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How to make a beach trip safe for seniors

When you decide to live in Florida it’s most likely because you love the beach. You try to get out there as often as you can, and it never gets old! You can fish, swim, read a book, take a nap (under an umbrella with lots of sunscreen on!). The beach is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

It’s a shame when you can’t take advantage of a beautiful sunny day. This is something many seniors must consider. The sun and sand are essential parts of the beach (what is a beach without them?). But those two elements make these areas dangerous for seniors and the elderly.

How can we make the beach safer for our senior friends and family members?

What to bring?

When you’re planning a trip to the beach with an elderly loved one, you will need a few extra items you might not normally bring. First of all, make sure they have on sneakers, loose fitting, light clothes to block the sun, and have on tons of sunscreen. Bring a hat and sunglasses to protect the face and eyes.

It’s a good idea to bring a cooler to keep water nice and cold all day long. Also, bring along a portable, battery-operated fan. These can be found at convenience stores and are a great way to provide a little breeze if there isn’t any that day.

Bring along enough food to last the time you will be there. Even an Ensure or other protein-filled drink is a good idea to provide maximum nutrients.

Battling the Sand

Before you can ever worry about what to do at the beach, you have to worry about actually walking onto it. The sand, for many of us, is just an uneven surface we plod through to get to our destination. For seniors, the sand can prove hazardous, especially for those that lack the mobility to get through it. Sand is difficult even for the fully able-bodied person.

How can you make it easier for seniors to get through the sand? First, pick a beach that will require as short a walk as possible. Don’t pick the beach where you have to trek a quarter of a mile in order to get away from the masses.

Next, make sure they are wearing sneakers. Nobody likes sand in their shoes, but sneakers will ensure that there aren’t any footwear issues.

Be sure to provide support as they walk. Have someone on either side helping them up just in case of any missteps.

The last way to solve this problem is to get a beach wheelchair (yes they’re a thing). Beach wheelchairs feature large wheels that are designed just for getting through sand. This is the safest way to get your loved one down to the beach.

Beating the Heat & Sun

As mentioned above, be sure your loved one is wearing the proper sun-protecting gear. This includes sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, loose fitting shirt and pants, and sneakers. If it is much too hot for long sleeves and pants, opt for shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.

You will also need an umbrella that they can comfortably sit under throughout the day. Every two hours you will need to reapply sunscreen to ensure it won’t wear off.

It probably isn’t a great idea to spend the next 6 hours at the beach. About 2 hours may be a good amount of time. Because as we age, our skin becomes more and more sensitive especially to the sunlight. We must be cautious of this when we plan trips to the beach.

 

There you have it! Some simple tips to help get your senior friends and family members out to the beach with you.


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Healthy eating as we age

food-salad-healthy-lunch

Eating well should be a goal at any age, but especially as we get older. When we age, we need to watch how the changes in our bodies interact with the items that we’re consuming.

A healthy diet is key to living a better life. It will help improve energy levels, allow you to better fight off illness, and give you the mental acuteness you need.

How does our body change?

There are multiple processes that take place in our bodies as we age.

These include:

  • Lowered senses: Our sensitivity to salt and bitter leave first, which may make you want to add more salt to items.
  • Digestion slows: Your digestive system slows down, meaning it is more difficult to process certain vitamins and minerals that are important for mental alertness.
  • Metabolism slows: Adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine will help avoid unnecessary weight gain

What should I be eating?

The key is the find foods that are healthy and delicious. It is one thing to try to eat lots of kale and spinach, but if you dislike the taste you will end up getting sick of the items quickly.

Here are some foods you should be including in your diet:

  • Fruit: (2-3 servings per day)
  • Vegetables: (2-3 cups per day) of dark, leafy greens (spinach, broccoli) and colorful veggies (carrots)
  • Grains: (5-10 ounces) Stay away from processed white flour and try more whole grains with nutrients and fiber
  • Oils: (5-8 teaspoons) Eat foods full of healthy oils like olives, avodacos, and nuts
  • Calcium: Limit your milk consumption to 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat types. 1 cup of yogurt, 1-1.5 oz of cheese, 1 cup of cottage cheese.
  • Protein: (5-7 oz) Eggs, tofu, nuts, peanut butter, fish, poultry

Snack smart

You can snack between meals if you feel yourself getting hungry. But be sure that they are healthy snacks low in calories, sodium, saturated and trans fat. These include items like Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, and grilled chicken.

More fiber

As we age, our digestive systems become less efficient. That means we need to be eating much more fiber than we used to. Women over 50 should be eating at least 21 grams per day and men over 50 should eat at least 30 grams.

Here’s how you can get your fiber in:

  • Whole grains
  • Wheat cereal, barley, oatmeal
  • Beans and nuts
  • Vegetables like carrots, celery
  • Whole fruits (including the peel)

Skip the sugar & empty calories

We probably don’t need to be reminding you, but stick to drinking water. Sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and energy drinks may taste great but they are not doing your body any good.

Also stay away from “empty calories” which include many items in the middle aisles of the grocery store including cookies, alcohol, and chips.

Resources

Healthy Eating after 50
National Institute on Aging

Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
National Council on Aging

Eating Well As You Get Older
NIH Senior Health


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How to travel while caring for an elderly family member

It’s a tough question to ask, and for many of us, we feel selfish for wanting to take a trip or go on vacation while we’re caring for an elderly family member.

You need to allow yourself a break every once in a while and a trip is one of the best ways to reset yourself and put yourself in a new mindset. You come home refreshed, excited, full of new ideas.

But then you remember that your grandmother will have nobody to watch over her. How can you leave and let her stay at home by herself?

Luckily, there are plenty of options to help give you peace of mind, and give your loved one the best care possible.

In-Home Care Service
This type of service involves 24 hour care, where a nurse, home health aid, or other healthcare professional will live in the home with your loved one. This is generally best for those family members that require constant care and attention. Finding an in-home care service in your area is simple, finding one you trust can be more difficult. We recommend asking around first. A testimonial from someone you know can put you at ease. Also take a look at online reviews to see what people are saying about that company. Then call and make an appointment to meet and talk to whoever will be taking care of your loved one. If you don’t feel comfortable, say no. It’s up to you to decide the home care service you want to use.

Daily Visits
The homecare service you find will also likely provide daily visits from a healthcare professional. They can perform routine tasks like cleaning, laundry, cooking, running errands. You can have a specialist like an RN stop by if your loved one requires certain medical treatments daily.

Stay in touch
Once you decide on the homecare service you’d like to use, and found a provider who you feel comfortable leaving to care for your loved one, figure out how you’ll stay in touch. Maybe you’d like a phone call or email each day from the provider. You could set up a Skype account and use an iPad or laptop in your loved one’s home, and have the provider set everything up so you can video chat at different times during your trip.

Emergency Plan
In the unfortunate case of an emergency, know what you’d like your provider to do. Leave the number of your loved one’s doctor with the provider. Also leave contact information for another relative or someone you trust nearby in case you cannot be reached or are out of the country.

With the availability of trustworthy, professional home care services you are bound to find someone capable of caring for your loved one while you’re away. If you’re in the Southwest Florida area and ever need some extra assistance caring for someone, or are planning a trip and would like some peace of mind, call Just Like Family Home Care at 239-431-6661.


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How to spot the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

hands-walking-stick-elderly-old-person

It’s something not many of us want to think about or start considering for our parents, grandparents, or other elderly relatives and friends. As we age, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease only become more and more probable. That’s not to say that older people will develop memory loss, it’s that it tends to affect us as we enter old age.

What do you need to look for when it comes to the onset of Alzheimer’s? Are there certain symptoms, characteristics, traits, or behaviors that are common amongst those that are developing the disease?

We will go over many of the most common symptoms that can help you spot Alzheimer’s and alert you to taking your loved one to a doctor as soon as you can.

Confusion of time or place

This is a common one amongst people with Alzheimer’s disease. It involves losing track of dates, days of the week, or even the year. If this happens once, it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. But if it continues to happen often, you might want to see a specialist.

Changes in vision

This isn’t as well known as the memory loss symptom of Alzheimer’s. Those that develop the disease can notice changes in their vision either near or far, and even when telling colors apart.

Daily tasks become challenging

As the disease progresses, it may become hard to do things that were once very routine and familiar. Take note if your loved one is finding it difficult to complete daily tasks.

Difficulty problem solving or planning

They may find it hard to keep track of things like bills, keeping appointments. It may even become difficult to follow a recipe they once used many times before.

Losing track of where you are

This is a scary one. Your loved one may find that they are in a place and discover they aren’t sure how they got there. Sometimes we hear of elderly people that have gone missing, only later to say they have no idea how they ended up where they did.

Forgetting important information

This is one you may notice early on, especially for something important like a birthday, holiday, or anniversary.

Types of Alzheimer’s Disease

Common Alzheimer’s Disease

This is what most people are familiar with. It’s the typical Alzheimer’s disease that progresses at old age.

Genetic Alzheimer’s Disease

This rarer form of the disease is attributed through genes. Sometimes the symptoms can show up in someone’s 30s, 40s or 50s.

Resources

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
WebMD

Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet
National Institute on Aging