10 Fun Activities for Moms with Alzheimer’s

Elder Depot's List of Activities for Mother's Day for those with AlzheimersMother’s Day is about honoring and celebrating mothers.  When you have an elderly mother or grandmother with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, Mother’s Day shouldn’t just be about purchasing and dropping off a gift; but rather creating lasting memories that you can remember and cherish with your mother.  Elder Depot wanted to share our list of simple, easy things that you can do to bring some happiness to your mother’s life on this special day and create a wonderful memory.  The good news is that most of these suggestions are free and only require sharing a little of your time!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy.  The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time to show you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day

  1. Have lunch or dinner together.
    If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

We hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come.

From all of us at Elder Depot, we wish you and your family a very Happy Mother’s Day!

We welcome your Comments or Suggestions for future articles! Please email us by Clicking Here.

Bath Safety Product Guide

Many injuries for seniors occur in the bathroom, which is not surprising, given the mix of water with slippery surfaces. We have put together a list of helpful tips and products that will make the bathroom safer and help prevent falls and injuries before they happen.

The items below can all be used in your current bathroom and do not require any bathroom remodeling. These innovative product choices will allow you to design the bathroom that best fits your safety needs.



Raised Toilet Seats

Raised toilet seats help with allowing you to stand up and sit down more easily and comfortably. This is especially important if you have difficulty with mobility, such as arthritis in your knees or other leg impairments. These Elevated Toilet Seats install on your existing toilet bowl and add anywhere from 2” to 6” in height, making sitting and standing much easier. Since the standard height of a toilet is usually only about 15” high (with some ADA models now available at 17”), this extra height can be very helpful.

Choosing the Size

There are a couple of considerations before purchasing a raised toilet seat. You will first want to make sure of which size toilet you have. This is the #1 consideration, because if the toilet seat doesn’t fit, you can’t use it! Standard toilets in the United States are typically found in 2 sizes, Standard (Round) or Elongated (Oval). To determine your toilet size, measure from the center of the seat bolt holes in the back of the toilet to the outside front of the bowl. The measurement of a Standard size toilet is generally around 16-1/2” Long. An Elongated (oval) Toilet is approximately 18-1/2” Long.

Choosing the Height

Raised Toilet Seats are available in several height options from 2” to 6”. The height of the toilet seat riser will depend up on the height of the individual. An average height person should be good with a riser between 3”-4” on average. For a taller person, a 6” height might be more appropriate and for a shorter person a 2” height might be all that is needed. We are not aware of any toilet seats great than 6” in height mainly due to safety reasons; however, if you find that you do need 8”-9” of additional toilet seat height, you can combine a raised toilet seat with a toilet base riser to obtain the needed height.

Choosing Installation Features

Most raised toilet seats are constructed of a durable plastic material and are offered in a variety of different options for installation. Do you need to remove the raised toilet seat more quickly and easily on a regular basis in a shared bathroom or will the seat be used for travel? If either of these is true, you will most likely benefit from a raised toilet seat that does not require any tools for installation. There are several types that simply slide into the rim of the toilet seat bowl and do not provide any locking options. This is fine for those that are slightly more mobile and stable. There are also several models available that install in the same manner, but also include a frontal turn knob to lock the seat in place on the rim to help prevent movement of the toilet riser.

If you will not need to remove the toilet seat on a daily or regular basis, then it is recommended to purchase a raised toilet seat that installs with tools and bolts in the back of the toilet. These types of raised toilet seats will be the most secure and are recommended for those that require additional stability. They will almost always include the extra long bolts that install on your toilet in the exact same way as a regular toilet seat and lid. Most standard U.S. toilets include bolt holes that are 5-1/2” apart and most bolt down model raised toilet seats do adjust for a proper fit.

One of the biggest concerns with raised toilet seats that provide a more permanent bolted installation is “How easy are they to clean?” and “What if my husband will be using the same toilet?” There is actually a great solution that solves both of these issues! The 3” Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat would be your best choice! This unique design includes bolt-down installation providing a sturdy seating surface, almost 4” in height when installed with your existing toilet seat and lid, and it is “Hinged” so that it can raise up and lower, just like a regular toilet seat. This is great for households with men, so they do not soil the seat and makes cleaning the toilet much easier.

Considering Toilet Arms or Handles

You can elect to have a toilet seat with arms included (typically most are removable) or you can purchase a separate Toilet Safety Frame to provide a handle grip to help with sitting and standing. The Toilet Safety Frame or other toilet handles can be used alone or along with most model raised toilet seats. Whether or not handles are needed is a matter of individual safety concern. If you would benefit from being able to hold onto the handles when raising yourself or lowering yourself onto the toilet, then this should be a feature to look for in a raised toilet seat or you can add the Toilet Safety Frame to your bathroom safety checklist.



Grab Bars

Grab bars are considered the staple of the bathroom when providing for bathroom safety. It would typically be a good idea to have a horizontal grab bar in the bathtub or shower in a position suited for the user and a second grab bar vertically installed next to the bathtub or shower exit for gripping assistance while stepping over the bathtub wall. Grab bars can also be installed next to the toilet or anywhere a secure hand grip is needed.

Types of Grab Bars

The standard wall mounted grab bar will install permanently onto the wall surface. They are generally constructed of a stainless steel to help prevent rusting and include a non-slip gripping surface for the user. There are also composite plastic grab bars that will never rust. A newer item that was recently introduced in the last few years is the Suction Tub Grab Bar, which installs with suction cups and does not require any tools for permanent installation. These suction grab bars may be good for travel or someone who requires very mild balance assist. However, if more than a mild balance assist is needed, I would recommend installing permanent grab bars for more reliable safety.

Choosing a Grab Bar

Grab bars are available in many different lengths, sizes, and colors. The standard grab bar lengths are 12”, 16”, 24” or 36”. There are variations to this, but these are the most typical sizes found in the market. The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) does provide for federal guidelines for grab bars being installed in public areas or new property construction; however, if you own your home, you can purchase whichever grab bar fits your needs and décor the best.

Standard ADA approved wall-mounted grab bars will include a diameter of between 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ and will provide 1-1/2” of spacing from the wall. There are many other specialty grab bars that individuals find useful, but they may not adhere to these exact guidelines.

Over the years, many manufacturers have come out with new colors and designs to better match your bathroom décor. There are stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze, and many more. Some of the nicer models may even have special gripping surfaces to make using the bar safer and easier. One such model can be viewed here.

Installing a Grab Bar

Grab bars can be placed anywhere assistance is needed. There is no specific set guideline regarding the location of the bar. I would recommend that you have the person who will be using the grab bars enter and exit the tub and see where they grab onto the wall to assist themselves. This may be a good indication that a grab bar would be helpful in that area. The bars can be installed horizontally or vertically, depending on which ever will suite your needs the best.

Grab bars can be installed on almost any bathroom wall surface, provided there is a stud to secure the bar or a wall mounting anchor is used. There are special made drills that will allow you to drill through the tile without cracking it to install the grab bars. If you are worried about permanent installation, simply choose a nice design to match your bathroom décor and everyone can appreciate having a nice-looking bar to hold on to or to put your washcloth or towel.

If you are unsure of how to install your newly acquired wall mounted grab bars, it may be best to contact your plumber or local handyman to provide the installation, as drilling and tools will be required. If you are handy around the house, there are several online articles and you tube videos that explain how to install the grab bars yourself. It is very important that the grab bars are installed securely to a wall stud or installed with a wall mount kit to prevent the grab bar from coming loose and causing a fall. Many grab bars have user weight capacity limits; however, no grab bar should be considered secure unless it is installed into a wall stud or used with a mounting kit.

To view the listing of grab bars, please visit us here.



Tub Rails

Tub rails are a great device to assist with getting in and out of the bathtub or for help with getting up from a bath chair. A tub rail can be installed on any area of the bathtub wall where assistance will be needed and that will not interfere with the individual getting into and out of the tub. A tub rail is a great option for individuals who would benefit from a secure hand grip to help pull themselves up from a seated position or who need assistance when entering or exiting the bathtub.

Tub Rails VS. Grab Bars

The difference between a standard grab bar and tub rail is that the grab bar installs permanently on the walls of the bathroom, whereas the tub rail installs directly onto the side of the tub and can be installed and removed without any damage to the tub. Grab bars are typically installed vertically or horizontally on the wall and can provide a higher gripping surface if needed. Tub rails will typically have a lower gripping surface, which may work well for those using bath chairs. When a tub rail is used together with a wall grab bar, the user can then have a hand grip on both sides while entering or exiting the tub.

Choosing a Tub Rail

Tub rails are available in many different designs and sizes to fit individual needs. The first thing to consider is the construction of your bathtub. Most tub rails are designed for ceramic or other hard surface bathtubs and will not work with fiberglass tubs as the wall is not strong enough to safely support the rail installation and user weight. There is a newer model tub rail that will work with fiberglass tubs. You can find the details about this item here. It is also important to note that tub rails should not be used with Claw Foot Tubs or with tubs that include sliding doors, as the metal rods will prevent proper installation. For users with these types of bathtubs, you can consider using wall mounted grab bars or Floor Support Rails that install on the floor of the bathroom.

You will also need to check the thickness of your bathtub wall before buying a tub rail. Most tub rails will fit standard size tub walls, typically adjustable from approximately 3”-7”. Almost all tub rails install without tools (hand tightening) and include pads so that they will not mar or scratch the tub surface during installation and tightening.

Considerations for a Tub Rail

There are many tub rail designs to choose from, which will depend mainly on the individual needs of the user. Most rails run horizontally with the tub wall; however, vertical installation tub rails are also available. Some users prefer the tub rail to run perpendicular to the tub wall as they don’t want the tub rail interfering with getting in and out of the tub. The most important thing to remember when choosing a tub rail is the location of the rail. It should be installed in a place that will aid the user with getting in and out of the tub, but not cause any obstacles or interference.

Many users who are using a bath chair find a tub rail installed on the bathtub wall and a wall mounted grab bar on the other side useful for helping to pull themselves up to a standing position. Although some bath chairs may include arms, these are typically meant for balance assist and can assist users with pushing themselves upward to a standing position. However, it is sometimes easier for users to have an option to pull themselves up.

Tub rails are available in various lengths, heights, adjustable height, and there are those with multi level gripping surfaces to provide for a hand grip at different levels. You can check out the full selection of tub rail options here .



Slip Safety

It’s very important to make sure that the bathroom tub or shower area includes a good non-slip surface to prevent slipping when wet. This could be through the use of a bath mat or installing self-stick tread strips to ensure there is always a good foot grip to prevent falls.

Bath Mats

Bath mats are available in many sizes, colors, and forms. The most standard form of bathtub or shower mat includes suction cups along the bottom that adhere to the tub surface. Shower mats with rubber suction on the bottom seem to stay in place a little better with ceramic tubs than fiberglass surfaces. Bath mats should be installed on clean and dry surfaces, free of any residue.

Self Adhesive Treads

If you find that your bath mat tends to slip when the tub floor gets wet, you might want to try using the alternative self-stick adhesive backed bathtub treads as an alternative. When installing the self-stick treads, you want to make sure that the tub surface is completely clean and rinsed thoroughly from any cleaner residue. The surface should also be completely dry before installing the tread strips. These treads are available in strips, fish & shells, stars, and many other decorative designs. You want to make sure that enough of the tread strips are installed to prevent any areas that may cause a fall.



Bath Chairs

Bath chairs are great for individuals who cannot stand for long periods of time or who are unsteady on their feet. The chair is placed inside the bathtub or shower and you can sit safely and comfortably while taking your shower.

Bath Chairs & Handheld Shower Sprays

Bath chairs go hand and hand with Handheld Shower Sprayers. You can replace your existing shower head with a long hose handheld shower spray so you can keep the shower spray next to you or clipped on your bath chair for easy access. If the bathroom is being used by others that do not require the bath chair, the shower spray will simply mount back on top of the shower bracket for a standard shower.

Considerations for your Bath Chair

The most important thing you should do before selecting your bath chair is to measure the inside of your bathtub or shower. The majority of returns on bath chairs are a result of the chair not fitting inside of the bathtub. You want to make sure that the bath chair will fit securely in the tub on a flat surface, and don’t forget to account for the curvature of the tub wall! In most cases the seat width is not an indication of the width at the base of the legs. If the leg span (width x depth of the legs) is too large, the chair will be unstable and unsafe. This is especially important in older construction or in bathtubs that are smaller than the standard bathtub width.

Choosing a Bath Chair

There are many different varieties of bath chairs. Many people prefer the all composite plastic bath chairs as they are easy to clean and will never rust; however, bath chairs that are made of aluminum and plastic will also have little issues with rust. The seat size is also important. You want a bath chair that will provide enough room for the user, but not too big and bulky so that it gets in the way. Most standard bath chair seat dimensions are approximately 16”-20” wide x 14” deep, but can vary depending on the models. Weight capacity is another important factor. There are bath chairs that include a 250 lb. weight capacity and those that support up to 500 lbs.

Bath chairs are available with either a backrest or without a backrest, depending on your needs. Backrests can make your bathing experience more comfortable; however, some people prefer the open back to have better access to cleaning their back area and to have more freedom to lean backwards. The open back would not be recommended for those who have greater mobility issues and require the backrest for greater support and safety.

Bath chair handles are another option that is based on user needs. The handles of most bath chairs provide some leverage for helping to sit, stand and maneuver on the bath chair if needed. Handles are generally removable so you can remove them at any time. The handles of the bath chairs are really meant to be used as a balance assist for help with sitting and standing. If you have grab bars or a tub rail installed, it may be easier for some individuals to pull their full weight up from a seated position rather than try to push up their weight. Of course, the bath chair handles, grab bars, and tub rail can all be used together if this will provide the safest option for the user.

Bath chairs are available in many different styles and colors to fit your specific needs. Some include rubber non-skid tips and others include actual suction cup feet. Some include padded seats, folding options for portability, as well as wheels for mobility. The options can be overwhelming, but when you decide on a style that fits your specific needs the best, make sure that you double check all of the chair dimensions to make sure that the unit will provide the best option for your needs and bathroom space. You can view a full list of available bath chair here .

Bath Chair Accessories

There are many accessories available for bath chairs to make the bathing experience more comfortable and convenient. There are under chair bags to store shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries. If the bath chair does not already include a shower spray holder built into the chair, there are shower spray clips that can be used universally with most shower chairs. Some models, such as the designer bath chair includes a full line of accessories available, such as bathing baskets that attach to the side of the chair.



Transfer Benches

Transfer benches are a perfect choice for those with very limited mobility. This is essentially a very wide bath chair that includes a permanent extension that sits on the outside of the bathtub so you can easily transfer from a wheelchair or simply sit down on the outside of the tub and maneuver yourself over the bathtub wall while sitting on the bench.

Considerations for your Transfer Bench

It is important to measure your bathtub width before selecting a transfer bench to ensure that the bench will be adequate for your space. The length of the bench is important because you don’t want the bench to be too short or too long for the space that you have. Almost all transfer benches are reversible, so they can be used universally for right side or left side entry tubs. Typically this is done by simply reversing the backrest and armrest of the bench.

Choosing a Transfer Bench

Transfer Benches do include solid surface benches, benches with built in commodes, and sliding transfer benches that actually controllably slide you into the tub and lock into place. Depending on your needs and space, there are many transfer bench styles and models to choose from.

There are several optional features, depending on the model transfer bench chosen. Some options include suction cup tips inside of the tub, curtain tucks to tuck the shower curtain into the bench a couple of inches, and many other others. You can view the full line of transfer benches here

Preventing Water Spillage with Transfer Benches

One of the most complained about things with the use of a transfer bench is that the shower curtain will not close around the bench to prevent water from getting outside of the tub. We have had people tell us that they simply cut slits in their existing shower curtain so that the unit would fit around the transfer bench. If you get an inexpensive shower curtain, this home-made solution might help.

Reprint of a Reprint of our Mother’s Day Article

Looking around the Internet to see what folks are saying about us, we discovered a wonderful blog that had ‘reprinted’ our Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother Article. The author included some great additions on long distance caregiver that bear ‘re-reprinting’.

(Reprint of Article From Elder Depot Below) My Comments First

As our family deals with the decline of my husband’s mother, I thought this was good article to share and wanted to add a few thoughts.

These tips below are excellent, but for those of us who live at some distance from our elderly relatives, it is often not so simple to think of things to do.  This year we sent off a box of goodies well in advance and of course, we call often, though at times the conversations are frustrating and sometimes make us quite sad.  I have found that as memory and cognitive functions decline, it is a good idea to make changes in the types of gifts we give or send.  Some people still enjoy the same things they always liked, such as books or candy and flowers.  Often though, elders stop reading due to vision problems, inability to remember things or disinterest.  You may worry they will choke on some goodies you buy if they have swallowing issues, and when they admire your flowers for a minute, set them aside and don’t look at them again, you feel frustrated or perhaps that your expensive flowers are wasted.

One nice idea is to make a CD of old beloved songs, either that you sing or that you download from the Internet. If your parents have caregivers,  you can find out if there is a CD player and if the caregivers will play the music, or you can send a CD player with instructions for the caregivers.

If you are not able to be present to go through old family photos together, how about making a few copies of old prints or sorting through some you have and sending them with labels or cute captions? You might choose group photos .  My mother-in-law keeps asking for an enlargement of a photo of my husband, even though she has many pictures that just sit in boxes and drawers. She wants a big portrait.

If phone calls become stressful for you and there is a lot of agitation, crying and repetition, keep the calls short and make them more frequently.  Keep a small “idea-catcher” box or pad by your phone on which you write down some brief memories or simple events that have happened to you or to other family members in the last few days, so you will have something to talk about . This can help  minimize your stress and your elder’s, as they sometimes get caught up in cycles of complaining and they get stuck and don’t know how to stop.  My mother-in-law, for example, asks repeatedly for our phone number while speaking to us, though we have made large lists of important numbers,  have put them up in obvious places on the wall and mirror, and have taped them to her telephone stand by her favorite chair and to her walker seat. That is not to say you should not listen to their concerns, validate their feelings and offer to help with things when you are able, but when you find them obsessing, then it is helpful to have a small advance list of more pleasant things to discuss and to aid you in diverting them a bit.

Be as reassuring as you can. Sometimes you will need to remind and to reorient. This is probably hard on you emotionally but it is often helpful.  Don’t give a lot of choices, just as you would not give a small child too many, as this can be overwhelming, but at the same time, try not to treat your parent like a child.  Even someone with moderate dementia can sense his or her own decline and your disrespect, or what they interpret as disrespect.

If you can’t personally make a cake or cupcake or sing a song, is there someone near your parent whom you can enlist to do it?  It does take extra effort to do such things but the pleasure it brings to you and to your parent will make it worthwhile.  How about calling and singing a favorite song, even if it is quite off-key?  Just be sure to identify yourself clearly before you begin

Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother

Many times, we get so caught up in purchasing the perfect gift, as with most holidays, we forget that Mother’s Day should be about celebrating and honoring your mother. As a result, we at Elder Depot decided to focus some time on creating a small list to help you bring some happiness to your mother’s life and create a memory together. And the best part is that the items in this list will not cost you any money!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time out to show that you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day
  1. Have lunch or dinner together. I hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come. If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together.
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

Memorial Day Schedule 2010

In observance of the Memorial Day Holiday, our offices will be closed on Monday, May 31st. Orders placed after 1:00pm EST on Friday, May 28th and over the holiday weekend will ship on Tuesday, June 1st.

Our secure online ordering system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for your shopping convenience.

From all of us at Elder Depot,

We wish you a happy and safe holiday.

How to Get the Most Life out of your Adult Bibs

All cloth will eventually grow worn and need to be replaced. Tough adult bibs, even those that are machine washable and dryable, will eventually need to be replaced but there are things you can do to help them last longer!

Caring Instructions for Adult Bibs

  1. Do not use fabric softener, while this makes the bib softer and fluffier it actually reduces its absorption.
  2. Always dry bibs on a Low Heat setting to avoid extra wear and tear; air dry when you can.
  3. The hotter the water, the more wear and tear on the bib. Wash bibs in Cold Water, modern detergents are designed to clean fabric even without hot water.
  4. Launder bibs only when you need to, this will cut back on wear and tear.

This is an excerpt from AdultBibs.net, an informative webpage sponsored by Elder Depot.

Aging and Malnutrition

Proper Nutrition is essential for physical, social, and psychological well-being. Disturbingly, numerous studies show that malnutrition is common among the elderly. Essential Vitamin and Mineral deficiency plague many older adults. Another common problem is diminished calorie intake that leaves older adults without the energy their body needs to fully function.

There are many reasons that older adults are more susceptible to malnutrition, some common causes are listed below.

  • Diminishing Sense of Taste and Smell
  • Inability to Chew
  • Medication Interference
  • Depression
  • Income Restrictions
  • Inability to Shop or Cook
  • Physical and Mental Illness

If you are a caregiver for a family member who may not be receiving adequate calories or nutrition to stay healthy, there are ways to help.

  • Periodically inspect their refrigerator and cupboards to determine if adequate food is available.
  • Assist with preparing meals and leave enough for easy to re-heat leftovers.
  • Provide Nutritional Supplements between meals, such as Nestle Carnation Instant Breakfast Drinks (check with your physician before changing or altering dietary intakes)
  • A more “taste-enticing” option may be to offer Boost Nutritional Pudding Cups, available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Butterscotch flavors.
  • Meals on Wheels”: A non-profit organization that delivers home-cooked meals during the day for those aged 60+ who require assistance. To find out more information on this service and locate a meals-on-wheels provider in your area, please visit their web site at www.mowaa.org.

Hospital Sheet Buying Guide

There are many types of hospital sheets available for a variety of hospital beds.  How do you choose the best one?  Below is a comprehensive list of things to consider before purchasing your hospital sheets.

Woven Hospital Sheets  vs.  Knitted Hospital Sheets

The difference between woven hospital sheets and knit hospital sheets is how the fabric is constructed.  Woven sheets are constructed by weaving the yarn in and out in opposite directions.  Knit sheets are constructed of a single strand of yarn that is knitted into rows of loops.

Typically knit hospital sheets have much more elasticity and will stretch while woven hospital sheets will not.  Knit hospital sheets are also softer, thicker, and much warmer than woven sheets, which may be desired during colder months or in colder climates.  However, knit sheets are also prone to pinholes, snags or runners that once started, can continually worsen with use and laundering and extend throughout the sheet.  Woven sheets are much less likely to have this issue.   Determining which sheet will work best for your situation can be left up to a matter of preference.

Comparison of Hospital Sheets – Quality Ranking for Softness & Durability

Woven Fabrics

Contrary to popular belief, the fabric content of woven sheets does not have as much to do with “softness” and “durability” of the sheet as the thread count.  The higher the thread count, the more soft and durable the sheets will be.  Thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

Muslin

Most hospital sheets are made from a lower-end T130 (or 130-thread count) muslin, which is quite standard within the healthcare industry.  Muslin sheets are constructed of loosely woven cotton or poly blended cotton fabric and are typically listed at the bottom of the quality spectrum for softness and durability.  These sheets are usually quite thin and if held up to a light, the light will be able to shine through fairly easily.  A typical Muslin sheet will withstand approximately 75-100 institutional launderings.  These hospital sheets are generally less expensive and work well for many institutions; however, they are not as soft and will not last as long as the alternative higher quality percale hospital sheets.

Percale

Percale hospital sheets are constructed of a T180 (or 180-thread count) and are similar to the quality of standard sheets you will find at your local home store for regular sized home beds.  They are typically 100% cotton or made of a blended poly/cotton.   A typical poly/cotton blended percale hospital sheet will withstand approximately 160-180 institutional launderings.   Percale hospital sheets will almost always be softer and much more durable then their lower quality muslin counterparts.

Be sure to check which thread count you are purchasing before buying your woven hospital sheets!  A good place to buy higher quality T180 (or 180-thread count) percale hospital sheets is Elder Depot.

Knitted Sheets

There are 3 common types of knit hospital sheets within the healthcare market.  Jersey knit and Interlock knit are the more common types found; however, pique knit is gaining ground due to its ability to reduce runners from snags while in use or laundering.

Knitted hospital sheets are popular for many reasons.  They will stretch 20-35%, which allows Knitted Fitted sheets to remain in place when hospital beds are raised and lowered so the corners do not slip off.  They are more breathable and softer out of the package and do not require several launderings to “break them in” as can sometimes be the case with muslin or percale sheets.  Knitted sheets are also well known for their ability to deter wrinkling, although this only applies when the sheet is stretched fully!  Knit fitted sheets may be a good option if “skin shear” is an issue (more about this issue below).

Knitted sheet quality is not rated by thread count, instead they are rated by the weight of their fabric. This is because knitted sheets are “knitted” and not woven.  The higher the weight of the knit sheet (typically measured in ounces), the more thick, soft, and durable the sheets will be.  They can be constructed of a number of different natural or synthetic materials, including cotton, polyester, rayon, etc.  Knitted hospital sheets are typically made from cotton or cotton/poly material and most commonly sold as a bottom fitted sheets, which takes full advantage of the stretching ability of the fabric.

Jersey Knitted

Jersey knit is similar to the fabric found in most standard T-shirts.  Jersey knit hospital sheets are usually constructed of a light to medium weight single knit that can be expected to stretch about 20-25%.  The knitting process creates very fine vertical lines (marking the top of the sheet) on one side and a horizontal grain on the other (facing toward the mattress).  The sheet will feel slightly softer and smoother on the top side, but in general will be soft and smooth to the touch.  The only disadvantages to jersey knit may be the durability.  Over time, with many launderings, jersey knit sheets are more prone to snags, runners, or thinning of the fabric and the fabric can become over-stretched as its elasticity diminishes.

Interlock Knitted.

Interlock knit is constructed of a light to medium weight knit fabric that is a more resilient knit by forming a knot at the juncture of the threads to help prevent runs and resist pin-holes.  Interlock knit sheets can also be constructed of a variety of fabrics and generally have a more natural and higher stretching ability from 25-35%.  The Interlock Knit hospital sheets are also different from the jersey knit as they will be typically be thicker and both sides of the sheet will look and feel the same.

Pique Knitted

Pique is a method of knitting that creates a fine, textured mesh surface.  This softly textured knit provides maximum protection from snags and runs, while remaining soft on the skin.   The appearance of a pique knit fitted sheet is similar to that of a waffle weave.  This is becoming more popular in the healthcare industry due to its greater durability while still remaining soft on the user’s skin.

Hospital Sheets & Skin Shear

Considerations for Those at Risk of Skin Shear

Skin Shear can be a common risk factor for those confined to a hospital bed, especially individuals who are unable to change positions without assistance. Skin shear from hospital bedding occurs when the skin rubs against bedding materials causing friction which can result in redness, irritation and possible sores.  This is different than bed sores or pressure ulcers, as skin shear does not interrupt blood flow, but rather diminishes circulation to the tissue, which in turn damages the skin and blood vessels.  In more basic terms, this is when an individual’s body moves, but their skin remains fixed to the bed sheet, which results in friction that causes skin shear.

Skin shear can develop from a number of causes, including the repositioning or moving of a person by dragging across the fabric of the fitted hospital sheet as opposed to actually lifting the person with a draw sheet.  In addition, when individuals use their heels or elbows to reposition themselves, this can contribute to and cause skin shear.  When skin shear causes exterior skin breakdown and is coupled with the presence of moisture, urine or feces, this could be a breeding ground for more serious skin conditions.

The hospital bedding you choose can help with the deterrence of skin irritation.  If this is a factor in your consideration of hospital sheets, you should consider purchasing fitted sheets that provide a more soft and breathable material, such as knit fitted sheets. These types of sheets are less likely to bunch up underneath the user, which can lead to skin irritation or breakdown and will be slightly less abrasive than woven hospital sheets.  The more breathable knit system can also help to reduce the allowance of moisture that can get trapped in the bedding.

While using knit fitted hospital sheets may help to reduce skin shear or skin breakdown, you always want to be sure that bedding is dry to prevent the moist atmosphere that invites skin irritation.  In addition, an individual that is immobile will need to be moved every few hours (at a minimum) to ensure that skin breakdown and pressure ulcers do not develop.  When moving the person, be sure not to drag them (causing friction), rather use a draw sheet to move the individual by lifting them.

Sizing for Hospital Sheets

How to choose the Right Size Hospital Sheets for Your Hospital Bed

A standard size hospital bed mattress is 36” wide x 80” long.  There are also special hospital beds that provide different size mattresses.  For example, a Bariatric hospital bed (supporting users over 500 lbs) can have widths measuring from 42” wide up to 60” wide.  In addition, certain model hospital beds provide for additional length and can have mattresses measuring up to 84” long.  The best way to determine the appropriate size for your hospital fitted sheets is by actually measuring your hospital mattress (width x length).

It is also important to take into consideration the depth of the mattress.  Most woven muslin and percale fitted hospital sheets will accommodate mattress with depths of up to 9”.  Whereas, a Knit Fitted Sheet will generally accommodate thicker mattresses up to 12” or hospital mattresses that have air pressure overlays, especially due to their stretching ability.   Since most fitted hospital sheets are contoured with elastic corners, they will be able to accommodate depths “less than” what is shown on their dimension.  For example a 36” x 80” x 12” fitted hospital sheet will still fit on a hospital mattress measuring 36” x 80” x 7”.

Standard Mattress Size Measurements

  • Basic Hospital Mattress: 36” x 80”
  • Basic Bariatric Hospital Mattress:  42” x 80”
  • Twin Size Hospital Mattress:  39” x 75”
  • Full Size Hospital Mattress:  54” x 75”
  • Queen Size Hospital Mattress:  60” x 80”
  • CA King Size Hospital Mattress:  72” x 84”
  • King Size Hospital Mattress:  76” x 80”

Brighten the Bedroom!  – Go Pastel!

Alternatives to Standard White Hospital Sheets – Pastel Colors

Most hospital sheets in the healthcare marketplace are standard white.  This is definitely practical if you will need to bleach the sheets on a regular basis for cleaning.  However, don’t be afraid to spice things up and bring some color into the bedroom – even if just for special occasions.  Hospital sheets are not just available in the same boring white, they are also available in a wide variety of pastel colors and designs!  Check out the fashionable designs!

Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother

Many times, we get so caught up in purchasing the perfect gift, as with most holidays, we forget that Mother’s Day should be about celebrating and honoring your mother. As a result, we at Elder Depot decided to focus some time on creating a small list to help you bring some happiness to your mother’s life and create a memory together. And the best part is that the items in this list will not cost you any money!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time out to show that you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day

  1. Have lunch or dinner together.
    If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together.
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

I hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come.

From all of us at Elder Depot, we wish you and your family a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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