How to Support a Grieving Senior

How to Support a Grieving Senior

How to Support an Elderly Parent Who is Coping with Grief

The loss of a loved one is never easy at any age. Older adults tend to face more losses as they age and friends and family pass away over the years. No matter how many times a person has dealt with this situation, it is still difficult and emotionally taxing.

A close loss, like that of a spouse, can be extremely devastating. You will likely also be navigating grief if the departed was a loved one. Juggling your own emotions and needs as well as those of a parent can be a challenge.

Sometimes, elderly parents face losses that don’t directly affect you. For example, a friend in their assisted living community may pass away. This can also cause a spiral into depression and isolation.

Being supportive of a grieving senior requires patience, understanding, and love.

How to Recognize When a Senior Is Struggling with Grief

Everyone copes with grief in different ways. Some people show it more and some less. Some people will openly discuss what they are going through while others may bottle up emotions.

Healing from a loss takes time. You cannot rush it. However, it’s important to learn to recognize the signs that a senior is struggling with grief. Ignoring the problem can lead to bigger mental and physical health concerns. It can also affect their quality of life and even longevity.

Some of the most common signs that a senior is struggling with grief include:

  • Withdrawn behavior and avoiding social interactions
  • Not participating in hobbies and activities that they enjoy
  • Neglecting personal health
  • Poor hygiene and grooming habits
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs

Seniors who do not live in an assisted living community may also have trouble paying bills on time and keeping their homes maintained. These activities are typically handled for residents in assisted living.

What Can I Do to Be Supportive of a Grieving Parent?

Most adult children want to be supportive of a grieving parent but also don’t want to overstep or push them to heal too fast. What can you do to provide support while protecting your senior loved one’s health, safety, and wellbeing?

  • Be Open About Discussing Your Feelings and Theirs

If you are also experiencing a loss along with your senior parent, be open about discussing your feelings as well as theirs. Talking about what you are going through can help your parent open up.

When something triggers a memory of the departed loved one, don’t be afraid to share that memory. Talk about the things that person did or how they made you feel. Sharing will help your elderly parent feel less alone.

It isn’t easy reliving memories and dealing with outbursts of grief, but it is better to get it out into the open. This will bring both of you comfort as you learn to navigate life after a loss.

  • Ask Direct Questions That Require Specific Answers

One of the most common questions that are asked when someone experiences a loss is: “How are you?”

It’s a well-meaning question, but it is not easy to answer. The grieving person may not know the appropriate way to respond. Does the person asking really want details or is it only meant as a polite greeting?

Asking direct questions that require specific answers can help a senior parent communicate. You can ask things like if they tend to miss their loved one more during a certain time of day or if a certain season makes grieving harder.

This tells your parent that you truly care and want to be there for them. It also indicates that you are looking for a deeper answer than a polite “I’m fine.”

Some people won’t discuss the loss or anything about the person who passed away to avoid upsetting loved ones. The reality is that, for most people, the loss is always on their minds. Discussing the departed can be beneficial, even if it is accompanied by sadness.

  • Be Aware of Sudden Personality Changes

Grief is a powerful emotion that can lead to worrying personality changes. A senior coping with a loss may become more forgetful, disorganized, and have poor concentration.

These changes may remain for weeks or even months after the loss. If you are concerned that something more is going on, make sure your parent sees a medical or mental health professional. In the meantime, be patient and provide support to help get them back on their feet when they are ready.

  • Encourage Good Health and Hygiene Habits

Health and hygiene can be affected when a senior is working through grief. Some may neglect self-care and medical needs. This will make them feel worse and can start to have a significant impact on their wellness.

Encourage good health and hygiene habits. If your parent is not receptive to your suggestions or assistance, then it may be time to talk to a professional. Grief counseling can get them in touch with someone who can provide the type of support they need or direct them to other care providers who can.

  • Help Your Parent Rebuild Their Social Circle

Isolation is a serious problem for elderly people. Many start to lose friends and family as they go through life, shrinking their support network.

Rebuilding a person’s social circle can become harder as they age. Some develop medical conditions or mobility limitations that make it difficult to go out and meet new people. Many seniors don’t know where to go to meet their peers.

Learning how to build your social circle in assisted living can help a senior cope with grief. New connections provide human interaction and improve mental health.

  • Plan Ahead for Gatherings, Events, and Holidays

Gatherings, events, and holidays can be especially difficult for a grieving parent. Not only are these occasions reminders that their loved one is gone, but they can also bring up discussions and questions that are difficult to answer.

Planning ahead can make these events easier. Ask your parent if there is anything they would like to do to honor the departed, like reading a special poem, displaying a photograph, or lighting a candle.

  • Acknowledge Important Days Over the Years

The initial loss of a loved one weighs heavy. Learning to do things without them during the first year can feel like climbing a mountain. However, many discover that the second year after a loss is even harder.

This is primarily because others stop discussing the loss. They are putting less or no effort into providing support and comfort. Many people go back to their daily lives and stop checking in as much as they did.

Some people assume that the second year gets easier, which often isn’t the case. They may be more reluctant to ask for help since time has passed since the loss.

Grief also tends to change over time, which means your loved one may need to find different ways to manage it during the second year.

One thing you can do to help them is to continue acknowledging important days, even years after the loss. Taking time to visit, make a phone call, or send a letter or greeting card can make a difference.

  • Be Patient and Help Your Parent Form Connections

Be patient and help your parent form connections with those around them. Show support and be prepared to talk about the loss. If your parent lives independently, it may be time to consider senior care. These 5 ways that assisted living helps families of seniors is a good start.

There is no quick and easy way around grief. It’s something we all face, no matter our age. If you are also experiencing a loss, make sure you take care of yourself as well as your parent. Together, you can face the days ahead and rediscover life with joy, happiness, and love.

10 Things Seniors Can Do to Improve Their Nutritional Health

10 Things Seniors Can Do to Improve Their Nutritional Health

Every senior should care about their nutrition. While this is something that applies to all people, it is especially important for older adults.

Our bodies change as we age. That includes the processes and systems within our bodies. Elderly adults tend to have a slower metabolic rate. They may also experience decreased appetite. The risk of several diseases that are affected by nutrition also increases, including diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

Seniors who are diagnosed with cognitive decline may have difficulty keeping up with daily meal preparation and eating, which will eventually impact their health.

Sticking to a nutritious diet can significantly improve overall wellbeing and slow or prevent disease. What can seniors do now to improve their nutritional health?

Include Varied Protein Sources

Include a variety of protein sources in your diet. Poultry, fish, and lean meats are great choices. Also include sources of vegetarian protein. These are beneficial because they supply your body with protein without the saturated fats. Some good options include:

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Artichokes
  • Brussel sprouts

If you live in a retirement community, then you may have access to a healthy eating menu already. One of the things many seniors find when debunking the myths about assisted living is that the food is delicious using fresh ingredients and homemade recipes. It tastes like something you would make at home rather than bland hospital food, and it’s good for you!

Eat Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit and vegetables. These foods are usually low in calories and rich in fiber and nutrients. You can include frozen or canned versions, but fresh is usually the best both in taste and nutrition.

Seniors with arthritis or mobility limitations can look for pre-sliced fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. These provide the same nutritional value but without the extra prep work.

Choose Whole Grains

Fiber is essential to senior health. It helps with digestion, prevents constipation, and helps the stomach feel full. Eating enough fiber can also lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Including fiber in your diet has also been shown to reduce inflammation.

Whole grains are an ideal source of fiber. It’s easy to include this in your diet because so many foods have a whole grain alternative. You can shop for pasta, bread, and cereal made with whole grains.

Reduce Salt Intake

Too much salt is detrimental to the human body. If your intake is high, you could end up increasing your blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Osteoporosis has also been linked to high salt intake.

Seniors who have low activity levels can gain cognitive benefits from low-salt diets.

If you tend to use salt to flavor many of your meals, consider switching to spices instead. There are many options, each offering its own unique flavor, including:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Nutmeg
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Ginger
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Saffron
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Experiment to see which spices offer the best flavor with your favorite foods.

Drink Enough Water

The older we get, the less efficient our bodies become at retaining water. This makes seniors more susceptible to dehydration. Those experiencing dehydration will notice concerning symptoms like:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue

Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. More may be needed on hot days or on days when you are doing more physical activity or spending time outdoors in the heat. Remember to spread your water intake out across the entire day. Bringing a water bottle when traveling can help.

Use Meal Planning

It is difficult to know what you’re eating and how much without having a plan. Meal planning is a good way to make sure you stick to a healthy diet. It can also help to have a record of what you have been eating in case your doctor needs that information.

Luxury assisted living communities offer meal services and more. If you are already a resident, get in touch with staff to learn more about nutrition and meal services.

Eat Less Refined Sugar

Eating a lot of refined sugar can be very bad for seniors. It contributes to insulin resistance and increases the risk of diabetes.

Refined sugar has also been shown to contribute to cognitive decline in seniors. It can cause or worsen attention problems and memory loss. It also causes damage to blood vessels, which can further cognitive decline.

Instead of refined sugar, try:

  • Pureed fruits
  • Dates
  • Monk fruit sweetener
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses

Keep in mind that while these alternatives may be better, some should still be enjoyed in moderation. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to learn more about which sugar substitutes might work best for you.

Be Mindful of Food Safety

A healthy diet should also include food safety. Foodborne illness is bad for people of all ages, but seniors are more vulnerable. This can occur when food isn’t prepared or stored properly. Seniors should also avoid raw meats and unpasteurized dairy products.

Any food that is old or looks or smells off should be thrown away. It’s not worth the risk of eating it and potentially developing a serious illness. Adults over age 65 are more likely to end up in the hospital due to foodborne illness than younger people.

Skip Processed Foods

Processed foods tend to be high in fats, sugar, or sodium. All of these can be difficult to digest. It’s best to stick with foods that are closer to the source, like fresh vegetables, fish, and meats.

Seniors should check labels to see which foods have the most nutritional value with less sugar or sodium. Many canned soups, processed cheeses, cereals, chips, and condiments can be problematic. Pre-packaged and frozen meals can also fall into this category due to preservatives and high sodium content.

Move to Assisted Living

Seniors who struggle with food shopping and preparation should consider a move to a luxury senior care facility. The nutritional and social benefits of living in an assisted living community are many and can help you stay comfortable and healthy.

These communities include meal plans with menus designed for older adults. They can also accommodate individual dietary needs, like allergies or diabetes. The staff ensures that all residents have access to food and are eating properly. They also serve as an early alert system when something changes in a senior’s diet or eating behaviors.

Senior nutrition is essential to quality of life and longevity. Taking positive steps now can help you enjoy more of your years.

Osteoporosis Prevention for Seniors in Assisted Living

Osteoporosis prevention is important for everyone, especially senior citizens. The disease affects around 54 million in the United States alone. It is often referred to as a “silent disease” because it may not come with any symptoms. Many people do not know that they have it until they break a bone.

Having no symptoms doesn’t mean that osteoporosis is harmless. As it progresses, it can be very painful and debilitating. It causes bones to become fragile, making them more likely to break. This can cause mobility issues, deformities, and reduced height. It leads to an overall lower quality of life.

In some cases, fractures caused by osteoporosis can even lead to death due to complications from the injury. Elderly people require more time to heal and have a higher risk of complications that can lead to diminished health or even death.

Senior health is a priority at Vista Living Senior Care. We want our residents to thrive and enjoy the highest quality of life possible. That’s why it’s so important for all adults to understand what osteoporosis is and how to prevent it.

What Is My Osteoporosis Risk?

Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but some groups are at a higher risk. The biggest factor is gender. While osteoporosis affects around one in 20 men, it affects around one in five women. White and Asian women have an even higher risk.

Women’s elevated risk stems from hormonal changes that occur during menopause. These changes affect bone density. Oestrogen is needed to build strong bones. This hormone decreases after menopause, reducing bone density. Men also have a larger skeleton, which helps them avoid breaks.

Even if you don’t fall into the female demographic, you can still end up with osteoporosis. Your risk may be increased if you:

  • Have a family history of osteoporosis or bone fractures
  • Have had a broken bone after age 50
  • Are underweight or have a low body mass index
  • Have had surgery to remove ovaries before periods ended naturally
  • Smoke cigarettes or are a heavy alcohol drinker
  • Have had long periods of bed rest or inactivity
  • Have a poor diet that is insufficient in calcium, protein, or vitamin D
  • Require long term use of proton pump inhibitors, corticosteroids, or antiepileptic drugs
  • Have hormone imbalances like too much thyroid hormone or too little estrogen

Our risk increases as we get older. Women will see an increase in loss of bone mass for several years after menopause. By the age of 65 or 70, bone mass loss occurs at around the same rate for both men and women.

How Do I Know If I Have Osteoporosis?

Seniors in assisted living may have osteoporosis and not know it. Many older adults have no idea they have the disease until they have a fall or bump that causes a bone to break.

You don’t have to wait until you are injured to check for osteoporosis. The U.S. Prevention Services Task Force recommends that women over age 65 as well as those who have an elevated risk schedule a screening for the disease.

Testing is done using a scan to measure bone density. The patient’s results, which are called a T-score, are compared to those of a healthy young adult.

A patient who has low bone density but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis may instead be diagnosed with osteopenia. It is not as serious but should be considered a strong indicator that the patient needs to take steps to prevent osteoporosis.

Having an osteopenia diagnosis doesn’t guarantee that you will get osteoporosis, but it can go that way without making healthy changes.

If you experience a bone break, especially one that seems like the injury shouldn’t have been that bad, speak with your doctor immediately.

What Can Seniors Do to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Not everyone will have to deal with osteoporosis in their lifetime. There are many factors that you can control, which can help you prevent the disease. You can’t stop aging, but you can live a healthy, active lifestyle. Seniors who want to protect themselves from bone loss should try the following.

  • Eat Bone-Nourishing Foods

Prevention of many health conditions starts with a healthy diet. Making sure your body has what it needs will help it perform better. Calcium, vitamin D, and protein are essential for your bones.

Women under age 50 should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Those over age 51 should increase to 1,200 mg. Adult men should have 1,000 mgs in their daily diet, increasing to 1,200 mg after age 70.

  • Live an Active Lifestyle

Exercise and diet are equally important for senior wellness. Being active also helps keep bone density high. Find a workout regimen that is ideal for you and suitable based on your mobility and health status.

Even if you can’t go outside or visit a gym, you can use these 5 safe ways for seniors to stay fit indoors.

If you live in an assisted living community, then you likely have access to more fitness options. Some have senior-friendly workout areas or may schedule group exercise sessions. It’s a wonderful way to socialize and stay fit.

Remember to consult your doctor before changing your activity levels. They can recommend how to do so safely, and so you get maximum results. Seniors who have trouble with balance or mobility should consider seated exercises.

  • Maintain an Ideal Body Weight

Keep your body weight at an ideal number based on your height and build. If you aren’t sure where you should be, ask your doctor. Everyone is built differently so one number may work for one person but not for another.

Being underweight can indicate that a person’s nutrition is lacking. They may not be getting the vitamins and minerals they need, like vitamin D and calcium. Those who are overweight can also have problems due to the mechanical load on the skeletal system.

  • Stop or Avoid Smoking

If you are a smoker, this is the time to stop. If you don’t smoke, make sure you never start. Tobacco use comes with increased health risks – including osteoporosis. Stopping the habit will bring many health benefits.

Smoking reduces calcium absorption and lowers vitamin D levels. It can cause hormone changes and lowers body mass. Researchers have also found a connection between smoking and a higher risk of bone fractures and slower healing.

  • Drink Alcohol in Moderation

You don’t have to completely avoid everything, but you must remember that moderation is key. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage from time to time is ok. Avoid making it a habit or drinking to excess.

Heavy drinking compromises bone health over time. It leads to lower bone density and weakened movement. Long-term heavy drinkers often experience a disruption in bone renewal. A study found that not drinking for eight weeks had a noticeable positive effect on bone growth.

Is Osteoporosis a Treatable Condition?

There is no cure for osteoporosis. However, there are things seniors can do to prevent it or slow it if they already have it. The main goal is to live a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise. You can also learn these 7 things seniors can do now to take control of their health and wellness.

Those that already have an osteoporosis diagnosis may be advised to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of a bone fracture. They may be prescribed medications that help slow bone loss like calcitonin, bisphosphonates, estrogen, or RANKL blockers. They may also be given drugs that rebuild bone like synthetic parathyroid hormone.

Assisted living can help seniors stay healthy by giving them the resources they need to take control of their health and well-being.

How to Build Your Social Circle in Assisted Living

How to Build Your Social Circle in Assisted Living

Seniors have much to gain from a move to assisted living. There’s staff to provide support in a secure environment built with the needs of the elderly in mind. One of the biggest benefits of assisted living comes in the form of friends.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), loneliness and isolation are connected to serious health problems. A national Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that nearly one-fourth of people over age 65 are socially isolated.

The risk increases the older we get because elderly people are more likely to experience chronic health conditions, hearing loss, and the loss of loved ones. All these factors impact socialization.

Seniors who are isolated or lonely have a significantly increased risk of premature death. They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Suicide rates are higher in this demographic as well.

Heart failure patients who are experiencing loneliness are nearly four times more likely to pass away and have a 68% increased risk of hospitalization. They are also 57% more likely to need to visit the emergency room.

You can learn about 10 reasons why seniors need to have an active social life to better understand why friends and family are essential to good health.

The best way to combat these concerning issues is to build a thriving social circle and stay active. Vista Living Senior Care welcomes new residents with many opportunities to meet new people. What can a senior who just moved into assisted living do to start building their social circle?

  • Be Friendly and Approachable

If you want to welcome new people into your life, you have to give them an open door to enter through. That means being friendly and approachable.

Moving into assisted living can lift many of the burdens that come with aging and independent living. Some seniors have been dealing with their own struggles for a long time, so it can be difficult to adopt a more positive mindset.

If you struggle with this, it may be helpful to schedule time with a therapist. They can help you adapt to assisted living and find ways to be more approachable. Not only will it help you connect with more people, but it can also guide you toward a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

  • Get to Know the Staff

The staff may be there because it is their job, but they also care about you. Many form friendships with the people they support. Getting to know the staff will make it easier to go to them when you need help or have questions.

The staff may also be able to direct you to social opportunities or introduce you to other residents who share your interests or experiences.

  • Mingle in Common Areas

Assisted living communities tend to have common areas. These are great places to meet your peers. Chances are good that others will also visit these spaces.

Many times, common areas in assisted living include lounges, TV rooms, or game rooms. Here, you will likely find something to do together that can help you connect with others. Join in a game of cards, watch a movie, or hang around and see who shows up.

  • Check Out the Events Calendar

Assisted living communities tend to have busy events calendars. These can include everything from book clubs to art classes or group workout sessions. Find something that you enjoy and join in.

Vista Living Senior Care provides many opportunities for fun and engagement among residents. Our recent gatherings include a Sunday BBQ hosted by a resident’s daughter as well as spring crafts, and a live musical performance by a mother-son duo.

  • Try Something New or Learn a Skill

New things seem scary sometimes, but they can push us to learn more about ourselves. Being open to new experiences also helps us reach out to more people.

Try a new activity or learn a new skill to enrich yourself and extend your social circle. Many colleges offer perks for senior citizens. In some cases, you could get free tuition. Check out local schools or look for online classes.

Even if you attend class remotely, learning something new could help you connect with the people you see in person. You may convince a neighbor to enroll in a class with you, so you can learn together.

  • Eat Meals with Your Neighbors

Human beings have used meals as a reason to socialize for thousands of years – and it still works well today! That’s why you should make a point to join your neighbors for meal times as often as you can.

Being able to eat together is one of the social benefits of living in an assisted living community.

  • Plan a Housewarming Party

Organize a gathering in your new home. This is also one way loved ones can help seniors build their social circle. Plan a housewarming party and invite your closest neighbors. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Create a place where you and your fellow residents can gather and get to know one another.

You can also look for icebreaker games that will help you ease into conversation and find common interests.

  • Connect with Other New Residents

Find other new residents within your assisted living community and get to know them. You will already have some common ground being new arrivals. You can learn and explore the facility together, and possibly bond over these shared experiences.

As you become more acquainted with the community, staff, and amenities, you can use this knowledge to help seniors who move in after you. You may not be the newest person anymore, but you can help support others and make new friends in the process. This can also help you feel a sense of purpose, which is an essential component of good mental health.

  • Be Patient with Yourself and Others

Remember to be patient with yourself and others. Building a strong social circle isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time to find compatible people and form a bond of friendship.

Moving into assisted living may seem overwhelming at first, so be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to adapt and be open to making friends, but don’t rush it.

Be patient and understanding with others as well. You may find that some of your neighbors are struggling to do the same thing you are – which gives you something in common right away.

Socialization is the key to preventing isolation and loneliness in senior citizens. Family should take on an active role to help their loved one adapt and meet new people. While it’s good to continue to interact with family members, it’s also important to build connections with peers.

Is Fresh Air and Sunshine Good for Senior Health?

Is Fresh Air and Sunshine Good for Senior Health?

Health problems and limited mobility can make it difficult for a person to go outside as they age. There are many risks out in the world, which means extra caution has to be taken when someone faces frailty and age-related conditions.

That doesn’t mean that an elderly person should never step food outside. Fresh air and sunshine can have a profound effect on senior health. It’s something that human beings need at all ages. However, this is especially true for older adults who may face different physical and mental health challenges.

Vista Living Senior Care believes in a holistic approach to wellness. We encourage residents to live life as fully as possible. Here’s why we believe that you or your loved one should make time to enjoy nature as much as possible.

  • Helps Fight Feelings of Isolation

Isolation is a big concern for seniors, especially those that live on their own. Isolation can lead to depression and increases the risk of illness and injury. Going outdoors can help break the cycle of isolation some seniors experience each day.

Spending time outside also promotes social interactions. That’s because it can be done with a friend or family member or just going out in the community to meet neighbors. Moving to an assisted living home like Vista Living Senior Care is another great way to avoid isolation and enjoy the outdoors safely.

  • Reduces Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions among senior populations. This stems from aging and the life changes that can come with growing older, like losing loved ones. Out of around 34 million U.S. citizens who are over age 65, more than two million experience depression.

If left unchecked, depression and anxiety can lower quality of life and reduce longevity. It’s important to learn how to recognize the signs of senior depression and what you can do to help.

One of the easiest ways to support a senior with depression or anxiety is to get them outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise can significantly improve mood and wellness.

A study found that a walk through a forest lowered anxiety. Another study reported that walks in nature had the potential to be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” when dealing with major depressive disorder.

  • Helps Avoid Mental Fatigue

Many seniors suffer from mental fatigue. This can happen when brain function slows down, making it harder to process information.

Going outside is a good way to avoid mental fatigue. Nature elicits positive feelings. It has a powerful restorative effect. One study reported that just looking at photos of nature scenes helped restore mental energy in participants.

  • Great Source of Vitamin D

The sun is our greatest source of vitamin D. This vitamin is essential to prevent cancer, depression, and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D helps you stay strong by supporting the absorption of calcium. Calcium helps build strong bones, muscles, nails, and teeth. You still get vitamin D when wearing sunscreen, so make sure you protect your skin while soaking up the sunshine.

  • Encourages Physical Fitness

Going outside requires movement, which is good for senior citizens. Working muscles, deep breathing, and getting your heart pumping are good ways to stay fit. Even stepping out for a quick walk or moving from an indoor space to a lawn chair or picnic table is beneficial for seniors.

Regular motion is also a good way to reduce arthritis symptoms. Seniors who maintain a healthy body weight lower their risk of many medical conditions. Spending time outdoors helps seniors burn calories and build muscle. Physical status is a key component in assessing fall risk and preventing injury.

  • Fortifies the Immune System

Being outside can increase your white blood cell count, which boosts your immune system, so it is better able to fight off colds and the flu. This effect is reported to last for several days, so going outside once every few days can have lasting benefits.

  • Helps with Recovery

Most people notice that as their age increases, so does the amount of time needed to recover from illness, surgery, or an injury. Going outside won’t instantly cure you, but it will help you get better sooner.

Harvard Health Publishing reported that seniors recovering from spinal injuries who spent time outdoors had less painful symptoms compared to those who stayed inside.

  • Green Spaces Increase Longevity

Living close to a green space can increase your lifespan, according to multiple studies. Environmental Health Perspectives published a 2016 study that found that people with increased exposure to green areas had a 12% lower mortality rate. This was due in part to a reduced risk of lung disease, kidney disease, and cancer.

Arizona Climate is Perfect for Outdoor Senior Living

Arizona is a retirement-friendly state partly because of its comfortable climate. The region experiences mild winters. It also has low humidity, so warm summers feel cooler compared to high-humidity areas.

For seniors, that means the outdoors is accessible all year round. Vista Living Senior Care has gorgeous outdoor areas with breathtaking views of nature. Our Arcadia community has a walking path that passes through our garden bed. The living room and dining room at Camelback look out on majestic Camelback Mountain.

The natural beauty of Arizona surrounds our communities. Residents can enjoy it all right from the comfort and safety of our assisted living home.

10 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors in Assisted Living

10 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors in Assisted Living

Winter brings snow, ice, and cold temperatures to many regions. If you or your senior loved one live in such an area, it’s important to understand the risks of the season. It’s a beautiful time of year with lots of excitement as the holidays approach, but it has its hazards. The conditions can be a danger to people of any age, especially the elderly.

The best thing to do is to know how to mitigate the risks of winter so that you or your loved one can enjoy the season and stay safe. Be mindful of the weather and remember that older people face challenges that younger people do not, like being more susceptible to the cold.

If your loved one resides in an assisted living community, then they are already a step ahead when it comes to safety. These facilities are built to protect older adults all year round. If you have been asking yourself “Is an assisted living community a safe place for my loved one?” then it may be time to look into it.

What can you do to protect yourself or an aging loved one from the potential perils of the winter season?

Monitor the Weather Forecast When Making Plans

If you plan to go out or to take your loved one out, monitor the weather forecast. This will help you determine if it’s a good time to travel and how to prepare.

The weather can change, so make sure you keep an eye on the forecast leading up to the day of your plans. If there is a risk of severe conditions, it may be best to postpone an event or reschedule an appointment.

Some areas can see dramatic changes during this time of year. While one area may have heavy snow, another might see rain or rain and ice. Use this information to ensure that you have appropriate attire with you in case conditions change or become extreme.

Always Dress for the Weather Using Layers

Seniors should dress in layers when going out during winter. This is the best way to stay warm but also have the option to remove a layer if they start to overheat. Everyone should be comfortable when going out, and layering is a great way to do that.

Keep in mind that slush or melting snow can cause garments to become damp. It’s always helpful to bring a change of clothes if possible, or at least a few basics like dry socks.

Always wear shoes that provide plenty of foot support with good treads for traction. Even if a senior won’t be hiking in the woods, they may still encounter ice and snow on sidewalks or in parking lots. Road salt can also be a slipping hazard when wearing the wrong footwear.

Follow Doctor’s Orders for Immunizations

Seniors should check in with their doctors to discuss winter health preparations.  The fall and winter are considered flu season because infections peak during this part of the year.

Your doctor may recommend a flu shot or other measures to protect you or your loved one. Talking directly with their doctor will give them the best recommendations based on their individual needs.

It’s best to start this process during or before the fall so you or your loved one are ready when the time comes. Your doctor can also suggest lifestyle changes that will help build the immune system during the cooler months. For example, your doctor may suggest safe ways for seniors to stay fit indoors to avoid weight gain during winter.

Use COVID-19 Safety Measures at Holiday Events

While COVID-19 is not as rampant as it was a couple of years ago, it is still around. And it is still a big concern for the elderly. Keep this in mind during the winter when people often attend crowded holiday events and gatherings.

If you or a senior loved one will be going to a family get-together or a community event, make sure they are vaccinated. It may still be advisable to wear a mask and try to avoid close contact with others.

Verify That Their Living Space is Comfortable

One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is that these communities provide seniors with a safe, clean place to live that’s well-maintained. Staff handles all cleaning and repairs as needed.

It doesn’t hurt to check in with your loved one and make sure they are comfortable in their living space. Is their room as warm as they like? Have they noticed a draft coming from a door or window?

If so, be their advocate and talk to staff to find a solution. It’s possible that a minor repair was overlooked, or something needs to be reinsulated.

Have Extra Blankets or Heating Pads Ready

Having extra blankets or a heating pad on hand can help seniors stay cozy this winter. A spare blanket or two will ensure they can always bundle up if they are feeling chilly.

Heating pads are great, especially if they are portable. Electric pads work well but will require an electrical outlet. There are microwavable heating pads that are safe and convenient. After warming in the microwave, they can be used anywhere without an outlet. They come in different shapes with and without straps so that they can be held or worn.

Avoid Travel During Inhospitable Weather

Human beings can’t control the weather. If it’s going to rain or snow, we have to adapt. Unfortunately, these conditions can appear when we have other plans. When this happens, it’s important to put safety first.

For example, a family gathering may fall on a day that has a blizzard in the forecast. It may be best to not bring grandma or grandpa to the festivities if the weather poses a risk.

It’s sometimes a difficult decision to make, so it helps to have a backup plan. If you can’t reschedule the whole gathering, consider planning another event at a later date that will include your loved one.

Talk About Assisted Living Emergency Plans

Every assisted living facility should have an emergency plan. This should include different potential situations. If the region experiences winter conditions, then staff should know what to do if something occurs during a heavy snowstorm.

Ask staff about their emergency plan. What will they do if the power goes out on a cold, snowy day? What if there is too much ice and snow to leave? Do they stock several days’ worth of supplies in case they are snowed in?

This information will help families feel confident that their family member is in a safe place. You can also share the details with your loved one so they can feel comfortable knowing they are safe, and the staff is prepared.

Know the Signs of Hypothermia in Seniors

The cold can affect older adults quicker than others. You and your loved one should know the symptoms of hypothermia so that you can take action before it’s too late.

The early signs of hypothermia include:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Slowed speech
  • Feeling confused, sleepy, or angry
  • Pale skin
  • Shivering
  • Swollen face

If a senior doesn’t seek warmth, hypothermia can progress. Later signs include:

  • Uncontrollable jerking in limbs
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Going in and out of consciousness

If you notice the signs of hypothermia, move to a warm place immediately. If you can’t do that, you can also try skin-to-skin contact to transfer body heat. Wrap both people in a blanket for insulation.

A warm non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage can also help.

You should seek immediate medical attention to get body temperature back to where it should be and ensure there are no other health complications.

Consider a Move to a Warmer Climate

Seniors who struggle with winter weather conditions should consider a move to a warmer climate.

Arizona is a popular choice among senior citizens. The state has high temperatures and a dry heat. The lack of humidity makes the warmer season more comfortable compared to other parts of the country.

Depending on which part of Arizona you live in, you may never or rarely have to deal with snow. It’s an ideal setting for seniors.

Learn More About Assisted Living at Vista Living

Begin your search for a warm place to call home with Vista Living Senior Care. Our residential facilities provide all the amenities of home without the risk of heavy ice and snow. Visit the Vista Living Senior Care website or give us a call to learn more.