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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Summer Heat Safety for Older Adults

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The heat can be uncomfortable for people of all ages, but older adults are prone to heat stress, which can be a dangerous situation if left untreated. As a result, seniors can experience several heat-related health problems when the weather warms up outside.

Whether you are caring for your own health or you are a caregiver for another adult, it is important that you are proactive to stay safe in the heat.

Why Older Adults are at Risk

Why is the risk higher for older adults? Often, seniors have medical conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Some chronic conditions can change the body’s response to heat.

Certain medications might have an impact on how the body sweats. For example, diuretics can increase the risk of dehydration due to water loss. Heart disease impacts the blood circulation, which makes it harder for the body to dissipate the heat.

Older adults’ sense of thirst also diminishes with the aging process. Feeling less thirsty, combined with some seniors’ difficulties with incontinence, can lead many people to avoid drinking water and other fluids. This increases their chances of becoming dehydrated which can lead to hospitalization.

Prevention is Important

Don’t wait for symptoms to occur before taking action against the heat. Being proactive is the best solution to prevent health complications:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible during the day.
  • Increase water consumption. Drink consistently throughout the day instead of waiting until you are thirsty.
  • Wear clothing that is loose-fitting and light in color.
  • If you are feeling warm, take a cool bath or shower to lower your body temperature.
  • Minimize physical activities, especially when you are spending time outside.
  • Use window coverings to keep the heat of the sun out of the room.
  • Turn on the air conditioner, even if it increases the utility bills; or, go to a public library, indoor mall or San Diego County-sponsored “Cool Zone.”
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can increase the risk of dehydration.

If you have an aging neighbor or family member, then it is smart to check in regularly to make sure they are staying cool. In the situation where the power is lost, it is essential to offer assistance to help the person get to a cooler place.

When to See a Doctor

Certain symptoms might indicate that it is necessary to see a doctor: strong or rapid pulse, feeling faint, confusion, increase in body temperature, or dry, flushed skin.

Whether you have questions about heat-related symptoms or you need assistance with other medical concerns, Windward Life Care is here to assist. We can help you find the right resources to match your needs. Call to learn about the services that we provide.

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Healthy Eating: Superfoods to Incorporate into Your Diet

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Healthy eating is important for people of all ages because high-quality nutrition helps to fight disease and slow down the aging process. If you want to improve your health, then you need to learn more about nutrition recommendations for your age group.

Nutrition for Older Adults

As you age, nutrition can be a challenge because it becomes harder to get sufficient calories and nutrients. The digestive system isn’t as effective at absorbing the nutrients that are needed, leaving your body depleted of essential vitamins and minerals. At the same time, the taste of food declines, which often decreases appetite.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that older adults should follow these suggestions:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, focusing on brightly colored vegetables such as spinach, beets, and carrots.
  • Choose whole grains and consume at least 3 ounces each day.
  • Increase your consumption of peas, beans, and fish to improve the variety of protein sources.
  • Maintain bone health with three servings of vitamin D-fortified low-fat dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, or milk.
  • Cook with healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Super-Charge Your Diet with Superfoods

In addition to following a balanced diet, there are several ingredients that you can eat to boost your nutrition. These foods are packed with antioxidants and other compounds that protect your health and decrease the risk of disease:

  • Dark Chocolate: This ingredient can decrease the risk of stroke, boost memory, protect brain health, and lower blood pressure.
  • Blueberries: Slow down the uptake of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Apples: A great source of fiber that can help with managing cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels. Potassium in apples is beneficial to reduce the risk of heart disease and manage blood pressure.
  • Broccoli: Research studies have shown that broccoli can be beneficial to reduce the risk of colon, prostate, breast, and liver cancer.
  • Coffee: Did you know that a morning cup of coffee can decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease? Limit your consumption to two cups or less per day.

If you are looking for other ways to improve your diet, then you might consider the benefits of talking to a nutritionist or health professional. Here at Windward Life Care, we can help you find the best resources for your situation. Talk to us for more information!

 

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Three Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health during Retirement

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Did you look forward to the “golden years” after retirement so you could travel, spend time with family, and engage in your hobbies? Retirement brings about positive changes in many people’s lives, but it is a life transition that can cause significant changes in routine, relationships, and one’s sense of purpose. These life changes can increase the number of worries or stresses that you are facing, which might increase the risk of depression and anxiety.

Whether you are experiencing depression and anxiety or you are looking for ways to avoid these mental health issues, there are a few things that you can do. Right now is a great time to take a proactive approach to protecting your mental health:

1. Maintain Physical Activity

Aches and pains are a normal part of the aging process, and sometimes these problems cause people to slow down and avoid physical activity. But, regular physical activity is essential for both physical and mental health. When you exercise, it boosts certain hormones within the brain that keep a person happy. Incorporate light exercise into your weekly routine at least three times per week. Gardening and walking are great ways to get started.

2. Find a Way to Contribute

Retirement can be a difficult transition if you are used to leaving the house on a daily basis for work or other activities. Look for a new hobby or volunteer opportunity that will utilize your strengths and give you a greater sense of purpose. These things will help by expanding your social network and possibly making someone else’s life better.

3. Talk with a Doctor

In addition to making healthy lifestyle changes, it is essential that you talk with your doctor about how you are feeling. He or she can assess your symptoms and make a determination about the best treatment options. A referral to a mental health professional can be helpful, which could include talk therapy and/or medication therapy. The important thing is take steps to get help.

Here at Windward Life Care, we offer assistance for older adults and their families. These resources can be beneficial to give you the support that you are searching for during the later years of life. If you need help finding a qualified mental health professional experience in working with older adults, we can help. Contact us today and we will gladly answer your questions.

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Risk of Dehydration in Older Adults

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As the weather warms up, dehydration is an increased risk for older adults, so it is essential for water intake to increase. Health needs change as a person ages, and one common concern is the risk of dehydration in older adults. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and the things that should be done to minimize this risk. Avoiding dehydration can help a person to stay away from some of the more serious health concerns that can develop from poor hydration.

Why Older Adults Have a Higher Risk of Dehydration

Most often, dehydration is associated with inadequate water consumption. When a lack of water is combined with other health concerns, dehydration can become a bigger problem. These are some of the reasons why dehydration might occur:

  • Medications: Certain types of prescription medication might increase the risk of dehydration because of excessive sweating, diarrhea, or diuretics.
  • Body Awareness: Many people find that they are less aware of thirst as they age. For some reason, the aging process slows the response to thirst, which in turn decreases the amount of water the person consumes.
  • Fluid Regulation: Aging adults are also more prone to poor regulation of fluid balancing within the body. Shifts in the water balance can result in dehydration, and these shifts might happen unexpectedly.
  • Lower Kidney Function: Kidney function begins to decline with age, so the body isn’t as efficient at concentrating the urine output into smaller amounts of water. As a result, older people will lose more water compared with younger people.

Symptoms of Dehydration

It is important to watch for the symptoms of dehydration, to treat the problem quickly if it arises. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, thick saliva, inability to urinate, dark yellow urine, muscle cramping in the arms and legs, irritability, sleepiness, headaches, low blood pressure, stomach bloating, sunken eyes, and convulsions.

If these symptoms are present, then it is essential to increase water intake. Water consumption should be gradually increased, and medical care is needed if the symptoms are severe.

Here at Windward Life Care, we specialize in helping older adults and their families with the resources they need to age well. For more information about supporting the health of a family member, contact our team to learn about the services that are available.

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