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Seniors and Pets

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Pets are great no matter what your age! But you need to be especially cognizant of those at very young or very old ages having pets. Pets provide great benefits for seniors such as companionship, routine, and a sense of purpose. But they can also be hard to manage if you have physical disabilities, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.

Let’s go over the types of pets and how you can help a senior take care of their pet.

Types of Pets for Seniors

This really all depends on how much attention and care you can provide your pet. Pets like dogs will require regular walks, bathroom time, playing, and feeding. While cats and fish are generally independent and require minimal care like feeding and cleaning.

Bunnies
These cute little animals are becoming more and more popular as pets. They don’t require walks or going outside, and can be taken out to hold or play with and put back into a safe container. They’re great companions!

Cats
Cats are independent and, depending on the one you get, can be sociable or aloof. It’s important to find a cat with the right energy for their new owner. A kitten may be too much work for a senior with some limited physical ability, but an older cat may be just right. The main requirements are regular feedings and cleaning up the litter.

Dogs
Dogs are on the end of the physical needs spectrum. They require going out at least 2-3 times per day no matter the weather. They also need lots of exercise and walking time. Dogs are great for seniors who still feel confident going out and being active. Try for an older pet, as puppies will require even more effort, not to mention training.

Best dogs breeds for seniors

Fish
Fish are perfect for those seniors who want a little added routine to their life. The fish need regular feedings and cleanings, and are very easy to take care of.

How to Help Seniors Take Care of Pets

For seniors that currently have a pet, certain things that used to be easy to do may now become more difficult as they age. Regular morning walks may now be a struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your pet.

  1. Figure out the need: Once you figure out exactly what the issue is (lack of walks, hard to bathe the pet?) you can find a solution. Try dog daycares, have someone in the neighborhood walk the dog or change the litter. Have a mobile groomer stop by.
  2. Get a vet that does house calls: This will make it easy for seniors who aren’t able to drive or don’t feel comfortable taking their pet in the car.
  3. Meals on Wheels: This program often offers free dog and cat food to seniors in the area. Check to see if your area does!

 

Don’t let age get in the way of having your little buddy around for as long as possible.

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How to stay busy as a retiree

You’ve finally retired! And now you’re (hopefully) living somewhere nice and sunny. You had tons of plans for retirement: travel, hobbies, cooking, being with friends and family. But after a few weeks, you start to feel something. You feel bored. You’ve already watched as much TV as one can handle, you are doing your hobbies, but it’s not enough.

How do you stay busy once you’re no longer working? For many retirees and seniors, the answer is to find something similar to work that is rewarding to you. Now that you don’t need to work for money, you can do work for other reasons such as helping people or learning.

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Here are a few ideas to help keep you busy and fulfilled during your retirement.

Start an exercise routine
No longer can you give the excuse that you’re too tired from work to exercise. Now you can set the perfect time for working out whether it’s 8am, 1pm, or 10pm. Do at least 30 minutes 3-4 times per day. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, try joining a class.

Volunteer
What’s a cause you really can get behind? Maybe you want to help build homes for those in your community, you can join Habitat for Humanity. Perhaps you’re an animal lover, check out your local shelter. Volunteer at a hospital as a greeter. There are tons of opportunities out there. Check out Volunteer Match for opportunities near you.

Find a part time job
If you like the idea of working some more, find a part time job. Now that you don’t need money, you can be very picky about the job you take and you can leave if it doesn’t suit you. Find something that suits your needs whether it’s interacting with people, working in a certain field, or just a way to get out of the house for a few hours per week.

Mentor or Teach
If you were in a field such as business there are ways you can help mentor a young person or someone wanting to start their own business. The same goes for sports. If you were great at baseball, offer to coach a little league team. Maybe you are a master at painting or jewelry, head to your local community center and see if you can teach some classes.

Get involved with a cause or issue
Are you passionate about a certain issue? Now you can put your energy towards making a difference. Maybe you want to help the homeless in your area or figure out how to get more people out to vote. Put the energy you spent working into a cause you can really get behind.


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Water exercises and why they work

Water aerobics are a big thing in Florida. Nearly year-round we can hop in the pool and not be met with freezing water. That invites many homeowners and communities to install pools, which guests and residents enjoy using for parties, swimming, and exercise.

It’s well known that water aerobics is a great way for the elderly to get their exercise in. If you wanted to get into this exercise movement, what exactly should you be doing? And why does it work so well?

Why Water Aerobics?

These exercises are great because not only does the water help hold you up, providing you balance, but the water also provides resistance.

When you do dumbbell curls without anything, you don’t feel much. But when you add a weight in your hand, you are adding resistance that your arm must now deal with.

The resistance from the water is just the right amount for seniors who don’t feel comfortable just yet to go to the gym and use weights or machines.

Types of Water Aerobics Exercises

Water Walking
Just walking in water can be a challenge. Start in water shallow enough that you can comfortably walk and hold your head above water. Keep moving deeper and deeper to add more resistance.

Kick and Punch
As easy as it sounds, just practice kicking and punching through the water. Go as slow or as fast as feels comfortable.

K- Tread
This exercise targets your butt, abs, chest, arms, and back. In the deep end, you’ll want to tread water. Lift one leg straight in front of you and hold for 5 seconds. Then switch legs, and do this for 30 seconds.

Hand Webs
Add even more resistance to your workout by using hand webs, gloves meant for water exercise.

Water Weights
Specialized weights have been developed for water. These are foam barbells that help add extra resistance to your under water workouts.

Kickboard
Practicing your kicks by utilizing a kickboard to go around the pool only powered by your legs.

Resources

Aquatic exercises | Mayo Clinic

Slim Down in a Splash: Pool Workout


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How to keep your brain active

Aging can be a scary thing. Not only are we getting older physically, but also mentally. Age can play a big part in how are brains are functioning, and we are all too aware of the risks of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases that come with age.

Although we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are ways we can continue to “work out” our brains and keep them active. Just because you’re not working or not in school, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to learn and grow yourself mentally.

Here at Just Like Family, we want to help keep you as healthy as possible, whether that’s with our companions coming over to help prepare a meal, or getting you up and out for a walk or stretching.

We’re going to go over a few ways you can keep your brain active, so you stay mentally healthy for as long as possible.

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Via Antiaging Nootropics

Lifelong Learning

You may have been out of school for a few decades, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to learn. Although you despised a certain subject at school, now you have the freedom to learn whatever you want!

The access to the library and internet, the possibilities to learn just about anything are endless.

Think up a subject you’re curious about and see what resources you can find from books to online courses to local college classes you can sit in on to lectures.

Here are some topics you can dive into:

  • American history
  • World Wars
  • Basic Computers
  • Space
  • Languages
  • Gardening

Read More

If you’re retired, there’s no excuse not to be reading more. With access to the library, you can get pretty much any book you could ever want.

Or pick up a Kindle. Many libraries offer free digital rentals of books that you can do right from your home.

Read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. If a book doesn’t grab you and you feel that you are dreading finishing it, then stop! Just because you pick up a book doesn’t mean you necessarily need to finish it. Reading should be fun, find books that engage you.

Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. These include crosswords, Sudoku, Ken Ken, and even plain old jigsaw puzzles. You can pick up many of these at the dollar store, even a 500 piece puzzle is just $1!

Play Games

Games make you think. Find some games you can play either on your own or get a group together to play. Get board games or apps.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Settlers of Catan (board game)
  • 2048 (app)
  • Dots (app)
  • Cut the Rope (app)
  • Chess

Memory Exercises

Truly exercise your brain with some memory challenges. From Everyday Health, these can include:

  • Drawing a map from memory
  • Creating word pictures
  • Learning a new language
  • Refining your hand-eye ability (Painting, drawing, knitting)
  • Doing math in your head
  • Testing your recall

More Resources

Learn more about keeping your mind active with these resources.

6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age | Harvard Medical School

Stay Mentally Active | ALZ.org

The Changing Brain in Healthy Aging | National Institute on Aging

 


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How to Be Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day, get the association?

Heart health is an important issue that many of us aren’t exactly sure how to deal with. How exactly do we become heart healthy? That’s a question we’re going to dive into today.

What does “heart healthy” mean?

Heart healthy refers to living a lifestyle where your heart is being taken care of. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, a poor diet and lack of exercise are big factors in developing a heart-harming condition.

It’s best to start on your healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. This means monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and correcting course in your diet and exercise to combat high numbers.

What can affect heart health?

A poor heart is usually one that is plagued by atherosclerosis. This is when cholesterol rich pockets develop inside the arteries restricting blood flow. This is how heart attacks and strokes occur.

Cardiovascular disease is anything that affects the heart and blood vessels. This includes atherosclerosis and also heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.

The American Heart Association breaks the risk factors into three categories:

Major risk factors
Research has shown that these unchangeable factors significantly increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

Modifiable risk factors
Some major risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle change.

Contributing risk factors
These factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven’t yet been determined.

How do we become heart healthy?

The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to learn more about the risk factors and how you can slow down your risk.

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Source: Health Grades

The American Heart Association has a special section just about managing cholesterol.

They also have a section on how to get your high blood pressure under control, with types like taking a brisk walk each day to lower your levels.

Some of the most important things you need to do involve changing your lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking: This can affect your cholesterol level and tobacco is not good for your heart.
  • Become more active: 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is enough to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Heart healthy diet: Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, poultry, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy. Avoid sugary food and drinks, and red meat.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Take medications: If your doctor sees you at risk for high blood pressure, they’ll likely prescribe you medication.

Resources

The American Heart Association

Heart Health | Harvard Medical School

 


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How to manage your arthritis

Arthritis is something we all want to avoid, but it’s increasingly common as we age. It’s a painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it’s not very well understood. They mention that there are over 100 different types of arthritis!

Who can be affected by arthritis?

Well, just about anybody. Over 50 million US adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. It’s more common among women and the elderly.

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Source Penn Medicine

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is caused by the reduction in the amount of cartilage tissue. This can be due to normal wear and tear due to daily activities, but also by infection or injury. It has been found that you are more at risk for Osteoarthritis if you have a family history of the disease.

For an autoimmune disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis, the cause is unknown.

What are the first symptoms of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

If you have continued pain like this, it could be due to arthritis and it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are different ways to pinpoint whether or not you have arthritis, and, if you do, which kind it is.

Doctors will use:

  • Lab tests (blood, joint fluid, urine)
  • X-Rays
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

How is arthritis treated?

Although there is no cure, many medications have been developed to help reduce the severity and the pain.

These medications include:

  • Analgesics- Reduce pain, but no inflammation
  • NASIDs- Reduce pain and inflammation
  • DMARDs – Use to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Biologic response modifiers – Target protein molecules
  • Counterirritants – Creams and ointments to reduce pain in aching joints
  • Corticosteroids – Reduce inflammation, suppresses the immune system

Surgery is another option that a doctor may suggest.

Types of surgeries include:

  • Joint fusion- Used on smaller joints. Remove the end of two bones and then lock the ends together
  • Joint repair- Smooth or realign joint surfaces to reduce pain
  • Joint replacement – Removes a damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. Common for knees and hips

Additional Arthritis Resources

The Arthritis Foundation

MedlinePlus.gov | Arthritis 

 


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How to combat isolation for seniors

We love our families and don’t know what we’d do without them. But for many of us that live away from our families, it can be tough to connect and see them more than once or twice a year. This is especially true for seniors, as many of them are not able to travel or are living in a specialized facility.

We want to see them often, but what can we do to help them not feel lonely or isolated when family can’t come to visit?

There are solutions! We will go through a few of them, and describe some that pertain to active, mobile seniors and to those who are living in a special care facility and aren’t as mobile.

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Active, Independent Seniors

For the active senior still living on their own, there are many options for combating isolation. If they can drive, that opens up a world of possibilities. Even if they can’t drive, there are often specialized transport services made just for seniors in certain areas.

Once transportation is figured out, seniors can get out and do things including:

  • Meetup.org
    A website where you can find groups interested in similar topics like books, fishing, knitting, etc. and meet up with them
  • Library
    Heading to the library, browsing for a book, and reading a while is a great way to get out. Libraries also tend to host events and lectures, check their website for more information.

Non-Active Seniors

A non-active senior is one who needs assistance getting around and shouldn’t be moving on their own. For seniors like this, there are still plenty of options for combating isolation:

  • Skype
    Get your loved one a tablet or Chromebook and set up Skype. That way you can have daily or weekly chats where you all can see each other. Seeing a friendly face and hearing your voice can really do wonders.
  • Companions
    Here at Just Like Family, our Companions are the perfect cure to isolation. They will come over to help do routine tasks, or just to keep your loved one company by playing games or doing an activity.
  • Send a care package
    This applies to both active and non-active seniors. Everyone loves getting mail, especially when it’s an unexpected package! You can send some nice snacks, a letter, and maybe a few activities like knitting items, books, or a puzzle.

There are plenty of ways to help prevent your loved one from feeling isolated or lonely. If they live in a senior living facility, being around other people and having planned activities can engage them and really help the loneliness abate.