Why Vitamin D Is So Important for Senior Health

vitamin d for senior health

When you are involved in elderly caregiving in NY and Long Island, it’s important to remember that all seniors need vitamin D in the proper amount in their diets. Vitamin D is a natural vitamin that the body produces in response to sunlight. It can also be taken in through diet and supplements.

Vitamin D allows the body to absorb calcium, which is so important for healthy, strong bones. Unfortunately, too many elderly men and women are not getting enough vitamin D by diet alone. This deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, brittle bones, and autoimmune disorders. A simple blood test can determine if you are taking in the correct amount for your age group.

Not Just From the Sun: Getting Vitamin D Inside

Many people believe they get enough of this vitamin simply from being out in the sun. That is certainly true for a large part of the population. However, elderly men and women are often vitamin D deficient because many seniors do not get enough sun exposure. With inclement weather or limited mobility, getting outside can be challenging for them.

Spending an hour or so a day in the sun is the first step. However, when that isn’t an option, it’s extremely easy to get the amount that you need by eating the right types of foods. The recommended amount of vitamin D for senior citizens over the age of 71 is 800 IU a day. Many are already fortified with this vitamin, such as milk, certain dairy products, and cereals. Tuna, cheese, egg yolks, tofu, and pork are just a few more vitamin-D-enriched foods. Supplements are also a great source of vitamin D.

Lower Osteoporosis Risk

Seniors who take vitamin D as part of their daily routine will lower their risk for osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. This vitamin will help keep their bones strong, which is important in the event of a fall.

If you are caring for an elderly person with a vitamin D deficiency, a home health aide can help. The aide can remind your loved one to take supplements recommended or prescribed by a doctor, including vitamin D.

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that growing older and not getting enough nutrients can present, not just for the person affected, but for everyone in their life. We provide families with the support and care they need to ensure their loved one is as happy and healthy as possible.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.
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Senior Care: Scientists Find Vegetables that May Slow the Signs of Aging

foods that may stop signs of aging

Back in the day, when your mother told you to eat your broccoli, you might have scoffed. You may even have hidden it in your napkin or fed it to the family dog. It turns out Mom was right! Of course, vegetables are always a healthy choice, but a new study shows that broccoli and other greens do even more than we thought when it comes to nutrition and longevity in seniors.

A Simple Answer

While many joke about finding the fountain of youth, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine may have found some evidence that it has been right in front of us all along.

As we get older, many of us deal with the same health issues. In addition to the wrinkles and graying hair, metabolism slows down, causing weight issues to creep up. Almost all older adults wear corrective lenses to correct eyesight, and many suffer from glaucoma or cataracts. Others develop problems with blood sugar levels, which can lead to a number of related health issues.

Commonplace Foods

Researchers think they may have found a substance that helps prevent some of these aging issues. They infused laboratory mice with a substance found in broccoli, cucumbers, edamame, cabbage, and avocados. Interestingly, they noticed a difference on a cellular level. While the mice continued to age over time, their cells still behaved as if they were younger when compared to mice that weren’t given that substance.

The common denominator in these foods is a substance called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). The mice who received a regular infusion of this substance showed improvements in metabolism, blood sugar levels, and eyesight. Healthier cells that behave like younger cells may also have the ability to fight off diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. In the end, it may help people to live longer.

Everyone Can Benefit

The benefits from NMN are not just for seniors though. All generations can boost cell health and stop part of the aging process by finding creative ways to eat more green vegetables. They can be eaten cooked, al dente, or raw. Soups and smoothies are great ways to incorporate broccoli, avocado, cabbage, and edamame into the diet.

 

Obtaining senior care assistance from a home health aide from a homecare provider like David York Agency can be a great first step toward improving the nutrition of your elderly loved one. An aide can help with grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals. If you need a full-time home healthcare aide, DYA can provide the personalized care your family needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

7 Benefits of Providing Extra Care for Seniors with Congestive Heart Failure

caring for seniors with CHF

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) affects almost 5 million Americans, many of whom are seniors. CHF means the heart is unable to pump effectively to deliver blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body.

You may be wondering how non-medical care can help a patient with CHF. There are many benefits, but these seven top the list.

1. Early Recognition of Warning Signs

The initial symptoms of CHF often go unnoticed, especially if the primary caregiver doesn’t know what to look for. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to call the doctor immediately.

  • Sudden weight gain (3 pounds or more in 1 or 2 days)
  • Increased swelling in legs or ankles
  • Shortness of breath while at rest
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Dry, hacking cough or wheezing
  • Increased fatigue or feeling unwell all the time
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

2. Assistance Maintaining a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can help offset the health issues related to CHF. Caregivers can ensure a patient maintains a healthy and complete diet by implementing these tips:

  • Decrease sodium intake, and read food labels for items with less than 350 mg sodium per serving.
  • Cook with less salt.
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook with fresh meat, legumes, and eggs, and avoid highly processed foods.
  • Season with herbs, spices, flavored vinegar, and fruit juices.

3. Keeping the Patient Physically Active

Physical activity is another important way to combat CHF. Caregivers should follow these tips to help patients stay physically active, despite their condition:

  • Encourage low to moderate exercise.
  • Perform activities in short intervals, especially if your patient is easily fatigued.
  • Take short walks to get the blood moving.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the edges of the parking lot when going to the store.
  • Perform light housework together.

4. Ensuring the Patient is Comfortable

CHF can bring with it some fairly uncomfortable side effects. A caregiver can ensure that the patient stays as comfortable as possible by:

  • Helping them find and wear comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Helping them select and wear support stockings
  • Providing pillows to elevate head, making it easier to breathe

5. Administration of Medications and Supplements

There are many medications and supplements that can help relieve the symptoms of CHF — but only if they’re taken regularly. A caregiver can help ensure they’re being taken at the appropriate time by:

  • Reminding the patient to take their medication on time
  • Establishing a schedule
  • Helping them organize a weekly pillbox
  • Keeping a record of medication intake and any side effects

6. Make the Most of Doctor Visits

Doctor visits are an important time to communicate changes in a patient’s condition and address possible issues. Caregivers can help in these ways:

  • Keeping records and going over them at the doctor appointment
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Providing transportation to and from doctor visits
  • Asking questions and taking notes

7. Daily Record Keeping

The symptoms of CHF can change from day to day, and it’s important to keep careful records to track how the patient’s health looks over the long-term. Consider all of these things:

  • How is the patient breathing?
  • What dedications (names, doses, times, any side effects) are they currently taking?
  • How is their diet and level of activity?
  • Are there any notable or unusual symptoms?

 

If your senior loved one suffers from CHF or other severe heart problems, they may benefit from the added care and expertise of an in-home healthcare provider. There are many advantages of having a knowledgeable caregiver who can ensure a patient’s health and safety, as well as their medical requirements, are kept in mind at all times.

At David York Agency, we offer home healthcare services from highly trained and vetted professionals you can trust. From home health aides to RN’s and LPNs, DYA can provide your family with a level of in-home healthcare that meets your needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

 

5 Ways to Prevent Falls in the Elderly

preventing falls in the elderly

There are few things scarier for the elderly than a fall. A fall can result in an array of problems and pain — or worse. So what can you do to prevent elderly falls in a senior’s home? Here are some tips that can help.

1. Prepare the Home

Elderproofing your home is critically important. There is nothing that can substitute for making sure the elderly person in the home is not in danger of slipping, falling, or otherwise hurting his or herself. If you need a consultation to help you assess your home, David York Agency has full elderproofing services by a certified specialist. Here is a handy tip sheet.

2. Regular Exercise

Exercise can help an elderly person maintain balance and strength. This has a two-fold benefit in that good balance control will prevent falls while increased strength can help prevent or lessen injuries.

3. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may be prescribed by the elderly person’s doctor. This can further increase balance and strength. Talk to their doctor about getting a referral.

4. Standing and Sitting

Standing and sitting are things we don’t think much about, but the elderly can have a very hard time with these everyday tasks. Help them remember to do so slowly and consciously to avoid dizziness and balance issues that can result in a fall.

5. Limit Alcohol

Even if the doctor allows it in moderation, alcohol increases dizziness and should be limited in the case of an elderly person at risk of falling.

If you have an elderly loved one living at home, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of falls. Implementing the above safety tips will help keep your loved one from being injured. For additional information on preventing senior falls, look at our handout and our resource page, or contact us to learn more about elder care.

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that being at high risk for falls can bring, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone in their life. We provide families with the support and care they need during this particularly difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Common Sense Medication Reminders For Senior Care

medication reminders for seniors

Most nurses can attest to the frustration felt when going through a medication reconciliation with an elderly patient. Oftentimes the elderly patient will come to the ER with a pill box and no idea of what medications it contains. They may simply be able to recognize certain pills based on color and size. They may even know how many times daily they take the pills. However, correlating it to what the medication is for might be a mystery. As a result, the hospital staff is often left waiting for family members to arrive with a medication list that is, in many cases, outdated. It is time for common sense medication reminders for seniors

So what common sense interventions can ensure accurate medication administration in senior care when reminders such as pill boxes and medication lists aren’t enough? Here are three tips for helping your senior loved one stay on top of their daily prescriptions.

1. Be Actively Involved

Whether it’s a family member or a home health aide, it’s important to have someone around regularly to ensure your elderly loved is taking their medications as prescribed.

Examine the pillboxes daily to see if some doses have been missed. Occasionally look under the chair or bed to find a spare pill. Has your senior been sick lately? Has she been dealing with bouts of nausea or vomiting? All this could cause them to miss taking pills due to skipping meals.

Having a personal presence in the life of your elderly loved one can make a huge difference. It can increase their safety and decrease their hospital admissions.

2. Education Is Key

Although it can be tedious, allow the elderly person to go through the pillbox filling process with you. Having them do it themselves can be very enlightening. You can determine if they understand the schedule and if they are aware of what pills they are taking and for what reasons.

For example, someone may be aware that four of their daily pills are for blood pressure. Upon waking, they check their blood pressure and get a low reading. This awareness of their condition may encourage them to confer with a home health nurse or their doctor’s office before taking the prescribed medications.  In that way, they could avoid a situation which could dangerously lower their blood pressure.

3. Simplify the Prescription Filling Routine

Try to have medications filled at only one pharmacy if possible. Then, assign one person to be in charge of reconciling what medications are filled on a monthly basis with the medication list. This way, medications that are no longer being prescribed can be eliminated from the list. At the same time, newly prescribed medications can be added on a month-to-month basis.

Keeping track of a sometimes long list of medications can be difficult for many seniors. This is exacerbated when other factors such as memory loss or illness come into play. While it may not always be possible for you to be there to remind them what to take and when, a home health aide can provide the extra care and support your loved one needs.

At David York Agency, our experienced in-home healthcare providers can help to monitor medication and ensure your senior takes the medications they need when they need them. We are certified and trained in the latest guidelines for eldercare.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

How to Manage Stress When Providing Ongoing Care for a Loved One

how to manage stress

Becoming a caretaker is almost always a rewarding experience. Being able to care for a loved one who needs you is an enriching and satisfying feeling. However, taking on the role of permanent or even part-time caregiver for a family member or friend can quickly bring on feelings of immense stress, helplessness, anger, and fatigue. Caregiver stress is a serious issue.

It’s crucial to take the time to care for yourself when you have taken on the caregiving role. There are stress relief exercises for caregivers that, if followed, can help reduce the stress that is more than likely to occur when you feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.

Support Groups

A great way to get some stress relief in your life is to talk with other caregivers who can relate to your struggles. Online support groups offer caregivers a place to vent, cry, ask for advice, and just read about what others are going through. You may also want to talk to your loved one’s doctor to find out if there are actual support group meetings in your area that you could attend. Many churches offer support groups for caregivers, as there are generally many elderly folks in their congregations.

Pamper Yourself

Remember, being a caregiver isn’t just about the person who needs help. You need to take care of yourself so that you don’t feel like it’s all about everyone else. Take the time that you need to pamper yourself in whatever way you desire. Get a manicure, take a hot bubble bath, schedule a massage, lay out in the sun with a good book, or whatever makes you happy and relaxed. Don’t feel guilty for including “me time” in your schedule.

Ask for Help

It’s easy to want to take on the role of full-time caregiver, especially when it is a very close relative, such as your mother or father. But it is almost impossible to do everything for someone else and still take care of yourself. Asking for help from others will reduce a great deal of stress, especially when you see that you don’t have to do it all alone. Accept help from those who offer, and don’t be afraid to ask. You can’t do it all by yourself and expect not to get stressed.

Open Your World

Consulteering (see previous DYA post), taking on small consulting gigs or volunteer assignments, give you an opportunity to remain in touch with the outside world and contribute to society. It is a great, productive distraction that also keeps you fresh with stories to bring home to the person you are caring for.

Caregiver stress is a normal occurrence—even for professionals. When you’re feeling stressed, the key is to remember that you are not alone and that there are healthy ways to cope with your feelings.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for a loved one, remember that help is available. At David York Agency, we provide full and part-time support for caregivers and their families to lessen the burden of ensuring their loved one is safe, happy, and healthy.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

 

Consulteering: A New Way to Enjoy Life After Retirement

consulteering

If you have retired or have retired early to take care of a loved one full-time, you might be interested in “consulteering.” Consulteering is when you use your consulting skills on a volunteer basis. 

“It’s my trifecta. Paid work, giving back, and relaxation. I call it ‘consulteering’, said Dane Peters.”

Dane Peters, a seasoned educator and head of school who retired three years ago made up the word. He wanted to combine a life of consulting, volunteering, and leisure time to find a perfect work-life balance. Peters transitioned gradually from working full-time to building a rich, to lead a fulfilling life in his later years. He and others have made this ‘work a little, play a little’ philosophy work for them.

Retirement, even without caregiving, is an adjustment. If you miss your job and want to do some consulting, consider consulteering. Part-time or volunteer work will keep you excited about life, consulteering could be the answer. This type of volunteer work also gives you a chance to do a job you always wanted to try. 

You may have some goals you want to pursue, such as getting in shape or just visiting and spending more time with family and friends. You really do deserve some time for you.

Taking care of a loved one full-time is a rewarding labor of love, but it can be all-consuming at times. Adding a little balance to your life is not only good for your own health and well-being but for the health and well-being of the loved one you are caring for too.

Those you care for love you. They want you to go fishing or spend an hour or two working in the garden. They don’t want you to miss your grandchild’s sports game or ballet recital. It gives them pleasure to see you enjoy doing something that is meaningful that recharges you. Whether it is a part-time job, doing volunteer work, or just having fun, we all need a break, especially caregivers. As an added benefit, you will be able to come home with a new lens on life and window to the world to share with your charge. You will be able you update those needing care and confined to home. Your updates get them involved and thinking about something other than their personal situation. A win-win situation.

Consider exploring the life of “consulteering” while we watch over the ones you love most.

At David York Agency, we understand the commitment involved with being a caregiver for a loved one. You focus so much of your time and energy caring for others, and often forget to take time to do things for yourself. Our in-home health care professionals can be there to give you some extra time to pursue your interests or simply unwind a little.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide which services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.”

Intergenerational Caregiving: It Takes a Village

intergenerational caregiving

In recent years, Americans have witnessed a drastic change in the way we care for our elders and our children. The average family size has become smaller, and many of us find ourselves living extended distances from our aging parents. Add to the mix the increasing number of households that require multiple full-time incomes, and it isn’t hard to see the challenges one may face when trying to provide safe and effective care for both children and elderly family members. These challenges can sometimes be best addressed through the concept of intergenerational caregiving.

What is Intergenerational Caregiving?

Simply put, intergenerational caregiving is the practice of bringing together children and the elderly for mutual benefit. And the list of benefits is impressive:

  • Improved memory and physical ability for the elderly
  • Decreased depression and anxiety for both adult and child
  • Decreased behavioral issues in children
  • Improved social development in children
  • Improved self-esteem for both adult and child

Real-Life Application

There are a variety of scenarios in which intergenerational caregiving can be successful. Grandparents caring for their grandchildren at home while the parents are at work, daycare centers placed in assisted living facilities, the bringing together of elderly adults and adopted or fostered children—these are just a few of the ways to successfully bridge the gap between the elderly and our children.

Whether the elderly adult is a grandparent, a close relative, or simply a member of one’s community, it’s easy to see that intergenerational caregiving provides positive benefits to both the elder adult and the child.

If you have a senior loved one who is in need of light assistance around the home, they may benefit tremendously from the company and purpose caring for a child can bring. In some situations, though, your senior may need the help of an adult. A home health aide from David York Agency can provide high-quality, personalized care either on a full-time or part-time basis.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Visiting Seniors to Beat the Winter Blues

senior care tips

When seniors become stuck at home because of their age or physical limitations, it is easy for them to become bored and lonely. If you have a friend or a loved one who is cooped up inside this winter, you can help. Lift their spirits and provide some much-needed company by bringing the fun to their home. Taking time and visiting seniors can beat their winter blues. 

Here are a few senior care tips to come up with a fun activity you can enjoy with a senior loved one this winter.

1. Ask Them About What They Enjoy

Don’t just assume your elderly friend or family member is eager to knit or play backgammon. Talk to them about their life, what they used to do. Ask about the activities and sports they enjoyed in their youth. Find out about what interests them today. While many of the activities they used to do may very well not be possible now, it’s a good conversation starter.

Based on your conversation, brainstorm some ideas of fun things you can do together. For example, if they were an avid basketball player, they may enjoy having you over to watch professional basketball games with them. If they love to bake, get together to make and decorate cookies. Get a feel for what they would enjoy most before you decide on an activity.

Doing something that would actually interest and engage your senior friend or loved one has psychological and cognitive benefits. Much research has shown that those that remain mentally active maintain their senses longer than those who are mentally sedentary.

2. Let Them Do The Teaching

In your conversations, you may find that your senior loves to play a certain card or board game. They may also enjoy making handcrafted items. If one of their passions is something you don’t know how to do, ask them to teach you! Let them guide you outside your comfort zone. It can be a growing experience for you and fulfilling experience for them. 

If they are into knitting, crocheting, or sewing, request that they show you a thing or two. If your senior loves to cook, find out their favorite dish and bring the ingredients for you both to cook together. Even talking about your own issues in life and asking for their advice is a way to get seniors involved. Feeling useful and needed is a great way to cheer someone up and boost their confidence and sense of purpose.

3. Arrange Family “Socials” in the Home

Seniors, especially those who are widowed, may feel lonely much of the time. However, family members sometimes feel awkward visiting their elderly aunt or grandparent because they don’t know what to do or say. As a result, they avoid them and lose out on so much of what that senior relative has to offer.

Ask your senior loved one if there is any family around that they would like to see, and get their contact numbers. Be proactive and invite these relatives over for a small get-together for coffee, lunch, or even just snacks. It may be easier for some members of the family to get together when they are in a group setting, rather than one-on-one.

Depression and loneliness in the elderly is an all-too-common issue that is often overlooked by friends and family members. You can do a world of good in the life of a lonely senior simply by giving them your time.

If you need a little (or a lot) of support caring for an elderly individual in your life, a home health aide from David York Agency can provide the high-quality, personalized care to help seniors through the challenges they face in the lonely winter months.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. To find out more about hiring an aide for your loved one this winter, contact us today.

 

Tips To Reduce Elderly Depression During The Holidays

Portrait of the old woman in the winter

By: Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS

Senior Holiday Depression

Although we like to think of the holidays as a joyous time of year, not everyone feels that way. It can be a depressing and lonely time for seniors — especially for seniors who are separated from their loved ones. In addition, some seniors might be reminded of lost friends or family members or for the first time find themselves spending the holidays without their significant other. These losses bring on a lot of strong emotions and can be difficult to face alone.

Those of us that work with the elderly approach this time with trepidations. It is a period when they enjoy time with their loved ones, but may mourn all they have lost in terms of loved ones as well as physical capabilities. I have tried to put together some helpful tip sheets in addition to some concrete suggestions on how we can help the senior loved one, caregiver and their families navigate joyfully through this holiday season.

So, what can you do as a loved one of a senior who might be having a difficult time coping during the holidays? Here are suggestions for alleviating this lonely time for seniors.

1. Really listen to your senior loved one when they want to talk.

When your loved one talks, listen. Encourage them to express what they are feeling about the holidays, good or bad. If possible, just check in with them daily either by stopping by, calling or even using Skype to see how they are doing and to be there for them if they need to talk. Often, seniors just want to know that someone cares about them and that they are not alone.

2. Ask them for help and advice.

Seniors often get depressed because they feel they cannot participate in holiday planning the way they used to. If you are planning a holiday celebration, let them know they are a big part of that celebration. Ask for their advice or help to prepare for the event. Even something as simple as asking them for a recipe can make them feel included in the process. Most importantly, remind them how much they are loved by everyone in the family.

3. Spend quality time with them.

Quality time with your loved ones is important all year long, but especially during the holidays. It can be a great remedy for seasonal depression in the elderly. Look at old holiday pictures, cards or videos with them. Leave them somewhere visible and accessible so your loved one can take a walk down memory lane when they are alone. Ask to hear their memories of the season or stop by to watch some favorite holiday movies.

4. Plan a family gathering.

There is no better way to brighten someone’s mood and show them how much they are loved than by surrounding them with family. Dedicate a special night for everyone to get together for dinner, view a family video or even enjoy a game night. Invite friends, family and anyone else you think your loved one will enjoy seeing. Conversely, let them have a say in which family gathering they would prefer not to attend.

5. Help them with their holiday planning.

Many elderly seniors cannot get out and shop like they used to. Depending on their physical health and age, they may no longer be driving or may not be able to move around a store or mall without assistance. Offer to take your loved one out to do their holiday shopping. If getting out is not feasible for them, bring over a laptop or tablet to help them shop online. It might be a fun experience for them. You can help them decorate their house, wrap gifts or even make gifts. Also, a little extra help baking or preparing meals might be really appreciated.

6. Help them keep to a regular schedule.

With all that is going on around holiday time, it can be easy to slip out of a regular routine. It is important that seniors stay on as much of their normal schedule as possible including keeping up with their medication, getting about seven to nine hours of sleep and eating their three healthy square meals a day. It is equally important to not overeat or overindulge in sweets or alcohol. Be vigilant or tell their caregiver to make sure they keep up their strength during the holiday season.

7. If they are mobile, take them out.

There is no better distraction than getting out of the four walls surrounding them every day. You can bring them to social activities they normally attend or forums for their hobby. Museums in small doses could be quite manageable and shows are even better since you get to sit down. You could even take them shopping if they are so inclined in the busy season. Even grabbing lunch in the neighborhood could be just the fun outing they need.

8. Let’s get physical!

In addition to all the other physical benefits, exercise is great for mood improvement. It can be as effective as anti-depressants without the ill effects and toxicity. There are plenty of exercises designed for the elderly to do at their level of ability taking any limited mobility and stamina into account. Yoga and Tai Chi are also excellent low impact alternatives. Exercise can enhance their weight bearing, balance and muscle density. A qualified personal trainer that comes to the house might be a good solution for those who are unable to get out to classes or a gym.

9. Get them an iPad.

There are many studies that demonstrate the cognitive and psychological benefits of the Internet for the elderly. It opens vistas for them in terms of connecting with the outside world and like-minded people. It is also a great platform for connecting with grandchildren and relatives. Buy them an iPad if they don’t already have one, crack it open and sit together with them as they explore what is a new and exciting technology for them. They’ll learn a new skill that could spark some creativity for you both.

10. Consider getting a pet.

Don’t underestimate the value of pets in the life of a senior. Having a manageable, low maintenance pet can provide not only a much-needed distraction and companionship but a sense that seniors can still love and care for another living thing. These are important factors that can ward off the all too pervasive affliction of depression in the elderly. This is also an opportunity to employ an important form of therapy called therapeutic touch.

11. Arrange the time for them to laugh and put on a happy face.

If your senior loved one is not up to going out, invite their friends in. Help them make it a pleasant experience by serving light fare and arranging an activity they can have fun with. Even watching a comedy can provide comic relief for all involved. Remember, positivity is infectious. If you’re able to keep a smile on, you’ll spread that holiday cheer to everyone around you, including your loved one who may be struggling with a bout of seasonal depression.

12. You’re never too old for a spa day.

Of course, there is nothing as relaxing as a pampered experience at the spa. However, that might not be feasible for your senior loved one. As the baby boomers age, house call businesses are burgeoning. You can get everything in the comfort of your home, from manicures to massages. Calling in some spa-like professionals could also be a fun activity with their friends.

13. Hire a home healthcare provider.

If you do not have the time to help your loved one during the holidays, consider hiring a home health aide. An aide can help them with errands, decorations for the holidays as well as preparing meals. Home health aides can also provide much-needed companionship. You will feel more at ease knowing someone is covering for you and helping take care of your loved one during what might be a vulnerable time in their life.

Depression In the Elderly

Depression in the elderly is a serious problem that is far too often overlooked. If you feel the situation is really serious, consider bringing in a professional. There are support groups for all sorts of conditions which could be extremely helpful for appropriately directing your loved one to get insight and help from those facing the same challenges. One on one talk therapy and supportive counseling can help them work through their individual underlying issues without the risks and side effects of medication. However, when medication is deemed necessary, be sure to monitor their intake since the elderly metabolize medications differently than younger adults. You might want to explore some alternative remedies for depression such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, SAMe or St. John’s wort. Also, be on the lookout for any warning signs of suicide. Tragically, when the elderly decide to take that step, they are much more ‘successful’ at it than their younger counterparts.

Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.