The Elderly Kind of Blues

Seniors & Mental Health

Mental health is widely considered a new age concept, which is obscure to many members of the aging populations. Older generations ignored mental health issues and were more likely to address physical ailments. In regards to uncomfortable feelings, words such as “melancholy” were likely used to instead of “depression.” Older generations are more likely to express physical versus mental complaints. The avoidance of addressing mental health issues is linked to the extreme stigmatization of mental illness in previous decades. Unfortunately, the ongoing neglect of mental health problems becomes a habit transmitted to younger generations. Children of the aging populations often become caretakers and key advocates for their elder’s well-being, but find themselves covering all the basis of their parent’s health and well-being except mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans above the age 65 suffer from some form of depression. The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable populations to developing depression due to the experience of significant losses related to death, physical ability, and independence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, less than 5% of older adults living in the community show signs of depression, the percentage rises to over 13% among those who require home health care. Considering the extreme risk and vulnerability of the elderly population choosing home care that addresses the well-being of the whole person is essential. Holistic home-care is a new era approach to senior care that tailors care to enhance one’s social, emotional and physical well-being. Finding senior care that treats the whole person can be like searching for a needle in a haystack in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC.  This article will discuss the manifestation of depression among the elderly and the benefits of holistic care.Senior-Care-in-Washington-DC

Aging & Depression

It is common for people to experience depression at various points in their life in response to negative life events such as ended relationships, financial hardship, and interpersonal conflict. However, clinical depression manifest in mood and physical symptoms. Research shows that older adults are more likely to label their “down feelings” as pessimism or helplessness versus depression. Additionally, older versus young adults are less likely to endorse statements related to “feeling down” or “blue.” Older adults commonly display withdraw, less communication, increased sleeping, expressionlessness, and bodily neglect. In older adults, physical symptoms often accompany depression including, coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. Life events related to loss of loved ones and independence can exacerbate these symptoms. Unlike younger adults, older adults often lose their ability to engage in coping behaviors such as exercise, outings with friends, and travel to alleviate mental and physical symptoms. These circumstances leave older adults not only at greater risk of developing severe depression but little means to mitigate the suffering.

Senior Care & Depression

Nursing home residents and older adults with chronic illness are at greater risk of developing depression. This risk is due in large part to the lack of quality care available in nursing facilities with an unbalanced caregiver to resident ratios. This imbalance diminishes the amount of emotional, social, and physical support available to clients. Many nursing home facilities plan rigorously to design communities that cultivate social and physical well-being, only to find that a large percentage of residents don’t adequately utilize all that the facility has to offer. This underutilization is mainly due to physical and mental declines that limit their access and interest. Senior care facilities in major metropolitan cities such as Washington, DC find themselves overwhelmed and falling short of providing quality care as their mission statements often promise, due to understaffing and short-sighted approaches.

Holistic Care

Holistic care is a growing approach adopted by senior care providers in efforts to improve the quality of life of the aging population. Through this approach, caregivers are trained to assess and address the social, emotional, physical, and in some cases spiritual needs of the client.  Many nursing home facilities have begun to adopt the holistic approach to senior care. However, like any other service industry, quantity often reduces quality. Philia is a home-care agency that adopts the holistic approach to senior care offered only on a 1:1 basis to ensure quality. In addition to assisting with ADL’s, caregivers are trained to incorporate nutritional meal preparation, tailored exercise regimen, activity engagement, and emotional support. Each client’s care plan is designed to enhance their quality of life and well-being in oppose to maintain their present state of health. Holistically trained caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of depression specific to older adults and implement interventions that treat the physical, social, and emotional manifestations. The mind and body are interconnected, each impacting the other dynamically throughout one’s life. Quality senior care addresses both physical and psychological aspects of a person, recognizing that this is the key to total well-being.

Sources

Cavanaugh, J., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2014). Adult development and aging. Nelson Education.

Friedhoff, A. J., Ballenger, J., Bellack, A. S., Carpenter, W. T., Chui, H. C., Dobrof, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (1992). Diagnosis and treatment of depression in late life. JAMA268(8), 1018-1024.

Zarit, S. H., & Zarit, J. M. (2012). Mental disorders in older adults: Fundamentals of assessment and treatment. Guilford Press.

Summertime Is Replenish Time: Benefits of Getting Seniors Outdoors in Washington DC

Replenish Time

Overtime as seniors lose independence they are more like to stay indoors. Moreover, after completing a slew of duties, senior caregivers often overlook the importance of getting seniors outdoors to get more sunshine during the summer months. During the summer months, increased daylight hours allow us to take advantage of more time in direct sunlight. Winter months cause a significant decline in vitamin D, which leads to a weakened immune system, decreased absorption of calcium and in some cases depression also known as the “winter blues”. Seniors are at greater risk of broken bones and depressive episodes, which makes vitamin D exposure essential. In addition, higher levels of oxygen from being outdoors is essential for health brain functioning. In the Washington, DC area, caregivers often have more responsibilities and a higher caregiver to client ratio. These conditions decrease the likelihood that clients receive more 1:1 time to ensure their overall well-being. It is essential that families hire senior caregivers that are holistically trained to provide care that treats all of their needs to increase their health and longevity.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a crucial element that aids in the absorption of calcium. As seniors age they are more prone to broken bones from slips and falls. Frequent injuries in seniors are linked to rapid health declines. Many clients have care plans in place to help reduce their risk of slips and falls. However, in some cases this is inevitable. Preventive healthcare regimens are critical in minimizing the risk of broken bones when seniors slip or fall.  Studies have shown that vitamin D is also an essential element in impacting serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that decreases symptoms of depression. Depression and other mood changes are common amongst seniors and are linked to rapid physical and mental health declines. Although vitamin supplements can be helpful, vitamin D obtained naturally through sunlight has shown to be the best way for the body to receive its benefits. Thus, getting seniors outdoors is crucial to aid their vitamin D absorption. Holistic caregivers are more knowledgeable on the holistic benefits of getting seniors outdoors in the sun. However, elderly clients are at greater risk of develop sun burns and even skin cancer due to decreased thickness in the skin.

Oxygen

There is no air that feels fresher than summer air. Summer time is the best time to indulge in higher levels of oxygen. A study conducted by the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, showed that oxygen levels change with the season and peak during the summer. This believes to be attributed to higher output of plants that have blossomed. Oxygen is a crucial element for our functioning, as is assist with decreasing stress, Increasing alertness, and energy. Additionally, oxygen deficiencies are linked to memory loss and overall declines in brain functioning. As seniors age energy levels decline and fatigue becomes a common experience associated with old age. However, engaging in deep breathing and being outdoors are great ways to combat fatigue and increase energy. Senior caregivers must provide a regimen that works to increase oxygen levels to maintain healthy functioning. This is even more critical for clients struggling with severe forms of dementia.

Helpful Tips for Senior Caregivers in Washington DC:
  • Senior Care workers should plan activities such as puzzle, dominoes and knitting outside.
  • For immobile clients, lower the AC and open as many windows as possible in the house.
  • Help clients plant new flowers or produce to get them interested in going outside to track growth.
  • Invite pet owners in the Washington DC neighborhood, and encourage clients to go outside to pet them.
  • Senior Caregivers should encourage clients by teaching them how oxygen improves their health.
  • Be sure to put a generous amount of sunscreen on clients to reduce the risk of sunburn.
  • Make sure seniors drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of dehydration.

 

 

Spring Cleaning and Organization In The Washington DC Area

It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about spring cleaning, which likely means some serious decluttering, reorganization, scrubbing and polishing. Spring is the time that we all begin thinking about cleaning and organizing our homes. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that a good spring cleaning is a worthwhile exercise.

 

But did you know that it can also benefit your health and wellbeing? Below are some reasons why clearing out those closets and grabbing the polish can actually good for you. Let the cleaning commence!

In the Washington, D.C area, many residents lead busy schedules that prevent them from routine spring cleaning as other responsibilities become prioritized in the “to-do-list”. Spring Cleaning can increase productivity. Making the effort to declutter and organize your home or office can save you tons of time looking for or replacing lost items in the future. Organization makes you more productive, while the cleaning process itself can increase energy levels. We all need to learn to let go. If you haven’t used something since the last spring clean, it might be time to say goodbye. Cleaning can be a great way for Senior Care professionals to get clients active and engaged.

Spring cleaning is also healthy. Many elderly individuals struggle with allergies but already take a slew of medications leaving little room for allergy medication. A good spring clean can help you avoid allergy symptoms and lower Asthma attacks. Removing allergens from the home can make you feel healthier, especially at a time when allergies are rife. You want to try to get those hard to reach places too where dust build up. Make sure though to ask for help moving big pieces of furniture or climbing up ladders when going for those hard-to-reach spots.

 

Spring cleaning can make you happy. Taking the time to thoroughly clean and maintain a tidy home makes people happier, studies have shown. The act of cleaning provides a sense of satisfaction, which in turn can put you in a good mood. Also, putting on some of your favorite music while cleaning can make it even more fun!

Spring cleaning can help to reduce stress. Cleaning and organizing your personal spaces lets you enjoy a tidier and more organized environment and this can relieve stress. Levels of stress can also be reduced during the act itself as cleaning is considered to be therapeutic. But make sure to always be realistic. If it’s all getting too much, take a break. It’s not a race after all.

 

Lastly, Spring leaning can help you to focus. Those who make a point of clearing out the clutter once in a while are able to free up the brain for more essential decision-making, according to a study carried out by the founder of America’s Anxiety Disorder Center. A thorough clean helps to clear your mind of things that need to be done around the house and makes it easier to focus on other more important things. You should concentrate though on one room at a time to make sure you get the job done properly

Recognizing Early Stage Alzheimer’s in the Washington DC area

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects each individual differently. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 80% of all new dementia diagnoses. Each stage of Alzheimer’s introduces symptoms that directly impacts the cognitive and functional abilities of the individual. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms are generally mild and may be difficult to notice. At this stage, the individual may functional independently with the ability to complete all of their own activities of daily living. However, they may begin experiencing frequent memory lapses or the inability to identify familiar words. Friends and family may notice the individual struggling with performing routine tasks or maintaining organization. During a medical examination, doctors may identify problems in memory or concentration.

Common challenges in the Early-Stage of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulties with planning or organization
  • Difficulties with recalling the right word or name for familiar objects
  • Difficulties with performing social or work tasks
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Frequently losing or misplacing valuable objects
  • Difficulties with retaining new information
  • Difficulty following storylines
  • Deteriorating sense of direction

Once medical examinations are completed and an Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis is received, it’s important to optimize the safety and quality of life of the individual. Family, friends, and the care team should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Conversations regarding advance directives and preferred future plans of care should take place with the individual, to ensure that their wishes are upheld when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Take the time to carefully plan for comprehensive and holistic care which meets the entire needs of the individual– it’s the best way to honor their life and legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Prepare Your Senior Parent for Barbecue Season

Elder Care in Washington DC

You may be wondering what National Barbecue Month has to do with you and your senior parent? Barbecues are a time when friends and Elder-Care-in-Washington-DCfamily get together and celebrate. Often there’s a holiday that brings family and friends together, but sometimes people gather simply because it’s a beautiful day to eat great food outside and spend time with the people they care about the most.

 

Barbecues are also a time when your senior parent can feel they’re still part of the family. With a little preparation beforehand, your mom or dad doesn’t have to be left out because they are on a special diet or have health issues.

 

  1. Plan ahead – If your loved one has a special diet that needs to be taken into consideration, it’s easy to plan for that. If they can’t eat beef, there are plenty of veggie burgers on the market that taste just as good as their beefy counterpart. There’s also the option of hot dogs, or flipping the barbecue theme on its side and making a seafood burger for mom or dad. A salmon burger would hit the spot.
  2. Ambulatory issues – If your mom or dad has issues walking and need assistance, make sure she has what she needs to be comfortable. Set up an area for your loved one where they can settle in and get comfortable. Be sure someone is on hand to help them back inside when they need to use the bathroom or are ready to go in for the evening.
  3. Protection from the sun – One of the side effects of aging is that the skin thins and becomes fragile. When you barbecue it’s important to make sure your parent has sunscreen with sufficient SPF protection on. Sunglasses are also good to protect their eyes. Also, consider giving them a hat, to further shade their face from the sun. It’s also important that wherever they decide to settle in for the afternoon, it’s a spot with ample shade and protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Barbecues are a fun way to get together and enjoy time with family. When your mom or dad has an elder care provider on hand, that person can assist with ensuring they’re moved safely from inside the home to outside the home, and that they eat the healthy meal you planned specifically for them.

 

If you or an aging loved one are considering ELDER CARE IN WASHINGTON D.C., please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.