Elder care

By: Dr. Jessica Peterson, Au.D CCC-A
Founder and Owner of Audiology Consults LLC — www.audiologyconsults.com

Hearing health can be difficult to understand and manage.  In today’s world, there are many venues to receive hearing health care. Technology can also differ greatly due to an increasing number of hearing aid varieties. As a clinical audiologist, I educate my patients about maintaining their hearing devices and how to maintain their overall hearing health.  Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and your ears all need routine care.  Your daily communication will be greatly improved if you take the time to understand both the technology you are using and how to manage your hearing loss.

1. Routine Hearing Test

Hearing testing should be done routinely.  The majority of hearing loss occurs gradually.  It can be difficult to perceive if a hearing loss has occurred to even the most discerning patient.  Having a baseline hearing test, followed by further testing will ensure that small changes are detected early.  Early detection of hearing loss is important. Studies show that early treatment of hearing loss will significantly improve outcomes. Hearing aids will benefit you even with a mild hearing loss.  Our ears are the gateway to our auditory cortex.  The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that makes sense of the sounds around us.  The auditory cortex is similar to a muscle, and just like your muscles would shrink if you decided to not lift weights, the function of your auditory cortex will decrease function if the sound stimulus is decreased.  Even a mild hearing loss will start to change the way the brain reacts to sound, and if you delay treatment too long regaining the same function will be more difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve.

Some signs that your hearing may have changed:

  • You are asking people to repeat themselves more than before.
  • You have been feeling like people mumble when they speak.
  • Your television has to be increased in volume for you to hear it well.
  • It is more difficult to hear in background noise than it used to be.

2. Technology Management

If you have hearing loss and are wearing technology such as hearing aids or a cochlear implant, routine maintenance is essential.  It is possible that your hearing may change over time and the devices may need to be adjusted.  In addition, Hearing aids are small electronic devices that sit in your ear where there is sweat and wax.  To ensure they are functioning properly, it is important to have them professionally cleaned from time to time and to have your ears looked at to ensure the skin inside remains healthy and that no wax blockages are occurring.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash
Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash

3. Communication Strategies

Hearing aides are one part of an effective communication plan.  Another important part of communication is relying on other visual cues like facial expressions and body language.  When tested, most people perform better when they are able to watch the speaker’s face.  Although you may not be conscious of it, seeing a speaker’s face will help you understand what they say, even when you did not clearly hear what they said.   

Background noise is troublesome for speech comprehension because the signal is difficult to detect.  Picture deer on an empty hillside.  With no other objects, it is easy to see.  Now picture the same hillside but with several trees and bushes around the deer.  The task of finding the deer in the trees is more difficult than finding the deer on the empty hillside.  Our ears have the same problem.  When background noise is present it is harder for our ears to focus on the speech we care about.  It takes more work for us to understand speech in the midst of background noise.  Because the task takes more work, it will create auditory fatigue.  Many people experience auditory fatigue but with even a mild hearing loss, the task of listening is more difficult, and auditory fatigue may happen more quickly.  

These are some rules that you can incorporate into your communication routines to give yourself every advantage for communication.  While these things may seem like common sense, they are easy to forget.

Communication Strategies:

  • The speaker should have your full attention before launching into a lengthy speech.
  • Face the speaker so that you have access to visual cues.
  • Make sure you are in the same room with the person you are talking to.
  • Try to dedicate yourself to listening, multi-tasking can make understanding more difficult
  • Reduce background noise when possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat or rephrase if you didn’t understand.

4. Hearing Health Education

Fully understanding your hearing loss, your hearing test, how to make a communication plan, hearing aid technology, and the hearing aid process is essential to making sure you are getting the most out of your hearing.  A frequent misunderstanding is that hearing aids only will fix hearing loss.  Hearing loss is complex and requires technology in conjunction with deliberate communication strategies

It is important for the patient, their family, their caregivers, friends, and others to understand how to navigate communication.  Many audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are excellent at providing patient education but are limited by appointment times. Due to the lack of easily accessible education on hearing loss I have created an online course that walks you through all of these topics in depth.  If you would like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids, communication strategies, the process for managing hearing loss and more, I would encourage you to join me in my course.  You can find the course at www.audiologyconsults.com.  You may also contact me  there if you would like to connect or have questions.

Trifocal lenses improve distant, intermediate, and nearby sight issues. You might be aware of the far and near sight issues and their relevant corrections. But the intermediate vision, too, is essential for most of our everyday tasks. To cater to all three, trifocal, as the name suggests, consists of three separate lenses that re-establish a complete vision range. 

Ideally, trifocal lenses work for people over the age of forty who are suffering from existing conditions or have developed presbyopia due to age. They are made up of an anti-reflective layer to promote the comfort of thoroughly clear eyesight. The coating provides better vision in low-light situations. 

Whether you are finding a good solution for yourself or a senior loved one, a local eye doctor will be able to help you understand if a trifocal lens is a suitable option. 

Advantages of Trifocal Lenses

These multi-purpose lenses have a range of benefits:

  • These are three-in-one correction lenses saving you from the hassle of managing multiple glasses. 
  •  Enable a broader viewing area in case of nearer vision. That makes it easier to use a screen or read with reduced strain on the eyes in case of dimmed surround lights. 
  • From the beginning, you will experience enhanced visibility and brightness in the colors around you. 
  • Trifocal glasses offer you the ability to see adequately in all kinds of lighting conditions, including dim lighting, bright lights, low light, and even daylight.
  • Another significant aspect is that you will endure fewer glares from bright lights, which will make driving at night easier for a lot of people. 

Disadvantages of Trifocal Lens

As is the usual practice, here I am presenting the other side of the story as well for better perception:

  • Since trifocal lenses correct multiple sight problems simultaneously, you might experience some visibility issues when seeing through another section of your glasses.
  • The trifocal lens within the case of cataract IOL might cause reactions such as blurred sight or intolerable glare because of the presence of the implant.
  • Unlike progressive lenses, there is no possibility of customizing these glasses. 

How to use them?

It is essential to note that the trifocal lenses are easy to use. Below are some of the measures you can take to make the transition convenient:

  • Learn the proper technique of using your new glasses from your optometrist and make sure they fit you well. 
  • They should be well adjusted on your nose to avoid slipping, and for you see through them appropriately.
  • Always ensure that you continue looking in front and not downwards when walking. That will avoid vision distortions due to the glasses.
  • When reading something, it should be held at a convenient distance for you to be able to read it properly without much strain.

Can anyone use trifocal glasses? 

Although they can overcome a variety of visibility issues, trifocal do have their limitations. In patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), advanced glaucoma, diabetes, and cataracts, the trifocal lenses are not a suitable solution.

The ideal candidates for trifocal lenses are people over forty who are suffering from presbyopia that prompts them to need to change or begin their eyeglass prescriptions. Trifocal glasses can restore enhanced visibility in all ranges and can be chosen as an alternative to avoid correction surgeries. 

If so far, you have been able to figure out that you need trifocal glasses, you can go a step further by visiting an eye doctor in your local area. They will be able to understand your prevalent eye ailments and then prescribe the most suitable lens options for you. Remember, trifocal glasses and contacts ensure a close-up, intermediate, and faraway view. 

Aaron Barriga

Author Bio:

Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, eye care center, Fresno. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK. Aaron loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.

For most of us, aging comes with increased health issues, thoughts of our own mortality and sometimes watching the ones we love—friends and family—pass away. It becomes very easy to fall into depression and depression can lead to a variety of physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes. That’s where the power of positive thinking comes in. Positive thoughts condition our brain to think positively and our body follows the command of our brain.

For older seniors a caregiver plays an important role in maintaining positive thoughts and healthy aging. Caregivers are trained to watch for warning signs of depression like loss of interest in daily activities and restlessness. With careful observation, caregivers can help to stave off depression by offering companionship and promoting fun, happy, activities like gardening and dancing or offering transportation to social events and church.

Here are some tips to maintain a positive frame of mind—for both caregivers and their charges:

  • Cultivate enthusiasm. Do your best to be happy and not to indulge in negative thoughts. The glass can be half full or half empty—it’s always the same glass. 
  • Keep a sense of humor. Perhaps more than any other strategy, finding something to laugh about is an effective buffer for the difficulties we face in life.
  • Show gratitude. Everyday find something to be grateful for. The shoes on your feet. The food on your plate. The flowers in your garden.
  • Be compassionate. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Understanding leads to acceptance.
  • Be flexible. Understanding that things are not always going to go the way you would like and being comfortable changing course is a life skill worth practicing.
  • Have faith. Whether it be a belief in a force beyond yourself or the belief in the best possible outcome for a situation, maintaining faith in things beyond your control is crucial to a positive outlook.
  • Dream. Engage in “imagineering.” Set a goal. Aim high.
  • Learn from mistakes. If we approach life as an opportunity to learn and grow, even negative experiences provide a positive take-away.
  • Take joy in helping others. Helping others and touching lives can be a huge source of satisfaction in our lives. Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life can bring nothing but positive thoughts.
  • Cultivate acceptance. Work to accept adversity and disappointments—they are an inevitable part of our journey. If you can overcome and accept what you cannot change you will emerge the stronger for it.
  • Think “love” first. Develop a loving and forgiving attitude to everyone around you. It will come back to you ten-fold.
 — Written by Caren Parnes for The Senior’s Choice
Aspen Senior Care is a proud member of the Senior’s Choice Network

It’s summertime! This season brings fun outdoor activities and beautiful — but hot — weather. Did you know the senior community is often more prone to the effects of heat and therefore at a greater risk for dehydration? Now is a good time to focus on helping our elderly loved ones stay safe, healthy, and hydrated through the elevated summer heat. 

Causes of dehydration

Dehydration happens when the body does not receive or retain the adequate amount of fluid needed to function properly. If not treated properly, dehydration can cause severe health issues. Common causes include:

  • Intense summer heat
  • Strenuous activity
  • Medications or diuretics 
  • Drinks which contain caffeine or alcohol
  • Illness which cause fever, vomiting, or diarrhea

What should you look for?

Common warning signs of dehydration may include the following: 

  • Thirst
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry skin and/or poor skin elasticity
  • Not urinating frequently or dark urine

What you can do to help seniors stay hydrated?

  • Always check with a doctor to make sure your loved one is getting the right amount of fluids for their individual health needs.
  • Create a set fluid intake schedule. If necessary, set timers to help remind your loved one to drink fluids throughout the day. Try to decrease fluids that are high in caffeine or sugar. 
  • Offer sufficient fluids at every meal. This can also include fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers. 
  • Keep water within easy reach of chairs and beds.
  • Check urine to ensure it is light in color. 
  • Offer a full glass of fluid with medication. 
  • Monitor skin elasticity each day. 
  • Monitor the environment. Close blinds and windows to reduce indoor heat, and make sure the air conditioning is on a set schedule and working well. If outdoors, make sure there is a cool, shady place to sit. 

It is important to recognize the causes and symptoms of dehydration and know ways to help your elderly loved one stay hydrated. And don’t forget to utilize these tips for your own health as well. After all, you both deserve to have a healthy and happy summer! For more caregiving tips and information, visit our blog.

For many older adults, mobility limitations, health issues and low energy can keep them from the social engagement they once enjoyed. Especially in seniors who live alone, social isolation can lead to loneliness, depression and poor physical health. Pet therapy has been shown to benefit seniors by improving depression and anxiety symptoms, increasing self-care, and even improving heart-health. It turns out giving and receiving unconditional love is literally good for your heart.

Proven Benefits of Pet Companionship

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation, a nationwide charity committed to connecting seniors with therapy animals, has collected research on pet therapy for seniors. These studies discuss the physiological and psychological impact of animals on seniors’ quality of life. Here are their findings:

Physical Benefits

Heart Health—Frequent interaction with a pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Improved Activity—Walking, grooming or playing with a pet increases the frequency of physical activity and exercise, which in turn has countless health benefits.

Healthy Behavior—Those who own a pet tend to take better care of themselves. Caring for a pet helps to develop a routine, encouraging owners to eat regularly or complete chores and other tasks.

Social & Emotional Benefits

Increased Interaction—Walking a dog gets senior owners out of the house and increases their opportunities to socialize with neighbors.

Decreased Loneliness—Pets provide companionship, giving isolated seniors a source for affection, conversation and activity.

Stress Relief—Being with a pet increases levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone that relieves stress. It also provides physical contact, which helps to calm anxiety.

Better Self-Esteem —For seniors discouraged by their age, appearance or limited abilities, pets are welcome company, reminding seniors that they are still capable of being loved and needed.

Sense of Purpose—The company of an animal provides a reason to get up in the morning. Pets combat depression symptoms by eliminating feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. Knowing that they are loved and needed enhances seniors’ mental health.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

If you think your loved one would benefit from owning a pet, ask yourself these questions to help you make a wise decision:

What is the best choice for a pet? If your loved one has trouble walking or is more limited in their ability to provide constant attention to a pet, a cat might be a better choice than a dog.

Is my loved one an experienced pet owner?

Taking on the responsibilities of owning a pet could be overwhelming for a senior who has never had one before.

Photo by Snapwire from Pexels

Are finances an issue? Consider your loved one’s financial situation. Animal care can be expensive, and if your loved one is on a fixed income, owning a pet could cause financial burdens. Assess the costs before you commit.

Choose the right pet. Do your research to find a pet whose age, size, personality and energy level fit well with your loved one’s.

Could I adopt an animal in need? Older animals in shelters have a lower adoption rate than puppies or kittens and have a greater risk of being euthanized. Adopting an adult, healthy pet for your loved one can eliminates the stress of training, match your loved one’s energy level and save the life of a loving animal.

By Caren Parnes

For the Senior’s Choice

Dear Clients and Families,

Our top priority is the health and safety of our clients and employees. With the coronavirus  (COVID-19) in the news, we want to share with you our protocol to minimize the spread of viruses, bacteria, and other serious bugs. We’ve always been careful and now we’re taking even greater measures to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones. Here’s what we are doing:

  1. Reminding our employees to wash their hands often for at least 15 seconds with warm soapy water, especially before and after helping clients with any food or personal care. We help our clients keep their hands clean as well. 
  1. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects which frequently get used by others. We like to use Clorox or Lysol wipes to wipe things down if you have any in stock. Otherwise, we’ll use warm soapy water to keep things bug-free.  
  1. Proactively enforcing our Stay at home if you are sick policy. This goes for all of our employees because we know that our clients already have enough challenges and they are more vulnerable to all viruses, bacteria, and any other serious bugs.  
  1. Asking employees and clients to always cover up any coughing or sneezing. And to stay away from sick people or others who have come in contact with people who might be sick.
  1. Strongly discouraging handshakes and the touching of mouth, eyes, and nose by employees and clients.

We remind our employees often of this protocol, especially during flu season and now even more with the coronavirus spreading. From what we’ve studied and been told, this virus is a lot like the respiratory flu virus (both in its symptoms and the way it spreads). We see no need to panic, but we want to stay alert, be smart, and keep our clients safe, healthy, and happy.

At Aspen Senior Care, we encourage the highest standard of health safety practices to ensure the health of both our employees and our clients. We have a great 15-year record of doing just that.

Please feel free to reach out to our office with any questions or additional suggestions at 801-224-5910.

You may think that only people who can stand on their heads or touch their toes can practice yoga. Well, it’s time to think again! Yoga boasts a slew of benefits for seniors, from managing arthritis pain to balancing mood and emotions. And you don’t have to have been practicing for decades to reap these rewards. Studies show the benefits of yoga can be felt within just a few short weeks of regular practice.

Even though you understand the benefits, there may still be something holding you back. For many seniors, it’s a combination of time, support and money. Yoga classes cost money and take time, often requiring us to catch rides to and from a gym or studio. While these are totally reasonable obstacles, they can be easily overcome. Here are 10 ways to help seniors build a strong, sustainable yoga practice.

Senior Travel-Pixabay(qimono)

Photo by Pixabay (qimono)

#10 Check out Silver Sneakers: Your Medicare plan may cover some or all of the costs of joining a gym that provides yoga classes. Ask your health plan advisor for information on Silver Sneakers, which are fitness classes offered at gyms all across the nation and catered specifically to seniors. All classes are led by a certified instructor to ensure your safety, with the added benefit that they can easily cater the class to your needs and abilities.

#9 Look for Senior Discounts: Gyms and studios often run discounts and specials just for seniors to help them get access to the classes they need for preventative care and health. You can even check out coupon and discount websites like Groupon to find affordable deals, or give them a call to ask about specials. You may also come across some that run ads in your local newspaper. If you have a local studio in mind, stop by and express your interest in learning yoga. They may offer you a free class to help gauge your interest or offer you a coupon or discounted price.

#8 Make a Home Studio: Clear out a room in your home for a daily yoga practice. If you have furniture or boxes gathering dust in an unused bedroom, put them in storage. Another idea is to use your dining room for your yoga space. According to Angie’s List, many people have found alternative uses for their dining room as only 23 percent of homeowners routinely eat meals in this room. Once you’ve cleared a space, store your yoga mat nearby so that it’s always ready. Bring in some relaxing additions such as a scented candle, greenery, or artwork.

#7 Watch Yoga Videos: There are hundreds of free online yoga videos from certified professionals. You can follow along as they practice or watch videos that break down poses so you can work on safe alignment. You can also purchase yoga DVDs in the electronics or fitness section at most stores such as Walmart or Target, making practicing yoga as easy as popping in a DVD.

#6 Focus on Your Breath: If you can breathe then, guess what? You are practicing yoga! Try to pair your movements to an inhale and exhale. You can do this when walking, washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. Mindfulness is central to yoga’s mental health benefits. Sit in a comfy chair or in a seated position on the floor and clear your mind of any intruding thoughts so that you can pay attention to nothing but your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly for 10 minutes to start or end your day.

#5 Download a Free Meditation App: There are dozens of well-reviewed free meditation apps that you can download to your phone or tablet. You can use these to learn more about meditation, start a basic practice and to encourage and track your progress.

#4 There are Yoga Apps, Too! You can download yoga apps for your phone or tablet that you can use for free. Try to make it social by inviting your friends to use the app or practicing with your caregiver or a family member. Once you get the hang of it and learn what moves work best for you, you can create your own routine to follow.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

#3 Focus on One Pose: Instead of jumping into a whole series or flow, just focus on one or a handful of poses at a time. You can do them while watching television or after you first wake up. Keep it simple and move deeper into the pose as time allows. Yoga takes time and practice, so don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first. Start with simple moves and use props such as a chair for extra assistance. Should you decide you’d like to try more advanced moves, attend a class first to make sure you are doing it correctly and aren’t at risk of injuring yourself.

#2 Try a Work Share Arrangement: Many yoga studios and gyms will provide free classes in exchange for help watching the register and cleaning the studio. Talk to studios near you to find one that is interested in this kind of partnership.

#1 Take Classes with Friends: Whether you are paying for a class or going to the gym, practicing with friends can reduce the risk of senior isolation and make yoga more fun—and make it more likely you will stick with it. Plus, you can carpool with your friends, which is especially helpful if driving is a concern for you.

Yoga helps seniors stay healthy in both mind and body, and is also a fun, yet relaxing way to spend time alone or with friends. Try out any one of the tips above to make these your golden years for health and fitness.

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

The heat of summer is here, so this is a good time to review some vital safety tips for seniors.  Elderly persons are more prone to the effects of heat and at greater risk for dehydration. Make sure you or someone you can trust is checking in on your elderly family members. 

• Try to plan activities that require going outside during non-peak hours when it might be a little cooler.

• Move exercise indoors.  Consider exercising at a gym, walking on a treadmill, or “mall walking” instead of outdoor walks or activities. Swimming and water aerobics are good options as well.

• Drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic, caffeine-free as these ingredients have a diuretic effect). Talk with your doctor if you take medications that affect fluid intake, such as Lasix.

• Stay indoors, in cooled spaces as much as possible. Check your loved one’s air-conditioning system, and do a maintenance review. If electricity goes out, or your loved one does not have air conditioning, consider alternative arrangements when heat is at dangerous levels.

• Be aware of signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple

The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability, and poor skin elasticity. Keeping hydrated on a regular basis is the most important preventative measure, and individuals should be encouraged to drink fluids even when not thirsty as thirst may not be triggered until already dehydrated. Heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause or increase confusion. Heat exhaustion is the more mild form of heat-related illness. Warning signs may include the following: Heavy sweating; Paleness; Muscle Cramps; Fatigue; Weakness; Dizziness; Headache; Nausea or vomiting; Fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate may be fast and weak. Breathing may be fast and shallow.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs may include the following: An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); Rapid, strong pulse; Throbbing headache; Dizziness; Nausea. Any indication of heat stroke is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.

Be aware of other summer dangers. Talk with your loved one about alternatives if he/she handles maintenance around the home, such as yard work or cleaning gutters. This may be especially dangerous in the heat, but may also pose general risks for falling and safety. Be vigilant about sunscreen and protect against insect bites. If you or someone you know has a bite that seems abnormal or you notice any unusual symptoms, seek medical attention.

Contributed By Caren Parnes, for The Senior’s Choice

What is long-term-care insurance?

Long-term care insurance covers a range of supportive services (medical and non-medical) that an individual may need when they are no longer able to perform many day-to-day activities or tasks on their own. Activities of daily living, commonly known as ADL’s, include tasks such as feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing, or transferring from a bed to chair.

Additionally, long-term-care covers services that may help individuals with other everyday essential tasks. These supportive tasks include medication reminders, house cleaning, errands, and meal preparation.

LTC covers care services whether it be in the individual’s own home or in a facility. Who provides care may depend on the individual’s needs, but many times can come from a family caregiver, a homecare company, an adult day service, or a facility.

How do you know if long-term-care insurance is right for you?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)

LTC may be right for you if:

  • You want to be able to pay for your own care when it is needed down the road.
  • You like the idea of being independent as long as possible.
  • You are able to afford the premiums and have a good income and amount of assets.

LTC may NOT be right for you if:

  • You have a limited amount of income or assets.
  • You struggle paying for day-to-day necessities such as housing, rent, food, medications, etc.
  • Your only income is through a Social Security benefit or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and you can’t afford the premiums.

Companies like Aspen Senior Care, an in-home personal care agency, want to help make sure seniors get the most bang for their buck. Cindy Harris, a LTC Claim Specialist with Aspen, says that many people don’t utilize their long-term-care options as well as they could.

“My job is to work with LTC insurance companies and get them to pay claims on our clients’ behalf,” says Cindy. “That way they get the full care they need and don’t have to worry that they won’t get the coverage they’ve paid for!”

Slowing down as you get older may feel like a natural part of aging, however, chronic fatigue and dissipating energy levels shouldn’t be ignored. If you or someone you care for is feeling more and more tired each day and simply wiped out, you won’t want to miss this guide on recognizing fatigue in older adults and what to do about it:

Common Causes of Fatigue

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Mohamed_hassan)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Mohamed_hassan)

You might be surprised to learn that it’s more than physical exhaustion that can lead a senior to feel fatigued and lacking energy. Common causes of fatigue in older adults may include:

  • Medication side effects – medicines that are commonly taken for things like allergies, pain, nausea, and depression can have side effects that make you tired, zap your energy levels, and even contribute to brain fog.

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression – emotional stress that comes with things like grief over the loss of a loved one, difficulty hearing, financial woes, and loss of independence can manifest in very physical ways including fatigue and diminished energy.

  • Sleep deprivation – lack of sleep has been linked to everything from bad moods and fatigue to increased risk for Alzheimer’s. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults over 65 get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

  • Poor diet – malnutrition, or not getting adequate nutrients in your diet, can be a source of fatigue, weakness, and even increase your susceptibility to getting sick. For example, anemia (low iron) can definitely exacerbate feelings of tiredness. At the same time, consuming lots of food that is primarily “junk” or fatty, processed, fried foods can do the same thing.

  • Medical treatments and surgery – common treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer, can cause severe fatigue as can recovering from a major surgery like a knee or hip replacement.

  • Alcohol consumption – 2.5 million older adults in the U.S. have an alcohol or drug abuse problem and both contribute to not just poor health but chronic fatigue as well. Alcohol especially can interact with medication you may be taking, inhibit proper nutrient absorption from the food you eat and change your behavior and thinking skills.

  • Boredom – is your day lacking the pep and vigor it once had when you were working or more mobile? Waking to a long day ahead that has little planned or scheduled can make you feel lackluster and tired.

  • Dehydration – dehydration continues to be a leading cause of hospitalization in adults over 65 and symptoms can often be confused with fatigue. Disorientation, low energy levels, and brain fog might actually be an indication that your body is low on fluids.

Does Low Blood Pressure Cause Fatigue?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Gadini)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Gadini)

In short, not really. A sudden and severe blood pressure drop can definitely foster symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and fainting. However, chronically low blood pressure will not be the sole source of your fatigue. Sometimes a medication you are taking for low blood pressure can cause fatigue (like some beta blockers), however, if you are experiencing chronically low blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor right away.

In addition to treating you for low blood pressure by adjusting medications or modifying your diet, your doctor may also encourage you to practice accurate blood pressure monitoring at home with an easy-to-use digital blood pressure monitor that records readings and alerts you to high and low spikes – check out this helpful list. A sudden drop in blood pressure can be life-threatening so if you or someone you care for has one, get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Tips for Preventing Fatigue

Avoid long naps and late-day caffeine fixes – keep your afternoon naps to 30 minutes or less and avoid drinking caffeine after lunchtime. This can not only help you fall asleep faster come bedtime but improve the quality of your sleep too so you wake rested and energized.

Address bad habits – quitting smoking is practically the best thing you can do for your health in general, no matter your age or health status. But, it can also fight fatigue by lowering your risk for tiresome lifestyle conditions like breathing problems and heart disease. Cutting excessive alcohol consumption can do the same thing.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber)1

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber)1

Exercise regularly – it might seem like ‘rest’ should be on order if you are feeling fatigued, however, it’s the opposite that is true. Routine exercise helps to increase your appetite and improve your sleep as well as make you stronger, more flexible, and well, happier – all things that can bolster energy levels.

Keep a daily journal – recognizing patterns of fatigue will most aptly help you and the person you care for address them. Note diet, exercise, and nightly sleep habits as well as the times of day when you feel most fatigued and then start a conversation with your doctor to address it.