Helping Aging Family Members Eat Better by Amber Kevlin, RN. Published by Rabun Neighbors

Aging can present many challenges, and balancing a healthy diet is certainly one of the more prominent eating challenges. There are many issues that can contribute to this issue, such as a declining sense of taste, the body’s decreased breakdown of nutrient intake as we age, issues with teeth or dentures, as well as proper digestion, chewing and swallowing.

When eating becomes a difficult task or chore, it can be easy to skip a meal or to choose foods that are quick and accessible, which ultimately can result in unhealthy eating habits. Malnutrition is a serious issue for the elderly, and can lead to weakness, loss of muscle strength, and reduced mental capacity.

Some issues that may arise for elderly folks may include:

  • Certain medications that impair taste and smell, making food seem less appetizing.eating challenges for seniors
  • Certain conditions can affect the mouth or teeth, and can make swallowing and chewing more difficult.
  • Holding a knife or fork with arthritis can be painful, and can potentially lead to an over-reliance on finger foods and unhealthy snacks.
  • After losing a partner, the subsequent feelings of isolation and possible depression can cause some to forego making a solitary meal.
  • Elderly folks living on a fixed income may sometimes have to choose between quality meals or ingredients and other costs of living.

If your loved one seems to get overwhelmed by meal preparation, suggest smaller meals and healthy snacks in-between. If they are having difficulty remembering meal times, set alarms via apps or technology (such as an echo dot) as reminders to eat.

If they are showing a decrease in appetite and signs of weight loss, there are steps you can take to increase their caloric intake without adding too much bulk. You can introduce gravies, cheese, and sauces to prepared dishes. Using powdered milk in recipes adds calcium to their diet, and wheat germ in baked dishes can also help. Adding supplemental drinks such as Ensure can also benefit an underweight individual.

Encouraging the intake of liquids is also extremely important in an aging loved one’s diet. Senior dehydration is a gateway to many complications in the elderly, such as loss of stamina, headache, dry mouth, sugar cravings, dizziness, and may increase the risk of a urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can lead to falls, confusion, acute kidney injury and hospital admission.

If you suspect that an aging loved one is having eating challenges, schedule an appointment with their primary care provider as soon as possible. They can navigate a proper schedule with a nutritional expert, and help to get your loved one back on track with an appropriate dietary plan specific for their needs. Contact us through our website here MyChoiceHome.Care

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Our article is published in RABUN Neighbors magazine

Identifying and Preventing Osteoarthritis by Amber Kevlin, RN. Published by Rabun Neighbors

In the human body, cartilage surrounds the end of each bone, protecting it from friction. When that cartilage breaks down, the condition is known as osteoarthritis. So how does one develop osteoarthritis, and how can you prevent it?
Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints that mostly occurs in people ages 65 and older, and affects approximately 30 million adults in the U.S. Half of all adults will experience osteoarthritis of the knee during their lifetime. The most common causes of osteoarthritis are obesity, advancing age, a past joint injury, overuse of joints, and genes.

Some signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:preventing falls at home

  • Pain in joints
  • Stiffness, especially after periods of inactivity
  • Swelling, notably after overuse and strain
  • Snapping or a cracking sound when joint is bent
  • Limited range of motion

Managing Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis will gradually present themselves over time, and the earlier the detection, the better chance you’ll have at easing any pain and discomfort, as well as preventing further damage. Though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are ways to prevent further deterioration, and methods to manage discomfort, such as:

  • Weight management
  • alleviate all senior arthritis pains and symptoms
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications – Acetaminophen and NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation
  • Cold therapy – An ice pack applied to an arthritic area that’s causing a burning sensation can help numb the area and diminish swelling
  • Stretching – Building up muscles that surround weakened joints can stall OA progression
  • Alternative therapy – Massages and hydrotherapy can help relieve pain and pressure caused by OA
  • Mobility aids – Senior knee braces, sleeves, walkers and canes can help you get around while still allowing you to be active
  • Corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid injections – Pain relief for intense aches that aren’t relieved by over the counter medicines or therapies
  • Surgery – Conservative surgery is usually offered to younger patients to prevent more radical treatments, such as arthroplasty, or cartilage replacement.

People that suffer from osteoarthritis experience 30 percent more falls than those that do not have osteoarthritis and are 20 percent more likely to be at risk of a fracture. If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor sooner rather than later. Living with osteoarthritis doesn’t necessarily mean living in pain or giving up your active lifestyle. The key to prevention is early detection, and coming up with an effective plan with your physician.

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Our article is published in RABUN Neighbors magazine