Why There is Chronic Dehydration in Seniors and How You Can Help

Senior woman at home drinking hot drink and smilingDid you know…almost 50% of all older adults are chronically under-hydrated, as reported by a recent scientific study conducted at UCLA? Not just that, but older adults over age 65 represent the highest category of hospital admissions due to dehydration.

Dehydration can rapidly sneak up on seniors, who often have a lessened sensation of thirst, who may experience medication side effects that cause hydration problems, or who incorrectly think that drinking less will lessen incontinence issues.

Senior dehydration can be very unsafe, raising the risk for health issues such as:

  • UTIs
  • Kidney stones and/or failure
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • And many others

Dehydration can be identified according to the following symptoms:

First stages:

  • Decreased amount/darker-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of weakness, dizziness, and/or tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritation

Advanced stages:

  • Confusion and disorientation, such as problems with walking
  • Low blood pressure and weakened, faster pulse and breathing
  • Stomach bloating
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Skin that is wrinkled without having any elasticity
  • Worsened muscle cramps and contractions, and/or convulsions

While we frequently pay more attention to hydration once the temperature is elevated, it’s essential for older adults to drink sufficient fluids all year long. A simple formula to ascertain just how much, on average, an older adult ought to drink every day is to divide the older adult’s body weight by three, and have him or her consume that many ounces of water. For example, if an older adult weighs 180 pounds, she or he would require a minimum of 60 ounces of water each day.

Try these tips to ensure the older adults you love stay healthy and hydrated:

  • Plain water is the best, but consider other types of fluids, such as soup, juice, fruits, and vegetables. That said, try to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages.
  • Place bottled water, or a small pitcher of ice water and a cup, close to the senior to encourage him or her to sip on it during the day.
  • Test different temperatures. Perhaps a warmed cup of water would be more comforting than an icy one. You may even try warming up juice as well as other beverages to determine if they’re more appealing, or offer popsicles.

The experienced in-home caregivers at Generations at Home are adept in imaginative ways to help older adults stay hydrated, and in monitoring fluid intake to make sure adequate fluids are consumed each day. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to understand exactly how we can help enhance the health of older adults throughout St. Petersburg, FL, right in the convenience and familiarity of home.

What to Ask the Doctor as a Family Caregiver for Senior Parents

senior couple visiting a doctorOf all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver faces, perhaps one of the most daunting is managing medical issues. The National Council on Aging estimates that nearly three quarters of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic conditions, and are seeing on average four healthcare experts.

As your aging parent’s advocate, it’s very important to learn simple tips to communicate effectively with those from the senior’s medical team, and to come to appointments fully ready to address any and all concerns. The following four questions are a great place to start:

  1. Are all of these prescription drugs required? With most older adults taking several medications, you’ll need to keep a detailed list and examine periodically with the physician along with the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to ensure there are not any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
  2. If prescribing something new, what side effects should we be prepared to see? Weighing the advantages vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is a must, as there may be occasions when troublesome side effects outweigh any benefits available. And if the physician shares a blanket statement such as, “Most patients don’t experience any complications with this prescription,” make sure to follow up for more information about individuals who DO encounter problems.
  3. What is the simplest way to relieve pain and discomfort? We are all aware of the opioid epidemic, as well as the danger of addiction along with other considerations that come with taking prescription pain medications. However, unaddressed pain and discomfort may cause both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain along with his or her caregivers.
  4. If this was your mom, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is generally a very helpful method to gauge how you may wish to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a challenge that you may want to check out first.

For more recommendations on making sure a loved one is provided with the best possible care, contact the home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re available to help through:

  • Accompanying a senior loved one to medical appointments and procedures and making sure concerns are answered
  • Ensuring prescriptions are taken just as prescribed
  • Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them promptly
  • Planning and preparing wholesome meals and offering encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
  • And much more

To get started on an improved quality of life for a loved one, simply call us at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation.

Accepting a Diagnosis Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

Daughter comforting senior motherIn Isaac Asimov’s opinion, “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” It’s a standard sentiment for many family caregivers when their loved one is diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as dementia. And though this may generate some level of comfort in thinking that life can go on as it always has, if only we refuse to admit this new reality, the truth, of course, is that accepting a diagnosis is a must to obtaining necessary support.

It’s understandable for a family member to wish to accomplish everything possible independently to give the care a loved one needs. Nevertheless, frequently at the crux of denial are feelings of guilt, helplessness, and in many cases incompetence in the power to “fix things.” And you will find major benefits to be achieved – both for your loved one and his or her family members – by dealing with the condition head-on, like the chance to enjoy time together, and to learn effective techniques to manage any difficulties being experienced now or as the condition progresses.

AARP provides some practical factors to consider for families struggling to accept a senior’s diagnosis:

  • It is possible to be TOO positive. Sustaining a warm disposition is wonderful, but may actually be dangerous if not tempered with a dose of reality. Typically, those with a chronic disease uncover relief in talking openly and truthfully in regards to what they are experiencing, and acceptance is key to delivering opportunities for such discussions.
  • Acceptance is certainly not giving up. Rather, acknowledging your loved one’s condition opens the door to learning practical strategies to regulate the condition, and to locating the supportive services that will allow for the highest possible quality of life.
  • Treasure the time you have together with your family member. Letting go of denial helps you switch your focus to implementing a brand new normal. There is something liberating about eliminating the elephant in the room, allowing for an unencumbered closeness with your family member.
  • Permit others to help. Facing a difficult diagnosis in a family member can be a formidable undertaking, plus it’s essential for family caregivers to ensure enough time is available on a consistent, regular basis for self-care. Accept any help offered by family, friends, your religious organization, etc., or contact an expert home care agency like Generations at Home. Remember that you can supply the very best care for your family member when you’re in good health, physically and emotionally.

Choosing a dependable care partner is key. Generations at Home can help with some of the more mundane aspects of care, to help you spend high quality time with the older adult you adore. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 for an in-home consultation for more information regarding accepting a diagnosis and scheduling care.

How Seniors Can Use Technology to Comfortably Age in Place

elderly woman is using a smartphoneWhether you’re looking to tune a guitar, learn a new language, or simply add cats’ ears to a selfie, there’s an app for that! And for seniors who choose to age in place, technology can be a key component in enhancing safety, comfort, and overall quality of life.

Take Amazon’s Alexa, for instance. While its current benefits for seniors are countless, including the ability to track glucose levels, make medical appointments, and research information related to a particular health condition, it’s actually poised to delve even deeper into the health care arena – perhaps even detecting heart attacks and helping doctors obtain accurate diagnoses.

Here are some additional technology solutions you might want to consider for a senior you love:

  • Home Security: A motion-detecting security system offers peace of mind related to crime prevention, but often can do so much more, such as alerting when sensing smoke, broken glass, or temperatures in the home that are too high or low, just to name a few. They’re also beneficial for those with dementia who may be prone to wandering, to alert to a senior’s movements in and around the home.
  • Telehealth: Save a trip to the doctor’s office by utilizing one of a variety of apps that allow for remote consultations from board-certified physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists, many of whom are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Fall Prevention: One of the top contributors to senior falls is insufficient lighting. Smart lights use motion detection to boost lighting in areas of particular concern, such as between the bedroom and bathroom, or on outdoor walkways, when triggered by a person’s movement.
  • Fraud Protection: Senior scammers are relentless and constantly evolving their tactics. Older adults can enhance protection through apps that keep an eye on financial activity and neighborhood crime activity, reduce robocalls, catch any usage of a person’s Social Security number, and more.
  • Health Care: A variety of health care needs can now be met from the comfort of home, including video chats with doctors to avoid a trip to the office, prescription ordering, and medication management to ensure meds are taken at the correct times and in the correct doses.

Contact Generations at Home for more tips on improving life at home for seniors – whether through technology, our professional in-home care assistance, or both! We’re always available to help set up and explain technological options, and to provide the tried-and-true, hands-on assistance in the home that empowers older adults to live their best lives. Call us any time at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation and let us know how we can help!