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      Mental Health and Aging: 5 Keys to Emotional Wellness

      Mental Health and Aging: 5 Keys to Emotional Wellness

      Mental health and wellness is important at every stage of life. It’s a fact, as we get older, our risk for mental health issues increases. Life changes and health issues can significantly impact mental health and wellness, in turn, affecting quality of life. However, mental health problems are not a normal part of aging. Symptoms of a problem can sometimes be misunderstood or even go unrecognized, especially in older persons.

      With October’s focus in mental health, it’s a perfect time to talk about mental health, aging and what you can do to keep yourself or your loved one well.

      Some of the facts about mental health in seniors might surprise you.

      • More than Alzheimer’s and dementia, depression is the most common mental health issue that seniors face.
      • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 1 and 5% of seniors who live at home have depression.1
      • For seniors who require home health services or are in assisted living, the rate of depression is about 14%.1
      • If you or your loved one has a chronic health issue, the risk for depression increases significantly.

      Depression is much more than just “the blues”. We all have days that we just feel melancholy, kind of blah or even sad. Depression is a more pervasive sadness that can affect not just your mood but your physical health and ability to function in your daily life.

      Some of the symptoms of depression2 can include:

      • A persistent sad mood
      • Changes in appetite (eating more or eating less)
      • Changes in sleep (too much or too little);early morning awakening
      • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
      • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
      • Fatigue or lack of energy or interest
      • Increased irritability
      • Forgetfulness
      • Thoughts of suicide
      • Physical ailments (e.g., aches and pains, GI distress) that have no medical cause or don’t get better even with treatment

      This is not a complete list. Depression is a complex disorder that can look differently from one person to another. To complicate matters, we are in general not very good about asking for help. This is especially true as we age. We want to handle things ourselves. Asking for help can feel like we’re losing that independence we value so much. 

      The good news is, depression is treatable, often with medication and counseling. Believe it or not, lifestyle has also been shown to play a key role in mental health and wellness. There are things you and your loved one can do to stave off depression and encourage feelings of well-being and happiness.

      Five Keys to Emotional Wellness

      1. Have a Conversation

      When you’re not ok, it can be hard to ask for help. Sometimes people don’t know they’re not doing ok. Others might hide or minimize their struggle.

      If you’re concerned about your loved one, it’s ok to gently ask questions. Ask about their sleep. Ask how they’re feeling. Ask about their day and what they’ve been up to. Ask and then listen. If it sounds like they’re struggling, offer love and offer help.

      If you’re struggling, reach out to a loved one or trusted friend. They may not know you need help. We’re good at minimizing our feelings and needs, remember? Sometimes just making that connection is the first step to healing.

      2. Encourage Social Engagement

      One of the most important things seniors can do is to stay socially connected to friends and family. In fact, social connectedness has been shown to have a number of protective benefits especially in later years. People who are socially active tend to live longer, have fewer health issues and report feeling happier.

      Staying connected can get harder as we age or deal with health issues.

      • Encourage visits to family and friends. If they need help getting there, offer to take them or help to arrange transportation.
      • Community events can be a great way to make connections with peers and make new friends.
      • Your local senior center may organize group outings.

      The important thing is to make those social connections and make them often. 

      3. Create a Sense of Purpose

      Purpose is what gets us up in the morning. It gives us a reason to be up and moving. As we mature, we have to deal with inevitable changes. Purpose fulfills our need to be useful. Too much unfilled time is an invitation for brooding and isolation.

      • Encourage your loved one to engage in something they enjoy or find fulfilling. Maybe they have (or had) a favorite hobby.
      • Consider volunteering at a favorite charity or community program.
      • Give them a small task or chore – tend to a plant, help care for the family pet.

      Sometimes even the smallest task can instill a tremendous sense of pride and purpose. Those feelings are powerful deterrents to depression.

      4. Stay Active

      Being physically active has been shown to have significant benefits as we age. Exercise promotes physical fitness. But there’s more: physical activity has profound effects on mental and emotional well-being. Help your loved one find gentle, age- and ability-appropriate ways to stay active.

      Activities walking or swimming can accommodate almost every ability. Exercise classes such as yoga or tai chi can provide activity while also encouraging social engagement, another key to mental health and well-being.

      5. Show Your Love

      As their independence diminishes, caring for your loved one can feel like a full-time job. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we forget the “I love you’s”.

      Feeling loved and cared for are essential to one’s emotional well-being. Take time to express your love. Tell them you love them. And hug them.

      Loving touch is one of the most powerful ways we can show someone we love them. And, hugging has other benefits too. Hugging has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve memory. Why? When you hug someone, their body releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone associated with social interaction, emotional bonding and closeness. Feeling loved and emotionally connected is a powerful protector against depression.

      At Classy Pal, we want you and your loved one to live life well and to the fullest. We are proud to make products that support an independent and active lifestyle. If you find that your loved one is struggling, know that help is available. Your healthcare provider can help you locate mental health resources in your area.

      To learn more about depression and mental health issues, you can visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s website at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

      If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

       

       

      References

      1. Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. (2019, June 7). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm

      2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC:Author.

      On The Road: Six of the Best Items to Be In Every Savvy Traveler’s Bag

      On The Road: Six of the Best Items to Be In Every Savvy Traveler’s Bag

      Fall is here and the holidays are just around the corner. Holidays are some of the busiest travel times of the year. Terminals are crowded. Traffic is congested. Seems like everyone is on the road headed somewhere to celebrate.

      Traveling is already stressful. When you or a loved one has some age or illness-related issues, traveling can present some unique challenges. Sometimes, those challenges seem so daunting that travel becomes something of a memory. The good news is, travel is possible even with some adaptive needs and often, there are ways to reunite loved ones to create new memories.

      The key to managing travel with special needs is planning and preparation. Know what the challenges are likely to be. Have a plan. Have the right supplies or aids with you. Here are six of the best carry-on travel items that should be in every savvy traveler’s bag this season:

      Travel pillows

      Yes, those U-shaped neck pillows look silly but silly is a small price to pay for comfort. Sitting in a confining seat for an extended time can be uncomfortable. A neck pillow can alleviate that stiff neck that travelers often experience and might even help you catch a nice nap because of the added head support. A small travel pillow can pad those tender spots that take the stress like the lower back. These pillows are easy to pack too.

      Travel Size Blanket

      When you’re traveling, you can’t always control the temperature. If you know you or your loved one tends to get chilly on long rides or flights, toss a small travel blanket in your travel bag. You’ll be able to warm up when you need to and have a snuggly blanket in case you decide to take a nap. You can also dress in light layers to adjust as you need to be comfy.

      Mealtime Aids

      Travel usually means eating on a plane or in an unfamiliar place. This can be super stressful when you or your loved one has some challenges at mealtime. Take some of the stress out of mealtimes by bringing along familiar aids like a Classy Pal adult bib. Knowing you can eat without worry let’s your loved one eat comfortably while discreetly avoiding soiling their clothes. With just the right styling to fit any situation, you’ll all feel confident and secure no matter where you are headed. Depending on your mode of travel, you might even be able to bring along familiar utensils and such. Definitely ask!

      Snacks

      Layovers and delays are unpredictable and can be quite lengthy. Your food choices may be limited. Carry a snack in your travel bag just in case you and your loved one find yourselves with a long delay. Having a healthy option is especially important for someone who as dietary restrictions or health issues that require timed meals. Knowing you have appropriate snacks can make the delay a little more tolerable.

      Medications

      When packing, it is easy to forget to pack medications. Before you go, check to make sure you have enough medication to last the trip especially if you are going out-of-state or out of the country. Know when and how medications should be taken. If you’re not sure, check with the doctor before you go and put a small reminder note in your bag or on your phone. With time zone changes, getting medication timing right can be tricky. Consider adding a medication reminder app to your phone. And, always keep medications in the carry-on bag. If you’re delayed, you can’t get to your checked luggage.

      Hygiene Kit

      Delays can also mean a long time between showers. You want to be able to freshen up but sometimes bathing isn’t an option. And, depending on restrictions, you may not be able to bring multiple bottles of product. One great solution is adult-sized body wipes. These are not those tiny hand wipes. These are large, moist towelettes made just for adults. Other things to consider packing in your carry-on include a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb or brush and yes, even a change of undies. It’s the little things that can make us feel not so travel-weary. You can clean up comfortably and feel refreshed while you’re waiting to continue your journey.

      Traveling during the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. By packing with comfort in mind, you and your loved one can travel comfortably and confidently. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you can handle any situation that arises and you can look forward to spending time with those you love.

      Don’t Miss A Moment: 3 Tips for Marking Special Occasions

      Don’t Miss A Moment: 3 Tips for Marking Special Occasions

      Life is full of moments…some are just the day-to-day passing of time. Other moments, however, are those that become cherished memories of loved ones and the things we’ve done with them. They are the tapestry that is our life.

      When a loved one begins to struggle due to illness or even just the effects of aging, we start to worry. How much time do we still have? Is everything going to change now? Is there time to still do what we want to do with them?

      And make no mistake, your loved one is noticing and worrying too. Will I be able to stay independent? Will I still be able to spend time with my family and friends? Is there still time to do what I want to do with them?

      When it comes to making memories, it’s the little things that turn out to be the big things.  Marking special occasions, especially with our aging or ailing loved ones, takes on special meaning.  With a little planning and a little creativity, you can spend time with your loved ones and make memories that will last a lifetime.

      Not sure where to start? Check out our tips for tips for marking special occasions!

      Start a Memory Box

      It’s the little things…a smile, a photo, a seashell. It’s a hundred little items that we collect over a lifetime. They evoke memories of times gone by. Instead of searching through drawers for “that photo”, why not start a memory box? A memory box is a loving place to store those little mementos that you and your loved one cherish.  You can buy a pre-made box or you can put your unique design on one. The important thing is to have a special place to store precious mementos so that you and your loved ones can mark your special moments and reminisce about those lovely days.

      Say Cheese!

      Some families are prolific picture takers. Others are not. As time goes on, photos often become cherished mementos of happy times spent with those we love. When we’re not feeling our best, it’s easy to refuse or avoid a picture. If you see your loved one avoiding pictures, be supportive and encouraging. Have a conversation. Hear them. Maybe taking a funny photo is more their style or eases the uneasiness.

      Another thing to consider: is your loved one feeling included? Sometimes when a loved one is less mobile, it’s easy to overlook that they might need some assistance getting into the frame. They might not want to “be a bother” and won’t ask. Be proactive. Invite them to participate and offer help. Let them take some of the pictures. You never know what that lens will capture.

      Honor the Milestones

      When life is busy and we’re tasked with care-giving, it can be easy to overlook the milestones and achievements, big and small. Maybe your loved one has a milestone birthday. Maybe someone is celebrating completion of chemotherapy. Maybe your loved one was able to walk without a walker today. Maybe you were able to reunite with old friends at your favorite restaurant. Life is full of these moments that sometimes mobility worries or illness can impede. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate each achievement no matter how big or small. They all matter.

      One of the things that keeps people from marking occasions is trouble with mobility or issues related to aging or an illness. Things like being able to navigate a venue, eat without spilling or even hold their fork can leave them feeling insecure about attending.

      Here at Classy Pal, we value family and want to do our part to keep your loved one engaged and present at all those special moments. We recognize that worries about being able to feel comfortable and confident can be a barrier to joining in on those special moments with family and friends. With a complete line of sophisticated, comfortable and attractive bibs for adults, your loved one can attend those events and feel confident that life’s little spills won’t matter. At Classypal.com, you’ll find a style just right for your loved one’s special occasion.

      With a little planning and attention, your loved one can be present at all of life’s special moments. Less worry means more enjoyment for all.

      Fun for All: 5 Tips to Discreetly Manage Eating Issues So You Don’t Miss A Thing

      Fun for All: 5 Tips to Discreetly Manage Eating Issues So You Don’t Miss A Thing

      One of the most important ways we mark important occasions is with a celebration. And in most cultures, celebrations include food. Even funerals in many cultures include a gathering of loved ones that usually includes food.

      Food is more than just providing sustenance. Food is part of our culture, our heritage, our family rituals and very much part of the way we show and receive love and comfort. So, what happens when participating in those beloved rituals becomes difficult? Is there a way to discreetly manage eating issues?

      It’s no surprise that as we (and loved ones) age or become more limited due to an illness or injury, it can become harder to do the things we used to take for granted. It gets harder to get out and about. It can become harder to eat and drink. Even getting dressed for a day out can become a chore. The result is missed family gatherings and missed opportunities for socializing with friends and loved ones. The result is isolation.

      Staying active and involved with our family and friends is vital to both physical and emotional well-being. In fact, seniors who are socially involved tend to report more satisfaction with their lives and tend to be healthier than their less engaged peers. And, simply being with friends and loved ones just boosts our mood and makes us feel good.

      If you find yourself or a loved one avoiding gatherings and events due to eating issues, don’t despair. With a little planning you CAN attend those events, feel confident and enjoy the time with your family and friends.

      Q & A

      You may have noticed your loved one not attending functions quite as often as before. You may have seen them struggling with mealtimes or with getting around comfortably. You may not quite know what the issue is but you want to help. Or it may be you struggling.

      It’s OK to ask and it’s OK to share. Expect they might be just a bit embarrassed or avoid answering right away. Facing the changes in independence that age or illness can bring may be hard to admit.

      Sometimes, a simple, “What can I do to make the experience easier for you” can mean so much. They may not know that there are tips and tools and workarounds that can make the difference between missing out and enjoying the time spent with family.

      Gently offer to help them choose the right tool and accommodations. They may not know that things like adult adaptive utensils, adult bibs and other items are available. They may assume they will look childish. They may not know that family members are there to help and want to spend time with them. Sometimes all it takes is someone to reach out.

      Check Out the Venue

      If possible, get some information in advance about where you’ll be. Is it a relaxed, informal gathering like a backyard BBQ or is it a formal sit-down dinner in a fancy restaurant? Knowing in advance where you’ll be can help when you’re planning.

      For example, if it is a fancy sit-down meal, you may need to coordinate seating with your host. Sometimes sitting at the end of a table is helpful if assistance with utensils is needed. Do you need to bring things like a folding table or adaptive utensils? Those plastic forks are hard to hold.

      If it’s a backyard, is it easily accessible? How easy will moving about be? Are there steps to navigate? Where are the restrooms if a clean-up is needed? Things that many folks take for granted become important to know when planning for a meal out.

      Dress in Style

      Don’t worry about spillage. Classy Pal has you covered! Encourage your loved one (or you) to dress for the event you’ll be attending. If it’s a formal dinner, don’t be afraid to dress in your finest. Having some adaptive needs doesn’t mean you cannot dress in a way that makes you feel sophisticated and confident.

      If you have some worries about spilling, make sure you take along a bib. Not just any old bib but one made especially for adults. Classy Pal bibs for adults are made with the mature, sophisticated adult in mind. You can choose from styles to go with any outfit from comfy casual to formal. Friends will all want to know where they can get that fabulous accessory!

      Create Comfort

      Sometimes, going out in public – even just to a relative’s home – can be anxiety-provoking. The “what if’s” start whirling around. And they can stop even the most outgoing person in their tracks.

      • “What if” I have some trouble getting around?
      • “What if” people stare at me?
      • “What if” I make a fool of myself?
      • “What if” I need help?

      These concerns are very real and can be very powerful. If your loved one is apprehensive about going to that family dinner or outing with friends, it’s ok to ask what their worries are. Once you know, you can identity things that can alleviate some of those nasty “what if’s”.

      If the event is in a public place or large venue, it may be more comfortable to be seated at a table more along the periphery of the room as opposed to a table smack in the middle of the dining area. That’s nerve-wracking for most people! It’s okay to ask your loved one where they prefer to be seated.

      If the worry is spilling, choose a Classy Pal adult bib for the occasion. Take along any adaptive utensils like plates, cups or cutlery that make mealtime easier. Always choose adaptive items that are made for adults. You want your loved one to feel like the confident and sophisticated adult they are. And, these items are often great conversation pieces and can help to “break the ice” when feeling nervous.

      Another worry is needing help. This can be especially worrisome if the event is more of a public or social event rather than a family event. It can be hard to ask relative strangers for help. Whenever possible, have a designated person who can be available to discreetly lend a hand if needed. They may never be called upon but having someone we know is there can alleviate so much unnecessary worry.

      Have A Plan

      Food, family and fun all go together so seamlessly that it can be easy to overlook the struggle someone may have. If someone you love is routinely missing events, reach out to them. Offer support and let them know you love and value their presence at family functions. Have a plan to include your loved one.

      Having a plan means everyone knows what to expect. You can all relax and enjoy spending time together. If a situation arises or your loved one needs help, it’s all in the plan.

      Maintaining connection to family is one of the most important needs we have especially as we enter our mature years. Remembering and including loved ones just takes a little planning and a little caring. The returns are immeasurable in the time you get to spend together and the memories you will make.

      Home Sweet Home: 5 Tips for a Safe & Accessible Home

      Home Sweet Home: 5 Tips for a Safe & Accessible Home

      One of the things that becomes more important with age is home. Being home. It’s also one of those things that we worry about losing especially when faced with health or mobility challenges.

      We (and our loved ones) want to be in a place that is familiar and comfortable. It also has to be safe.

      No one wants to think that getting older or becoming ill might require that they be placed in a care facility. On the contrary. More and more, people are opting to remain at home with accommodations to the greatest extent possible. Age- or illness-related challenges no longer mean automatic placement. Many challenges can now be safely managed at home.

      And, remaining in one’s home goes well beyond just wanting to be in comfortable, familiar surroundings. Research tells us that people who are able to remain at home with accommodations if needed, tend to report being happier, more content and more optimistic about the challenges they face.

      When home becomes challenging due to issues related to illness or mobility, it’s time to look at the surroundings. There are now so many options for making for a safe and accessible home.

      So, when remaining home is the goal, where do you start? Start here:

      Take a Walk

      Take a walk through the home and start at the entrance. You’re looking for obvious barriers or obstacles that could make navigating the space unsafe or even impossible.

      • Is the entrance accessible?
      • Are there steps that one cannot navigate? Is a ramp required?
      • Are the doors wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair if needed?
      • Are door handles easy to turn?
      • Are there clear pathways between rooms?
      • Are cabinets and appliances within reach?
      • Are there trip and fall hazards like throw rugs, power cords and such?
      • Is the bathroom safe and accessible? Think safety bars, non-slip tub/shower, etc.

      Make Connections

      Living at home can be comforting. It can also be somewhat isolating especially if mobility is limited. Maintaining contacts with family, friends and healthcare providers is essential to both health and well-being. In fact, social connection is one of the most important factors in healthy aging.

      Thanks to technology, there are a number of ways to stay connected to family and friends:

      • Smartphones that are user-friendly
      • Social media apps
      • Video chat like Face Time and Skype

      It’s also important to have a social network. Spend face-to-face time with loved ones. Arrange for visits and outings whenever possible. Attend family functions when possible.

      Prepare for Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)

      Aging and illness can make doing even simple tasks a challenge. Things like bathing, dressing and eating can sometimes require a little creativity and some accommodation.

      Think about the things you (or your loved one) do every day. Are there some things you need a little extra help with? If so, look for tools or different techniques that make daily living tasks easier. Here are a few ideas to consider:

      • Grabbers to reach items easily
      • Adult bibs to help manage spills
      • Adaptive utensils like weighted forks and spoons
      • Button fasteners and zipper pulls
      • Easy grip utensils
      • Shower chairs, bars and bath benches
      • Velcro fasteners

      These are just a few of the many items out there to make your ADL’s easier. If there’s a need, chances are, there’s a tool for that!

      One word of advice: when shopping for assistive tools, be sure to look for tools designed especially for adults. People want to feel respected and dignified. Assistive tools should be supportive while not calling attention to the issue. At Classy Pal, our adult bibs are sophisticated yet practical and designed for mature adults. You won’t find silly cartoons or primary colors. Look for tools that are practical yet dignified and make you (or your loved one) feel comfortable.

      Get Help

      Sometimes, no matter how well-prepared we are, there are just some things we need help with. That’s when bringing in some outside help can make a tremendous difference.

      You might thinking, “Well, I don’t need home health. I just need help getting dressed or keeping my home tidy.” And that’s okay.

      There are services for all kinds of in-home needs. You (or your loved one) might just need a little help with the daily tasks of bathing and dressing. You might need someone to tidy the house. Or you might need someone to help with running errands like grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions.

      A great place to start is with your local senior center. Chances are, they have the low down on all the local services available.

      Plan for Emergencies

      Living at home is the right choice for many adults. However, it is also important to have a contingency plan for emergencies. This is especially true if you (or your loved one) has medical issues that require monitoring and/or you plan to live alone.  

      • How will you see your doctor or remain in contact with them?
      • How will you get your medications?
      • Who can you call in an emergency?
      • How will you get help if you are unable to call yourself?
      • Do you know where the nearest emergency room or urgent care is?

       

      These are the practical things you and your loved ones need to know and have a plan in place – just in case. Every situation is different so your plan needs to be unique to your situation. Here are some things to think about:

      • Have a designated person to make your appointments if you are unable to do so.
      • Have a designated person accompany you to and from appointments. This is often a good idea when dealing with a stressful medical situation as we tend to forget details. Having someone along for support can make a huge difference.
      • Have your doctor’s information in an accessible place and tell someone where it is.
      • Keep your medication list up-to-date and tell someone where it is.
      • If you live alone, have a designated person check on you periodically.
      • Consider a medical alert system especially if you live alone or have a serious medical condition.

      Choosing to remain at home may be the right choice for you or your loved one. The key is preparing well and having a sound plan in place. With a little planning, you can be comfortable and safe and living your best life.

      When Eating Gets Harder: 5 Ways to Overcome Mealtime Challenges

      When Eating Gets Harder: 5 Ways to Overcome Mealtime Challenges

      Eating is something we all need to do. It is one of the functions necessary to sustain life.

      A decrease in appetite is a normal part of aging as our bodies require less energy. But, nobody tells us that as we age, eating can sometimes become a challenge. Medical issues, mobility issues and even mood issues can affect the ability and the desire to eat. You or your loved one may be struggling in ways you never imagined.

      Decreased appetite and avoidance of eating can result in serious consequences:

      • Weight loss
      • Malnutrition
      • Osteoporosis
      • Muscle weakness
      • In extreme cases, mortality

      It can be really scary when eating becomes a struggle. It’s important to continue eating well at every age. What can you do? The good news is, there are things you can do that make eating and mealtime easier and a lot less stressful.

      Address Medical Issues

      Medical issues can affect appetite as well as the ability to eat comfortably. Things like gastrointestinal issues, changes in the sense of smell or taste, swallowing problems (also known as dysphagia) and dental issues are quite common sources of difficulty eating. Even ill-fitting dentures can make eating extremely uncomfortable.

      If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty with eating due to a medical condition, see your healthcare provider. There may be solutions that can make eating and mealtime easier.

      Maintain Social Connections

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects about 1%-5% of the general elderly population, 13.5% in elderly who require home healthcare, and 11.5% in older hospital patients.1 Depression is common among older adults and especially those who are isolated or lack a social network. Appetite loss is a significant symptom of depression.

      Look for opportunities to connect with others. Help your loved one to stay connected with friends and family. Community events, family gatherings, even day trips with friends can help to maintain those vital social connections. If travel is particularly difficult, technology can make staying connected easier. Things like Skype or Facetime can bring you and loved ones together.  

      Have Right Tools for the Job

      Even if appetite is good, avoidance of eating, especially in public, can be an issue when things like mobility or dexterity just make it hard to eat. People with tremors or difficulty holding utensils can feel embarrassed. They worry about things like spills or dropping a fork or being able to hold a regular glass. Those fears can often keep them from attending meals or events with others.

      Overcome mealtime challenges by making sure you have the right tools for the job. Adaptive utensils such as easy-grip cutlery, sectioned plates or covered cups can make eating a meal easier and allow the user to be as independent as possible. Stylish bibs for adults like those from Classy Pal can keep drips and spills in check. When choosing adaptive items, be sure to choose items that are made for and styled for adults.

      Have a Support System

      Whether it is you or your loved one struggling with eating, it is important to allow others to help. No one can do everything alone and we all, regardless of age, need help with something.

      One of the things we fear most as we age is a loss of independence and needing help can feel like losing our ability to do things. Asking for help is in no way giving up independence. In fact, knowing when we need help and being able to ask for it actually helps to maintain independence. Little adjustments can make a huge difference between having that lunch out with friends and making an excuse to stay home.

      Ask a loved one to go with you or help you pick out the perfect chic bib or weighted spoon. It’s okay to ask for help.

      Talk About It

      Sometimes, a decline in eating can leave someone feeling isolated or alone. When we struggle, it can feel like no one else could possibly understand. If you or your loved one is faced with this issue, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Tell your healthcare provider. If you need help dealing with the feelings that can come with eating issues, a counselor can help sort it all out in a safe and private setting.

      Our eating changes as we get older. Those changes don’t have to mean a loss of independence or being excluded from things we love to do. With a little planning and some support, you or your loved one can enjoy good meals and good times with friends and family.

       

      1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older,” Division of Population Health, updates January 31, 2017, retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.html