Holiday Gift Ideas for Elderly Loved Ones

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With the holiday season underway, it can be a challenge to come up with creative and meaningful gifts for our loved ones. We understand that it can be difficult to choose a meaningful gift for an elderly family member. Our team has put together a gift-giving guide to help with your holiday shopping.

Considering the Needs of Elderly Family Members

The holidays offer the perfect season for gathering and creating memories together. However, if someone is affected by health problems, then this time of year can be a challenge for everyone involved. Whether your loved one is suffering from dementia or another health concern, choose gifts that are appropriate for their circumstances.

Small gifts might be the right solution to help the person simplify life at home. Or, look for options to offer entertainment or comfort.

Gift Ideas for Older Adults

Here are some of the most popular gifts for seniors this year:

  • Digital Photo Frame: Upload photos of the family, including children and grandchildren. Don’t forget to include photos of friends and neighbors. These digital photos can rotate in the frame to show the person the familiar faces of loved ones. Another option is to design a traditional photo album if the digital movement is difficult for the person to watch.
  • Walking Shoes: Good, supportive shoes are important to ensure comfort and safety. The right pair of shoes can help the senior maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Weighted Blanket: Not only does this blanket offer warmth, but it also gives the feeling of being cuddled or hugged. A blanket, such as My Calm Blanket uses Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation to help with the regulation of mood and improve relaxation.
  • Tickets: Spending time together is a great gift. Consider purchasing tickets to a movie, symphony or play.
  • Music: Sound can be stimulating and comforting, especially if the person is feeling lonely. Choose a CD or create a custom playlist of the person’s favorite artists.
  • Magazine Subscription: Ongoing entertainment and reading that is delivered to the mailbox each month. Find a genre to match a person’s interests and hobbies.
  • Stationery: Nothing beats a hand-written note from a loved one. Gift a nice set of stationary or cards. Don’t forget to include the stamps!
  • Custom Calendar: Design a personalized calendar with photos of the family. Include all of the important dates that need to be remembered, including anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

Feel free to contact us at Windward Life Care if you have questions about resources that are available to support the needs of your loved one.

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Celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

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Contributed by Jill Mendlen, President/CEO/ LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care.

Hospice and Palliative Care are two comprehensive programs that are dedicated to easing suffering and providing support to patients and their families during their healthcare journey.

Both programs combine the highest level of quality medical care with spiritual and emotional support for patients and their care givers.

Living every day to its fullest is the focus and goal of both hospice and palliative care. Being able to care for patients and their families during a very important and powerful time in life is truly an honor and privilege.

Understanding the unique aspects of each program can help you chose the program that is best for you or your loved one.

Hospice

Is a specialized type of healthcare designed to provide support and care to individuals in the final phase of a life limiting illness which is defined by Medicare as 6 months or less if a disease follows its normal course. Cure is no longer possible therefore the focus is on comfort and quality of life. Hospice care is provided by a team of professionals which includes – physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers. In addition to clinical care hospice also provides medications, equipment and supplies related to the terminal illness.

Hospice Care is fully covered by Medicare, MediCal and most insurance companies and managed care plans.

Palliative Care

Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative Care is generally provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to form an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any state in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Payment for Palliative Care is still evolving. We would be happy to answer questions you may have about how to best access Palliative Care.

Please call us at 858.458.2992 if we can be of any assistance or answer any questions you may have.

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Caregiving Through the Holidays

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Contributed by Martha Rañón
Director of Government & Community Affairs

For some, the holidays are a time of joy, celebrations, being with family and friends, enjoying dinners and get-togethers. It can be a time for cooking, playing and gift giving. However, for those who are caring for the well-being of someone and are in the role of caregiving, the holidays can mean something totally different.

I often hear from family caregivers who are so overwhelmed by the impending holidays that they rather skip them all together. For them, it can be a time of stress, guilt, tensions, and negative experiences. This is understandable. As family caregivers, we put a lot of responsibility on ourselves to “perform” and meet everyone’s expectations. The dinner must be just right, the decorations perfect, and all the details that come with gift giving must be properly considered. But what if we simplified the holidays?

Here are some steps that can help you manage your caregiving responsibilities during the holidays while enjoying getting together with family and friends.

  1. Re-evaluate your family/holiday traditions
  2. Focus on celebrating memories
  3. Keep decorations to a minimum
  4. Smaller gatherings are less stressful than larger crowds
  5. Celebrate earlier in the day when you and your loved ones are less tired
  6. Provide soothing activities
  7. Modify your expectations
  8. Ask for help
  9. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your feelings
  10. Start your gift buying early

Are you assisting or concerned about a family member or friend?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Southern Caregiver Resource Center can help you by providing specialized information, one-on- one support, counseling, support groups, respite, education and will help you create a care plan for you and your loved one.

For more information on these FREE support services, please contact us at:

1800-827-1008 • (858) 268-4432

www.caregivercenter.org

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Caregivers Kitchen: Training for Nutrition and Kitchen Skills

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Windward Life Care® offers the finest home care services for those in need of day-to-day help in the home. We can simplify for you what may feel like an overwhelming task: providing the highest quality in-home care as you or your loved one’s needs change over time. We firmly believe that our first-rate professional expertise comes from all employees, especially the home care aides that assist you or your loved ones every day. How do we ensure that the aides are equipped to provide high-quality care? One way is through on-going training.

Earlier this year we introduced Caregivers Kitchen nutrition training to our aides.  The online course, Basic Cooking: Culinary Skills for Caregivers™, gave them flexibility to complete training from anywhere. They learned practical knowledge and cooking skills with “How To” and recipe videos. The course helped those who are new to the kitchen or are seasoned chefs.

Course Topics Include:

  • Practical Tips for Healthy Meal Planning
  • Food Presentation and Flavor
  • Tips on Smart Grocery Shopping
  • Best Practices for Kitchen Safety & Cleanliness

Staff enrolled in Basic Cooking Skills received complimentary access to the digital textbooks. Online, they can:

  • Easily search for recipes
  • Access helpful cooking tips
  • Review best practices for providing for an elder’s nutritional needs

We have had 17 graduates thus far, each earning the certificate for Food Safety, Nutrition and Basic Cooking Skills. To be certified, each graduate completed 8 hours of training. Due to our commitment to training our caregivers in nutrition and cooking skills, Windward Life Care received the Culinary Skills for Caregivers™ Associate Certification from Caregivers Kitchen.

With Windward Life Care’s personalized approach to caregiving, the Caregivers Kitchen training gives our home care aides another tool to connect with their clients while supporting healthy eating habits. Contact us anytime to learn more about our care at home services and home care aide training program. You can also visit our website to learn more.

”I really enjoyed the Caregivers Kitchen course because it improved my skills in cooking healthy foods and reminded me about kitchen cleanliness. It also helped me with healthy food shopping for my clients. I would recommend the course to all caregivers.“  – G.M.

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Older Adults’ Unique Nutrition Needs

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Healthy eating is essential at every age. As a person reaches the later years in life, the body has different nutritional needs. It is important for family members and caregivers to know the unique dietary requirements for aging adults.

Health Goals for Aging Adults

Planning a healthy diet can support many nutritional goals during this stage of life. These goals should encompass:

  • Sufficient vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, fiber, potassium, vitamin B12, healthy fats, and more.
  • Weight loss if the person is overweight
  • Managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Reducing the risk of common disease

To achieve these goals, use a shopping list that outlines some of the most important ingredients to include in the meal plan. These foods are “nutrient dense,” which means that high levels of vitamins and minerals are available in each serving.

Nutrition Concerns for Older Adults

Small dietary changes can go a long way to protect the health of older adults. Tips include:

  • Reduce extra salt. Instead, use herbs and spices to add flavor to the food.
  • Include fruits and vegetables in meal planning to help with important vitamins and minerals that are needed.
  • Drink milk or include other dairy products in the diet for calcium and vitamin D.
  • Choose foods that are fortified with B-vitamins, such as cereal for breakfast.

Overcoming Common Dietary Issues

A few challenges can come up in the planning and implementation of a healthy eating plan. Special considerations need to be addressed, such as the texture of the food and the person’s ability to chew with dentures or damaged teeth. It may also be difficult for a person to swallow because of reduced saliva levels in the mouth.

Keep in mind that medications can sometimes change appetite. If a person is having a hard time finding the desire to eat, then it is important to consult with a doctor for possible solutions.

At Windward Life Care, we are proud to offer Caregivers Kitchen nutrition training to our staff. This program is designed to help home care aides learn effective food preparation techniques to provide safe and nutritious meals to our clients. Our experienced team is here to assist with every aspect of aging. Contact us any time to see how you can benefit from the services that are offered.

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San Diego County’s Age Well Action Plan

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Like many urban areas across the globe, San Diego County has a rapidly growing population of older adults. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030 adults over the age of 65 will represent 21% of our county’s population, compared to 13% right now.

How is our community preparing to meet the needs of older adults in the years to come?

In 2016, the County Board of Supervisors decided to join forces with AARP’s network of Age-Friendly communities as well as with the Dementia Friendly America Network to develop a vision for healthy aging in San Diego. This began a five year process of collaboration among consumers, professionals serving older adults, and county employees to build an Age Well San Diego Action Plan. With the planning phase now complete, the county and its community partners are beginning the implementation of the plan.

San Diego County’s Age Well Action Plan centers on five important themes affecting the lives of older adults in our area:

  • Health and Community Support
  • Housing
  • Social Participation
  • Transportation
  • Dementia-Friendly

Specific goals have been set within each theme area. For example, a goal in the area of social participation is to create policies that facilitate inter-generational engagement, i.e. bringing kids, adults and seniors together. Another goal, this one in the area of health and community support, is to encourage the development of village-like community support systems.

How can you get involved? Read the San Diego County Age Well Action Plan, think about the issues that are most important to you, and then join a “theme team” to participate in the goal implementation process. All members of our community are encouraged to get involved. To get a print copy of the Age Well Action Plan, or to learn more about volunteering, call 858-495-5500 or e-mail [email protected]

Windward Life Care’s team members are actively engaged in the San Diego aging community and can link you with resources to enhance your safety and quality of life. Contact us if you have questions or need help creating a plan for your well-being.

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