffering from fatigue, isolation, irritable, and/or ill, it’s important to take a step back to take care of yourself. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. Seek an expert opinion for objective advice on whether you should consider placing your loved one in assisted care.

By |2019-03-20T18:28:43-05:00March 20th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on 4 Home Improvements Caregivers Should Make

How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community

bigstock-Senior-adults-in-a-stretching--13894493

Guest Blog: How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community
By: Derek Hobson

First let’s tackle the basics. Many people are wary of senior care homes because there’s a stigma that surrounds them; people see them as gloomy, dreary, end-of-life communities. While certainly there was a time when this was the case (several decades ago), most communities have worked hard to battle this stereotype and they have succeeded.

Many communities have done away with “institution” or “hospital” –like settings. Even more have become increasingly lenient on policies regarding residents’ possessions; some facilities have been known to permit pets and even furniture to help it feel like home. So, when the time comes to transition into one of these senior care homes, the question becomes, “How do I find the right one?”

1. Find out About Affordability
This is usually at the top of everyone’s list and for good reason. Today, people are having children later in life. This isn’t a bad thing, but it means that around the same time their kids are going off to college, their parents are starting to need extra care. This can put a lot of stress on adult children, but some senior homes provide help.

Some Assisted Living Facilities will accept private pay for a period of time and then accept the rest through Medicaid. This way, your senior does not need to move and they won’t need to fear outliving their assets.

2. Visit the Community (Often)
If you think a community looks good for your loved one, then you should visit and revisit. You should tour the facility on different days of the week at different times. This way, you’ll get a much broader view of the day-to-day.

See if people are out and about, if engaging activities are going on, and if there’s a general feeling of community. If you show up to an elder care home that looks more like a ghost town, then it’s probably not the one for your loved one.

3. Talk to the Residents & Staff
This one is critical, as nothing quite beats a first-hand view into the establishment. Ask residents if they enjoy the community, what they do on a daily basis, and if they’re happy.

When asking the staff, of course they’re not going to disparage against the home, but one of the most important things to take notice of is how they interact with the residents. If they refer to them by name and have clearly established relationships with them, then this can be a huge indicator of the level of personal care your loved one will receive.

These are the three most important criteria to face when choosing an elder care community and they should give you a well-rounded idea of the facility you’ve chosen.

By |2019-03-01T17:05:55-05:00March 20th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community

Guest Blog: Four Ways to Make Travel Easier for Seniors

Traveling is stressful for everyone, but traveling as a senior citizen comes with its own unique challenges. In order to make your next trip as easy and enjoyable as possible, be sure to keep these four easy tips in mind.

1. Prepare for Security Checkpoints

If you have to go through a TSA checkpoint before your trip, make sure you plan for it ahead of time.

TSA agents typically try to make things as easy and efficient as possible for seniors, especially those who are in wheelchairs or have other mobility limitations.

To help them do their job properly, make sure you let the agent know about any medical conditions — like pacemakers or implants — that might set off alarms. You should also try to get a physician’s statement verifying your implant to avoid delays.

2. Invest in Quality Pillows

Hotel pillows are often not as comfortable as the ones you have at home. Either bring one with your or invest in a quality pillow before you go to make sure you sleep comfortably at night.

You’ll also want to invest in a neck and back pillow for car and plane rides. This way, you won’t have to deal with any pain on your way to your destination.

3. Pack Light

Try to fit everything you need in a roll-aboard suitcase and a medium-sized carry on bag. Don’t bring more than you can carry — otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of discomfort.

If possible, bring both your bags on the plane and stash one in the overhead rack. This will make things easier when you land since you won’t have to hang around the baggage claim area.

4. Manage Your Medication

Make sure your medications are safe and accessible throughout your trip. Store them in a zip-lock bag and keep that bag in your carry-on. Keep copies of your prescriptions and physician statements in the bag as well.

When you get to your destination, you may want to ask for reminders from the hotel or cruise staff to help you take your medication at the same time each day. You can also set an alarm on your watch or cell phone so you stay on top of everything.

Traveling as a senior doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and comfortable throughout your trip.

 

By |2019-03-01T17:04:46-05:00March 16th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Four Ways to Make Travel Easier for Seniors

Guest Blog: How to Choose the Right Mattress for Seniors

When you’re a caregiver for a senior citizen, you know how critical it is to find chairs, beds, and couches that are comfortable for your patients. Choosing the right mattress is especially crucial for the elderly. People in the 65+ age range often suffer from chronic pain related to sore, tender muscles, arthritis, and old injuries that have worsened as the years have passed.

A poor mattress can make even a teenager wake up feeling sore and tired, but for seniors, the effects of a poor mattress can cause debilitating pain and worsen inflammation. Senior citizens need a supportive mattress that cradles sensitive areas that are prone to soreness and stiffness, such as the hips, neck, shoulders, and the lower back. It’s also a good idea to choose a mattress with a comfortable top that cushions the heels and elbows, which will lessen inflammation and irritation.

There are tons of different mattress materials, thicknesses, and designs to choose from, but how do you know which one is going to give your senior patients a comfortable night’s rest? Below, we’ve broken down the different types of mattresses and how they can help seniors sleep well and wake up free from discomfort and pain.

What types of mattresses are the most comfortable for seniors?

When searching for a good mattress for an older individual, manufacturers won’t advertise that it’s the best for senior citizens. What you’ll need to do is look for certain traits and design features that will most likely work for an elderly sleeper.

Typically, seniors need a bed that will retain minimal body heat and will sleep cool. Beds that minimize and isolate movement or motion transfer, and are quiet are usually the best choices for seniors, too. You’ll also want to purchase a bed that is supportive and won’t sag or compress too much. Mattresses that are too soft don’t support spinal alignment and can cause someone to wake up in the morning with a sore back and hips.

Most importantly, a mattress for senior citizens needs to support arthritic joints. As people age, the cartilage that naturally cushions and supports the joints wears away, so seniors need a little more support from their beds than a younger individual.

Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Gel memory foam mattresses are some of the most popular choices for seniors. Gel memory foam is denser and more supportive than traditional memory foam, offering a slightly firmer bed that does an excellent job of supporting the joints and the spine. In mattress lingo, gel memory foam is also referred to as Tempur foam. Gel memory foam mattresses are also cooler than a regular memory foam mattress. Loom and Leaf is one of the more popular gel memory foam mattresses this year.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam is a mattress favorite, and it’s been around for decades. First used by NASA, memory foam is a high-quality material that offers superior comfort and cushioning. While memory foams aren’t typically as supportive as a gel memory foam mattress, some models are firmer than others.

Memory foam mattresses cradle and cushion the body, so elbows and heels aren’t resting on a surface that can cause skin irritation. Seniors who are side sleepers can most benefit from a traditional memory foam mattress. Memory foam cradles the shoulder joint and allows it to rest comfortably while keeping the shoulder disk in proper alignment.

However, if a person has never slept on a memory foam mattress, the new bed may take some getting used to. Memory foam beds have a particular and distinct feel to them. Also, be sure to check the bed’s cool rating. Memory foam beds tend to run hot. Nectar memory foam beds are some of the highest rated bed-in-a-box mattresses.

All-natural Latex Foam

A natural, latex foam mattress is an excellent alternative to memory foam mattresses for older sleepers. Latex is a springier material than either gel or memory foam. Latex doesn’t cradle the body, so for sleepers who switch positions a lot, a latex mattress can be ideal. However, all natural latex mattresses are sometimes too soft for people with severe arthritis. A high-quality all natural latex foam mattress for seniors is the Santa Cruz Natural Mattress.

What about innerspring mattresses?

Innerspring mattresses don’t always offer enough consistent support for seniors who need cushioning for aching joints. But adding a pillowtop to an otherwise decent innerspring mattress can offer enough softness and support for senior citizens. Boxtop and pillowtop mattresses are suitable for sleepers who are light or medium weight. But these mattresses won’t provide enough support or last very long for heavier sleepers.

Can you choose a mattress that uses different types of materials?

It’s possible to find a mattress that uses different technologies. For example, manufacturers who specialize in innerspring mattresses often have products that use a top layer of natural latex foam, or memory foam for added support and comfort. If you’re worried that your senior patients won’t be able to get used to a full memory foam mattress, an innerspring memory-foam hybrid can be a good compromise.

As always, it’s essential to thoroughly research different mattress types, product ratings, and what’s going to work best for an individual patient.

By |2019-03-13T17:28:27-05:00March 14th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Choose the Right Mattress for Seniors