alzheimer's care

Tag Archive for Aging

Pet Therapy for the Elderly

Happy Senior Man With His Dog

A therapy pet can be a powerful member of the caregiver team. It has been well established that pets can lower the risk of heart attack and increase survival rates in those who have suffered heart attack, but research shows there are many more additional benefits.

When humans interact with animals, there is a resulting increase in the production of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin – the “good” hormones responsible for improving mood. Further, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are decreased.

These hormonal changes result in a sense of well-being which helps improve depression, agitation, social interaction, engagement, and even nutritional intake.

Taking walks with a dog tends to motivate seniors to walk farther, thereby increasing their level of physical activity. In situations where mobility is reduced, talking to or petting an animal can still lower heart rate, improve vital signs, and has been shown to reduce the need for medication.

If you are considering pet therapy for yourself or an elderly loved one, here are some tips that may help:

Make the decision together. Situations vary and people age differently. Full pet ownership may not be suitable for every situation, and the right pet should be paired with the right person. A decision to get a pet should not be forced on the elderly person. For some, pet ownership may not be the answer. The services of a professional therapy pet may be a better choice.

Does the person have disabilities? In some cases, dogs may not be a good fit for someone with major physical limitations. Indoor pets that need less care, such as cats or birds may be a better fit. In cases of significant impairments, your loved one may be a candidate for a service animal to aid in functioning.

Age, Size, and Temperament. When matching a pet to an elderly person, it is important to consider the animal’s unique temperament, care and grooming needs, training, physical size, and remaining life expectancy. A young puppy or kitten may require too much training and lack the maturity to be a suitable companion. While much older pets may have more health problems that could result in expensive veterinary bills and medications. A plan should be in place to determine who will care for the animal if it outlives its owner.

Financial Considerations. Some pets are more expensive than others to maintain. Consider the costs involved for each type of pet, not just for initial cost, but also ongoing care and maintenance. Adopting a pet from your local shelter may be a more affordable choice. Shelter workers or foster owners often become very familiar with each animal’s personality and may be able to assist in making a good match. Additionally, some shelters offer discounts to seniors. For instance, Idaho Humane Society offers a discount to people over the age of 60.

Pet Sharing. If acquiring a full time pet for your loved one is too impractical, consider “borrowing” someone else’s pet. Do you or a close friend have a dog or other pet that is well socialized and up for a house call? Consider bringing the pet for regular visits with your elderly loved one. Recent studies have even shown that watching cat videos online can boost energy and reduce sadness and anxiety.

Click here to download the PDF, Tips for Caregivers: Deciding if Pet Therapy is Right for Your Loved One. For more information, including research about pets and seniors, visit Pets for the Elderly

Tips To Convincing Your Aging Parents It’s Time To Stop Driving

1-Dangerous-Driver-300dpi-300x2003Driving is perhaps the ultimate symbol of independence and control.  An elderly person is likely going to feel trapped if they are required to give up driving when they are accustomed to that freedom.  Loss of control is a fear for anyone, especially for aging parents, who may be also feeling loss of control of their physical health.

From studies on the subject, we know that most people will relinquish the keys when asked to do so and when the time comes.  But there are still a sizable number of seniors who adamantly refuse to even consider it, in spite of accidents, and urgings of family. Read More

Aging and Cancer

Cancer-and-the-elderlyAging is the single biggest risk factor for developing cancer. However, it also increases the risk of other diseases and injury and can affect a person’s well-being, independence, and feelings of self-worth.  These are all issues that need to be considered when cancer treatment decisions are being made, as well as during treatment.

Disease and disability, which may interfere with cancer treatment and recovery, are more likely to occur in older adults. For example, age is associated with a gradual inability to accomplish daily activities, such as the use of transportation and the ability to go shopping without assistance or provide adequate nutrition for oneself. Read More

Weight loss — a warning sign that care may be needed series

People of all ages benefit from losing excess weight, reasons include reduced risk of cancer, less stress on joints and reduced depression. However, when an elder suddenly loses weight without apparent reason, it could be cause for concern.Weighing Scales

If it is due to forgetfulness or inability to prepare meals—the weight loss may be an early sign that care is needed.

It could also be a sign of health risks or disease. At first sign of sudden weight loss, try talking to the elder to see if you can discover the reason.  If financial ability is a concern and the elder lives in Ada County, consider these options.  Learn more about nutrition for seniors. Read More

Hoarding — a warning sign that care may be needed series

More than collecting, hoarding hampers everyday life by the excessive collection of unnecessary items. When hoarding becomes an issue, items which are not only unnecessary—but often unusable—are carefully guarded.

Many times, the hoarder is unaware how bad their situation has grown. Remember, it often takes time to amass the items.  They have become used to the living situation gradually.

Hoarding is linked to some of the other signs that care is needed, such as mobility, safety concerns and housekeeping changes. Read More

Seniors and Pets

Dog and Cat Reclining on a Blanket I recently read an article about a woman with Alzheimer’s who wandered off and fell into a ravine. She was not found until the next day. This story had a happy ending due to the fact that the woman’s Doberman stayed by her side and would not leave, even when the paramedics came.

Animals offer a great contribution to the health and overall well-being of seniors. Read More

When is it time to make decisions for your parents?

Watching someone who took care of you decline in health and ability can be a difficult process. During the period you first see signs of mental or physical degeneration you may be tempted to start making or suggesting arrangements for your loved one.

Before you even mention the need for care, assess their situation. Expressing your suspicion can lead to adamant denial or arguments and if your concern is unwarranted, it will hinder future conversation.

E-How has a list of warning signs that elderly parents may need care, here it is: Read More

Happiness increases with age — Guest Post

I’d like to welcome Prime Medical Alert to my blog today.

Recently, Psychological Science published a report showing that happiness does in fact increase with age, but that overall wellbeing is determined through the time-period a person is born. At first, this doesn’t make much sense and even seems contradictory, but let me explain. Read More

Preventing Falls in Older Adults

Prevent Falls in SeniorsIt is estimated that one in three adults age 65 and older fall each year. Older adults are hospitalized five times more frequently for falling related injuries than any other cause. Accidental falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths and non-fatal falls shown in one study estimated the average cost of falling to be $19,440 per person.

In addition to the injuries, many older adults develop a fear of falling and limit their activity. This actually decreases their mobility and increases their chance of falling. Read More

Seasonal Depression or Winter Blues for Caregivers

Seasonal Depression If you have lately found yourself reaching for carbohydrate-rich foods, desiring more sleep/feeling fatigued or decreased levels of energy, you may be experiencing some symptoms of “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Web MD, people with SAD have many of the normal signs of depression.

Other symptoms may include: Read More