September is National Yoga Awareness Month, and the benefits of yoga, regardless of a person’s age, are phenomenal. Yoga for elderly adults, when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise, has been shown to minimize hypertension, strengthen bones, and help with weight loss. It may even reverse heart disease, according to one study.
Yoga for elderly adults can be extremely beneficial.
At Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality senior care Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding area have to offer, we love helping the older adults in our care engage in ability-appropriate yoga. In addition to enhanced physical health, yoga for elderly adults can also improve memory, boost the senior’s mood and outlook, and reduce anxiety.
Half Chair at the Wall: Stand about 12” from a wall, with the back touching the wall. Lift the arms forward and up over the head, facing the palms toward each other, and then slowly bend the knees and squat towards the floor, until a seated position is achieved about halfway to the floor. Hold while taking five breaths, and then stand and repeat.
Warrior: Stand and place feet hip-width apart, while the right foot is held still, bend the right knee to a right angle, and shift the left foot back about 3 feet, pointing the left toes out to the side. Raise the arms straight up near the ears and look up. Hold for three breaths, return to standing straight on both legs, and repeat.
Cobbler’s Pose: From a seated position with legs spread out and the spine straight, bend the knees and bring the feet up toward the pelvis area, with soles touching. Press the elbows against the thighs, coaxing them closer to the floor (without causing any discomfort or pain).
Alternate-Nostril Breathing: Place the tips of the right index and middle fingers between the eyebrows, and then place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring and pinky fingers on the left nostril. While pressing the thumb against the right nostril, breathe in through the left nostril. Alternate for the next breath, and repeat for five minutes.
Let Nightingale Homecare help the seniors in your life maximize health and quality of life! Our care team is always available to provide the encouragement and motivation for older adults to engage in yoga and other exercise programs, along with a wide range of personalized medical and non-medical in-home care services. To learn more about our services in senior care in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding areas, call us at (602) 504-1555 at any time!
Learn more about the importance of hydration for seniors.
The importance of hydration for seniors cannot be overstressed. In an older loved one, dehydration can occur rapidly and be life-threatening. Many older people often are not as quick to feel thirst as younger people are, so they may not be drinking enough ﬂuids to begin with. This, combined with health concerns that might cause your loved one to reduce her ﬂuid intake, puts the older person at high risk for dehydration.
When you are caring for an elder loved one, offer a drink of water every time you interact with him or her, and make sure she always has fresh water within reach. However, be aware that even when offered water, many older people will say, “I’m not thirsty” or, “I’ve already had too much to drink today.” You may need to be persistent in encouraging your loved one to regularly drink water.
Fluid balance occurs when the amount of ﬂuids a person takes in equals the amount of ﬂuids the person loses. Each day, we lose ﬂuid in the form of urine, sweat, bowel movements and breath vapor. To maintain a state of ﬂuid balance, we must take in enough ﬂuid each day to equal, or balance, these losses. When ﬂuid balance is not maintained, your loved one may develop either dehydration (too little ﬂuid in the body) or edema (too muc h ﬂuid in the body).
Dehydration can result from conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever or severe blood loss. A very common cause of dehydration, however, is simply not drinking enough ﬂuids. Many elderly people have conditions that put them at risk for becoming dehydrated. For example, a person who has problems with mobility or other disabilities may have a difﬁcult time getting up to get a drink. Your loved one may also cut back on ﬂuids because she is trying to reduce the number of times she needs to get up and go to the bathroom, or she is afraid that she will not be able to make it to the bathroom in time. Some seniors who are incontinent may also reduce their ﬂuid intake because they think this will lower their risk for having an episode of incontinence. However, it is important to know that decreasing ﬂuid intake does not decrease incontinence, nor does it decrease trips to the bathroom. In fact, the opposite may be true. As the urine becomes more concentrated, it irritates the bladder and may increase the urge to urinate, resulting in the need to urinate more frequently.
As your loved one’s caregiver, you will play an important role in helping to ensure that she takes in enough ﬂuids. Here are some tips to encourage fluids:
Frequently offer ﬂuids that your loved one likes at the temperature she prefers.
Encourage her to drink plenty of ﬂuids with each meal.
Frequently provide your loved one with a pitcher of clean, fresh water. Encourage her to drink each time you enter the room.
Be sure she has a clean drinking glass or cup within easy reach. Reﬁll the glass if she cannot do it. A drinking straw or a plastic water bottle with a screw-on lid and a straw may make it easier for some people to drink independently.
If she frequently refuses beverages, offer ﬂuid-rich foods instead, such as ice cream, popsicles, gelatin or fruit.
If your loved one becomes dehydrated, her physician may give an order to “encourage ﬂuids” or “push ﬂuids.” This means that she should be urged to drink as much ﬂuid as possible. Encourage her to drink each time you enter the room and again on your way out. Keep a record of the amount of ﬂuid your loved one drinks and record the total for the day on the flow sheet for her physician and for your reference.
Be on the Lookout!
Dehydration is a serious condition. If you suspect that your loved one is dehydrated, contact her physician immediately. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include the following:
Poor skin turgor (the skin does not return to its normal shape when gently squeezed or pinched)
Passing of small amounts of dark-colored urine
Very dry skin or chapped lips
Edema, or the state of retaining too much water, can result from medical conditions (such as chronic heart failure or kidney disease) that make it hard for the body to rid itself of excess water. Your loved one’s physician may place restrictions on the amount of ﬂuid she is allowed to have each day.
When you are caring for a loved one and ﬂuid restrictions are in place, the physician will tell you how much ﬂuid she is allowed to have over the course of the day. Offer small amounts of ﬂuid at regular intervals. This will help to prevent your loved one from becoming too thirsty.
Measuring and Recording Fluid Intake
When orders to encourage or restrict ﬂuids are in place, you will need to measure and record your loved one’s ﬂuid intake. A person’s ﬂuid intake includes all of the liquids she drinks, as well as foods that are primarily liquid (such as soups) or that are liquid at body temperature (such as ice cream or popsicles).
Although in everyday life ﬂuids are usually measured in ounces (oz), in health care, ﬂuids are measured and recorded in milliliters (ml) or cubic centimeters (cc). A milliliter (ml) is equal to a cubic centimeter (cc). One ounce equals 30 milliliters or 30 cubic centimeters.
With prepackaged items, printed information on the container indicates how much it holds. For example, a small prepackaged milk container contains 8 ounces, or 240 ml (remember, there are 30 ml in an ounce). In other cases, you will need to determine how much ﬂuid the container holds. When you are caring for your loved one and need to measure ﬂuid intake, you can determine the amount of ﬂuid your cups, glasses and bowls hold by ﬁlling them with water and then pouring the water into a measuring cup.
To measure and record ﬂuid intake, observe how much ﬂuid your loved one consumes at each meal and in between meals. For example, if she had 8 oz (240 ml) of milk, 4 oz (120 ml) of coffee and 12 oz (360 ml) of soup with lunch, you would record her ﬂuid intake at lunch time as 720 ml. Then, if she had another 8 oz (240 ml) of tea in between lunch and dinner, you would record her ﬂuid intake as 240 ml.
Sometimes your loved one may not consume all of the ﬂuid in the container. In this case, estimate how much of the total was consumed. For example, if she only drank about half of her coffee at lunch, you would estimate the amount to be 2 oz (60 ml) instead of the full 4 oz (120 ml).
Remember the Importance of Hydration for Seniors – Nightingale Homecare Can Help!
If your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is creeping upward, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve it before trying cholesterol-lowering medication. And if you already take medication, the tips below can actually improve the cholesterol-lowering qualities of your medication.
It’s helpful to understand what cholesterol is, and how it can affect your health. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver and has several important functions. It helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is necessary in the production of several hormones. But, like anything else…too much of it can create problems.
Cholesterol is transported in the body by molecules called “lipoproteins” which carry cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. Lipoproteins levels in the blood are used to determine cholesterol levels. You may have heard that low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad. This type of lipoprotein carries cholesterol to deposit it on blood vessel walls, leading to clogged arteries, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure and heart attack. So, it is important to lower this level. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good lipoproteins, helping to carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and preventing artery-clogging disease. So, it is important to raise this level.
Your hereditary influence is something you won’t be able to change, but how you manage other high-risk influences can make a difference. Listed below are lifestyle changes that can help lower cholesterol while improving health and quality of life, courtesy of the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:
WATCH YOUR FATS
Focus on Monounsaturated Fats
Your doctor may recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, but often a diet low in fats can reduce not only your harmful LDLs, but may also reduce the beneficial HDLs. In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats will reduce harmful LDLs but also protect higher levels of healthy HDLs. A few good sources of monounsaturated fats:
Olive oil and olives
Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews
Use Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats
Studies show that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some good sources are:
Fish oil supplements
Seafood with high fatty content: salmon, mackerel, herring, bluefin and albacore tuna
Seeds and tree nuts (not peanuts)
Eliminate Trans Fats
Trans fats are handled differently by the body than other fats. They can increase total cholesterol and LDLs, and also decrease the beneficial HDLs. Use of trans fats leads to heart attack and stroke. In the US, food companies are required to list trans fats on nutrition labels. However, they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their label says “0 grams.” Read further on the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, avoid it, as it contains trans fat! Foods that contain trans fat include:
Store-bought cookies and crackers
Fried fast food
INCREASE SOLUABLE FIBER
Soluble fiber actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by increasing probiotics or “good bacteria” in your intestine. These bacteria will reduce harmful lipoproteins and LDLs. The best sources for soluble fiber include:
Peas and lentils
Fruit: apples and pears
Oats and whole grains: not the quick-cooking oats, which have the fiber processed out
Fiber supplements like psyllium
ADD WHEY PROTEIN
Whey protein found in dairy products can help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. Foods containing whey protein include:
Whey protein powder
If you see sugar, corn syrup or any word containing “ose” at the top of the ingredient list, avoid it.
Moderate exercise every day can not only combat obesity, it can also help raise good cholesterol levels. Be sure and check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 times a week. Some exercises to consider:
Riding a bike
An exercise class
Playing a favorite sport
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by changing the way cholesterol is handled in the body and results in the faster development of clogged arteries. Quitting smoking helps improve your HDL cholesterol levels. This will lower your blood pressure, improve your liver function, and reduce your risk of heart and lung disease.
Carrying a few extra pounds contributes to high blood cholesterol. Weight loss will reduce your total cholesterol by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver.
As mentioned, sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol to optimal levels. If your doctor orders medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed along with continuing your lifestyle changes.
Eating habits change for a number of reasons as we grow older.
We all know how important it is to establish and maintain healthy eating habits, but sadly, a full 25% of older adults suffer from malnutrition, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging. Whether the problem is eating too little, too much, or the wrong types of foods, poor nutrition for seniors can result in weakened bones and muscles, an increased risk of serious health concerns like diabetes, and more.
The reasons for these nutritional struggles are as varied as the individuals experiencing them. For some, medication side effects impact appetite. For others, dental problems make chewing difficult. And for many, the loss of a spouse results in a lost desire to prepare healthy meals for just herself.
At Nightingale Homecare, our Phoenix, AZ home care specialists offer the following suggestions to help your senior loved ones maintain optimal health by ensuring his or her nutritional needs are met:
Fiber up! Consuming plenty of foods high in soluble fiber will help keep cholesterol in check and prevent constipation and other health problems. Older adults should strive to include at least one of the following types of foods with each meal:
Beans or lentils
Whole grains, oats or oat bran
Seeds or nuts
Fruits and vegetables
Convenience doesn’t have to mean fast food! For seniors who prefer the convenience of ready-made foods, there are a number of healthy options to consider over fast food or prepackaged foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat, such as:
Bags of fresh chopped veggies for salad, coleslaw, or steaming
Fully cooked rotisserie or grilled chicken or turkey
Canned or frozen low-sodium/low-sugar fruits and vegetables
Low-sodium cans of soup or stew
Find a friend! Preparing meals (and eating them) in isolation transforms mealtimes from something enjoyable to something to dread. Share as many meals with your loved one as possible, and seek out other companions for your loved one – neighbors, other family members, friends from religious organizations, etc.
At Nightingale Homecare, we can help implement all of these ideas, and more. Whether the need is for shopping for healthy, convenient foods, preparing nutritious meals, or providing friendly companionship during mealtime, partner with the Phoenix, AZ home care team at Nightingale Homecare and ensure that your senior loved one stays as healthy and happy as possible! Take the first step by calling us at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation and discover the difference our professional in-home care services can make in your senior loved one’s life.
A Nightingale representative would be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange for home care that is custom-fit to your needs.