5 UV Safety Tips to Protect Seniors During the Summer

5 UV Safety Tips to Protect Seniors During the Summer

It’s normal to want to spend more time outside during summer. The weather is warmer, and the days are longer. While the warm sun may feel great on your skin, it often causes more harm than good. The sun emits harmful UV rays that damage the skin. Continual sun damage can result in more troublesome skin conditions, including skin cancer.

Seniors and Skin Cancer

Older adults are at higher risk of developing skin cancer for various reasons:

  • Damage from UV rays builds up over time. Seniors have lived longer, so they have been exposed to more UV rays.
  • The baby boomer generation didn’t grow up wearing sunscreen. During their youth, it wasn’t uncommon to apply baby oil before laying in the sun.
  • With age, the body’s ability to find and destroy cancer cells decreases.

Regardless of how you cared for your skin in the past, you can still benefit from protecting your skin today. By using these UV safety tips, you reduce further damage to your skin.

5 UV Safety Tips for Seniors

  1. Wear sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen is an excellent way for seniors to protect their skin from the sun. Sunscreen works by blocking and absorbing UV rays. This helps to combat both UVA and UVB rays, which contribute to skin cancer, sunburns, and other types of sun damage. Because the sun can damage the skin in just 15 minutes, apply sunscreen even if you are only going to be outside for a few minutes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using sunscreen:

  • Wear sunscreen every day
  • Choose SPF 30 sunscreen or higher
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  1. Protect your eyes

In addition to guarding your skin, it’s equally important to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to various types of eye damage including cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes. Consider the following when purchasing sunglasses:

  • Choose a pair that blocks 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
  • Select close-fitting wrap-around frames so your eyes are guarded from every angle
  • Try them on to make sure they don’t slide down your nose
  1. Wear protective clothing

Wearing protective clothing can be an effective way for seniors to preserve their skin during the summer. By covering the entire body with clothing, the sun’s rays have to travel through an additional layer before reaching the skin. A few types of clothing that help protect the skin include:

  • Clothing specially designed for sun protection
  • Long sleeves and pants to cover more skin
  • Darker or brighter colors because they absorb more UV rays than lighter colors
  1. Stay in the shade

It’s helpful for seniors to avoid the sun as much as possible, especially between 10 am and 2 pm. During these times, the UV index is higher, meaning there is a greater chance for sunburn. If you need to be outside, do your best to stay in the shade. While the shade won’t guard against all of the sun’s harmful rays, some protection is better than none. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using shade as sun protection:

  • Choose large umbrellas as opposed to smaller ones
  • Sit under trees with large spreads or trees near other trees or buildings
  • Avoid using shade as your only form of protection
  1. Have your skin examined

Regardless of how careful you are about protecting your skin from the sun, you will still benefit from examining your skin throughout the year. The earlier you find skin cancer, the easier it is to treat. If you notice any new moles or skin discoloration, bring it up to your doctor. It’s also a good idea to have your skin examined by a health care provider annually.

Protect Your Skin Year-Round

It’s essential to protect your skin throughout the year, not just during the summer months. Even when it’s cloudy or cold, the sun still emits UV rays. These rays easily peek through clouds and are often masked by cold weather. Seniors can minimize their risk by employing sun safety tips year-round.

Heritage Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle

UV safety is only one part of healthy aging. At Heritage Senior Communities, we encourage seniors to live balanced and productive lives. Contact us today to learn more about our living options.

How Can I Help My Mom Manage Her Pre-Move Anxiety?

How Can I Help My Mom Manage Her Pre-Move Anxiety?

Dear Donna,

My mom is nervous about moving to an assisted living community. Even though the move was her idea, she has been avoiding preparations for the move. I am worried she is going to change her mind. How can I help my mom manage her pre-move anxiety?

Chelsea from Saline, MI

Understanding Pre-Move Anxiety

Dear Chelsea,

Moving requires a lot of work, so it’s understandable that many seniors become anxious. Not only can moving be physically demanding, but it can also be emotionally draining. Many homes contain years of memories and are full of sentimental treasures.

Just the thought of sorting through their belongings can prevent them getting started, even when they know they should. Here are a few tips to ease your loved one’s anxiety about moving.

4 Tips to Help Aging Parents Overcome Anxiety Before a Move

  1. Work slowly

Your loved one’s new living space is most likely going to be smaller than their current residence. This means they will need to downsize. Downsizing can be difficult for seniors, especially if they have lived in their home for a long time. They will be required to make a lot of decisions about what to bring, store, and discard.

It’s important to start early so your loved one has plenty of time to sort through their belongings. Feeling rushed might overwhelm them and cause them to put the process off indefinitely.

  1. Move before downsizing

Going through old photos and sentimental belongings can be particularly challenging for some seniors. Certain items can trigger memories that make them question their decision to move.

In cases like this, it may be helpful to move before downsizing so your loved one doesn’t have to watch. This can help lighten the emotional burden that often comes with a move. Just make sure they are okay with your plan and remember to be mindful about what you choose to discard.

  1. Create a plan

Planning is one of the best ways to ease a senior’s fears about moving. Not only can careful planning help you avoid chaos, but it can also give your loved one a sense of security.

If planning and organizing aren’t your strengths, consider hiring a senior move manager. Senior move managers are professionals who have a deep understanding of senior moves and the availability of resources in the community. They can help you with everything from creating a plan to setting up your loved one in their new home.

  1. Get involved in the community ahead of time

Participating in the community before the move can significantly reduce anxiety. Try taking your loved one to the community to meet the staff and the residents. Many senior living communities have activities scheduled throughout the day.

Trying an activity will give your loved one a chance to become familiar with the environment and connect with their future peers. This can help them feel more comfortable about the move, and they may even start to feel like part of the community.

Moving Is a Big Decision

Moving is a major life decision, so it’s important to be empathetic towards a senior loved one’s pre-move anxiety. Take time to let them know their feelings are valid and assure them you are there to help.

I hope this helps you relieve some of your mom’s pre-move anxiety.

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Supports the Transition to Assisted Living

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, offers support to seniors transitioning to assisted living. Our communities are comfortable and designed to help seniors feel right at home. Contact us for more information.

How to Cope When a Senior Doesn’t Know They Have Alzheimer’s

How to Cope When a Senior Doesn’t Know They Have Alzheimer’s

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is hard. But what if the person you are caring for doesn’t believe they are sick? The damage that occurs in the brain can cause people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to refuse the reality that they are ill. This is called anosognosia, and it can create many challenges for both seniors and their caregivers.

Understanding Anosognosia

Anosognosia is the “lack of awareness of impairment,” and it may affect up to 81% of people with Alzheimer’s. When someone has anosognosia, the changes in their brain make it impossible for them to understand they are cognitively impaired.

It’s important to note that anosognosia is different than denial. With denial, a person is aware they have dementia but refuses to accept it. With anosognosia, a person is unable to understand there is something wrong with them.

Anosognosia can be frustrating for both seniors and their families. While caregivers want nothing more than to help, their senior loved one lacks the ability to understand why they should accept help. Those with anosognosia may even try to complete tasks that put their health at risk. Many caregivers find that communication between them and their loved one usually leads to an argument. They are left feeling defeated, anxious, and unsure how to manage their loved one’s disease.

5 Ways to Cope with Anosognosia

  1. Don’t try to convince them.

It’s normal to want to convince a loved one with anosognosia of their disease. But it’s important to accept that they might not understand no matter how much proof you show them. The damage that dementia causes to their brain limits their capacity to perceive and acknowledge that they have a disease.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

When your loved one says or does something hurtful, remember it’s the disease causing them to act out of character. Like most advice, this is easier said than done. Try to remember that their condition will likely cause a lot of arguments. Save your battles for the ones that can affect their safety.

  1. Be mindful of how you say things.

Even though dementia may cause your loved one to say hurtful words to you, it’s crucial that you don’t follow the same pattern. Communicate with empathy and help in a way that lets them feel like they are in control. For example, “Let’s cook dinner together tonight” is often better than saying “I’ll cook because it’s not safe for you to be in the kitchen alone.”

  1. Be okay with stretching the truth.

As a caregiver, your job is to keep your loved one safe. This means you may have to stretch the truth to protect them from harm or becoming overly anxious. Don’t feel guilty if you have to refer to their medications as vitamins if it’s the only way they will take them or if you have to “lose” the keys to prevent them from driving.

When Anosognosia Becomes Too Much

Caring for a loved one with anosognosia requires lots of patience and hard work. Don’t feel guilty if the job becomes too much to handle. Often, help from professionals, like the caregivers in memory care communities, can improve the quality of life for both you and your loved.

Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care in Michigan. We invite you to stop by for a tour to learn how we care for seniors with dementia.

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

If you or a senior loved one is developing an estate plan, you are likely familiar with the terms will and trust. While most people have heard about these types of estate planning, many struggle to understand their differences.

We created this quick overview to help you learn more.

Understanding the Similarities and Differences between a Will and a Trust

  1. Effective date

One of the differences between a will and a trust is when it goes into effect. A will becomes effective at the time of death. A trust, on the other hand, becomes active immediately after it’s signed.

A trust can be advantageous because it considers circumstances that can occur while the person is alive. This includes mental disabilities like Alzheimer’s or other health issues that can cause incapacitation.

  1. Protection from probate

A will and a trust both control the disbursement of your assets. A will must go trhough probate, a process where the court distributes the assets according to the terms of your will. A trust is not required to go through probate.

  1. Handling of property

To leave property through a trust, the grantor (the person creating the trust) must transfer it into the trust. A living trust can manage and distribute any property that it was funded with. For example, if you transfer your life insurance policy and jointly owned property into the trust, it can legally govern and distribute them according to your wishes.

  1. Minimize tax obligations

One advantage a trust has over a will is that it helps to minimize the total tax obligations of the estate. While it can be expensive to set a trust up initially, that cost can be more than offset by the tax savings.

More Differences between Wills and Trusts

  • Naming an executor/trustee: An executor is a person who oversees any remaining financial obligations after a person’s death. A will allows you to name an executotor. A trustee manages the Trust. In most cases you will be the trustee and upon death or incapacity a successor trustee will take over.
  • Ease of creating: A trust is longer and more comprehensive than a will, and it requires you to transfer your property. A will is typically less complex and only requires two witnesses in most states.
  • Naming guardians for children: Both a will and trust allow you to make provisions for your minor children. In both cases, a court would need to approve the guardian. A trust allows you to instruct the trustee on how and when to distribute the assets. For example, the interest can be used to care for the children and the principle is distributed when the children reach a certain age. A will simply holds the assets until the children are adults.

Creating an Estate Plan That Meets Your Needs

Creating a will is a necessary part of any estate planning process. Whether you need to include a trust depends on your personal situation. At Heritage Senior Communities, we always recommend seniors and families seek help from a professional when creating legal documents. A lawyer with estate planning experience can help you develop a plan to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers several senior living options throughout Michigan including assisted living, independent living, specialized dementia care, and respite care. Contact us for more information.

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

Dear Donna,

My dad recently had hip replacement surgery. His doctor recommended that he stay at a short-term rehab center before returning home.

How do we choose a skilled nursing and rehab center? We aren’t sure where and how to get our search started.

Jan from Holland, MI

Choosing a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center

Dear Jan,

It’s not uncommon for seniors to require additional assistance after they are discharged from the hospital. Skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers can be very effective at helping seniors regain their strength and reduce their chances of returning to the hospital.

Choosing a skilled nursing and rehab center is an important decision. You want to pick a center that works diligently to rehab your loved one so they can return home as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for is the first step to ensuring that your loved one finds a center that meets their needs.

4 Things to Consider When Comparing Skilled Nursing and Rehab Centers

  1. View the state survey results.

One step caregivers can take to find a skilled nursing center is to view the state survey results. Caregivers can do this easily by visiting Nursing Home Compare. Nursing Home Compare is a government-run website that allows you to find and compare nursing homes certified by Medicare and Medicaid. It gives you a quick snapshot of the center’s overall rating. You can also see how they rated in specific areas including performance on health and safety inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care.

  1. Ask the rehab center for its success in outcomes.

You are looking for a short-term stay that focuses on rehab. The goal is for your loved one to be healthy enough to return home. Asking the center about its success in outcomes—specifically those with the same health condition or injury as your loved one—is a great way to gauge whether their center will be a good fit.

  1. Visit the therapy room and talk to therapists.

When comparing communities, it’s also a good idea to visit their therapy room. Talk to the physical therapists and find out what types of therapy they offer. Ask about the frequency and duration of their therapy sessions. Be sure to ask them to estimate how long it may take for your loved one to recover in their care.

  1. Consider the location.

Also consider location when comparing assisted living communities. Choose a community that is close to friends and family. Being nearby will make it easier for loved ones to visit and ensure your senior parent feels supported and connected.

Making Sure Your Loved One Is Taken Care Of

Finding a skilled nursing and rehab center requires a lot of research. Taking time to learn about your options and visit centers is a great step towards making sure your loved one receives the care they deserve.

I hope this helps you find a skilled nursing and rehab center for your father parent.

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Many seniors struggle to regain the same level of health they had before their hospital visit. Assisted living can be an excellent option for those who want to reduce their risk of returning to the hospital.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our communities in Appledorn, is dedicated to helping seniors and their families find a living arrangement that meets their needs. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.