Monthly Archives: December 2013

Guest Article: Caring For Your Loved One’s Health Over The Holidays

Written by Michelle Y. Llamas of Drugwatch.com

Stock Photo:  Image ID: 87414971  Copyright: baki

Stock Photo: Image ID: 87414971 Copyright: baki

Caring for an older loved one over the holidays can pose some unique challenges. In addition to looking out for the health of a loved one, caregivers also have to deal with the stress of caring and of the holidays. It can be easy for caregivers to become overwhelmed physically and emotionally, especially when caring for a loved one who may be mentally or physically impaired.

Even with these challenges, there are some steps that caregivers can take to ensure that the holidays are safe and enjoyable for loved ones as well as themselves.  Here are a few suggestions.

Keep Family Gatherings Simple and Warm

People may have a tendency to go overboard during holiday get-togethers. There may be a lot of time spent planning, preparing food and travelling. This can cause stress for both the caregiver and the senior. Instead, focus on quality versus quantity.

Try having the parties or holiday dinners at the primary place where you care for your loved one; this will eliminate stress of travel. If a loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, removing them from a familiar environment may cause unnecessary stress or confusion.

Instead of decorating the entire house, focus on a few lights, wreaths or garlands. Focus on enjoying the process, routine and time together rather than the result.

When inviting guests, rather than having a large number of people over at a time, try spreading out visits. This will keep the stress level down while still allowing your loved one to socialize and connect with friends and family. Make sure to plan gatherings in advance. This will allow for plenty of time to organize an event and get your loved one ready for it.

When it comes to dinner, suggest a potluck. This will cut down on the amount of work you have to do to organize and clean up. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If family members are not available, third-party companies can also provide caregiving assistance to reduce the burden on you.

Keeping Yourself and Your Loved One Healthy

Caregivers spend a good deal of time fulfilling the needs of others and often forget their own needs. Some can even feel guilty for doing something for themselves. The holidays should be a time for caregivers to relax and enjoy their time as well.

In the middle of all the rushing about, make sure to stop and take a breath. Loved ones depend on caregivers, so they need to stay healthy too. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, and get some exercise. This will also help you manage stress.

When it comes loved ones, be mindful of their diets and exercise as well. Overeating and drinking too much alcohol are common during the holidays. Both are risk factors for developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure – all diseases that seniors have a higher risk for. If they already have these diseases, poor diet can increase complications from these conditions.

Icy conditions may also make getting around safely more difficult. Caregivers need to be mindful of the slippery conditions when outdoors.

Older adults are also more susceptible to colds and viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting older adults vaccinated, and there are special, stronger doses to keep seniors from getting the flu.

Most importantly, caregivers need to remember to take time out for themselves. Schedule it into the day, and stick to it. Take time to be thankful for the things that bring happiness and joy this season. With some careful planning, caregivers can decrease holiday stress while keeping loved ones safe and healthy.

Michelle Y. Llamas is a published writer and researcher. She hosts Drugwatch Radio, a health podcast, and writes about drugs and medical devices for Drugwatch.com.

Common Vitamin Deficiencies in Seniors

It’s a common fact that most American do not eat a well balance diet and that fact is ever more widespread in seniors. Mild vitamin deficiencies are common amongst senior and can cause Anemia, cognitive impairment, and increased propensity for developing infections, and poor wound healing are associated indicators of mild vitamin deficiencies. Irreversible organ damage can be caused by severe vitamin deficiency.[i]

Causes

The causes of vitamin deficiencies vary. Many adults do not consume certain foods in adequate amounts. Smoking tobacco, malabsorption disorders, gastrointestinal surgery, H. Pylori infection, alcohol overconsumption, drug adverse effects, and drug-nutrient interaction may contribute to certain Vitamin deficiencies.[i]

In seniors, neurotransmitters that stimulate the appetite or the presence of hormones can decrease the appetite causing seniors to eat less and therefore consume less Vitamins.[i]

Vitamin List

This is a brief list of the most common vitamins that seniors are deficient in and what they do.

Vitamin B12.  Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble essential vitamin. It is essential for the formation of red blood cells and maintenance of a healthy nervous system as well as for the rapid synthesis of DNA during cell division.[ii]

Folic Acid.  Folic acid is one of the B vitamins, and it helps your body make new cells, including new red blood cells. Your body needs red blood cells to carry oxygen. If you don’t have enough red blood cells, you have anemia, which can make you feel weak and tired.[iii]

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels; heal wounds and form scar tissue; repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants, antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals.[iv]

Vitamin D. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet.[v]

What to Eat:

Common foods to eat to get more of those vitamins you could be lacking.

Vitamin B12. Clams; Beef Liver; Mackerel; Crab; Silken Tofu; Light Plain Soymilk; Fortified Cereals; Red Meat; Low Fat Dairy (Skim Milk); Lamb; Swiss Cheese; Eggs (from Chickens).[vi]

Folic Acid. Dark Leafy Green (Spinach, Collard Greens, Turnip Green, Mustard Greens, Romaine Lettuce); Asparagus; Broccoli; Citrus Fruits (Papaya, Oranges, Grapefruits, Strawberries, Raspberries); Lentils, Peas and Beans (Pinto Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Split Peas, Green Peas, Green Beans); Avocado; Okra; Brussel Sprouts; Seeds and Nuts (Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts; Flax Seeds; Almonds); Cauliflower; Beets; Corn; Celery; Carrots; Squash (Winter Squash, Summer Squash).[vii]

Vitamin C. Parsley; Broccoli; Bell Peppers; Strawberries; Oranges; Lemon Juice; Papaya; Cauliflower; Kale; Mustard Greens; Brussel Sprouts; Kiwi; Brussel .[viii]

Vitamin D. Cod Liver Oil; Fish; Fortified Cereals; Oysters; Caviar; Fortified Soy Products (Tofu, Soy Milk); Salami; Ham; Sausages; Fortified Dairy Products; Eggs; Mushrooms.[ix]

This information should not be taken as medical advice, please advise your doctor for individualized information on your own Vitamin deficiencies and possible interactions with current medications you take.

[i] http://www.uspharmacist.com/content/d/senior%20care/c/21981/

[ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781043/

[iii] http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/folic-acid-deficiency-anemia-topic-overview

[iv] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

[v] http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/vitamin-d-deficiency

[vi] http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B12.php

[vii] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/folic-acid-foods/

[viii] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=109

[ix] http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-vitamin-D-foods.php

Written by Valerie Michel Buck

%d bloggers like this: