As it turns out, turmeric (more specifically its active compound, curcumin) is more than just a delicious seasoning for your favorite Indian takeout dish. This fragrant yellow spice, a close relative of ginger, is also renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant effect, weight management support, and pain relief. Wondering if supplementing with turmeric can help improve your pain in a natural way? Turmeric (curcumin) shows a surprising number of health benefits:
One of the most compelling benefits of using turmeric is its pain relief properties. One study conducted by the Cytokine Research Laboratory found that the curcumin in turmeric was a more effective anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen, and has pain-relief properties on par with phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone. This is fantastic news for people with chronic pain who are concerned about the negative side effects (like liver damage and ulcers) that can arise with long-term or heavy use of NSAIDs.
Curcumin is also renowned for its antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in how quickly your body heals! The cells in your body create “free radicals” as part of their normal metabolic cycle. And when inflammation is present in the body, free radical production goes up. Without antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals), these harmful free radicals have the potential to further damage the cells and organs in the body. Adding antioxidants like curcumin to your diet while you recover from an injury can help your body heal.
Using Turmeric for Inflammation
While there isn’t a standardized dose of turmeric, many studies have concluded that, even at high doses, turmeric is safe for consumption. The most common mild side effect that you may notice is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be avoided if you add turmeric to your diet slowly (instead of a high dose all at once!) In general, it’s a good idea to take the most natural (organic and minimally processed) form of turmeric/curcumin that you can find, to help your body most easily absorb it.
The most common ways to use turmeric/curcumin include the following:
You can make turmeric paste by mixing ¼ cup turmeric powder with ½ cup water, then heating on low until a thick paste is formed. This mixture can be kept in your fridge for several weeks. This paste can be eaten in turmeric milk (recipe below) or applied topically by mixing with coconut oil or olive oil spreading across the affected area. Massage this paste into the skin, wrap with plastic wrap, and leave on for an hour.
Add a piece of raw turmeric root (½ inch to 1 inch) or a teaspoon of turmeric paste to a cup of milk in a saucepan. Heat slowly to simmer, but do not boil. Any kind of milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk) will work! For turmeric tea, repeat this same process with water. If you like, add a little bit of butter and maple syrup!
Curcumin can also be taken in concentrated form through capsules. Make sure you consult with a doctor on the right dosage for you before you begin taking curcumin capsules, since this method of taking turmeric is the most potent, and your doctor will have helpful insight into your unique health history.
Curcumin can also be taken as a food-grade essential oil, either topically or by mouth. If you don’t like the taste of turmeric milk, this can be a good way to take turmeric in a concentrated form! Keep in mind that, like other anti-inflammatories, turmeric is a blood thinner and should not be taken during pregnancy or before surgeries and medical procedures. Turmeric can also change how some medications interact with your body (like anti-depressants). When in doubt, ALWAYS talk to your doctor! Keep in mind that while turmeric shows a lot of potential for lowering inflammation and pain, it won’t treat the underlying cause of your pain.
Up to 75 percent of Americans may be functioning in a chronic state of dehydration. This lack of hydration also leads to many other health issues. Every cell in your body needs water to function, but often people don’t realize they’re dehydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated.”
Most people learn that water exists in three forms – liquid, gas and solid. But there is a fourth form of water called “gel water” that’s the most hydrating. It’s found in plant cells and contains glucose and/or sodium, which helps your body absorb it in the small intestine. This is critical because the small intestine is where 95 percent of water is absorbed into your body.
Gel water can be found in high concentrations in fruits and vegetables like cucumber, celery, watermelon and cantaloupe. One great way to stay well-hydrated is to drink smoothies. Blend fruits and vegetables in a smoothie and add coconut water to provide electrolytes. Drink this hydration-booster every morning, along with 3.5 liters of fluid water throughout the day.
Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
Fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of water include:
Other foods that contain a high amount of water include:
- cottage cheese
- chicken breast
Consuming foods high in water will help prevent dehydration. However, food alone isn’t likely to provide an adequate amount of water to sustain you in the long term.
Here’s a final hydration boosting tip: Add a handful of ground chia seeds to your smoothie or beverage. Ground chia seeds absorb 30 times their weight in water and turn fluid water into gel water. They also slow the passage of water through your digestive tract, giving the body more time to absorb it.
Water is important to your overall health.
It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, if the person was never good at balancing a checkbook, struggling with this task is probably not a warning sign. But if their ability to balance a checkbook has recently changed, it is something to share with a doctor. To help, the Alzheimer’s Association has created this list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Individuals may experience one or more signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
Challenges in planning or solving problems.
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
Confusion with time or place.
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.
New problems with words in speaking or writing.
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.
Withdrawal from work or social activities.
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
Changes in mood and personality.
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
If you’ve misplaced your keys, you’re probably just experiencing what millions of other Baby Boomers are: normal age-related memory difficulties. Here are some suggestions to help you with memory issues:
• Keep a routine
• Organize information (keep details in a calendar or day planner)
• Put items in the same spot (always put your keys in the same place by the door)
• Repeat information (repeat names when you meet people)
• Run through the alphabet in your head to help you remember a word
• Make associations (relate new information to things you already know)
• Involve your senses (if you are a visual learner, visualize an item)
• Teach others or tell them stories
• Get a full night’s sleep
• Learn more about what you can do to maintain your brain health and strengthen your memory
For better brain health, consider these options:
Challenge yourself: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/challenge-yourself
Be socially active: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/be-socially-active
Follow a healthy diet: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/make-healthy-food-choices
Be physically active: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/be-physically-active
Reduce stress: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/reduce-stress
Protect your head: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/protet-your-head
Make healthy lifestyle choices: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/choose-wisely
If, on the other hand, you suspect a loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or a related dementia, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from a licensed doctor.
Be aware that many illnesses can cause confusion or dementia, and in some cases, those illnesses could be treated. For example, a urinary tract infection may cause confusion, but it can be treated. By having a correct diagnosis from a doctor, the doctor can decide on the best treatment and the family can start planning for the future. While there is no cure for AD and some other dementias, a loved one diagnosed with AD can maximize the quality of his or her life by receiving an early diagnosis.
The first step in getting an accurate diagnosis for an individual is visiting with that person’s primary care physician. Below are some quick tips to help you prepare a loved one for a visit to the doctor.
• Keep a journal of physical or mental complaints, unusual behaviors, and questions. Record such things as: What symptoms have you noticed? When did the symptoms first appear? How have the symptoms changed over time? Be specific and include minor symptoms. Present this to the doctor before the visit, if possible.
• Make a list of current medications. Include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs— even vitamins, supplements, herbs, and eye drops. Be sure to include a list of any drug allergies, as well as a list of current and past health problems.
• Schedule the appointment. You may want to talk with a loved one about making an appointment. Discuss this topic with a loved one, unless you think it will be upsetting. Ask a loved one if you can go along to the visit.
Written by Fritzi Gros-Daillon
For additional information:
Senior Safety Tips for the Bathroom. More than one in three seniors over age 65 fall each year, and approximately 80 percent of these falls are in the bathroom. Due to the multitude of unforgiving and slippery surfaces, bathrooms are very hazardous for the home. Seniors are vulnerable to falls for many reasons – eyesight and reflexes aren’t as razor-sharp as they used to be, not to mention the balance issues posed by diabetes, heart disease, thyroid conditions and various medications.
One of the most effective ways to preserve balance is to stay active with an exercise regimen. Ask your doctor about exercises designed to improve balance, stability and overall mobility, such as moderate yoga.
But other preventative measures include:
- Grab Bars: Place properly installed grab bars next to the shower and toilet to assist seniors with rising and sitting. There are even floor-to-ceiling tension poles available for those spaces where grab bars aren’t an option. Please note that towel racks and soap holders do not double as grab bars because they are not designed to hold a lot of weight. Unlike towel racks and other basic bathroom fixtures, a grab bar is made to be bolted into the studs in the wall and support someone’s weight.
- Raised Toilet Seat: This requires no installation! Just purchase one and align it over the existing toilet. The most basic models easily attach to your existing toilet and can raise the seating surface by up to 6”. More advanced models, like the Toilevator Toilet Riser, can be installed to the base of your toilet, allowing you to retain its original look and feel.
- Safe, Non-Slip Surface: This can be accomplished by using a simple spray-on product in the tub, shower floor or tile floor. There are also special non-slip mats that can be placed on the bathtub or shower floor.
- Hand-held Shower Head: Replacing the typical high shower head with a hand held one allows for the senior to move the shower head to clean themselves rather than move themselves, lowering the risk of falls. Look for a hand shower with a slid-rail for easily adjustable shower head height. Some models feature adjustable spray settings, look for one with a pause setting so the user can easily pause the water flow as needed without completely shutting off the water.
- Shower Bench: Adding a shower bench allows the senior to sit while showering so they do not lose their balance and fall. It allows for a safer, less tiring bathing experience and requires no installation! All quality models are made from durable, waterproof materials and come with rubber tips to stop them from slipping.
- Improved lighting: Keeping an automatic, LED night light plugged into the wall in the bathroom at all times prevents running into objects by making it easier to see the light switch. According to LampsUSA, a bathroom should have at least 646 lumens of light to adequately cater for seniors roughly 60 years of age. For seniors over 80, this jumps to 968 lumens. Most standard home construction lighting has around 450 lumens around the sink, so you will probably require additional light fixtures or fixtures with greater output.
- Walk-in-Tub: A walk/wheel-in shower is ideal for anybody suffering from poor mobility. Stepping over a threshold and into a shower/tub adds an extra risk when bathing, and can be impossible to manage for people who rely on walking aids. Walk-in tubs minimize this threshold and also come equipped with extra features like hydro-jets to help relieve aching limbs or deep muscle pain.
- Remove Obstacles: Bathroom safety can be improved by removing items that are easily tripped over. Be consistent about putting things away, avoiding clutter and having one place where every item belongs.
- Adjust the Water Heater: Turn down the water heater temperature. Elderly people have thinner, more delicate skin and can take longer to notice hot temperatures. Because of this, they are often at risk of burns caused by hot water. Keep hot water temperatures to a maximum of 120F. For the shower, consider installing a thermostatic mixing valve which senses changes in the flow of the two water temperatures and adjusts accordingly to reduce drastic changes in water temperature when someone does something like start a load of laundry while the shower is running. (For more ideas and solutions to fluctuating shower water temperature contact your plumber to find a solution and take preventative measures.)
- Non-slip Bath Mats: Make a point to check the back of all rugs to ensure the slip resistant backing is still effective. If the rubber on the back is looking flaky, or balding in places it’s probably time for a new rug. Also, when selecting a rug choose one with a low pile to make it easier for walkers and slow feet to pass over and not get caught. You may want to consider covering the entire bathroom tile floor, if it is small, with a non-slip bath mat material.
- Towel Placement: Place towels within easy reach of the tub or shower; reaching or straining to find a towel while standing in a wet shower is an invitation to fall.
- Avoid pooling water: Keep the bathroom floor dry, making sure it has no water on it. A weighted shower curtain will help ensure that no water leaks onto the floor.
- Replace the bathroom door: Hang the door so that it opens outwards in case of a fall. Remove any door locks.
- In case of Emergency: Install a medical alert system or communication device.
Remaining in the home can provide seniors with a strong sense of comfort and confidence. By following the tips listed above, you can help make sure that your loved one stays safe as well as maintaining their sense of independence.
Slips, trips or falls can happen at any time of life, however, the likelihood of having a fall and the impact that this can have on health and independence becomes more significant with age.
Falls are a major cause of hospitalization, especially amongst the elderly. For some people the consequence can be quite devastating resulting in loss of confidence, permanent injury and a restricted ability to lead an active, independent life.
Around 75% of falls occur in or around the home, but many of these can be prevented by being aware of personal risk factors, finding safer ways of performing tasks and making simple and practical adjustments to the home environment to reduce slipping and tripping hazards and improve safety.
- Ensure that there is good lighting in and around the home and that switches are easy to reach. Sensor lights can be strategically placed along hallways and at entrance doors to help with night time visibility.
- Glow in the dark products can be placed next to or on door handles, light switches and other objects that may need to be located in the dark. Luminous reflective tape can be used to mark exits, stairs and other hazards.
- Allow time for eyes to adjust when moving from brightly lit areas to darker areas and vice versa. Decrease glare by adding net curtains.
Floors, Stairs and Hallways
- Check carpeting regularly for worn spots or raised patches. Avoid using throw rugs and runners but if required secure them with carpet tape to prevent slipping. Avoid polishing floors with wax or other slippery materials.
- Use contrast to highlight changes in floor surfaces and depth. Avoid heavily patterned flooring which can obscure small obstacles from vision.
- Take care when walking through doorways as sometimes the threshold makes the floor surface uneven. Small threshold ramps may help individuals to negotiate these uneven surfaces, especially for walking frame users.
- Avoid leaving clutter on the floor (books, handbags, packages, toys and so forth), as these may become a tripping hazard. Ensure any electrical cords are tucked under furniture or taped to skirting boards and do not cross walkways.
- Install stair handrails on both sides of steps and stairs.
- Bathroom surfaces can be very slippery when wet. Keep water spray to a limited area where possible and clean up quickly. Avoiding using talcum powder (especially on tiled surfaces) which makes floor surfaces extra slippery.
- Be extra careful when using non-slip mats. Ensure the edges are firmly stuck down and the rubber-backed mat is held in place. Consider whether these mats create another tripping hazard—applying slip‑resistant tapes or a non-slip floor treatment to the floor and shower tiles may be a safer alternative.
- Install grab rails in or adjacent to the shower, bath and toilet to provide stability and support. Replace towel rails with grab rails for extra support.
- The hot, wet shower environment can sometimes affect balance—using a shower chair, flip‑down seat or removable stool can give extra support. Ensure soap, shampoo and towels are within reach to avoid bending or reaching. Be careful of dangerous lips/edges around the shower and eliminate if possible.
- Consider whether using a bath is really necessary. A clamp on bath rail, non‑slip tape and a bath hoist may make it slightly safer to get in and out of the bath. If the shower is over the bath consider a bath board or bath seat.
- A toilet seat raiser could be appropriate if the toilet seat is too low.
- Ensure beds are adjusted to an appropriate height to help you get in and out. Bed blocks may be an option if the bed is too low. Always get up slowly. Sit for a short time before standing up.
- Always turn a bedside lamp on before getting out of bed during the night and have a phone next to the bed for easy access in case of an emergency.
- A commode chair, urinal or bed pan can avoid the need to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
- For walking aid users, ensure that walking frames can be accessed very close to the bed.
- Remove or tuck away any tripping hazards like overhanging bedspreads, electrical cords, clothes or other clutter.
- Organise storage to reduce the need for reaching high or bending low as these actions can put you off balance.
- Considering sitting down on a kitchen stool when doing the dishes or preparing a meal. Use a tray mobile or trolley to carry items around. Pick up dropped food and mop up spills as soon as they occur.
- Put hoses, tools, toys and other objects away after use. Remove any hanging plants that could be walked into. Keep a look out for pets before moving around the garden.
- Repair uneven or cracked paths. Ensure lawn areas are as flat as possible. Kill moss and slime on paths. Be especially careful if the ground is frosty or wet and ensure that areas that get wet have non-slip surfaces. Ensure leaves, gravel or other debris are raked up regularly and removed.
- Mark the leading edge of steps with a contrasting color and install handrails.
- Sit down to dress. Avoid long clothing such as nighties and dressing gowns which may create a tripping hazard when standing up.
- Wear low-heeled shoes with rubber soles for good traction. Ensure shoes fit well, are in good repair and are free from grease or dirt. Avoid wearing socks or stockings without shoes when walking on tiled floors or polished floorboards.
- For those at high risk of falls, hip protectors may provide extra protection. These are plastic or foam shields worn in special underpants that protect your hips in the event of a fall.
People often down play a slip, trip or fall, blaming clumsiness or error. It is important to take any fall or near miss seriously and take the time to work out what may have caused or contributed to the event.
- Keep up with regular health checks and keep an eye out for health problems such as poor balance, dizziness, muscles weakness, incontinence, reduced sensation in legs and feet, poor nutrition, unsteadiness or loss of confidence in walking/using steps. It is important to discuss these with a doctor to ensure any medical conditions are well managed.
- Continue regular exercise to help maintain supple joints, muscle strength, balance and walking ability.
- Be aware of vision changes and use glasses if required. If your vision is deteriorating, see a low vision advisor to recommend home modifications.
- If getting to the toilet on time is a concern talk to a doctor or continence nurse.
- Review your medications regularly. Some medicines don’t mix, may cause nasty side effects or may be affected by alcohol. A medication reminder can assist with taking medication correctly. For those who are forgetful, there are timers that can remind them when to take medications.
- Ensure good access to telephones to prevent rushing. Consider getting a cordless telephone or install extra telephone extensions.
- Don’t rush, concentrate on tasks and take the necessary time. If you’re feeling light headed or exhausted, sit down and rest straight away. Have a plan of how to get help if a fall does occur.
- Avoid hazardous tasks such as standing on a chair to reach something from a high cupboard. Look at rearranging the home environment so that frequently used items are at an easy to reach appropriate height. Be aware of the implications of falling from a height and consider asking someone else to assist.
- Consider the direction that bathroom and toilet room doors hang—can they be opened outwards if someone has a fall inside the bathroom or toilet room?
- Consider the use of a mobility aid such as a walking stick or walking frame. It is important to discuss this first with your doctor.
- An emergency call system may help to increase your confidence and independence by helping you contact someone if a fall does occur, particularly for if you live alone.
While it’s important for seniors to remain connected, entertained and active through the use of technology, it is equally important for them to exercise caution and interest safety. None of us are exempt from Internet scams, but unfortunately, many scammers specifically target senior citizens. Senior citizens are often at an increased risk for Internet scams and fraud due to a variety of unique vulnerabilities. Lack of computer skills, limited Internet skills, and being more trusting and generous are just a few of the factors that put seniors at risk of falling victim to elaborate online scams.
Here are some helpful tips for ensuring you practice Internet Safety 101:
Keep your computer properly secured. Ensure you install reliable security software, set up automatic updates, turn on a firewall, and use secure passwords. You may need to hire a computer technician to get this setup, but exercise caution anytime you give access to your computer to an outside company. Ensure you choose a reputable company who is fully licensed and bonded. Beware of anyone who contacts you to inform you there is something wrong with your computer – even if they claim to work for Microsoft, Dell, Apple, or other common computer companies. NEVER give anyone remote access to your computer who has contacted you offering “help” or warning of a security breach; hang up your phone and take your computer to a reliable technician to have it looked at instead.
Don’t overshare. Social networking sites and sites who cater to older users are often targeted with quizzes and surveys that are in fact scams; these quizzes often ask invasive questions about private information such as health, wealth, assets, income, number of children, and family names. While some of these quizzes may not be scams it is best to exercise caution anytime you are dealing with the Internet and stray away from giving out any personal information about yourself or your family on an online quiz or survey.
Exercise caution with online dating. Online dating is becoming increasingly popular for senior citizens. Many seniors have lost their partner to death or divorce and may be lonely. Online dating is an excellent way to meet new people, and many people find success with it. Online dating is also an easy way for predators to find potential victims for their scams, most often with the goal to get money from them. Therefore, if engaging in online dating ensure you exercise some basic precautions: NEVER wire money or mail cash to someone you’ve met online – no matter what sob story they give you, if you decide to meet in person ensure you do so in a public place and also tell your loved ones when and where you will be meeting, never give out your address or personal phone number unless you have built a great rapport and are ready to take your online dating relationship to the next level with in-person dating.
Other Key Internet Safety Tips for Seniors:
- Don’t trust a link sent to you by someone you do not know, and DO NOT click on it.
- Never trust an email asking for account information or credit card information.
- If a deal is too good to be true, IT IS NOT TRUE!
- Never send money to another country, state, or a stranger.
- The best scams warn of fraud and offer to help save you from fraud. If you are concerned your computer, email, or online account has been compromised reach out to someone you find that is reputable – don’t trust someone who reaches out to you.
- If you did not enter the lottery or a sweepstake than you did not win a lottery or sweepstakes. Do not believe that if you give a little money to claim your prize you will get a lot of money back – true lottery winners do not need to pay anything up front to claim their winnings.