Supplements are Duct Tape for Seniors in Care

by francy Dickinson           

Dear Francy; My mother is getting so weak that she does not even want to sit out with us and have dinner at the table. Should I push her to interact socially or should I just let her rest in her room and deliver the food?

BOTH – there will be days that seniors are weakened from a doctor’s visit or a cold and they should just take it easy. Your line in the sand is that your mother is there to live with the family, not get total careby the family. So she has to participate in the daily events of the home just like all the rest of you. But what the key is to your message  “getting so weak” that is not a good sign. So, that takes you to make a change.

Weakness comes from inaction as well as health problems. Let’s review some ideas to get her up and out of her room again.

  • Exercise is a must for anyone, especially an aging senior with health challenges. You’ll have to take over this routine for a while. I like to start with the “Sit and be Fit” TV show on your local PBS station, or you can get the video/DVD’s from the library, too. They are very simple exercises that you do  from a chair. Tell your mom she is required to do the exercises if she wants to continue in your home. You are unable to move her around and so her mobility is a must. Do the first couple of days with her and she will be off and running. You may have to get the show on the TV but she will take it from there.
  • Get her to walk the hall and around the house each time she goes to the bathroom. No walking across the hall and her thinking she has exercised. They do this at the care center, too. Go to the bathroom, drink a small glass of water and take a walk…over and over again. Then her legs and arms start to work again.
  • Breathing too heavy. Then tell the doctor on the next visit and tell him she is low in energy and seems out of breath. He will put her on a breathing machine to exercise her lungs and give her some meds to make her breathing richer. Or, he will check for her oxygen level and see if she needs to use it a couple times a day. Breathing is a big deal. If doctor says her breathing needs some work, then go to the library again and get a meditation and breathing tape and have the research librarian help you. This will teach your mother to do a series of deep breathing exercises to re-oxygenate her brain and keep her calm at the same time.
  • Weakness can also be in her diet. If she’s eating less she gets less minerals and supplements. Many seniors now take Vit D as a supplement along with a good female, senior supplement. Do a little research on the net and see what’s happening there. Google in “weakness in seniors” and see what comes up. Now the rule; when you work with the Internet you read and read and then buy at your local health food store or box store, not on the Internet. You do not want to fall for web based ads for over-night cures. Supplements are made by lots of companies and the major stores know which company is good to buy from – not the web. But the information you gain from study on the web is really valuable. Lots of seniors are being held together with their supplements just like duct tape. They make a huge difference in their overall health, energy and ability to fight off those nasty bugs.
  • Taking a supplement drink. There are a few different ones out there like Boost that are in flavors. Try a few and get one she likes. The yogurt ads that tout intestinal care, should be ignored. Our nurse told us any yogurt helps your body and should be a good afternoon snack – especially when taking pills. But the fancy yogurts and yogurt shakes are very expensive and do very little for the money invested. Same goes with the newer vitamin and supplement juice drinks. They rarely have all the daily needs for the senior and they are expensive and often filled with sugar. Once again, a trip to your local health food store and use the knowledge of those that read and study nutritional supplements.
  • Emotional problems can weaken anyone. Take note that feeling down and feeling weak are similar. So, make sure you keep a running conversation with your senior to find out of things are bothering them. Maybe the kids are making them tired and they do not want to mention it. You can adjust that, you can have times that are just you and the senior, without the kids. Or the kids can be on a once a day visit grandma’s room, not an open door policy.
  • Remember in general, if there’s activity problems with the chemistry in the brain, depression or anxiousness can be a side effect. The doctor has so many meds to help these conditions that you need only to explain the situation and they will help you with an Rx that fits the bill. Mother had a depression and anger issue, I told the doctor and he gave her a med that worked like a charm. It did not make her tired or weird, just calmed her down and allowed her normal personality to come out again.
  • Out of the house. Lots of seniors start to get house bound. Some times it’s too much to take them out, some times they are too tired to go out. So, you have to do a once a week we are out of hereroutine. If its just picking up the kids at school. How about if they sit in the car while you shop and then join you for lunch at a small cafe. Maybe it is one of those run to the bank, get gas, run to the cleaners, run to the post office days — seniors can sit and enjoy your energy and feel the sunshine on their face and the cold in their bones. Life needs to stay real, not get so protected that they start to retreat. The reward is a small fry at McDonalds or a dipped cone at Dairy Queen…the little fun times will enhance their life and become part of what they discuss at the dinner table.
  • Laugh…seniors need to feel. They need belly laughs and sad times, they need to hear the news on TV and feel the late night comedy routines. They need to watch the grandkids play and watch the ducks in the pound, they need to be a part of life.

Care givers have to be creative. They do not have to be nurses, those care chores will be needed and learned along the way. But the creativity to handle the everyday bumps – that’s something that will make all the difference in a care situation. Good mother’s know the importance of re-directing energy in young children and good care givers do the same thing with their seniors. There is no perfection expected, just love and kindness.

Thanks to you and your family for opening your home up to your mother. Please go to my website and enjoy more care tips and take a look at our new radio talk show about senior issues.

Thanks, francy

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