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

Why Companion Care is More Important than You Think

Many seniors admit that as they grow old, they prefer to settle down and stay rooted. Aging in place has its benefits, but some family members might be concerned about the state of their elderly loved ones in such cases. Concerns such as house chores, safety, and general isolation are a problem for these situations. In such cases, it may be time to consider companion care.

Companion care is a type of long-term care tailormade for seniors and tackles many of the challenges of living alone as an elderly person. Today, we’ll talk about the benefits provided by companion care, and why it’s so important for the elderly to have someone taking care of them.

Independence

A helping hand does not mean an elderly person becomes even more dependent. If anything, companionship actually enhances the feeling of independence. The fact is that as we grow old, we become less capable of doing self-sufficient activities such as driving or sports. Some family caregivers may also start losing their sense of freedom, as all their time becomes dedicated to their aging family.

A companion reduces all those worries. With a companion, the senior now has someone who can watch over them as they go about their daily life. They don’t have to be stuck at home because now, someone is  around to watch them. Family caregivers also lessen their stress because they share the responsibility with a professional. In turn, this makes the elderly family member feel less guilty.

Strong social bonds ensure that an elderly individual continues to be happy and active, even in the twilight of their life.

Companionship

Unsurprisingly, something called companion care provides this benefit in spades. Social connections are important in raising the self-esteem of the elderly. A companion lets your senior loved one enjoy the big and small things with a friendly companion.

It’s a minor benefit to some, but people severely underestimate how much having someone with you improves one’s mental health.  A companion assists your loved ones by teaching them important self-care rituals such as meditation, massage, and morning hygiene.

Validation

A lot of elderly people dread the fact that the world is passing them by. They operate under the false assumption that they are nothing but a burden, and for those suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, this feeling is doubled in their moments of lucidity. The fear of being a burden only strengthens with every passing year.

A companion alleviates all those issues. In addition to helping the elderly’s quality of life, they also provide a comfortable presence for them. Depression in advanced age can be prevented by someone simply being in a home with the person. Companions communicating with your senior family member means they will always feel seen and heard.

For example, if a senior family member performs an accomplishment, such as succeeding at a difficult hobby or task, the companion is there to provide them with emotional support. Validation is a powerful thing because no person wants to feel alone.

Comfort

For the elderly, sudden change can be incredibly upsetting. Moving to a new place, their children leaving to start their own lives, and a plethora of other life stuff could be very detrimental to their mental state. Anxiety, fear, and depression are common for lonely senior citizens. Thus, most senior citizens prefer the comforts of settling down.

Companionship in a familiar place, such as a family home, leads to many benefits. Familiarity, comfort, and safety are only some of the benefits that come with staying in one place with a companion to care for them. Practically, it’s usually financially viable as there are no moving costs and also means they stay close to the friends they have made in the neighborhood.

Peace of Mind

Lots of family members may be concerned about leaving their elderly loved ones alone. Many senior adults do not like the idea that they make their children/younger family members feel “guilty” for leaving them. For the family who does choose to become caretakers, feelings of bitterness and depression may also ensue. Some cannot shoulder the anxiety of not having 100% of their time belong to them.

Hiring a companion fixes a lot of these issues. Some may balk at this idea as shoving responsibility of a loved one onto someone else, but that is simply untrue. Having your own free time is also important in caring for your loved one. They would not enjoy the idea of being your anchor (in the negative sense).

In addition, companions are trained exactly for this purpose. Certain things that you may struggle with are not a problem for a professional companion. They are trusted to give all of their focus to your loved one.

Conclusion

Companion care is a beneficial decision. The benefits above clearly outline why companion care should not be set aside as a “half-measure” in taking care of your elderly loved ones. Companions enhance your loved one’s life, and they are NOT a replacement for you. Make sure that you still visit your senior loved one regularly, and stay in contact with their companion for updates.

 

By |2022-09-20T10:14:51-05:00September 20th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Why Companion Care is More Important than You Think

Guest Blog: Three key ways architecture benefits the elderly

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Most people don’t realize just how big of an impact architecture can have on the lives and well being of elderly individuals. For many years, innovative designs for care homes and retirement living have gone a long way in helping to both support and reassure elderly residents so they feel comfortable in their surroundings, and will do for many years to come. Here are three key ways in which architecture benefits the elderly.

Exposure to sunlight

One of the first architectural considerations for any residential project is ‘how does the building sit in relation to the sun?’ This can influence many factors such as the garden, conservatories and large windows, all because we want residents to have the best exposure to natural light as possible. Designs for many care homes ensure that there are no rooms that face exclusively north, so all residents receive direct, natural sunlight into their room at some point during the day. Not only are there psychological benefits of enjoying the sunshine, but exposure to the sun in moderation provides a healthy dose of Vitamin D, absorbed into the body to help strengthen bones which is a huge boost for the elderly to starve off the effects of frailty with age.

Green space

Residential architecture is not just about the building, but landscaping the garden area too. Retaining some green outdoor space is important for elderly residents for whom it may not be possible to venture to the nearest public park whenever they wish, so they can relax outdoors without completely leaving their home. For more mobile elderly residents, gardens also provide the opportunity to continue with a relaxing gardening hobby, or to even take it up. In care homes, gardens are kept in pristine condition all year round by qualified gardeners, and when the months begin to get warmer, residents can enjoy the various plants and colorful flowerbeds – some of which they may have helped to plant themselves.

Built to adapt

When it comes to care home facilities and retirement housing, architectural designs must cater for the ever-changing needs of the residents. Therefore, it has to be built to adapt. Many elderly who use wheelchairs will require spacious rooms with height adjustable surfaces, particularly in the kitchen, and ramps fitted on all entrances and exits. These features take even more prominence in care homes with more residents present, with designs also incorporating wide corridors to allow residents in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters to pass one another with ease, and interior walls within a resident’s living space fitted as panels that can be easily knocked out to create a larger open plan floor space if necessary.

Author bio: Mick Goode is a co-founder and co-director of Croft Goode Architects, based in Lancashire, UK. As a BIM-focused practice of chartered architects, we have a vast range of experience designing for all kinds of projects, including those for retirement living and healthcare buildings for the elderly and disabled.

By |2022-07-30T11:48:48-05:00September 16th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Three key ways architecture benefits the elderly

How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community

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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 |2022-07-30T11:48:29-05:00September 14th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community

Signs of Depression

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In the wake of the sad news about the suicide death of beloved actor Robin Williams, discussions about depression, its recognition and treatment seem appropriate. Depression is common in American society, with 10% of men and 18% of women over the age of 65 in the United States reporting current symptoms associated with clinically significant depression. These statistics have been relatively stable since about 1998. Severe depression is one of the major causes for suicide attempts.
Sometimes it is hard to understand why a person would become so depressed that suicide seems like the only option. There are many reasons that depression occurs. These may include losses of various types such as outliving a spouse, friends, or loved ones. There may have been loss of health, financial difficulties, loss of a job, or a drastic unwanted change in living situation. Maybe the person has experienced a trauma that was life-changing. For some people, these losses can be overwhelmingly painful and persons may lack the support or coping mechanisms to successfully deal with their extreme feelings.
Men and women may display depression differently. Men express depression in the form of irritability, anger, agitation, controlling behavior, blaming others, or expressions of despair. In contrast, women may appear anxious, scared, apathetic, and express feelings of worthlessness.
Other common signs of depression include:

• No interest or pleasure in enjoyable activities
• No interest in sexual activities
• Feeling sad or numb
• Crying easily or for no reason
• Feeling slowed down
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Change in appetite; unintended change in weight
• Trouble recalling things, concentrating, or making decisions
• Problems sleeping, or wanting to sleep all of the time
• Feeling tired all of the time
• Thoughts about death or suicide

While depression can be associated with suicide, persons with depression may not actually want to die. They simply feel they cannot live with the pain they feel and may express wanting that pain to end. This pain can be physical or emotional or both. In the United States, the highest rate of suicide is among white males over the age of 85. These men often visit their doctors within the month prior to their suicide, and give few other signs of their suicidal thoughts. They most often use lethal means to carry out suicide such as hanging or firearms. In women, suicide attempts are more often by nonlethal means such as taking pills, and should be considered a cry for help. If you have a loved who is at high risk for depression or suicide, be sure to take special note of the warning signs listed here.
The good news is that depression can be successfully managed and treated with the right help. Early recognition and treatment of depression is important and generally includes medication therapy and counseling. Talk to your doctor if you or your loved one is feeling depressed. Your primary care provider can assist you in diagnosing depression and can refer you to a reliable mental health professional to help address your symptoms and promote a better quality of life.

Tips for helping your loved one who is experiencing depression are provided on SCC’s care page that can be found at https://senior-care-central.com/category/dr-mauks-boomer-blog/

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By |2022-07-30T11:48:09-05:00September 12th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Signs of Depression

Guest Blog: What to Expect from Andropause in Your Senior Years

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Have you felt like your increasing age is taking a toll on you? As men increase in age, their normal hormone levels decrease and result in different types of male hormone imbalances. One of which is andropause or “male menopause” – a decline in a man’s levels of testosterone, their primary male sex hormone.

A gradual but significant decline in a man’s testosterone begins at age 30 at a rate of 1 to 2% per year. By about  age 70, a man’s testosterone levels may have declined by 50%. Because testosterone plays a huge role in a man’s overall health, low T levels may produce different adverse effects.

 

Andropause and senior health

Here are the most common symptoms and changes you can expect from andropause in your senior years:

  • Sleep disturbances: Sleeping difficulties or disturbances in andropause men include insomnia, sleep apnea, night sweats, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
  • Emotional changes: Different changes in emotions during andropause often result to a lack of motivation, depression, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
  • Sexual dysfunction: During andropause, a man’s sexual function also weakens and lays low, which may result in low sex drive, infertility, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Osteoporosis: With declining testosterone levels, men become more susceptible to osteoporosis. Low levels of testosterone lead to loss of bone tissue and mass.
  • Physical changes: Other physical manifestations of andropause in men include increased abdominal fat, decreased muscle mass, hair loss, and swollen breasts.

Dealing with andropause

Although andropause can’t be escaped, it can be managed. Men can deal with the different symptoms and risks brought about by andropause with these simple steps:

  • Weight management: Stored extra fat, especially in the belly, can convert testosterone to estradiol. Healthier lifestyle choices such as proper diet and regular exercise are greatly recommended.
  • Physical activity: Engaging in physical activities can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms of andropause, such as mood swings and sleeping difficulties, while helping manage your weight.
  • Proper nutrition: Practice eating healthier food choices including fiber-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, lean meat, and fruits and vegetables for overall health, increased energy, and strength.
  • Getting checked for depression: Depression is one of the symptoms of andropause that you should keep an eye on. Beware of signs of depression or have your primary care provider screen you for possible depression.
  • Expert consultation: The best way to deal with andropause is through an expert doctor’s help. Be honest about your symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment. For some, testosterone replacement therapy can be given as an effective treatment.

Get equipped and be ready for the andropause battle!

 

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By |2022-07-30T11:47:48-05:00September 10th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What to Expect from Andropause in Your Senior Years