It’s a sad fact that as we age, our bodies change. It is true for your elderly loved one as well. As their health begins to fade, they are unable to do things they have easily done before. And they feel this change deeply. And because they are worried that their family members may think of them as a burden, they would act as if nothing is wrong, which is very tricky since it can lead to more problems along the way.
As someone who looks after the welfare of your senior loved ones, it is important to take the initiative to communicate with them. However, doing that is never easy, knowing that seniors will often be argumentative or defensive when it comes to their health. Therefore, it is important to understand your seniors’ health before you discuss anything with them.
You may want to discuss some things with your older family member like a regular check-up, treatment options that the doctor suggests, and diet changes. Also, you need to discuss home modifications to improve their safety at home or whether it’s time to consider personal care, home care, orcompanionship support. You should approach this topic either in a calm manner or by showing concern for their well-being. But how are you going to do it?
This article will discover the best ways to communicate with your senior loved ones about their health.
8 Ways to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health
Listen to Your Senior Loved One’s Concerns
When you listen and understand what your loved one is saying, you create a more fertile ground for conversation. Your senior loved one is more open to considering what you have to tell if you let your loved one speak his concerns freely without judgment. In addition, it could well be that your loved one is ambivalent and needs his time to think things thoroughly. Don’t rush to put words in their mouth. You might need to paraphrase what your loved one said to show that you understood them.
Pick the Right Environment
There are several things to consider when picking the right environment. If your loved one is agitated, choose a quiet place for communication. It could be the dining table, living room, or bedroom. Another option is to choose a comfortable chair at the hospital or in their nursing homeroom. You could also schedule a visit for later in the afternoon when your loved one may be more likely to have some energy and interest in talking about their health with you.
Ask a Thoughtful Question Instead of Just Giving an Advice
When you are trying to communicate with your elderly loved one about their health, the best thing you can do is ask a thoughtful and well-researched question. It will help you understand your loved ones and concerns much better. Ask them what makes them feel that way and why they feel that way. If you think your aging loved ones need to hear a hard truth like telling him, it might be time to give up the car. It could go a lot better to have a third party begin the discussion, like a physician and a family.
Speak Clearly to Make Sure That You are Well Understood
You must speak clearly during the health discussion. You can either repeat what your loved ones said or paraphrase their concerns. Since they are not looking at you, they may not understand you properly. So, repeating what your loved one said would ensure that your loved ones are well understood. One thing to remember is to stick with speaking using more of an informal tone of voice.
Include Other Family Members in the Discussion
Include other family members, like your siblings, in the discussion. But before you include your aging loved ones into that discussion, bring all the issues and concerns to the table and ask them what they think should be done. It will help you have a more fruitful discussion with your elderly family member. A unified consensus among family members regarding these transitions for aging loved ones is a more supportive environment than a divided family.
Accept Differences of Opinions
Not all families are going to agree on what you think should be done. It means that the discussion is going to be difficult. It is okay if other family members have other ideas on how to proceed. But what you should try to do is find a middle ground agreement among the family members. If there are disagreements, don’t push your loved ones to make a decision they are uncomfortable with.
Let Your Loved One be Part of the Decision-Making Process
If you want your loved one’s cooperation and keep them as active as possible, it is important that they feel like they are a part of the decision-making process. You should allow your family members to weigh in by asking their opinion and giving them all the information they need to make the right decisions. If your loved one agrees with what you plan to do, give them all the reasons for why you think it is necessary. It could be very helpful for you both if you can involve your loved ones in planning their future.
Keep Notes from Your Important Discussions
You may want to take some notes and record your discussions during your discussions with your aging loved one. It will help you pick up on any key concerns you need to address later on. Also, there might be memories were shared that you may want to use later.
When situations come up in future episodes of your elderly loved one’s health, bring them up again and ask them if they remember it or if it happened before. It could help if you keep records of important conversations and events in the past regarding their health.
Offer Your Loved One Choices Whenever Possible
Whether it be house cleaning, grocery shopping, or taking a walk at the park, it would be a good idea to let your loved one choose what to do. If they feel like going out to take a short walk or have a bite to eat, allow them. Be sure that the things you want them to do are things they can still safely do. If you have a senior loved one who is confined to their home and cannot leave, consider creating an environment for them that is as comfortable as possible.
Pick Your Battles
Discussing every single issue at once can be embarrassing for an aging parent or loved one. Pick the issues that are the most important, let him know you are aware of the other issues, and then ask if he wants to talk about them later. For example, if your aging relative feels that he is not getting any exercise by walking to the store, ask how his doctor has suggested he should do more exercise. Perhaps there is a way for you to be his walking buddy during the next week or two.
There are a variety of effective ways you can communicate with your aging loved one. It is important that you first understand how their confusion and unclear thinking may affect their health. There are steps you can take to make the interaction more productive and beneficial for both of you. These tips will help you have a more fulfilling conversation with your loved ones regarding their health and help them feel that they have been heard.
I’m Andrea Gibbs, Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I’m a blog contributor at Serenity Senior careto motivate other parents about how they can enhance their elderly loved ones quality of life.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), also called cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), are common among older adults and are more frequent in women. They are a primary cause of urinary incontinence and delirium. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are more common among older adults (Fakih et al., 2012) and is mainly attributed to the use of indwelling urinary catheters. Many indwelling catheters are thought to be unnecessary (Cochran, 2007) and one study noted that physicians were often not aware of the purpose for which their patients had a catheter inserted (Saint, Meddings, Calfee, Kowlaski, & Krein, 2009). UTIs have been show to increase morbidity and mortality, length of hospital stay, and cost of hospitalization (Kleinpell, Munro, & Giuliano, 2008). CAUTI is considered preventable and is not reimbursed by Medicare. Therefore, hospitals will largely assume the financial costs for preventable infections of this type.
Risk factors/Signs and symptoms
Several risk factors are associated with UTIs in general. These include being female, having an indwelling urinary catheter, the presence of urological diseases, and hormonal changes associated with menopause in women. Signs and symptoms of UTIs include urinary frequency and burning or stinging felt during voiding. Pain may be felt above the pubic bone, and a strong urge to void but with small amounts of urine expelled. The most significant risk factor for CAUTI is prolonged use of an indwelling catheter. In hospital-acquired UTIs, 75% are associated with the use of an indwelling catheter (CDC, 2012). In women, signs and symptoms of CAUTI may be more severe than those reported by women by patients in the community who do not have an indwelling catheter. Lethargy, malaise, onset or worsened fever, flank pain, and altered mental status have been associated with CAUTI (Hooton et al., 2010).
A thorough assessment should be done of the patient’s urinary output, including amounts, color, odor, appearance, frequency of voiding, urgency, and episodes of incontinence. A urine specimen should be obtained if UTI is suspected. Laboratory results will show the type of organism causing the infection, and the sensitivity will tell what medication the organism is susceptible to. These results should be reported promptly to the physician or nurse practitioner caring for the patient and so that a diagnosis and treatment plan can be made.
Prevention of UTIs is considered a primary nursing strategy. Elderly female patients can be instructed to make lifestyle modifications such as: increasing their fluid intake; emptying the bladder after sexual intercourse; practicing good perineal hygiene, including wiping front to back after toileting; getting enough sleep; and avoiding stress (PubMed Health, 2011). Although many of these common sense strategies are recommended by primary care providers, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support some of them. Many UTIs will clear up on their own, particularly if the person increases oral fluid intake during early symptoms. However, with many older adults, antibiotic treatment may be needed. In general, a course of three 3 days for healthy adults is thought to be sufficient, but for more resistant bacteria, a longer course more than five 5 days may be needed (PubMed Health, 2011). For those with repeated or chronic UTIs, a low dose of antibiotics taken for 6– 12 months may be indicated (Hooton et al., 2010). If the underlying cause is CAUTI, treatment will be more aggressive. Monitor the patient’s temperature at least every 24 hours (Carpenito, 2013). Encourage fluids. Evaluate the necessity of continuing an indwelling catheter if one is in place.
Alternatives to indwelling catheters should be considered for appropriate patients. Intermittent catheterization, if appropriate, is preferred over indwelling catheter use, especially for long- term maintenance of bladder management (CDC, 2009; Hooton et al., 2010). Condom catheters may be an appropriate choice for some males. If an indwelling urinary catheter is necessary, the catheter should be removed as soon as possible, per the physician or nurse practitioner’s orders, to reduce the risk of CAUTI.
Adapted from Mauk, K. L., Hanson, P., & Hain, D. (2014). Review of the management of common illnesses, diseases, or health conditions. In K. L. Mauk’s (Ed.) Gerontological Nursing: Competencies for Care. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Used with permission.
Sometimes the holidays bring with them conundrums, and figuring out good gifts is usually one of them. Finding a present that expresses how much you value the caregiver in your life can be particularly challenging. We’ve pulled together a list of ideas that go the extra mile for that special someone who always serves above and beyond for you or your loved one.
Rest and relaxation
It’s no secret that caregivers bear a heavy burden. Selecting a gift that provides relaxation and comfort can bring meaningful restoration to those in the role of caregiver. Consider an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils in soothing scents, such as lavender, sandalwood, or vanilla. Along those same lines, you could assemble a gift basket for an indulgent bath. Choose oils, lotions, and bath salts in a favorite scent, and add a luxurious towel and some herbal teas.
If you really want to wow your caregiver, consider splurging on a new mattress. Some of the bed-in-a-box options are particularly outstanding, and it can be delivered straight to the recipient’s door. Look for a top-rated mattress that can fit any sleep style. For example, the Leesa is one great option. It’s a highly-rated foam mattress that’s optimal for all sleeping styles and is perfectly poised between soft and firm.
Connection and caring
Sometimes a breakis the best gift you can give someone who is in the role of caregiving. Consider a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater, and include a handwritten note on pretty paper or a card saying you will cover care during the meal.
If your time is tight or the duties are too complex, offer to perform a task for the caregiver instead. Pick up groceries, take her car for an oil change, then get it washed and waxed, or do some yard work or housekeeping. If the caregiver can’t break away, consider reaching out with an offer to bring a meal over. You can prepare lunch and sit down together, which is a chance for companionship and conversation – a gift often beyond immeasurable value.
For an ongoing gift, a meal delivery service can be a boon to caregivers, making nutritious food easy and convenient, or consider a coffee club subscription. If you’re good friends, considering having a movie night together. Popcorn, a dvd, and a few hours of friendship can provide much needed respite, and choosing a comedy offers the bonus of allowing you both to laugh off stress.
Happiness and hobbies
Certain kinds of activities tend to fall by the wayside for caregivers. With that in mind, consider ways to help your caregiver pursue a hobby interest. You can assemble a gift tote of supplies, such as for crafting, baking, or woodworking. Add a note explaining that once a week you’ll cover care, or you could hire an aide to cover that time periodically.
If your special caregiver loves events, tickets to a tour, concert or play can be ideal. Another idea is to purchase participation in a class your caregiver would enjoy, such as in culinary arts, yoga, or music lessons.
For booklovers, a new e-readercould be just the ticket, along with a gift card to download some books. Journaling is a popular stress-reliever for caregivers, allowing them to sort through emotions and process events of the day. Consider purchasing a handmade journal and selecting an especially beautiful pen to go with it.
For caregivers who are primarily housebound, a bird feeder which mounts to the window or could hang from a nearby tree can provide hours of peaceful entertainment and stress relief. Add a pair of binoculars, seed, and a bird identification guide to make your gift complete.
Caregiving is a challenging burden, and those who take on the responsibility are worthy of special gifts. Consider options which show how much you appreciate their self-less, loving assistance. The holidays are the perfect season for demonstrating how grateful you are to the caregiver in your life.
It is human nature that we try to do everything possible to slow the aging process. We take vitamins and supplements, get plastic surgery, slather our bodies in lotions and potions, all so that we don’t appear the age we are. In addition, we change our diets and work out, doing almost anything to defy nature. And while we may look great on the outside, there are some things that we cannot control that may be happening on the inside. Continue reading to discover more about dementia and some of the common symptoms, and different descriptions and names of dementia based on symptoms.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella of illnesses and symptoms with a lot of medical conditions under it that affect older adults. A wide range of medical conditions cause symptoms such as memory loss, problem-solving, cognitive abilities, and other issues that drive the quality of life to deteriorate. A lot of times, before a diagnosis of dementia, older adults are thought of as senile.
The cause of dementia is damaged brain cells that mess with the brain cells’ ability to communicate. The lack of communication causes those affected to act differently than usual.
Dementia is a progressive illness which means that the symptoms start slowly and gradually get worse. Dementia also involves several diseases that are diagnosed based on what part of the brain cells are damaged. Some of those symptoms include:
Short term memory loss
Inability to understand certain communications
Unable to perform certain tasks
Loss of interest
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, representing 60-80% of all dementia cases. The average age for patients with Alzheimer’s is 65 years old. Diagnosis before this age is considered early onset. It usually starts with memory loss and progresses into more confusion and failure to thrive as a progressive disease. Patients typically live with Alzheimer’s Disease for 4-8 years after diagnosis but can also live up to 20 years.
There are no cures for Alzheimer’s Disease, but medication and surgery can slow the progression.
The part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s Disease is the learning part. Patients may suffer from disorientation, mood and behavior changes, confusion about dates and times. They may also become distrustful of family members.
Vascular dementia happens due to reduced blood flow to the brain, especially from a stroke or heart attack. It can be sudden or gradual. Vascular dementia affects memory, thinking, and reasoning. Some of the early symptoms of vascular dementia are slow thought, judgment, depression, and having trouble understanding information. Some signs may go unnoticed, but high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking raise an aging individual’s risk of dementia.
In addition to the above, some other symptoms of vascular dementia are:
Difficulty deciding what to do next
Restlessness and agitation
Sudden or frequent urge to urinate
Reduced ability to organize thoughts or actions
Lewy Bodies Dementia (LBD) is very similar to Alzheimer’s Disease. However, it progresses more quickly than other types of dementia. Although there are no cures for LBD, there is medication to help with symptoms. The overlap in symptoms between LBD and Parkinson’s makes them hard to diagnose and distinguish. A symptom not common in the other types of dementia are:
Problems with interpreting visual information
Another difference seen more common in LBD is a disruption of the autonomic nervous system. This disruption causes the patient’s blood pressure to drop, making them dizzy, fall more frequently, and suffer urinary incontinence.
Tremors, muscular rigidity mark Parkinson’s Disease, and slow movements, and reduced facial expressions. It is a progressive disease of the nervous system associated with the degeneration of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Genes and environmental factors may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s Disease. Some of the signs of Parkinson’s Disease are:
Shaking limbs – usually hands or fingers
Impaired posture and balance
As you have read, regardless of how well we take care of ourselves, there are some things that happen in life that cannot be controlled. Dementia is anumbrella of illnesses with symptoms that are similar but have different effects. Four types of dementia and their symptoms are above.
As Americans age, they must face the prospect of what to do when maintaining their independence is no longer recommended or feasible. The following resources from Senior Care Central will help you and your family figure out how best to make decisions about retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
How Do I Know When to Make a Change?
Sometimes it is difficult to know when it’s time to change your living arrangements or those of an aging loved one. Check out these sources for help in knowing when the time is right.
Consumer Affairs lists 17 signs that it may be time to consider assisted living.
If you’re still unsure about moving into senior care, perhapsaging in placeis an option, at least for a little while.
How Do I Know a Facility is a Good One?
Once you are certain a senior care option is necessary, you have to choose the location. However, there are so many facilities in operation that it can be difficult to tell which one is best for you or your loved one. Utilize these tools to make sure you’ve made the best choice.
However, many people are more comfortable with consumer reviews, so don’t neglect this source of information.
It also doesn’t hurt to check out whatgovernment inspection procedures are and to make sure the facility you’re considering has few if any citations against it.
How Do I Pay for Long-Term Senior Care?
It is hard enough figuring out senior care without even considering the costs associated with it, but sooner or later, the price of assisted living must be taken into consideration. Fortunately, there are many ways to make the cost affordable.
Today’s low VA home loan rates make refinancing — and using the proceeds to pay for care — an attractive option.
It may not be pleasant as you investigate options for senior living, but it will likely be necessary. The process can be confusing and stressful, but the resources discussed in this article will make the process a little easier to understand and navigate.
The younger generation may think that all of today’s technology is reserved only for their use, but that’s simply not the truth. Many areas of this digital age can greatly benefit senior citizens, and here are just five ways that older folks can use technology to enhance their lives.
1. Cellphones: Today’s seniors aren’t typically sitting home in rocking chairs or baking cookies. Active senior citizens may enjoy travel or fast-paced social lives, and this makes a cell phone the perfect way to keep in touch wherever you roam. While many phones are difficult to use and feature tiny buttons, there are some very easy to use cell phones for seniors that utilize large, easy-to-see buttons that are just perfect for the older population.
2. Advanced Recliners Nothing beats a hot massage at the end of the day. New technologies in recliners are ready for the 21st century. Today some power lift recliners heat, massage, and much more. They can even help you get up after your snooze.
3. Medical Alert Systems: If you’re a senior citizen who has been afflicted with health issues, then you can still live alone in your own home without fear. Many companies offer medical alert systems that allow you to wear a pendant-style device that can summon help with the press of a button. Others are programmed to call for assistance if a fall is detected, and there are even companies that track your movements through GPS so that you can be helped even when you’re away from home.
4. Computers: Internet companies are keeping senior citizens connected throughout the world. It’s a wonderful method of making new friends, joining groups with those who share your favorite hobbies and keeping up with local and worldwide news. Seniors may also keep up with their extended family and see related pictures through social media, shop online, research medical concerns and arrange for local services online.
5. Electronic Readers: Aging eyes can lose the ability to read normal-size print, and this is a great loss to those who have loved to read their entire lives. With the help of various tablets and e-readers, senior citizens can download books, newspapers and magazines, which can be read at any size that the individual requires. These e-readers can also change the brightness to suit your visual needs.