October 16, 2019
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the Winter Blues, affects millions of people every year. A form of depression that occurs at the same time every year, with symptoms diminishing when Spring weather arrives, the likelihood of a SAD diagnosis increases as we age — and seniors who are housebound are especially at risk.
One of the most frustrating aspects of SAD is that it often mimics the symptoms of other illnesses. Seniors exhibiting symptoms of the Winter Blues have been diagnosed with everything from thyroid problems to mononucleosis, often because they don’t make the connection between their symptoms appearing every year and improving with the weather, and because the disruption to their sleep cycles, mood, and behavior is so extreme. For that reason, it’s important for seniors and their caregivers to understand the symptoms of SAD, so they can help ensure a correct diagnosis and the right treatment.
Understanding The Winter Blues
For many people, just the thought of Winter is enough to bring them down. The idea of being stuck inside, with short days, freezing temperatures, and mountains of snow and ice outside, isn’t always appealing. Winter weather can disrupt your usual routine, preventing you from visiting with friends or taking your daily stroll, which can lead to sadness.
It’s not just the disappointment and boredom that can come with Winter weather that causes, SAD, though. Although researchers aren’t certain of the exact cause, it’s believed that the disorder is due to changes in the amount of natural light exposure during the Winter season. The shorter days and longer nights, and in northern climates, the changes in the angle of sunlight, are disruptive to natural circadian rhythms, or the sleep-wake cycle. This disruption disrupts the body’s production of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Without enough natural sunlight each day, serotonin levels fall, causing symptoms of depression — and significant changes to the sleep cycle.
SAD and Sleep
Although SAD causes many of the classic symptoms of depression — withdrawal, changes in appetite, changes in mood, loss of interest in activities — but changes to sleep patterns are some of the most common. The Winter Blues can cause increases in sleep for seniors, especially during the day, but it can also contribute to insomnia.
Many of these sleep changes are attributable to the changes in ambient light during the day. The human body is naturally attuned to the cycle of day and night. When that cycle changes, and there is more darkness than light or vice versa, the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted. This is only exacerbated by the natural tendency for circadian rhythms to chance as we get older. In general, as we age, we become sleepier earlier in the day, and wake up earlier in the day. But when the sun starts going down at 3 p.m., as it does in some northern climates, that could mean a very early bedtime for some people.
One of the most interesting aspects of the effect of SAD and sleep is the fact that many people report symptoms of insomnia during the Winter, when in fact, they don’t have insomnia at all. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that people with SAD often report that they have insomnia, when they are in fact getting just as much sleep as usual. The difference? They typically spend more time in bed, because the seasonal changes cause them to spend up to four hours a day more resting than usual. The perception is that this extra time resting is insomnia — or sleeping to excess — when in fact they’re getting the same amount of actual sleep as usual.
Still, the fact that the Winter Blues can have such an effect on sleep patterns is cause for concern. There are things you can do, though, to support better sleep during the Winter, and reduce the effect of SAD.
Supporting Healthy Sleep
Encouraging healthy sleep for any age during the Winter months is important for maintaining overall well-being, but it’s especially important for older adults. It’s possible to reduce the symptoms of SAD and improve sleep with a few changes to the daily routine.
- Consider investing in a “happy light.” Using a special, full-spectrum lamp for a short time every day can help regulate the circadian rhythms and improve mood.
- Start the day with some exercise. Exercising each day is a key part of healthy sleep. Take a short walk outdoors in the morning if possible, or do a simple indoor workout during bad weather.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Create a sleeping area that’s conducive to sleep: Dark, cool, and comfortable. Establish a bedtime routine to encourage sleep; for instance, go to bed at the same time every night, take a warm bath, read, or use specific lotions to indicate it’s time for bed.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Avoid long afternoon naps. If you need to rest, only sleep for 20-30 minutes.
- Talk with your doctor. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or trouble sleeping, your doctor can help by recommending lifestyle changes, further testing to rule out other issues, or prescribing medication.
The good news about the Winter Blues is that they are temporary, and when Spring comes, the symptoms will disappear. There’s no need to suffer in the meantime though. Understanding what’s happening and taking steps to get plenty of sleep can help alleviate the effects and keep you healthy all season long.
October 12, 2019
By Anica Oaks
Arthritis is a name given to a large group of degenerative and painful conditions. They’re all similar in the fact that they are marked by inflammation in the joints of the body. This condition results in pain and stiffness for seniors. Here are four solutions that can help to soothe away your arthritic pain at home.
Hot and Cold Therapy
While this may not seem like a big treatment, it’s very effective for arthritic-related pain. Opt for a long, warm bath or shower in the morning. This will reduce stiffness in the joints. Even a heated blanket or heating pad utilized at night can allow your joints to stay loose the next morning. Reserve cold treatments for relieving the joint swelling and inflammation when it gets to its worst.
You can typically find compression sleeves at your local pharmacy. They will likely have all sorts of sleeves including ones for ankle compression, elbow compression, knee compression, and so forth. The concept behind this type of treatment is that it applies a mild compression to the area that regularly receives inflammation. The compression helps to reduce the amount of inflammation that occurs, which translates to less arthritic pain for you.
While your first instinct may be not to move the painful joints, you must reconsider. Low-impact movement can help to loosen up the muscles around the joints. This provides less possibility of inflammation around the joints. You’ll notice that the irritated joints will be more flexible and have less pain when you move them. If you have access to a pool, then doing any sort of exercise in the water is considered low-impact for your joints.
Regular massaging of the joints that get inflamed can help to reduce the amount of inflammation in the future. This results in less pain and stiffness for you. With regular massage, you’ll get an improved range of motion that can allow you to be more mobile throughout your everyday life. Talk with a physical therapist about self-massage techniques that you can use for your specific arthritic-related pain.
Relieving arthritic pain doesn’t always have to be done with medication. Rather, the above are some very effective treatment solutions that you can utilize at home to alleviate your pain. Be sure to try various treatment solutions to see which ones your body best responds to and stick with those in the future to help manage your arthritic pain.
October 7, 2019
By Meghan Belnap
As we age, it becomes harder to be comfortable. Getting a good night’s rest seems impossible. Seniors can be extremely sensitive to things like temperature and light changes. The National Institute of Health says older people get less sleep and the quality of the rest is not as good as for younger individuals. After age 60, nearly half of seniors experience difficulty sleeping. We talk about four ways the elderly can get the most out of a nap or a night’s rest below.
Warm up the feet to stay cozy
Surprisingly, many people find cold extremities keep them awake. If you always have cold feet, then maybe a thick pair of socks, compression hose, or heated stockings can make a difference. Most heat loss comes out of the top of the head, so wearing a cap to sleep may help some people who can tolerate the feeling while slumbering.
Add thermal room darkening curtains to the bedroom
Nothing disrupts a good nap or a night’s sleep than a bright light. When your sleep rhythm is off, it may be necessary to nap during the day. To get the best rest while the sun is up, a set of light-reducing drapes can make a huge difference. Using a brand with thermal linings can reduce any drafts from windows keeping the bedroom temperature more even. Plus, the curtains can help save energy costs by reducing heat transfer.
Splurge for an adjustable mattress
Mattress sales offer the biggest discounts around the holidays and at the end of winter. Early spring works when you need to find a deal on replacing your bed. If your mattress is over eight years old, then it is a good idea to upgrade your bed. Selecting a model with cooling technologies or functions like raising and lowering the head and legs can make getting to sleep easier. Some people say they get a better nights sleep because they can stay asleep longer without achy legs or stiffness in the back and hips.
Use ambient sound makers
Do you have a favorite nighttime noise like crickets or frogs? Maybe the sound of rain on a tin roof or a river babbling over pebbles is soothing. Ambient sound machines are helpful for some seniors who need white noise to drift off to sleep. Sleep apps and playlists on Internet music sites can also help a person drown out the ringing in the ears to get more sleep.
While we lose the refreshing feeling of sleep as we age, there are things we can do to get a better night’s sleep. Making the room and the bed comfortable is an excellent start. Choosing a quiet place and introducing welcome sounds is another way to fall asleep faster. Individuals with dementia and other health issues may not sleep well at night. Creating a comfortable space for napping at any hour may help older individuals get a better quality of rest.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.
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September 23, 2019
By Anita Ginsburg
With more home health care options currently available for aging seniors, many elders are choosing to live out their golden years at home rather than at an assisted living facility or nursing home. Family members who help to care for an older relative or who check in on seniors who live alone are often the best caregivers for them, as they know the senior’s personality and preferences and will lovingly provide suitable, loving care. Here are five ways to assist aging loved ones in living comfortably in their own home.
Make Frequent Well-Being Checks
If your elderly family member is able to live alone, stop by or call frequently to check on their health and safety. You may want to provide transportation to doctor appointments or other meetings if the senior is unable to drive. Knowing that you will be checking in periodically can be reassuring to an older person living alone.
Assist with Nutritious Meals
Even if your aging loved one can cook, cooking for one person can feel like a chore, so it is a nice gesture to take over a home-cooked meal now and then. Help your relative cook larger batches of food that can be frozen for future meals. You can also have occasional meals delivered or take your relative out to dinner sometimes.
Arrange for Comfortable Bedding
Everyone wants a comfortable bed, but it gets even more important as a person gets older. Quality rest is important for good health. No matter what their needs, you can find a bed that will help your loved one get the rest they need. If they need to stay in bed for long periods of time or if they struggle with back pain, you may consider contacting an adjustable bed supplier. Adjustable beds can relieve back strain and can help your loved one sit up in bed easily without having to fluff pillows or readjust constantly. If you senior has specific needs, you may also look into getting a bed outfitted with hand rails, elevation options, and wheels for mobility.
Organize Social Activities
Staying in touch with other people is important for protecting seniors’ mental health and emotions. Encourage your loved one to join a Bingo group or to take up a hobby, and offer to be the chauffeur to these events. You can also help them organize a social event for them and their friends. Social media may also help aging people to stay in touch with friends and family members they may have lost contact with or who they may no longer be able to travel and visit.
Monitor Health Conditions
Even when things appear to be going smoothly, keep an eye on your loved one’s health and take note of any suspicious new symptoms. Undue fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, extra sleep, and reduced interest in visitors or communication may be signs of a mental health or physical health condition that needs to be medically evaluated. If an older person inexplicably acts differently than usual, it is probably worth getting it checked out by the doctor.
Older people appreciate the opportunity of living in their own homes as long as possible, but that doesn’t mean they need to be alone. Follow tips like these to ensure their comfort and guard their health.
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July 26, 2019
July 17, 2019
By Lizzie Weakley
Your chronic pain condition doesn’t need to run your entire life. Try these tips to find relief and enjoy more of your daily activities.
Get More Exercise
Regular exercise will strengthen your muscles and keep your body in a better overall condition. Even a small amount of movement each day will help you manage your pain.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with simple stretches and a daily walk. Consider enrolling in an exercise class geared toward seniors. Your health care professional will be able to recommend specific exercises that strengthen the area where you experience the most pain.
Look for Natural Alternatives
NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin are good to use in a pinch, but they can have complicated effects with other medications. Extended use of NSAIDs can also result in stomach problems in the long term.
Look for natural forms of pain relief like herbal teas, heating pads, and ice packs. Cold should be used to ease immediate pain, and heat should be used to loosen muscles. You can also try acupuncture, massage, and other treatments to find relaxation.
Seek Regular Treatment
You aren’t expected to manage your pain alone. Many different chronic pain services are available to help you find a long-term solution. Start by talking to your doctor about the options available to you. You might also want to visit a specialist related to your condition.
Don’t let yourself go without treatment. Some cases of pain are truly chronic, but others can be solved with medical care. Pain doesn’t always stem from an obvious source; only a doctor can identify and treat the actual cause of your discomfort.
Get Plenty of Sleep
A full night’s sleep has been shown to significantly increase your tolerance to pain. Adding two hours of sleep to your current schedule could increase your tolerance by as much as 25%.
As a senior, getting enough sleep isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Your chronic pain might even keep you from falling asleep at night. Clear your schedule so that you can sleep in a little later in the morning. You might also consider taking naps in the middle of the day. You’ll feel significantly better when you wake up.
Many seniors only sleep 4-6 hours a day. For pain management, try to average 8 hours; shoot for 10 if your pain is bothering you. If you continually deal with insomnia, your doctor may be able to prescribe a sleep aid to assist you.
There’s no single solution for the management of chronic pain. Your pain specialist may recommend several different treatments; try each option, and stick with the ones that work best for you.
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June 27, 2019
Courtesy of Anica Oaks
Slip and fall accidents are frighteningly common, and one of those mishaps can result in a major injury that brings your life to a grinding halt. As soon as you are injured on another party’s property, you must take steps to protect your health and finances.
Head to the Emergency Room
Following a slip and fall accident, you should immediately head to a hospital or an emergency medical center to get treated. You will also need to keep an eye out for any delayed symptoms that you might experience in the coming days. That includes unusual headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, muscle weakness, and chronic fatigue.
It is an unfortunate fact that these cases can become very convoluted, and you are going to need solid evidence if the situation escalates into a lawsuit. In addition to keeping track of your medical treatments, you must also collect the contact information for any witnesses. Many experts suggest that victims should immediately write down exactly what took place as well. Once your adrenaline wears off, you might begin to forget important details.
Notify the Owner of the Property
When it comes time to notify the owner of the property, you need to be very careful about what you say. As a general rule, the only information that you should give them is your name, the date of the accident, and your contact information. Trying to argue or reason with the owner of the property is only going to hurt your case later on.
Contact an Attorney
You deserve to be fairly compensated after a slip and fall accident, and that is why you need to contact a lawyer right away. A slip and fall injury attorney can collect information and build an airtight case on your behalf. One of those professionals might even be able to get you the compensation that you deserve without filing a lawsuit.
Decline to Give Statements
Once you have contacted your attorney, you shouldn’t give statements to anyone else. Claims adjusters and legal representatives will probably start to call you within hours, and those individuals want you to make mistakes. Unless your lawyer is by your side, you should politely decline to give any statements.
In addition to these five steps, you must also follow all of the instructions given to you by your doctors. Those medical experts want to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible, and they are going to come up with a comprehensive recovery plan that helps you avoid long-term health complications.
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June 24, 2019
Courtesy of Lizzie Weakley
It used to be an accepted part of life that people would need dentures when they reached a certain age. However, dentures are no longer inevitable today. Taking proper care of your teeth can keep them in good shape for many years to come. If you want to maintain a full set of pearly whites as you age, here are four options to keep your teeth in your mouth and off the nightstand.
Braces aren’t just for teenagers anymore. If you missed out on straightening your teeth as a child or have teeth that have relapsed from previous treatment, orthodontic treatment can align your teeth and improve your bite. Teeth that are straight and aligned last much longer than teeth with crowding, which makes it difficult to clean them thoroughly, or malocclusions that cause wear and tear on the tooth’s surface.
Missing teeth often lead to more missing teeth. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone becomes weaker and surrounding teeth begin to loosen and shift. Protect the rest of your teeth by replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Implants can even be installed on teeth that have been missing for years. Unlike dentures, implants replace the tooth down to the root, which strengthens the jaw and helps to keep existing teeth in place.
Root Canals and Crowns
A damaged or abscessed tooth doesn’t automatically mean an extraction. Many teeth can be saved with root canal treatment and a crown. It might be tempting to save money in the short term by having a tooth pulled instead of getting a root canal, but that savings today will cost you in the future when the surrounding teeth begin to loosen.
Gum disease is a common cause of tooth loss. If you want to keep your natural teeth, it’s important to stay on top of gum care. Twice-yearly cleanings are essential for keeping your gums healthy, but sometimes aging and illness can cause periodontal disease despite good care. Prompt treatment, such as a gum graft or laser treatment, from a gum specialist called a periodontist can save your gums and your teeth.
Although these four options can help keep your aging teeth healthy and prevent tooth loss, regular visits to your dentist are the most important factor in keeping your teeth healthy at any age. Make an appointment today to get a cleaning and checkup and to learn more about retaining your smile into your golden years.
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June 5, 2019
Courtesy of Lizzie Weakley
If there’s one thing that can help determine how you feel the next day, it’s a good night’s rest. Depriving yourself of quality sleep can be bad for your health. In fact, it can be downright dangerous. Driving without sleep is very much like driving drunk. As one gets to a senior age, there are plenty of reasons one might lose sleep, but it is just as important to get the rest you need.
There are many ways to help ensure that you sleep well: avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, having a regular bed-time, and otherwise establishing an effective routine. However, one of the keys to getting quality sleep is having the right mattress. Not everyone can sleep comfortably on every mattress. As you get older, you might have more regular back pain or your body might need a particular kind of support. Luckily, there are specially designed mattresses that may improve your sleep by leaps and bounds. Below are four possibilities to consider.
One option that helps many people improve the quality of their sleep is memory foam. If you think your mattress is too hard or stiff, memory foam may be a great choice. The material used actually conforms to the shape of your body while you lay on it. It adapts to your body’s contours and can provide great support for both your shoulders and hips. Memory foam can wear out over time, so you want to look for a mattresses that guarantees long lasting comfort. Some memory foam mattresses, like those from Lulu Mattress, include cool gel, which can help regulate body temperature to ensure that you will not get to too warm or too cool.
A second popular choice is known as a smart gel mattress. Distinct from the aforementioned cool gel, these kinds of mattresses have an extra layer of gel added to the design of a foam mattress either in the support system or the mattress’s layer of upholstery. Smart gel mattresses work similarly to memory foam mattresses but can provide more support, as they have a stable, but flexible, structure. If you have back pain or similar problems, smart gel can help support your body, while providing comfort. These kinds of mattresses also dissipate body heat more while normal memory foam tends to absorb and retain it.
A third choice for sleepers who want a bit more support with their mattresses is to choose a pillow top mattress. A “pillow top” usually exists as an extra layer of support you add yourself on top of an existing mattress. They are very soft and often feel and function similarly to a memory foam mattress. However, the extra layer can provide better support than a mattress without a pillow top would.
Lastly, you may prefer to use a latex mattress. Latex mattresses can come in varying degrees of cushion and firmness. You can choose a latex mattress that best meets your needs in regards to the level of support you need as well as your individual sleeping style. They absorb less heat than memory foam mattresses, and thus can help keep your body cool as you sleep. They are also often made of more natural materials than memory foam as well.
Overall, sleep is important. It helps determine your overall health and your energy throughout the day. Sleep is even more important for seniors, who often need more energy throughout the day. Performing some research when looking for a mattress, even consulting your doctor, can help you determine the kind of mattress that is right for both your body and your finances. The body of every person, old or young, is different and needs different things. Certain designs may do a better job of providing you with the kind of support you need to get a good night’s sleep.
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May 23, 2019
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Courtesy of Lizzie Weakley
Healthy teeth are a vital part of our overall health. They allow us to eat comfortably and help to reduce the chances of secondary infections from dental problems. As we grow older, though, it may not be possible to maintain our original teeth. Decay or damage can simply be too extensive, and it becomes time to talk about other options for improving your oral health. One choice that is growing in popularity is dental implants. If you have teeth missing or in very poor condition, there are several reasons why you may find that implants are a good choice for you.
You Replace Only The Missing Teeth
Tooth loss is rarely organized. You may lose one on the upper right, one on the lower left, and one in the front, or any other random order. Bridges, partials, and dentures require larger openings for insertion, but dental implants can take the place of a single tooth. If an adjacent tooth needs to come out later, it is no more complicated to add another implant. Other dental options require a totally new appliance for the expanded space.
You Won’t Lose Them
This goes for loss from inside your mouth and out. One of the greatest inconveniences and fears of dentures is that they will come out of your mouth when you are speaking or eating. All on 4 dental implants are permanently attached, with no concerns about adhesives. And because they don’t come out at night, you won’t worry about dropping them, getting them dirty, or leaving them in a hotel room.
They Are Easier to Care For
Dentures require a container for cleaning and a seemingly endless stream of tablets. They take up space on the bathroom countertop and provide an unpleasant intrusion when you are a guest. Dental implants are brushed and cared for just like natural teeth, reducing the expense, mess, and space associated with caring for your teeth.
They Will Last Longer
Typically, dentures only last five to eight years, while dental implants can potentially stretch out as long as 15 years with proper care and with gentle use. Using dentures can mean additional time at the dentist on a more frequent basis, as well as the expense of purchasing new appliances more frequently.
Having healthy teeth is an important part of your overall health, especially as you enter your senior years. However, the effects of time and life can leave your teeth in poor condition and in need of removal. At that point, you have a choice between traditional options like dentures and bridges, and more permanent solutions like dental implants. Over time, implants are less expensive and more practical.
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