Aging is often considered a hard process. Our bodies can get weaker, our minds can struggle to retain information, and our daily life can become a bit more complex. But much like most complex things, there are shortcuts that one can take to simplify the aging process.

One of the easiest ways to simplify aging? Technology. Though traditionally seniors and technology have had an acrimonious relationship, this new generation of seniors is far more computer literate than in the past. By embracing gadgets and new machines, seniors can stay healthy and stay connected.

These hacks might not turn back the clock, but they can help seniors and the ones that love them simplify the aging process. Here is a list of the best tech products to add to your home.

BeClose. The perfect way for working families to check on elderly loved ones throughout the day. BeClose is a wireless sensor system that can be placed around a senior’s house. Users can log in and see what sensors have been activated during the day. It’s a great system for checking to see if your loved one has opened the medicine cabinet in time for their meds, or even opened the front door to leave their home.

TabSafe. If managing medication is becoming difficult for a loved one, TabSafe could be the cure. A machine that manages the distribution of medications, TabSafe can be programed to give precise doses at precise times. It’s a great way for seniors who have vision or dexterity problems to get accurate and timely doses of their daily medications.

Telikin. A simple touch-screen device that allows you to call, video chat, or email at the tap of a screen. You can connect to your family and friends using this easy to manage tablet. The best part? All the software is installed when it arrives at your home, just plug it in and get connected to your family and friends.

Whether you’re getting to your golden years or simply looking out for a senior, technology is a great asset for aging.

What’s your favorite song?

Whether it’s a golden oldie or new music, chances are, if it’s your favorite you know the lyrics by heart. You sing them on long car rides, in the shower, or when you’re having a good day. It turns out, these impromptu karaoke sessions are good for more than your vocal training.

Finnish researchers have found that singing may be a way to improve brain function, even in patients with early stage dementia. Singing improved the mood and the cognitive abilities of everyone in the study, especially those with early stage dementia.

Researchers studied the effects of music on the brain for 10 weeks, allowing seniors to sing their favorite tunes, hum music, and listen to tunes. Seniors with mild dementia showed improvement in memory, thinking skills, and their ability to get around. Those without dementia showed improved memory skills as well.

Singing also served as a mood elevator. Seniors who were encouraged to sing reported mood improvement and increases in optimism.

What does this mean for the seniors in your life?

It means it’s time to get musical.

If your loved one is having trouble with memory or mood, consider signing them up for a music class or a senior singing group. An activity with a musical theme is also an excellent idea for seniors with no memory problems, as it will help keep them sharp. If you can’t find a music-based activity, singing along may be the key to victory. Get your senior’s favorite music and arrange for an interactive concert. Afraid of sounding off-key? The study shows that even those who listen to music can reap the mental benefits.

Whether you’re hoping to keep your mind honed or simply interested in a sing along, music may be the key to keeping healthy in 2016.

Does Grandma really need another pair of slippers?

At Capital City Nurses, we know the holidays can be daunting. Long lists of shopping for family and friends, holiday feasts to plan, decorations to hang—this season of peace can be extremely stressful. This year, instead of relying on the classics, like slippers, why not get the seniors on your list something that could change their lives and their outlooks?

Here are our favorite gift suggestions for the holiday season:

  1. Technology. Getting a tablet or computer for a senior may not be the most obvious choice, but it might be the best present they ever get. Studies have shown that technology keeps seniors minds’ sharp, helps them stay connected to the outside world, and expands their horizons. Give your aging loved one the gift of tech, and spend a few hours teaching them how to navigate the web. It will open a whole new world up for them.
  2. Classes. Has Grandma always wanted to learn French? Does Grandpa have a passion for history? Get them learning again by signing them up for classes at local community colleges or senior centers. Studies have shown that learning, especially languages, helps keep the mind sharp as we age. It will also give your loved one exciting new experiences.  
  3. Upgrades. Do your parents live in a safe home? Are you sure? This Christmas, why not make their home the safest place to be with a few upgrades? Consider your parents’ mobility before you get started. Do they need a chair lift? Or would better, brighter lighting to help their vision be a good choice? Work with your parents to pinpoint little home improvements that will make their living space safer and more convenient.
  4. Reliable Visitors. If your loved one is having trouble navigating their house or completing weekly errands, perhaps some help is needed. Capital City Nurses offers a Daughter Down the Street program that is ideal for independent seniors who may need a little extra help during the week.

This holiday season, skip the slippers and give a gift that can have a lasting impact on the seniors in your life. Focus on giving that lasts long after the celebrating is over.

If you can’t be with your loved one during the holidays (or any other time), our Daughter/Son Down the Street services may be the answer!

“Daughter/Son Down the Street” Companion Service
Some clients don’t require medical assistance, but would like a friendly visit or a companion on excursions about town.  A “Daughter/Son Down the Street” is available to visit the National Gallery of Art, take afternoon tea, have lunch at the club, play a game of chess, or attend a concert at the Kennedy Center.

A stimulating companion helps keep seniors involved in activities they’ve enjoyed in the past. Keeping their world as “open” as possible helps avoid depression & feelings of isolation.

Dr. Vicki Rackner, MD shares this advice about ‘holiday blues’ and depression
The holiday season is quickly coming upon us. If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you may notice a change in your loved one’s mood as the holidays approach. Perhaps you are one of many, who visit elderly parents and family during the holidays who live a distance away. When you visit you may notice that loved ones are not as physically active, or they show symptoms of fatigue or sadness and have no interest in the holiday or in their surroundings.

According to the National Institutes of Health; of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older, about 2 million suffer from full-blown depression. Another 5 million suffer from less severe forms of the illness. This represents about 20% of the senior population — a significant proportion.

Depression in the elderly is difficult to diagnose and is frequently untreated. The symptoms may be confused with a medical illness, dementia, or malnutrition due to a poor diet. Many older people will not accept the idea that they have depression and refuse to seek treatment.

As a care giver or family member of a depressed older person, make it your responsibility to get involved. The elder person generally denies any problems or may fear being mentally ill. You can make the difference in and remove the Holiday Blues from seniors suffering from depression. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation offers a “Depression Tool Kit.”

Click here for more information and the tool kit

Home Care Providers Can Help Influenza and
Pneumonia Patients Get the Rest and Comfort They
Need for a Full Recovery

According to the American Lung Association, Influenza and pneumonia combined are the eighth leading cause of death among all Americans and the seventh leading cause of death among all Americans over the age of 65.

To help you recover more quickly and decrease your risk of complications, the Mayo Clinic advises the following:

  • Get plenty of rest. Even when you start to feel better, allow your home care provider to do the housekeeping and laundry.
  • Stay home until after your temperature returns to normal and you stop coughing up mucus. Because pneumonia can recur, it’s better not to return to outside activities until you’re sure you’re well. Your home care provider will be with you to provide companionship.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help loosen mucus in your lungs. Your home care provider will help to monitor your nutrition.
  • Take the entire course of any prescribed medications. If you stop medication too soon, your lungs may continue to harbor bacteria that can multiply and cause your pneumonia to recur. Your home care provider will help you manage your medications.
Influenza vaccination is also recommended since pneumonia often occurs as a complication of the flu. Pneumonia and influenza vaccines are covered by Medicare, as well as some state and private health insurance.

Caitlin joins the CCN team after serving as a bedside cardiology nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. She received her B.A. in biology from Colgate University in 2003, where she was a four-year member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team. She obtained her Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 2011 upon completion of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program. Prior to her career change, Caitlin spent five years as a Middle School Science teacher at Gilman School in Baltimore and has written science curriculum for a London-based international school system. Her clinical interests include the psychobiological care of elders, lateral integration of healthcare, and caregiver fatigue.

Falls, the majority of which occur at home, are the leading cause of injuries or death for those over aged 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Activity Safety

  • Change positions slowly; sit at edge of bed, sofa, or chair for a few minutes before standing or turning to walk
  • Place daily use items like phone, TV remote, or medications within easy reach
  • Use assistive devices, such as canes or walkers

Environment Safety

  • Remove throw rugs
  • Repair, replace, or remove torn, worn or frayed carpet
  • Widen pathways; rearrange furniture or clutter to allow free movement in home
  • Clear floors of papers, trash, and stored items
  • Consider installation of grab bars in bathroom tub or shower
  • Use night light in bathroom or hallway
  • Keep phone, call button, and medical alert pendant close at all times
  • Post emergency phone numbers near the telephone
Some helpful handouts created by the National Council
on Aging

Recently, U.S. Senator Susan Collins [R-ME] wrote an article for the St. John Valley Times touting the importance of home care.

“The challenges facing our nation’s health care system today are driven by demographics. The first member of the baby boom generation turned 65 last year. Our health care system now stands directly in the path of a tidal wave of aging baby boomers who will be retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next 20 years. That system will clearly have to adapt and change if it is to survive that impact….”

Read more: St. John Valley Times – Sen Collins Home care can reduce cost and improve quality of life

A recent New York Times article reveals a direct link between blood sugar and dementia.

“We found a steadily increasing risk [of dementia] associated with ever-higher blood glucose levels, even in people who didn’t have diabetes,” Dr. Crane said. Of particular interest: “There’s no threshold, no place where the risk doesn’t go up any further or down any further.” The association with dementia kept climbing with higher blood sugar levels and, at the other end of the spectrum, continued to decrease with lower levels.”

read more…

If you’ve been taking care of your own aging parent or family member, you understand how important the emotional care is to their overall health and happiness. We offer services designed to emotionally and mentally engage your loved one as well as provide practical daily living assistance in the home when needed.

Daughter Down the Street – Enjoy a visit from your surrogate daughter. You could make a trip to the store, go to lunch and a movie or even go to your doctor’s appointment with a companion that we like to say is “socially savvy.” This is our companion care service and requires a 2 hour minimum visit.

  • Friendly conversation
  • Incidental travel
  • Mental stimulation
  • Memory care and socialization

Short and Sweet – Many seniors do not require 4+ hours of care or don’t feel comfortable having someone in their home for that long. The Short and Sweet program is a 90 minute visit from a CNA to help get the day started. Our care giver will assist getting up and dressed, doing things around the house that could be helpful (like a load of laundry or organizing a closet), having breakfast or preparing a snack for later. This is a great way to introduce the idea of home care to clients that have never had it before. The visits are 90 minutes and there is a minimum of two visits per week.

  • Personal care assistance
  • Meal preparation and planning
  • Light housework
  • Medication reminders and safety