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Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips (3)

Residents in senior living communities often delight in receiving visitors, especially when those visitors include children. Even so, it can be quite difficult, emotionally, to bring the kids along to a long term care facility. With a little preparation, patience and compassion, a family’s first visit to an elder care community can be made meaningful for all family members—especially for the elder and grandchildren.

Your aging loved one, who is residing in long term care, may have changed a great deal as a result of their physical and emotional health. They may display different behaviors, personality changes, and memory deficits that even the most well-prepared adult can struggle to see. So, how do you prepare a child for their first visit with a grandparent who is residing in an elder care community?

Prepare the Kids Before they Arrive at the Senior Living Facility

A few days before the visit to see their grandparents or other aging loved ones who are in residence at a senior living facility, invite the children to sit down and talk about the upcoming visit. Start by asking the children what they remember most about this family member. Reinforce that those positive qualities and memories they have will always be in their hearts, and the elder’s heart, too. It just might be harder for grandma or grandpa to remember all of those wonderful memories.

Talking with Very Young Kids about a Loved One in Elder Care

For very young kids, under the age of 10, you’ll want to remind them of the physical and cognitive limitations the older adult has, but in simpler terms. Rather than giving the kids a long list of “Don’ts” (Don’t jump on grandpa, don’t try to dance with grandma, don’t leave your shoes on the floor in her room)… focus on the person they are visiting and the kind of caring attention they need from all family visitors:

Grandma is not as strong as you are. You are much younger. Remember to be gentle with your hugs and handshakes.

Grandpa is not able to run and jump and play like he once did. While he can’t play catch with you, he can play cards and board games. It would be nice to bring some games with us. 

You know how we all forget things from time-to-time? (Give an example of forgetting items at the grocery store or leaving things at school) Well, Mimi’s memory is not so great anymore. That can happen when you get older and have SO many memories in your head. They can get mixed-up. She might even forget your name! Just remind her and try not to get upset that she forgot; she feels badly when she does not remember. Just encourage her to learn your name again while we are there and she may start to recall all kinds of great memories with you.

Sometimes granny or pappy gets easily upset if his things are touched or moved around. You know, how you sometimes get upset when someone takes your toy without asking. It’s a good idea to ask before you touch things in the room.

Remember not to give pap pap any food or candy, even if he asks for it. He has to follow a special diet that help his medications work best.

It is a good idea to let the children speak to the elder family member by phone a few times before you arrive. This may lead to any questions about how the grandparent sounds or speaks.

This month we are celebrating the health benefits of sleep for mind and body! National Sleep Awareness Week is March 13-19, 2022—it’s the perfect time for older adults to learn new ways to improve their sleep routine.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, adult sleep habits were affected in many ways. Some people slept more while others didn’t sleep enough. Many of us were tossing and turning through the night. Additionally, many adults got into some pretty poor sleep habits… staying up late or falling asleep in front of a mobile device. 

Poor-quality sleep is detrimental to the health of the brain and the body. In fact, there’s 25 years of scientific research that supports the health benefits of good sleep hygiene for adults (and kids, too). 

How Do We Know Sleep is Good for Health? 

In order to understand the effects of sleep deprivation on our physical and mental health, scientists study how the brain and body respond when we don't sleep enough. 

Insufficient Sleep Increases Risk for Illness

Insufficient sleep increases a person’s risk for chronic disease. When you get less than 8 hours of sleep a night on a regular basis you raise you risk for:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease and stroke
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • colds, flu, and respiratory illness
  • obesity
  • cognitive impairment

While You Were Sleeping: How Does Sleep Affect Health?

No matter your age, sleep effects brain chemistry and the hormones that circulate through your body. Put another way, sleep influences the functioning of the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. 

When you get sufficient, quality sleep a lot of amazing things happen in your body:

  • the brain develops and reinforces brain pathways that are involved in memory, learning, and emotion
  • the body manufactures hormones that are involved in repair and growth, and which help minimize the effect that stress can have on our physiology. These hormones support the health of the liver, the development of muscle and bone, that break down fat, and the regulation of blood sugar
  • the immune system gets a boost so that it is more effective at fighting infection 
  • the body works to decrease inflammation, which protects us from chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease
  • the metabolic system manages hormones that the body relies upon to regulate appetite 

As you can see, sleep affects a lot of what goes in the body and how healthy (or unhealthy) your body can be.

This month’s topic for Gym Talk is "Heat Safety Awareness".

Hot weather can be dangerous, and seniors over the age of 65 are among those most at risk for heat exhaustion. Now that the hot weather has arrived it's important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and how to stay cool.

The human body regulates temperature through sweating, until exposed to more heat than the body can handle. As you become older the ability to notice changes in your own body’s temperature decreases. Others at risk for heat illness include infants and young children, people who are ill, those with chronic health conditions or on certain medications, and people who are overweight. Health conditions can make the body less able to adapt to the heat. Also, some medicines can contribute to dehydration.

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