Peach Tree Times
Some of our articles have been written by guest writers
Peach Tree Times
ADLs, or activities of daily living, are key tasks that people have to manage to be able to live independently.
ADLs are basic self-care tasks that we typically learn as small children. This includes dressing, eating, moving around, and bathing.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) defines the following as ADLs:
AOTA defines the following IADLs:
Seniors who read often get the benefits of more than just a good story. Studies have found many health benefits of reading, from helping sleep to improving memory.
A study of 294 seniors published in Neurology discovered that those who engaged in mentally challenging activities such as reading throughout their lives had slower rates of memory impairment than those who did not. Participating in frequent cognitive activities later in life slowed the pace of decline by 32%.
Reading strengthens your memory, which is essential for short-term recall of ordinary events. Reading on a regular basis can help to develop the brain's neural network, making your mind more susceptible to learning and memory retention.
Better-Decision Making Skills
Reading can help seniors develop the analytical and reasoning skills they need to solve problems, a skill known as fluid intelligence, which decreases throughout adulthood.
A study of Americans aged 25 to 74 discovered that, regardless of age, people who consistently challenged their brains through activities such as reading performed higher on fluid intelligence tests than their counterparts.
Delays Alzheimer's and Dementia
According to a 2000 study, adults in their 70s who engaged in mentally demanding hobbies, like reading, between the ages of 20 and 60 were less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. A different study in 2012 discovered that more frequent mental activities can help maintain brain structures that are important for cognition later in life.
Research conducted at the University of Sussex found that in only six minutes after diving into a book, participants' heart rates and muscle tension relaxed.
Reading in bed has been thought of for a long time to be an easy way to fall asleep. Creating and sticking to a bedtime ritual tells your body when it's time to sleep. Unlike TVs and other screens, books don't emit blue light that keeps you awake longer.
Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Do you still feel tired after you wake up in the morning? You're not alone. It's estimated that 40-70% of adults have chronic sleep problems.
How Sleep Changes as We Age
Experts recommend that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. As we get older, our circadian rhythms change. Light is a powerful tool for maintaining the circadian rhythms, but many seniors get less than an hour of sunlight each day. Additionally, as we get older, our bodies produce less melatonin. Melatonin is normally produced in response to darkness and helps control your circadian rhythms.
Health & Sleep
Many mental and physical conditions can affect the quality of your sleep. Depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis are all things that can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Medications can also contribute to sleep issues. Some medications (like antihistamines) can cause daytime drowsiness, while others (like antidepressants) cause insomnia.
What Can Help?
Exercise - Regular aerobic exercise can help promote good sleep.
Avoid distractions - TVs, phones, and bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Turn down the lights and limit your screen time before bed.
Get some sun - Sunlight helps to maintain your circadian rhythms, helping you sleep better.
Reduce caffeine - Try to avoid drinking coffee after noon. A 2013 study showed that drinking coffee 6 hours before bedtime reduced overall sleep time by an hour.
Take a warm bath - A 2019 study reported that taking a warm bath one to two hours before bed helped people fall asleep 10 minutes faster than normal.
Keep a schedule - Avoid sudden changes in your sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. It can take days for your body to readjust to a new schedule. Keeping a routine makes it easier for your body to know when it's time to wind down.
Avoid naps - While a short daytime nap can be beneficial, longer or later naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Develop a routine - Find activities that help you relax before bedtime. Whether it's taking a bath, playing music, reading, or meditating, find something that helps you wind down from the day.
See your doctor - If you're unable to solve your sleep problems on your own, you may need to talk to your doctor. Keep a log of when you go to sleep and when you wake up and track your caffeine intake and exercise. This may help your doctor determine what is keeping you awake.
The senior living conversation can be a difficult one, but going about it the right way can make it a little easier. Whether they just need a little help around the house or are ready to move to a retirement community, talking about it can help your loved ones get more out of life.
Before the Conversation
Make a list of concerns. Are your loved ones having difficulties in their daily life? Are you concerned about how safe their home is? Do they need help with the activities of daily life? You may need to talk to other friends and family members to get their perspectives.
Do your research. Most people have more difficulty with an abstract conversation. A few concrete examples and options can be less stressful and anxiety-inducing than a mountain of options.
Tips for a Better Conversation
Have the conversation early. Tackling the decision early will take some of the stress and pressure off if something happens, such as a fall or illness. Having the conversation before it's needed will allow you and your loved one time to process information and really consider what is best.
Talk face to face. Phone calls are great, but they can't replace a face-to-face discussion. If talking in person isn't possible, arrange a video call so you can see each other during the discussion.
Listen. Your loved one may have concerns and anxieties about moving out of their home, especially if they have lived there a long time. It's important to acknowledge their feelings. Take the time to really listen to what they are saying. A point that seems irrelevant to the conversation may actually be showing a concern you weren't aware of.
Empathy, not sympathy. Don't feel sorry for them, but show them that you care. Don't be combative - ask them for their thoughts instead of talking over them. It's both of you against the problem, not you against them.
Avoid info overload. Some background information can be helpful, but receiving tons of information can be overwhelming.
Take your time. The decision most likely won't be made in one conversation. Your loved one may need additional time to sort through their feelings and find the words to describe them. It's a process, not a one-and-done discussion.
Visit in person. One of the best ways to see what a community is like is by visiting in person. This allows you and your loved one to get an idea of the kinds of amenities, culture, lifestyle, and neighbors that they may have.
As with many difficult topics, starting the conversation can be the most difficult part. These conversation starters may be useful:
What's it like to be alone in your house? Do you feel safe?
Do you have a long-term care strategy in mind? Where would you go if you fell or became ill and couldn't care for yourself? How would you pay for your care?
Do you have times when you're feeling lonely? Do you wish you had more time to spend with people your own age?
How's the car? Are you still going on drives?
How do you feel about driving? Would you be interested in other transportation forms where you don't have to worry about driving yourself places, traffic, parking, and paying for car maintenance and gas?
Is it ever hard to keep track of your bills or finances?
Have you ever considered getting some help with laundry and housekeeping?
How's the house? It must be hard to keep it in good shape.
Would you feel better if you didn't have to worry about house maintenance?
Thanks to advances in technology, it can now be easier than ever to stay safe and independent as we age. Technology offers a variety of benefits for older adults, including news, entertainment, safety, and various utilities.
From sensors and voice activation to virtual assistants, technology can provide music, reminders, socialization, and more.
Everyone forgets things sometimes, but we get more upset by memory lapses as we get older. Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent memory loss, Alzheimer's, or dementia, some activities can help to sharpen your memory.
Maintain a healthy diet and exercise program.
Eating healthy and staying active can reduce your risk of developing dementia. A study from 2011 actually showed that aerobic exercise can increase brain volume.
Give yourself cues and reminders.
Don't be afraid to set up prompts to remind you of the things you need to do. Whether it's a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or an alarm on your phone, it's easy to set up reminders. Additionally, do your best to leave important objects in visible places related to your tasks. For example, leave your keys on top of the package you keep meaning to mail out.
Say it out loud.
Similar to writing things down, saying something out loud helps you remember it. If you want to avoid forgetting what you're doing just as you walk into a room, try telling yourself out loud where you're going and why.
Get your health checked.
Many different medications and medical conditions can contribute to memory loss and forgetfulness. Most of us immediately think of Alzheimer's or dementia, but memory loss can be caused by something as simple as a vitamin deficiency or cold medication. Your physical and mental health are closely linked, so it's important to talk to your doctor about what's happening.
In order to work out your brain, you need to do more than what you're already good at. In 2013, a research study found that older adults who spent time learning new skills enhanced their memory more than those who did not.
Get enough sleep.
Inadequate sleep affects the brain's ability to consolidate facts and memories. Improve your sleep by sticking to a consistent schedule, avoiding caffeine after noon, dimming the lights, and avoiding electronics before bed.
Remove distractions and stress.
Mental and emotional strain can be a huge barrier to your memory. If there's too much going on in your life for your brain to handle, it can affect your ability to process and store information. Try prioritizing instead of multitasking, taking more breaks, and asking for help when you need it.
Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging. According to Harvard Medical School, adults & seniors who exercise regularly are able to be more independent and rely on others less. Exercise improves balance and increases energy levels, as well as boosts your immune system.
Where to Start
Water aerobics - Water provides natural resistance to your workout without stressing your joints. This kind of exercise is especially good for those with arthritis and other kinds of joint pain.
Chair yoga - Chair yoga provides a low-impact form of exercise that combines mobility, balance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
Walking - Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise. Walking helps to strengthen muscles and bones, improve balance, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
If it's been a while since you've been active, make sure to start slowly. The amount of exercise you need varies based on your health and age. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
We all know that getting too much sun can be harmful to your health. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a major risk factor for most skin cancers.
But if you’re an older adult, sunlight – in the right amount – may provide health benefits too, a recent study says.
Sunlight causes your body to produce vitamin D. Data is emerging that suggests sunlight — with its ability to produce vitamin D — may reduce the risk of hip fractures, high blood pressure, and stroke or heart attack for older adults, the study says.
The researchers, who reviewed information gathered from a variety of sources, call for more data to weigh the potential benefits of moderate UV radiation against potential harm specifically for older adults.
That’s because the familiar recommendations to avoid the sun are based on data from the entire population – children through older adults. The data may not take into account important distinctions for older adults, the researchers say.
For example, older adults get far less sunlight than others because they tend to stay indoors. In addition, because of changes associated with aging, their skin is less efficient at producing vitamin D from sun exposure.
If you are an older adult, you need vitamin D. Vitamin D bolsters your skeletal health and may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, hip fractures, and vascular events such as stroke or heart attack, the study says. So, despite the cancer risk, older adults still may benefit from some sunlight, the researchers say.
Sunlight has other hidden benefits. With its power to produce vitamin D, it protects against depression, insomnia and an overactive immune system, geriatrician Ronan Factora, MD, says.
“There are some links between sunlight exposure and improved muscle function, bone and cardiovascular health, improved mood — even improved cognitive function,” Dr. Factora says.
There are many things that can make it difficult or even dangerous to navigate through your home as you get older. Here are some strategies to make your house safer for you or your loved ones.
Secure your pets:
As much as we may love them, our furry friends and their toys can sometimes be a serious tripping hazard.
If you have animals in your home, make sure you know where they are while you're moving around. If you live with other people, it may help to have them hold on to the animals while you move from room to room.
If you're visiting a family member or friend that has pets, you can always ask them to leash up their dog or put their cat in another room for your visit.
Keep floors clear:
Throw rugs can be a hazard, especially for people using walkers or scooters. The front wheels of mobility aids may make it over bumps that the back wheels get caught on.
Clear up any clutter on the floor. This includes things like loose papers, extra shoes, and clothing.
Consider changing doorknobs:
Typical round doorknobs can be difficult for seniors to use. Consider swapping them out with lever-style door handles.
Modify the bathroom:
The bathroom is often one of the riskiest rooms in a senior's house. Some easy ways to make it safer include plugging in a nightlight, adding non-slip mats inside the bathtub and shower, and adding a shower chair. Additional improvements might be things like installing grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet, replacing a traditional bathtub with a walk-in model, and getting a raised toilet seat.
Keep emergency numbers handy:
If you have a home phone, keep a list of numbers near it. If you have a cell phone, keep it somewhere you'll remember, like the fridge. Make sure to have the information is written large enough for you to easily read in a hurry.
This list should include things like emergency services (911), poison control (1-800-222-1222), your doctor's office, and a friend or family member.
Have someone check in regularly:
Especially if you're living alone, it's important to have someone drop by regularly. Whether it's a friend, family member, or a neighbor, it's important to have the peace of mind someone will notice if something happens.
It would also be a good idea to consider getting an alert necklace or bracelet so you can call for help in an emergency.
Dehydration is a year-round problem, but it's especially important to think about as we get into the hotter months of the year. Not getting enough fluids can be a serious health risk for anyone, especially older adults.
Signs of Dehydration
There are many ways to increase the amount of fluid you're drinking. Some options include: