Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping Your Aging Parents Healthy and Safe

Maintaining independence is legitimate goal for anyone, but for aging parents it takes on even greater importance. Independence means many things including privacy, dignity, and a long and productive life. A healthy lifestyle and safety are two important factors in maintaining that independence.

Prevention of chronic illness that can rob us all of our goal of independence in our older years is important. But when chronic illness is a factor, following medical advice and having regular check ups is essential. Understanding the illness, what medications, diet and activities will work best, how to avoid complications and what signs and symptoms need to be reported to your physician are key points to establish with your medical team.Helping your loved one set up a med box can be beneficial to ensure they take their medications as directed on a daily basis. Electronic medication delivery devices can ensure reminders and delivery of the exact amount if additional accuracy is needed.

Proper nutrition is one of the most important issues for older people. They don't often require the caloric intake of someone younger and more active. Sometimes 2 healthy meals a day can suffice, but they need to be nutritious. Small frequent meals and snacks can actually be better, but it all requires planning ahead and portioning out foods.

Grocery stores and especially big box stores sell in large portions. For instance, an older person is more likely to make 3-4 meals out a typical steak as it comes packaged from the grocery store. If they don't then divide that meat into portions and take care to store the portion they aren't eating today, they are not only likely to have food spoilage, but if they then consume the spoiling meat are susceptible to consequences such as nausea or diarrhea at the least.

Frugality Doesn't Always Pay Off
The elder generation today grew up during or shortly after the Great Depression and are less likely to throw something out that has spoiled. They will be frugal to a fault and ofetn suffer the consequences. Grocery shopping for your aging parent becomes more than just picking up a few items for them. Helping them to safely portion out the food and meal plan is important.

Frozen foods that can be easily microwaved are a great option when cooking is difficult, and leaving the stove on is a distinct possibility. However, be alert to the salt content especially if your loved one has heart or kidney issues, or is prone to some swelling in the lower extremities.

Read the labels. Some of these meals can also be high in sugar content. Often times manufacturers increase the sugar content particularly when the reduce the fat content. And watch the calorie counts. Grocery stores are packed with low calorie meals in the frozen food aisle. Your loved one may need more than 200 calories at a meal especially if they don't have additional food or snacks. Fresh fruits and vegetables in small portions make nutritious snacks.

Ensure, Boost, Instant Breakfast and other nutritious meal supplements help increase the calories and provide nutrients they may be otherwise missing. These tend to be sweet tasting and many people balk at drinking them. The contents can be poured into freezer safe containers and frozen for an ice cream-like snack. This is often more palatable.

Work with your loved ones to establish meal plans and help them package food safely so that they receive proper nutrition. It will go a long way in keeping them healthy, safe and living productive lives.

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