October 18, 2018

Navigating Flu Season for Seniors

Filed under: Caregivers,Healthcare,Seniors Health — Tags: , — seniorlivingguide @ 10:16 am

By: Darleen Mahoney

As the hot days of summer fade away and the leaves begin to change and the weather gets crisp, the season of fall is most welcome. Fall is not the only season that arrives in October, but a most unwelcoming season arrives as well…. flu season. Flu season is most active between October thru May.  As this season is upon us, its important to be proactive in flu prevention, symptoms and treatment. The flu season seniors with the fluis not the only season you want to experience, but the one you want to avoid.

While a flu diagnosis is serious regardless of age, a flu diagnosis in Seniors carries greater risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that adults 65 and older are at greater risk of complications from the flu because they may have weakened immune systems. The CDC estimates that between 70%-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths and 54%-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in those over the age of 65.

A flu vaccine is the best option in flu prevention. It is recommended that Seniors and their caregivers receive the flu shot every year. The best time to get a flu shot is October thru November, so mark your calendars! The CDC reports that the flu vaccination may reduce the risk of getting the flu by 40-60%. The CDC recommends that even Seniors with weakened immune systems receive the vaccines, the vaccine can still protect against the illness and can weaken the flu strain if the immune suppressed Senior comes in contact with the flu virus.

Other ways to avoid getting the flu:

  • Washing hands and wrists/ Hand sanitizer when more convenient
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat healthy, boost immunity
  • Getting exercise-this could reduce your risk by a third
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth-this is how the germs enter the body
  • Sanitize your Mobile devices
  • Adding Vitamin C-Boost your immune system

The onset of flu symptoms can happen very quickly, some people developing symptoms one to four days after exposure to the virus. Seniors may develop the flu and their symptoms look very different than typical flu patients. Therefore, Seniors who have the flu are misdiagnosed or delayed in their diagnosis and therefore can progress into a more serious health problem. Most flu symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees, many Seniors with the flu do not have a fever, cough, or a sore throat.

Symptoms in a Senior may include:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • General discomfort, knowing something is clearly wrong
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Delirium
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that get better and then worse
  • Swollen mouth/throat

If you’re over the age of 65 and experience any of these symptoms, visit your physician right away to reduce the potential risk of a flu diagnosis. If you see your doctor within the first 48 hours, your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral medication. When taken at the onset of the flu, this medication can reduce the symptoms and the severity of your illness.

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October 11, 2018

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome

Filed under: Alzheimer's,Caregivers,Dementia — Tags: , , , , , — seniorlivingguide @ 11:07 am

By: Darleen Mahoney

You’ve heard the term Sundowners syndrome. Are you a caregiver or know someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s that has sundowning? It is a neurological phenomenon that exists with those suffering from a form of dementia or delirium. Sundowning understanding sundowningseems to be more frequent in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and mixed dementia.

What causes this syndrome is believed to be caused from the inner “body clock” of the brain that signals when you’re awake and when your asleep, this breaks down in people with Alzheimer’s. There may be specific triggers in your loved one, taking notes to understand these triggers is a good idea.

Factors that may aggravate Sundowners Syndrome:

  • Shadows and low light, causing fear
  • Separating dreams from reality
  • Infection, more commonly a UTI
  • Low Lighting
  • Unfamiliar environment

Sundowning isn’t a disease on its own, but it is a variety of behaviors that typically occur at a later time of day and may go into the night that affect people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with sundowners are confused, experience anxiety, ignore directions, and potentially show aggression. They may begin to pace or wander.

There are steps that you can take to help manage this challenging time of day as it seems the fading light is the trigger, but the symptoms can get worse throughout the night. As a caregiver, this can be frustrating and exhausting for you. The steps you take will help keep your loved one safe, but also help them reduce their Sundowners symptoms.

  • Have a regular daily routine
  • No smoking or alcohol use
  • Limit sweets and caffeine to the morning
  • Smaller meals at night, larger meals at lunchtime
  • Avoid late day naps

When it is time to go to sleep, take extra steps to provide a quiet relaxing environment:

  • Close curtains and blinds, shadows are a huge problem
  • Fix the room temperature to their liking
  • Keep the house quiet, noise can make them paranoid
    • Especially a visible television with the flashing lights and noise
  • Put on relaxing music

You may also consult with your loved one’s physician about Melatonin at night time and any other recommendations that they may have.

You have tried to keep your loved one that is experiencing Sundowners quiet and relaxed, but they are still getting up and they are confused, and you are unsure how to respond.

  • Do not argue with them
  • Tell them everything is OK, be reassuring
  • Let them get up and move around, just stay close to them making sure they are staying away from stairs and anything used to harm themselves
  • Remind them what time it is and that its nighttime or bedtime
  • DO NOT physically try to restrain from walking around
  • Above all….STAY CALM

You may want to consider purchasing a baby monitor to be aware when they are getting up in the middle of the night.

As a caregiver with a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s it’s such an emotional, physical, and time-consuming journey that Sundowner’s is just another piece of a puzzle to this disease that will never truly fit together and make any sense to most caregivers. Taking take to take care of yourself will only make you a better caregiver for your loved one, there is help in the form of support groups in your local areas and The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center offers support as well. Its also important to get away and have time for yourself, its important to have a well trusted Home Health provider that allows you time away to decompress and refocus so that you can be a better caregiver.

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