Mobility training can be beneficial for our loved ones, especially those who choose to age in place.
While some may think age can limit you from being healthy, some prove that age is just a number.
So today, we will be talking about the top ten trends in mobility training for seniors and how to help them get it started.
Mobility training is a combination of mobility exercises that increases body movement and motions.
These exercises include flexibility, balance, proprioception, and strength.
Because of its diversity, it’s a great way to keep our elders healthy. It addresses unique needs and routines. And it can range from 10 minutes to a full-body workout.
Mobility training also increases proprioception and strength. It also helps you become more aware of your body’s position, stance, and movement.
Adding flexibility exercises can increase the stretch and length of your connective tissues. And this can result in overall health without injury, stiffness, and pain.
Managing mobility training may be easy for us.
As adults, it improves your gait, stature, and movement. It also relieves tension associated with sedentary lifestyles.
It also slows down aging and body deterioration and lessens aches and pains.
Plus, mobility training also triggers happy hormones, making us look and feel good.
But what about seniors? Is mobility training a good option to keep our aging parents active and well?
Seniors tend to have limited movements because of their age. Because of this, their bodies tend to be stiffer and weaker.
Research shows that muscle atrophy rates increase by 1% per year after age 50, and this increases over time.
Hormonal changes, unbalanced diets, and a decline in activity also decrease muscle mass in adults.
This can cause a higher risk of injuries and falls.
Integrating mobility training into our aging parent’s routines can increase resistance and strength.
Mobility training increases bone density. Additional movements add stress to the bones which lead to bone-forming cells reactivating.
It also builds more muscle strength and improves metabolism. Studies show that older adults who engage in training get to improve muscle mass and strength by 30%.
Now, you might think it’s only effective for a certain age. Or it’s only applicable to talented individuals.
So here are some seniors who actively do mobility training and are doing amazing things at their age.
Ernie Shepherd is a 79-year-old professional model, competitive bodybuilder, and personal trainer.
In her youth, she had little interest in sports and athletics.
Ernie was also a confessed “slug” who worked as a school secretary who never worked out a day in her life.
When she was 56, she went swimsuit shopping with her sister, Velvet. They found themselves laughing at how ridiculous they looked. And so they decided to join a gym program and got to work.
Unfortunately, Velvet passed away due to a brain aneurysm. This strengthened Ernie’s resolve to live a better life and get fit.
She started working slowly, preparing her body to compete in 5K and 10K races.
She now trains senior women to start living healthier lives.
Frances Woofeden is a competitive water skier in her 80’s.
She has always been an active person. As a Nova Scotia native, she enjoyed the outdoors and often went skating during wintertime.
Her interest in water skiing was piqued when she and her husband moved to Florida.
Frances’ husband set up a medical practice in Lake Worth. She then saw a girl skiing on the water at Lake Osborne.
She was mesmerized by the girl’s elegance and decided to try it for herself. That’s how she picked up water skiing at age 50.
Frances then proceeded to participate in water skiing events and had more than 100 medals to her name.
Harriette Thomson holds the record as the oldest woman to finish a marathon at 94 years old.
She first ran at the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon at age 76.
As a two-time cancer survivor, she has helped raise funds for cancer research. She also serves as an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can’t do it.
Before Harriette, Gladys Burrill held the record for the oldest woman to run a marathon. Gladys was 92 years and 19 days when she ran and finished the Honolulu Marathon in 2002.
In 2015, Harriette broke the record by finishing at 92 years and 93 days with a time of 7:24:36.
She then broke another world record at 94 years old by completing the half marathon at San Diego in 3:42:56.
Harriette was a concert pianist in her younger years. She continued to play throughout her life, especially for the residents of her retirement community at The Cypress of Charlotte.
Read more about exercising and mobility training for aging parents here.
It can be challenging to encourage your aging parents to increase their mobility.
The key is to help them realize the purpose and benefits of mobility training as preventive measures.
Mobility is the key to keeping and maintaining their independence. And the earlier they devote time and effort to it, the better it is for them in the long run.
It’s necessary for the elderly to add movement and stretches to their daily routines.
Simple stretches targeting the neck, arms, back, hips, and legs can keep them flexible and limber.
You don’t need fancy machines or other accessories to make it happen. All you need is ample space to get started.
So as a caregiver, how do you motivate the elderly to move and be more active?
Here are some practical tips to make it happen.
Like everything else, exercise is better done in progression.
Start with small movements in 30-second intervals.
Go with simple movements like stretches and side bends. Do chair squats and semi-sits.
Even daily walks would be a great way to get their hearts pumping.
The key is to make it a habit and routine for them. Set specific times a day to remind them to stretch and move.
Here are some of the best ways to encourage movement and exercise with the elderly.
Go with activities that they’re fond of and start with that.
You can check your local communities for exercise groups and venues that offer activities they like.
If they like dancing, look for local Zumba classes that take on seniors as students.
Look for water activities they can enjoy especially during the summer.
Having peers to join them in their activities can encourage them to get healthier. It also grows their social network and prevents them from feeling isolated.
Here’s a five-minute video to help you get started.
Have the whole family participate in your mobility training.
Get the kids dancing along with their grandparents. Or better yet, spend time with them while doing some yoga poses.
Take them out to a bowling alley and get the ball rolling.
Use the time to experiment and see what they like best. This way they may look forward to workout sessions more.
Check out some simple exercises you can start at home.
Mobility training is a great way to keep your aging parents healthy and strong.
It also helps them maintain their core strength while keeping their limbs and joints flexible.
Mobility training doesn’t require fancy and expensive equipment. And because it adapts to the need and capabilities of the person, it’s not complicated to start.
So make it fun and light so your aging parents can enjoy its full benefits.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
Memory care is a great option for the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
It might sound like a difficult and costly option to take. But sometimes, the best decision we can make for our aging parents is to let experts care for them.
So today, I’ll be sharing some practical tips about memory care and how you could choose the right one.
Memory care is also known as Alzheimer’s care. This form of assisted living provides housing and 24-hour access to professional caregivers specializing in dementia care.
Memory care facilities are uniquely designed to adapt to the needs of memory care patients.
The goal of memory care units includes supporting seniors’ unique needs. Since most of them have memory issues, these facilities provide enriching activities that stimulate cognition.
The staff designs safe, structured environments with routines to keep the stress levels manageable.
It’s also common for memory care facility employees to assist residents with personal care tasks.
They have specialized training to handle special issues that arise with patients dealing with dementia
Memory care facilities also have a lower staff-to-resident ratio compared to other assisted living arrangements.
This makes it a great option for those who are in the advanced stages of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia cases are among the most difficult to deal with in senior care.
Symptoms worsen over time, and it can be straining for the caregiver and the families. As the disease progresses, living alone can be dangerous for our loved ones.
Here are a few benefits of memory care centers for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A huge part of taking care of a patient with memory loss involves setting routines.
Most patients can feel lost and confused. Basic functions can suddenly become overwhelming. Something simple like putting on clothes or cooking a simple dish can be a difficult task.
The brain doesn’t work as it used to. And this can be frustrating for seniors, causing their temperaments to change drastically.
And in extreme cases, it can also cause accidents that can be dangerous to our parents living independently.
Memory care facilities can help provide a safe and comforting environment for patients. These places are designed to reduce confusion and disorientation.
Some facilities are designed like small communities with personalized living spaces.
Part of the design includes locked exterior doors to prevent the patient from wandering. Some include features like enclosed gardens and courtyards. This way, residents can roam freely without the fear of being hurt or lost.
Some places are also designed to have reduced noise to promote calmness and familiarity among their residents.
Professionally trained staff are also encouraged to engage with the residents to help maintain their social skills.
Most of them are trained to manage difficult symptoms like temper tantrums using specific dementia care techniques.
Memory care facilities also coordinate with other healthcare workers that cater to specific conditions or chronic illnesses.
These may include assistance for residents recovering from injuries, transportation arrangements for medical appointments, and medication management.
Most places also provide rehabilitation services like speech, occupational, and physical therapy for those who need it.
There are memory care facilities that focus on person-centered care, especially for dementia patients.
This approach involves getting to know more about the patient by collecting their personal stories and memories.
Caregivers often learn about how the patient lived. They ask about childhood memories and hobbies they enjoyed when they were younger.
They also learn about the patient’s personal preferences, from likes and dislikes to favorites and pet peeves.
As a family member, your role would be to share these things to help the staff highlight your loved one’s favorites and achievements.
This will help the staff encourage your aging loved ones to create a daily routine based on their preferences.
Memory care facilities that offer person-centered care also offer activities based on their interests and level of ability.
Friendships within the community are also encouraged to prevent the patient from feeling isolated or alone.
The goal is for our aging parents to still find a sense of dignity and purpose despite their circumstances.
And memory care facilities can help them achieve that.
Learn more about person-care communities here.
Dementia patients are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety. They also are more prone to falls and communication disorders.
Because of this, memory care facilities design programs that increase engagement for our aging loved ones.
The staff carefully plans and facilitates activities that encourage cognitive and occupational skills. Most of these activities are led by a trained therapist and address the unique needs of each person.
These tasks need not be complicated.
It can be as simple as taking a walk to stimulate the senses. Or cooking together as a group to encourage fine and gross motor skills.
Some tasks can include looking at photos or listening to music to encourage them to tell stories or trigger memories of the past.
Some centers use pet therapy or have a resident pet to provide comfort or companionship.
And some also include alternatives like aromatherapy to evoke memories or promote calmness in the residents.
This can be a sensitive yet necessary topic to discuss, especially if you’re a family member taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
But for you to provide the best care, it’s necessary to know the signs to help you make the best decisions.
So how do you know if your aging parents need memory care? Here are some of the symptoms they may exhibit.
It’s best to start discussing your options once a diagnosis has been given. As a degenerative disease, there will come a time when the symptoms get worse.
So you should start looking for a place that your loved ones would be comfortable with.
The goal is for our aging parents to live independently at home for as long as possible. But it’s also good to work on the transition before it becomes necessary.
Having enough time to transition helps your loved ones be more involved in their future. It helps them adjust better and form deeper relationships with the community inside the memory care facility.
It also gives you a chance to be more at ease knowing your loved ones are getting the best care they deserve.
A person’s health suffers greatly once the symptoms of dementia set in.
Simple tasks like food preparations, taking medications, or eating may be overwhelming.
Some patients lose track of time. This disrupts their sleep schedules resulting in insomnia and other sleep disorders.
They may also suffer from rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, and neglect of personal hygiene.
Seniors who suffer from dementia-related illnesses may be more susceptible to scams and violent crimes due to their condition.
Did you notice a drastic change in their temperament, as if they were a completely different person?
This is quite normal for people suffering from dementia.
Some may act more sensitive and dramatic than usual. Others tend to be more violent and resort to hitting or tantrums.
Others may suddenly be more withdrawn or reserved.
These rapid behavioral changes may be a sign of internal struggles, agitation, and confusion.
It might not be a huge red flag for some, but it’s something you need to take a closer look into.
This may also be a warning sign for you to take your loved ones and have them checked.
Seniors who are suffering from greater cognitive decline may require more care and attention.
And it can take a toll on the person taking care of them.
At times an elderly’s caregiver is a partner who is also aging. And when the main caregiver’s health falters or passes away, it might be the best option to go for memory care facilities instead.
For caregivers belonging to the sandwich generation, it can also be difficult to have a sense of balance.
Raising a family and taking care of an ill parent can take its toll. When it comes to a point when you need to decide between your sanity and taking care of the elderly, it’s OK to choose yourself first.
There’s no shame in admitting you need help.
Read more about why caregivers need self-care too.
Now here’s a common question: can I afford memory care?
A 2018 survey said assisted living costs an average of $4000 a month. And memory care adds another $1000 to the bill.
It can be an expensive option, but it also assures you that your aging parents are getting the best care possible.
Medicare and Medicaid don’t usually cover the costs of memory care. But there are programs for patients with memory impairments that you might want to take advantage of.
Seniors with long-term care insurance policies can also help in covering the expenses. But it’s also important to check the details for inclusions.
Some homeowners also have the option of reverse mortgages. This can be beneficial for seniors who own homes and are transitioning to residential care.
Check out more tips on how to manage costs for Alzheimer’s care here.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and worried when it’s time to choose a memory care facility.
So here are some of the best tips to remember when choosing the right one for your aging parents.
Ask about the security measures in place. Check out the entrance and exist, as well as other places that your loved ones will spend time in.
See if there are any emergency alert systems in place in case of falls or accidents. How easy is it for the seniors to access them?
Check if the places and spaces are wide enough for mobility devices to pass through.
Ask about emergency protocols and how fast they are able to respond. It’s also important to note how good their communications are to the family especially if anything happens to the patient.
Ask about the types of training the staff received. It’s also important to know the staff to resident ratio during the day and night.
Ask how the staff handles complicated situations with patients. Ask them how they help when a dementia patient is in distress.
It also helps to check certifications and the longevity of the staff working there.
Pay close attention to the questions they ask you during interviews. Are they genuinely interested in helping you take care of your loved ones?
If possible, ask other families about their experience with the facility. Read reviews online and check for red flags like reports of abuse or neglect.
Prioritize memory care facilities that offer person-centered care.
The goal is for your loved ones to spend their days in peace and comfort with dignity. And it will help if they are in an environment that lets them do just that.
Ask how often they change their care plans and what individualized options they offer to patients.
You can also ask if they consider the resident’s levels of cognition in planning activities and programs. See how they respond to the demands of the illness as it progresses.
Your loved one’s preferences should be your priority. After all, they will be the ones to experience living in the facility.
Make sure to hear their thoughts and what they want to experience.
And if you’re having a hard time deciding, you can always ask for an advocate to help you.
Taking care of an elderly with Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illness can be draining as it progresses.
And sometimes it’s better to let experts do the work.
Memory care may be an expensive option. But with the right one, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re providing the best care your aging parents deserve.
That’s all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
What are the warning signs of depression that I should be looking out for as a caregiver?
This is a common question. And it’s a real problem among our elderly.
Geriatric depression affects about 6 million Americans who are 65 years and above. Unfortunately, only 10% get diagnosed and treated correctly.
It is also easy to confuse the warning signs of depression as an effect of another illness.
So today, we are taking a look at red flags you should watch out for in our aging parents.
You’d think it’s normal for the elderly to get emotional at times. After all, they’re already at the end phase of their lives.
It’s also common for them to rekindle their past, from the good and the bad. And sometimes, it triggers negative memories and emotions in the elderly.
So how do we know if it’s just a momentary emotion? How do you know if your aging parents are suffering from geriatric depression?
Research shows that older people don’t experience depression the same way as young ones do.
Most seniors experiencing depression often experience physical symptoms like headaches, backaches, and fatigue.
Cognitive issues are also common. And most of the time, seniors think it’s just a symptom of old age.
Unfortunately, geropsychology is not gaining as much traction as it needs to learn more about geriatric depression.
And most of the time, experts often misdiagnose it for other diseases like memory loss or medication side effects.
Depression in the elderly can be caused by multiple factors, including genetics, traumatic life events, and even chemical imbalances in the brain.
It can also be triggered by certain external factors like financial hardships, isolation, life transitions, and even chronic medical conditions.
The real challenge with depression in the elderly is having the right mindset about it.
Contrary to popular belief, geriatric depression isn’t normal. And even if we’re in a time of advanced medical treatments, depression is still considered taboo for some.
Now it’s up to us as caregivers to be aware of the warning signs of depression in our aging parents.
Once we recognize the symptoms, it will be easier for us to find the right approach for treatment.
Now we go back to our question. How do you know the difference between “the blues” and clinical depression in the elderly?
Truth is, depression can look and feel different in each person.
The media has shown us personifications of depression, like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh or Sadness in the movie Inside Out.
And somehow that has an impact on the way we perceive what being depressed is like.
According to research, depression in old age may not even be a display of sadness. Instead, it could be more of numbness and lack of interest.
It can also look different based on a person’s cultural background.
We all have certain behavioral codes for moods and emotions. Silence for one culture can be a norm and alarming in the next.
And for some, depression can manifest in the form of physical pain. It can range from aversions and pains to hyperacidity and other digestive problems.
Depression in older people is also commonly associated with dementia. However, mood expert Francis Mondimore, MD explains that it’s not.
A huge difference is how the person responds.
An elderly person with depression may get frustrated with the decline in cognitive functions. While an elder with dementia may not be aware they are having cognitive troubles.
It is, however, connected to dementia. Those who experience late-life depression have been correlated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease eventually.
Here are some of the red flags and warning signs of depression you should watch out for.
If you see any of these symptoms consistently, it’s best to reach out to experts for help.
For depression support, start here.
The good news is, there are many treatment options available for depression in seniors.
That’s why it’s important for you as a caregiver to know what signs to look out for. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the patient will respond to the treatment process.
Here are some of the most important steps you need to take to help treat geriatric depression.
It is best to ask the help of mental health professional. They can help you assess the patient’s mental condition and provide the best assistance possible.
Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for depression. Here, licensed mental health care professionals can use different approaches to uncover the root of the behavior.
They can also help make the decision for medication including hormones or antidepressants.
If you’re worried about the costs, check with your insurance or Medicare to see if it’s covered.
For assistance, you can also check out the American Psychological Association, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, and the National Institute for Mental Health.
You can also check your aging parent’s medicine cabinets for medications that might trigger depressive episodes.
And they are more at risk if they are taking multiple medications at the same time.
Our bodies become less tolerant of medicine as we grow older. And age has an impact on how we metabolize medication.
Here are some medications that can cause or worsen depression in seniors:
If you notice any changes in your loved one’s behaviors or mood patterns after taking certain medications, contact your doctor immediately.
As they say, food is medicine. And what your aging parents eat can greatly affect their moods and emotions.
Feeding the elderly can be a challenge, especially if they’re struggling with digestion problems or appetite issues.
So it’s best for you to plan what they eat carefully.
Go for rainbow colors on the plate. Add colorful soups from fresh produce to the menu.
If possible, incorporate familiar procedures during meal times. Say grace. Schedule meals together. Cook their favorites.
You can even encourage them to join in the food preparation.
Food has a magical way of binding people together. Encourage conversations while at the table.
Read more about tips on how to avoid digestion problems in seniors.
It’s best to encourage your aging parents to move regularly.
A simple exercise can do wonders for the body. It releases happy hormones and also strengthens muscles and joints.
Exposure to sunlight can also do wonders for one’s mental and physical health.
Encourage them to try new hobbies or find new interests.
Running out of ideas to try with your aging parent? Here are some therapeutic activities you can try.
It’s important for caregivers to recognize warning signs of depression in the elderly as soon as possible.
To do that, we must first break the stigma that surrounds what depression should look and feel like.
We must also be ready to support our seniors and encourage them to overcome depression. This way they can still live their lives to the fullest.
That’s all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
Musculoskeletal disorders are common in the elderly.
According to WHO, approximately 1.71 billion people suffer from musculoskeletal disorders worldwide.
Lower back pain is the most common and is the single leading cause of disability in 160 countries.
Most of these numbers are in the elderly. And as the population grows older, it is projected to increase in the next decades.
So today, I am sharing five common musculoskeletal disorders and how you can manage them better.
Our bodies can become weaker with age. That includes our muscles, bones, and joints.
Most of the time, our joints are affected by the changes that happen in the cartilage and other connective tissues.
Aging causes our bodies to produce fewer proteoglycans, a substance that keeps the cartilage resilient. Because of this, the surface of the joints becomes less lubricated.
The joints become stiffer and the tendons and ligaments also become rigid and brittle.
This limits the joint’s range of motion and can eventually lead to osteoarthritis.
We also experience muscle loss starting at the age of 30. This condition is called sarcopenia.
As we age, the amount of muscle tissue and fibers decreases gradually. This results in additional strain to specific joints, causing us to lose balance and even be more at risk for falls.
Certain conditions also affect the impairment of musculoskeletal functions. Diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, and stroke are also associated with skeletal dysfunctions in the elderly.
Read more about the effects of aging on muscle function here.
It can be challenging for caregivers to identify musculoskeletal disorders in seniors.
Most of the time, elderly people dismiss pain and body ache as part of aging. And more often, our aging parents would self-medicate instead of getting the right treatment.
The problem is, untreated pain can be chronic. It can also heavily affect their quality of life.
Chronic pain is defined as any pain that doesn’t go away in at least three months. And it’s also possible that these are early signs of musculoskeletal disorders.
Here are some of the most common disorders in muscles, joints, and bones in the elderly.
Low back pain can be a combination of symptoms. It can range from mild to severe and debilitating.
Some of the symptoms can feel like a dull pain that is contained to the lower back.
It can also be a stinging, burning pain that moves from the back of the thighs and lower leg or feet. Sometimes it can be accompanied by numbness or tingling as well.
Muscle spasms can also be a symptom, including tightness in the lower back, pelvic area, and hips.
Lower back pain is usually described by type and duration.
Acute pain typically comes suddenly and can last for a few days. It can indicate the body’s usual response to injury or tissue damage. The pain also lessens as the body heals.
If it lasts about six weeks to three months, it can be categorized as subacute low back pain. This might be caused by prolonged muscle strain or joint pain. This case may need medical assistance if it affects daily activities.
Chronic back pain is usually defined if it lasts more than three months. It is usually severe and doesn’t respond to initial treatment. It also needs a thorough medical workup to identify the source of the pain.
Two common types of back pain are axial and radicular pain.
Axial pain is primarily from muscles, ligaments, joints, or bones in and around the spine. The pain tends to be localized to the lower back, butt, and the top of the legs.
Radicular pain, on the other hand, occurs if a spinal nerve root becomes inflamed. This causes a sharp, electric, burning type of pain.
It is usually felt on only one side of the body and is associated with numbness or weakness.
Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis happens between 60-65 years old. However, some get arthritis as early as 30 years old.
It usually affects large joints like the shoulders. It is also usually less severe unless you also have a rheumatoid factor.
Symptoms can include fever, myalgia, weight loss, and anemia. It can also overlap with other diseases like osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tendinitis, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease.
Elderly people with rheumatoid arthritis often experience stiffness in the morning along with warm, tender, and swollen joints.
Geriatric fractures often happen due to falls, trauma, or a direct blow to the body. It can also be caused by overuse or repetitive motions.
Common symptoms of a fracture may include sudden pain, swelling, and trouble in moving the injured area or nearby joints.
Frozen shoulders or adhesive capsulitis is a condition where there is stiffness in your joints and shoulders.
The chances of developing frozen shoulders can increase if you’re recovering from a medical procedure that limits arm movement.
Frozen shoulders typically develop in three stages. In the freezing stage, shoulder movement can cause pain and limit movement.
The frozen stage can make the shoulder stiffer despite the pain diminishing. In the thawing stage, the shoulder movement and range begin to improve.
According to WHO, falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury and deaths in the world.
It is estimated that 684,000 individuals die from falls. And adults older than 60 years old suffer the most fatal ones.
In the US alone, 20-30% of the elderly who suffer from falls encounter moderate to severe injuries. These can include hip fractures or head trauma.
A huge part of it has to do with the physical and cognitive changes that come with aging. And most accidents have to do with environments that are not adapted for an aging population.
Read more about how to prevent fall-related injuries in the elderly here.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. It occurs when the body can’t create new bones to replace weak, damaged ones.
Osteoporosis can affect both men and women. Unfortunately, Asian and Caucasian women who are past menopause are more prone to it.
Low calcium intake has a huge impact on bone density. Those with eating disorders and gastrointestinal surgery can also affect bone health.
Long-term use of corticosteroid medications can also interfere with the bone rebuilding process. It is also associated with medications related to seizures, cancer, gastric reflux, and transplant rejection.
Those with Celiac disease, kidney or liver disease, and rheumatoid arthritis also have a higher chance of developing osteoporosis.
Bad habits and lifestyle choices can also lead to weakened bones, like having a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol and tobacco use.
Learn more about osteoporosis here.
Degenerative disc disease can happen in any area of the spine. It’s a condition where the spinal discs lose their flexibility and height to cushion the spine.
Because discs have limited blood supplies, it can be difficult for them to repair themselves.
As we grow older, the discs dry out and shrink. It slowly loses water and flexibility, putting more stress on the disc annulus.
Sometimes the nucleus pushes through a tear in the annulus wall and causes inflammation in the nearby nerves.
Bone spurs can also grow in between the vertebrae leading to disc degeneration.
Learn more about degenerative disc disease here.
There are many ways to manage musculoskeletal disorders in seniors. And most of them are simple and doable.
First, we need to learn how to manage our loved one’s weight.
Being overweight can be a huge contributor to joint pressure and pain. The more pounds they have, the more it strains the body.
Start with managing your elder’s diet better. Give more fiber-rich food to keep them full and their digestion better.
Read more about how to prevent digestion problems in seniors here.
Limit sweets and sugary drinks as they can boost inflammation and increase the chances of arthritis.
Keep them hydrated by giving them small drinks every hour. Our bodies require lots of fluids to maintain lubrication so make sure to offer water regularly.
It’s also best for you to keep our elderly moving. Instead of strenuous activities like running, go for low-impact exercises like walking and swimming.
You can also encourage them to do resistance training indoors with stretch bands.
Work on their core muscles to strengthen them to help them avoid fall-related injuries.
It is also best to talk to experts and physical therapists to help with the right guides before engaging in any exercise.
And if any chronic pain occurs, always go to your doctor before offering any medications and treatments.
Musculoskeletal disorders and problems are common in seniors. But it doesn’t mean they should suffer in silence.
The key is to make sure they’re getting the help they need.
Talk to your doctor. Make sure they have a senior-friendly environment. And keep them healthy and on the move.
Need help with making your aging parent’s place safer? Send me a message for a free consultation.
That’s all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
Most seniors develop digestion problems in one way or another.
As we grow older, our digestion slows down. This makes certain foods more difficult to digest.
Slower digestion could also mean issues like inflammation and other gastrointestinal issues.
So today, I’ll be discussing ways to avoid digestion problems in our aging parents.
As we age, our bodies grow more at risk for an assortment of health issues. Many bodily functions slow down, including our digestive systems.
Here’s what happens inside our digestive tract as we age.
For starters, our muscles aren’t as strong as they were.
Contractions in the esophagus and tension in the upper esophageal sphincter decrease. This may cause difficulty in swallowing for some. Others also develop diseases that interfere with esophageal contractions.
The stomach lining also decreases, increasing the risk of peptic ulcers. Elders who often use aspirin and other NSAIDs are more prone to contract this.
The stomach’s elasticity is also affected. This limits the food intake and also slows down the food’s passing towards the small intestines.
Lactase levels also decrease, making the elderly less tolerant of dairy products.
Excessive bacterial growth in the small intestines can also cause pain, bloating, and weight loss. This can also affect how the body absorbs nutrients such as Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium.
The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also affected by aging.
For one, the liver’s ability to metabolize substances slows down. Substances that don’t have much effect on younger folks can be toxic to the elderly and may cause more damage.
The gallbladder also slows down the production and flow of bile. This makes seniors more susceptible to gallstones forming in the gallbladder.
The walls of the large intestines can also go through atrophy with age. This can cause it to form pockets in its walls called diverticulosis.
Seniors also experience a decrease in their olfactory receptors. They can also experience regional taste deficits in the mouth.
This can have a huge effect on their food intake and appetite. It can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Some can even experience anxiety because of the inability to experience food in its fullness.
A dry mouth is also common among the elderly.
Studies show that people over 70 years and older produce less saliva. This condition called xerostomia can be an indication of diseases like diabetes. It can also be caused by excessive amounts of medication.
Read more about how age affects the digestive system here.
Many factors cause digestive problems in the elderly. And most of it has been accumulated through one’s habits, culture, and lifestyle.
Here are the top common causes of digestion problems in seniors.
Our food choices are heavily influenced by different factors such as social status, accessibility, culture, and beliefs.
While the key driver for eating is hunger, there are so many factors that affect our food preferences and patterns.
Some cultures prefer food with a lot of hot chilis and spices. Others are heavy on carbs and fat.
Some have food aversions based on their personal and religious beliefs. And some people eat according to what’s readily available in their area.
Unfortunately, our bodies tend to respond according to our eating habits.
An unhealthy diet consisting of highly processed foods, and high carb meals can cause problems later on. Low fiber diets can also cause problems like vitamin deficiencies, illnesses, and digestive problems.
Diets consisting of spicy food can also trigger upper gastrointestinal symptoms and irritable bowel symptoms.
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A sedentary lifestyle causes more health issues according to WHO. It is said that approximately 2 million deaths every year are because of low physical activity.
Fewer movements mean you burn fewer calories. It also leads to constipation. Fewer movements and sitting all day can also cause abdominal compression.
It also slows down digestion and results in bowel movement problems.
Stress can also cause gastrointestinal problems like bloating, inflammation, and cramping.
Our stomach is also known as the second brain. And our gut has more neurons compared to the entire spinal cord, as published in Neuroscience.
The gut is also controlled in part by the central nervous system. It’s also connected to the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the esophagus to the rectum. And stress can have a huge impact on how our bodies carry out these processes.
Stress also activates our fight-or-flight response. These can trigger spasms, an increase in stomach acid production, and even affect how you eliminate waste.
Chronic illnesses like diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and stroke often cause digestion problems.
GERD or acid reflux is also a common digestive issue that affects 20% of Americans according to NIDDK.
Some people also suffer from gluten sensitivity called Celiac Disease.
When people who have this eat gluten, the immune system goes on the attack. It damages the villi in the small intestines and can cause symptoms like anemia, bone loss, depression, and seizures.
Certain medications can also affect how our systems function. Some tend to relax the sphincter muscle located between the esophagus and stomach.
This can increase the chances of acid reflux and cause the stomach’s content to move back up.
Some medications like nitrates, NSAIDs, oral antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers can cause this reaction.
Various medications cause constipation. These usually affect the nerve and muscle activity in the colon which can slow down stool passage.
Pain medicine, iron tablets, antihypertensives, and antacids containing aluminum can have this effect.
Check out other medicines that can cause digestive issues.
So how do we as caregivers lessen the chances of digestion problems in the elderly?
Here are five ways we can help our seniors from getting digestive problems.
Dehydration is pretty common in seniors. And while drinking water and fluids are considered basic, it’s often forgotten.
So how do you help your aging parents keep hydrated?
The best way to do it is to offer them a drink frequently. If you could put it on schedule, that would be much better.
It’s also important for you to offer their preferred beverage. Go for fresh juice or sparkling water to make it more exciting.
You can even use apps like Daily Water Tracker Reminder, Hydro Coach, and Water Reminder to schedule drinks.
Don’t pressure them into drinking so much. Small, frequent sips should be enough.
Read more about dehydration symptoms in the elderly here.
Nutrition is also important to make sure the gut is healthy. So choose the best foods that they can easily digest.
Offer foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans are also rich in Omega-3.
Choose high fiber carbs like sweet potato and brown rice. If giving bread, go for the whole wheat kind.
Go for soups and stews that make chewing and swallowing easier. If you could, use immersion blenders to make soups easier to digest.
Avoid foods that increase the risk of bloating, heartburn, and diarrhea. Foods like cheese and cream are high in saturated fat. Greasy food can also be difficult to digest.
Try not to use too many spices like hot peppers and chilis in your food. Instead, go for herbs and roots like ginger to add flavor to food.
Here are some of the best soup recipes you can do.
Probiotic supplements can help improve digestive health in our aging parents. It can help with managing chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
The good thing is probiotics are now accessible to more people. It comes in capsules, liquids, and powders that you can easily add to food. The same goes for fiber supplements.
Probiotics help reduce the frequency and duration of diarrhea. Some strains can also improve heart health.
Some can even reduce food and skin allergies, and relieve lactose intolerance.
A little caution before giving probiotics to your loved ones. Some can cause gas and bloating so make sure to have it approved by your doctor before use.
Discover more about probiotics here.
Make sure to check the combination of medicines your aging parents take.
Some over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can lead to ulcers, constipation, and abdominal pain.
It’s also important to keep track of the medicine they take. You can offer alternative solutions for pain management like hot and cold compress instead of taking ibuprofen or aspirin.
Encourage your aging parents to stay active.
Get them to do at least 2 hours of physical activities each week.
Go for fun activities that they can enjoy, like a leisurely walk in the park. Engage them in yoga or tai chi.
Get them to play with your pets and have them spend time with your kids.
Anything that will keep them moving and have their heart pumping is good. Just make sure they’re enjoying it as well.
Here are the seven best senior exercises and some other activities they should avoid.
Digestion problems are inevitable, especially as our bodies age.
But with a proper diet, hydration, and an active lifestyle, digestion problems can be easily managed.
What’s your best tip to avoid digestion problems in your aging parents? Share them below.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!