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Caregiving

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

Just in time for November, National Family Caregivers Month, here are tips to improve loved ones’ health and support caregivers:

  1. Get Organized: Some public websites offer free resources for caregivers, including calendars, task management tools and educational resources. Others feature online stores with products and local services for purchase, including home-safety products, home-delivered meals and specialty products such as simple and secure tablet computers.
  2. Prevent Falls: Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 and older. “Fall proof” your loved one’s home, where six out of 10 falls occur, by improving lighting, installing handrails and moving items to make them more accessible.
  3. Improve Hearing Health: Research from Johns Hopkins shows hearing loss is associated with physical and mental health problems, including social isolation and dementia. Have your loved one’s hearing tested annually, and encourage them to use hearing aids when recommended. Signs of hearing loss include turning up the volume on the TV or radio to levels others find too loud, having trouble hearing on the phone, and difficulty with conversations in noisy environments.

4. Encourage Exercise: Daily exercise is important as people age, so encourage loved ones to exercise regularly and incorporate balance, strength training and flexibility components (if approved by a physician). Local community or senior centers often offer Tai Chi or Zumba. Daily walking is free and accessible for most, and can help prevent or manage heart disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes; strengthen bones; ward off depression; and improve balance.

5. Thank Your Caregiver: All caregivers deserve a tremendous “thank you” for their time, energy and dedication. Showing gratitude doesn’t need to be extravagant. Consider a gift certificate for a massage, flowers or a simple note of thanks with an inspiring quote.

Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella is the head of the UnitedHealthcare Innovation Center of Excellence. Vidya and her team design and develop breakthrough innovations that help address unmet health needs through the use of cutting-edge concepts and technology, including mobile apps and integrated health and wellness programs.

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