Tag Archive | Aging

It’s the Little Things

Aging presents several unique issues for seniors. Things like dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to be the most prominently noticed, but there are other things that cause great concern in our aging loved ones.

It’s important to be proactive. Don’t depend solely on a facility to take note of the little changes that become large issues when left unattended. Being proactive can save your aging parent/grandparent’s life.

Watch for small changes, the things that normally would not be noticed by a healthcare professional simply because they do not know what is fully normal for your loved one. Here are a few tidbits you can look for in the care of your senior.

 

  • Changes in diet – Is your aging parent only nibbling at meals? As we grow older the appetite diminishes but it doesn’t mean we don’t need to eat. Be aware if your loved one is eating well and if you see they are not, check immediately with your health care provider for appropriate supplements such as Premier Protein or Ensure that will help bring protein and vitamin levels up.
  •  Loss of weight – Weight loss is a sure sign something is not right. It can signal illness, dietary issues, even issues with dental work. Weight loss is not an issue to be ignored. At the first signs of this, contact your physician.
  •  Pressure sores – Pressure sores (otherwise called bed sores), happen more in those who are unable to ambulate on their own. When the bulk of their hours are spent in a bed rather than walking or sitting, pressure sores develop. These can become not only serious, but chronic very quickly. It’s important that, should your senior be bed ridden, they are shifted frequently to allow air and blood flow to return to suspect areas. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if a pressure sore develops so proper attention can be given to prevent infection and aid in speedy healing.
  •  Teeth and gums – As we age our body size lessens – we grow smaller, so to speak. You may notice rings don’t fit like they once did or shoes that normally fit well, slip. This is true of dentures as well. Gums can shrink causing dentures to slip and rub. Sores can develop or even choking can happen. If your loved one still has their permanent teeth, regular dental appointments may need to be upped to three to four times a year instead of the normal every six-month visit. Dental appliances need to be checked frequently throughout the year to assure a good fit. Loose teeth can cause pain and root decay. Watch for difficulty in chewing or wearing dental appliances and seek attention if necessary.
  • Hydration – A lack of hydration will quickly send a senior into physical distress. The body requires water. Urinary tract infections, potassium issues, blood pressure, and kidney and liver issues can happen when seniors are not hydrated. Be sure your loved one is receiving adequate amounts of fluids to keep them in top notch shape.

These are a few symptoms that may require attention as our loved ones age. It’s important to remember our parents were raised in a time when you didn’t complain, rather you simply tolerated the issue over having it attended to. It is not uncommon for them to brush these aches and pains to the side. Take time to notice the little things in the care of your aging parent. Acting quickly can save their life.

The Joys of Aging

 

By Cindy K. Sproles

It’s normal to hear negative phrases about aging. Aching bones, slipping memory, stubbornness. After all, it is aging. Our bodies begin to tell us it’s time to ease out of the busyness of life and relax. Slow down.

Of course, aging is difficult. Who wants to admit they are entering their golden years? And it never seems to slowly approach. It happens overnight. One minute we’re racing about with our grandchildren, the next the race seems to have dissipated. Aging, despite the fact we know it will happen, is a shock.

When you are the child of an aging parent, reality may seep in when you suddenly notice the difficulty of your parent standing from a sitting position or when you finally take notice of the wrinkled skin on their hands. We’ve been so accustomed to having active parents, especially with our children, that seeing that large energy shrink, is hard. The transition from an active parent to one who requires a bit of assistance takes some adjustment.

Aging is simply part of the circle of life and it’s not to be taken lightly. Many senior parents now require additional help. Maybe it’s assistance with household chores or more so, assistance with the daily activities we take for granted. Things like dressing, brushing our hair or teeth, putting on our shoes. Either way, our mindset must change. The changes can be an inconvenience, but it’s important not to let the negative take away the joy of our parents.

It’s no secret that some

 

issues with aging cause our loved ones distress. Things like Alzheimer’s or different dementias. There are times, these hiccups take the person we love and twist them into someone we’ve never met. This is the time when joy is important.

Learning to find the good in every situation is not only scriptural, but it’s the perfect way to handle our lives. How do we find joy in something like Alzheimer’s? Grant you, it’s difficult, but again, it has to be a mindset.

Take time to recount the moments that brought laughter and fun into your family with your aging parent. Spend time chatting about those things. Even more so, include your loved one in on those conversations. Sometimes, a memory is sparked, a moment of peace may seep over your parent. When parent’s thoughts stream to a spouse or parent who passed years prior, that is fine. Use those memories to start conversation with your loved one. Ask questions about that person or the time frame your parent may be recounting. Don’t spend valuable time trying to convince your aging parent that the person they are speaking about, passed away years earlier. Their mind is in what is present to them at the time. Instead, roll with the flow. You may be surprised at what you learn about the past of your parent.

The point is, there are fun things. . .things that brought you and your parent laughter and pleasure in the past. Search for the joy in those things and bring them to light. Doing this not only revives little memories for your parent but it sparks a whole new set of conversations with your siblings and children. For example, my grandmother passed away over 25 years ago. To this day, when any of the family gathers, the same old stories are spit out over and over. Laughter rings through the house and the hard parts of grandmother’s illness are swallowed up by the joys of her life. There is never sadness, instead, our homes and lives are enriched continually those wonderful memories.

When aging grows difficult for your family, stop. Rethink. Seek. Find the joy that brought laughter and happiness from years prior. Those memories will once again bring a new joy to the hardships of aging.

 

 

Photos courtesy of microsoft free photo gallery

The Joys of Parenthood

Senior woman contemplatingThere is no greater gift than parenthood.  Just to hold our newborn infants close brings a whole new meaning to life.  In our youth we long to have a family and once that gift arrives the future years are spent nurturing, growing and developing these children.  Children depend on their parents for moral support, guidance and even financial aid at times.  There is a certain comfort and peace in knowing our parents are always a phone call away.  For parents – the gift of a strong bond with their children is everlasting.

Then the tide turns. The waters that once rushed forward into the lives of children now recede, and the ability of the parent lessens; not from desire but from physical ailments. Aging. Dementia. Frailness. The realization of aging attacks and children suddenly understand parents are unable to do the things they used to do. It’s a hard realization, but if it’s hard for the children, imagine how difficult it is for the aging parent.

Children will see definite changes in the attitude and disposition of their parents and it is important they understand the steps of acceptance for their parents.

Anger – Anger is one of the first stages of acceptance seniors experience. A tough skin is important. Learning to understand when aging parents lash out, it’s not personal, even when harsh words are hurtful. Nothing can describe the frustration of being unable to do the simplest tasks. Walking, buttoning a shirt, brushing teeth. The simple tasks of daily living begin to slip through their fingers. It’s enough to grasp being over 70 but when fingers won’t bend, legs won’t lift, climbing stairs becomes slow and painful, frustration and anger set in.  Aging parents lash out as they fight for the one thing held most precious to us all – independence.

Depression – Depression is not uncommon for seniors. It’s an adjustment – slowing down, learning to let others help. Watch for signs of depression and attend to them immediately.  A severe decrease in appetite, less conversation, excessive sleeping… are all signs of depression. Depression is not always an easy fix but seeking the help of the primary care physician as well as additional check-up calls and visits from friends and family help. Most importantly, encourage your parent to do what they are able.  It may take longer to walk around the block, but walking is good.  Always check with their physician as to what can be done or not.

Helplessness – There is a sense of helplessness attached to releasing physical care to a child. The ability to be johnny-on-the-spot when a child is in need fades due to illness or frailty. Work with aging parents to maintain their usefulness. Make them a viable and important part of the family. Seek outside caregivers through reputable companies such as Comfort Keepers, to help seniors maintain a good quality of activity and a sense of being needed.

The steps into aging acceptance can be rocky at best, but with patience and love aging parents will come into compliance with reality. Above all else, continue to be an active part of your parent’s lives – develop wonderful lasting memories for the future.