Keeping Distant Grandparents Close

Keeping Distant Grandparents CloseWays to Bring Kids and Grandparents Together Across the Miles

With the current economy, many family budgets will not allow travel to see dear grandparents a few times each year. Perhaps these ideas bring everyone a bit closer.

For the times when one can’t visit with family, there are several ways to keep close to them. Try a variety of ideas ranging from the use of modern technology via the internet to old-fashioned letter writing.

Many grandparents are fast becoming internet and computer savvy. According to an article published by Susannah Fox of Pew Internet, more seniors aged 65 and above have internet access and browse the web regularly.

Use the Internet to Keep in Touch

senior citizens using phone

Sending grandparents email messages with pictures attached of children is very popular. It is a quick and easy way to keep grandparents up to date on what the kids are doing and how their appearance has changed. Kids can also have fun making funny cards online with clip art and pictures. This instant hug is a surefire way to brighten someone’s day. Webcams and messaging apps can take the interaction to another level. Why not talk and see each other just like you are right there?

Phone Services Now More Affordable

Shop around a bit and you will probably find that most long distance phone plans have come down in price over the years. In many markets, the cell phone’s unlimited evening and weekend minutes offer the best option for calling grandparents long distance. In some cases, you may even include them in the “family share plan” with minutes and/or cell phones to decrease the cost for all.

Hearing a loved one’s voice on the phone beats email any day. As for kids, it is sometimes hard to get them to come to the phone and talk. Grandparents just want to hear the sound of their voices too. Consider playing games on the phone! Kids may love to play Twenty Questions, tell jokes, work a crossword puzzle together or any age-appropriate game you would play on a road trip because it is a verbal game.

You can also have the grandparents tell family stories to the kids, even if they have heard them before. Have the grandparents get the kids talking. They can ask them about their interests, school, friends, or anything that is important to the child.

Letter Writing Not a Thing of the Past

writing letters

The handwritten word is so personal and provides the family with a keepsake to look back on later. The same topics you discuss on the phone can be discussed in a letter too. If writing is difficult for the grandparent, consider asking them to make audio letters on cassette for the grandchildren. Children may also have fun making a video tape or DVD film for the grandparents. Grandparents can read books or sing on their recordings. Kids can record a weekly discussion about their activities or sing songs too.

Gift-Giving Helps to Keep Traditions Alive

gift-giving with familyGift and goodie boxes are a great way to share a bit of love with grandparents and their grandkids. As the holidays and family occasions approach, of course sending presents to each other is an option. But what about also trying to keep holiday traditions alive too? Grandkids can keep a Christmas Advent calendar and discuss the countdown with grandparents on the phone or email. Open gifts over the phone so the giver can hear the joy in the recipient’s voice as it is opened.

Whether you are lucky enough to live near grandparents or have to keep in touch across the miles, grandparents can be a gift to children and allow them to build their heritage. Take into account all the ways that all can share old memories and make more for the future.

How to Increase Calcium – Tips for Seniors

How to Increase Calcium – Tips for Seniors - Healthy Bones and Body

According to the National Institute of Health’s article entitled “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium,” healthy seniors should take in at least 1200 mg of dietary calcium daily to maintain their bone health. The upper limit for daily calcium recommendations for healthy seniors ranges from 2000 to 2500 mg, depending on the source. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPyramid food guidance system recommends that seniors get the equivalent of three low-fat or fat free cups from the milk group in their diets each day.

Many food labels list calcium content as a percentage based on 1000 mg of daily calcium. Multiply the percentage by 10 to determine the calcium amount in milligrams. For example, 30% would equal 300 mg. According to the USDA’s 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals data, 55% of men and 78% of women do not get enough daily calcium. Some seniors may not wish to drink milk for various reasons, but they have the option to get the calcium they need through alternative sources.

Foods & Drinks that Naturally That Contain Calcium

How to Increase Calcium – Tips for Seniors - Calcium Sources

Although calcium is found in fluid milk, some seniors may experience unpleasant affects after drinking milk, even if they use lactose-free brands or take Lactaid. Alternatives to fluid milk contain calcium and some do not contain lactose. Two to four tablespoons of powdered milk added to recipes can add about 50 mg of calcium per tablespoon. The following are equivalent to one 8-ounce cup of milk:

  • 8 ounces of yogurt
  • 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese

Other calcium-containing foods include sardines, salmon, almonds, spinach, turnip greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, corn and flour tortillas, bread, and broccoli.

Calcium-fortified Foods and Drinks

Some manufacturers may fortify foods and drinks with calcium that do not naturally contain the mineral. Many seniors are aware of calcium-fortified orange juice. Examples of other products that may be fortified with calcium include:

  • Rice milk
  • Grape juice
  • Soy milk
  • Cereals
  • Snacks
  • Applesauce
  • Tofu (usually made with calcium sulfate, firmer tofu tends to contain more calcium)
  • Nutritional supplements like Ensure
  • Bottled water

Vitamin D’s Role in Calcium Absorption

How to Increase Calcium – Tips for Seniors - Vitamin D Food Sources

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’s article “Calcium and Vitamin D,” that was last modified May 2008, seniors should get 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D each day. The above article also mentions that people may take in vitamin D through sunlight, supplements, and fortified foods such as:

  • Milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Saltwater fish
  • Liver
  • Some cereals
  • Breakfast bars

This fat-soluble vitamin helps the body absorb and maintain calcium levels and does not have to be taken at the same time as the calcium in order to be effective.

Calcium Supplements

The preferred method of getting calcium is through a healthy diet. If a physician recommends a calcium supplement, the body can better absorb calcium if it is split into doses of 600 mg or less. Many people take one calcium supplement in the morning and another in the evening. Taking the supplement with a meal may encourage the body to better absorb the mineral.

Drugs, Foods & Drinks That Decrease Calcium Absorption

Calcium interacts with quite a few medications, and seniors who are taking any medications should check with their physician regarding safe scheduling of medications while maintaining adequate calcium intake. People who are taking a proton pump inhibitor (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Protonix, Aciphex) and need to take a calcium supplement may be better served by calcium citrate, which does not require an acidic environment for absorption.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s 2008 article entitled “What You Should Know About Calcium” mentions several foods and drinks that can interfere with calcium absorption, including:

  • Foods high in oxalate, including rhubarb, spinach, and beet greens
  • Legumes high in phytate, including navy beans, pintos, and peas – soak the dried beans for several hours and then cook the legumes in fresh water
  • Foods containing 100% wheat bran – separate timing of calcium administration and eating 100% wheat bran by at least two hours
  • Avoid a diet high in salt, protein, and/or caffeine because these can interfere with calcium absorption. Increase calcium intake per physician advice if a high protein diet is recommended.
  • Soft drinks and other drinks with phosphorus – avoid these as the phosphorus may compete with the calcium and often replaces calcium-containing beverages

Seniors Can Have Healthier Bodies by Getting Enough Calcium

How to Increase Calcium – Tips for SeniorsOlder adults who cannot drink milk need not despair. Many calcium-rich milk alternatives are now available to help seniors get the calcium they need to maintain healthy bones and avoid problems such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Seniors who are aware of drugs, foods, and drinks that interfere with calcium absorption may wish to make adjustments to optimize calcium levels.

Seniors interested in bone health may also wish to read about a walking exercise program, hip fracture prevention, and bone density testing. Readers are welcome to post comments regarding this article in the comment box below.

Dispelling Common Autism Myths

Dispelling Common Autism Myths

In the article “Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the US”, which appeared in the October 5, 2009 issue of Pediatrics, researchers have confirmed that the autism prevalence rate in the U.S. has gone from 1 in 150 children to approximately 1 in 100 children. Despite this increased incidence rate, age-old myths about autism continue to prevail. Parents of children on the autism spectrum, autistic individuals themselves, and professionals that work in autism-related specialties are all working to dispel common autism myths.

Unfortunately, many of these myths, some even decades old, persist. When a parent of a child that has been recently diagnosed with autism tells a friend of her child’s diagnosis, she may find herself face-to-face with one of these myths. It is important that those in the autism community actively work to dispel these myths on a daily basis.

 Dispelling Common Autism Myths - Refrigerator MothersRefrigerator Mothers

In the 1950s, the phrase “refrigerator mothers” was used to describe mothers of children with autism. It was thought that their cold and emotionless demeanor was the reason for their child’s behavior. Unfortunately, not much was known about autism during this time and the disorder wasn’t even a unique diagnostic condition in the DSM.

Thankfully, research has revealed that a mother’s parenting style was not to blame for her child’s autistic behavior. Unfortunately, for many mothers, this revelation came too late and only after much self-blame.

Autism and Intelligence Levels

Another frequently referenced myth about individuals with autism is that they all experience cognitive deficits. However, there is not a consistent relationship between autism and intelligence levels. While a portion of individuals on the autism spectrum may have some level of cognitive disability (also called mental retardation), it is not true of all individuals on the spectrum.

Not only do intelligence levels vary among individuals on the autism spectrum, a person’s intelligence level is not included in the autism diagnostic criteria. So while some individuals with autism may also have a cognitive disability, this is not a statement that can be attributed to the entire autistic population.

Individuals with Autism Lack Empathy

The stereotypical individual with autism is an uncaring and unfeeling person that has no capability of feeling empathy. Just as in the typical population, there are some individuals who have problems with empathy and others who are able to be genuinely empathetic.

Not everyone on the autism spectrum can show feelings of empathy but this is also the case for individuals not on the autism spectrum. Many autistic individuals are fully capable of showing empathy but may do so in a way that is unexpected to the unknowing bystander.

Everyone with Autism is Nonverbal

Surprisingly enough, not everyone with autism is non-verbal. Language skills vary, even among the most severely affected. While some individuals with autism are completely nonverbal, others are able to take advantage of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices to communicate with others.

This list of common autism myths is by no means comprehensive; however, these are some of the more popular myths. As the autism prevalence rates continue to rise, it is important for society to begin to understand the condition better and work at dispelling these common autism myths. Here’s a video that challenges the myths about autism.

Get an Aging Parent to Exercise: Motivate an Elderly Couch Potato

Get an Aging Parent to Exercise

Everyone benefits from regular exercise. However, for aging adults, exercise is an important factor in staying healthy and mobile. While many older adults might join and enjoy a Pilates for seniors group or some other local exercise program for the elderly, there are elderly adults who consider exercise to be a dirty word.

For some seniors, just mentioning the word exercise usually results in the sudden need for a nap. The elderly needs to be more active; a  couch potato mentality is not healthy. Doctors recommend mild to moderate exercise, as a way to help manage existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. But, with a stubborn refusal to exercise, caregivers need to become more creative in their efforts to get their aging family members off the couch and motivated.

Exercise Comes in Many Different Forms

Get an Aging Parent to Exercise - shopping

In many cases, an elderly adult may not want to exercise due to ill health, physical weakness, or chronic pain. For some, they simply do not want to turn off the television or set aside the book they are currently reading, in order to exercise.

A physical fitness trainer would tell you that given the elderly’s physical limitations and their reluctance to exercise, you should think of ways for an elderly person to get daily exercise, without them realizing they were exercising.

This is the perfect solution for seniors who are not so thrilled with the idea of daily exercise. Listed below are a few ways to help them get enough daily exercise without them knowing they are actually exercising.

  1. Household chores — putting clean clothes on hangers, folding and putting away underwear, taking the trash outside to the big trash bin and sweeping the porch, are all great ways to get moderate exercise on a semi-regular basis.
  2. Shopping — pushing a grocery cart through a store and helping to carry the groceries from the car to the house is an excellent way to build both strength and stamina.
  3. Checking the mail — taking a daily stroll to the mail box is good exercise.
  4. Pet care — feeding, watering and walking the family dog is a great way to get them out of the chair, several times a day, for a nice healthy walk in the yard.
  5. Yard work — if they love to drive the riding lawn mower around the yard, they will improve their balance and strength.
  6. Personal grooming — taking a shower, shaving and redressing is great exercise for an elderly parent.

Also make a point of taking your parents along with you when you are running errands. Climbing in and out of it of your car is good exercise.

Make Exercise Painless for You and Your Aging Parent

Get an Aging Parent to Exercise - Senior Care

Don’t worry if your elderly parent refuses to do traditional exercises. There are many effective ways to encourage your elderly parent to be more active. Exercises that build strength, stamina and balance can be cloaked in simple everyday chores and personal grooming habits. Their innate desire to be helpful will make it possible for you to assign them simple daily tasks that get them out of the chair or bed and exercising in no time.

Helping an Aging Parent Adapt to a Family Home

Helping an Aging Parent Adapt to a Family Home
Elderly loved ones face a multitude of major lifestyle changes as they make their journey through the golden years. Change can be a good thing, but it can also be an emotional time of letting go. Seniors feel the loss and the stress that come with giving up a home and everything familiar that goes with it. Here’s how caregivers can help elderly loved ones accept new living arrangements.

Helping an Aging Parent Adapt to a Family Home - Making roomMaking Room in the Family Home for an Elderly Parent

An elderly parent may have to give up belongings, furniture, plants and even a beloved pet when there is simply no room in an adult child’s home. Downsizing material possessions that define a person’s lifestyle and character is no easy task. Storage units are an expense many people cannot afford, and other adult children may live too far away to accept furniture and other large items.

An elderly parent moving into the home of an adult child loses more than the comfort of an old house, sentimental possessions, and decades of memories. The senior has to learn new routines – has to learn new sounds and different smells – and has to get used to a son or daughter being in charge.

Moving into a grown son or daughter’s home may also mean kids, toys, teenagers, and a lot of noise. Getting around in unfamiliar territory is stressful and confusing for many elders.

How Can a Home Caregiver Help an Elderly Family Member Adjust?

Helping an Aging Parent Adapt to a Family Home - helping seniors adjust

Having to depend on someone else is a challenge for any adult, but even more so for the aged person who may be losing the ability to care for himself. It’s a tough fact to accept when old age steps in and someone younger takes charge, making the decisions. Elderly parents don’t always agree with their grownup kids.

An adult son or daughter can observe a few tips to make the transition to the family home easier for an elderly parent and everyone concerned:

  • Start suggesting or talking about the move well in advance with the elderly person. Gently voice concerns such as falling, cooking, shopping and so forth.
  • Discuss moving plans with the elder’s health care practitioner to get a second opinion and (hopefully) support.
  • Make sure the elderly parent wants to move in with the family. It could be that the senior prefers to be with others of the same age in an assisted living arrangement or nursing home.
  • When the time comes to move, adhere to the elderly parent’s wishes about what to do with the belongings left behind and the old home.*
  • Move treasured possessions and things of comfort into the bedroom with the elderly person. Framed photos, a rocking chair, or special books add a small measure of familiarity to the new location.
  • Maintain as much of the elder’s old routine as possible without stressing the caregiver or inconveniencing other family members.
  • Include the elderly parent in family activities as much as possible so the elder doesn’t feel isolated.
  • The elderly person should have as much control as possible over their own care and decision-making, unless advanced age and/or illness makes such control impossible or dangerous.
  • Planning ahead saves a lot of frustration and emotional pain later on. Older parents can set a good example for young adult children – and even teenagers – by discussing their concerns and decisions for “old age” including housing arrangements, medical wishes, and funeral plans.
  • Organizing a move for an elderly person is difficult under the best of circumstances. Caregivers who have a plan and who have thought through every detail of the move will suffer a lot less stress when the time comes to bring an elderly parent into the home.
  • Caregivers can help the transition for an elderly parent by surrounding him or her with as many memorable items as possible and keeping a routine similar to what the elder had before the move. Once the elder has settled into the home, the family can focus on creating new memories to go with the old ones.