Vitamin D in the Elderly

Vitamin D!

Vitamin D deficiency is an issue of concern for more than just the elderly.  This important vitamin contributes to good health in a number of ways in your body.  It helps your body absorb calcium and maintain strong bones and teeth.  It also helps to reduce inflammation, builds your immune system, and helps to regenerate cells.  All of these areas can be beneficial, especially for the elderly!  So, how do we make sure that they are getting adequate amounts of this amazing, life-giving vitamin into their systems?

Start with sunlight!

Look up the most beneficial times of year and day to get vitamin D from the sun in your area.  Typically during the summer months our skin can absorb vitamin D from the sun.  During those times, be outside, when possible, during the safest parts of the day.  Be sure to have exposed skin in order to absorb the rays of the sun, but not for such lengths of time as to get sunburnt.

For people who live in extreme Northern climates, they are very aware of how the lack of sunlight can affect their energy levels, their immune systems and their sleep cycles.  Those who work nights and sleep days are also aware of the detrimental affect it has on their lives.  It's not surprising, then, that the elderly are a large group of individuals that struggle with a deficiency of this vitamin in their bodies.  They are often indoors more than out of doors, have slowing metabolisms and have trouble absorbing vitamins and minerals.

Eat up!

A number of foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, but the best food source of naturally occurring vitamin D is found in cod liver oil.  We all know that the stuff is good for us, but some people just can't stomach the taste.  If you are one of those people, but would still like to enjoy the benefits of vitamin D from a food source instead of a supplement, try the cod liver oil that is lemon flavored.  It is also found in capsules.  It may not take away the unpleasant aftertaste, but you should at least be able to swallow it down!  You can also try sockeye salmon and tuna as beneficial options.

Vitamin D3 Pills


If you've tried both sunlight and diet and are still having a hard time getting your vitamin D levels up to par, talk with your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D.  Be sure not to take too much, as too much vitamin D can lead to vitamin D toxicity.  More specifically, vitamin D3 causes hypercalcemia, or excessive calcium levels.  After determining the proper amount to supplement, find out if there are other things that can help increase the absorption rates of the supplement.  Also look for signs that will assure you that it is helping to improve your deficiency. The benefits from vitamin D are so widespread and diverse, they are certainly worth taking notice.  So start today and begin utilizing the natural benefits of vitamin D for yourself and your elderly friends today!


Why Animals Benefit The Elderly

Assisted Living Petting Zoo Snake

Alternative therapies and helps of all kinds are being researched and used on a trial basis all across the country in the care of our elderly citizens.  Especially in the care of those with Alzheimer's and other types of dementias.  In speaking with health care practitioners, we find a number of therapies that might seem logical, clinical and sterile. We will also find just as many that are difficult to explain, but seem to have very consistent and very promising results.  One of these therapies is the use of animals with patients.  But why would an animal be able to help an elderly person, especially one that is struggling greatly with memory problems?

Fulfill the Need for Companionship

We all have a need for companionship, and as we age that need is amplified by the circumstances around us.  The older we are, the fewer friends and family might still be alive. We're many times bound by physical problems, keeping us closer to our home and neighborhood.  We may not have the skills to communicate using some of the newer technology that many of the younger generation seem to use for all of their communication. (Have you posted your latest Tik-Tok?)  Animals can help us bridge the companionship gap.  They are obviously not able to fully fill the void left by healthy human companionship.  But our animal friends make help immensely by making us feel comfortable and calm, completely lacking in judgment and criticism & for being loyal.

Increase our General Health

Studies have been done that show the effects of having an aquarium in elder care facilities.  They can help lower blood pressure as well as anxiety levels of those who watch them.  Having dogs, cats and birds around can also provide a similar benefit, provided they are generally calm animals.



Keep Speaking Skills Sharp

This one may seem silly, but caring for animals really can help with the upkeep of our communication skills.  People generally talk to the animals that they live with.  Some people tell them about their day, or comment on their surrounding for them.  Having an animal around can help keep communication skills sharp.  It can also aid in giving an elderly person something to communicate about to others.  If a neighbor comes to visit, the animal can quickly become the subject of conversation that would help to span other potentially silent moments during the visit.

Children Love Animals, Children Benefit the Elderly

We all know that animals will draw and keep the attention of children.  And there are definitely benefits to the elderly of having children around.  Children add life and vitality to otherwise dull and slow days.  Having an animal in the home or assisted living facility with elderly residents can make the place much more inviting and natural feeling for children to visit.  If they feel as if it's inviting, they'll be more likely to come back for a visit.

Caring for a Pet (and Others) is Good for Us

We all know that animals require care, some more than others.  Much of that care can be carried out by a responsible elderly person.  There may be a bit that they need help with, especially if their memory issues are getting worsening.  In these cases, it's especially important to have someone double check that the animals have been fed or watered. But, the care for an animal is a good way to keep us outward looking rather than inward looking all of the time.  It can be a tendency for some aging individuals to only be focused upon what is going on within their world.  At times neglecting anyone or anything around them.  Caring for a pet helps to alleviate this tendency and helps us to remember that we are responsible for others, as well.  Caring for plants or gardening helps in a similar manner.

Animals can benefit nearly everyone in some way, but especially the elderly.  We do not need to understand all of the science behind why it works to enjoy those benefits.  We are just glad that it DOES work!

Emergency Preparedness for Seniors

In the aftermath and destruction of Hurricane Ida, many of us are considering what we can do to better prepare for natural disasters and unplanned emergencies.  Add emergency planning together with senior care and aging, and we begin to have an entirely new set of questions.  Have we ever thought about how aging impacts our preparedness for an emergency or a natural disaster?  Tasks and other daily activities get more difficult on a monthly basis as we age.  Now think about emergency preparedness from the perspective of someone elderly who is living on their own.  From owning life saving medical alert devices to participating in a state-wide or even national emergency program, it is best to be prepared before an incident occurs rather than wishing that we had been prepared.  And, what's more, if we are prepared and our loved ones are prepared, perhaps we'll be able to help someone who isn't when the time comes!

Medical Alert Devices

Medical Alert Device

Seniors who are beginning to notice difficulty with walking or stairs should take some time to investigate medical alert devices.  It doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have to wear a necklace with a button (although that is certainly an option). There are watches available, too.  This way, at a very basic level, you are able to contact Emergency Services to come to your aid in the event of a fall or getting stuck while alone.  Many people do not think about needing them until there is a serious problem where they've found themselves unable to get up when they've fallen outside.  Consider Northern climates and whether or not you'd be able to survive for long if the temperatures drop to -20F.  Or, in the South, if you're in an area that gets very hot and humid, if you'd survive without water for long.  Cell phones can also serve as a mobile alert device, as long as it's in your pocket when you need it!  Take 30 minutes to research the options you have available and make a decision about whether you should be getting a medical alert device and wearing one for peace of mind.

Household Hazards

My grandmother lived for years with tripping hazards all around her house.  She loved her old rag rugs.  As she advanced in years, however, they became more of a nuisance and liability.  She lived on her own, but because of extreme arthritis, the effort of lifting her feet to avoid turning up the corners of the rugs became too much for her.  She finally got rid of the rugs in most places or had them replaced with options that were heavier and stayed down on the edges better.  Door knobs that are easier to open, close and lock are other possible safety improvements.  Replace rolling chairs with non-rollers and sturdier options.  Unusually high or low bedsides can be replaced with easily maneuvered beds set at the right height.  Showers and bathrooms can have tubs with doors, handles near the toilet and in the shower, etc. Take a little time assessing the potential household hazards that can be removed now and might allow our us to enjoy our aging years in comfort.

Preparedness Kits

Before spending money on building an emergency preparedness kit, first spend some time thinking about what emergencies could occur in your area.  In all areas of the country, power outages can occur.  If those outages last for a number of days, how will this affect a senior living alone or even a group of seniors who rely on others for help?  Water is the first and primary concern. We should have adequate water for at least three days time somewhere in our house. In Northern climates, that water must also be accompanied by a way to have heat should it go out. Water will do no good if it frozen solidly.  Light via flashlights, candles or lanterns is another good idea to consider when facing a power outage.  Shelter, heaters for warmth, fans to stay cool in warm climates, and food are also other considerations for these times.  How will we eat and stay warm (or cool depending on circumstances)?

You can read some great tips from the Red Cross on this PDF - for building a kit:

Form a Plan

Forming a plan that family/neighbors/friends know about is an important step for being prepared. In all of the preparations that we make or that we help a loved one to make, please keep in mind that plans are most effective if they are shared with others.  Many older people look out for one another.  If that is the case with you or your loved one, share necessary emergency numbers, keys or papers with those you trust.  Forming a chain of people to call is a great idea so that everyone knows when things are safe and that you're okay.  Lack of communication can be the scariest part of an emergency, so find a way to combat that, if you can.

These are only a few suggestions to help start you on your preparedness journey.  There are countless websites and books that can help you to prepare for specific emergencies in a more comprehensive way.  This article takes aging into consideration in the process.  Most of us do not think about the limitations that aging presents in these situations.  Start with simple steps.  Begin thinking and preparing today for these types of emergencies and rest easy knowing that you're as ready as you can be.

Sleeplessness In Older And Aging Adults

Sleeping as we Age

Have you noticed that as we age, genuine, deep sleep is more and more difficult to attain?  Many people blame this sleeplessness on the aging process, but is it right to do so?  There are certainly many older persons who can sleep well through the night.

Why Don't I Feel Rested?

Sleeplessness is caused in part by the aging process.  As we age, our bodies produce lower amounts of growth hormone while we rest.  This can result in making it harder to fall into a deep sleep.  Our bodies end up requiring more sleep to get the same amount of "rest" when compared to our younger years.  We will want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.  We may also need to take a nap during the day to make up for the lost rest.  So what steps can we take to try to get a good night's rest again?

A Hard Day's Work

First, we can ensure that we have been active during the day.  As we age and go into retirement or stop working a regular job, it oftentimes gets harder to sleep at night, but not because of any health concerns.  Rather it is because enough energy has not be expended during the day to make us sufficiently tired at night.  Though our minds may refute this argument, the truth is, our bodies NEED certain levels of work or activity throughout the day in order to rest properly at night.  If our bodies don't have a sufficient level of activity, they also do not recognize or trigger the need for rest.  We need to try our best to raise our activity level during the day, finding work and exercise that's appropriate for our abilities at this stage of life.  Work hard and later enjoy a more restful night's sleep.

Clocks and Time Schedules

Consistent Sleep Routine

Another helpful step that we can take is to establish a regular routine of waking and sleeping.  Sometimes, as we age, our schedules can be thwarted by illness, aches, incontinence or even just out of boredom.  We find ourselves dozing at various times during the day.  Yet not able to sleep later, or staying up later watching television and sleeping in later in the morning.  Whatever schedule we decide makes us feel best, we should stick with it on a daily basis in order to obtain the most restful night's sleep possible.  Our sleep patterns are rhythmic and throwing off that rhythm can have an adverse effect on our sleep at night.

Turn off the T.V

Cutting off any screen time in the evenings a couple of hours before sleeping will help notify your body that it's time to begin winding down to rest.  That means perhaps not texting or video chatting with your friends and family after a certain hour.  Choose quieter activities that are not as stimulating, such as crossword puzzles, restful music, reading books, playing solitaire, etc.  Help your body to be able to identify the cut off time from evening activities to sleeping time by establishing a nightly routine.  Soon enough, you will find yourself longing to retire for the evening and looking forward to the rest that comes with it!

Doctors Orders

Finally, if you are still having problems sleeping after all of these steps, talk with your doctor.  See if your doctor can suggest any other steps or changes you might make in your life.  Your doctor may also be able to diagnosis if you have insomnia or other sleep depravation conditions.  Supplementing melatonin is an option for some people.  Others might need something a little stronger in order to help them set the rhythm of sleep again.  Before you head to the doctor, however, be sure that you've tried everything in your power to re-gain sleep in a natural way.  Older adults tend to take more medications than younger people and the combination of drugs can sometimes impair sleep.  Natural sleep patterns will always trump medicated ones.

Time for Bed

Sleeplessness is frustrating and tiring by very definition!  Even though we won't sleep like babies as we grow older, we can take many steps to improve the rest we are getting.  Relax, don't stress and soon enough you'll be dreaming of the good old days again!

Incontinence in Older Adults

Incontinence is an issue of embarrassment among many older people.  According to a report from 2014, about half the population of older Americans experience urinary leakage or accidental bowel leakage.  And roughly 25% have moderate, severe or very severe urinary leakage.  That's a lot of people!  Perhaps because people are unwilling to talk openly about this condition, there tends to be a bit of misinformation floating around about the topic.  This can easily be corrected for the benefit of the sufferer in order that they might have a much less complicated life. 


There are many causes of incontinence in older adults.  The causes can range from poor posture, to inflammation or other underlying conditions.  Incontinence occurs when muscles are too weak or to active.  Prostate problems (in men) or nerve damage can also contribute to incontinence issues.  People often say is that it is normal to have urinary incontinence as you age.  Although older women are about twice as likely as men, this is simply not true.  Do not accept this as it is a common belief.  Perhaps your incontinence is caused by something that could be easily fixed.  Or it may be that you have a medical condition that needs to be addressed.  Regardless, determining the cause will allow you to move forward and possibly even find a solution.


Poor posture is one of the least talked about but most common causes of a weak bladder.  For a variety of reasons, we tend to slouch or slump forward as we age.  It is somewhat natural, but what happens to your internal organs when you allow your body to slouch forward?  Your organs are arranged inside of you atop of one another.  And also supported by the spine in the back.  If you slouch forward the organs push forward and rest fully on top of your other organs.  Specifically atop your bladder.  Apart from causing terrible back, neck and shoulder problems, slouching will often cause weak bladder. Or, if left for long enough, incontinence.

Another common cause is inflammation in the lining of the bladder.  If you have an infection, it may be a simple matter of receiving a prescription for an antibiotic and you could be on your way to recovery!  Sometimes it really is this simple, and yet people will suffer for months thinking that they are just getting older and that incontinence is a natural part of that process.

Another way to prevent or reverse incontinence might be exercise.  Sometimes you may need to do exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor.  And other times you may need to receive a treatment if the physician finds something more serious.  The main concept to remember is that if this problem begins or persists, you need to listen to your body and try to solve the problem by discussing with your doctor.


Take Good Care of Yourself

If you need to wear adult incontinence pads or underwear, do your best to get the proper size and absorbency for your needs.  Some folks that are on a limited budget try to economize by getting a smaller size (there are generally more pairs in the smaller sized packages). Or by getting some that are less absorbent (because they are cheaper).  The result of this is that you can end up getting sores from ill-fitting underwear or end up in an embarrassing situation when the absorbency was not up to par.

Whatever your current situation with incontinence, if it IS an issue for you, do not be afraid to raise the question with your doctor.  Start the conversation so that you can begin the process of healing and return to a more active and less stressful lifestyle!

Communication Across the Generations

TicTacToe With Friends

How often have we heard someone who is younger comment about their difficulty in communicating with an older relative or friend?  Has it been way too long since our last meaningful conversation with our younger friends and family members?  This concern is becoming more common as technology progresses.  Newer forms of staying connected through communication is also increasing.  It appears there is an amount of push back from younger generations that are not able to understand why it might be difficult for those of us who are aging to be able to make the jump between two seemingly different worlds.  So how do we bridge this communication gap that only seems to be widening?

Moving at the Speed of Life - Not Light

First, it's important to remember that our younger counterpart is most likely not trying to make us upset or ignore us.  The speed of life has reached an all time high!  Communication today is almost instantaneous and patience seems to be a lost virtue.  It is not only common now, but also expected that everyone moves along at this fast pace.   They juggle more than they ever have before.  Calendars are jammed packed with Zoom (virtual) meetings and phone calls, interrupted by text messages, emails and snap chats.

It can be incredibly stressful to live under that pressure today.  When we speak with those living in this high stress, fast-paced world, try inquiring about how they are feeling with this pressure.   Express understanding about how stressful it must be for them.  One approach that can help bring you closer is to let them know they always have you.  They have a place and time where they can speak to you in person in a much calmer environment.  That alone may be enough for them to look forward to visiting or calling more often.

Remain Calm - They Love Us

Second, it's important to remain calm when speaking about any difficulty we are having with anyone.  Especially with someone coming from a very different perspective or life experience.  Even if we have a good point to make, it comes across much better if we are calm when stating our opinion than if we are already angry.  So, when we need to approach our friend and loved one, try to remember to stay calm as we say, “I've tried to call you a number of times, but I haven't heard from you in weeks.”

Change is the Only Constant

Third, recognize that they may not be used to communicating in some of the ways we are accustomed to communicating.  Such as using the phone or visiting in person. Along with everything else in our world, means of communications have been changing at an alarming rate.  These days people are far more used to communicating via text message, email or Facebook than through letters or even calls on the telephone.  Staring at a screen is the new norm. Eye contact seems to be a lost art.

Whatever our opinion is of this change in communication and society, it is a reality, at least for now.  So, if we're really wanting to stay in touch with someone, be sure to ask them about the best time to contact them and the best way to reach them.  I've met many grandparents who started an Instagram account just so to be better connected to their grandchildrens' lives (as their parents post numerous pictures of them on Instagram).

Conversation in the Backyard

Put Down the Phone - Connect by Disconnecting

Finally, if you have a younger friend who visits or calls regularly, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them and their time.  Encourage them to take time to disconnect from the hectic communication forms that are prevalent in today's world.  Put the smart phone down and breath!  As they learn how to engage more fully with the people they are with, they will be appreciative of you and you're helping them to connect by disconnecting.

Everyone can learn from previous generations!  While we need to learn more about the technology of today's world and the forms of communication that comes with it, there are also a few things that we can teach others about the closeness that comes from older forms of communication.  Communicating (and the building of meaningful relationships) is not, nor has it ever been, easy and requires our effort.  It is, however, worth it for those that pursue genuine relationships.

If you have enjoyed this article, try reading a few of our other posts.  A related article about the benefits of good communication is Overcoming Loneliness.


Personality Changes and Dementia

A Few Early Signs of Alzheimer's

  1. Lapse in memory that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges solving problems
  3. Trouble making plans
  4. Mixing up time and places
  5. Problems using words in speaking and writing
  6. Misplacing things and then not being able to retrace steps to locate
  7. Overall decrease in judgement - trouble making decisions
  8. Withdrawal from social activities
  9. Change in mood or personality

 What would a change in personality mean?

Personality is something that we rather take for granted.  It is true that certain aspects of it are inborn, but there are other aspects of one's personality or at least of the persona that they portray, that are learned and practiced over time.  We come to depend upon how well we know a person because their personality remains consistent over time.  We know, for instance, whether they are generally polite or cranky.  We know if they are honest or tend to lie.  We know if they tend to be soft-spoken or loud.  All of these things help us to feel as though we are on solid ground when describing who a person is.  But once dementia or Alzheimer's enters the picture, the ground can begin to shift right under our feet.

Because different types of dementia affect different parts of the brain, the disease may affect personality and behaviors in different ways.  If a person has dementia that affects the frontal areas of the brain, their personalities may seem to shift more drastically.  It's an important thing to ask about at onset so that you can begin to prepare yourself mentally for how you will deal with the changes you may encounter in the coming months and years.  Generally speaking, most individuals with dementia do not completely change their personality.  For instance, a person who was nice and calm would not become violent, unless there were other issues such as hallucinations or drug interaction problems going on, but it can occur.  Most often the changes that occur are an amplification of their former personality.  A soft-spoken person may become even quieter.  An angry person may become very overbearing and upset easily.

As the disease progresses into advanced stages, several of a person's learned behaviors begin to fade.  If they were a voracious reader, they may lose the ability to read.  If they wrote often, they will most likely lose that ability.  If these were important things to them, and particularly if they were activities that you shared with them, it can seem as though you do not know who they are anymore.  We often associate people and our relationships through hobbies and interests.  This can also, understandingly, cause a great deal of frustration on their part.  They are losing things that they consider to be important parts of themselves.  During their lucid moments, if they recognize any of this, it will be frustrating and disappointing to them.

While there is not much that one can do to prevent this from occurring in the advanced stages of the disease, we can begin to prepare ourselves by knowing the likelihood that these changes may occur.  We can also take time while we have it, to enjoy their true personality that we've grown to love over time.  Take every opportunity to spend time with them and support them through this scary time, assuring them that whatever happens, you'll still remember their true nature.  And as you speak of them to others, you'll emphasize who they are rather than the disease to others.  This will do more to maintain their dignity than anything else you can do.  Their life and personality is a gift to us while our love and care is our gift to them.

Gift Giving on a Limited Budget


As most of you reading this have discovered by now, growing older is not always cheap!  Even with good financial planning, good insurance and a somewhat good bill of health, there are unexpected things that can come up and break the bank pretty quickly.  Because of this, it can make birthdays and gift giving at other holidays all the more stressful.  The bad news might be that you find yourself in the position of not being able to spend much, if anything, on gifts for those you love.  The good news is that there are options other than buying expensive gifts that are open to you if you are able to take the time to look.

The Gift of Food

Food can be a very economical gift to give if you’re on a tight budget. You could bake sweets before a gathering and box them up.  Or create your own baking mixes or spice mixes and put them into jars to be use.  You might even go so far as to make a few freezer meals that would be of great benefit for other people with busy schedules so that they could just pull it out of the freezer, thaw and cook for a real meal.  If you wanted to do something like this, you’d need to be sure that the person(s) in question do not have any particular food allergies.  If you’re unsure, always provide an ingredient list to those who will be receiving the gift.

The Gift of Time  

Many people do not realize how valuable the gift of time may be to another person.  If you are older, but greatly enjoy cooking, perhaps you could offer to cook a few meals for a growing family that is busy.  If you enjoy reading children’s stories, have someone help you start an account on YouTube where you can record yourself reading to your young family members so that you are able to read to the children even if you’re not able to be physically present at the time.  Even better, set aside time each week to video call or Zoom call your younger family members. 

Another avenue is to think through things that you’re good at, or things that you’ve done for work in the past and offer services in those areas. Perhaps someone could benefit from your tax knowledge and would love to not have to pay someone to do their taxes if you’re able to do it.  Maybe someone could use help with mending clothes or framing a window.  Do not think that just because you’re aging that you cannot offer your knowledge and skills to those that would appreciate it. 

Personal History & Diaries

A very thoughtful and inexpensive gift for those close to you might include a small book of memories of them.  You could begin writing in advance so that it would not become a chore, but rather a delightful walk down memory lane.  Include some photographs if you have them.  If you are quite elderly, perhaps a book of memories and stories of your childhood would be in order for those younger ones in your family.  Include the struggles that you’ve gone through, things that have helped you remain positive in order to overcome defeat and maybe even some inspiring quotes or pictures.  This gift is greatly appreciated by loved ones and could prove very helpful for them if you are related and you include a bit of anecdotal health history, as well. 


Books are generally inexpensive and can be given with the recipient in mind.  If you know hobbies or interests that they enjoy, they are sure to love books that you give them on the subject.  If you do not know their interests well, you could always give them a book that you’ve found enjoyable, inspiring or helpful.  E-books can also be very economical (sometimes less than $1.00) for those of your friends and family who enjoy reading on a digital device.


At the end of the day, all that people really want most is to know that you care. If you show love and care for them, there is no greater gift that you could give and there is no greater gift you could hope to receive. 

Hydration for the Elderly

The summer months are upon us!  And staying cool and well hydrated become top of mind especially for those in the Southwest.  In recent years fitness gurus have been touting how important hydration is for our health.  Water bottles are now common place.  You’ve probably even seen water bottles for sale in stores or on the internet that have times of the day listed on the side so that you’re sure to drink a certain amount of water throughout the day.  This helps to maintain proper fluid levels in your body for optimum health.  Few people, however, realize that it is even more important for elderly people to remain well hydrated.

Why is it more important for the aging population? There are many factors that contribute to dehydration in the elderly, and we’ll just cover a few of the major ones.  First, water levels in the human body decrease as we age.  There is naturally less water in us as we grow older, and we need to be replenished with water more often.  Secondly, certain medications may cause dehydration.  While medications can help with a number of ailments, many of them also have dehydration as a side effect.  Check with your doctor if this is something that you should be aware of so that you can be proactive in combatting a potential problem of dehydration.  Finally, as we age, our kidneys are often not able to function as well as they did when we were younger.  This is just a natural part of growing older, but it does contribute to dehydration.  Staying well hydrated will help our kidneys function.

What can we do to stay hydrated sufficiently?

  1. Find ways to increase water intake. Set goals for yourself to drink a bit more water several times a day.  The average person needs between seven to thirteen cups of water a day.  That is a lot of water to drink for many people.  Large quantities on an empty stomach can cause nausea, but try taking it in smaller doses several times a day and you might find it easier on your body.   If you do not like tap water, try filtered water.  If you need to, add some fruit into it for flavoring.  Lemon or lime sliced and steeped in water with a few mint leaves can make a refreshingly nice infusion.  If you prefer hot drinks, try hot lemon water.
  2. Herbal teas. If you prefer even more flavor, you can increase your water intake without the side effects of caffeine by making herbal teas.  There are so many options to choose from you will for sure be able to find something that you enjoy.  Replacing soda (pop) or other sugary drinks with an herbal tea or fruit infused water will help you stay hydrated and lower your sugar consumption.
  3. Eat fruit and vegetables. Both fresh fruit and fresh veggies have good amounts of water in them that will help contribute to your hydration.  They also have the added benefit of adding fiber to your diet.  Pay attention, of course, if you are a diabetic as some fruits (due to high sugar content) may cause issues with your blood sugars.
  4. Stay out of intense heat. Because it is so easy for an older individual to become dehydrated without noticing, it’s best to stay out of very hot environments whenever possible.  If you do need to be outside in the heat, make sure that you wear hats that block the sun, stay in the shade and bring along a water bottle to drink.  Force yourself to drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.
  5. Eat soups and stews.  Soups can be eaten hot or cold, depending on preference.  Broths can be sipped throughout the hour in the same way that you would sip tea, and if can increase mineral intake if prepared properly.  Soups and stews are a tasty way to increase our hydration levels - just be careful of adding too much salt!

You may be surprised as you maintain healthy hydration levels at how many ailments are alleviated!  There can be corrections in blood pressure, headaches may go away, dizziness may cease, infections may be flushed out of your system and energy levels may improve.  It is certainly not a “cure-all” remedy, but sometimes the small and overlooked simple things in life can have long reaching implications.  So, start now!  Go and drink a glass of water (or eight) for your health!

Overcoming Loneliness

Loneliness is an evasive thing.  People have been studying it for years, especially in elderly adults who seem prone to sadness and isolation.  But, those studies have contradictory data.  Some of them include statistics for people who “feel isolated” while others only study data from people who have been so lonely and depressed that they’ve opted for medical help.  Because of all of this conflicting data, we don’t really know as much about the causes of loneliness as we’d like.  We do, however, know more than we used to.  There are certain consistencies in the data that help us narrow down some factors of loneliness.

Moving to a new place and living there for less than a year appears to be a catalyst for loneliness, especially in older people.  This is most likely due to changing relationships.  If a senior citizen moves, they’ll lose relationships that they may not have even recognized as important to them.  They’ll no longer chat with the postal worker or the same grocery store attendants that they used to.  They may not be able to invite the neighborhood boy that mows their lawn for a lemonade.  Over time, they’ll gain other social connections that are similar, but immediately after a move, those changes can add up to an unoccupied space that others used to fill for them.  It will take some intentionality after a move to form new relationships but establishing them is important for all involved.

Being involved in a church or another place where you can volunteer also seems to have larger impacts on the elderly.  Perhaps because the connections formed there can give you some commonality of purpose and a desire to help others, involvement in these types of things, keeps people from being lonely.  Knowing that you are contributing to society and that your input is needed and appreciated can do a great deal to stave off loneliness and depression.  Those who choose not to be involved in these have higher rates of loneliness.  Find out small ways to get involved in an activity that interests you, but this also helps others.  It will be beneficial for the organization and for you!

Hobbies are another option for pushing off loneliness.  The data is not conclusive on why hobbies can help, but it seems reasonable enough to say that if you have a hobby that you’re passionate about, you’re probably a bit more interesting to talk to.  If you find someone that is interested in the same thing, you can connect with them on a deeper level of communication than just the weather.  Even if the other person is not interested in exactly the same thing, they’ll understand your passion and your interaction will be livelier.  You may also learn about what they are passionate about!

Loneliness can have huge and lasting impacts on our health.  It is said to be just as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!  It can lower your immune system’s ability to fight.  It can also cause you to be pushed to the outside of social networks with others who are lonely.  It is a strange conundrum that if you are feeling lonely, people tend to push you further away.  This may be because your loneliness makes them feel more lonely, in turn.  But all of these things are based upon people’s feelings & perceptions of their situations.  If you can change those feelings and perceptions, you can change being lonely.

A recent study in the UK watched people on public transport.  Those who initiated conversations with strangers were reported as less lonely.  Those who only talked if someone else initiated conversation were more lonely and those who refused to interact with strangers were the most lonely.  They then studied the same people and asked those who were not generally comfortable with initiating conversation to begin doing that.  It is a simple and seemingly inconsequential change for someone to make, but it had huge impacts on their feelings afterward.  They felt generally more positive and less lonely!

You may be feeling lonely and isolated, but that does not mean you have to become an extreme extrovert to overcome those feelings.  Sometimes it is the small, daily acts that can have the largest impact over the course of months of our lives!  Initiate conversation.  Get a hobby.  Start volunteering.  Recognize the loneliness dissipate.