How to Avoid Weight Loss While Caregiving

How to Avoid Weight Loss While Caregiving

Weight loss may be a goal for many Americans in the new year, but there are right and wrong ways to achieve it. Stress, poor nutrition, and tight schedules can contribute to unhealthy weight loss among caregivers.

As a caregiver, it is important that you take care of yourself as much as you care for your elderly loved one.

But how can you achieve balance in your life and avoid unnecessary weight loss while being a caregiver?

How to Avoid Unhealthy Weight Loss When You’re a Caregiver

  1. Practice proper nutrition.

Caregiving can keep you too busy to prepare or eat healthy meals. However, good nutrition may help you maintain your health, allowing you to tackle the tasks ahead of you.

  • Try to slow down and give yourself time for full meals. Consume smaller meals more often if you can’t find time in the day for three big meals.
  • Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Avoid overly processed foods.
  • Make sure your snacks include some carbs, fats, and protein, which can help you feel fuller and keep blood sugar stable.
  • Keep healthy snacks (nuts, bananas, carrot sticks, or whole-grain crackers) where you can grab them quickly.
  • Look at your schedule for ways to make time for healthy grocery shopping and preparing balanced meals.
  1. Manage stress healthfully.

Excessive stress can cause weight loss in many people, and caregivers are at particular risk of stress-related health issues.

  • Maintain a healthy social network through support groups, and keep in touch with friends and family.
  • If you work outside the home, consider asking your human resources department about the possibility of unpaid leave.
  • Smoking can be a difficult habit to kick when you’re stressed, but it’s worth the effort.
  1. Talk to your health care provider.

Schedule regular checkups with your health care provider. This can help you keep track of your weight, as well as other health factors like sleep and nutrition.

Discuss your lifestyle, including your caregiving responsibilities, with your provider. They may be able to help you create a plan to reduce stress, eat right, and keep your weight at a healthy level.

  1. Seek help for depression and anxiety.

Depression or anxiety, both of which are common among caregivers, sometimes cause weight loss. Depression in particular affects 40–70% of caregivers.

Talk to your provider if these symptoms begin to interfere with your life:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness or guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or accomplishing normal tasks
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Stubborn headaches and digestive problems

Weight Loss is Not Inevitable for Caregivers

If you are experiencing weight loss as a caregiver, help is available. A balanced diet, stress management, and social support can help keep you healthy and fulfilled.

Heritage Senior Communities provide numerous resources that can help busy caregivers. Contact us about respite care options that can give caregivers a break without compromising their loved ones’ needs. Also make sure to check out our newer communities in Saline and Holland, Michigan.

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

According to the National Council on Aging, falling is the most common cause of injuries among people aged 65 and older. These injuries, such as hip fractures and concussions, may be severe and even life-threatening.

Besides injuries, falling risk can make older adults anxious and unwilling to be more active, limiting quality of life.

So what are some ways to prevent falls for your senior loved one?

7 Steps to Reduce the Risk for Senior Falls

 

  1. Remove tripping hazards.

Caregivers and their senior loved ones should perform a walkthrough of the home to look for risks that can be removed or repaired.

  • Clean up clutter to keep floor space open.
  • Move items such as plant pots, magazine racks, and power cords out of high-traffic areas.
  • Repair uneven floorboards or loose carpet.
  • Anchor rugs with double-sided tape.
  1. Improve home lighting.

Make sure there is adequate lighting in the home, especially at the top and bottom of staircases, on front porches and stoops, and inside the main door.

Also make sure there is lighting available when getting up in the middle of the night. Keep a flashlight by the bed and check the batteries regularly.

  1. Install handles and grab bars.

Make sure your loved one has something to hold on to when sitting, standing, and getting in or out of the shower. Be sure that bars and handles are installed where they will actually be used.

Handles can also help in other areas, such as hallways. Also, make sure that there are railings on both sides of staircases.

  1. Avoid clothing that can cause falls.

Seniors can help avoid falls by wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes. They should be well-fitting with non-skid soles.

Wear clothing that is comfortable without being baggy. Make sure pants are hemmed and do not drag on the floor.

  1. Stay physically active to avoid falls.

While it sounds counterintuitive, staying physically active can help reduce your senior loved one’s risk of falling.

In particular, practicing tai chi or water aerobics can help improve balance, flexibility, and strength.

  1. Keep up with regular checkups.

Regular hearing and vision checks can help seniors avoid objects that could make them trip or lose their balance. Checkups can also help a loved one monitor or avoid other risk factors for falling, such as dizziness and joint pain.

  1. Discuss falling concerns with a physician.

If fear of falling is interfering with your senior loved one’s quality of life, discuss this with a physician. They may recommend referring your loved one to a physical therapist. They can also evaluate your loved one’s medications and adjust them if necessary since many medicines may carry side effects that increase fall risk.

Senior Falls May be Avoided

With enough precaution and monitoring, your senior loved one can continue to enjoy a high quality of life free of falls and the injuries they cause.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we strive to maintain healthy, safe residences that allow seniors to live full, active lives. Contact us to learn more, including details about our newer locations in Holland and Saline, Michigan.

How to Protect Your Older Loved One’s Identity During Tax Season

How to Protect Your Older Loved One’s Identity During Tax Season

Dear Donna,

I know that older adults are often the targets of financial fraud. How can I help protect my mother’s identity, especially during tax season?

Sincerely,

Gina in Saline, Michigan

Protect Your Senior Loved One From Identity Theft This Tax Season

Dear Gina,

Tax season is stressful for everyone, especially older adults and their caregivers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, seniors are especially vulnerable to identity theft.

Because cognitive decline may impair an older adult’s ability to make financial decisions, caregivers should take special care to protect their loved ones.

How to Protect Senior Loved Ones During Tax Season

  1. Determine if your loved one needs to file.

Many seniors do not need to file federal tax returns if their gross income is under the IRS filing requirements. Gross income includes all income not exempt from tax, as well as Social Security benefits.

If your mom does need to file, determine how she should file (single or married, for example). If her husband passed away during the tax year and she has not remarried, your mom can file a joint return and receive deductions for the deceased spouse.

  1. Enlist the help of a trustworthy expert.

A licensed, educated accountant or financial advisor can assist with navigating tax laws and help you get the most out of your deductions. An appropriate advisor will explain the rules and their recommendations without pressuring you and will keep your information private.

  1. Secure personal and financial documents.

It may be a good idea to keep documents that are not often needed, such as wills, in a safe deposit box. If you keep important documents at home, lock them up when other people are visiting, and keep them out of sight in high-traffic areas. Shred unneeded documents, including receipts.

  1. Talk about common scams with your senior loved one.

Every year, the IRS publishes a “dirty dozen” list of common tax schemes. These include phone scams, in which criminals call people and impersonate IRS agents to demand payment or pose as fundraisers for fake charities.

Talk about these potential scams with your loved one and discuss how they should respond if they are targeted.

  1. Keep track of your loved one’s finances.

Caregivers can protect their loved ones by watching for unusual financial activity. Check bank balances for insufficient funds or unexplained withdrawals. Watch for unpaid bills, unusual attempts to send money, or suspicious signatures on checks.

Also watch for unexpected or suspicious changes to your loved one’s will or power of attorney, especially if your loved one cannot explain it or seems confused about the change.

  1. Consider an identity theft protection program.

The AARP Identity Theft Protection program offered through TrustedID is a program specially designed for seniors. From monitoring credit to identifying potential threats, you will likely find it to be helpful.

A Safe Environment for Senior Living

Heritage Senior Communities provide a safe, comfortable residence with numerous amenities for older adults. Contact us today to learn more, including details about our newer residences in Saline and Holland, Michigan.

Do Food Choices Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

Do Food Choices Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

Researchers have already found links between diet and health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Now, evidence suggests that some food choices can influence a person’s risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The American Academy of Neurology and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine estimate that there could be 13.8 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

How could dietary changes help efforts to prevent the growth of Alzheimer’s disease?

How Diet Might Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet may help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found. This diet combines Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the heart-friendly Mediterranean diet. Study results indicate that this combined diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, more than 900 people aged 58 to 98 filled out food questionnaires and received neurological testing. The volunteers who most closely followed the MIND diet had cognitive function similar to a person 7.5 years younger than themselves.

What Foods Make Up the MIND Diet?

Here are the major foods that this diet includes:

  • Plenty of whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, or oatmeal) daily
  • Green leafy vegetables nearly every day
  • Other vegetables every day
  • Two servings of berries weekly
  • Limited red meat intake
  • Fish and poultry as the main source of meat
  • At least three servings of beans weekly
  • Five servings of nuts weekly
  • Olive oil as the primary cooking oil

The MIND diet encourages moderate alcohol consumption, limited to one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage daily.

Foods that should be consumed only rarely include sweets, pastries, cheese, red meat, butter, and anything fried.

Small, Incremental Dietary Changes to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

The study found that even moderately following the MIND diet could have a positive impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s.

This means that the MIND diet does not require an “all or nothing” approach, or making many big changes all at once.

Instead, you might start by gradually making a few small changes to your eating habits.

  • If you tend to consume a lot of sweets, start cutting back.
  • Snack on fruit, nuts, and vegetables instead of chips or cookies. This will help increase consumption of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Use brown rice instead of white, and whole-wheat bread in sandwiches.
  • Exchange butter for olive oil.
  • Have salads for lunch, including a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Try turkey or veggie burgers instead of hamburgers.
  • Choose foods stir-fried in olive oil instead of fried foods.

Help Senior Loved Ones Follow a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Although diet is an important part of good health, it is not a guarantee against Alzheimer’s. Keep your brain healthy with a combination of clean eating, physical exercise, social support, regular checkups, and learning.

Heritage Senior Communities provide healthy, balanced meal options that help seniors stay healthy. Contact us to learn more about our residences, including new locations in Saline and Holland, Michigan.