Caring for Seniors Requires Attention to Detail

Megan Ray  |  March 28, 2014

Caregivers know that, as adults age, their abilities change in accordance with their mental and physical well-being. Concerns about risks such as falling or getting lost may increase, and lifestyle decisions are often modified to provide adaptive care. ABC News recently shared a few issues that may be less-frequently thought of, but pose serious risk to the well-being of a person in senior living.

Here are three issues of particular concern that caregivers will want to keep in mind when assisting older adults:

1. Practicing alcohol safety
It's a common misconception that once people reach a certain age, they no longer have to worry about how well they know their own tolerance for alcohol. According to the news source, as the human body ages, its ability to metabolize the substance changes. This can result in seniors feeling the effects of alcohol faster than they did at a younger age.

To prevent dangerous or embarrassing situations, caregivers should encourage seniors to follow doctors' recommendations in terms of alcohol consumption. The National Institutes for Health suggest that adults over the age of 65 limit their drinking to seven beverages per week and no more than three drinks in a single day. Another factor to be aware of is how medications may react with alcohol. Seniors and care providers should keep running tabs on various prescriptions and any limitations they may have on how much an individual can drink.

2. Adapting to external conditions
Each season of the year presents certain climate changes that - when extreme - can be dangerous for anyone. Even milder alterations, however, can have a significant impact on seniors' well-being if proper measures are not taken to ensure that they're ready.

During the winter months, caregivers will want to make sure that older adults' living spaces are cozy and secure. Personal temperature control can best be managed by implementing a layering system. Add blankets to beds, and encourage seniors to wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing so they can adjust their own warmth to their preference and comfort.

Another aspect of adapting to various seasons and climates is helping seniors figure out a way to stay active in different conditions. Hot weather can increase the likelihood that a person will experience heat stroke or faintness, particularly if exercising outdoors. Seniors in particular may benefit from working out during cooler times of day, such as earlier in the morning or later at night, and should be reminded to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. During the winter, it might be wisest to stay inside, away from dropping temperatures, but there are plenty of fitness opportunities, either at gyms or at home, that can be practiced by older adults to help them remain active.

3. Organizing medical information
Seniors often see various physicians and specialists instead of just one doctor to address their medical concerns. This customized care comes with complications of its own, however, as it can be difficult for seniors to keep track of their various providers. For both the adults' convenience and their own, care providers should make a chart that lists pertinent medical information. Write down basics such as the names of doctors, the location of their practices and their contact information, as well as details about how they serve the senior. Include items such as what medications the doctor has prescribed and the date of the most recent visit to each physician. Be sure to post this sheet somewhere within easy access, and have a backup copy available in the event of an emergency.

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