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Posts Tagged ‘end-of-life care’

4 Ways to Prevent Pneumonia in Seniors

Pneumonia in SeniorsFall is in the air. Some of the leaves have already started changing and many of us have experienced reduced temperatures when we step outside, letting us know that winter is coming.

It can be a great time of year, but it can also be a dangerous time of year, especially for seniors. Not only do ice and snow pose an increased risk of falling, but the colder air tends to bring with it colds, flus, and other viruses. While they may be nothing more than nuisances to the rest of us, these diseases can be life threatening to seniors whose immune systems may not be as strong they once were, especially if the virus gets into their lungs and causes pneumonia.

Here are four ways you can help protect your loved ones from pneumonia:

1) Immunizations

There’s a reason medical professionals encourage everyone to get their flu shots every fall, especially seniors and those with weakened immune systems. There’s no such thing as a guarantee against getting sick, but getting immunized is one way to stack the deck in your favor. By making sure the seniors in your life get their flu shot every year, you’re decreasing the chances they’ll catch something that could turn into pneumonia.

2) Hygiene

There’s no need to seal seniors in a bubble to prevent infection, tempting as it may be at times, but by practicing good hygiene, you can help reduce the chances they’ll get sick. Wash your hands regularly in warm, soapy water, or use hand sanitizer. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer immediately afterwards. Stay away from seniors if you’re sick or if you’ve been around other people who have been sick – you don’t want to accidentally act as a carrier for a nasty cold or flu.

Also make sure seniors are taking good care of their teeth and mouth. In addition to colds and flus, other types of infections, including dental or oral infections, can also turn into pneumonia, so make sure seniors are still seeing the dentist regularly.

3) Stay Healthy

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but by constantly practicing general good health, we reduce our risk of getting sick. That includes eating our veggies, keeping our sugar and alcohol intake to a minimum, avoiding tobacco products, and exercising regularly. All these practices, not only help keep our immune system strong and ready for action, they also help us feel great by giving our body all the things it needs, while avoiding the things that can be harmful.

4) Educate Yourself

Know the early signs of pneumonia in seniors so you can act as soon as possible. Rather than a cough or fever (although you should certainly be on the lookout for those symptoms as well), seniors are more likely to experience weakness, dizziness, or confusion. Since these can be common signs of aging, especially in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, pneumonia often goes undetected until it’s too late. Be on the lookout for any changes in their health or attitude and talk to their doctor if you’ve noticed anything unusual that could point to a serious health risk.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

7 Reasons Senior Dental Health Is So Important

senior dental healthMany people tend to think of dental health as something that’s separate from and unrelated to the rest of our health. Maybe it’s because dental insurance is generally sold separately from health insurance, but the fact is the health of our teeth and mouth is a vital component of our overall health. If our mouth isn’t healthy, we’re not healthy. Although everyone should be on top of their dental health, below are seven reasons senior dental health is so important and why.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be deadly for seniors, many of whom are already suffering from a weakened immune system. A link has been found between pneumonia and poor oral health, which can leave bacteria in the mouth that gets inhaled into the lungs, where it develops into pneumonia.

Heart disease

While heart disease can sometimes seem like an isolated incident in an otherwise healthy individual, in fact there are often warning signs we ignore because we don’t think they’re related. But studies have proven that gum disease and heart disease are connected, even to the point where common problems in the mouth can be as effective at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.

So if you want to make sure your senior loved ones (and yourself) don’t suffer from heart attacks or strokes, make sure you’re all brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Diabetes

Periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease, hinders the body’s ability to use insulin, which can lead to diabetes. But it can go the other way, too, because high blood sugar (a common effect of diabetes) can lead to gum infection.

Denture-induced Stomatitis

When the tissue underneath a denture gets inflamed, it’s known as denture-induced stomatitis. It can be very painful and can be caused by poor dental hygiene, dentures that don’t fit right, or a build-up in the mouth of a fungus known as Candida albicans.

Gum disease

Gum disease has been linked to a variety of health problems all over the body – not just the mouth. It can be caused/exacerbated by a wide range of habits, including poor dental hygiene, an unhealthy diet, tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco), and dentures and bridges that don’t fit right. Other illnesses, such as diabetes, anemia, and cancer, have also all been linked to gum disease.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, as well as radiation for those getting treated for cancer in the head/neck regions. While dry mouth may seem like a minor annoyance, it’s actually a serious health concern. Saliva not only helps us digest our food, it also helps keep the mouth clean by controlling bacteria and preventing infections in the mouth. So if you or your loved one is experiencing dry mouth, be sure to tell your dentist immediately.

Root Decay

Root decay is very common in elderly patients as the gum recedes from the tooth and the root (which doesn’t have any protective enamel) is exposed to bacteria and food acids. As with everything else, this could be an indication of and/or precursor to a larger health issue, so if you or a loved one are experiencing any tooth pain, make sure to get it looked at right away.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

What To Do When A Loved One Can’t Go Home From The Hospital

When A Loved One Can’t Go Home From The HospitalNo one likes hospitals and every patient is eager to get out of there as soon as possible. Once they escape the uncomfortable, sterile environment full of strangers, they just want to go home – to retreat to their own space. It’s perfectly normal for patients to want that, but what if it’s not an option?

For some aging patients, especially if they’re very sick, they may not be able to take care of themselves, and if they live alone, going home after the hospital could be dangerous. At that point, if you’re the caregiver, you’ll have some tough choices to make. No one can make them for you (though you can certainly ask for advice), but the decision will ultimately be yours and you will have to make it based on the needs of your loved one.

Home Care

In the best-case scenario, you might be able to hire someone to come in and help your loved one around the house. If your loved one needs help cooking and cleaning, but is otherwise healthy and self-sufficient (i.e. you don’t need to worry about them accidentally leaving the oven on or not being able to get out of bed on their own), a home nurse might be a good option. This is also a possibility when your loved one does live with someone (such as a partner or an adult child) who can look after them, but needs some help with the caretaking.

Whether or not this is an option will also depend on your financial situation and where your loved one lives. In some of the more rural areas, it might not be possible to get someone out there.

Assisted Living Facility

The last thing most patients want to do is move from a hospital to another strange environment, but if you’ve decided assisted living is the way to go, you’re going to have to convince your loved one it’s in their own best interests. Assisted living is a great option for people with a variety of needs. Most of them have different levels of care, so if your loved one is still relatively self-sufficient, but needs some help with daily tasks, an assisted living facility can be ideal. If they need more extensive care, they can also probably find what they need in an assisted living facility.

Nursing Home

If/when your loved one gets to the point of needing professional medical attention on a regular basis, they might need to go from the hospital to a nursing home. Like hospitals, nursing homes maintain a nursing staff 24/7. They cannot perform surgeries or run many of the tests that hospitals can perform, but they can help take care of patients with chronic and/or deteriorating medical conditions.

Hospice

The worst-case scenario is hospice. This is for when it has become clear your loved one will never get better. Their condition will only continue to deteriorate until the end, and while keeping them in the hospital might delay the inevitable, few people would prefer to die in a hospital. Hospice can give them the care they need while helping to make them as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Tips For First Time Caregivers

tips for first time caregiversBecoming a caregiver is something we rarely plan for. Few children say, “I’m going to be a caregiver when I grow up,” but when faced with age and/or chronic illness, many people do turn to their grown children or other family members for help in dealing with their newly-fragile state, including some of the more basic aspects of day-to-day care.

If you now find yourself thrust into the position of caregiver and don’t know where to begin, we’ve got some tips for you:

Get Informed

Whatever medical issues your loved one is dealing with, you should make sure you at least know the basics. What are the typical outcomes? Treatments? Side effects of the medications? You should know as much as you can because you’re going to be the one dealing with them. This can mean a quick internet search (or very intensive internet search, depending on your research style), asking a librarian or bookseller for book recommendations, and talking to medical professionals who specialize in that field.

It should also mean you’re present at doctor’s meetings. Patients often fail to ask their doctors the right questions (or any questions) or they forget to mention symptoms. As a caregiver, you are responsible for acting as your loved one’s advocate and nowhere is that more important than the doctor’s office. Not only do you have to keep the doctor informed of all developments, but you are in the best position to make sure the patient takes all their medication when they’re supposed to, gets the prescribed exercise, eats right, etc.

Get Help

Aging can be a lonely time of life for many people, but sometimes the caregiver can also be left feeling isolated. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and family, they might not understand what you’re going through or the specific challenges associated with being a caregiver.

Fortunately there are communities out there to provide support, advice, and a sympathetic ear. There are online communities as well as ones that meet in person. You can check MeetUp.com to see if there are any groups in your area already meeting to discuss these things. If not, you can start your own group. Either way it’s important to know you’re not alone.

Take Care Of Yourself

As any mother will tell you, when you’re caring for someone else, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, and what little time we do spend in self care can often leave us feeling guilty. But the fact is that taking care of yourself is an important aspect of taking care of your loved one. If you’re not at your best, then you won’t be able to provide the best care. So make sure you eat right, exercise regularly, and take time to enjoy some of your favorite hobbies every now and then. You and your charge will both be better off for it.

And remember there’s no reason you can’t make taking care of yourself part of taking care of your loved one. You’re probably in charge of their meals anyway, so while you’re cooking up something delicious and nutritious for them, make some for yourself. Consider what exercises they’re capable of and exercise together. Do a puzzle together. Read out loud to them. Taking care of them will be a lot of hard work, but there’s no reason it can’t also be fun every now and then.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

How To Recognize Signs That It’s Time For Assisted Living

time for assisted livingMaking the choice to put a loved one into an assisted living facility can be one of the most difficult choices we have to make as adults. It can be a painful process that’s often met with resistance from those who are most in need of assistance with day-to-day chores and activities, but you must remain firm. In order to do that, it helps to know for sure that it really is time for your loved one to go to an assisted living facility.

You’re Afraid To Leave Them Alone

Even the most capable of us have times when we forget to turn off the oven or unplug the iron, but if it happens regularly, it might be time to consider an assisted living facility. Many people can continue taking care of themselves well into their golden years, but if your loved one appears to be slipping in even the most basic aspects of self-care, you should probably start looking for an assisted living facility for them.

Changes in Housekeeping

Failing to maintain their normal level of cleanliness around the house and/or hoarding can both be signs that their ability to care for themselves is declining and they need help.

The Level Of Care They Need Continues To Rise

Many people try to take care of their senior friends and family members themselves by having them live with them. This can be a great way to make sure they remain an active part of the family, but if the amount of care they need rises too high, it can become a problem for all of you. There’s only so much friends and family can do, and when the level of care needed by the senior citizen starts to rise above and beyond what you can provide, it’s time to start looking for professional help.

Wandering

Wandering can be one of the earliest signs of cognitive decline if your loved one tries to go to a store that no longer exists or insists on shopping at odd hours. When that starts to happen, their confusion could potentially put them in dangerous situations. You can do your best to keep an eye on them, but you cannot possibly watch them 24/7. What you’ll need instead is an assisted living facility with the resources necessary to care for your loved one and make sure they don’t wander off.

Paranoia

Paranoia can take all sorts of forms, from hiding money in various places around the house to outright accusing friends and family members of trying to harm or trick them. It’s a common sign of aging, as well as cognitive decline from a variety of sources (Alzheimer’s, stroke, etc.). It can be especially difficult to convince a paranoid senior to move into an assisted living facility, but it’s more necessary than ever. Paranoid individuals can often end up hurting themselves by accident and no one wants to take that risk with their loved ones.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

How To Talk To Your Kids About End-Of-Life Care

end-of-life careNot everyone wants to think about what will happen as they age, especially when it comes to considering possibilities like dementia or a stroke leaving them incapable of making decisions about their own health. But the fact that those possibilities are so frightening is exactly why it’s important to talk to your children about end-of-life care now, before things take a turn for the worse.

Nevertheless, many people continue to put off having this extremely important conversation because it makes them so uncomfortable. Here are some ways you can ease the stress on both you and your children.

1) Plan ahead.

By doing your research ahead of time, you can plan for what comes next. Know what the average costs of end-of-life care are and put a plan in place for how you’re going to pay for it. Even if you don’t currently need an assisted living facility, doing your research and knowing where you want to go if it comes to that can make the transition that much easier on both you and your children.

Not only will this step make you feel better, it will make the idea more palatable for your children. Even those who don’t want to think about what’s coming will most likely find comfort in knowing there’s a plan in place and what that plan is. It will let them see it’s not so bad after all and will create a guideline for them to follow when it’s time to put the plan into action.

Be sure to write everything down and make sure everyone involved has a copy so there will be no second-guessing in the event of an emergency.

2) Talk about it early and often.

You don’t necessarily need to have one big Talk with your children about what they should do as you age. You can drop it into conversations throughout your lives together. As situations arise with friends and family, you can mention what you want done if you ever end up in a similar situation. Make it a two-way conversation by asking them what they think they would want if they found themselves in a vulnerable position. It can help introduce empathy into the discussion by forcing them to consider the situation from the other side, making them more likely to see things from your perspective, and by extension, respect your wishes.

3) Use media to help you broach the subject.

No one likes to hear the words, “We need to talk,” and trying to start a conversation that way can sometimes have the unintentional effect of making everyone defensive before the conversation has even begun. In order to avoid that, you can watch a show or movie together that addresses the issue. Talk about a book or show them an article you recently read on the topic. Use that as an icebreaker to start discussing the issue in general before moving on to what you specifically want to happen at the end of your life.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we do everything we can to answer the questions of our seniors in our community. If we do not have the answer, we will find someone that does.

CONTACT US TODAY for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.