How to Help Seniors Naturally Lower Blood Pressure With Diet

Closeup of nurse checking senior woman blood pressure

Millions of people today suffer from high blood pressure and an assortment of different health issues and side effects that can accompany this condition. Unfortunately, seniors tend to be even more susceptible to issues with high blood pressure than younger adults.

Unfortunately, most people who have high blood pressure don’t even know that they are struggling with this condition until they visit a doctor. While many different types of people are at risk for developing high blood pressure, seniors who live an unhealthy lifestyle are even more susceptible to issues with high blood pressure. This can include smokers, those with high stress, people with poor sleep habits, individuals who excessively drink alcohol and those who have a poor diet. In fact, poor diet is one of the biggest contributing factors to high blood pressure.

In most situations, high blood pressure is a side effect of poor lifestyle choices, but it can also be a side effect of thyroid issues, gastric conditions and heart disease. Most people with high blood pressure don’t start seeing changes in their blood pressure rates until they are in their forties or older.

While there are medications that can help with high blood pressure, there are also ways that seniors can naturally lower their high blood pressure with the right diet. Here are some tips on how you can help reduce blood pressure with diet.

  • Remove salt and sodium from the diet as much as possible
  • Eat foods that have natural sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Consider taking vitamin supplements with calcium
  • Add beans to the diet as they are filled with important nutrients and proteins
  • Introduce a lot of dark, green leafy vegetables to the diet including kale and broccoli
  • Add diary, in moderation, to the diet to ensure seniors are getting enough calcium
  • Avoid deep-fried foods
  • Nuts, especially almonds are a great snack for seniors with high blood pressure, they are also filled with magnesium
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake as much as possible
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet

There is a lot of power that comes with caring for yourself and eating the right foods each and every day. While eating these foods won’t guarantee that seniors won’t have high blood pressure, they can help naturally lower blood pressure over time. These changes can also help with seniors who have Type 2 Diabetes, which often goes hand-in-hand with high blood pressure.

It is also important that seniors with high blood pressure are getting their blood pressure numbers checked regularly. If seniors have stress-related health issues, they should also visit their doctor or a psychologist to learn about new ways to manage that stress.

Blood pressure may be common, and lead to millions of deaths every year, but it doesn’t have to be a part of your senior loved one’s life. The more that seniors, their caregivers and their loved ones do to try to help manage high blood pressure, the better and healthier that they will be in the long run.

Warning Signs of Strokes in Seniors

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Strokes are some of the most frightening and difficult conditions that can impact today’s seniors. Strokes are sudden, frightening and can often lead to hospitalization, permanent damage or even death. How do strokes happen? They occur when there is a low blood supply to the brain, meaning the brain isn’t getting the oxygen that it needs to function and ultimately survive.

Strokes can impact people of all different ages and backgrounds, but they unfortunately, most common among seniors. There are several other risk factors for strokes. The more you know about these risk factors the better prepared you will be for the possible onset of a stroke in your elderly loved one. Common risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Alcohol use or abuse
  • Recreational drug use
  • Smoking or general tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart defects
  • People over the age of 55
  • Being African American

Men are also at a higher risk for having a stroke then women. Many times strokes are so sudden that people assume there is nothing that could have been done and that there were no warning signs. However, in some situations there are some warning signs and indicators that a stroke is about to hit. These are important to note as the sooner you are able to help your loved one get the care and attention they need when suffering from a stroke, the less likely it is that they will suffer from serious or permanent damage.

The faster you are able to react when you see the warning signs of a stroke, the better. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:

  • Difficulty talking
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe, pounding headache with a quick onset
  • Dizziness or vomiting
  • Being in an altered state
  • Vision issues including vision loss or blurriness in one or both eyes
  • Double vision
  • Issues with walking or standing
  • Stumbling or severe vertigo
  • Sudden numbness
  • Paralysis, especially on one side of the body
  • Paralysis in the face
  • Drooping on one side of the face

There are three main different types of strokes. Ischemic strokes are the most common and occur when an artery in the brain is narrowed or blocked. This either occurs because of a blood clot in clogged arteries or when a blood clot occurs in the heart.

Hemorrhagic stroke on the other hand happens when a blood vessel in the brain starts to leak or suddenly bursts. This can happen in those who have high blood pressure or who are taking too many blood thinners. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), on the other hand is a temporary interruption of the blood supply to the brain. It is often called a mini-stroke. It typically only lasts for around five minutes, and while there are typically no long-term side effects, seniors should still see a doctor, as reoccurring mini strokes are often a sign of a much more serious condition.

The more seniors know about strokes and stroke causes, the better prepared they will be when it comes to handling these issues and preventing them from happening in the first place.

 

The Importance Of Sleep For Seniors With Dementia

age, sadness, trouble, problem and people concept - sad senior w

With millions of seniors today struggling with dementia and dementia-related symptoms, it has never been more important for family members and caregivers to step up and make sure that their loved ones are getting the care and attention that they need while battling this difficult disease. While there is still no cure for dementia, there are things that seniors can do to lessen the severity of their dementia and its side effects. One of these things is to get a quality night of rest.

Sleep is extremely important for all seniors, but is particularly essential for seniors who also have dementia. Here are some of the most relevant facts about sleep and dementia that every senior and their caregivers should know about.

Sleep Deprivation Can Increase the Risk for Dementia

Studies have found that seniors who have issues with sleep deprivation and insomnia can actually increase a person’s likelihood of developing dementia. This is why it is important that all seniors, even if they don’t have signs of dementia are still getting plenty of sleep every night.

Many times seniors who struggle with sleep deprivation or insomnia do so because they are dealing with a great deal of stress. If you can help with stress management, then you can probably help alleviate a great deal of these sleep related issues.

Seniors With Dementia Are Less Likely to Get Enough Sleep Every Evening

Seniors who already have dementia are also more likely to suffer from sleep issues. In fact, seniors with Alzheimer’s who already tend to have sleep issues often find that their sleep problems worsen once they develop dementia. As the brain changes with this condition, many seniors have trouble developing a sleep/wake routine, wander during the nighttime and nap during the day and have issues falling asleep.

This is why creating such a set sleep cycle is so important for those with dementia to get on a set routine that can help them fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer.

A Set Sleep Schedule Can Help With Dementia

Any senior who has dementia needs to be on a set sleep schedule. This is particularly important if you have been noticing issues with seniors suffering from confusion, mood swings, more memory loss or anger as the day concludes, then it may be time to start establishing a more strict schedule. Help seniors get up in the morning with natural sunlight, keep their meals at the same time every day and make sure they enjoy a pre-bed routine that helps them start to relax and unwind before they fall asleep. It can go a long way in helping them get quality rest at night.

Sleep Can Help Caregivers As Well

A great caregiver is the key to helping any senior with dementia live a safer, happier and healthier life. This is why caregivers need to focus on helping themselves get sleep as much as they help their loved ones get sleep. The National Alliance for Caregiving states that 87% of surveyed caregivers have issues with stress, energy, sleep and being woken up in the middle of the night. A respite care provider is a great solution for seniors who may be struggling to get the sleep that they need.

The more seniors and their caregivers understand about sleep and what it takes to get a quality night of rest, the better. A good night of rest can go a long way in improving the life of any senior who may also be battling Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Helping Seniors Find Their Own Cell Phone

Cheerful old woman excited on receiving some good news over smar

As smart phones continue to become more and more prevalent in our world today, with millions of individuals from around the globe owning one, or more of these devices. With smart phones gaming, chatting, texting and staying connected to friends and loved ones has never been easier. However, for many seniors, the idea of finding and starting to use a new cell phone can seem like a challenge.

As a caregiver or loved one, there are things that you can do to step in and help your loved one get the technology that they need to stay connected to the world around them. The first thing that you need to do is to determine what your loved one will primarily be using this smart phone for. Will they be mostly checking email? Texting? Using social media? Video chatting? Make a list of the things that your loved one will and won’t need with their smart phone and then you can begin looking for a device to fit their needs. Here are the main things to look for:

  • Limited features

One of the best things about technological advancements today is that while some pieces of technology are able to do more, companies are also able to make pieces of technology that intentionally do less. There are smartphones that are designed specifically for seniors and special apps that you can install to make it simple for seniors to navigate through the basics of their new phone.

  • User-Friendly Interface.

You don’t want seniors to have to rely on a small screen or complicated home interfaces. Look for a smart phone that has large, clear icons on the home screen that will be easy for seniors, even those with vision problems to use.

  • Simple and affordable plans.

Sometimes, the most confusing part about a smart phone isn’t its screen or settings, but the plan that comes with it. The simpler the plan the better. Most seniors won’t need one that is overly complicated, they simply need something for basic calling and data usage.

  • Phones that you are familiar with.

Most seniors who are just getting used to using a smart phone will rely on their family members and caregivers to help them navigate the twists and turns of using this type of device. Consider investing in a phone that you are familiar with, so that you can help your loved one easily when they have questions.

  • Larger devices.

While some pieces of technology tend to get progressively smaller with time, new, bigger smart phones are all of the rage right now. Virtually every brand of smart phone has a large option available that is somewhere in between a standard phone and a tablet in size. These larger phones are great for seniors as they are easier to hold, easier to find and easier to see.

Keep these tips in mind if you are looking to help your senior loved one find a new smart phone. This can be a great way to help your loved one stay active, engaged with the outside world and to help them fight off issues with loneliness and depression. While some seniors may be resistant to trying this new technology at first, if they simply take the plunge and test out a new smart phone, they may be surprised by how much they can benefit from these devices.

Seniors and Personal Hygiene- How to Discuss This Delicate Topic

Hands helping with personal hygiene for senior woman

Caregivers and adult children of aging seniors often have to discuss a number of difficult, delicate and uncomfortable topics. Whether these topics include discussions on death and dying, finances or personal care, there are many topics that can be uncomfortable for all involved. However, one of the most delicate, yet most common discussions for adult children to have with their aging parents has to do with personal hygiene.

Personal hygiene issues are some of the most common reasons that seniors tend to lose their independence, and it may also be one of the first things that friends and family members notice changing in their senior loved as they continue to age. Perhaps your loved one no longer does their hair or makeup, or you have noticed they haven’t showered regularly or that they are repeatedly wearing the same clothes. Either way, when issues like this start to arise, it is a good indicator that your loved one is struggling to maintain their own personal hygiene.

Having a Talk With Your Loved One

This is a serious matter, as personal hygiene issues are directly related to your loved one’s help. This is why it is important to take the time to sit down and discuss the issue with your loved one. Approach the topic in a calm, understanding manner, but try not to be patronizing. You don’t want your loved one to feel embarrassed or belittled with this conversation. Don’t be accusatory or make them feel incompetent. It is important to let them know that you have noticed some changes and that you want to help.

Some seniors are aware that they are struggling to maintain their personal hygiene. They may have physical challenges that make it hard to take care of themselves. They may welcome help and be accepting of the situation. However, not all seniors are like this. Some seniors may be in denial of the issue or unaware something is going on.

Getting to the Heart of the Issue

Finding the cause for your loved one’s hygiene challenges is extremely important. Seniors who are unaware that their personal hygiene is faltering may have a more serious issue happening. Many times, seniors with dementia, memory loss and other similar cognitive concerns struggle to maintain daily routines like showering and changing clothes, but are completely unaware of these struggles. This is a huge red flag and something that should be addressed immediately.

There are a number of issues that can be causing these personal hygiene problems including depression, anxiety, memory loss or sensory decline. What is important is that seniors who are struggling with these hygiene issues are getting help from their family.

Offering a Solution

One of the biggest things you can do during when discussing personal hygiene with your loved one is to make sure that you offer them a solution to help with their hygiene challenges. This can be offering assistance yourself, coordinating an in home caregiver to come in and help with bathing or trying to help your loved one get professional care in an assisted living community. No matter what solution fits with your loved one’s situation, it is important that you are able to step up, step in and make sure they get the help they need.

Hearing Aid Care 101: How to Help Seniors With Their Hearing Devices

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There are so many seniors today that rely on different types of hearing aids in order to stay engaged and connected with the world around them. Since age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is one of the most common ailments in the senior community, it is extremely important for all family members, loved ones and caregivers to have a basic understanding of proper hearing aid care, so that they can help their loved ones care for their hearing aids and keep them working properly.

For most seniors with hearing loss, there is no cure for their condition. Hearing aids are the only real treatment that can help them. While hearing aids are extremely effective and important, they also require some ongoing care and maintenance. Here are a few tips on how seniors, caregivers and loved ones can help those with hearing aids maintain their devices and keep them working properly.

  1. Protect Hearing Aids From Excess Moisture– It is important to do what you can to prevent hearing aids from getting wet. This means removing them while showering, swimming, or bathing. If seniors tend to sweat frequently or are out in the rain, dry the area surrounding the hearing aid frequently.
  2. Store the Hearing Aids in the Right Place- Don’t store hearing aids in the bathroom, some of the most moisture-ridden rooms in the home. Instead store them at your loved one’s bedside and consider a dry hearing aid container for storage.
  3. Clean Hearing Aids Regularly- It is important that these hearing aids don’t get dirty. Clean them regularly with a dry cloth and wash hands before handling the aids.
  4. Always Be Ready with Batteries- Hearing aid batteries typically need to be changed every 1-2 weeks, so it is important to always have batteries nearby for when they run out.
  5. Listen for Whistling- If there is a whistling sound coming from the ear, it can mean that the hearing aid doesn’t fit correctly, that it isn’t positioned properly or that there is excess ear wax building up in the ear.
  6. Get Check Ups- Seniors with hearing aids should visit an audiologist every six months to have their hearing aids checked. During this time the tubing will also need to be replaced on the hearing aid, as they can dry out and crack over time.
  7. Consider a Dryer- If seniors regularly have moisture issues with their hearing aids, then it is important to invest in a dryer that can help remove this excess moisture.
  8. Don’t Let the Fall- Be careful when taking out or putting in hearing aids as dropping them may cause them to crack or break. This is the number one reason seniors have to get new hearing aids, so it is important that they are handled with care.

It is important to remember if there is ever a significant or ongoing issue with a hearing aid, the senior needs to visit their audiologist right away. They can help determine whether there is an issue with the device, your senior’s hearing or the way they are using their hearing aid, so seniors can continue to experience the best audio possible each and every day.

SeniorAdvice.com Spring 2017 Senior Volunteer Scholarship Winner Announced

The SeniorAdvice.com Volunteer Scholarship winner for Spring 2017 has been chosen. Jill Jones, who is attending Duke University, will receive a $1,000 for her volunteering experience.

Each week, Jill volunteers her time by playing music at the Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in Durham, NC.  Jill has a lot of musical talent and brings a different instrument with her each week, saxophone, trumpet, mellophone or piano, and sits down to play for whomever will listen.  Jill really looks forward to this time each week because it’s an opportunity for her to put smiles on the faces of others.

Jill is majoring in neuroscience and music and hopes to become a neurosurgeon one day.  She believes that a musician can possibly save a life just as much as a neurosurgeon, and is studying to comprehend how these two techniques can help heal.

In her scholarship application, Jill stated: “visiting the retirement home I work with has really inspired me to be a better person. If nothing else, it’s taught me how prevalent ageism is in our society, and how unfair stereotypes against the elderly––of being “weak,” “useless,” and a “burden”––truly are. I’ve loved hearing every one of the stories that residents tell me, and I very much hope you’ll enjoy this volunteering-related one of mine.”

Through volunteering, Jill has learned patience, kindness and wisdom.  Residents tell her that she has a musical gift to make the world a better place.

See Jill’s full scholarship submission video below.

SeniorAdvice.com Spring 2017 Senior Caregiver Scholarship Winner Announced

The SeniorAdvice.com Caregiver Scholarship winner for Spring 2017 has been chosen. Jennifer McCullough, who is attending St. Charles Community College, will receive a $1,000 for her caregiving experience.

Jennifer was a caregiver for her mother who had dementia.  While her mother was alive, Jennifer helped her with basically everything that you could imagine, from balancing her check book to taking her to doctor appointments. As her disease progressed, Jennifer’s mom used to think that people didn’t love her anymore because her personality changed.  However, Jennifer would assure her mom that she still loved her even though she had dementia.  She describes her mom as “the most wonderful woman on the entire planet.”

Jennifer learned a lot about her mom’s disease and in turn was inspired to take the steps to go back to school in the medical field.  As a later in life student, Jennifer is now going back to college and studying nursing so that she can help others and make her mother proud.

See Jennifer’s full scholarship submission video below.

Important Information About Glaucoma in Seniors

Optometry. female doctor ophthalmologist or optometrist examines

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and if you have a special senior in your life that you are helping care for, then it is important that you take the time to learn a little more about Glaucoma, it’s risks and some of the warning signs of this condition.

Glaucoma can impact virtually any person at any time, and the chances of getting this condition only grow once adults reach the age of 50. Glaucoma is extremely common among the senior community, and it is one of the leading causes of blindness among elderly adults in the United States.

Simply put, glaucoma is a group of diseases that impact the optic nerve in the eye. It can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Although it is one of the most common eye conditions in the United States, it is also one of the most misunderstood, as there is no known cure for glaucoma yet.

There are actually four main types of glaucoma that typically impact seniors:

Isopen-Angle Glaucoma– The most common type of glaucoma. It is slow progressing and painless.

Fromangle-Closure Glaucoma– This is an acute type of glaucoma that leads to very quick vision loss following an issue with high pressure and low blockage.

Withopen-Angle Glaucoma– This type of glaucoma slowly impacts vision by causing “tunnel vision” and the deterioration of peripheral sight.

Low-Tension or Normal Tension Glaucoma- This is difficult to detect but causes pressure within the eye from a lack of blood flow to the optic nerve.

While these are the most common forms of glaucoma, there are also some rare types of glaucoma that can form in senior adults as well.

One of the scariest things about glaucoma is that the symptoms are often very subtle. So much so that most seniors don’t realize that symptoms of glaucoma until the condition is quite advanced. For seniors who do start to notice some of the more subtle symptoms of this condition, the earlier they can get into their doctor, the better. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision
  • Red eyes
  • Seeing halos around bright lights
  • Changes in vision

Seniors should be getting an annual eye exam once they turn 55 to help spot issues with glaucoma from forming. During these exams, the doctor will test for ocular pressure in the eye using a simple and painless puff of air in the eye. Eye exams are the number one way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. When detected early, many seniors are able to enjoy non-invasive treatments such as drops to help treat this condition.

While there is no treatment to cure glaucoma, drops can often help lessen the severity and the rapid progression of glaucoma. Other medications may also be used to help treat glaucoma such as beta blockers, alpha-adrenergic agonists and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. There are also some surgeries that can be used to help treat glaucoma in seniors, depending on the condition and their overall health.

Advice on Handling Senior Care Guilt

Care Is At Home Of Elderly.

One of the most difficult any often under-discussed topics regarding in home senior care has to do with caregiver guilt. There are so many families that struggle with senior care guilt after they choose to send their parent or loved one to a nursing home or assisted care facility. Sometimes this guilt comes because the family member was unable to provide care on their own, other family members may feel guilt because their parent was resistant to starting care.

There is a common feeling of failure once a family member determines that they need a professional to look after their parent. This is a common and completely natural feeling and it is one that many individuals deal with. However, it is important to be able to accept and make peace with the decisions that you make for your loved one so you and your entire family can move forward to this next phase of your lives with your parent’s care situation.

If you are facing issues regarding senior care guilt, the first thing to remember is why you made your decision in the first place. Most family members will agree that while the decision to have their loved one begin senior care was difficult, they made that decision because they know deep down it was what is best for the senior. This is important to remember if your loved one is sad or angry about needing in home care or if they start to harbor feelings of resentment about needing care.

When adult children need to step in and make decisions regarding their loved one’s care, this role reversal can be difficult. For many adults, this is the first time that they will have to step in and act as a care provider to their parent. Taking on this role has many adults wondering whether or not they are making the right decisions for their parent as they take on this role for the first time.

Guilt is normal, but it is being able to move past that guilt that is important. When it comes to helping a senior loved one begin care, there are going to be so many “what if” moments. As a family member and loved one, you must be willing to accept the decision that you made and stay focused on moving forward, not looking back and wandering what could have happened if you made a different decision or if something panned out in a different way. This will only breed doubt and anxiety.

Many adults in this situation benefit from seeing trained professionals or reaching out to support groups designed specifically for those with parents in senior care. Having this type of outside support is one of the best ways for those dealing with this condition to get the advice they need and to find a way to move past the guilt that they are feeling. While it is never easy to have to make a care decision on behalf of a senior parent or loved one, the more that you can do to accept your decisions, and your feelings, the better off you, your entire family and your loved one will be.