August 12, 2020
Written by: Dr. Pamela Tronetti, DO
Sponsored by Parrish Healthcare
Mrs. James sat by her husband’s hospital bed as the days turned into weeks. Every day she peppered the staff with questions, pointed out little problems before they became big ones, demanded to know the plan for the next day, and monitored his diet, physical activity and symptoms.
Each time a new team of residents and students came, she gave them a thorough report. She also made sure that everyone knew that her husband was a person first and a set of symptoms second.
She was the watchdog who protected him. She never had to bite or even growl, but she occasionally had to bark. When someone you love is in the hospital, they need someone to be their advocate, spokesperson, and yes, watchdog. Here’s what you need to do.
You will need multiple copies of your loved one’s medical history, surgeries, allergies, and medication list. Give one to every consulting doctor, nurse, or pharmacist who comes in.
Keep a notebook to record who was in and what they said (“Karen the speech therapist says that mom needs a mechanical soft diet.” “Dr. Bo will read the echocardiogram and may do a cardiac catheterization.”)
Bring your own dry erase marker for the room’s whiteboard. You can leave your name, phone number, and notes for the staff such as “Mom is hard of hearing.”
“Fine” is not acceptable. If someone tells you that a blood count, pulse rate or oxygen level is “fine,” get the exact number. You need to track and trend numbers and get printouts of all other tests such as x-rays and cardiac reports. A good option is to access the hospital’s patient portal to see the results of all the testing.
What is your loved one eating? Sometimes when people are admitted they are placed on clear liquid diet and it is never advanced to something more substantial. Check the printout that comes with their meal tray to see what diet is listed. Advocate for as liberal a diet as possible.
On the other hand, if you know that they are scheduled for a test and should be NPO (nothing by mouth) make sure that everyone knows that. The last thing you need is to have an important procedure canceled just because someone mistakenly brought breakfast into the room and your loved one ate it.
And one more hint. Avoid the rush hours when ordering meals. Call in your dinner order before 4 p.m., lunch before 11 a.m. and breakfast the night before if possible.
Get your loved one out of bed. Get your loved one out of bed. Get your loved one out of bed! Unless there is an unstable fracture or critical medical illness, they need to be out of bed and walking as much as possible. If it is too difficult for the nursing staff, ask if there is a lift team who can help the patient get up and move around.
Use your eyes and ears. Check out as much of their skin as they will allow. Note any rash, open sores or discolored areas. Point them out to the rounding physicians. Also report if your loved one was coughing, wheezing, vomiting, constipated, complaining of pain, or if they have any other symptom that worries you.
Know the plan for today, the next day, and the rest of the stay. Get a printout of the orders for the day – labs, procedures, and tests. Then ask what will happen based on the findings. Sometimes it is a watch and wait (if someone is recovering from an acute infection or a stroke), but other times there are definite steps to be taken (three days of recovery after joint replacement surgery then rehab) and you need to be part of them.
Discharge planning is facilitated by the Case Management staff. The case manager is the person who can make arrangements for nursing home, rehab center, and home healthcare. You will want to talk to her early in the stay. You also need to make it clear that you need at least 24 hours to plan for any transfer back home or to a facility.
Remember that you don’t need to have the staff like you. You just need them to do their job while you do yours.
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June 23, 2020
By Meghan Belnap
If you have plans to get cataract surgery, it’s important that know what to expect. Cataract surgery involves removing the lens of the eye and replacing it, giving the patient clear vision. As you learn more about cataract surgery, make sure your ophthalmologist covers the following details.
When performing cataract surgery, doctors use different techniques used to remove the lens. Up until a few years ago, phacoemulsification was the most popular technique for cataract surgery. This process utilizes an ultrasound device to dissolve or emulsify the cataract. Now, many of today’s ophthalmologists use laser-assisted surgery as their procedure of choice for cataract surgery.
When speaking with your doctor about your upcoming surgery, ask them which technique they recommend. In certain cases, an ophthalmologist won’t choose laser cataract surgery as it may not be compatible with the patient’s anatomy.
Another detail to discuss with your doctor is the type of lens that will be used in the surgery. Multifocal intraocular implants are a popular option. This type of lens implant is designed for high-quality intermediate vision, near vision, and distant vision. Ultimately, ophthalmologists hope to provide their clients with glasses-free vision after their surgery, but this isn’t guaranteed.
After cataract surgery, you may feel ready to resume regular activities. However, your eye doctor may warn you about inflammation and potential infections. Doctors typically prescribe eye drops and pain relievers for recovery after surgery. In addition to these options, some ophthalmologists recommend steroids.
When it comes to cataract surgery, corticoid steroids are a popular choice for controlling ocular inflammation. Many ophthalmologists choose to use steroids as fast-acting anti-inflammatories after surgery. Be sure to speak with your doctor about using ocular steroids as a treatment for cataract surgery. Working with your ophthalmologist, you can choose a steroid that is effective for you.
How to Prepare
As you consider cataract surgery, make sure to ask your ophthalmologist what preparations you should make. Before cataract surgery, doctors recommend that patients make arrangements with their friends or family prior to cataract surgery. As your eyesight will be compromised following surgery, it’s best to have plans for a ride home once the surgery is over.
In addition to getting home from the ophthalmologist, you’ll need to prepare for the recovery period. Experts recommend a 48-hour recovery period to rest your eyes after cataract surgery. In the event that you live alone, now is the time to plan ahead and ask someone to help.
Knowing what to expect before you schedule your cataract surgery will help you make the best decisions for your health. Keep this information in mind as you follow up with your ophthalmologist about cataract surgery.
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. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.
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June 3, 2020
By Anica Oaks
If you are reaching your older years or know someone who’s a senior, it’s especially important to know about the risks of stroke. These risks increase as people get older, and learning how to recognize certain signs will make it possible for you to take quicker action that may be lifesaving. Here are four important things for every aging senior to know about stroke.
Certain Factors Increase Stroke Risk
In addition to aging, there are certain factors that could increase a senior’s chances of having a stroke. Being overweight is unhealthy at any age, but seniors should be especially diligent about maintaining a healthy weight to try to avoid a stroke. Smoking and eating high-sodium foods that increase blood pressure can also raise a senior’s risk of having a stroke. Having obstructive sleep apnea, which is sometimes more common in seniors and can interfere with breathing while trying to sleep, can further increase stroke risk.
Severe Disability Can Result
People who suffer from strokes are often left with major disabilities that make managing everyday life more difficult. Experiencing a stroke may affect your ability to walk, talk and eat without assistance. A stroke can also cause cognitive effects such as difficulty remembering or rationalizing certain thoughts or emotions. A locum tenens stroke doctor in your area can work with you or a loved one who’s suffered a stroke to try to lessen some of the debilitating effects.
Mini-strokes Can Happen
Not all strokes cause major symptoms or need medical attention right away. Also known as a transient ischemic attack (ITA), a mini-stroke occurs when blood flow to a certain part of the brain is obstructed for a short period. Even though not all mini-strokes are immediate cause for concern, they could be signs that a major stroke will occur in the future. Some of the most common signs of a mini-stroke include sudden headaches, dizziness and partial weakness or numbness.
Family History Often Plays a Role
If any of your family members had a stroke, there could be a genetic factor that will increase your chances of having one as well. This is often especially true if any family member had a stroke at a younger age. It’s important to research the medical histories of parents, grandparents and any siblings to determine if the problem runs in your family.
One of the best ways to ensure better health as a senior is to learn about the risks of having a stroke. Knowing these risks will help you take the appropriate measures to keep yourself and any other seniors in your life safer.
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November 8, 2019
By Lizzie Weakley
As we get older, our bodies may begin to require more care and might function less efficiently than when we were younger. After decades of wear and tear, our joints, muscles, and bones begin to ache from years of service. In addition, the older we get, the risk for a chronic illness increases, which may cause chronic pain or discomfort. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this problem that are both practical and affordable. Check with your doctor before trying any of these tips.
Depending on your age and overall health, your doctor may give you approval for starting an exercise program. This can be done at home by watching an exercise program for persons whose circumstances, like age and health, are similar to yours. Alternately, the doctor may suggest joining a local YMCA or recreation center exercise class that meets at least weekly. Exercise can help to strengthen bones while making joints and muscles more limber. Systematic exercise also may stimulate the production of your body’s endorphins, which can ease pain and help you feel better. The immune system may also benefit and contribute to the reduction of inflammation.
Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, and for some, white flour or gluten, may ease physical discomfort. Weight reduction for obese persons can take extra pounds off of the body frame, also reducing physical discomfort. Certain foods or a specific eating plan may be suggested by your doctor or a nutrition specialist to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to function efficiently, which may in turn lessen physical pain.
If you are a busy person with chronic pain, it may be a good idea to spend some time each day relaxing and escape stress temporarily. Taking a short nap or enjoying nature in the back yard or at the park provides a break from your daily routine, which also have a positive effect on chronic pain levels.
Medical Pain Management
Your GP may provide a referral to pain management doctors who can treat your discomfort from a medical perspective. With many treatment options to choose from, there is a good chance they can find ways to make you feel more comfortable. Pain management experts have the skills and knowledge needed to assist with chronic pain issues.
There is no need to suffer pain in silence. Try tips like these to get your pain under control so you can enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.
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July 26, 2019
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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May 23, 2019
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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April 3, 2019
By: Darleen Mahoney
As Seniors search for more Healthcare options and answers, Health fairs are becoming more and more a valuable resource. Healthcare can be confusing and overwhelming for many seniors and their caregivers. Health fairs offers seniors in the community the opportunity to engage with professionals in a relaxed and threatening or sterile atmosphere to discuss common health issues and concerns.
Many Health fairs focus on preventative and offer proactive information like health screenings, blood pressure checks, cholesterol blood tests, vision and hearing tests which may provide feedback to identify any risks. For example, Gulfside Healthcare Services located in Land O’Lakes Florida, is presenting a community Health fair for Seniors and their Caregivers on April 16th, featuring a “Healthcare Navigation Table of Experts” for one-on-one assistance with healthcare-related needs offering free blood pressure checks, free living wills, and access to information on Home Health, Palliative Care, Hospice Care and Elder Law.
Successful Health fairs can inspire health lifestyle changes in Seniors and provide support for their Caregivers.
*If you would like more information on the Gulfside Healthcare Services community Health Fair, contact them at email@example.com or 727-845-5707
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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.
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January 22, 2019
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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.
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