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Why Getting an Annual Flu Shot is Essential for Senior Health

Flu season is in full swing, but if you haven’t already gotten your flu shot, it’s not too late. You can still get one now to help protect you during the coming months. According to the CDC, “People 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults.” Also, given the current coronavirus pandemic, it is even more essential for seniors to take precautions against getting sick.

The flu virus is constantly changing, and scientists update the vaccine each year to align with what they predict the most common strains will be. That means that you need to get a new shot every year. Although it does not guarantee that you will not get sick, it can help lessen the severity of symptoms if you do.

Even though you have likely been exposed to more flu viruses during your lifetime, as you age, your immune system weakens leaving you more susceptible to illness and complications. In battling the flu, you could be at higher risk for developing pneumonia or bronchitis, which can be difficult to overcome. This puts a lot of strain on your body and can lead to hospital stays and lingering effects.

A Flu Shot Just for Seniors

Recognizing this increased risk, scientists have developed specialized flu shots just for seniors. The high-dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigens as the standard flu shot. The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains a substance that also boosts immune response and can help ward off the flu virus. Studies have shown that this can be an effective way of helping to prevent illness in addition to usual safety precautions such as regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

In addition, individuals who are age 65 or older can also get a pneumococcal vaccine to help protect against pneumonia, another common illness that often develops during flu season as well and that can be a complication of the flu.

Staying Safe

Talk to your doctor about which flu shot may be the best option for you, and whether or not you should also receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Many insurance plans, including Medicare Part B, cover flu vaccines at no cost to you. There are also many sites that provide free or low-cost shots because they want to help people stay healthy and reduce their risk of contracting the flu. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so the sooner you get it, the better.

Continuing to wear a mask and practicing social distancing can also help to reduce not just the spread of the coronavirus, but also of the flu. It can add another layer of protection and keep you from spreading as many germs if you happen to be sick.

To minimize your exposure and ensure that you’re still receiving the level of care you need, hiring an in-home caregiver can be beneficial. This allows you to have someone there who can help you with a wide range of tasks and provide the support you need to safely age in place. Call Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation.


Incorporating More Fruits & Vegetables into Your Diet

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a key part of good health, especially for seniors. Replacing processed foods with fresh options ensures that you’re receiving more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Summer is a wonderful time to find fresh produce of all colors or try your hand at growing your own. September is “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month,” and the perfect time to make a conscious effort to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Check Out the Farmers Market

If you like to buy local or are not impressed with your grocery store’s selection or prices, head out to the farmers market. You can buy fresh produce that is locally grown and talk to the owners about what they have, how it’s grown, and some options for use. You may discover some fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before, or learn new ways to prepare them.

Blend Them In

An easy way to add more produce to your diet is to blend it into foods that you already eat. Mix up a smoothie with freshly frozen fruit and throw in a small handful of spinach or kale for an extra punch of nutrients. Bake some banana bread or zucchini bread, or blend up carrots, onions, and greens to add to your spaghetti sauce. You can also buy pasta that has vegetables incorporated into it already.

Toss Them on Top

If you’re making scrambled eggs, toss in some tomato, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, and/or spinach and make it a western omelet. Add fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or banana slices on top of yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or pancakes. If you’re making soup or pizza, increase the number of vegetables that are already included, and decrease the amount of meat or pasta.

Spice Things Up

Some people turn their nose up at fresh, steamed, or roasted vegetables because they aren’t sold on the taste. Enhance the flavor by seasoning them with a variety of herbs and spices. You can change up the combinations and how the vegetables are cooked to see what you like best. For fresh veggies, try dipping them in hummus or a low-calorie dressing or dip.

Start Slowly

You don’t have to change your entire diet overnight. Make simple switches a little bit at a time. A good rule of thumb is that half of your plate should be vegetables and fruits, so slowly start cutting back on the carbs or meat and adding more produce and plant-based protein. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter or in the refrigerator so that when you want a snack, you can reach for something healthy.

Rather than relying on a lot of supplements, try to get your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the foods you eat. Focus on eating a wide variety of foods and challenging yourself to try new things. If you have trouble organizing or preparing meals or getting groceries, an in-home care provider can ensure you have everything you need and help with these tasks. This way, you’ll know that you have access to healthy foods and meals every day. Always Best Care’s in-home caregivers can also assist with a wide range of other tasks to help you age in place more safely and comfortably. Contact us today at (855) 470-2273 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Staying active is healthy for the body and the mind. Not only does exercise keep your body fit and flexible and help ward off disease and injury, it can boost your mood and alleviate stress. Some seniors find that they are not able to be as active as they were in their younger years, but that is no reason to stop. There are numerous fitness classes and activities geared toward the needs of seniors to encourage them to safely keep moving. One such activity is yoga.

Yoga is an exercise that can be done by people of all ages, but seniors may find that it has some attractive benefits. For one, it involves slow, measured movements making it easier to keep up. Plus, it is low-impact so there is less risk of injury and pressure on joints. Furthermore, it can be done virtually anywhere and requires no equipment. Here are some other benefits of getting involved with yoga:

Balance and Flexibility. Yoga is a great way to gently stretch muscles and bend joints. Seniors are focused on how their body is moving and holding each position. As positions become more familiar, balance and stability improve. In addition, these movements can enhance range of motion and flexibility. As a result, this can decrease risk of falls and injury. Seniors are able to stay upright and catch themselves if they start to falter.

Mobility. Because yoga helps to strengthen and stretch muscles, it may reduce joint pain. Many seniors find that regular exercise decreases stiffness and enables them to move around more easily. This can allow seniors to age in place more safely because they are able to maintain greater independence.

Stress. Yoga can be very relaxing. It gives seniors something positive to focus on and a way to relieve pent up stress and energy. Exercise also releases endorphins which are a natural mood booster. Many people find yoga to be a wonderful way to clear their mind and improve how they feel. They are able to control their breathing and lower blood pressure. In turn, all of this can help decrease depression and anxiety.

Sleep. Because seniors feel more relaxed after yoga and their mind is no longer racing, it can be easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also burns off excess energy and provides a calming effect allowing them to settle in for the night.

Yoga is also an activity that seniors can do with friends. In a group setting, it allows them to socialize and feel connected to others doing something they enjoy. This can be beneficial to maintaining greater independence and mental health as well.

Always Best Care offers seniors the level of the support and individualized care they need to safely age in place. Whether helping them find activities to engage in such as yoga, assisting with meal prep and light housekeeping, or providing companionship, in-home caregivers can play an integral role in senior living. Learn more about available services and schedule a free consultation by contacting Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273.

Celebrating the Important Role of Fathers in Our Lives

As Father’s Day quickly approaches, we are reminded of the men in our lives and the important role they play. Fathers are half of the traditional family unit and play an integral part of raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. Even when children are grown, their relationship with their father is still an important one in their life.

So, what makes dads so great?

They teach life skills.

Fathers can be wonderful teachers of life skills. Remember those days when your dad taught you how to make repairs or assemble things such as furniture, toys, or equipment on your own? Or how you learned to be a master griller or gardener like your father. Spending time doing these activities when your young and passing this knowledge and skill along to future generations is what makes your father special. Fathers and children have a special relationship whether it be sports, music, art, golfing, fishing, or something completely different.

They can be lifelong friends.

Bonds between dads and their children can last forever. Even grown adults tend to turn to their fathers for advice and support. They may ask for help doing something just to spend time together or get their father’s opinion. There is always more to learn and share. And when the tables turn, children are often happy to be able to give back and take care of aging parents in return for all that their parents have done for them. What started out as a father helping the child get dressed or make breakfast, ends up being the child helping the father.

This Father’s Day – and every day – show your father how much you care and how much he means to you. Do something special and spend time together, whether in person, on the phone, or via a video call. Share stories and reminisce. Make plans for something you’ll do together in the future.

And if your father needs a little more help than you can provide in order to age in place safely and comfortably, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Always Best Care offers high-quality in-home care to meet all of your dad’s needs, whether that’s help with morning or bedtime routines, preparing meals, straightening up their home, or having a companion to talk to or accompany on outings. Contact us today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about available senior services.

Boosting Quality of Life with Low Vision

It is not uncommon to experience vision changes throughout your life. Many people find that as they age, the need glasses or contact lenses to help see clearly, and their prescription changes every few years. However, some people have low vision that is unable to be corrected with a pair of glasses. Causes of low vision include various eye disease such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, as well as injury and birth defects.

However, there are ways to manage low vision and continue to live a happy and fulfilling life. You don’t have to let poor eyesight stand in your way of being independent and continuing to do things that you enjoy. Here are just a few ways to overcome some of the challenges of low vision:

  • Improve lighting

It can be more difficult to see in poorly lit areas, so add additional lighting to parts of your home that you frequent or that are notoriously dark. Leave the blinds open during the day to bring in natural light as well. You may want to change up the type of lighting that you have in different rooms to better meet your needs.

  • Decrease clutter

When you cannot see well, it is harder to navigate, even in familiar places. This becomes more dangerous when there are stacks of magazines on the floor, cords from lamps or electronics, or too much furniture. Take the time to straighten up and make sure that cords are secured out of the way, walkways through rooms are clear with no tripping hazards, furniture is effectively spaced, and there is nothing sticking out that could be harmful.

  • Stay organized

In addition to removing clutter, develop a system for organization. It is easier to find what you need, even with low vision, when you always put things back in the same place. Have designated spots for commonly used items so you don’t have to spend time searching for them. This includes things like your purse or wallet, keys, and phone, so in an emergency you can quickly grab them.

  • Create clear distinctions

A lot of people with low vision are able to see bright differences in colors, such as black against white, or dark blue against yellow. Put contrasting colored tape on the edge of countertops and steps to clearly show where they end. Use plates and silverware that can be seen against the tabletop or placemats. The same goes for towels in the bathroom. You can also add raised markings on different devices so you can feel where common settings or buttons are.

  • Use vision aids

There are also a variety of assistive or adaptive devices that can be beneficial if you have low vision. These could include magnifiers, telescopic lenses, large print books or manuals, and computer software. You can also make use of talking devices that read or recite information aloud.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help either. You want to ensure that you are staying safe while still meeting all of your needs. If it is difficult to prepare food, organize your mail, read the newspaper, or do any number of other tasks, engaging the help of an in-home caregiver can be beneficial. A caregiver can provide the level of support you need, when you need it, to improve your quality of life while maintaining as much independence as possible. With some additional help, you can continue to do the things that you enjoy. Contact Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about available services.