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Why Socializing Helps Keep the Mind Sharp in Old Age

Advances in medical science are allowing people to live much longer than our ancestors. With this increased longevity people experience a decline in their physical function and perhaps even more devastatingly, loss of cognitive functions. Memory loss is becoming more common among the elderly. Naturally this is upsetting to both them and their loved ones. The good news is that studies are showing evidence that an active social life may help to slow the rate of memory deterioration. It may also help to prevent dementia.

Harvard Research on Memory Loss and Aging

A study that appeared in the July 2008 issue of American Journal of Public Health was completed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). In the study researchers set out to test if memory loss was connected to social interaction. They gathered a sample of adults in the United States aged 50 and older and read them a list of common words. After a five minute delay they then asked them to recite back as many of those words as possible. They determined each subject’s social activity level by a number of factors:

  • Marital status
  • Contact with family members (parents, children and other relatives)
  • Contact with friends and neighbors
  • Volunteer activities

The study concluded that seniors with the lowest rate of cognitive decline had the highest amount of social interaction. Overall the study indicated that the rate of memory decline for the most social individuals was less than half the rate of those with the least amount of social opportunities. These findings were the same regardless of age, gender, race or health.

The Problem

Adjusting to retirement can be difficult after spending a lifetime on schooling and work. Some people suffer with boredom, depression and feelings of isolation. A person may turn inward if dealing with a chronic illness or other health problems. They may also experience anxiety about finances while learning to live on a fixed income.

There are many factors that impact the ability of the elderly to enjoy active and meaningful social lives.

  • They have few family members or friends.
  • Friends and family may be separated by long distances.
  • Elderly people of 80 years and older often find many friends and relatives have already passed away leaving them alone.
  • They may only have distant relatives that they may not know very well.
  • Health issues may impede their ability to leave the home.
  • Often elderly people are not able to drive and they are left with inadequate transportation.

Socialization is the Key

Approximately 10% of people 65 years and older are estimated to be suffering with dementia. Memory loss is a primary risk factor for the disease. Keeping the mind engaged helps to keep it active and healthy. Social interaction gives the brain a work out of sorts. Just like any exercise, the more work the brain does the fitter it becomes. It grows resilient and more resistant to decline.

Many retirees can find outlets for social interaction through volunteer opportunities, senior centers, clubs, church activities and even just getting more involved in their community. Classes are another way to reach out to make new friends and help to keep the mind active.

Relatives of older family members tend to be supportive in terms of cooking, cleaning or running errands. As helpful and well-intended as this is it doesn’t do much to help an elderly person stay mentally active. Regular visits, discussing other relatives and friends, playing games and going on outings are the best ways to maintain healthy social connections.

Senior care facilities offer excellent opportunities for social interaction for elderly people who don’t have in-home assistance. Most offer community dining rooms and activities such as game nights, crafts, dances, religious services and some even hold meetings regarding issues of the day.

Social Interaction is a Basic Human Need

The goal is to actively live life. Participate in activities and be a productive member of the community. Humans are social animals and our minds crave that interaction with other members of our species. When the social interaction is taken away or decreased the brain isn’t being used nearly as much. It is more than keeping the mind active with solitary games, puzzles or books. Social integration plays a very active role in cognitive health. Continuing to live as dynamic and connected a life as long as possible can help to keep the brain interested and engaged making the golden years more fulfilling and yes, memorable.

Resources:

Rosie writes regular articles like this one which is for Homes With Care, Homes With Care provide a unique and dedicated service that helps inform interested parties on the availability of assisted living facilities, retirement homes for sale and rent offering integrated close care, close care, extra care and independent living.

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ElderKind.com

How to Help The Elderly Adjust to Assisted Living

Convincing an elderly person to give up independence and move into elderly care can be a difficult task. Many older people simply do not want to face the fact that they can no longer take care of themselves and feel that by moving into care, they will be giving up their independence.  Families are often the ones who have to convince them that life in elderly care will still be meaningful.

They are also faced with the challenge of finding the perfect place to help with the care. Below are 15 tips for transitioning into elder care that are sure to help ease what can be a challenging situation.

  • Begin the process by talking with the elderly person about the upcoming change. This is the most important step in having a successful transition.  Don’t spring the topic on the elderly person. Find a gentle way to bring up the conversation. It is likely already a sore subject.

 

  • Allow the elderly in your life to have a voice. You want to be sure to include the elderly in every decision you make regarding the change.  They, too, need to have a voice. What needs or desires do they have?  Make sure you allow their voice to be heard.

 

  • Not all elderly care facilities are created equally. Realize that not every facility offers the same care.  Some will offer better care for others.  Set out to find the best facility that you possibly can to make the transition easier on the elderly person in your life.

 

  • Explore your options. There are several different types of facilities to choose from. Will he or she need assisted living or full care? The answer to this question will help determine what kind of facility you need to look for.

 

  • What activities will be available for the elderly to add to their quality of life? Be sure that the facility you choose has their best interest at heart. There should be plenty of activities to take part in each day.

 

  • Determine how helpful the support system at the facility will be. If you can, try to get a fill for what the workers are like in the facility. After all, they will likely be spending more time with them than with you.

 

  • Get advice from people who have gone through similar situations. Many people have made the transition. Find someone that you trust to help you make the right decision.

 

  • Safety should always be of key concern. How safe the facility is should be your number one concern. You want a facility whose workers have a proven history with working with the elderly.

 

  • Don’t let YOUR emotions make the situation worse. Try not to feel guilty for making the decision.  Many times, you don’t have a choice in the matter.

 

  • Analyze how much the facility will cost. Cost is often a deciding factor in what facility you will choose.  If you can’t afford a certain facility, don’t beat yourself up over it.

 

  • Focus on allowing the elderly person as much independence as possible. The more independence you allow the person to have, the better off he or she will be.  Try to keep independence as the main focus of the transition.

 

  • Take things slow. Realize that it could take some time for the elderly person to understand what is happening and why it must happen. Give them time.

 

  • Make the effort to stay involved. Let him or her know that you are not going to disappear from their life.  Older people often have the misperception that they will be left in the home all alone.

 

  • Encourage them to make new friends. Friends are an important part of maintaining quality of life.  Go by the facility and give them an opportunity to make friends before the final move.

 

  • Put a positive spin on transitioning into elderly care. Speak highly of moving into the facility.  If you are positive, they will eventually follow.  Negativity can be contagious.

Use the tips above to help you and your loved ones make the transition into elder care.  It is a difficult process but one that many have to face.

The article is contributed by Murano Glass Gifts the home of hand-made murano glass pieces imported from Venice.

Editor: If you’re looking for a lovely hand-made gift that any senior citizen would cherish, check out the Murano. The lovely glass art reminds me of my Aunt Nellie’s collection. Her home featured a number of beautiful creations and have stayed in the family for years.

 

 

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15 Elder Care Tips for Beginners

Caring for the elderly isn’t an easy task. This is especially true if you are suddenly faced with the challenge and have had no previous experience with it.  Whether an unexpected event has landed you taking care of an elderly person in your life or you are beginning a new career in taking care of the elderly, knowing how to care for them properly is important.  Listed below are 20 elder care tips for beginners than can help you become familiar with taking care of the elderly.

  • Realize their limitations. The first and most important thing that you must realize when caring for the elderly is that there will be limitations.  The older the person gets, the less he or she will be able to do.  Don’t expect and elderly person to be able to do as much as you expect.
  • Don’t treat them like kids. This is a problem that many elderly face and to be honest, they don’t like it at all. Treat elderly like they are adults. While they may need help in certain tasks, they have lived life as an adult and should be treated accordingly.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Don’t lose respect for an elderly person simply because you have to care for them.  It is important that you respect elders just as much if not more than you respect your peers.
  • Guide them in decision making but don’t make the decision for them.  If their mind is still functioning properly, it is important to let them continue making decisions. If you make all of the decisions for them, they can quickly lose their sense of independence and become depressed.
  • Become familiar with their illnesses and how to properly care for them. You may have to attend doctor appointments so that you can be fully aware of the medical problems that the elderly you are taking care of face.  Doctors can actually guide you in how to take care of them.  Take advantage of this.
  • Make a daily schedule.  If you are assuming full responsibility it is important to have a daily schedule to help remind you of important things such as giving medication. A schedule will make the day go smoother for everyone.
  • Hire extra help if needed. Realize that you can’t do it alone. Sometimes, you need extra help or just simply need a break.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members or hire extra help if needed.
  • Make sure all medications are out of reach unless the elderly person is mentally okay. This is important.  Elderly sometimes forget that they have taken their medication and proceed to take it again.
  • Make sure the home is elderly friendly. Make changes to your home that will help the elderly feel safe and welcome.
  • Understand the emotional ups and downs that the elderly go through.  Giving up at least some of your independence isn’t easy. It can be a tough transition for older people.  Try to understand this.
  • Get the right equipment. Wheel chairs, special beds, and other equipment can make caring for them easier. Be sure that you have what you need to take the best possible care of them.
  • Keep the elderly person as active as possible. The more active he or she is, the better the quality of life.  Focus on keeping the elderly active.
  • Help them manage their finances.  Paying bills is still a part of life, even when you are older.  You may have to assist in this aspect of their life.
  • A healthy diet is important. Ensure that the elderly person in your life is eating a healthy diet. Good nutrition is the key to a healthy life.
  • Don’t expect to be thanked. Realize that many elderly people won’t be glad that you are there to help.  Some will be downright resentful.  If you expect them to thank you every time you turn around, you may be sorely disappointed. Do the job knowing that deep down, they are grateful.

Listed above are 15 elder care tips that can be helpful for you if you are setting out on a journey to care for elderly people.  Caring for elderly people is no easy task.  Be sure to find time for yourself that you can regroup and gather your thoughts.
This article is contributed by Marina of 1001WalkingCanes an online store for fashionable and reliable walking canes for elders. If you’re looking for a charming gift that can make getting around easier and safer, check them out!

Higher Risk For Elderly Head Injuries

Did you know that a senior citizen not only has a higher risk of suffering a head injury and is more likely to have a more severe injury?

Unfortunately, accidents happen and can have serious consequences with head injuries being one of them. The most common causes of head injuries in the elderly are falls, closely followed by road traffic accidents. Head injuriesfrom road traffic accidents are often severe, and need several months of rehabilitation, but even minor head injuries can lead to complications.

Subdural hematoma is a possible result of a head injury, and is a highly common result of a minor head injury in the elderly. What happens with this condition is that tiny veins between the surface of the brain and its outer covering stretch and tear, allowing blood to collect. In the elderly, the veins are often already stretched because of brain atrophy (shrinkage) and are therefore more easily injured. The symptoms of subdural hematoma are:

  • Confused speech
  • Visual disturbances
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty with balance or walking
  • Headache
  • Lethargy or confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

If you spot any of these symptoms get medical assistance immediately.  Emergency surgery is often the only way to reduce the pressure within the brain. Recovery varies from patient to patient depending on which area of the brain was mostly affected.
A brain injury is a likelihood of this condition especially if medical negligence is involved meaning the condition was not detected in time. If a brain injury has been sustained then rehabilitation and extra care is required. In this case you may well be entitled to compensation. If you decide to claim compensation be sure to consult with a lawyer who specialises in head and brain injury claims, as these cases vary from the procedures of other personal injury claims. Experience and empathy skills are required for such cases, as it often takes a long time to calculate the right amount of compensation including rehabilitation options that you require. It’s best to find a lawyer you like and trust as you will be spending a lot of time together in a very emotional atmosphere.
Prevention of head injuries is the best way to protect yourself from subdural hematomas. When out and about, wear the right type of equipment. For instance if you’re cycling or on a motorbike, wear a helmet, or if you’re susceptible to falls be sure to have someone with you.

For the elderly to avoid accidents around the house, install grip bars in showers and bathrooms, cover high gloss flooring with padded, wall to wall carpeting and try to avoid using stairs.

Getting medical help fast is urgent. The quicker you can get emergency care the  better. Invest in a emergency medical pendant for seniors living alone.

Five Questions to Ask Before Moving an Elderly Parent

Does your elderly parent have dementia? Here are five questions to ponder if you’re considering having mom or dad move in with the family.

As a youngster growing up in a military family, moving was commonplace in fact, we moved six times before I was 12 years old.
It’s not so familiar for my family, however. As we prepare to move our family from New Jersey to California including my JetSetGarmentBags.com business I’m faced with multiple questions.
One big one that I’m facing is whether to move my father along with our family. He suffers from dementia, and I am currently his primary caregiver. Yet I am no expert in this disease. I’m simply a loving daughter trying to do what’s best for her dad.
On one hand, I hate to leave my father. On the other, I’m concerned that he will be confused by and hostile toward the move.
My dad’s behavior can be unpredictable. Just last week, for example, he spent a week with my family, and he lashed out at my daughters for doing what kids do: run, jump and make noise. That’s why I’m carefully weighing my options on whether to move him to California.
If you’re considering a similar move with a parent suffering from dementia or another brain disease, ask yourself the following questions. I’m pondering them myself and hoping the answers will help me arrive at the right solution:

1. What kind of stress relievers will you have in place if your parent moves in with the family?

The impact on a family can be tremendous when a dementia patient moves in, especially when kids are involved. Children aren’t typically equipped for dealing with stress in the same way adults are that is, they might not volunteer their feelings.

Discuss your fears and concerns openly with your family. Be supportive of one another’s concerns. Offer your children stress release tips such as exercising regularly, spending time playing with friends and taking up new hobbies.

2. How will you discuss the move with your parent?

Don’t just uproot your mom or dad without discussing it first. Explain that you love your parent and don’t want to leave him or her alone.
Approach the discussion cheerfully; reassuring your parent that living with your family will be fun and rewarding. Remain calm and supportive even if your parent grows upset by this discussion.

3.    How will you time the move?

It’s important to move your parent when he or she is alert and calm. Morning is often best. Above all, be sure your parent is in good health when you move. Illness can cause additional stress on both your parent and your family.

4. How will you help your parent adjust to the new surroundings?

Take pictures of your parent’s current environment so you can recreate it as much as possible in the new home. Stick to your parent’s current habits for waking time, TV preferences, food likes and dislikes, activities and interests, familiar businesses and other comforts of home.

Notes Zina Paris of the Alzheimer’s Association, The change of the environment being the most critical issue, it is best to provide as many familiar things in their new environment as the old.

5.    What outside resources will you seek?

In some cases, it makes sense to seek housing for your parent outside your home if the stress on your family proves to be too great. If you find your parent snapping at the kids and unable to cope with the new living environment, seek out housing at a relative’s home or a respected assisted living facility.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Paris recommends reaching out for help right away upon moving: The Association has many, many resources to assist families. Get enrolled with the office in the area of your new move as soon as possible.
With the right stress relievers and careful attention to your elderly parent’s needs, the entire family can survive a big move without incident. Just take things one step at a time, and remember to make time just for yourself. Before long, you and your family will be happily settled in to your new surroundings.

About the Author
JetSetGarment bags.com founder Hannah Hamilton provides expert guidance to consumers facing pivotal moments in their lives. With articles on everything from best garment bags for traveling to parents experiencing life changes to young couples preparing for their honeymoons, Hannah offers the kind of practical, real-world tips and stress relievers that help consumers avoid common hassles and save time and money. When she’s not busy tackling her move to California, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters, scouting out deals online and making new business connections.

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