UV Safety for Aging Adults

UV safety

As we age, our bodies go through numerous changes, including an increased vulnerability to the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV safety is crucial for seniors, as it plays a significant role in their overall health and well-being. As the years go by, the skin’s ability to protect itself from UV damage decreases, making older adults more susceptible to various health issues. In this blog, we will explore the importance of UV safety in relation to seniors and aging, as well as practical steps they can take to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.

UV Safety for Aging Adults

UV radiation is an invisible part of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface and is divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. While the ozone layer absorbs most of the harmful UVC radiation, UVA and UVB rays can still reach us, affecting our skin and overall health.

As we age, our skin undergoes natural changes that make it more susceptible to UV damage. The production of collagen and elastin, responsible for skin firmness and elasticity, decreases with age. This leads to thinner and more fragile skin, making it easier for UV rays to penetrate and cause damage. Additionally, the number of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color), decreases, leaving older adults more vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancers.

UV-Related Health Risks for Seniors

Skin Cancer

The most significant risk associated with UV exposure is skin cancer, and seniors are at a higher risk due to the cumulative effect of sun exposure over their lifetimes. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is more prevalent in older adults and can be life-threatening if not detected and treated early.

Wrinkles and Age Spots

Prolonged UV exposure can accelerate the aging process, leading to premature wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. Seniors who spend significant time outdoors without sun protection are more likely to experience these visible signs of aging.

Eye Problems

UV rays can also cause eye issues, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss. As we continue to mature, the lenses in our eyes become less efficient at filtering UV radiation, making seniors more susceptible to these problems.

UV Safety Tips for Seniors

Seek Shade

Encourage seniors to seek shade during peak sun hours, typically between 10 am and 4 pm. This will reduce their overall UV exposure and provide a safe haven from the sun’s strongest rays.

Wear Protective Clothing

Seniors should wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection. These garments can shield their skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.

Apply Sunscreen

Regularly apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to exposed skin, including the face, hands, and neck. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

Regular Skin Checkups

Encourage seniors to undergo regular skin checkups with their healthcare provider or dermatologist. Early detection of skin changes can significantly improve the outcome if skin cancer is detected.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential, especially in hot weather. Hydrated skin is more resilient to sun damage and can better repair itself.

Related Article: Dehydration in Seniors: What to Look For and How to Help

UV safety is a critical aspect of senior health and aging gracefully. As we age, our skin becomes more vulnerable to UV damage, making older adults particularly at risk for skin cancers, eye issues, and premature aging. By taking simple precautions, seniors can safeguard themselves from the harmful effects of UV radiation. 

If you or someone you know would benefit from having oversight so that they can stay healthy and independent, reach out to us to see locations near you. Our professional and compassionate caregivers are passionate about the care they provide, and we would be honored to help!

Planting Trees as a Lasting Tribute

Planting Trees as a Lasting Tribute Planting a tree in memory

Arbor Day holds special significance for not only our planet but also for A Place At Home and its many beloved clients and families. With our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, we are dedicated to enriching our community, while also honoring the lasting memory and legacy of our clients and families. 

Rooted in CARE

At A Place At Home, our philosophy is deeply rooted in CARE. We strive to be Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical with every interaction. These roots have allowed us to create a foundation of stability, nourishment, and support for the families we serve, past, present, and future. Our CARE standards are what drive our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and their “Trees in Memory” program.

Within our logo is the “Tree of Life” — a symbol that both A Place At Home and the Arbor Day Foundation hold near to their hearts. The Tree of Life represents a source of life, an expression of connection, and a symbol of ancestry and family. To celebrate Arbor Day, A Place At Home continues the memory and legacy of our clients that have passed away by planting a tree in their honor. Each tree planted serves as a living tribute that benefits present and future generations.

Planting a Lasting Tribute

Since May 2021, 620 trees have been planted in honor of our clients. These memorial trees will remain growing in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Superior National Forest, Chippewa National Forest, Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and Klamath National Forest. The trees stand as a permanent tribute to the families and clients who have touched our lives, serving as a testament to their lasting legacy.

Join in the celebration of life and nature by becoming a member of the Arbor Day Foundation. To learn more about their mission or to sign up, visit www.arborday.org.

If you or a loved one are seeking extra support in the home, visit our Services page to learn more. If you have any questions, please reach out to us to see how we can help.

Eating Well to Live Well: The Importance of Senior Nutrition

Senior woman cooking healthy meal Nutritional needs as we age

As we age, our nutritional needs change, and it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to what we eat. Good nutrition is essential for seniors to maintain their health, energy, and overall well-being. In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of nutrition in seniors and provide some tips on how to maintain a healthy diet.

Why is Nutrition Important for Seniors?

Good nutrition is essential for seniors for several reasons:

  • Healthy Aging: A well-balanced diet can help seniors maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  • Energy and Vitality: Seniors who eat a healthy diet are more likely to have the energy and vitality they need to enjoy life and engage in physical activities.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: As we age, our metabolism slows down, and it becomes easier to gain weight. A healthy diet can help seniors maintain a healthy weight, which is essential for preventing chronic diseases.
  • Improved Mental Health: Good nutrition can also improve mental health and cognitive function, reducing the risk of depression and dementia.

Nutritional Needs of Seniors

Seniors have unique nutritional needs that differ from younger adults. As we age, our bodies require fewer calories, but our need for certain nutrients, such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, increases.

  • Protein: Seniors need more protein to maintain muscle mass and strength. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D: Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods such as cereals and juices. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure, but it can also be found in fatty fish and fortified foods.
  • Vitamin B12: As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12, which is essential for healthy brain function and the production of red blood cells. Seniors may need to take a supplement or eat fortified foods such as cereals or soy milk to ensure they are getting enough B12.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Diet

  • Choose nutrient-dense foods: Seniors should focus on foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Stay hydrated: Seniors may have a reduced sense of thirst, so it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, such as water, tea, and low-sugar fruit juice.
  • Limit sodium: Seniors should aim to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other health problems. They can do this by choosing low-sodium options and avoiding processed and packaged foods.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals: Seniors may find it more comfortable to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than three large meals.
  • Make mealtime social: Eating with others can be enjoyable and can provide social interaction, which is important for mental health and well-being.

Good nutrition is essential for seniors to maintain their health and well-being. By choosing nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, limiting sodium, and eating smaller, more frequent meals, seniors can maintain a healthy diet that supports healthy aging and a high quality of life.

Related Articles: 
Dehydration in Seniors: What to Look For and How to Help
Reducing the Risk of Stroke
Diabetes Awareness Month: Helping Seniors Manage Diabetes
Healthy Aging Month

Trees: A Symbol of Life & Memory

Forest, A Place At Home logo, Partner of Arbor Day Foundation

Today, we celebrate Arbor Day, a national holiday commemorating the beauty and life of trees and nature. At A Place At Home, we honor the holiday with our deeply rooted connection with the Arbor Day Foundation. 

The roots of a tree hold powerful meaning; they nourish and create stability for the tree, building the foundation for healthy growth, and give back to the land around them. When Dustin Distefano and Jerod Evanich, founders of A Place At Home, thought about how the impact they wanted their senior-focused services to have, a tree is the first thing that came to mind.

Our philosophy at A Place At Home is rooted in CARE — care for our clients and their families, care for our staff, and care for our community. We strive to be Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical with every interaction — these are our roots, and they’ve allowed us to create a foundation of stability and nourishment to thousands of families in need over the last ten years. 

Our CARE standards are what drive our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and their “Trees in Memory” program. For every client we have been honored to care for that passes away, A Place At Home plants trees in their memory. The trees planted in remembrance will leave a legacy for future generations, preserving the foundation built by those who came before us. 

Since April of 2021, A Place At Home has planted 620 trees to honor those that have passed. These memorials can be found growing in Chippewa National Forest, Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Klamath National Forest, Superior National Forest, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Each tree will stand as a lasting tribute to those families and clients who have touched our lives.

To read more about our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, click here.  

Join in the celebration of life and nature by becoming a member of the Arbor Day Foundation. To learn more about their mission or to sign up, visit www.arborday.org.

The Rings That Shape Our Lives – Stories from Those on the Aging Journey

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day – a day to raise awareness of the disease process that impacts so many seniors and their families across the globe. When in the throes of the disease, it can be difficult for loved ones to focus on much more than the loss they’re experiencing as they watch the person they love become unable to know where and who they are.

It’s true that as we age, a lot of us may experience certain conditions that impact what our day-to-day lives look like. Last month, we recognized National Senior Citizens Day. September is World Alzheimer’s Month. In October, we have World Osteoporosis Day. This seems to be a season of acknowledging older adults and the conditions that may impact them. But, these aren’t the things that define us. It’s our lives, our relationships, and the events that led us to where we are in our journey that define who we are, not our age or conditions. This month, A Place At Home is starting a new blog series – “The Rings That Shape our Lives: Stories from Those on the Aging Journey.” This series aims to reveal the identities of aging adults beyond their current care needs.

Like our logo, the Tree of Life, we all have roots that we came from, and the seasons of our lives have formed rings that tell the story of “us” – who we were, who we’ve grown into over the years, and who we are now.

Enter Lena and Edwin Michales, the first in our series. The Michales have been married for almost 57 years. She was a teacher; he was enlisted in the United States Air Force. They lived all over the world with their two children and spent time visiting the coasts when they were living stateside, and planned to continue traveling once they retired. But, unfortunately, they had no way to predict the way their lives would look at the beginning of their Golden Years. Cancer, MS, and finally, dementia would create some of the most profound rings of their lives.

This is the first part of their story.

Lena and Edwin met in a coastal town on the East Coast. He was in the military, and she had just graduated from college with a degree in Education. The first time they met was at a social gathering, introduced by a good friend of Lena’s. The next time the two would lay eyes on each other would be almost a year later, both participants in the same friend’s wedding party. Lena’s mother warned her to be careful with Edwin, telling her, “that man is looking for a wife, and he thinks he’s found one in you.”

As it turns out, Lena’s mother wasn’t wrong.

Edwin and Lena dated following their friend’s wedding, and though Lena’s parents weren’t supportive of the match, the couple knew that they wanted to start a life together. They approached the church, who told them that they couldn’t wed without their parents’ blessing. That didn’t stop them. The couple eloped and were married on December 26th. A week later, since they had been legally married already, they had a ceremony in the church. When asked which day they chose as “the” day to celebrate their anniversary, Lena says it was different each year. “If we were tired or broke on the 26th, we would celebrate it on the date a week later. We were often tired and broke on the 26th.”

Edwin and Lena were like most young military couples at the time. They had two young kids and a tight budget with which to afford life. When they were living stateside, Lena shares that they never went on extravagant vacations; they would rent a car, and travel to the East Coast, first to New Jersey to visit with her family, and then up the coast to Maine. Though they ended up retiring land-locked in the Midwest, the ocean has always been a theme of their lives.

“Almost every picture we took together over the years, there’s water in the background.”

There were years of their lives that they spent living overseas, living wherever Edwin’s military career dictated. Their favorite assignment was when they were stationed in Aviano, a town at the foothills of the Italian Alps, in Northern Italy. There was no base housing for this assignment. Everyone lived in the village or in farmhouses. They had no television and no phone. “I’d open my shutters in the morning to see the Alps – the Dolomites – to see what the weather was for the day.”

While Edwin’s time in the Air Force dictated where they lived, Lena found that, at times, it also dictated her career.

Growing up, she had a natural affinity for math and science. She was a voracious reader, as well. She read every single book in the children’s section of her hometown library. Once she’d read everything in that section, she got a note from her father that allowed her to read the rest of them. It’s no wonder she ended up going to college to be a teacher, a profession she loved and worked in until she was 60.

While they were living overseas, however, there were times when she wasn’t allowed to work due to restrictions put in place by the Department of Defense. They didn’t allow dependent wives from the US to work. But Lena was tenacious. She says while they were living in Italy, she would walk down to the piazza each morning where Civilian Personnel was located, telling them she wanted a job. Sometimes she went twice a day, every time being told “no.” Eventually, though, her determination paid off.

“They got tired of seeing me, and I finally got a job. I taught full-time, living in Italy.”

Educating children is something that Lena was passionate about when she was younger, and it’s a passion that remained with her throughout her life. She retired from the profession at the age of 60, but not by her preference. In 2002, she was diagnosed with cancer. It was in both of her legs. Though doctors did what they could, in the end, Lena lost both of her legs. Over six years, Lena underwent thirteen surgeries, each one leaving her bed-ridden for eight weeks at a time. Looking back, she says retiring was the right thing to do. She didn’t feel that she could do the job like she thought it needed to be done. Though she admits, it broke her heart to stop teaching.

“I still loved what I did, I still felt good, and I was fit. I had planned on working until I was 70. It didn’t work out that way.”

The tenacity that drove Lena through most of her life didn’t fail her when she lost her legs. At first, she was very dependent on Edwin, something that was a first for both of them. She was non-weight bearing and used a wheelchair. She was in and out of rehab facilities. Edwin was not only assisting Lena heavily, but he was also tackling things like grocery shopping for the first time in their lives together. TV dinners and Prego. “He took good care of me, but it wasn’t easy for him.” It wasn’t easy for Lena, either. She had always been an independent person, not afraid to carve out her path. Over their years together, if she wanted to travel somewhere and Edwin didn’t, Lena would go by herself. He loved her independent spirit.

Even after losing her legs, that spirit stayed with her.

Each day she would pack a lunch, and a van would come to pick her up from her home and take her to a rehab facility. There, she paid privately for the use of their gym and equipment to keep herself strong. After her workout, the van would pick her back up and drop her off at a local elementary school. There, she would spend the afternoon working with first graders. Lena volunteered at this particular school because it was wheelchair accessible, something she needed since she no longer had legs. Eventually, she was fitted with prosthetics, which allowed her to live far more unrestrained than she had been.

Lena remembers the relief she felt when her prosthetist told her she could drive with her new legs. “I became very independent again as soon as I found that out.”

Cleared to drive, she joined a book club in the city closest to her little town. She continued her volunteer work. She started a youth group that grew to be so popular, she had to start a waitlist for the kids that wanted to join. Lena had 33 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at a time, giving back to their community. They would volunteer their time in homeless shelters, humane societies, hospitals, and more. Lena wanted to meet different people and didn’t want her life to be limited.

While Lena was rediscovering her independence in this new phase of her life, Edwin struggled with it. While her independence was something he had always loved and admired, this time, he seemed suspicious of where she was and upset that she wasn’t at home with him. At the time, she’d chalked it up to the idiosyncrasies of aging. He’d retired himself at the age of 60, diagnosed with MS. Though MS is a progressive disease, Edwin got along fine, for the most part, using just a cane for support. The worst of it was the fatigue it caused him, but even so, he had been able to care for Lena almost exclusively for the six years she battled cancer and through the loss of her legs. This new anxiety about where she was, was not like him.

“Now I look back at it, and it was telling that something wasn’t right. But I had no idea at the time.”

For the next few years, Edwin’s behavior and overall countenance would change so drastically that there was no way to brush it off as idiosyncrasies of aging. Lena would take on the role of Edwin’s caregiver, as he had cared for her when she lost her legs. Together, they would experience the confusion, sadness, and cruelty that dementia inflicts on families. Lena would learn how to interact with her husband in a way that she’d previously used when teaching small children. She would also come to know the significance of being an advocate, especially when Edwin’s disease progressed and he could no longer advocate for himself.

Life is made up of our stories. Our rings are what shape us. For the couple in this week’s series, they spent their lives doing things they loved. They remained each other’s support through it all. Their story reminds anyone who knows of it of the resiliency we all have inside us, no matter what life throws at us. Next week, check-in with us for more about the Michales and how Edwin’s dementia re-shaped their lives. You can read Part Two of their story here.

A Place At Home Partners with Arbor Day Foundation to Provide Trees in Memory

Arbor Day Foundation Trees in Memory

A Place At Home joined the Arbor Day Foundation in a unique partnership to provide ‘Trees in Memory.’ Trees represent a powerful meaning to the A Place At Home Franchise brand and this partnership strengthens that connection through the ‘Trees in Memory’ program.

The co-founders of A Place At Home developed a logo with a deeper purpose. “We wanted a symbol that represents the strength, stability, and nourishment we bring to seniors and their families. The tree in our logo, is known as “the tree of life.” It serves as a reminder that we are deeply rooted in our C.A.R.E. philosophy and will provide Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical care to those we serve,” said Dustin Distefano, CEO of A Place At Home.

The Arbor Day Foundation was founded in Nebraska as was A Place At Home. “This partnership just seems natural. Not only are our services rooted in CARE, but when those we have cared for are gone, we plant trees in honor of them through the Arbor Day Foundation. The life of those we’ve served have meant something of significance to us and this small gesture will carry on their memory for future generations to provide a symbol of lasting peace and comfort,” said Jerod Evanich, President of A Place At Home.

A Place At Home has franchises nationwide that participate in the ‘Trees in Memory’ program. The trees planted serve as a living tribute that benefits present and future generations. The memorial trees are planted in National Forests. They provide long-term benefits such as cleaner air and water as well as the restoration of natural habitat. A Place At Home Franchise is proud of this unique partnership that will also make an impact on the environment.

To find an A Place At Home location near you, search here.

We Stand Greater Than Diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month. As declared by the American Diabetes Association, this year’s theme is “We Stand Greater Than Diabetes.” The association chose this theme to highlight that when we stand together to support the research efforts, legislation, and a healthy lifestyle, we can be greater than the threat of diabetes.

There are three main types of diabetes: Gestational, Type I, and Type II. Type I and II are the most common. Most of the time, patients can successfully manage their diabetes, no matter which kind. Managing this condition can be done through diet and exercise, and in some cases (always, in the case of Type I), medication.

But what is the difference between Type I diabetes and Type II diabetes?

  • Type I Diabetes: With this type, the body doesn’t produce insulin at all. This type cannot be prevented but can be addressed with medication and insulin therapy. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help manage Type I as well.
  • Type II Diabetes: Though Type II is preventable, it is the most common type. It often occurs in aging adults. Someone who has Type II diabetes can produce insulin, but their body doesn’t use it properly. One can manage this type successfully with diet and exercise, but in some cases does require medication.

While there’s no cure for diabetes, managing the disease can ensure most people diagnosed will live long, healthy lives. However, complications from the disease can arise if it is not taken care of properly. If left unchecked, this disease can lead to underlying conditions that cause further complications and stress on the body.

Some of these complications are seen frequently in older adults and can require regular medical attention and care.

When diabetes is not managed appropriately, neuropathy (a condition affecting the nerves that can cause a loss of feeling and weakness in the area affected) and poor circulation can occur. This can quickly lead to diabetic wounds and ulcers, often seen on the feet and lower extremities. Not only that, but uncontrolled diabetes can cause other, severe conditions. Examples are heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, issues with vision, and some skin conditions. And of course, some of these can require frequent hospitalizations and multiple new medications.

If you have diabetes, there are things you can do to prevent further complications.

 You must keep track of any prescribed medications or insulin therapies. Ensure you’re tracking your blood sugar regularly, if necessary. And of course, maintain a healthy diet and get as much exercise as possible. If your diabetes has already caused complications, it might be a good idea to reach out to an in-home care company that can help you manage a healthier lifestyle. Having caregivers in your home can help ensure that you’re following a proper diet, can help with medication reminders, and, in some cases, medication management. You can also have the peace of mind of having oversight to address any further complications that might emerge.

If you’re an aging adult with diabetes or know someone who could use assistance managing the disease process, reach out to us today. Our professional and trained caregivers can help.

Always Room For More: Amy Dirks

Caregiver of the Month

Caregiver of the month, Amy Dirks, has been a caregiver with A Place At Home for almost three years. She was nominated after going the extra mile to ensure shifts were covered. If she couldn’t do it herself, she made arrangements for someone else to cover them.

Amy has been a caregiver for two decades. After leaving a career as a high school teacher to follow her passion for taking care of others. It’s a passion she comes by honestly. Growing up, her mother was an LPN at a nursing home, taking care of the senior residents there, as well as Amy and her seven siblings. When Amy was 15, her mother’s care extended to encompass Amy’s grandparents, also. 

Like her mother before her, Amy has found herself caring for a family member. She spent two years driving over two hours away from her home each weekend to care for her brother, who has recently passed away after his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It was important to her brother that anyone caring for him was formally trained to do so. It was important for Amy to be able to care for her brother, so she did the training necessary to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. 

Amy’s sense of responsibility to those in her charge is nothing short of remarkable. When she found out that one of her clients needed care overnight on Easter, Amy was quick to step in, sharing that she couldn’t stand the thought of them laying in bed all night without anyone to attend to their care. Never mind that it was a holiday, and last minute. Amy’s response was, “I’m taking this on myself in case something happens. They come before a lot of my personal needs”.

“Amy is an incredible asset to the A Place At Home family. Not only is she always willing to pick up shifts last minute to help out, but she is always a pleasure to work with. Amy treats all her clients like family and perfectly exemplifies our CARE philosophy.” said Kris Perkins, A Place At Home – Omaha’s Executive Director. 

Amy has a similar regard for A Place At Home, her appreciation for the support she receives from her employer even more evident in the midst of a global pandemic. “I have felt comfortable. Anytime I need something they’re willing to meet me to get supplies. Whatever I need, I know I’m taken care of. I feel that I’m in the right place.” 

Make no mistake, events in today’s world have had an impact on Amy. She’s grateful to still be working, sharing, “COVID-19 impacted me 100%. I can’t go into facilities now so I don’t endanger my clients. I have confidence we are all taking the same precautions to not spread it. It takes everyone to get through this.”

We are grateful for Amy’s dedication to her clients, and for her approach to caregiving, which she says comes from a book she read as a child titled, There’s Always Room for One More, the story of a Scottish man who welcomes anyone in need into his heart and home, regardless of how full his house becomes. Amy feels the same way about her role caring for others: “There’s always room for one more person that needs help to bed at night. No matter what the call is, I do it.”

Interested in becoming a caregiver?

Does Amy’s story resonate with you? Apply for a job with A Place at Home today and join the ranks of essential personnel that are so desperately needed, where they are needed – in the lives and homes of seniors in the Omaha community! Consider becoming a caregiver and apply to join our team today.