Welcome to Part 2 of our two part series on factors that influence a senior’s quality of life. If you missed part 1, click here. Home Care Assistance wanted to address these four important aspects of aging because they can potentially have a profound effect on quality of life is a senior adult doesn’t have the in-home support and care that they need. Being aware of these factors and taking the steps to reduce their negative effects can greatly increase an aging adult’s likelihood of experiencing overall well-being and joy well into their golden years.
LOSS OF APPETITE
There are many reasons why your loved one can exhibit a loss of appetite or a change in food preference, some of which include:
- Sensory Loss – As we age, taste buds disappear from the roof and sides of the mouth. Those on the tongue gradually lose sensitivity. The sense of smell also dwindles.
- Emotions – Depression, grief, and loneliness can diminish the desire to eat.
- Medications – Side effects from medications can decrease appetite.
- Eating Difficulties – Trouble chewing and swallowing can be contributory. Poor-fitting dentures can also be a factor.
It’s important that a family member or in-home hourly caregiver from Greater Hartford make sure senior adults get the necessary nutrients to encourage bone health, ward off dangerous diseases and delay cognitive decline.
It is possible to offset the causes of poor appetite listed above. Try to re-stimulate the senses using flavorful spices, herbs, and seasonings. If medications are suspect, ask the doctor if substitutions are possible that won’t affect appetite. A trip to the dentist can address oral problems. If chewing difficulty persists, fortified shakes like Ensure and Boost can fill a nutritional gap. Music, mood and atmosphere can also enhance the eating experience. Make meal time a fun and engaging experience.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
Exercise– Disability, sicknessand/or depression can result in a lack of motivation to participate in exercise activities that your aging parent once enjoyed. However, stronger muscles mean better physical function and improved quality of life. Balance and coordination exercises used in yoga and tai chi help prevent falls and improved flexibility reduces pain and disability. Endurance exercises like chair and water aerobics improve breathing and cardiac health. Not to mention that when we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, which dial down pain and help us feel good mentally and emotionally.
In general, exercise can help restore the motivation for living. Exercise is made easy with videos that target the senior population, classes at your local senior center and help from a trained in-home caregiver. An especially helpful website is www.seniorexercisesonline.com, which provides free 5-minute video clips created especially for people over 60.
Pet Therapy – Research shows that a pet can improve a senior’s health by reducing depression, blood pressure, loneliness, and stress. Contact with an animal can also bring improved mental clarity and mood. Interacting with a dog or cat can invigorate the senior who is bored or lacking motivation. For the homebound senior, you can arrange to have a pet owner bring the animal to the home. The owner could be a neighbor, friend, family member or the member of a local non-profit organization such as Greater Hartford’s Tails of Joy. Regularly scheduling a canine or feline visit can give a senior something to look forward to.
Home Care – A person trained in the care of the elderly with a kind heart and serving disposition can help in countless ways. The hands-on assistance and loving companionship of an aide can promote a senior’s health and happiness. An experienced caregiver will give peace of mind to both you and your loved one while helping with a variety of daily tasks while promoting independence, dignity and purposeful living.
If your aging loved one needs help maintaining their quality of life as they age, don’t wait to get the help of a trusted provider of senior care in Greater Hartford. For information on the unique and exclusive senior care plans available at Home Care Assistance of Greater Hartford, please call 860-372-4500. We would be happy to schedule a free, no-strings-attached consultation to discuss your aging loved one’s needs and how an hourly or 24/7 in-home caregiver can help.