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Keeping Seniors Safe in the Summer Sun

BA65396It’s summertime in Naples, Florida and we all know the scenic views come with the price of overwhelming rays from the powerful sun. At Just Like Family Home Care we want to ensure safety in the warm weather! The heat makes summer a dangerous season for everyone, but seniors are at a higher risk of suffering complications from the heat.

Most people don’t realize it, but according to the Huffington Post, extreme summer heat causes thousands of heat-related illnesses in the U.S. each year, and kills more people than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined. Seniors are among the most vulnerable.

Many seniors take medications that could dehydrate them or make them more sensitive to the sun. Bodies of older adults also contain far less water than a younger person’s, and older brains don’t recognize thirst as easily, making them more likely to get dehydrated. For seniors who are not as mobile or depend on others to come by to care for them, they may not be able to move themselves to a cooler spot or help themselves if they start feeling heat-sick when they’re by themselves.

There are two main types of heat conditions: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both are categorized by dizziness, rapid or weak pulse, bright red skin, clamminess, and spots on the eyes. Both these conditions can cause the body temperature to get upwards toward 103 degrees.

In addition, many seniors have certain health problems that can increase their risk of hyperthermia (when the body overheats). These include:

• Underlying diseases like congestive heart failure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
• Trouble walking or moving around.
• Being overweight.
• Having dementia or other problems with thinking skills.

Suggestions to keep seniors cooler:

  • Wear light colored or loose clothing
  • Use sunscreen, even if going outside for just a short period of time
  • Wear a hat that is wide-brimmed to protect the face (but isn’t so tight as to prevent ventilation)
  • Stay hydrated with water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks
  • Keep a spray bottle with cool water nearby to lightly spritz the face and body
  • A shady spot outdoors may be cooler than inside, so sitting on a covered porch with a portable or ceiling fan may be a good option
  • If you are inside with no AC, stay on the lower floor of your residence (which is typically cooler)
  • Mobile seniors should try to spend a few hours each day in a place with A/C: either a mall, library, a movie, or restaurant

At Just Like Family Home Care, we wish you a safe and COOL summer!


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Health Foods for the Elderly

The Mental Health Association of South Mississippi put together this list of 52 health foods for senior citizens, to help improve mental acuity, bone health, and more.  We wanted to share it with all of you, as these really are a great base to start from when planning your loved one’s diet.

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Brain Food-These foods improve brain function, help you maintain memory and more.

  1. Shellfish: Shellfish contains B12, iron, magnesium and potassium; great for brain function.
  2. Salmon: Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain.
  3. Eggs: Eggs contain choline, a type of B vitamin that is good for memory and stress management.
  4. Almonds: Almonds are often touted as a good brain food, giving you lots of energy.
  5. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits/vegetables have great health benefits; and the brain loves green, leafy veggies.

Bone Health-As we get older, our bones get weaker. Women in particular are at risk for osteoporosis.

  1. Fortified milk: Make sure the milk you’re drinking is fortified with Vitamin D.
  2. Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese is estimated to have between 318 and 156 mg of calcium.
  3. Cabbage: Cabbage raises estrogen levels, which is good for aging women.
  4. Calcium-fortified soy milk: If you’re lactose intolerant, try fortified soy milk.
  5. Collards: Just 1/2 a cup of collards contains about 20% of your recommended daily calcium.

Dental Health-Keep your teeth strong and cavity-free by eating these foods.

  1. Raisins: ScienceDaily reports that the “compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.”
  2. Water: Water is essential to good oral health.
  3. Raw broccoli: Raw broccoli is rich in magnesium, which teeth love.
  4. Cooked spinach: Cooked spinach is another good source of magnesium.

Avoiding Empty Calories-Seniors require less calorie intake than younger people, the calories they do consume should be full of proteins and vitamins, not sugars and alcohol.

  1. Peanut butter: In moderation, peanut butter is a good snack, it lower cholesterol and keeps you full longer.
  2. Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate,” and in small servings, it’s a great alternative to heavy desserts.
  3. Milk: Milk has calcium and Vitamin D, and it’s also good for weight loss.
  4. Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a great snack. They keep you full longer and give you nutrients.
  5. Fiber-rich foods: Foods with a lot of fiber keep you fuller longer and are better for your digestion.

Antioxidants-Antioxidants are attributed with helping prevent cancer and helping your body get the most nutrients from your food when it breaks it down.

  1. Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-caroten. Steam carrots if raw ones are too crunchy.
  2. Spinach: Raw and cooked spinach are both good sources of lutein.
  3. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are soft and have lots of beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Be careful of extra sugary yams, however.
  4. Tomatoes: Eat tomatoes to get the antioxidant lycopene.
  5. Blueberries: Blueberries are considered good brain food and are rich in antioxidants.

Low-Sugar-Sugary diets are full of empty calories and can lead to diabetes. Ask your doctor about starting a low-sugar diet to fight off excess weight gain, fatigue and more.

  1. Diet, caffeine-free soda: If you’re a soda-oholic, try a diet, caffeine-free one. Water is best.
  2. Whole grain breads: Multigrain, whole grain and mixed grain breads have a low glycemic index.
  3. Apples: Apples have a lower glycemic index than oranges, peaches and bananas.
  4. Low-fat yogurt: Instead of ice cream, have some low-fat yogurt for a snack.
  5. Vegetables: Snack on fresh veggies for sugar-free and low-sugar snacks.

Digestion and More-If you need help fighting constipation, colon problems or UTIs, check out this list with your doctor.

  1. Red beets: Red beets are said to help constipation symptoms.
  2. Cranberry juice: Drink 100% cranberry juice (not cranberry juice) to ward off UTIs.
  3. Raw foods: Raw and unprocessed foods are best for warding off colon cancer.
  4. Prunes: Prunes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps digestion.
  5. Turnips: Include turnips in your meals to get even more dietary fiber.

Eyesight-For some seniors, eyesight weakens over the years. Your diet may help.

  1. Garlic: Garlic has a lot of sulfur, that produces a kind of antioxidant for the eye called glutathione.
  2. Lutein: Foods with lutein, like kale and spinach, are good for eyesight.
  3. Onions: Onions are also rich in glutathione.
  4. Low sugar foods: High sugar diets may make, AMD or age-related macular degeneration, worse.
  5. Fish Oil: Fish oil found in mackerel, salmon, flax seed and walnuts, help preserve eyesight.

Low-Salt-Sodium is a concern for many seniors, below is a list of low-sodium foods.

  1. Lima beans: A 3.5 oz. serving of canned lima benas only have 1 mg of sodium.
  2. Blackberries: Blackberries just have 1 mg of sodium per 3.5 oz. serving.
  3. Roast beef: Roast beef without extra sauces only has 60 mg of salt per 3.5 oz. serving.
  4. Okra and Tomatoes: This hot veggie dish is still low sodium.
  5. Apple sauce: If sodium is an issue for you, make or buy a low-sodium apple sauce to snack on.

Fruits and Veggies-Raw fruits and vegetables or lightly steamed vegetables are the best choice for getting the most vitamins and minerals per bite.

  1. Kiwi: Kiwi is one of the few fruits that contains riboflavin, which helps release energy from carbs.
  2. Peas: Peas are another food that can help your body get energy from carbohydrates more easily.
  3. Mushrooms: Mushrooms have more potassium than oranges and can lower blood pressure.
  4. Cauliflower: Eat cauliflower for a faster metabolism, which slows as you get older.
  5. Summer squash: Summer squash is easy to prepare. It’s also a good source of niacin.
  6. Strawberries: Strawberries have antioxidant benefits and Vitamin C.
  7. Peppers: Peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. They also contain potassium and iron.
  8. Leeks: Eat leeks to get a good serving of folate.


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Senior Malnutrition

Worried your elderly loved one might be malnourished?  This helpful and simple infographic we’ve dug up nicely overviews what to look out for, and what to do when you see it!  And, as always, remember that Just Like Family is here to help you: contact us at (239) 431-6661.

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General Health Tips for Seniors

If you’re over 65, staying healthy and in shape takes on a few extra dimensions.  It’s much harder, it takes much more work, and your body is much more finicky about what you can and can’t do than it was just a few years earlier.  It can be very hard to do it, but staying fit and healthy is essential for long and happy Golden Years!  Parent Giving shared a great list of tips that we would like to share with you to help you get started.  They may not all apply to you or your lifestyle, but whichever of them do are definitely to be kept in mind.  You can find the original here.

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  1. Quit smoking. Take this critical step to improve your health and combat aging. Smoking kills by causing cancer, strokes and heart failure. Smoking leads to erectile dysfunction in men due to atherosclerosis and to excessive wrinkling by attacking skin elasticity. Many resources are available to help you quit.
  2. Keep active. Do something to keep fit each day—something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look and feel better, too.
  3. Eat well. Combined with physical activity, eating nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use the Kaiser Permanente BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping active. Replace sugary drinks with water—water is calorie free!
  5. Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
  6. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for breast cancer. Men can be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive screenings are available. Those who are new to Medicare are entitled to a “Welcome to Medicare” visit and all Medicare members to an annual wellness visit. Use these visits to discuss which preventative screenings and vaccinations are due.
  7. Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
  8. Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups. Your teeth and gums will last a lifetime if you care for them properly—that means daily brushing and flossing and getting regular dental checkups. By age 50, most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in the ability to see small print or focus on close objects. Common eye problems that can impair vision include cataracts and glaucoma. Hearing loss occurs commonly with aging, often due to exposure to loud noise.
  9. Manage stress. Try exercise or relaxation techniques—perhaps meditation or yoga—as a means of coping. Make time for friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
  10. Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging, age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if necessary.


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Staying Cool

It’s the dog days of summer, especially here in Florida.  We’ve gone over how to keep yourself safe in a hurricane if you’re elderly or infirm, so we thought it would be a good time to go over how to stay safe in the heat.  What to look out for, what to do, and what preventative measures you can take, straight from the Centers for Disease Control!

Elderly people (that is, people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:

  • Elderly people do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment. (If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping mall or public library to cool off.)
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:

  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
    Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.

What You Can Do for Someone With Heat Stress

If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person. Do the following:

  • Get the person to a shady area.
  • Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the person alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.


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Hurricane Prep for Seniors

Direct from Florida Power and Light, here are tips for senior citizens to stay safe during the Hurricane Season!

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What are my options if a hurricane approaches?

Plan A: STAY HOME.
If you don’t live in an evacuation zone or a manufactured/mobile home, stay home and take these
precautions:
  • Remain calm and gather all supplies that you will need EARLY
  • Establish a “safe room” in an interior room with no window. Bring needed supplies including battery-powered radio, flashlights, medication, food and drinking water into this room.
  • Make sure that your home is secure and shuttered, and that it can withstand a hurricane. Ask neighbors to
  • assist with preparations if necessary.
  • Make sure that a neighbor or someone in your family knows that you will be there.
Plan B: STAY WITH LOCAL FRIENDS.
If you plan to stay with family or friends during a hurricane, take these precautions:
  • Remain calm. Call them in advance. Make sure they will be ready for you.
  • Have a backup plan in case they are out of town.
  • Have the enclosed checklists completed outlining your needs.
  • Bring your own food, water, medicine supply and important papers with you.
  • If your loved one has dementia, ask to have a room just for you and your loved one. Ask them to take the same safety precautions you have in your home (e.g., hide sharp objects and poisons, limit access to exits, cover mirrors).
  • Notify your friends/family/neighbors of your evacuation plans.
Plan C: RELOCATE OUTSIDE THE AREA.
If you live in an evacuation zone and/or a mobile/manufactured home, you must relocate.
  • Remain calm. LEAVE EARLY and let others know where you are planning to go.
  • Have a full tank of gas and a current, easy-to-read map handy.
  • Know where you are going. If you are going to a hotel, make sure that you have a reservation, as many hotels, even a hundred miles away, will fill up quickly.
  • Have the enclosed checklists completed outlining your needs.
Plan D: GO TO A SHELTER.
If you plan on going to a shelter you may need to be prepared for an extended stay. Take these precautions:
  • Make arrangements for your pets EARLY – before hurricane season starts. Red Cross shelters do not allow pets. Ask your veterinarian if there are pet-friendly shelters in your area.
  • Prepare supplies that you can bring with you; e.g., IMPORTANT PAPERS, FOOD, WATER, medications, a change of clothes, snacks, personal hygiene supplies, etc. You may also need to bring a sleeping bag/folding cot. Please check with your shelter officials.
  • Make sure that the shelter you are going to is open and has space. Watch the local media for updates.
  • Bring your cell phone (if you have one) and your charger or extra batteries.
  • Notify your friends/family/neighbors of your evacuation plans.
  • In all cases, early preparation is the key to surviving a hurricane with as little discomfort as possible. If you need assistance at any point, be sure to contact your local social service agencies as early as possible, as agency employees will also be preparing for the hurricane and cannot assist you at the last minute!