Senior Safety: Coping with Spring Allergies

April 4, 2019

Coping with Spring Allergies

Managing spring allergies can be more difficult for seniors. From medication side effects to exacerbating chronic illnesses, here’s what caregivers should know.

Itchy, watery eyes, uncontrollable sneezing, and nasal congestion can all be symptoms of seasonal allergies. For seniors who live in the south, where flowering trees and pollen-filled flowers are blooming, allergy season can be a miserable time of year. While allergies can be uncomfortable for people of all ages, they may have a more serious impact on the health of older adults.

Complicating factors, such as chronic illnesses and side effects of allergy medications, can make it difficult for older adults to get the relief they need. Here’s what caregivers should know to keep a senior loved one safe during allergy season.

Seniors and Spring Allergy Season

What causes allergies? It’s a question most allergy sufferers ask. Allergies are the body’s reaction to the immune system becoming sensitized to something in the environment.

Experts say allergies are especially dangerous to older adults for a variety of reasons. A leading concern is that allergy symptoms and nasal congestion can cause shortness of breath for seniors who have a chronic disease.

Another concern is the use of antihistamines, a popular over-the-counter medication many people buy to self-treat allergies. A common side effect of antihistamines is increased blood pressure. This can be dangerous for seniors who have cardiac disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What is Triggering a Senior Loved One’s Allergies?

It’s helpful to know just what might be triggering an allergy attack in a senior loved one. Some of the most common allergy triggers include:

  • Pollen, mold, grass, and dust
  • Chlorine in swimming pools
  • Smoke from an outdoor fire
  • Insect bites and stings

While many of the symptoms associated with spring allergies can be present year-round, they often peak in the springtime.

4 Ways to Safely Manage Spring Allergies

  1. Control the environment: During peak allergy season, keeping the windows closed so pollen and dust have a more difficult time getting inside is one way to prevent allergies from getting out of control. Instead of open windows, use a fan or air conditioner to cool the house. The same is true for riding in a car. Keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on.
  2. Avoid outdoor exposure: While no one wants to be cooped up indoors when spring finally arrives, limiting time spent outdoors during peak allergy season helps prevent exposure to potential triggers. If your senior loved one has to go outside, help them take a few precautionary steps. Wearing a mask across their mouth and nose is one. Another is changing clothes and shoes in the garage or mud room before coming back inside. This can reduce the amount of pollen that makes its way into the house.
  3. Use a weather app: Paying attention to when the pollen count will be high is easier with a weather app. Many local television stations have weather apps so viewers can receive weather or pollen alerts. If your senior loved one doesn’t have this option, The Weather Channel and Yahoo! Weather are two national weather apps to explore.
  4. Work closely with your doctor or allergist: Pinpointing the source of your aging loved one’s allergies is one of the best ways to learn how to treat them. Talk with your senior family member’s primary care physician to see if they recommend seeing an allergist for testing.

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If you found this article to be interesting and helpful, we encourage you to bookmark the Legacy Senior Living Blog and stop back often. We update our blog each week with new information and resources for caregivers and older adults.

How Senior Mentors Benefit from Helping Others

March 18, 2019

Senior mentor programs benefit older adults and the younger generation alike. Learn more about mentoring programs and how to connect with one near you.

Retirement is a time in life when older adults are typically free to recreate themselves. Some pursue a new hobby or even launch a new business. Others find themselves immersed in volunteering their time to a cause they believe in. Many times, this includes organizations that work with children or young adults. Senior mentors are one example.

Mentors are older adults who share their talent with the younger generation for an extended period of time. Senior mentors have been particularly active as tutors for school-aged children and guiding young adults in career advancement.

Here are a few ways senior mentor programs can make a positive difference in the lives of both generations.

4 Benefits of Senior Mentorship Programs

  1. Reduce loneliness: Loneliness and isolation are all too common among older adults. Mentor programs give seniors an opportunity to connect with others in productive ways. But older adults aren’t the only ones who experience loneliness. Children and young adults may also struggle with it, especially if they don’t have strong family ties. Senior mentors can help the younger generation feel comfortable with elders and develop healthier attitudes about aging while also providing companionship.
  2. Reduce ageism: It’s common for people to socialize within their own age group. Parents develop friendships with parents their children play with. Young adults hang out with school friends. Seniors spend time with people who belong to their retiree groups. This form of segregation can lead to generational stereotypes. Senior mentorship programs cross age boundaries and help the generations learn to appreciate each other in new ways. This can help to reduce ageism.
  3. Opportunity to learn: Another advantage to intergenerational relationships is the mutual learning opportunities they create. Seniors have wisdom that comes from life experience. Mentor programs allow them to share that knowledge with children and young adults. Seniors can also learn from younger generations. Whether it is teaching a senior to master technology or how to use social media, kids have knowledge to share too.
  4. Builds community: Intergenerational mentoring programs can help improve entire communities. They promote cohesion, save taxpayers money, and build bridges across generations. All of these benefits help to create healthy, thriving communities.

How to Find a Senior Mentor Program

Various mentoring programs around the country give people the opportunity to connect with other generations.

Life Enrichment at Legacy Senior Living Communities

At Legacy Senior Living communities, you will find an abundance of life enrichment opportunities. From activities and workshops to volunteer programs, residents have all the support they need to live a meaningful, engaged life. We invite you to schedule a tour of the community nearest you to learn more!

Are Generic Drugs a Safe Way for Seniors to Save Money?

March 4, 2019

generic drugs, open bottle of pills

Generic drugs are just one of the ways older adults can save money on prescriptions.

For older adults on a budget, the idea of saving money on medications can be enticing. From making trips to Canada or Mexico where medication is significantly less expensive to taking lower doses than a physician prescribes, seniors go to great lengths to save money on prescriptions.

One idea that often yields questions is generic drugs. They are less expensive than brand-name prescriptions, but older adults often worry that they aren’t as effective. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 90 percent of prescriptions that are filled in this country are for generic drugs.

Most insurance companies require the use of generic medications unless a physician specifically requests otherwise. Even then the patient and physician may be required to file an appeal.

What are the Differences between Brand-Name Drugs and Generics?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says people should feel confident that a generic drug is just as effective as a brand-name medication used for the same purpose. Before the FDA approves a generic drug, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Contain the same active ingredients at the same strength as the brand-name drug
  • Reach the required level in the bloodstream in the same amount of time and to the same extent
  • Be utilized for the same purpose and effect
  • Meet the same testing standards
  • Come in the same form (pill, inhaler, liquid)

What can be different are the color, shape, size, and packaging of a generic drug. But those differences aren’t likely to cause any issues for the older adults who take them.

Preservatives and flavorings may also differ, and that is where people sometimes run into problems. A senior with allergies or sensitivities to additives and preservatives, such as gluten, might develop a reaction to a generic drug that doesn’t occur in a brand-name prescription.

How Can Seniors Save Money on Prescription Medications?

Besides generic drugs, there are a few other avenues seniors can explore to save money on medication.

  • Manufacturer discount coupons: Some drug companies, especially for medications new to the market, offer physicians discount coupons to share with patients. They might also make the coupons available on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Pharmacy savings cards: While it might be hard to believe, some prescriptions are actually less expensive to pay for outright than to pay for using insurance. Many times, that is because the pharmacy has a savings card to help clients. The catch to filling a prescription without using your insurance card is that the cost doesn’t count towards meeting your deductible.
  • Comparison shop: Prescription drug costs vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. You can use GoodRx to instantly determine which of your local pharmacies offer the best price for each of your prescriptions.
  • Mail-order prescriptions: Many insurance providers offer a mail-order service for filling prescriptions in larger volumes. In addition to saving money, the senior won’t have to worry about getting to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
  • Physician samples: If your physician is prescribing a new medication, ask if they have samples available. This allows you to try the medication and make sure you won’t have a reaction to it before you spend any money.
  • Assistance programs: You can also use Benefits CheckUp from the National Council on Aging to see if you qualify for assistance. It will help identify local, state, and federal programs that can aid in paying for medications.

Medication Management for Older Adults

One challenge seniors experience is how to safely manage multiple medications. From taking the right dosage at the right time to remembering when to order a refill, mistakes with medication management are the reason many older adults end up in the hospital emergency room.

At Legacy Senior Living communities, residents get the support they need to stay safely on track with medication. Call the community nearest you to learn more about our medication reminder program.

Are Lifestyle Choices Impacting Your Risk for Heart Disease?

February 4, 2019

 lower your risk for heart disease

Can lifestyle choices lower your risk for heart disease? Researchers say it can. Use these tips to lower your risk for heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Despite all of the advances in medicine, cardiac-related illnesses claim more lives than any other disease or medical condition. Estimates are that one in four deaths can be attributed to heart disease.

But researchers say it doesn’t have to be this way. Many of the risk factors for heart disease can be controlled with lifestyle modifications. In honor of National Heart Month, here is a list of steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease.

Lifestyle Choices that Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

  • Kick the habit: Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. One out of five heart-related deaths in this country can be attributed to cigarette smoking. If you are a smoker, do your heart a favor and stop.
  • Stay active: A sedentary lifestyle or a lack of exercise also raises the risk for heart disease. You can manage that by exercising at least 150 minutes a week and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
  • Skip processed foods: Americans eat a lot of packaged and processed foods. While they are convenient when the days are busy, these types of foods are typically high in sodium. Too much sodium increases blood pressure putting you at a higher risk for cardiac-related illnesses.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast: Leaving the house without eating a healthy breakfast increases the likelihood that you will binge on unhealthy fare later. Foods like doughnuts and pastries are high in saturated fat and low in protein. Opt for a well-balanced breakfast high in fiber and protein, such as a bowl of oatmeal or a smoothie.
  • Get a good night’s rest: Many people underestimate the importance of sleep. Too little sleep increases the chance of making bad choices during the day, such as eating the wrong foods or sitting too much. Most health experts recommend seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat sweets in moderation: Elevated blood sugar levels have been linked to heart disease, especially among women. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars in your diet to six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Many people are surprised to learn that consuming too much alcohol can also put you at risk for heart disease. While some studies show red wine may be good for your heart, moderation is the key. Talk with your physician for a recommendation on how much alcohol is acceptable based on your personal medical history.
  • Manage daily stress: While it’s unrealistic to think you can completely eliminate stress from your life, finding healthy ways to manage stress is important for your heart. Walking, swimming, meditating, Pilates, and yoga are a few methods to try.
  • Drink green tea: Another way to keep your heart healthy is drinking green tea every day. Researchers say green tea may help manage LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which are both risk factors for heart disease.
  • Find a doctor you trust: Having a close relationship with a physician can help you manage your overall health and well-being, including your heart. You are more likely to stay on track with preventative tests and screenings if you are comfortable with your physician.
  • Learn about Blue Zones: There are areas around the globe where people live longer, healthier lives. They are referred to as Blue Zones. People who live in these areas have lower incidences of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • Get organized: When your life and home are cluttered and disorganized, you are more likely to feel stressed and even depressed. By getting clutter under control and organizing your life, you reduce stress and improve your well-being.
  • Learn to journal: Keeping a daily journal, one that you use to document the day’s ups and downs, is another heart-healthy step you can take. If you are a caregiver, it can be an especially effective tool for managing caregiver stress.

To learn more about heart health, we encourage you to visit the American Heart Association online. You’ll find a variety of heart-related resources that range from recipes to research projects.

Follow the Legacy Senior Living Blog

If you are an older adult or the caregiver for one, you will find the Legacy Senior Living Blog to be a good resource. Throughout the month we share tips and news related to aging well, caregiving, senior living, and more. We encourage you to bookmark the blog and stop back often!

5 Healthy Caregiver Resolutions for 2019

January 8, 2019

5 Healthy Caregiver Resolutions for 2019

Caregivers often neglect their well-being when caring for a loved one. Use these 5 healthy caregiver resolutions to make 2019 a healthier, better balanced year.

The beginning of a new year offers each of us a time to start over and set goals for living a healthier life. If you are a caregiver, the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities may be taking its toll. It’s no secret that caregiving can be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting.

As we head into 2019, we thought it would be helpful to share a few warning signs of caregiver burnout along with some preventative strategies.

The Toll of Caregiving for a Senior Loved One

Gallup Industries polled caregivers and found that the health-related problems caregivers cited most often included:

  • chronic pain
  • knee, back, and leg problems
  • high blood pressure
  • unintended weight gain
  • neck and back aches
  • migraines and headaches
  • general fatigue

If you are a caregiver experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time to make your own health a priority.

5 Healthy Caregiver Resolutions to Make in 2019

  1. Examine your diet: Because the role of caregiver is such a busy one, caregivers often turn to convenience foods or fast foods at meal time. One of the best ways to improve your health in the new year is to improve your diet. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “My Plate” program has helpful resources and tips if you aren’t sure where and how to begin.
  2. Start an exercise program: Another resolution to make in 2019 is to exercise 30 minutes each day. For weary caregivers, this might seem unrealistic. Research shows, however, that exercising in small increments can yield the same results as 30 continuous minutes of exercise. Setting a goal to exercise 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening may be more achievable.
  3. Schedule a physical: Caregivers often neglect their yearly physical and wellness screenings. Commit to scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician in January. They can evaluate your health status and help schedule routine screenings that might be due.
  4. Explore alternative therapies: Stress is a common part of a caregiver’s day. Set a goal to learn a few stress-management techniques in the new year. A few to consider are gardening, music, art, yoga, meditation, journaling, and Pilates.
  5. Laugh more: Caregivers can get so wrapped up in their role that they neglect caring for their spirit. Resolve to laugh more in 2019. Laughter helps lower blood pressure and prevent depression while also giving the spirit a boost. Whether it is a phone call with a funny friend, watching a television comedy, or enjoying a local improv theater, remind yourself that laughter is the best medicine.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

A necessary part of taking care of a loved one is learning how important it is to take regular breaks. Maintaining your well-being will allow you the strength and fortitude you need to be a good caregiver.

Legacy Senior Living communities make that easier to do. Our respite services allow family caregivers to take a break knowing their loved one is safe and well cared for. Call us at (423) 478-8071 to learn more.

Is the Senior Driver in Your Family Safe Behind the Wheel?

December 3, 2018

Concerned about senior driver safety? This information will help you objectively assess their skills.

The topic of driving safety can be a contentious one between seniors and those who love them. For many, driving represents independence. Knowing you can hop in your car and head out to appointments and errands allows most of us to feel empowered and in control of our lives.

Unfortunately, aging brings undeniable physical changes, some of which can make driving more difficult. In honor of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, here are some tips that adult children should know about safety and senior drivers.

Assessing an Older Driver Skills

Adult children sometimes use age as the only factor in determining if a parent is safe behind the wheel. There is evidence to show that age does play a role in driving safety. Senior driver research confirms that fatal accidents begin to rise around the age of 75 and spike significantly at the age of 80.

But age shouldn’t be the primary determinant of driving safety. While aging does cause physical changes, not everyone ages the same. An active 80-year-old may be a safer, better driver than a 60-year-old who lives with a serious health condition.

A few, more objective ways to evaluate an older loved one’s fitness for driving include:

  1. Condition of the vehicle: An older driver’s car can tell a story. Is your senior loved one’s car in good physical shape? Do you see scrapes on the side mirrors and side panels or dents in the fenders? A close inspection of the vehicle can help you spot potential concerns.

Sometimes a senior driver might have a problem with depth perception and not realize it. They may be bumping in to things because they don’t realize how close they are.

  1. Conduct a ride along: Adult children and younger family members often act as a senior’s driver when they head out together. This might keep them from realizing how much the older adult’s driving skills have deteriorated.

Try to discreetly arrange a ride along to see how well the senior performs behind the wheel of their car. It will help to do this during busy traffic times, at dusk, or after dark. Consider the following questions as you observe your loved one’s driving skills.

Is the senior too confident or overly anxious while driving? Are they adhering to the rules of the road? Is looking behind them or over their shoulder difficult or even painful? Are they keeping up with traffic or going too fast or too slow? Each of these factors can impact their safety on the road.

  1. Safe driver evaluation: You can also take advantage of more formal senior-driver safety evaluations. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has a free self-rating tool titled Drivers 65 Plus. This brochure includes 15 questions designed to assess an older adult’s driving skills. If you prefer an in-person approach, a professional driving specialist might be the answer. You can search the American Occupational Therapy Association’s driving specialist database to find a professional near you.

A final suggestion is to make sure your senior loved one has an annual eye exam. Vision loss is more common as we age and can have a significant impact on older driver safety.

Transportation Services at Legacy Senior Living

If your senior loved one decides it is time to hang up the car keys, exploring transportation options together should be a priority. At Legacy Senior Living communities, transportation is one of our most popular services.

Whether it is transportation for a group outing or for a physician appointment, we make it easy for residents to stay connected. Call the Legacy community nearest you to learn more!

Pets as Therapists: A Relationship That Promotes Healthy Aging

November 7, 2018

In honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, Legacy Senior Living shares information on how pets improve older adults’ lives and why you should consider an older pet.

Sharing your life with friends and family who love you unconditionally is increasingly important as we grow older. For many, pets are family. They are a source of companionship and affection, especially for seniors.

Having a pet can give retired adults a sense of purpose after their kids are grown and gone.

In honor of National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we explore the role pets can play in the lives of seniors and how adopting an older pet might help seniors.

The Benefits of Owning a Pet during Retirement

Older adults who are pet owners enjoy many health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, having an animal to love and care for helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Research also shows that seniors who have a pet exercise more and experience less depression.

Other benefits of having a furry companion include:

  • Socialization: Walking a dog is a great way to meet the neighbors and develop new friendships, which is an important part of aging well.
  • Purpose: Having a pet to care for helps seniors develop a healthy daily routine and a sense of purpose. This is especially beneficial for older adults who live alone.
  • Lower stress: The very acts of petting a cat or scratching a dog’s ear can help lower stress. For an older adult with a chronic health condition or someone who is grieving, pets can be very therapeutic.

If you are considering adopting a pet for yourself or a senior loved one, here’s what you should consider.

Adopting a Senior Pet

First, think about the senior’s budget and how much they can realistically spend on a pet each month. Some types of pets are more expensive to maintain. Whether it is grooming expenses for long-haired cats or veterinary bills for animals known to need extra care, be sure you understand the financial costs of any potential pet.

Also consider the animal’s temperament. For example, a high energy dog like a Jack Russell or a Boxer might be too much for an older adult.

Take the senior’s living situation into account as well. A cat might be better for an older adult who has limited outdoor space or doesn’t live near a dog park.

Our final suggestion is to consider adopting an older pet. Local shelters usually struggle to find homes for them even though they generally make great companions. Most are house-trained and calmer than a puppy or kitten.

Many local shelters have websites you can use to learn more about the animals currently up for adoption and the process to become a pet parent.

Life Enrichment at Legacy Senior Living

Helping older adults live their best quality of life is at the heart of everything we do at Legacy Senior Living communities. From life enrichment activities to wellness programs, we invite you to visit the Legacy community nearest you to learn more today.

Busting the Dangerous Myths about Flu Shots and Seniors

October 1, 2018

Flu shot myths often keep people from being vaccinated. For older adults, that can be especially dangerous. Here’s what you should know.

Every fall, old flu shot myths—and a few new ones—begin to make the rounds. Recent false social media posts have gone as far as to say flu shots are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults! It’s misinformation like this that may prevent seniors from getting a flu shot.

While younger, healthy adults may be able to fight off the virus, older adults who have a chronic health condition or a weakened immune system might not. For seniors, the flu can be deadly. During a typical flu season, seniors account for 70 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths, and 50 to 70 percent of hospitalizations for influenza.

Let’s bust a few more common myths about flu shots.

Protecting Seniors from the Flu: Common Flu Shots Myths

Myth #1: Flu shots contain an active flu virus

People of all ages have the misperception that the flu shot works by exposing you to a small dose of the flu. This persistent myth says that by being exposed to a small dose of flu, you build your immunity against it.

For older adults trying to stay healthy, the idea of being exposed to even a minor case of the flu may be frightening. That’s why it’s important to help seniors understand that this is a myth. An influenza vaccine contains only an inactive strain of the flu. You can’t get the flu from the flu shot.

Myth #2: Only seniors and children need a flu shot

This myth can put older adults at risk of getting the flu. While young adults and healthy middle-aged people might not think they need a flu shot, it’s a measure that helps prevent them from spreading the flu.

Adult children of an aging parent and family caregivers especially need to protect themselves against the flu. They can unwittingly spread the virus to immune-compromised seniors without even being aware they have it.

Myth #3: If you get a flu shot too early, you won’t be protected all season

Some adults delay getting vaccinated until mid-winter when the flu begins to make an appearance. Many do so because they believe receiving the vaccine too early will prevent them from being protected all flu season.

The truth is, a flu shot typically offers protection for a whole year. The immunity doesn’t wear off in a month or two. You are better off getting the vaccine early before the flu begins to make its way around town.

Myth #4: Because the flu shot doesn’t change much, you don’t need it every year

Each new flu season heralds a new strain of the flu. While some years might be similar, they are rarely ever the same. Researchers adapt vaccines to target those changes so people are protected against the strains expected to be bad that season.

Help Seniors Get Accurate Information on Flu Shots

In an average flu season, 200,000 people are hospitalized for the flu, and 36,000 people die from it. Older adults account for the majority of these. You can help protect the seniors in your life by educating them on the importance of the flu vaccine and encouraging them to be vaccinated.

Interested in more information about health and well-being for older adults? Visit “Aging Well” on the Legacy Senior Living blog. We share the latest news and research throughout the month on living an active, independent life as you grow older.

Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors and Their Families

September 5, 2018

Falls Free: National Council on Aging

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. In honor of Fall Prevention Awareness Day, we share tips to keep seniors safe.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has once again designated the first day of fall, September 22, as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The day is designed to shine light on how dangerous falls are for older adults, what the most common causes are, and how caregivers and loved ones can help a senior lower their risk.

From a sedentary lifestyle to poor lighting in the home and medication side effects, here’s what seniors and caregivers should know.

Learn the Facts about Falls and Older Adults

The statistics on older adults and falls are shocking. According to NCOA, falls continue to be the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors. Each year, one in four adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room, which adds up to 2.5 million seniors a year.

Research also shows:

  • Seniors don’t always tell: While reports show that one in four older adults will fall each year, experts say the true number is likely one in three. The difference is that many seniors don’t tell their family or their physician they’ve experienced a fall because they are afraid they will be forced to give up their independence.
  • Repeated fall risk: Once an older adult experiences a fall, they are likely to fall again. In fact, two-thirds of older adults who fall once will fall again within six months.
  • Serious injuries: Head injuries and broken bones are two of the most common injuries seniors experience as the result of a fall. Specifically, injuries often include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, hip fracture, broken arm, or broken wrist.
  • Danger of a broken hip: Hip fractures are especially dangerous for older adults. Studies show that 20% of seniors who break a hip will die within one year. 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall.

Contrary to popular belief, falling isn’t a normal part of aging. Many falls among seniors can be prevented if risk factors are identified and addressed.

5 Common Reasons Older Adults Experience a Fall

  1. Sedentary lifestyle: While it might seem counterintuitive, avoiding activity can increase the risk for falls. Seniors who are concerned they might fall may cut back on their physical activity. Doing so can lead to weaker muscles, decreased stamina, and poor balance. Each can raise the risk of falling. The “Live Well” program at all Legacy Senior Living communities offers residents enjoyable ways to stay active at every age.
  2. Home hazards: Falls around the home, especially in the bathroom, account for the majority of injuries older adults experience. From poor lighting to tough-to-access bathtubs, older homes aren’t usually designed with a senior in mind. An occupational therapist can be a good resource for help conducting a safety assessment of an older adult’s home.
  3. Medication side effects: Some medications are known to have side effects that can increase the risk for falls. Drowsiness, dehydration, and dizziness are a few to look for when reviewing a senior’s medication list. If you have any doubts about whether your loved one’s medications might put them at higher risk for a fall, review their prescription and over-the-counter medication lists with the pharmacist.
  4. Vision loss: Another reason an older adult might fall is vision problems. Outdated glasses, cataracts, glaucoma, and other types of eye disease can all contribute to falls. Ophthalmologists recommend older adults have an annual eye exam to identify and intervene in potential problems early.
  5. Poor nutrition: A poor diet can lead to muscle atrophy, a weakened immune system, and balance problems. These all contribute to a fall. A well-balanced diet should be a part of every fall prevention plan.

Assisted living communities can often help seniors lower their risk for falls. From a thoughtfully-designed environment to healthy meals, contact us today to learn more about fall prevention programs at Legacy communities.

Managing High Blood Pressure During Summer Humidity

August 6, 2018

5 steps to preventing a humidity-related health crisis

Summer heat and humidity can be especially dangerous to people with high blood pressure. Here’s what seniors and caregivers should know.

Many of us are aware that weather can play a role in triggering certain health problems. Seniors who suffer from arthritis symptoms, for example, often say winter leaves them feeling tough. Older adults who like to spend time outdoors working in the garden usually realize they need to be careful not to become dehydrated. But people aren’t often aware of the danger associated with high humidity and high blood pressure.

Research shows that high humidity can have serious health consequences for people with high blood pressure and heart disease. For those who live in southern climates, that’s important to know.

As part of Legacy Senior Living’s commitment to quality care for older adults, we are sharing this information for family caregivers to review.

The Connection Between High Humidity and High Blood Pressure

Experts say risk begins to rise when the outside temperature is over 70 degrees and the humidity is at 70 percent or greater. That’s because high humidity and hot temperatures cause the heart to work harder. In fact, the body might need to circulate twice as much blood per minute to remain cool than it does on an average day.

The problem is when there is too much moisture in the air, also known as high humidity, the body has a difficult time sweating enough. While most of us think of sweating as a nuisance, it’s important because it helps cool the body down. Excessive sweating also increases the risk for dehydration because it lowers the amount of fluid in the body. That places even greater strain on the heart.

Who Is Most at Risk for Illnesses Related to Heat and Humidity?

Though heat and humidity can be dangerous to people of all ages, some factors make adults even more vulnerable to a heat-related crisis:

  • People age 50 and over
  • Adults with heart, lung, and kidney problems
  • Seniors who follow a low-salt or low-sodium diet
  • People who have a circulatory disease or problems with circulation
  • Adults who take diuretics, sedatives, and blood-pressure medication

Warning Signs Caregivers Should Learn to Recognize

If you are a senior or the caregiver for one, it’s important to take a few minutes to review and learn the warning signs of heat- and humidity-related illnesses:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating or an inability to sweat
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Swelling in extremities

If you or a loved one are exhibiting more than one or two of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical intervention immediately. In most cases, that means calling 911 for help.

5 Steps to Preventing a Humidity-Related Health Crisis

Here are a few steps you can take that may help you or a senior loved one avoid a heat- or humidity-related medical crisis:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and consume foods that have high water content such as cucumber, melon, berries, leafy greens, and tomatoes.
  2. Avoid mid-day heat: Heat and humidity usually reach their peak between noon and 4:00 pm. Schedule errands, chores, and outings around those times whenever possible.
  3. Wear a hat: Invest in a natural fiber hat with a brim that shields the face.
  4. Eat smart: Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages, as well as alcohol. They can contribute to dehydration and increase the odds of a heat-related crisis.
  5. Apply sunscreen: Many people fail to apply sunscreen or don’t apply it often enough. This can lead to sunburn or even a more serious case of sun poisoning. Follow the directions on the sunscreen bottle closely and apply it any time you will be outdoors or riding in a car.

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