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.


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.


Technology for Living Independently and With Dignity at Home

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The great majority of older adults have a strong desire to live in their own homes and communities; but many adaptations need to be made in our homes to accommodate this. Technology is one piece that empowers older adults to live in their homes with dignity.

Technology has been challenging for many mature adults to comprehend and use; first it was computers, then came smartphones, both of which required investments to own and skills to use. With the advent of voice enabled technologies and AI software (artificial intelligence), access and interaction with technology has never been friendlier. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home which start to retail at $49, users can in their own native language interact with a whole slew of services and hardware products which earlier could only be accessed using a computer or a smartphone.

Increasingly, the ground zero of senior well-being is now shifting to their lifestyles at home; sensors are becoming more context driven, data captured and analyzed by non-intrusive sensors and wearable devices help us predict potential health situations and challenges ahead of time moving us to the realm of predictive healthcare.

Here are the many ways that technology enables us to interact with our homes to enhance our well-being and lifestyle:

Comfort and Convenience
Control lighting switches, thermostat temperature and your entertainment system with voice commands.

Security & Safety
Routine activities and social support are especially suited for elders suffering cognitive decline. These systems detect changes in patients location or environment and provide verbal assistance as needed, or if needed, notify caregivers.

Isolation and Loneliness
Using voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home to communicate with family friends and caregivers, staying informed, ordering supplies, booking transportation, conducting basic banking, restaurant delivery services.

Monitoring & Predictive Health
Smart sensors for monitoring activity and behavior; which serve as advance warning systems for potential health challenges.
Video devices for security.
Video cameras with AI for facial recognition, automated door locks for locking, video doorbells managing visitors without getting to the front door.

Wearables for Health Analytics
Health monitoring systems to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and movement of the patient as well as environmental data, such as ambient temperature.

Fall Protection and Management
Sensors that can detect a fall both inside and outside the home and notify emergency services and caregivers in real time.

Lighting for Well-being
LED circadian rhythm lighting for normal sleep patterns, and creating a positive environment.

Going Forward
The next phase of technology for seniors is being designed using Ambient intelligence; which combines AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (internet connected devices), will provide real-time monitoring of an environment and event-driven response to changes in that environment. Sensors designed to detect changes in sound, motion, physiological signals, as well as more generalized image processing are core components of an ambient intelligent environment.

About Smaart House

Smaart House is a San Diego based technology provider for senior care, our purpose is to empower mature adults to live independently and with dignity in their home environment and communities. We work with individual homeowners, senior care communities and assisted living facilities to integrate and adapt technology in their environments. Please visit us at www.smaart.house for more information.

The author Bijou Lulla is the Founder and CEO of Smaart House, he can be reached at [email protected].


Crisis Managed the Windward Way

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By Heather Arsenault, Aging Life Care Manager

Since I began working at Windward Life Care® as an Aging Life Care® Manager, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the great work our team of care managers and home care aides performs every day to ease our clients through the joys and challenges of their later years. Of the many services we offer, one of the most valuable is accompanying our clients during their hospital and emergency room stays. I was reminded how essential a care manager’s role as a patient advocate can be during a client’s recent emergency room visit.

Our client “Mary” had fallen in the courtyard of her memory care facility. The staff found her on the pavement and called her primary Windward Aging Life Care Manager, Terry, and then had her taken to the closest hospital’s ER. Mary was complaining of knee and shoulder pain. Luckily, Mary was ushered into a “real room” at the hospital quickly, having been transported by ambulance.

At Windward, we have a system where every client has a back-up care manager in addition to their primary care manager. Since Mary’s care manager Terry was occupied with another client situation, and because I was her back-up and thus familiar with Mary’s situation, I rushed to the hospital to meet Mary at the ER—and I’m so glad I did. As good as the care at this hospital is, there are some things that a knowledgeable advocate can do for a client/patient in these situations that few others can. This is particularly true when the older person has dementia.

I first introduced myself to the nurse and told her I would be assisting Mary per her and her family’s request. I was able to provide important background information about Mary particularly regarding her memory issues and medications. The hospital then kept me informed regarding all testing: a CT scan (due to Mary being on a blood thinner) to check for bleeding, and X-rays of her shoulder and knee.

Mary asked questions that I was able to address when hospital staff was unavailable. She was very cold, and more than once, I had to ask the nurse for another blanket to keep Mary warm. Mary also repeatedly asked why her arm was constricted. I explained that it was the automatic blood pressure cuff doing this. When she needed her knee and foot rubbed, I was able to take care of that. And when she had to urinate (more than once), I was able to get the nurse, and they assisted her with the bedpan.

If Mary had been alone, she couldn’t have reached out to them herself; she wouldn’t have known what to do. Even though she had been a nurse herself, her memory was too impaired to allow her to advocate for herself. Several times she asked me where we were, and she had no recollection of the fall. While she was resting, I continued to ask the nurse when the doctor would be in to give us the results. I was also able to reach Mary’s daughter and update her on Mary’s condition, which she appreciated, and she was able to talk to Mary herself.

The emergency room can be a chaotic place, and this can be upsetting to older adults. At one point, a woman in her 30s, being held in the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, was screaming obscenities and crying for over 45 minutes. Her room was near Mary’s, so Mary kept questioning what was wrong with the woman. She asked me, “Can you go help her?” I reassured her that the staff was helping her, though the situation was still upsetting to Mary.

The doctor finally arrived at 8:00pm (three hours after Mary had entered the ER). He said all tests, including the CT scan, came back negative. Mary tested positive for a urinary tract infection and dehydration, so they started her on antibiotics and fluids. Once she was stable, they were going to make sure she could stand up, and then they would transport her back to the memory care community.

Mary returned back home that evening. My final text to Mary’s daughter to update her on everything was at about 9:45pm. She thanked me for going to the hospital to help her mother on such short notice and especially appreciated someone being with her. We agreed that Windward would provide a caregiver to furnish one-on-one care for Mary the next day, to give her some additional support and attention.

When I left the hospital ER that night, there were at least 50 people waiting to be seen, including several older people by themselves. I am grateful that Windward staff can accompany our clients during these stressful hospital visits, providing advocacy, comfort to the client, and peace of mind to their families. It is an invaluable service we provide.


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].

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


Emergency Preparedness Tips for Home and Family

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Wildfires are spreading through much of the state of California, with some families facing the need to evacuate their homes. Regardless of your proximity to the fires, it is important to put together a proactive emergency preparedness plan. Not only will you be ready to keep yourself and your family safe, but you can also watch out for elderly clients and neighbors who might need assistance in an emergency situation.

Emergency Preparedness Tips to Follow

Since September is National Preparedness Month, we wanted to suggest few things that can be done in your home. Follow these tips so that you are ready if a wildfire or other emergency affects your area:

  • San Diego Emergency Phone App: The city of San Diego has a free emergency app that can be used for notifications. You will receive text message notifications and instructions when there are emergency alerts in the area.
  • Phone Charge: Communication is important in an emergency. You should always keep your cell phone charged and have the charger on hand.
  • List of Essentials: Are there any essentials that need to be grabbed on your way out the door in the event of an evacuation? Have this list handy so that you don’t overlook anything critical like medications, medical equipment, and important papers.
  • Evacuation Routes: What is the best way to escape the area? Have a map of the local evacuation routes. Knowing multiple paths out of the neighborhood can be important if the emergency is blocking your normal roads.
  • Bring the Pets: Animals are a part of the family, so don’t forget to bring your dog or cat along. Be sure to have food as well as a crate or leash. Most of the emergency shelters in San Diego are pet-friendly.

Family Caregivers and Emergency Planning

While it is important to follow the general tips listed above, don’t overlook the importance of personalized preparedness when caring for someone with health challenges. It can be helpful to have copies of that person’s medication list and care plan,  as well as enough medication to get through the critical hours of the emergency.  The Alzheimer’s Association has prepared these helpful preparedness tips for caregivers of older adults with dementia. These suggestions can be used for people with other medical concerns as well.

If you need assistance in preparing for an emergency, such as wildfires or earthquakes, then Windward Life Care is here to help you find the right resources. Contact us to learn more about the services that are available.

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