​Victoria's Care Home 

Nutritional needs of the elderly

The number of senior citizens in the United States continues to grow each year.  In the early 1900s approximately 4 percent of the population was over the age of 65.  Currently, the figure hovers around 12 percent of the population and, if projections are correct, those over 65 will comprise approximately 20 percent of the population by the year 2020.

These increasing numbers of elderly individuals have an impact on the community, from medical research to Social Security and nutrition to life insurance policies.  The greatest impact we can have on our health in the future is providing the best nutrition possible to our ever aging bodies.  We are not only growing older, but lifestyles are changing as well.  People expect to enjoy life well into their retirement years.  According to current estimates, of all Americans turning 65 in the year 1990 approximately half will spend about a year at a chronic care institution.

Nutrition is most important to those individuals as well. As an example, a chronic vitamin deficiency in the elderly of vitamin D is of particular concern to those in a nursing home or hospital because of poor diet intake of vitamins and lack of exposure to the sun.  A lack of vitamin D severely restricts the immune system from protecting the body against bacteria and viruses.

Trends in poor nutrition of the elderly has prompted a considerable amount of research into the physiology of aging bodies.  This research will help to support recommendations and treatment protocols for an ever-growing aging population and help to decrease the risk of illness that we suffer.

Our bodies can undergo a considerable amount of change as we age and these changes influence the requirements that we have for nutrients.  Body composition will change which changes the requirements for calories; the skin will influence requirements for vitamin D and changes in the intestinal tract can influence requirements for other vitamins when they are not absorbed as well as they were when we were younger, such as vitamin B12.  

There is some research which suggests that diet and nutrition can also be used to treat conditions such as cataracts of the eye or retinal degeneration that can lead to blindness.  We do know that nutrition is very important in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, a declining immune function and especially cancer.

One of the most dramatic physiological changes that happen as we age is the change in the composition of lean muscle mass.  Muscle mass is achieved easiest in our 20s and 30s and can be maintained into our senior years if we continue to exercise at the level at which we obtained the lean muscle mass in our 30s.  However, as we age it becomes harder to become lean and attain a high level of cardiovascular fitness unless we maintain it from an earlier age.

While it may be difficult to attain high levels of fitness, current research also shows us that even at an advanced age of 90 years appropriate forms of physical exercise can reverse years of changes and increase muscle strength.  This will increase the energy requirements of the body, improve the appetite, increase bone mass and improved sleep habits. (1)

As we age there is a decrease in the production of stomach acid which is important to absorb dietary vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.  As a result of these changes are higher incidence of vitamin B12 deficiency will occur in older people and can be important in blood formation, neurological function than cardiovascular function.  A lack of vitamin B12 can mimic dementia and Alzheimer's disease but is reversed with the treatment of vitamin B12.

Another condition which the elderly face is sarcopenia, or the wasting away of muscle.  Research shows us that, despite difficulty absorbing proteins, muscle loss is a result of a loss of interest in exercise as a major contributing factor.  Exercise programs are used to ease depression, generally lifts mood and help slow the march of degenerative diseases.  By improving an exercise program the elderly also gain the added benefit of having a much improved appetite.

By: Victoria Care Home 

Placing your loved one in a care home is never an easy task. At Victoria's Care Home we hope to make a difficult decision easier. We are honored to be considered and entrusted with the fulfilling work of caring for your family member.

Living will for seniors

A living will is the legal document that expresses your opinion and provides directives for your medical care in a situation in which you are unable to express them yourself.   It is the best way to manage healthcare when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.

Asking if you have a living will currently active is one of the current questions being asked of individuals when they are being admitted into the hospital.  This does not just include seniors, who may be more likely to experience a physically incapacitating events, but also all individuals who are over the age of 18 and no longer under the legal care of their parents.

But, because seniors have a higher likelihood of suffering an incapacitating event which will render them unable to express their desires for their medical care, it is important for them to have designed a living will to speak in their place.  A living will takes the guesswork out of your healthcare for your family, your loved ones and your physicians and help them to know exactly what it is that you would like to have done for yourself.

The simplest, and yet the most expensive, thing to do is to choose a lawyer and have them create the living will.  The cost can run around several hundreds of dollars depending upon the area of the country in which you live and the attorney you hire.  Another way to accomplish this task is to use an online creation software program.  You will be asked to answer many questions after which the staff will check the document and mail it to you for signatures.  The typical cost for this is approximately $50.

And the most cost-effective way is to use a fillable form that you download from the Internet or ask to get from a charitable organization.  Many office supply stores also supply them and are available from the state government, hospitals and hospices.

Which ever form you choose to take there are questions that you must answer before filling out your form.  Healthcare options will be included in the living will, also called an advanced directive, that will include orders for feeding tubes, oxygen supplies and "do not resuscitate" orders.  You may want to discuss these options with your family physician, family members or close personal friends.

Most advanced directives will cover issues about cardiac resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, antibiotics, artificial nutrition, artificial hydration, pain medication and do not resuscitate orders.  It's important that individuals think clearly about how they feel about these issues prior to signing their advanced directive.

A living will can be made as specific as the individual would like regarding these situations.  You should be very specific about how you feel about artificial nutrition, hydration and cardiac resuscitation since states differ in their laws.  "Comfort measures" can include anything to make the end of your life easier that will not prolong your life such as pain medication and oxygen therapy.

A living will gives direction to physicians and family about your medical care but a durable power of attorney for health care will give that power to a specific individual and take it out of your hands completely.  This document will allow you to a plan a proxy, or agent, to make medical decisions when you are incapable of communicating them.  Most of the time these decisions will not be easy ones and can include things such as withholding artificial nutrition or hydration or issuing a do not resuscitate order.

A living will addresses the desires of the patients under dire circumstances while a durable power of attorney will allow an individual to make other types of health care and treatment decisions if you are deemed incompetent.

Before doing anything remember to think deeply about your feelings and what they mean to you and decide on the specifics of what you want to address.  If you want comfort measures placed into your living will then specify which ones you'd like and not like and if you want to prepare a durable power of attorney choose a person who is close to you that can help make your medical decisions if you cannot.  It might be in your best interest to choose to individuals to serve in the capacity is your healthcare agent if one is unable to make it to the hospital and enough time.

Once you have a living will and durable power of attorney it's important to distribute those to your primary care physician and family members who may be present at the time of an accident or if circumstances are beyond your control.  If you are being admitted into the hospital it is also wise to bring a copy with you so the hospital has one on file and can rely on that should anything happen.

By: Victoria Care Home 

Home care for seniors

When asked, most seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible without going to an assisted living center or nursing home.  While there are those people who enjoy change and would prefer to live in an assisted living facility where they have their own apartment, new friends and help when they need it, the majority would rather grow old in comfortable and familiar surroundings.

Those seniors who do go to nursing homes are not often admitted because of complex medical conditions but rather because they aren't able to take care of their personal needs on an independent basis.  But, unfortunately, many of these seniors, who are forced into this situation, become depressed and discouraged.  Many see this situation as a place to wait until death.

Loss of independence is, for many, one of their greatest fears.  Home care for seniors is a good option for those who are able to stay in their homes and in familiar surroundings to decrease the likelihood that they will become depressed.  By staying at home individuals have more choice in the time they get out of bed in the morning to the time they eat their meals.  Home care is often more cost-effective than care in a nursing home as well.

There are many different types of services that are available for seniors who want to live at home.  The first is homemaker services that can include help with cooking or light cleaning as well as doing the individual's laundry, grocery shopping and some other light household chores.  Sometimes homemaker services are all that are really needed and take a large time-consuming burden off the shoulders of family members.

Personal care services include assistance with a variety of daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming and eating.  Other seniors are able to take care of their own personal care or home care services but need a daily phone call from a buddy or a daily visitor for companionship.

Moving along the continuum of home care options is a home health care aide who will help with nursing needs, speech, occupational, physical or respiratory therapy as well as social care or psychiatric care.  Senior community centers or adult day care centers, or daily facility-based programs that meet the needs of seniors through monitoring or companionship during the day.

Another option for senior in-home care is a respite care.  Often times the care of an adult senior falls on the shoulders of their family members.  Sometimes this care is time-consuming, physically taxing and emotionally challenging.  Respite care workers are trained volunteers or paraprofessionals who stay with your loved one and take over your caregiving role for several hours or several days that gives a reprieve to the caregiver.  These reprieves are important for the caregiver's own mental health.

Some seniors require more consistent and intensive care and are best suited by live-in help.  This type of care is important when family members live a long distance away or when the primary caregiver cannot be there in person.  Room and board and an additional salary is often provided in exchange for a meal preparation, light housekeeping and other nonmedical services.

It is currently estimated that there are approximately 22 million Americans who are providing care for an elderly or aging parent.  After a lifetime of performing their own everyday personal care activities the progressive inability of senior adults to continue to care for themselves can be devastating.  
Seniors may require home health care enough they are unable to bathe or shower on their own, wash their hair or brush their teeth, if they are unable to dress themselves in the morning or undress at night, if they cannot move around on their own or drive themselves to the doctor or the grocery store.

Homemaker services may be necessary if an aging parent is unable to do their own light housekeeping, wash the dishes, clean their bathrooms, do laundry ironing or change the linens or prepare meals and cleanup afterwards.

Even as family members are able to provide the majority of care for their aging parents it is important to have a backup services in line in case of a medical emergency for the family or if other commitments take a short time away from caring for their family members.

In-home senior healthcare has been a blessing to many families.  It enables them to keep their aging relatives home and happy while being cost-effective at the same time.

By: Victoria Care Home 

From the Blog

Life insurance for seniors

Life-insurance is a means of paying for burial expenses and a lifetime of debt after an individual has died.  Oftentimes life-insurance is originally purchased when an individual reaches the age of 30 or 40 and has amassed a bit of personal wealth as well as a spouse and a couple of children.  The life-insurance is then meant to help support the spouse and children once their income has disappeared after death.

Individuals have the choice of purchasing several different types of insurance, many of which can be cashed out at the age of retirement for a cash value.  This, however, leaves the senior citizen without life-insurance to help their family members bury them after death.

Thankfully, it is never too late to purchase life-insurance, even for seniors.  Usually an advancing age means insurance premiums will rise drastically but this is not always the case.  Insurance companies used to be able to refuse coverage to the elderly but, because laws have changed, many states require insurance companies to cover those over the age of 63.

Policies for individuals over the age of 63 can be short term and will probably only pay a limited death benefit for the first two years.  After the first two years of full prices usually payable to the beneficiary at the time of the individual death.  In the first two years most policies will pay the total amount of your monthly payments plus interest, which is called deferred life.

Senior citizens can also purchase accidental death policies which are usually paid in full as soon as the first monthly payment has been received.  This is the one exception with a deferred life insurance policy for individuals over the age of 63.

Senior citizens who purchase life-insurance policies often do so after they have cashed out other insurance policies and are looking for something to cover their death benefits and help their spouse pay off any credit cards.  A typical deferred life insurance policy may offer as little as $5,000 coverage but can go up to $100,000 depending upon how much of a premium individuals are willing to pay on a monthly basis.

Once you have reached a certain age insurance companies are often not likely to carry you for long-term care insurance.  This is an insurance policy which will help to pay for any long-term care necessary for you in either a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  Insurance companies are not quick to jump to covering seniors in this instance because, for the most part, those who are looking for long-term care insurance as seniors usually have an idea that they will need it in the future.

Seniors should have enough savings to cover funeral costs may also consider life insurance policies if their spouse will only be receiving a portion of the Social Security benefit income after death.  The lack of income can affect the spouses standard of living and life-insurance can protect against a decrease standard for the spouse.

Most life-insurance companies will also check the credit of the senior who is applying and use that information to factor the premium rates.  Since older individuals are more likely to have good credit and a long history of responsibility their insurance premiums may have more positive results than they anticipate.

While younger individuals may look at a whole life or universal life policy to provide not only a death benefit, but also cash value as a savings vehicle, seniors may be more apt to purchase the term life policy because the monthly premiums are lower and they provide the death benefits needed.

All life-insurance companies go through a process they call underwriting.  During this process the insurance company takes a very strong look at the applicants life, hobbies, health, health history, family history, age, sex, height, weight and even driving records.  Because seniors are older and closer to death, life insurance can be more expensive for them and they may not even qualify at all for a standard term life insurance policies.

It is important, however, to realize that getting a life insurance policy as an elderly individual is not completely impossible and also not likely to break the bank.  With a little bit of investigation and research most seniors are able to find a life insurance policy that will meet their needs and for which they will qualify.

By: Victoria Care Home 


Sleep needs of the elderly

For many in the elderly population, sleep is a challenge.  Researchers are learning that more than half of the individuals in the United States who fall in the classification of "older" people have at least one complaint about how well they can sleep at night.  As we age there are specific changes which naturally occur to the body.  These changes can affect sleep cycles, in a negative way.

Older people have more rapid sleep cycles with less a deep sleep and awaken more often during the night.  These changes are also affected by a decrease in hormones that affect a person's sleep patterns.  Changes to the sleep patterns can result in complaints of difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, not feeling rested in the morning, or being tired during the day.  Most of these changes fall under the heading of insomnia.

Seniors need their sleep to restore their body as much as anyone else.  The fact is, anyone who gets enough sleep will have the ability to concentrate better, improve their memory and strengthen their immune system which helps to prevent diseases.

In one study published in July 2008, researchers found that individuals offered many hours of sleep as they could handle were able to sleep only 7.5 hours if they were elderly and could average nine hours if they were younger.  Researchers postulated that the ability to sleep when given the opportunity to sleep more may be because of age-related changes in the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep.  The results of this study could be applied only to help the individuals who were taking no medication and had no medical conditions or previously diagnose sleep disorders. (1)

In many cases insomnia in the elderly can be caused by underlying, but very treatable, causes.  Rather than being a distinct condition, it is a symptom of many conditions and because of this there is no one treatment that can be applied for the complaint.  Instead individuals must investigate why they are having problems with insomnia in order to treat the underlying condition.

For example, restless leg syndrome affects approximately 10 percent of adults or up to 12 million people in the United States.  People who suffer from this syndrome will experience abnormal sensations in their legs when they go to bed which makes it extremely difficult for them to sleep.  However, treating this condition will erase the problem with insomnia.

Unfortunately, some individuals have learned not to sleep or learned that falling asleep is difficult.  For example, people with had a heart attack, suffered a loss or has been depressed may find it is difficult for a short season to fall asleep but continue to experience difficulty even after the short-term problem has been eradicated.  This is because sleep, and the act of falling asleep, is a learned behavior and once we learn how not to fall asleep it becomes even more difficult to un-learn

Some sleep programs use sleeping pills to help individuals learn to fall asleep.  However, these are not cure-all and should not be used for more than two weeks at a time. Some individuals will take sleeping pills for many years but by this time the drug is more of a psychological aid than a real sleep aid.

When learning to fall asleep has become a learned behavior behavior modification may be the only long term cure.  By changing sleep habits, sleep schedules and belief systems around the sleep those who need eight hours of sleep a night can achieve it.

Just how much an older person needs is a matter of dispute.  Some physicians believe that older people sleep less because they need the less and that they become sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning once they achieve a full night's rest.

In another study published from Bringham's and Women's Hospital in a joint effort with Harvard Medical School researchers found that the elderly do not need as much sleep as the general population.  They believe that the real answer lies in the changes in circadian rhythm and the amount of REM sleep. 

This long-range study dates back to February 1997 and involved 185 healthy older adults.  Upon review of the results of testing researchers found that the results of individuals who had specific EEG sleep characteristics had an excess risk of dying beyond their inherent risk of age, gender or other medical conditions they may have had.  That risk increased with a low percentage of REM sleep. (2)

If you find it difficult to get to sleep, or stay asleep, you may want to adjust your sleep habits.  Some things you can consider our your activity level.  Many studies have shown that exercise is helpful to regulate sleep and by getting enough sunlight during the late afternoon you can also increase the amount of melatonin your body produces, a hormone which plays a significant role in sleep activity.

Drinking coffee during the latter part of the day can really affect your sleep with the increased amount of caffeine.  And, while alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first it actually in pairs your ability to stay asleep and rest.

New research now hands that it can be helpful if you nap during the day for no longer than 30 minutes.  Physicians once frowned on the habit because they believed it could disrupt your sleep during the night and lead to health problems but now they have found that a limited nap is helpful.

Use you have any chronic conditions the medications you're taking may be negatively impacting your sleep cycle.  Talk with your doctor about the medications and any sleep problems you are having.  If some of them disturbs sleep you may be able to change the dosage or switch the medication.

By: Victoria Care Home 

Care for those with dementia

Dementia is the medical term used to describe the decline of reasoning, memory and other a mental abilities of individuals.  These usually impair a person's ability to do everyday activities such as driving, household chores and even personal care such as feeding and bathing.  Dementia is most common in elderly and used to be called senility.  Dementia was also considered to be a normal part of aging, which we now know is not true.

Researchers know that dementia is caused by a number of underlying medical conditions that can occur in both the elderly and young person.  In some cases, dementia can be reversed with proper medical treatment especially when the cause is reversible.  In other cases however, it is permanent and will usually get worse over time.

People with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their daily care suffering a loss of short and long term memory.  They will also show a decline in all areas of intellectual functioning which includes their ability to use language and numbers appropriately and an awareness of what is going on around them.

Although many older people fear that they are developing dementia because they may not be able to find their eyeglasses or have a short-term memory loss about some persons name, these are very common problems that are often due to a much less serious condition.  Medical professionals call this condition  age-related memory loss.  Although this is a nuisance it doesn't impair the persons ability to learn new information, solve problems or carry out every day activities.

Individuals who suffer from dementia will have problems with all of these things.

It's important to seek out medical care for a friend or relative if they exhibit marked loss of short-term memory, significant behavior or personality changes, inappropriate behavior, depression or marked mood swings, persistent word find problems, persistent poor judgment or the inability to manage personal finances.  Only with the diagnosis and treatment recommendations of a person's primary care physician can their individual circumstances be addressed appropriately.

Caring for an individual with dementia will require a degree of flexibility and the ability to increase the amount of care given as time goes on.  Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and requires complete home care.  Statistics show that more than seven out of 10 who have Alzheimer's disease live at home with about 75 percent of their home care provided by the family.

There is no specific recipe to follow in caring for those who have dementia.  It is important to remember to treat them like a person, to be patient, kind and to consider their feelings.  Although their behavior and personality change drastically as their disease progresses they continue to be the same person family members once loved and who once cared for children.

By focusing on the individual's remaining abilities and helping them to create ways to compensate for their declining abilities caregivers are able to improve the quality of life of individuals who suffer from dementia.  Individuals with dementia will often keep social skills and a sense of humor and may continue to enjoy socializing and interacting with others.

One of the most important factors to remember is that each individual will experience their dementia in a way that is specific to their situation.  It is important for caregivers to anticipate what that individual may need while at the same time allowing them as the much independence as is safely possible.

Remember that short-term memory will be very debilitated and individuals may have forgotten what they were told to do two minutes prior.  This means if they are helping in baking or cooking it's important that a person is assigned to ensure the safety of that adults.

People with dementia will have long-term memories of songs or childhood events that may contrast starkly with their inability to remember what happened just a few minutes ago.  They have the greatest degree of difficulty with activities that require concentration and may react negatively to situations which require immediate change.

Caregivers should be prepared to deal with those individuals who become agitated either with their environment or with themselves because they cannot sort things out properly or clearly understand what is being asked of them.  It's important to remember that those with dementia should never be asked to test their memory with games to see if they remember where they are or someone's name.  This is not only cruel but also a trigger for them to become agitated.

Safety issues are also crucial to the care of an individual with dementia.  Both the home and the yard should be clean so that it is easy to move around and the risk of injuries reduced.  Adequate lighting throughout the home should be available so that individuals whose sight may be failing will be able to adequately see.  

Try to avoid unnecessary mirrors in the home because they change the depth perception in the room and because as their disease progresses the individual may forget what they look like.  So, when they look in the mirror and see their own reflection they may become frightened, believing that someone else is present.

Caring for a person with dementia is difficult, but it is an important task for family members.

By: Victoria Care Home 

  • House Doctor making weekly visit with every resident and being on call for any emergency or support. 

  • Assisting with various daily activities, including bathing, grooming, and dressing. 

  • Medication Management and monitoring 24/7 caregivers who offer care and comfort including night staff

  • Up to three delicious, well-balanced meals served daily featuring a variety of menu choices with snacks available throughout the day. 

  • Housekeeping, linen change, personal laundry and ironing.

  • Wellness activities like walking, daily exercising, dancing.  

  • Educational activities like reading books and newspapers in a group setting, arts & crafts, puzzles, cards, board & memory games and Bingo.

  • Fun activities like BBQ's, field trips, music & karaoke, celebrating Birthdays & Holidays, ice cream & teatime, candlelight dinners, senior events and outings.

  • Arrange Transportation to & from medical appointments, shopping, church, and any other outings. 

  • We work very closely with in Home health agencies, Hospice, Physical Therapists, Podiatrists, Pharmacies, Medical Supplies, Day Care Facilities for Elders, Senior Centers, and also Beauticians to meet our residents special needs. 

  • Continence support and incontinent maintenance.

  • Cognitive support.