Sleep and Aging – Improving Sleep Quality in Older Adults

You would think that not needing to get up at the crack of dawn or lose sleep over work stress would be one of the biggest perks of being a senior. Unfortunately, poor sleep and sleep disorders are common in older adults.

Numerous studies have found that sleep patterns change as we age. Sleep becomes fragmented and many older adults find themselves up too early even though they feel tired. Certain medications, chronic pain, medical conditions, and mental health issues, such as depression, contribute to poor sleep. A person’s lifestyle and sleep environment can also make a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make you feel lousy, but it’s also been shown to have a negative impact on health. It can trigger or worsen feelings of sadness and anxiety, lead to cognitive decline, and increase the risk of serious medical conditions and early death. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to improve sleep quality and help you or your aging loved one wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Proven Ways to Improve Sleep without Pills

Before turning to sleeping pills, which have side effects, increase the risk of falls, and don’t address the cause of poor sleep, consider medication-free remedies for better sleep.

There are all kinds of natural remedies and lifestyle changes that have been proven to improve sleep, such as exercise and warm baths.

While our caregivers are able to provide home health care services when needed, they provide non-medical home care, too. This includes helping with all of these proven sleep remedies and other activities known to improve sleep.

How In-Home Care Can Help a Senior Get their ZZZs

Establishing a regular sleep schedule is an important part of sleep health. Part of that involves keeping active and resisting the urge to spend time in bed or sleeping during the day. For a senior who spends most of their time alone, this can be easier said than done.  A caregiver can help with this and more, including helping seniors:

  • stay active by accompanying them on walks or to other physical activities such as fitness classes
  • remain social and engage with others by escorting them on visits with friends or to social outings, or by offering regular companionship, such as playing games or going to a movie
  • ensure healthy meals are prepared and eaten 2 or 3 hours before bedtime so as not to interfere with sleep
  • help create a sleep-friendly environment, such as making sure bedding is clean, elevating your feet, blinds are drawn, and the room temperature is comfortable for sleep
  • assist with a soothing bedtime routine, such as a warm bath or a sponge bath or reading
  • get out in the sunlight, which helps with melatonin production and improves mood and the sleep-wake cycle
  • watching for side effects of medication that may be interfering with sleep

If you’re a senior who’s having trouble getting a good night’s rest or have noticed aging parent or loved one puttering about in the wee hours of the morning, an in-home caregiver may be able to help.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources
Jean-Philippe Chaput, Suzy L. Wong, Isabelle Michaud. Duration and quality of sleep among Canadians aged 18 to 79. Statistics Canada.
Suzuki, Keisuke et al. “Sleep disorders in the elderly: Diagnosis and management.” Journal of general and family medicine, vol. 18,2 61-71. 30 Mar. 2017.
Jonathan Desaulniers, Sophie Desjardins, Sylvie Lapierre, and Alain Desgagné, “Sleep Environment and Insomnia in Elderly Persons Living at Home,Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2018, Article ID 8053696, 7 pages, 2018.

If a Telemarketing Scammer Calls, Will Dad Know What To Do?

According to the Government of Canada, fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians. Seniors are targeted because they’re often home during the day, tend to be more trusting, and often don’t have friends or family nearby who they can go to for advice when someone calls or comes to the door.

Even though telemarketing and other types of scams make the news daily, many seniors still don’t know what to do if a scammer calls or turns up at their door. One of our clients experienced this very thing recently. Thanks to the quick thinking and actions of their caregiver, the scam failed, saving our client a very large amount of money that would otherwise have been lost.

Peace of mind when you hire an in-home care provider

A professional in-home care provider wears many hats, including driver, housekeeper, cook, and trusted companion. You can add gatekeeper to the list and no one gets past the gatekeeper!

Our client’s experience showed us once again how valuable in-home care services can be for seniors who want to remain in the comfort of home and maintain their independence. Even the savviest of people can fall prey to a con artist.

An in-home caregiver is there to assist with the practicalities, such as activities of daily living, home healthcare, and more. What many don’t realize is that a professional caregiver is always on the alert when it comes to protecting their client. They are trained to spot changes in behavior and anything out of the ordinary in order to be able to act quickly in the best interest of their client.

Hiring in-home care services doesn’t just take some of the caregiving responsibilities off the family’s plate, but also provides peace of mind. Your loved one has someone there to look after them when you’re not able to. Our client and their family are grateful for the quick thinking of the caregiver and so are we.

Tips to help prevent senior fraud

Having someone check-in regularly, such as a family member or elderly care provider can help a senior avoid being scammed. Here are a few other tips that can help:

  • Never give out your credit card, bank account, or any other personal information to someone over the phone, the internet, or at your door unless you are sure you know the person or organization you’re dealing with.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN or account passwords.
  • Ask for input or advice from a family member before making a purchase or ordering anything.
  • Be suspicious if anyone you don’t know asks you to send them money, even if they insist it’s an emergency or their story seems plausible.

Many seniors don’t report fraud due to embarrassment, but all fraud should be reported even if the amount of money is small. Report fraud to your local police department or call PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources:
What every older Canadian should know about: Fraud and scams. Government Canada.

Social activities for widowers

When a man loses his life partner, adult children often think first about tending to the basic needs, like making sure dad is eating and taking his medication. While these things are important, of course, social and mental wellbeing is also important. As a matter of fact, studies have confirmed that social wellbeing plays an important role in a senior’s physical and mental health.

A man’s social health often suffers after the loss of a partner. He doesn’t just lose a loved one, but also the person with whom he shared meals and conversations and went places with. Sadness and a loss of motivation to get out and socialize are common immediately after losing someone. But often, isolation also sets in, especially when the deceased person was the one who took the lead organizing gatherings social activities.

Home care helped my friend Michael cope after the loss of his partner. Home care services don’t just include helping with the practicalities of daily life. Some services offered by a home care agency can also have a positive impact on a senior’s social and mental wellbeing.

Home care, transportation, and companionship – how it helps

It’s not easy and often not possible to be there for loved ones like Michael when he’s feeling sad, lonely or in need a boost in spirit. Hiring a professional caregiver can help. Along with the vast array of home care services related to the activities of daily living, in-home care services also include joyful companionship and transportation and escorting to activities and appointments.

Our professional caregivers can help clients just like Michael cope with the loss of a life partner by giving them someone to:

  • drive them to social events, such as church or get-togethers with friends or family
  • accompany them on errands such as shopping or medical appointments
  • play games with, go for a walk, or attend a sporting event or movie with
  • prepare and share a meal with

Some fun social activities to consider

Here are some engaging social activities that can help a senior widower cope after their loss:

  • Volunteering. There is evidence that volunteering helps seniors maintain social contacts and stay active and connected to their communities. Volunteering also promotes a sense of self-worth and keeps them stimulated. All these benefits are good for their emotional and physical wellbeing.
  • Walking. Walking helps seniors maintain their independence and health. You can find a walking group in just about every neighbourhood, including mall walking groups. Walking alone, with friend or caregiver, or in a group is a wonderful way to stay fit, enjoy nature, and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Arts and crafts. You don’t need to be Picasso to enjoy painting or creating art. Seniors centers and community centers offer classes for all levels in painting, drawing, and sculpting. You can also find local groups for scrapbooking, photography, and more. It’s not just fun; art therapy is used to improve quality of life and stimulate the brain in people with dementia.
  • Sporting events. If health permits, joining a senior sports league is an exciting way to meet others and stay fit. If you’re more of a spectator, attending sporting events is just as much fun. To keep costs down, skip major sporting events and instead head to the local ballpark or arena to cheer on your local junior hockey, lacrosse, or baseball team.

If you or a loved one is looking for help after the loss of a life partner and would like to learn more about our home care services, give us a call. We’re here to help.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources:
Volunteering and Older Adults.  Volunteer Canada.