Archive for June, 2015

Dehydration and Our Need for Water

How do you feel when you’re dehydrated? Some people will immediately notice the tell-tale signs – headaches, dry lips, a dry mouth, tiredness – but others, for any number of reasons, will not. It could be that you’re so used to being dehydrated that you no longer pay attention to the signals, or it could be that you have so much else going on that you don’t have time to think about how thirsty you’re feeling.

Hydration as we age

As we get older, hydration is just as important as ever but is often harder to achieve. Our bodies aren’t always as adaptable as they once were, and we’re even less likely to notice the signals that they’re sending us.

On top of that, it’s often physically more difficult for older people to drink and stay hydrated. For some, getting to the kitchen to prepare a drink is a difficult and time-consuming task. For others, even lifting a cup can be a challenge.

We also have to remember that many older people don’t like water, which has become more popular in the last couple of decades. In this case cordial or sliced fruit can be added to make it more appealing.  water

How to stay hydrated

As a very rough guide, aim to drink approximately two litres of water per day. Each individual has different needs, so this figure might be a little high or a little low for you. What you’ll probably find, however, is that you’ll feel thirstier as you begin to drink more. This is because your previously dehydrated body is now getting used to being properly hydrated.

You can buy specialist equipment to help you or a loved one to stay hydrated, such as the Hydrant Drinking System which features a long and flexible straw, an easy to hold handle and clips for fixing the bottle to a bed or chair and the straw to your clothes.

Reminding yourself to drink

Being physically able to drink, whether you need specialist equipment or not, is only part of the battle. The other issue is that you need to actually remember to drink, which is often much harder than it sounds and made worse by the increasing number of people living with dementia.

Cues are important, whether they come in the form of regular alarms set on a mobile phone or in the form of post-it notes that are stuck around the house. You can remind yourself or a loved one to drink by putting a cup of fresh water/cordial in each room, if you have the energy to do so at the start of the day. Sometimes older people find a water bottle near where they sit a useful reminder. The important thing is finding a way that works for you, so that you or your elderly loved one can be reminded to drink as you go about your day.

The health benefits

Dehydration can lead to a wide range of issues from minor ones such as memory problems and concentration problems to more serious conditions such as kidney stones, joint pain, muscle damage and cholesterol problems.

By drinking enough to stay properly hydrated, you’re providing your body with the important water that it needs to stay healthy, active and as pain-free as possible throughout your retirement years.

If you or someone you know is struggling to drink enough for whatever reason then a visit to the GP might help you to find a solution. Before this, see if tools such as the Hydrant Drinking System or a simple pack of post-it notes could be all that you need to get your drinking habits back on track.

Mobility Smart an online store stocking products to make life easier for those with mobility difficulties and for the older generation requiring living aids and specialist equipment.

Need Help With Managing Care Of An Elderly Loved One?

For several years I cared for my elderly parents at home. At times I found the challenge of juggling my own life and demanding job with their complex and growing needs overwhelming. I consider myself fortunate in having a brother and sister who were willing to help, but sharing tasks, when my brother worked shifts and my sister lived over 50 miles away and didn’t drive, wasn’t always easy to organise.

There are currently over 2 million people caring for elderly relatives in the UK. With an ageing population and rising life expectancies for those with illness or disability, caring for our elderly loved ones presents a huge and growing challenge.

Something I would have found helpful myself is a new tool that has been developed by Carers UK called Jointly,  to help families manage care for loved ones alongside their increasingly complex lives

What is Jointly? MC900433934-2

Jointly is a simple solution to sharing care for a loved one. It is a mobile and online application (often called an app) that is available for mobile phones, tablets and computers. It offers a simple, practical way to share information and co-ordinate tasks amongst an invited circle who are helping look after a loved one.

Jointly is designed to make caring a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised. It combines group messaging with other useful features including to-do and medication lists, a calendar and more.

You can create a circle of care around the person you are looking after and invite people to join you and share the caring. Alternatively, you can use Jointly on your own to organise the care around someone.

Creating a circle

The Circle will comprise of people who have accepted an invitation to join your Jointly circle (sent by you or another member of your circle). All members of your Jointly circle can view the content posted on Jointly, so make sure to take this into account when you post.

The Profile

The Profile enables you to keep all the information about the person in one place. Use it to store information about the person you are looking after and be able to access it at any time at a click of a button! Make a note of their date of birth, disability, illness or condition, their caring needs, the things that are important to them, likes and dislikes, how they like to be cared for and anything else you may think is relevant.

Messages

Communicate with everyone in your Jointly circle at a touch of a button! Simply post a message or upload an image. Members of your circle will receive a notification and can respond.

Tasks

Keep organised and on top of things by using tasks and task lists. Simply create a task and assign it to any member of your Jointly circle, including yourself, and monitor its status.

The Tasks page gives you a summary of all tasks. They are divided into Tasks (for stand alone tasks, such as: Pick up Mum’s medication) and Task lists (for tasks that belong to a list, such as: Mum’s weekly groceries list -under which you can store more items such as Buy milk, dog food, etc.).

Calendar

Use the calendar to create date/time specific events and invite anyone in your circle. You can also use the field provided to invite people outside your Jointly circle. You can keep tabs of all planned events in Jointly’s calendar while at the same time sending and accepting invitations in your personal calendar.

Medications

Use the medications feature to keep track of current and past medication of the person you are caring for. You can see today’s medication with an indication of the time it should be taken as well as the dose (Today view) and see all current and past medication in a list (All medications view)

You can also upload an image to quickly recognise a medicine.

Contacts

Nothing helps more than having the right contact details at the right time! Jointly stores the contact details of the members of your circle and also allows you to store other useful contacts e.g. their GP, chiropodist and a local plumber and you can access their details anytime, anywhere! You just have to click on someone’s phone number to place a call or on their email address to send an email.

Notes section

Here you can store longer text notes or images and assign them categories so that they can be easily found later.

How to order Jointly

Jointly is available to download as a mobile app from Apple and at Google Play stores for a one-off payment of £2.99. A PC/Laptop version is also available from jointlyapp.com

Once you have purchased Jointly you can invite as many people as you want to share the care with you. There is no additional cost for the people you invite to join you.

Caring for a Person with Dementia and Hearing Loss

The combination of hearing loss and dementia can present a particular challenge for people living with dementia and their families. I know, my Mother had both! This guest post will help, so read on…..

Hearing loss

Caring for a person with dementia can be both rewarding and challenging. The needs of the person may often come before your own, and finding solutions to a variety of issues can be difficult, especially if they aren’t always willing or able to assist.

Some of the more common symptoms of dementia that you might already be familiar with dealing with include memory loss, confusion and a decline in skills needed for everyday living – often including communication.

Communication

Communication is a central issue. The person may have problems finding the right words or signs and this might cause frustration. In common with other older people, many people living with dementia also have hearing loss. The difficulties which are part of dementia are made much worse when the person cannot hear properly. But there are things we can do to help, including:009_old_woman_smiling_optimised2

  • Minimise background noise: TVs / radios can be turned off when not being used
  • Get their attention before you start speaking
  • Making sure they have clean, up-to-date spectacles as they will be depending more on vision
  • Get onto the same level so they are not having to look up or down
  • Do not shout or raise your voice. This will distort your speech making it more difficult to understand
  • Speak a little more slowly than usual
  • If they are comfortable with reading, you can also try writing down your message

Helping people with dementia to use hearing aids

In addition to the points above, a hearing aid can be used by people living with dementia and hearing loss. Studies show that hearing aids may help increase memory and reduce anxiety, and will naturally increase social interaction if they can listen and communicate more easily.

There are many different styles of hearing aids. The two main categories are ITE (in the ear) and BTE   (behind the ear). As a general rule of thumb, the larger the hearing aid the more powerful it is. It’s worth remembering that smaller hearing aids have smaller batteries, which could be difficult for people with poor dexterity.

There are some points to consider. A hearing aid has to be switched on for it to work – forgetting this is a common mistake for people living with dementia. Switching it off at night is important for conserving batteries, again, something that can be forgotten. It can also be an issue for aids to be misplaced by the person throughout the day, or by the carer whilst dressing them for example, but fortunately there are a huge variety of aids to choose from which could help to minimise a number of these issues. A specialist hearing aid dispenser will be able to best advise you of the most appropriate aid for the individual and can offer custom-made devices that will fit comfortably

The following ideas may also help:

  • Encourage the person to try using it for very short periods initially, and then gradually extend them.
  • Encourage them to begin using their aid in quiet, calm and familiar surroundings. Bear in mind that things will sound very different to the person at first – this may cause distress or disorientation – reassurance will be necessary.
  • For some, providing simple written or pictorial information about the aid for the person to refer to may be helpful so they feel more in control of their device.

For impartial information on hearing aid devices speak to YourHearing.co.uk today. As they are totally independent, they have no vested interest in any brand, make or retailer, and the guidance you receive is completely tailored to your individual needs. Call their expert team today on freephone 0800 567 7621 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).