How to Respond When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Is Agitated

How to Respond When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Is Agitated

Agitation is a common symptom among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. When a person is agitated, they may become annoyed or restless with seemingly little to no provocation. A loved one who is agitated may fidget, pace, or repeat behaviors.

It can be difficult for caregivers to watch their loved ones in distress, and naturally, they want to help. In most cases, something is causing this reaction. By understanding why their loved ones are experiencing these feelings, caregivers can learn how to respond.

Understanding Agitation in Adults with Alzheimer’s

  1. Physical discomfort

When a person with Alzheimer’s disease experiences physical discomfort, their condition can make it difficult for them to identify the source of their distress. Other times, they may have trouble putting their symptoms into words. The inability to articulate their feelings can cause them to become agitated. Hunger, constipation, and sleep deprivation are common causes of physical discomfort that can contribute to agitated behavior.

Sometimes, discomfort causes pain. A love one’s body language may tell you what is bothering them. Do they hold or rub a particular area of their body repeatedly? Does their skin appear dry or irritated? If you suspect your loved one is in pain and you can’t identify the cause, it’s usually a good idea to ask their doctor.

  1. Overstimulation

Dementia can cause a person to become overstimulated quickly. Too many people talking at once and large crowds can overwhelm them and cause them to become agitated. Other forms of excess stimulation include clutter or background noise from the television or radio.

Caregivers can help by limiting the number of stimuli in a loved one’s environment. For example, keep music low and limit the number of people in their space. If you need to go to the store, go during times when it is less crowded.

  1. Change in routine

Sticking to a routine is important for people with dementia. It lets them know what to expect and allows them to carry out their responsibilities independently. Because change causes people with Alzheimer’s to rely on their memory as opposed to their habits, they may become frustrated as they try to adapt.

It may help to let your loved one know in advance about changes in routine. For example, remind them of upcoming appointments several times. Also, be sure to let them know when friends and family are scheduled to visit.

Validate Feelings

When a loved one is agitated, do your best to remain calm. Just because the disease is causing their feelings doesn’t make them any less valid. Your loved one will appreciate you taking time to understand why they are upset and figuring out ways to help.

Heritage Senior Communities

If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to consider memory care. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Because our communities are designed for people with dementia, they can help reduce many symptoms, including agitation. Contact us today to learn more.

5 Ways Seniors Can Sit Less and Move More

5 Ways Seniors Can Sit Less and Move More

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” This expression comes from several studies that suggest a sedentary lifestyle may be worse than smoking for some people. While the idea of comparing sitting to smoking may be difficult to understand, the risks associated with sitting for long periods are difficult to ignore.

A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to:

  • Increased risk of disability
  • Increased risk of developing chronic health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
  • Negative effects on mental health
  • Higher risk of becoming overweight or obese
  • Shorter life expectancy
  • Greater risk of falling

The best way to avoid many of the health risks associated with too much sitting is to become active. If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, it can be overwhelming to think about starting a new exercise program.

You may have reasons why you feel discouraged about exercising, including health problems, limited mobility, or aches and pains. However, becoming active is far simpler than you anticipate. Here are a few ways seniors can incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine.

Physical Activities for Seniors

  1. Walking: Walking is an excellent exercise for older adults. It has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of falling, a lower chance of a heart attack, and improved mental health. Even better, it only requires a pair of good walking shoes. A brisk ten-minute walk after each meal is a great place to start.
  2. Swimming: Swimming is great for seniors because it is a low-impact exercise. This means it is easier on the body than other forms of exercise. This makes swimming particularly great for seniors with limited mobility or stiff joints.
  3. Yoga: Yoga is another great activity for seniors. It improves strength, endurance, and mobility, which are essential for older adults. One of the best things about yoga is it can be adapted for any skill level.
  4. Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an exercise that combines slow, graceful movements with breath control. Because it is gentle, it is an excellent option for seniors who are just starting to incorporate exercise into their routine.
  5. Senior fitness classes: Taking classes designed for seniors is another way older adults can get active. There are a wide variety of options to suit every need, interest, and fitness level. For example, Zumba is fun for those who like to dance. Strength training classes may be better for those who want to build muscle.

The Benefits of Exercise Extend beyond Prevention

Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start exercising. Getting fit isn’t just about preventing chronic illnesses. Exercise comes with many benefits, including improved sleep, a faster metabolism, and better physical and mental health.

Heritage Senior Communities Encourages an Active Lifestyle

In addition to assisting seniors with the tasks of daily living, Heritage Senior Communities also provides plenty of opportunities for seniors to be active. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Vision Health & the Importance of an Annual Eye Exam

Vision Health & the Importance of an Annual Eye Exam

As you age, you may notice some changes in your vision. Many occur from the natural aging of the eye and can be improved with extra light or prescription glasses. Sometimes, vision changes are not a normal part of aging and are the beginning stages of eye disease. These are the ones seniors need to be mindful of.

Normal Age-Related Changes

  • Your eyes produce fewer tears as you age, which can cause them to feel dry or irritated.
  • You may find you need more light to read and perform other tasks.
  • Over time, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible. This can make it more challenging to focus on objects that are closer to you.
  • Changes in the lenses of your eyes can also cause the light entering your eye to scatter, which can make glares appear more frequently.
  • Over time, the lenses in your eyes may also become discolored. This discoloration can make it more challenging to distinguish between different colors.

Common Age-Related Eye Diseases

  1. Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among older adults. This disease gradually destroys the macula, which is the part of the eye responsible for focusing central vision.

  1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that cause fluid and pressure to build up behind the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve.

  1. Cataracts

Most Americans develop cataracts by the time they turn 80. Cataracts occur when the lenses of the eyes become cloudy. The only way to treat them is by cataract surgery. There is not much you can do to prevent cataracts from developing, but using updated eyewear prescriptions can delay surgery.

  1. Dry eye

Dry eye occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears. If left untreated, dry eyes can lead to complications like ulcers and corneal scarring. These can cause some loss of vision. Dry eye can be improved by keeping the eye lubricated with products like artificial tears and prescription eye drops.

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Getting regular eye exams is the best way to protect your vision. It gives doctors a chance to catch the disease early, and treatments can significantly slow its progression.

During an eye exam, doctors can also uncover other health conditions. Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and carotid artery blockages are a few diseases that can be identified in an eye exam. By catching these early, seniors have a better chance of reducing their risk of suffering from more complicated health problems down the road.

The American Optometric Association recommends that adults 60 years and older get an annual eye exam. Medicare Part B covers eye exams if you have diabetes. It may also cover tests related to particular treatments. To learn more about which eye exams and screenings your Medicare benefit will cover, visit Your Medicare Coverage.

Staying Healthy at Heritage

Heritage Senior Communities offers a variety of senior living options throughout Michigan. From assisted living to respite care and specialized dementia care, we have an option that will meet your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about our communities.

4 Ways Gardening Can Help Prevent Depression in Older Adults

4 Ways Gardening Can Help Prevent Depression in Older Adults

Gardening is a common pastime for all ages. For some, gardening is more than a hobby. Tending and cultivating a garden has several physical and mental health benefits. Current research suggests it may even help alleviate symptoms of depression in older adults.

4 Ways Gardening Can Prevent Depression

  1. Gives seniors a sense of purpose.

After retirement, many seniors struggle to find a sense of purpose. With their kids fully grown, they might not feel needed. Feeling useless can lead to sadness and depressive thoughts.

Horticulture can help seniors regain their sense of purpose by giving them something to nurture. Maintaining a garden takes consistent work, and plants need to be tended daily to survive. Not only can gardening give seniors responsibility, but it can also be a reason to get up in the morning.

  1. Keeps the mind active.

It can be challenging to maintain an active mind after retirement. Studies show that the saying “use it or lose it” applies to the brain. Regularly performing mentally stimulating activities sustains cognitive health longer and increases the ability to fight mental health issues like depression.

Starting a garden can keep the mind active because it requires constant learning. For plants to thrive, gardeners need to know their optimal growing conditions and how to care for them. Horticulture can also activate the mind by stimulating the senses. Gardens are full of colors, smells, and textures.

  1. Promotes exercise.

Exercise is known to reduce anxiety and depression, but it can be particularly beneficial for older adults. Studies suggest exercise can help seniors maintain their physical functioning and delay (if not prevent) the onset of some chronic conditions—most of which can contribute to depression.

Gardening can be an effective form of exercise for older adults. It requires physical movements for weeding, harvesting, pruning, watering, and rearranging.

  1. Helps seniors feel connected.

Social connections are essential for mental health. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to make friends after retirement. Without coworkers and frequent social outings, seniors can become lonely and isolated. This disconnect can worsen depression.

Not only can gardening help seniors feel connected to other living things, but it can also help seniors make friends. The horticulture community is vast. Gardening stores, trade shows, and online forums are great ways for seniors to connect with fellow horticulturists.

Staying Safe While Gardening

Like any age group, seniors should take proper precautions when starting an activity. Here are a few ways senior gardeners can stay healthy:

  • Accommodate mobility limitations. It’s common for people to experience mobility challenges as they age. Seniors can make modifications to accommodate their restrictions. Using raised flower beds, for example, can reduce how far they need to bend down. There are also tools specially designed to minimize discomfort in those with disabilities.
  • Warm up. Gardening is a form of exercise; therefore, seniors should warm up. Taking the time to stretch before starting can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
  • Take proper sun precautions. When gardening outside, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. This always involves wearing sunscreen, but may also include protective clothing, sunglasses, or a hat. Also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Gardening Is a Healthy Hobby

If you are looking for a hobby to improve your overall health, you may want to consider gardening. Tending to plants and watching your hard work come to fruition can bring a tremendous sense of accomplishment and improve your self-esteem.

Heritage Senior Communities Promotes Healthy Activities

Heritage Senior Communities encourages residents to participate in activities that improve their sense of well-being. The best way to learn how we help our residents thrive is to visit. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

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 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.