Back to School!

September is synonymous with back-to-school time. Long after you’ve graduated, it’s hard not to feel the appeal of the fresh new school year that starts each September. The back-to-school advertisements start (far too early!) in the summer and remind everyone—even those who are not students—that the new school year is fast approaching.

 

With all the anticipation over new school supplies, different classes, reconnecting with old friends, and meeting new teachers, September is tinged with excitement.

 

the back of a yellow school bus

 

For some people though, September comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Those who are squeezed into the sandwich generation can feel the extra pressure that the school year brings.

 

The sandwich generation includes those who are caught between caring for their children, while simultaneously providing care to their ageing parents.  Those feeling the crunch in September are likely even members of the club-sandwich generation: mothers who have young children at home who are providing help to their parents and their grandparents at the same time.

 

Club sandwich members are lucky enough to be in families who have four living generations at the same time.  Their young children are the youngest generation, the hectic mother is the second youngest.  The grandmother may be in her 60’s or 70’s and the great-grandmother in her 80’s or 90’s.

 

The young mother is caught between raising her young children, getting them out the door on the first day of school and being there for them when they step off the bus at the end of the day and also helping her mother to care for the elderly great-grandmother whose needs have suddenly increased.

 

September may represent a time of excitement and fresh beginnings for many people, but for this sandwich generation young mother, it may mean increased stress and an even more hectic schedule as she’s attempting to ferry children to after school activities, help with homework, and also deliver meals to her nanna across town.

 

Those in the throes of the club sandwich generation need support to manage the needs of so many generations at once.  The help can take many different forms—extended family and friends, a nanny for childcare, a driver to chauffer children to all their activities, or a caregiver to support great-grandmother Nanna.

 

A professional caregiver can provide the support that Nanna needs, while also alleviating pressure off the young mother who is hoping to get her children’s school year off to a good start. September can be a time of exciting new beginnings for Nanna too!  She can look forward to meeting friendly caregivers who will become new friends. 

 

Who in your family or circle of friends might benefit from the back-to-school excitement of September by engaging the support of a professional caregiver?

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3 Risks of Dehydration

Do you drink enough water?

There are differing recommendations as to just how much water you should drink daily….half your body weight in ounces, one litre for every 50lbs of body weight, 8 glasses per day, etc.  Regardless of which recommendation you ascribe to, the message is that it is important to remain hydrated and consistently drink enough water each day.

 

The recommendation to drink water does not expire as we age.  In fact, it may well become even more critical as we age! Seniors need adequate fluid intake as much or more as their counterparts.  There are a few key reasons why dehydration can have an even more severe impact on the elderly than on younger people.

 

3 water glasses on a table

Falls Risk

Being dehydrated can lead to feeling dizzy or lightheaded.  While a young person may be able to stumble and quickly regain their balance, an elderly person may feel lightheaded and stumble, but not catch themselves and suffer a fall. Falls are a serious risk among the elderly, and dehydration is a risk factor for falls.

 

Most seniors know someone who has suffered a fall and then had severe mobility impairments afterwards. No one wants a fractured hip!  While it may seem extreme, failing to drink water increases the risk of falling, which can lead to fractures and reduced mobility. It’s not a risk worth taking—so drink up!

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

If someone is not drinking enough, it also means they are not voiding as frequently either, and that can allow bacteria to accumulate in the urinary tract.  More frequent urination can flush out bacteria before it has the opportunity to grow.

 

UTI are particularly risky in the elderly since they present differently than in young people. When a young person has a UTI, they become acutely aware of burning pain and the need to urinate almost constantly. Those symptoms often do not present in the elderly.

 

Instead, sometimes the first symptom of a UTI in the elderly can be extreme confusion or delirium.  In such cases, an antibiotic can treat the UTI, but the delirium or confusion can take quite a while to clear.  Delirium can be highly stressful for the person who is delirious; it is also very tough on family members. There’s a high risk of hospitalization associated with delirium and UTIs.

Bladder Incontinence

Speaking of bladder health, drinking water is one of the best ways to maintain bladder health and retain urinary continence.

 

Many seniors limit their fluid intake as a way to limit their trips to the bathroom. What they don’t realize is that this strategy may backfire on them.  Our bladders can hold quite a bit of liquid, but only if that liquid is diluted.  If you drink lots of water, the toxins from your kidneys are highly diluted because there’s lots of water flushing through.  If, however, you’re dehydrated from limiting fluid intake the fluid passing through the kidneys becomes highly concentrated.

 

Concentrated urine irritates the bladder and initiates the urge to urinate frequently. Drinking more water to dilute the urine will allow the bladder to hold more and need to be emptied less frequently.  No one wants to lose continence or bladder control and failing to drink enough increases the risk of bladder incontinence.

 

It’s not a risk worth taking—so drink up!

 

It’s never too late to start good hydration habits!  It’s a healthy-living habit that we can all aim to improve together. Encourage your senior loved ones to drink more water, and set an example by increasing your own fluid intake.

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