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Seniors 5 Most Concerning Issues
Written By : Shirley Cohen 
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When I reflect over the past 20 years since I began my career in senior home care services, the world has gone through dramatic changes, but seniors’ most concerning issues have remained pretty much the same. The problems that I’ve observed that most seriously affect the health and wellbeing of seniors are the following:

1) They are not getting the proper nutrition and hydration. They tend to neglect themselves when there is no one around to cook or to serve them. Why, heck, even young people will skip meals, or pick up fast food, which are loaded with salt, trans fat, and unnatural ingredients. They are likely to eat things that they can make quickly but which may not be very good for them on a regular basis. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is ideal but how many seniors are going to the market every few days to pick up the fresh foods and how many are spending time making themselves nutritious and healthful meals which usually requires cutting up lots of healthful ingredients such as chicken, carrots, and celery. When you are dealing with pain, memory issues, or chronic disabilities, you often tend to want to keep things very simple and that can lead to omitting the things your body needs for optimum health.

Hospitals are full of seniors who are admitted for dehydration. They are just not taking in the amount of liquids their bodies require. Not enough water, tea, fruit, and soup—the things you would take in if you were around people who care about you or for you. The most common diagnosis we hear is malnutrition and dehydration which are both easily avoided with the right care.

2) They are at risk of falling. Seniors who have had strokes, brain injuries, ear or eye conditions, equilibrium issues, feet and leg problems, migraines, circulation problems and a whole host of other conditions, may have more trouble navigating around their own homes than they care to admit or accept. Many will walk down their home’s corridors balancing themselves with their hands on the walls instead of using a walker. Others will minimize how dizzy they get and will try to go from room to room too quickly. Some allow way too much clutter to accumulate around them which become obstacles to their ability to navigate safely around their environment.  Also there are plenty of elderly people whose homes have not been modified with safety bars in the bathroom or those who have unnecessary throw rugs or wires strewn along the floors that are trip hazards. Then when you think about how many older folks are living with knee, hip, and back problems, it’s no wonder that falls are one of the biggest reasons seniors end up in hospitals. Unfortunately, for many, some falls are too big to recover from, while others mark the beginning of an irreversible health decline.

3) Seniors do not take their medicine on time and they often mistake the doses. Without the structure of a schedule of activities throughout the day, it is very difficult for many seniors to remember to take their medicines on time. Another major issue is that seniors often have to take a lot of different medications. Some are taken before meals, some after, some with food, some before bed, so it’s not easy even for people with good memories to take them exactly as prescribed. Not taking the right dosage at the prescribed times, unfortunately, can cause serious problems, including blurry vision, heart palpitations, sleeplessness, and worse. This is also more difficult for people with memory issues. They forget where they put their pills, how many they should take, and when exactly they should take them.

4) They outlive their friends and often times begin suffering from loneliness and depression. It is very sad for seniors when they lose their friends and relatives—people they have known for many years of their lives.  Especially for those who do not have adult children who visit them on a regular basis whether it is because they have no children or their children live at a distance, or because they have their own families and work life to manage each day. Studies have shown that people who have friends in their old age fare much better than those that do not and that is easy to understand because human beings thrive on friendship, support, kindness, and the caring of others.  TVs can offer some distraction and amusement but it can never replace the human connection with people who come and visit and have tea together and express their interest and concern for you.  People who are alone too long naturally get depressed. Depression is very hard to overcome and often leads to other issues within the body.

5) They stop wanting to exercise. At a certain point, many seniors lose hope that they can make any positive changes that will affect their health and wellbeing and they stop trying. That is too bad because, of course, exercise is important for seniors and it gives them lots of positive benefits, including increased circulation, appetite,and restful sleep. But without someone around to encourage them and to go on walks with them, it can easily become something that gets neglected, and the more neglected it gets the harder it is to begin to do.  We can all empathize with this syndrome, because so many of us younger folk have gotten stuck in the rut of not exercising for long periods of time.

So what’s the solution to all these negative habits and issues that negatively affect seniors of a certain age, or those with disabilities or chronic conditions? Long term care insurance needs to be part of the social security system of benefits. Right now the costs are too high for most working people. But in the future more people will need and want to get one-on-one care. According to recent studies, seniors would much rather be in their homes than in institutional settings. And who can blame them? We have to start designing our society so that it supports what we want for ourselves in our old age. While presently it looks like we have insurmountable issues as far as our economy and healthcare in general is concerned, it’s going to have to be a big item on our national agenda before too long.

In the meantime, for the people who are lucky enough to have the assets, home care is a great way to go. It helps resolve all the problems presented above and it can increase longevity and the enjoyment of life by a considerable degree. I know because I’ve witnessed it on many occasions throughout the years with clients who have come back from death’s door to full and active lives thanks to the attentive care of a qualified, professional home care aide. So call us at Home Sweet Home Care if you are concerned about a senior’s wellbeing. We’ll undoubtedly know someone good who can help.

  More from Shirley Cohen
This is Shirley Cohen's first article.

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