Isolation and the Older Adult by Kathy Spence

May 16, 2016

Sad older woman










Recently much has been said about “sitting being the new smoking” when it comes to health risks.  For our senior population another risk has been well known in anecdotal form, but much less well documented.  That is the inherent risk associated with social isolation as it relates to chronic depression.  According to the National Institute on Health, frequent feelings of loneliness are linked to higher rates of infection, cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, depression, morbidity and mortality.  This risk is magnified among our older population as they are facing retirement and a perceived loss of self as well as health limitations and possibly disabilities limiting their mobility and ability to do all of the things they want to do.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Older adults, in particular, have shown an ability to thrive with a minimal level of social connectedness.  Even a small social network, church activities, volunteering, visits with family, etc. can bring a level of satisfaction much greater than the lack of same can lead to health issues, particularly depression.  However, this is not a “one size fits all” resolution.  Some folks are happy with little outside contact while others crave more activity.    This is the difference between actual social disconnectedness and perceived isolation.  One elder who appears to be socially disconnected may, in fact, thrive on a certain level of contented solitude.  Another apparently active senior may feel unsupported and not intimate in their relationships and actually perceive themself as isolated.  Ask your older loved one the following questions; “How often do you feel that you lack companionship?” “How often do you feel left out?” and “How often do you feel isolated from others?”  Their answers will be very telling.


Sad older man










So what do we do?  First and foremost, you must know the senior adult that you are concerned about.  Not just know who they are and what their physical needs are, but know them as a person.  What do they enjoy, who do they enjoy time with, what would a perfect day look like to this individual?  Now, how do we get them there?  What resources are available to the elder and their family? What is reasonable and sustainable?  For instance, if regular family time is what your senior craves, is it possible to have a standing date every week, every month, whatever works for you and your family?  If church and activities revolving around church is enjoyable, does the church have transportation available or any kind of outreach program for those at home?  If regular exercise is what’s most enjoyable, a walk can do wonders and can be done with a “buddy” for companionship and safety.  Senior centers are often a viable option and can best be approached on a temporary basis with enough time allowed for the elder to build friendships and enjoy the socialization.  Following are a few more suggestions:

*  Courses in the following, often leading to clubs or informal gatherings to do same; Cooking, Crafting, Computer/Internet, Bird-Watching, Gardening, or any other new activity.

*  Volunteering; opportunities abound across many areas of need; hospitals, churches, schools, public service organizations, also check with your local United Way.

*  Exercise programs geared specifically towards the older adult; check with your local YMCA, Office of Aging, or Senior Centers, as well as Health Clubs in your area.

The possibilities are really endless if approached from a position of what can we do, instead of what the senior is no longer able to do.  At PA HOME CARE we are happy to help in any way that we can.  We’re available by the hour or by the day and anything in between.                                                                                                                    grandparentslrg

Call us today and let’s talk @ (717) 464-2006.

PA HOME CARE of Lancaster;

“With Hearts and Hands, We Care”,

about you and the elder loved one in your life.




Aging, Nutrition, Diabetes – What I’ve Seen by Ashley Gonzalez

May 3, 2016

ashley edit Ashley Gonzalez for PA HOME CARE of Lancaster 

Growing up I knew my grandmother had diabetes, but I never really understood what that meant. I mean I knew she and my grandfather had to watch how much sugar they ate, and had to monitor their sugar levels throughout the day. But wasn’t that just something that the elderly people had to do? Didn’t most people get diabetes when they got older? It wasn’t until my grandmother began to have kidney failure that I began to understand just what was happening in her body, and why.

You see, my grandmother grew up on a farm; they grew most of their food and ate a simple diet. Most of which was farm to table. However, as the times changed, her own family began to grow, and more processed foods became available, her diet changed. My grandmother had five children, four boys and my mom. Feeding a growing family with growing appetites on a budget that didn’t grow as fast as the family required some creativity. At the same time things like Wonder Bread and Bologna and American cheese were readily available, and cheap. Lets not forget Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise makes everything taste better, right? These ingredients were combined to create a staple sandwich in my grandmother’s house when my mom was growing up. Another staple was canned food. Canned food was an affordable way to keep food available without having to worry about it going bad before you can use it.  However, these foods are all high in sodium, fat, and sugar. They are also not filled with many nutrients like vitamins and minerals. After a while of eating this way, the body begins to break down. It cannot do what it is supposed to do without the necessary fuel.

As an illustration, lets say you go to the gas station and your car is supposed to take premium gasoline. It has all the ‘nutrients’ your car needs to run smoothly and efficiently. However, instead of premium you Car Warning Lightsdecided that the regular is cheaper and more appealing, so you fill up your car.  What you may not think about is how after a few weeks and months of feeding your car the wrong type of gasoline, your car begins to run more slowly, and less efficiently. Suddenly, the lights on your dash begin to blink, warning you that if something doesn’t change things will only get worse.

It’s the same with our bodies and food. Our bodies are designed to need certain micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, and macronutrients such as carbs, proteins, and fats. The food naturally available to us is designed to meet those needs. However, the American diet is full of processed foods, which are high in calories but low in nutritional value. So what does that mean? It means that the food we are choosing to eat does not have the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients our bodies need to run smoothly. Instead, it has high fat and sugar content to make it taste good and last longer.  When we choose to put the wrong kinds of foods into our bodies, or too much of a certain category of food in our bodies, the warning lights begin to blink: achy joints, inflammation, fatigue, dull skin, weak hair and nails. These are all signs that our diets are lacking something.  And if something doesn’t change, it will get worse. In my grandmother’s case, when she was diagnosed with diabetes, she didn’t really change her diet. She had to go on medication and add things like sugar monitoring to her daily lifestyle, but she didn’t change the one thing that could have helped her the most.

Frank and Mary Later, when her kidneys began to fail, she was strongly urged by the doctor to change her diet. She cut back significantly on her sodium intake, and paid closer attention to how much sugar she ate and cooked with. For a woman who’s pies have won contest and whose home was always filled with some combination of cookies and cake or pies, this was not an easy adjustment; but it was necessary.  For my grandmother, these changes were too little too late, but that doesn’t have to be my story, or yours. Not all disease is preventable, but if you can help your body be strong enough to fight off what it can, wouldn’t you want to?

Even if you don’t have diabetes, chances are you know someone who does and can appreciate how important diet really is. If diabetes runs in your family, you are doing yourself a great favor to start paying attention to what you eat now, instead of when you have no choice.

Here are a few recipes from the American Diabetes Association website. This website has great tools to help you understand what you are putting in your body with the recipes they provide. When you click on a recipe you would like to try, the website not only provides the ingredient and instructions, but also the nutrition facts. Remember, even if you don’t have diabetes, it is still important for you to be aware of what you are eating. Your body is designed to heal it self and with the right fuel, you can help to delay and prevent disease today.

Quick Gluten Free Recipe:

Apricot Glazed Chicken

Get a sweet taste of spring with this baked chicken recipe! Pair this with brown rice and corn on the cob for the perfect spring/summer meal!

Apricot Glazed Chicken

For the complete list of ingredients and instructions, click the link below:

Slow Cooker Recipe:

Hawaiian Pork Tacos

Short on time this week? Throw this in the crock-pot in the morning and by dinner time you have a delicious and nutritious meal! Add your favorite taco toppings like tomatoes, beans, onions, lettuce, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, or cilantro for a fun family dinner!

Hawaiian Pork Tacos

For the complete list of ingredients and instructions, click the link below:

Budget-Friendly Recipe:

Miso Glazed Cod

This recipe combines stir-fried vegetables and perfectly broiled cod fillets for a mouth-watering dinner in under 30 minutes! Try substituting the cabbage and snow peas for your favorite stir fry vegetables for an Asian inspired dinner that is sure to please the whole family!

 Miso Glazed Cod

For the complete list of ingredients and instructions, click the link below:


Ashley Gonzalez is writing for PA HOME CARE of Lancaster.  She lives in northern Pennsylvania with her husband Rich and their two beautiful daughters, Alana and Elise.  We look forward to more interesting and thoughtful articles from her.  She brings a wealth of personal knowledge as well as a degree in medical studies from Liberty University.


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