Often, the responsibility of caring for a senior involves navigating a precarious balancing act. From work and family life to the many activities associated with senior caregiving, there’s no shortage of priorities fighting for your attention. Then, here come the holidays—a time traditionally thought to bring joy and peace, but which usually makes the to-do list of a senior caregiver that much longer and more complex.
About one in every four seniors falls at least once a year, and the occurrence is even more common among those with memory and cognitive decline. With Alzheimer’s, for example, impairments in vision, perception, and balance increase as the disease progresses, making the risk of a fall that much more probable.
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“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.” This powerful quote comes from the well-known book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by the revered Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. It touches on the human nature of finding purpose and meaning in one’s life—a challenge that can become more elusive as we age. In one of our recent articles, we discussed The Undeniable Link Between Having Purpose & Aging Well, which explored some of the fundamental reasons why it’s important for seniors to stay connected to their sense of purpose.
There’s no shortage of reasons why older adults have a difficult time maintaining a strong connection to their inner purpose. With career goals set squarely in the rearview mirror and an empty nest on the road ahead, it’s no surprise that many seniors begin to lose some sense of purpose in their day-to-day lives. But research has shown that seniors with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, disabilities, heart attacks, and strokes, and are more likely to live longer than people without this kind of underlying motivation.
Heart disease continues to rank as the number-one cause of death in the United States, impacting millions of Americans every year. And if you think you don’t have to be concerned about issues like cholesterol once you hit a certain age, think again. People age 65 and older are much more likely to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke, or develop heart disease and heart failure. Heart disease is also a major cause of disability, meaning it can limit one’s activity and significantly erode a senior’s quality of life.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder (after Alzheimer’s disease), affecting an estimated one percent of the population over the age of 60. With upwards of one million Americans living with Parkinson’s, it’s become a critical area of research and study and a particularly relevant topic for seniors. Many living with the disease or concerned about a future diagnosis wonder about whether it’s possible to minimize symptoms and/or progression through lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise.
As we age, changes are happening in many different areas of our bodies, and the brain is no exception. Research tells us that certain parts of the brain shrink, particularly those critical to learning and other complex mental activities. Inflammation may increase in response to injury or disease, and communication between neurons in certain areas of the brain may not be as effective. These types of changes result in potential impacts on cognitive function, even for healthy seniors.
As people age, the relationships they forge and maintain with friends become more important than ever. Having people to connect with socially and personally isn’t just fun; it’s actually fundamental to promoting a healthy lifestyle throughout the aging process. And while certain transitions and circumstances at this stage of life can make creating and sustaining active friendships more challenging, there’s no denying that these special bonds are instrumental for seniors.
At least 14 million Americans aged 65 and older live with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, this disorder involves difficulty processing sugars from food, which can lead to dangerous levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes is particularly concerning for the senior population, who are at increased risk for specific complications.
With so many Americans committed to eating right, it’s not exactly surprising that food manufacturers are responding with more fat-free, sugar-free and low-sodium options than ever. However, distinguishing healthy foods from “healthy” foods can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to promoting nutritious eating habits for your aging loved one. These four foods may be less healthy than you think.
While eating right at any time of the year is challenging, doing so during the holidays can feel downright impossible. However, with some advance planning and a commitment to limiting sugar, salt and fat during your holiday meal preparation, you can help your family members -- including your aging loved one -- sail through the season and start the new year off right.