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.
March 18, 2019
Courtesy of Dixie Somers
Pain is a natural feeling that the central nervous system uses to inform people that their bodies are potentially in danger. Without pain, we would inadvertently harm ourselves on a daily basis, not to mention live a much shorter life. While pain is necessary for survival as we know it, some people’s central nervous systems malfunction, causing some people to feel pain throughout the day.
Surprisingly, some 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from chronic pain. As people get older, they’re more likely to face around-the-clock pain. Let’s dig into four potential treatments that are known to help people deal with constant, non-stop pain.
Money Might Not Grow on Trees, but Kratom Sure Does
Kratom refers to a tree in Southeast Asia, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, which has been used by the natives of Indonesia for hundreds of years to knock the edge off of the pain they’d feel while working. Mitragyna speciosa’s leaves contain dozens of opioid-type molecules that are great at blocking pain. The plant is legal in the United States and costs no more than pennies per dose. Be sure to talk to your doctor before using any substance that might interact with any medications you might be taking already.
Physicians Can Really Work Magic in Bringing Relief to Suffering Seniors
Licensed physicians have a vast array of tools at their disposal to help people feel better, such as seniors who suffer from chronic pain. Physicians can consider your specific situation and work with you to figure out the best route for you. Whether that’s physician-approved exercises done at home or prescription drugs from a pharmacy, you’ll know it’s backed up by study and professional know-how.
Mental Health Treatment Could Help Some Seniors Deal with Pain
Cognitive behavioral therapy involves a counselor and client talking to one another with the intention of getting the client to build skills to deal with unwanted behaviors and thoughts. Even though people effectively can’t rid themselves of pain, crafting a toolbox that is filled to the brim with such mental tools can, in fact, get seniors feeling better.
Exercise is known to help people feel better. Believe it or not, certain exercises can be used to reduce pain in people with chronic pain. Although the risks of injury are somewhat high, the effects are said to be well worth it. Exercises like weightlifting and walking are great to help seniors stay active as they age and mitigate pain. Be sure to consult a doctor before you start any new regimen.
Dealing with pain all the time is one of the worst medical problems to face and can be incredibly frustrating. However, these four tips and tricks should keep any senior out of terrible pain. With the help of some trial and error and your doctor’s advice, you’ll be back to doing what you love in no time.
Comments Off on Medication, Alternatives, and Beyond: 4 Pain Relief Methods for Seniors
January 29, 2019
For someone living with dementia, restlessness and fidgeting are common behaviours which have long been associated with agitation or stress. Together with Dementia Advisor for Alzheimer’s Society Judith Bower and UCLan Senior Graphic Design Lecturer Jane Souyave, Active Minds have been working towards creating an activity to help alleviate fidgeting and repetitive movements.
Conversing with carers of people living with dementia, the teams realised that these restless and repetitive motions were not always negative and wanted to dispel the thoughts that fidgeting is a disruptive behaviour.
Funding from the Alzheimer’s Society and UCLan’s Innovation funds have allowed the teams to work together and raise awareness surrounding communications and connection techniques for people living with advanced dementia. The ‘Positive Connections’ group was formed and worked tirelessly to come up with a concept which would later advance in to a product – the Fidget Widget.
What Is Fidget Widget
An age-appropriate activity, Fidget Widget comprises of five different handheld tactile tools which have been specially designed to help keep hands both relaxed and busy. The different tools can be interacted with in a variety of creative ways such as spinning, sliding, twisting, turning or rolling.
The variety of actions have been shown to not only keep restless hands busy, but also improve dexterity and provide stimulation and engagement as the activity is both meaningful and fun.
Fidget Widget is not just an individual activity however, it has been shown to be beneficial in both group and singular settings and is a brilliant way to get carers involved.
The Fidget Widget tools have undergone a two year testing period whereby the families of people living with dementia were supported with communication techniques using the Toolkit. The incredible feedback from the families showed the positive effect these products have had for their loved ones.
Interacting with the Fidget Widget has been shown to help enhance a persons psychological wellbeing as it provides an outlet for restless hands whilst being a meaningful and engaging activity. The creation of this product has allowed a wider understanding of restless behaviours and the ways in which we can interact with people living with dementia who may have verbal communication difficulties.
Comments Off on Restlessness When Living with Dementia
January 25, 2019
Courtesy of Alison Lee
When you’re a retired senior, you finally get to pursue your “real” life. Long vacations, cruises, new hobbies, and other adventures await. However, old age also brings more illnesses, and sometimes it can be a challenge to balance your ideal post-retirement life with your healthcare costs. Make sure you’re doing these 10 things to minimize your healthcare spending.
- Take advantage of preventive care.
The earlier you spot a disease, the easier and cheaper it is to fix – plus, you’ll feel better sooner. Medicare covers a bounty of preventive and screening services, from cardiovascular disease screening to depression screening. If you’ve been under Medicare Part B for more than 12 months, you’re also entitled to a “wellness” visit every year.
To make the most of your visit, make a list of health questions and concerns throughout the year to take to your wellness check-up so you don’t forget. Being thorough and honest about your habits (such as whether you smoke or drink alcohol), medical history, and family health history can help your doctor catch risk factors early.
- Buy generic medications and buy them online from more affordable sources.
You can save a significant amount of money by choosing generic drugs over brand-name ones. Generic and brand-name drugs are deemed “bioequivalent” by the FDA, so there is virtually no loss in quality.
Many Americans also buy prescription drugs online from international and Canadian pharmacies, such as Canadian pharmacy referral service Rx Connected. Pharmaceutical industries in other countries may be more strictly regulated than in the U.S., making their drugs significantly cheaper.
Buying drugs online may sound risky, but there are many legitimate websites that care about drug safety and patient wellbeing. However, do exercise caution when buying anything online. If a price is too good to be true, or if the company claims you don’t need a prescription for something that should, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate websites like Rx Connected will welcome consumer questions and concerns, and even encourages doctors to call them directly.
- Get vaccinated.
Make sure you get vaccinated during flu season; it’s often free for seniors under Medicare. The flu bug changes every year, so it’s important to get a flu shot each year. Seasonal influenza isn’t just a nuisance; it’s highly contagious and especially dangerous for seniors. Complications can be serious. Click here for more information about the flu.
You should also ensure you are vaccinated against other contagious diseases. Talk to your doctor about what vaccines to get, including booster shots. Getting vaccinated is not just good for you; you can help protect immunocompromised and high-risk individuals too.
- Learn about Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help, and see if you qualify.
If you haven’t already, research Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help, programs that help those enrolled in Medicare pay their premiums. You may still qualify for Medicare Savings Programs if your income is higher than the limits. If you’re eligible for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program, or Qualifying Individual Program, you are automatically eligible for Extra Help for prescription drugs.
- Visit a Community Health Center.
Community Health Centers are available in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and every American territory. These state-funded clinics offer free or low-cost care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay or their insurance status, and are located in designated “medically undeserved areas.” Services may include preventive care, mental healthcare, pharmacy services, dental care, and more. You can find one near you by clicking here.
- Learn about health.
Now that you’re retired, you have time to read all those books on your backburner book list! Why not also read more about health in general? The good news is, a large amount of useful health information is free and found on the internet. Being informed can alert you to potential problems early.
Of course, there is an unfortunate amount of misinformation on the internet. Stay away from articles with sensationalized titles like “Lose 10 Pounds in 1 Week!” Stick to government-approved websites like the CDC, Medline Plus, and the National Institutes of Health.
However, DO NOT diagnose yourself based on information you read on the internet. There’s a reason why physicians go through years of schooling. When in doubt, see a doctor.
- Now that you know more about health, get the appropriate level of help.
Not every little discomfort warrants a trip to the ER. If you have a minor health issue or question, see if you can find a 24/7 phone line where you can talk to a nurse. Many insurance plans offer this service, as do many hospitals. A qualified nurse can decide whether your health question warrants a trip to the doctor’s office. Online services – where you talk to a doctor remotely over the internet – are another low-cost option for more minor health problems.
- Compare before you buy.
Just like buying a new car, you should shop around before committing to a health service. Ask your healthcare provider about the Healthcare Bluebook, a good tool to use to compare pricing for health services offered by different providers. Don’t pay for a hundred-dollar X-ray when there’s one at half the price just a block away!
- Does your local community center, senior center, or non-profit advocacy group offer discounted or free programs?
If you have a chronic illness like arthritis or diabetes, a non-profit advocacy group may have a facility near you that offers programs to help manage your condition. If you do not have a chronic illness, check out what your local community and senior center offers. Don’t restrict yourself to fitness programs; your physical and mental health can benefit greatly from art therapy, music lessons, and more.
- Continue living a healthy lifestyle.
The best way to save on healthcare is to not get sick in the first place. Now that you’re retired, invest some time into making healthful, home-cooked meals, spend an hour or two at the park each day, and make sure you’re active and socializing regularly. If you smoke, now is a good time to quit, and while a glass of wine or two is fine on occasion, if you drink excessively, now is also a time to cut down.
Ask any physician and they will say that good health is really quite simple: eat well, move around, get enough rest, and be happy. So go ahead and enjoy retirement.
Comments Off on Are you doing these 10 things to save on healthcare?
January 22, 2019
Courtesy of Lisa Smalls
Elderly people in our world deserve the best in their golden years, including the best sleep. Unfortunately, it gets harder to sleep well as we age. Seniors are more likely to struggle falling asleep, staying sleep and sleeping deeply enough—they also suffer from age-specific sleep problems—than any other age group.
Seniors, you are not destined for poor sleep. We will explain how to attack your sleep issues and come out the other end rested and refreshed for another day on earth.
The good news for senior citizens here is that most sleep issues the elderly might face can normally be tracked back to physical (soreness, osteoporosis, arthritis, restless leg syndrome, insomnia) and psychiatric illnesses (depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease) and the medications doctors use to treat them.
Thankfully we’re not usually talking about issues that do require medication to alleviate. But our older friends should discuss their sleep issues with doctors and family members to address them.
Also, did you know our sleep patterns change as get older? Our internal clock, which tells us when to rest and when to wake up, actually shifts as we age. Seniors tend to want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.
But our need for sleep, once we reach adulthood, does not change. Popular belief is misinformed. How much sleep we actually need to heal and feel fully restored each morning does not decrease with age. All adults—defined as anyone age 18 or over—need 7-9 hours per night.
And we’re all human. We have habits that hinder our sleep.
One sleep thief is the food we eat or drinks we imbibe. Eating too close to bedtime means our bodies are still working to digest as we’re trying to wind down for the day. Drinking alcohol may relax your inhibitions, but it doesn’t ease you to sleep.
Sleeping in a room that is too warm will keep you up. Seniors do get colder because often they don’t move enough to keep the blood circulating. But sleep scientists recommend sleeping in a room cooler than 70 degrees. Your body temperature will regulate to a good temperature once it begins the hard work of repairing itself as we sleep.
Sleeping in a room with too much light definitely robs you of good sleep. The artificial blue light behind our smartphones, tablets and televisions is the worst offender. The light artificially signals your brain that it must stay awake. You must keep those devices in other rooms at bedtime, ideally starting two hours before bedtime.
Ironically not getting enough natural sunlight during the day also slows the process of falling asleep. Seniors may not be mobile enough to go outside. It may be dangerous for them to do so without help, or they may not feel safe enough to do it where they live. Without at least two hours of natural sunlight per day, your circadian rhythm gets confused. You end up not feeling ready for bed once it’s time.
Another problem related to mobility is that seniors may not get enough exercise each day. Whatever you can do to get your heart pumping, based on your physical ability, will burn fuel. Burning off some during the day, eases you to sleep at night.
Finally, the wrong mattress or a too-old mattress will definitely keep you up at night. You toss and turn because your body isn’t comfortable. Any mattress that throws your spine out of alignment or puts too much pressure on delicate joints and muscles needs to be replaced.
Tools for better sleep
It starts with the best mattress, that you can afford, that works for you. Because there is a very competitive marketplace for mattresses these days, you have so many mattress options to choose from that will address whatever issues you have.
Younger adults usually do well with a medium-firm mattress. Medium-soft mattresses are better for seniors, who need a little more give, something more gentle to curve to older shoulders and hips. The important thing is that your spine remains aligned straight regardless of your sleep position.
For example, If you sleep on your back, that area of the mattress should not cave against your weight. That would put your tailbone and lumbar vertebrae out of alignment with the rest of your spine. If you are bothered by back pain, choose a mattress designed to alleviate it.
Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be on your way to better nights of sleep.
Comments Off on How to Get Your Best Sleep in Your Senior Years
November 19, 2018
Christmas can be a very overwhelming time for someone living with dementia. A sudden influx of friends and family can cause individuals to feel stressed, agitated and confused. Active Minds outline their top tips for supporting your loved one through the overwhelming Christmas period, whilst ensuring you enjoy a magical festive time together.
This will help the day run as smoothly as possible, ensuring that both you and your loved ones enjoy the festivities without a hitch.
- Create a schedule, ensure celebrations are planned for earlier in the day to avoid tiredness or agitation.
- Speak to friends and family in advance about plans, and make sure everyone works together to ensure elderly members feel included and part of conversations.
- It may be a good idea to familiarise extended family members with any behavioral changes that they may expect to view in the person with dementia.
- A person with dementia can find large groups intimidating so keep invitations to a minimum.
- Familiarise you loved one with the guests in preparation for the event, talk about them and show pictures of everyone who will be coming.
- Have a quiet room set up where your loved one can go if things become a bit too much, with some activities that can help them relax.
- Plan some simple family activities and games that are inclusive to all generations.
Eating and Drinking
Food and drink plays a big part of Christmas. It’s important to think about eating and dietary requirements for elderly relatives as rather often older party members may have particular needs.
- Those with dementia may struggle to eat for many of reasons, such as a lack of appetite. So it’s best to avoid overloading their plate with Christmas Dinner, as this can be a daunting prospect.
- Keep alcohol to a minimum to avoid arguments or accidents that can agitate a person with dementia.
- Try where possible to serve food that is familiar to your loved one as this will help them feel comfortable and relaxed and may even spark memories and conversation.
- Sometimes people with dementia experience problems with vision. To avoid confusion, place colour-contrasting rugs in front of doors or steps to make sure they are visible (dark coloured rugs may be mistaken for holes).
- If the house is unfamiliar to your loved one, place labels on doors to help them move around easily.
- If possible, limit access to places where injury could occur, such as kitchens or staircases.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts nearby.
- If staying the night, leave lights on in case your loved one gets confused if they get up during the night.
Take time for yourself
Caregivers often struggle trying to balance Christmas plans and looking after their loved ones, meaning it can be an incredibly stressful time of year, so you must make sure you take some time for yourself.
- Pace yourself and set realistic goals so you don’t overstretch.
- Assign another member of the family to also be on hand to ensure that your loved one is ok and comfortable, so the job isn’t entirely your responsibility.
- You may want to have a respite care plan put in place to begin shortly after the festivities have ended. This would ensure to give yourself a well-deserved break.
- Be proud of yourself – Christmas can be a tough time for both a person with dementia and their carer.
If you have an elderly relative or friend that’s not spending Christmas with you, regular phone calls can help elderly people not feel isolated or lonely. Although this can be a very busy time of year, try and make time for a visit, even if it’s only brief, as this will be hugely beneficial for them.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the giving and receiving of gifts. Choosing gifts for people with dementia isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a few ideas which make the perfect present.
- A DVD of a classic film or TV series from their past, the film may help to spark memories.
- There are jigsaw puzzles available which are created especially for someone with dementia, including illustrations which can encourage reminiscence and conversation, perfect as a stimulating gift.
- Make a memory book or photo album full of special times spent together. Not only will you be creating something that you can enjoy with your loved one, this will be a reminiscent gift, that your family member can pick up and look at any time they want.
- Giving your loved one a board game to enjoy with everyone is a great gift. Active Minds have developed special dementia friendly games such as Animal Bingo and a specially adapted version of Snakes and Ladders.
- Colouring books are a relaxing activity to help a person unwind and focus, as well as giving a sense of satisfaction once the colouring is completed.
Activities are one of the most effective ways to keep people with dementia calm and content over the Christmas period, visit Active Minds to take a look at their resources and activities suitable for those with dementia.
Comments Off on How best to celebrate Christmas with a person with dementia
November 15, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Oh, the holidays! The season where everything is jolly, trees are twinkling, children’s eyes are glistening, and tables are surrounded by family’s laughter and love. This is not necessarily the case for everyone, especially for seniors. As seniors age, they may no longer feel like celebrating the holidays anymore. For them the holidays may take on a different meaning and can make them sad, depressed or feel anxious. A few key indicators of (SAD) Seasonal Affective Disorder, may be unusual fatigue or sadness or little interest in the holiday season in general.
There may be different triggers that may cause these feelings of melancholy over the holidays. Digging deep into the heart of the matter with a frank conversation will help you to make sure that your loved one has a more joyous holiday season.
Seniors may reflect on holidays past, struggling to find the joys in the present. It’s okay to treasure those old memories and keep them in a special place in their heart. Its also okay to enjoy the present holiday and find joy in making new memories.
The death of a loved one during the holidays can also be a trigger. Even if the loss occurred many years ago, it brings up memories of the loss itself bringing on feelings of grief and emptiness. There may be guilt if they are having a good time.
Take the time to talk through how your loved one is feeling and let them know that their feelings are normal. Everyone grieves in their own way. Ask them what their wishes are to help them handle it as you acknowledge their feelings together.
Here’s a few ideas:
- Light a candle in memorial
- Place the person’s picture in a special place
- Family dinner where everyone shares a special memory
Stress is another factor that can cause depression and/or anxiety among seniors. Pressure from family and friends to attend holiday celebrations the same way or differently than in the past. Keeping a senior occupied with the festivities of the season may very well be therapeutic, but nothing can ruin a holiday occasion faster than having so much to do that that you can’t enjoy the holiday. The idea of baking, decorating, shopping and all the traditions that are enjoyable may become overwhelming if overscheduled. Prioritize what is important and be realistic. Focus on what you and your loved ones need rather than what others expect of you.
Financial pressures can also cause depression for seniors on limited budgets. Not only are they purchasing gifts, but additional holidays meals and their heating expenses tend to increase. This season is an overall expensive time of year. Reminding your loved one that it truly is the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving and here are a few suggestions:
- Baked Goods
- Drawing Names
- Handmade Gifts
- Passing Down Family Heirlooms
Keep in mind that there is a difference between the holiday blues and depression. If you feel that your loved one is experiencing something more than the blues, seek the advice of a professional.
Perhaps the most effective cure to the holiday blues is a few simple physical gestures of affection such as a hug or holding a loved one’s hand. These simple acts can reduce stress, anxiety, while bringing joy and love to both of you.
As a caregiver or family member of a senior suffering with the holiday blues, make it your mission to get involved. You can make a significant difference and lessen the holiday blues for your loved ones for a more enjoyable holiday season for all.
Comments Off on Senior Health: Understanding the Holiday Blues
October 25, 2018
Courtesy of Hazel Bridges
Most of us know we could be making healthier choices, and we have some understanding of how these could help us in old age. Now that you are a senior, you may start feeling like you missed your chance. This is not the case, however, and you are never too old to take control of your health habits and start working toward a better quality of life. Here are a few simple ways to do that.
According to the CDC, the benefits of exercise as a senior include improved stamina, bone health, muscle mass, and reduced risk of injury. There is some evidence that it also improves cognitive skills such as remembering words. By regularly working out, you increase your ability to live independently, keep up with grandchildren, and generally make the most of your golden years.
You don’t have to take up a whole new sport or get into anything particularly intense. You can adjust your activity to your level of fitness and to any injuries you have. Some seniors choose to join a class where they can meet new people and have an excuse to get out the house. Learn something new, like tai chi or water aerobics, or join a walking group to socialize with other seniors from the neighborhood.
If that doesn’t sound like your thing, there are also plenty of exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. If you need equipment, a basic set of dumbbells and resistance bands can allow you to do a variety of strength workouts, which are incredibly beneficial in terms of muscle and bone strength. A yoga mat helps you stretch safely and comfortably, which can keep you flexible and improve circulation. Whatever you choose, consider investing in a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, which can help you monitor your progress. Check out iMore’s guide to Fitbits for seniors to choose the best one for you.
Eat Well — and Switch Things Up
It’s incredibly important to eat a healthy diet later in life. You may have heard that your metabolism slowing will have impacted your body’s ability to burn calories, but the truth is that this doesn’t make that big a difference. You should still focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats while avoiding sugar and processed foods. Any other specific requirements will depend on your body. Talk to your doctor to see if you could use more of a specific nutrient in your diet, such as calcium or iron.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, 15 percent of adults over 60 suffer from some kind of mental health disorder. Many of the conversations around old age and mental health revolve around dementia because it tends to occur in older adults. This awareness is important; however, it is also worth remembering that other, more common forms of mental illness also affect seniors.
This includes depression and anxiety, which could be caused by a variety of factors associated with old age. Staying active, eating well, and socializing regularly are key to promoting good mental health, with the latter in particular being essential. Seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated have an increased risk of physical and mental decline and dying earlier. If you feel your social circle is not satisfying you, join a class or group that can help you meet people. It is never too late to make new friends.
As you get older, it can be easy to feel like your quality of life is set to inevitably decline. However, it is important to remember that many of the health issues associated with old age are preventable through a few key lifestyle changes. You can enjoy a fulfilling and exciting life in your golden years as long as you commit to taking control of your physical and mental well-being.
Comments Off on How to Take Control of Your Health and Improve Your Quality of Life
October 18, 2018
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 is 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:
- General discomfort, knowing something is clearly wrong
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Abdominal Pain
- 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.
Comments Off on Navigating Flu Season for Seniors
October 11, 2018
Older Posts »
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 seems 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.
Comments Off on Understanding Sundowners Syndrome