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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Aging Life Care Manager Helps “Bill” to Age Well

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Windward’s Aging Life Care Managers help clients to make positive life changes that result in better health and quality of life. Here is one example of a client, “Bill,” whom Care Manager Heather Arsenault has had the honor to work with for the past year and a half.

Bill was referred to Windward Life Care® by his estate planning attorney. Bill has required help most of his life due to the effects of a brain aneurysm he suffered as a teenager. After a lengthy recovery, Bill was able to go back to school and graduated in the mid-1960’s. He worked on and off, including several years as a cashier at a local convenience store. Bill is now 73. He has a heart of gold and loves a good conversation.

One of the challenges Bill has faced in his life is social isolation. To help with companionship and incorporating meaningful activity into Bill’s life, Heather introduced a home care aide, Zahrina. With the dependable structure that a daily home care aide provides, Bill now fills his days with activities that further his physical and mental health and bring joy to his life.

Each morning Bill and Zahrina play Windward Life Care’s “Memory Match Game” with cards that have personal photos of people, pets, and places in his life. Other activities they enjoy are: going to Padres games, walking at Seaport Village, walking at Spanish Landing, and eating out. Bill has a personal trainer and a therapist who both come to the house weekly. Heather also worked with Bill’s Power of Attorney to get him started in swim therapy classes this summer. As a teenager, Bill was an avid swimmer so he was excited to return to this favorite pastime.

Aging Life Care® Manager Heather Arsenault visits Bill monthly at his home, or out at one of Bill’s favorite restaurants.  Heather has weekly contact with Zahrina to share information and ideas for helping Bill. Heather determined that Bill would benefit from safety upgrades at his home. She arranged for a company to initiate bathroom improvements, upgrade flooring, and remove floor rugs to make his environment safer.

Heather has also facilitated Bill’s visits with his health care providers to ensure that his chronic conditions are well-managed and that crises are averted.

Bill’s consistent routine including in-home caregivers, engaging activities, and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle have led to an “aging well” story.

 

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care® Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us at (619) 450-4300 or [email protected] lifecare.com.

*Out of respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered. 

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Get Fit in the New Year: The Best Exercises for Older Adults

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When many people talk about fitness, they are often thinking about exercise for weight loss. While it is important to maintain a healthy weight, you shouldn’t overlook the other benefits that are available to improve your health.

It is common for older adults to slow down as they age. But, getting older shouldn’t be a reason why you stop moving your body. Exercise is essential to balance hormones, reduce the impact of chronic disease, support circulation, and improve balance and flexibility.

If you are setting New Year’s goals to improve your fitness, then you should consider some of these exercise options:

  • Smartphone Exercise Integration: We live in a world of technology, and many tools can be used to support your fitness goals. Try using these smartphone apps to put together the right exercise plan.
  • Senior Fitness Classes: Enjoy double benefits by building friendships while you are working out. These aging adult fitness classes provide exercise plans that are catered to your skill level while creating a fun place to meet friends and build your community.
  • Walking: Simply getting out of the house can be the catalyst to boost your health efforts. There’s no need to run a marathon! Instead, walk the dog, talk to the neighbors, or take a stroll around a nearby park.
  • Interval Training: It is easy to get stuck with a fitness plateau if you aren’t shaking things up. Consider interval training to have the most impact on muscle development and endurance.

Customizing Your Exercise Plan

Keep in mind that it is always best to work with your healthcare provider to put together a good exercise plan for your fitness level. You need to ease your way into the activities so that you can prevent injury. Also, make it a priority to plan time for warming up and cool down periods to prevent discomfort and injury.

Our team at Windward Life Care is focused on supporting your health goals by connecting you with the right medical and fitness options in your area. Call us for more information about how these services can help with your new goals for the year.

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Running Is Still Great Exercise, Even as You Age

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Most people assume that it is natural for physical activity to decrease with age. But, getting older doesn’t mean that you must give up some of your favorite activities, such as running. The truth is that these activities are great to support your health and prolong your life.

Running Can Prevent Fractures and Strengthen Your Health

A research study at Stanford University found that people over the age of 50 who participated in long-distance running had higher bone mineral density compared to those living a sedentary lifestyle.

As a person ages, it is natural for the bones to lose minerals, causing a decrease in bone density. As a result, older people have a higher risk of fractures. These fractures can limit mobility and lead to other health issues. But, it is possible that running can help to prevent these injuries and improve mobility later in life.

Start Running at Any Age

Regular exercise and healthy activities can help to improve your physical capacity, especially in the later years of life. Some people nearing retirement have even found that they can reach more physical achievements than they thought were possible. For example, it is becoming more common for people in their 50’s and 60’s to take up competitive sports, such as marathons or triathlons. As a result, doctors are seeing that age-related changes in athletic performance might not have as much bearing as previously thought.

The key is to maintain a regular exercise schedule, helping to support physical fitness that many people lose with age. Instead of assuming that lower physical fitness is associated with age, researchers are now starting to recognize that aging is connected with a sedentary lifestyle.

How much should you run? It is always best to talk to a healthcare expert for personalized recommendations. One suggestion is to work up to a schedule of moderate running, three times a week to improve the function of your joints. Start slowly and build up your endurance to avoid injury, and always wear supportive shoes.

Are you looking for a healthcare provider to help with your fitness goals? Talk to us at Windward Life Care to learn more. We can help you connect with medical professionals who match your requirements.

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Getting Fit: Setting Short-Term Goals for Long-Term Benefits

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Individuals who are working to improve their health often look for a transformation to happen overnight. You want to optimize your appearance and energy levels, and it can be discouraging if you don’t feel like you are getting the fast results that you desire.

The truth is that your long-term results are based on the small decisions that you make each day. If you want to improve the results that you are getting, then you need to set short-term goals. These small steps provide achievable actions that will help you reach your ultimate goals later on.

Goals for Boosting Your Fitness Levels

Setting goals can be a great way to find the motivation that you need to make changes in your life. The best way to experience the success that you desire is by setting goals that are specific, realistic, and important to you.

Pick short-term fitness goals that will make it easier to incorporate physical activity as a part of your daily living. For example, you might mark a time on your calendar, buy the fitness shoes that you need, find a “buddy” to exercise with, and/or find a class that you want to attend.

Then, these short-term goals can be expanded to include other activities which will help with fitness results. You might start tracking your weight, the number of hours you exercise each week, or the amount of weight that you can lift.

Identifying these short-term goals make it easier to find the long-term goals that will help you succeed. Think about where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, or a year from now. Then find realistic action steps that will help you reach that destination.

Safety When Exercising

Even if you are feeling motivated to improve your fitness, don’t let your mind push harder than what your body can handle. Safety should be your top priority! Here are a few tips to maintain safety when beginning a new exercise routine:

  • Talk to your doctor if you have any specific health concerns that need to be addressed
  • Start out slowly, then gently increase the intensity and length of your workouts
  • Manage food consumption to support energy usage
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, including during your exercise session
  • Wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the activity
  • Always warm up before working out

At Windward Life Care, we provide services to help you maintain good health at all stages of life. For more information, contact our team to learn more about health and fitness services that are available in your area.

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Client Story: Dorie’s Great Zipline Adventure

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Windward Life Care client Dorie Radichel knows how to grab life by the horns.

dorie-on-zipline dorie-on-zipline-2

This 86-year-young great grandmother of four was recently asked to name an activity she always wanted to try. When her surprise answer was zip lining, Burnell Jackson, the Vibrant Life Coordinator at Villa Bonita where Dorie lives, started her on a fitness plan to help make Dorie’s dream a reality.

Dorie’s inspiring story is just one example of how Aging Life Care™ Managers at Windward Life Care support their clients to not just live, but thrive in their golden years. Taking a holistic and customized approach to care, the Windward team encourages clients to find purposeful activities that emphasize their unique strengths and interests.

To get Dorie ready for her big adventure, Burnell developed a stamina training regimen so Dorie would be able to ascend the two flights of stairs to the zipline platform. She was game! Dorie walked and climbed stairs daily until she reached her goal. A trip to the La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines in Pauma Valley was then arranged.

La Jolla Zip Zoom boasts the longest zipline course in Southern California. In some sections, zippers can travel up to 55 miles per hour. And Dorie had a blast! With the harness keeping her safely tethered to the zipline, she enjoyed the long ride and spectacular views of the Pauma Valley, Palomar Mountain, and the San Luis Rey River. You can see Dorie on the zipline at a video posted on Villa Bonita’s website.

So what’s next on Dorie’s adventure list? “Burnell has told me about an indoor sky diving place. You can free fall at over 11,000 feet. That sounds interesting,” Dorie quipped. Stay tuned!

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