The Importance of Respite Care

 

Caring for aging loved ones is a noble endeavor, but it can come with tremendous challenges. Family caregivers can sometimes endure an enormous amount of physical, emotional, and financial strain. It’s difficult to provide optimal care for your loved one if you are unwell. This is where respite care enters the picture, offering caregivers a much-needed break.

 

What is respite care?

It is simply temporary care from someone other than the primary caregiver. It could be a professional, a friend, a relative, or even a volunteer. First, the primary caregiver must understand their own needs. How much time do you need away from your duties? How frequently do you need breaks? Then, you must determine the needs of the senior, and select a caregiver who can meet those needs adequately. For example, if you need three hours on Saturday to do some shopping and your loved one just needs some companionship during that time perhaps a teenage relative could fill that gap. Alternatively, if you need a three-day break, you may need to hire a professional who can handle more intense tasks.

Benefits of respite care

The positive results of respite care are not only useful for the caregiver, but also for the person receiving care. When the caregiver is well, her or she is able to provide the best care.

  • Relaxation – Dedicating a little time to yourself is calming and can improve your mood. Do not underestimate the power of relaxation.
  • Re-energize – A vehicle cannot run on an empty tank of gas. Similarly, the human body needs fuel and energy to function properly. You must feed the body, mind, and soul to rejuvenate.
  • Surroundings – It’s important to spend some quality time away from the care-giving environment to avoid burnout. Simply hanging out in a different space can be tremendously helpful.
  • Changing perspective – Stepping outside of your care-giving duties allows you to look at things from a fresh perspective. You can see the bigger picture and possibly find better solutions and new ways of handling things.
  • Maintaining identity – Your role as a caregiver is important, but it should not consume your identity. You are a complete person and getting frequent breaks helps you remember that you are more than a caregiver.
  • Socialize – Isolation can be a serious problem for caregivers. Allow time for social engagement and interaction. Do things that you enjoy with people you like.

It may be difficult to find respite care. However, if you tap into all your resources, you will likely find assistance. If you do not have friends or relatives to help, check with local organizations. Many communities have volunteer respite programs. The ARCH National Respite Network is a great online source for more information.

 

How Men and Women Age Differently

 It’s no surprise that men and women age differently. Not only do our physical bodies handle the aging process in varying ways, but our coping abilities are also starkly contrasted. Extensive research in this area shows exactly how men and women age differently.

  • Longevity – It’s a well-known statistic that women have a longer lifespan than men. In general, females live approximately five to six years more than males, as stated in this 2014 report by the World Health Organization.There are numerous theories as to why this is the case. Scientists have not yet pinpointed exact causes, although they have speculated stress and lifestyle as leading factors.
  • Happiness – Women are reportedly more content during their senior years. This is attributed to women having better communication skills and more empathy, and likely more intimate/personal relationships. Men are more likely to become lonely and depressed as they age because they have fewer emotional coping skills.
  • Weight gain – Both sexes begin to gain weight after the age of 30. Men typically stop gaining in their mid-50’s while women continue to put on weight until about age 65.
  • Skin – Men lose less collagen and have thicker skin, therefore showing fewer signs of aging.
  • Hair loss – Both men and women experience hair loss during the aging process. However, men are much more susceptible to pattern baldness.
  • Disease – Certain diseases affect men or women more prevalently. For example, men are more likely to have Parkinson’s disease while women are more prone to suffer from Alzheimer’s.

Gender Differences in Senior Care

Because of the longevity gap, assisted-living communities have seven female residents to every one male. Skilled nursing facilities have rates hovering closer to 10 to 1. You might think that men would like these odds. However, a lot of men feel that senior living communities are too feminine. This can create challenges when attempting to select the best community for your loved one. Senior men have different needs than women, and it’s important to find a community that has plenty to offer male residents.

Men have a significantly more difficult time coping with the aging process. Many men based their self-worth on their societal or professional role in life. Once they are no longer working, they may begin to feel useless. Without essential social interaction, they can become lonely and depressed. Here are some things you can do to help the older men in your life:

  • Give them “jobs” and responsibilities. This gives them a sense of value.
  • Allow them to teach younger people some useful skills. Intergenerational activities are highly beneficial to seniors and youngsters. This helps the older person feel important and useful.
  • Recognize the person’s history and identity.

Males tend to value independence and leadership. Anything you can do to reinforce these feelings will be immensely helpful to aging men. Take these factors into consideration when approaching delicate topics with the senior men in your life.

Aging is inevitable for both men and women. Although we experience the process differently, we are in many ways the same. All senior citizens need to feel valued and deserve the best care we can provide for them. Understanding the similarities and differences that men and women experience as they get older helps us provide optimal care.

 

Understanding and Preventing Frailty in Aging Adults

Frailty in Aging AdultsFrailty is a common issue for senior citizens. It is not, however, an inevitable part of aging. Frailty is a syndrome caused by numerous mental and physical factors. Frail people are more likely to become disabled and spend time in the hospital. They tend to get infections more easily because their immune systems are not functioning properly. People who smoke, suffer from depression, have serious medical problems, or are underweight are prone to frailty. While there is no cure for this complex condition, frailty syndrome in older adults can be prevented and treated.

What is frailty syndrome?

It is generally measured by the following symptoms:

  •         Muscle weakness
  •         Fatigue and exhaustion
  •         Weight loss
  •         Slow movement, especially walking
  •         Low activity

Sarcopenia – This is an underlying biological factor of frailty and is characterized by a loss of muscle mass. It is different than muscle atrophy because it replaces muscle with fat and fibroids. Individuals experiencing sarcopenia have decreased muscle strength and general muscle weakness.

Osteoporosis – This condition most often affects older women. It is indicated by low bone density, and those afflicted with this condition are more likely to experience bone fractures and breaks. It can have a significant negative impact on a person’s quality of life and longevity.

Prevention

Fitness

Physical activity is crucial to help avoid frailty. Just a little exercise each day can make a significant difference. Physical activities should be structured according to the individual’s abilities. Walking, for example, is a wonderful way to improve balance, muscle mass, and heart health. Resistance exercises are great for increasing muscle mass as well. If the person is able, he or she should use weights or bands for this endeavor.

Cognitive wellness

It is also important to keep the mind active. There are numerous ways to exercise the brain. Crossword puzzles and games are a popular choice among aging people. Reading and socializing can also help flex “brain muscles.”

Mental illness

It is vital to recognize and treat any psychological conditions, such as depression. These disorders can heavily influence the progression of frailty. When properly maintained and treated, mental illness will have less of a negative impact on a person’s physical health.

Nutrition

It’s no surprise that nutrition is an important factor in maintaining muscle mass. Protein is especially influential for muscle health. The best approach is to have a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein. Additionally, seniors should consume plenty of water, particularly if they live in warm climates.

Frailty is a serious issue for aging adults. It can cause a person’s health to decline dramatically. So, it is essential that efforts are made to prevent and treat it. Unfortunately, there is no single, perfect solution. Rather, a holistic approach is needed to ensure aged individuals have optimal overall wellness, which can help prevent and treat this syndrome.