For seniors, living in a constantly changing world can be overwhelming and confusing. We live in a world of technological advancements, and societal and political situations that can cause fear and anxiety in anyone. The world isn’t what it once was and it can be difficult for seniors to adapt to the changes taking place. Having a health condition can be difficult for seniors as well, especially if they have a physical disability like arthritis that causes them pain and discomfort. If you are a caregiver, it is important that you create an atmosphere that is stress-free and relaxing for the senior in your life.
Seniors spent their entire life taking care of others. Retirement is their time to rest and reap the benefits that years of hard work earned them. Make sure that the senior in your life is living in conditions that bring them safety and security. Help relieve the stresses in their life.
For some seniors not working or staying active can be stressful in itself. Not being able to do the things they once enjoyed, and even losing their life partner can be emotionally crippling for some. You can help add a little sunshine to their life. Let’s explore some practical ways.
Ways to reduce stress
Own an animal If a senior doesn’t have allergy issues, having a pet might help cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that owning a pet can help seniors cope with stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and even help them learn. Cats are known for their soothing and relaxing qualities.
Take a nice walk Some seniors are limited in their mobility. Having a walker may help make walking easier if they are physically disabled or in a wheelchair. Take them out for a stroll. Take a walk through a forest if you can. In Japan, there is a common practice called forest bathing that is said to be a stress reliever. Walking through nature is healing. It also helps fight anxiety and disease.
Avoid negativity If you are caring for a senior, try to avoid adding any stress to them. Turn the TV off every once in awhile and take them outside. Plan fun activities that will allow them the opportunity to engage and interact with other seniors in a positive setting. If the senior you watch is living alone or in a retirement home, help them stay active. If there are community events like an ice cream social or a game of bingo, sign them up for it. Some buildings may even offer free exercise programs. Keeping in mind any physical limitations, make sure to use sensitivity and understanding. Some seniors aren’t as comfortable in social gatherings. Don’t push them too hard. Be patience and understanding.
Vitamin Intake The older one gets the more the bones weaken. Seniors who are dealing with osteoporosis and arthritis are under much pain and stress. Vitamin C and D are boosters that help regulate calcium levels and fight fatigue and depression.
Have a nice conversation over coffee
Often the best stress-reliever for most seniors is a quiet and stress-free environment. Play classical music or songs that they enjoy. Sit down with them, have a cup of joe and enjoy a nice and healthy conversation. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Seniors have a lifetime of stories to tell, and like anyone, they appreciate someone taking the time to listen. Have some fun and enjoy a good laugh while you’re at it! Laughter is after all medicine.
International travel during your golden years can be one of the best adventures of your lifetime. Unlike traveling decades earlier, you don’t need to worry about using vacation time or returning to work after a relaxing getaway. Given the time and money involved in international travel, maybe you never had the chance until now. While traveling by air, land, or sea can open your mind to a whole new world of opportunities, it’s important to stay safe while traveling. Here are some safe travel tips when traveling abroad:
Have the Right Documents
When traveling abroad, you need to have the proper travel documents to legally enter and exit countries. If you’ve never had a passport book or passport card, you should apply for one as soon as you make your travel plans. Keep in mind that passport cards cannot be used for air travel. If you already have a passport, but haven’t traveled in a while, make sure it’s not expired. Although it can take around 6 weeks to process a passport application, it’s recommended to apply at least three months in advance.
Consider Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a good idea for any traveler, but especially for older travelers. If you are afraid of running out of medication while on vacation or falling down and getting hurt, travel insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to make you a little safer.
Travel to Safe Places
The U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs, strongly recommends that travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (formerly known as “Travel Registration” or “Registration with Embassies”). By enrolling in the free program, travelers will be given traveling tip, including Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. With this important information, a traveler can avoid certain areas or cancel travel plans. The program makes it easier for travelers to receive quick and accurate assistance during an emergency or if a passport is lost or stolen. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program assists with contacting family, in the U.S., if an emergency occurs during travel.
Bring Technology to Stay Connected
Even if you’re not tech savvy, it’s a good idea to bring a mobile device (such as a cellphone) to stay connected or to check in with friends and family. Before packing up your technology, whether it be an iPad, cellphone, or your medical management system, make sure it will work if traveling overseas. Additionally, before you leave, make sure your adult children or someone else knows about your travel plans, other important details, and your plan of action in the event of an emergency, illness, or even death while traveling.
Pack Light, Dress Appropriately
When traveling, it’s always a good idea to pack light. Remember, the more you take, the more you need to keep track of or may have stolen. Bring the essentials and keep valuables at home. When touring the historic narrow, cobblestone streets, make sure you wear comfortable footwear with good tread and a low heel. Don’t wear any clothing or footwear that will increase your chances of slipping, falling, or getting hurt while travel. Nothing cuts a once-in-a-lifetime trip like an injury or illness.
No two injuries are alike, which means that the path to recovery can be different for everyone, especially for seniors. Post-injury exercise is a common denominator, however, and one that many doctors promote to aid in rehabilitation. But, which exercises are best for which types of injuries? Just as important, are there certain exercises that may cause more harm than good? Here is a look at three common types of injuries, and exercises that are beneficial and detrimental for each.
Knee injuries are one of the most common types of sports-related injuries. A key to preventing additional injury when nursing your knee back to health is to avoid bending your leg so far that the knee extends past the foot. Partial squats and side lying leg lifts (both done without weights), step ups (using a low bench or stepper), and straight leg raises are just a few of the common exercises recommended to strengthen and help rehabilitate knees post-injury. However, lunges, deep squats, running, and other exercises that jar the knees should be avoided.
Joint injuries can include those involving the knee, but they can also develop from a twisted ankle, overextended elbow, or strained or sprained wrist. Strains are common and occur when a ligament is stretched or torn, so a joint injury can occur as a result of anything from participating in a sport to being involved in a work-related accident or a vehicle collision. However the injury develops, though, there are exercises that can help rebuild strength and relieve the pain in the impacted joints.
Swimming is considered to be one of the best exercises for joint injuries. The water absorbs much of the body’s stress, allowing for more flexibility and endurance. In addition, other low impact exercises, including yoga, walking, stretching, and bicycling are also recommended. Of course, the specific exercise chosen will depend on the area injured, as well as your doctor’s guidance. But, exercises to avoid while recovering from joint injuries include all high impact workouts, such as running, and even jogging.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are an estimated 12,500 new spinal cord injuries reported in the United States every year. Also, spinal cord injuries (SCI) greatly lower life expectancy, particularly during the first year post-injury, and the mortality rate increases with the severity of the injury. Fortunately, those who have suffered from a SCI can increase their chances at longevity and an improved quality of life by actively engaging in rehabilitative exercises, which is part of the seven step recovery process.
Since the spine is such a critical component of our physical functionality, it’s imperative that any exercise program be cleared with your doctor beforehand. Often, exercises are done under the care of a physical therapist to ensure they’re being performed properly, but typically, SCI exercises include those that help improve spine movement and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. For example, certain low impact stretches, the use of a stationary bicycle, or even swimming may be prescribed. Exercises to avoid include any that cause strain on the back, such as weightlifting.
Regardless of the location or severity of the injury, you should not experience enduring pain while exercising. If you do, you could exacerbate the problem, so stop and consult your doctor. After all, the goal of including exercise as part of your post-injury regimen is to rehabilitate the injured area. Exercise can be essential to the recovery process but, as with all exercise programs, consult your doctor before you begin, especially if you’ve suffered an injury.
Even the slightest of injuries can drastically change the health and overall well-being of a senior. Some injuries may require modifications throughout the home while more severe injuries may lead to drastic, life changing events such as assisted living or elder care facilities. Fortunately, with today’s technologies and resources, seniors are able to live more safely in their own homes.
At Elderly Safety, our experts research and recommend products that can be implemented into a preventative care plan within the home. Preventing the slip or fall is easier and less costly than facing the physical, emotional, and financial distress of a life altering injury.
Whether you are an active senior who goes to the gym a few times a week or have become less mobile due to health issues, we suggest that seniors consider installing or using the following items in their home to decrease the likelihood of a preventable injury and improve their overall safety and well-being.
Rollators or rolling walkers are widely used by people of all ages and abilities and are especially useful in fall prevention. Rollators, unlike the standard non-wheeled walker, is easier to use for people who have difficulty in lifting or have limited mobility or strength and operate well on uneven terrain. Seniors may experience additional benefits from using a rollator:
- Increased independence in daily tasks, including errands or light housework
- Is a helpful and safe tool in rebuilding strength and mobility after a slip, fall, injury or surgical procedure
Safety Door Locks
A locked door can be the one thing that keeps your loved one from receiving a severe injury or becoming lost. Seniors, who suffer from memory loss issues such as Alzheimer’s, are vulnerable to “outdoor dangers” such as harsh climates or every day hazards. A safety door lock is often electronic and a code is programmed into a keypad. A caregiver can lock the door, attend to other tasks in the home and not worry about their loved one leaving the security of their home.
Anti-Slip Shower Mat
Any room in the home can be hazardous to an unsteady senior, but a bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places for an elder of any ability. A shower’s surfaces can become slick with even the smallest amount of soap residue, but seniors with balance or mobility issues are more likely to slip in the shower and less likely to get up without help. Anti-slip shower mats offer resistance and can decrease the chance of slipping and falling. Elderly Safety has some tips when searching for the right anti-slip mat:
- Measure your shower or bathtub for a good fitting mat. Too big or too small can increase hazards, such as tripping or slipping.
- Make sure the suction/attachment is strong and secure. Don’t use the mat until it’s firmly in place.
- Keep your mat clean and dry as excess buildup or water can make it unsafe.
Grab Bar for Tubs & Showers
An additional safety feature, great for any bathroom, is a grab bar in the tub or shower. While anti-slip mats can reduce the likelihood of slipping and falling in the bathtub or shower, a grab bar is a safety feature that can increase independence and a sense of security in any senior’s life. Installing a grab bar in a tub and/or shower can make entering and exiting the bathing area less dangerous and scary.