Archive for the ‘Fall Prevention’ Category

The Cycles of Life Part 2

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of Life 2

Try to embrace this new cycle; now instead of you being the focus of your  parent’s lives, they need some attention from you. Take an interest in their social life, discuss their hobbies, find out who their close friends are (ask for their phone numbers at some point), and try to make time to see them on a regular basis if you live nearby. If you live far away, schedule a weekly phone call or video chat. Play games with them, either in person or online. I know that you are very busy but taking time before an issue or crises comes up is hugely beneficial for everyone. Communicate with siblings or other family members involved.
Okay, now that your initial inquiry from part I has been done, you may have gotten a sense how aware, interested, and involved your loved one is in their health and healthcare. Hopefully you were able to get HIPAA releases signed and returned and you are set up at each health care provider’s office. You have read up on any health conditions, especially the chronic ones, and have your list for reference.
If your loved ones were able to answer your medical questions and they seem engaged, that’s wonderful. Keep up the conversations and ask to be updated on doctor appointments and any changes in their health and medications.
On the other hand, if it seems like they aren’t that engaged with their health, or even with life in general, this may be an indication that they are starting to need extra help. You may have less time than you originally thought but you are still being proactive and that’s all that matters.
Here are common warning signs that your aging loved one needs help at home:

• Piles of papers, mail, and unpaid bills
• Late payment notices, bounced checks
• Missed appointments
• A lack of fresh food and /or spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
• Messy house, cluttered, laundry piling up, strong odor
• Missed medications or confusion with medications
• Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
• Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
• Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
• Unexplained bruising
• Poor diet, weight loss
• There are new dents, dings or scratches on the car
• Difficulty with balance, walking and mobility
• Trouble getting up from a seated position

It can be hard to accept these signs, for both you and your loved one. Both of you may be in denial, or scared, or angry, or anxious, or all of these things. These are common reactions to this new cycle. The sooner everyone can work through these emotions the better. Time and energy must go into honest conversations, reflections, and sharing perspectives. Realize and be sensitive to what this may mean to your loved one: a loss of independence and the thought of leaving their home. Imagine you were facing that! Be gentle yet firm, be empathetic yet realistic, be compassionate yet solution oriented. Include your loved ones as much as possible in developing a strategy and reassure them you just want them to be happy, healthy, and safe. Communication is key!
Addressing some of these signs may be fairly easy, especially if you live close. Perhaps you can pick up groceries or prepare additional servings of your meals to drop off to them. Maybe you can help with opening mail and paying bills. The laundry might not be getting done because it is too heavy, so perhaps together you can work out a plan to carry or lift it. Same goes for the vacuum. Maybe you can arrange some appointments on your days off. You may want to purchase a seven-day pillbox at the drug store, it makes managing medicine much easier, especially if they have both morning and evening meds. If they are savvy with their cell phone, you can set a medicine reminder on it. Take a close look at their living space, visualize it as if you had mobility issues-can furniture be rearranged to make movement easier and safer? Are there tripping hazards that can be removed? Look at the lighting, maybe you can add some nightlights or additional lighting. Check that all lights have working bulbs.
If there are no family members near your loved ones, it may be harder to tease out some of their difficulties and therefore subsequent solutions. It may be time for a visit from you or another family member.

Yoga for Seniors – What to Know Before You Start

Posted on: March 24th, 2016 by Armistead Admin

from About Health website

One of the great things about yoga is that it is so adaptable to different populations with diverse physical abilities and needs. Though the popular image of yoga may be a young person twisted up like a pretzel with apparent ease, those who are older and less flexible can enjoy a yoga practice just as much and potentially benefit from it even more.

Is Yoga Appropriate for Seniors?

In most cases, seniors can absolutely do yoga. Many people with hectic schedules only find the time for activities like yoga in retirement. Though the tendency is to become more sedentary, retirement is the perfect time to pick up healthy habits that will promote longevity.

Attending a yoga class regularly also establishes a sense of community and friendship with teachers and fellow students. These types of social connections have been shown to be surprisingly important for maintaining halth and well being as we age.

The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

The benefits of yoga for seniors are much the same as those for the general population: increased muscle tone, balance, strength, and improved mood.

Through pranayama (breathing exercises) lung capacity is increased. You can expect your posture to improve and you may sleep better. If you experience stress, yoga can help counteract that too. But keep in mind that these benefits will not come overnight after a single yoga class. Regularly attending at least three classes a week will allow you to enjoy the best yoga has to offer.

What Kind of Yoga Should You Try?

What kind of yoga depends on your age, current level of fitness, and physical ability. If you are starting to exercise for the first time (or after a long break) or have already lost significant muscle tone and flexibility, you should start with a very gentle hatha practice.

Although it is possible to learn yoga from books and videos, the best way is through teacher instruction in a yoga class. Attending class will allow you to get the most out of yoga with the leastrisk of injury. Yoga classes especially for seniors are becoming increasingly available: check local senior centers, retirement communities, religious organizations and even health clubs.

If you can’t find a special senior class, a gentle beginners’ class will do. Iyengar yoga, with its emphasis on making postures accessible through the use of props is also good for seniors and many Iyengar centers offer classes for this demographic. Viniyoga and Kripalu, both of which make a point of tailoring the practice to fit each individual, are also great options.

Even seniors with very limited mobility can still do yoga through adaptive practices. In chair yoga , all the poses are done with the support of chairs. Water yoga is especially therapeutic since the body feels weightless and moves more easily under water. Check your local YMCA pool to see if they offer aqua yoga classes.

If you have arthritis, yoga can be a wonderful addition to your treatment, but necessitates greater care in finding the right class. A teacher trained in yoga for arthritis is ideal, but there are other ways to go if that is not available.

Finally, it you are brand new to yoga, our how to start guide offers a wealth of practical advice for newbies.

Precautions

Be sure to speak to your doctor before trying yoga, especially if you suffer from any chronic conditions or are very inactive. Those with spinal disc problems or glaucoma should take special care, as there are poses to avoid (twists and inversions, respectively).

 

Senior Strategies: Halloween safety tips for seniors

Posted on: October 26th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

Halloween night can be a scary time for seniors – and not just because of children dressed as vampires, wolf men and wicked witches. Kids accompanied by their parents don’t pose a threat, but constant knocking and large masked visitors can be intimidating regardless of intention.

This is the night when older adults – like all homeowners – speak to more unfamiliar faces over the course of a few hours than at any other time of the year. Anyone opening the front door and handing out treats has a responsibility to keep themselves and their guests safe.

“Each situation requires its own set of precautions be taken,” said Regina Mergel, activities and resident service coordinator at The Wesley Community, a Saratoga Springs nonprofit that provides senior housing and services. “The important thing is to identify concerns and address them so you can relax and enjoy the holiday.

Mergel offers a few tips for making this Halloween a safe one:

Don’t go dark – Leave interior and exterior lights on even if you’re away from home or not handing out treats. While a dark home will dissuade trick-or-treaters from knocking, it also tells vandals your house could be empty. And if you are handing out treats, make sure your exterior is well lit. Troublemakers are less likely to get unruly when they can be seen.

Keep guests outside – Hand out treats on your front porch or steps instead of inviting trick-or-treaters inside. Protecting your domain means drawing a line somewhere, and your front door is a good place to do just that. If someone asks to use the bathroom or phone, your house may not be the best place unless you have multiple adults inside.

Team effort – If you’re worried about handling Halloween alone, ask a younger relative or neighbor to drop by for a few hours. The presence of multiple people will deter would-be tricksters from targeting you or your home.

Remove hazards – Stairs are a good place to display candlelit pumpkins in the days leading up to Halloween, but may not be the best place for anything involving flames when dozens of children with tails and capes are lumbering by. While you’re at it, remove all decorations from footpaths since costumes will leave many children with impaired vision and mobility.

Communicate – Talk to your neighbors about how you can look out for each other on a night with so much foot traffic. Do you want your house watched while you head out on Halloween? Will your neighbor team up and hand out treats together? Discuss concerns in advance and find a formula that works. And don’t hesitate to report suspicious activity – better safe than sorry.

The final and most important rule is to have fun.

“Halloween is no different than any of the celebrations or activities we have here at The Wesley Community,” Mergel said. “Once you’ve addressed concerns, you’ve paved the way for enjoying the smiles, laughs and sense of community that Halloween can offer.

Senior Strategies is a monthly feature in The Saratogian. For more information, call The Wesley Community at 587-3600 or visit www.wesleyhealth.com.

June is National Safety Month

Posted on: June 8th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. But there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries.

Make a difference: Spread the word about ways to reduce the risk of injuries. Encourage communities, workplaces, families, and individuals to identify and report safety hazards.

How can National Safety Month make a difference?

We can all use this month to raise awareness about important safety issues like:

  • Prescription painkiller abuse
  • Transportation safety
  • Ergonomics
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Slips, trips, and falls

Everyone can get involved in reducing the risk of injuries. Together, we can share information about steps people can take to protect themselves and others.

How can I help spread the word?

We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference! This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:

Seniors and Alcohol Abuse

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

By Loren Stein, M.A.

If you’re over 60, you may use alcohol in much the way you did when you were younger. You may have a glass of wine at a meal, a beer or two at a ball game, or a gin and tonic at a party with friends. And if your doctor says it’s fine for you to drink, there’s probably nothing wrong with it.

But if you’ve found yourself feeling tense and irritable when you’re not drinking, you may have a problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 80,000 of this country’s nearly 8 million alcoholics are seniors. It’s a problem that’s often hidden. Problem drinking often goes undiagnosed for the simple reason that people tend to live less public lives as they grow older. Furthermore, doctors may not link symptoms that are also common signs of aging — falls, loss of appetite, failing memory, sleep problems, or depression — to alcohol abuse.

How can I recognize the signs of alcohol abuse?

Not everyone who drinks has an alcohol problem. The NIAAA offers some guidelines to help determine whether you or someone you care about may be abusing alcohol. You might want to get help if you notice any of the following:

  • Drinking to calm the nerves, forget worries, or reduce depression
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Gulping drinks down too fast
  • Lying or trying to hide drinking habits
  • Hurting yourself or others while drinking
  • Frequently have more than one drink a day
  • Needing more alcohol to get “high”
  • Feeling irritable, resentful, or unreasonable when not drinking
  • Developing medical, social, or financial problems caused by drinking

Another set of questions commonly used to determine if a senior has an alcohol problem is the “CAGE” test, developed by Dr. John Ewing:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (eye opener) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

Answering “yes” to two or more of these questions may indicate a drinking problem.

Why would I drink too much?

It’s all individual. You might begin drinking more after retirement because the sudden overabundance of free time can leave you with the feeling that you’ve lost purpose in life. The resulting boredom and sense of uncertainty could invite you to drink more than you usually do. Or you might have suffered from loneliness after your children moved away, or after the death of your spouse or friends. It’s natural to feel lonely under those circumstances, which push some people to turn to alcohol for comfort. You might also be suffering from stress or depression. The very real difficulties of aging — failing health, limited mobility, financial hardships, or caring for an ailing spouse — can easily pile up and impel seniors to drink. Or — and this is true in two-thirds of the cases of alcohol abuse in later life — you might have had a drinking problem that has gotten worse over the years.

Does sensitivity to alcohol increase with age?

Yes. Animal and human studies show that sensitivity to alcohol increases with age. Based on that information, the NIAAA recommends that people over 65 have no more than one drink per day.

The reason? You have a decreased tolerance for alcohol. As we age, our bodies don’t metabolize and excrete alcohol as efficiently; this results in higher blood alcohol levels per drink and swifter, longer-lasting intoxication. Even if you were a moderate drinker in your youth, you may find that the same amount of alcohol you used to drink will lead to trouble when you’re older.

Why is alcohol abuse especially harmful to people over 60?

According to the NIAAA, alcohol increases the risks for falls and accidents, which can be very serious for people in this age group. It also slows down brain activity, affecting alertness, judgment, coordination, and reaction time.

In addition, drinking worsens many medical conditions common in older people, including high blood pressure and ulcers. What’s more, the effects of alcohol can make some medical conditions hard to diagnose. For example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels and can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack. Alcohol abuse can also mimic Alzheimer’s disease, with its symptoms of confusion and memory loss. Over time, heavy drinking permanently damages the brain and central nervous system as well as the liver, heart, kidneys, and stomach.

Finally, your age group is the heaviest users of prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs of all population sectors, and mixing these substances with alcohol can either exaggerate or reduce the effects of many medications. In turn, drugs can intensify the impact of alcohol. (A good number of medications, in fact, already contain alcohol.)

Be aware that mixing alcohol with drugs such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, as well as some antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, and painkillers, is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. If you drink, consult with a doctor or pharmacist about potential interaction problems with the drugs you’re taking. And always make sure to check prescription drugs for instructions and warnings about alcohol.

How widespread is problem drinking among seniors?

While alcohol use generally declines with age, by 2040 more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65 and some experts speculate this may put more of a burden on health care services for seniors who are at risk of alcohol abuse. In fact, one survey shows that nearly as many seniors are admitted to acute care hospitals for alcohol-related conditions as admissions for heart attacks. In another large survey, published in 2007, researchers gathered data from almost a dozen hospitals and found that 24 percent of people over 65 binge drank and almost 8 percent exceeded the NIAAA guideline for seniors of drinking no more than seven alcoholic beverages in a week.

Who is most likely to become a problem drinker?

Women, take note: While alcoholism in general is five times as likely to affect men than women, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that women are more likely to become alcoholics late in life. In addition, women do not metabolize alcohol as efficiently as men do, so they are more likely to become dangerously intoxicated. Late-stage complications of alcoholism in women — liver damage, hypertension, anemia, and malnutrition — develop faster and with lower levels of alcohol intake than in men.

Of elderly problem drinkers, two-thirds are “chronic” abusers, or people who have been heavy drinkers for many years. The rest are termed “situational” drinkers, having turned to alcohol later in life in response to significant and often traumatic life changes, such as bereavement, illness, disability, and retirement. Among situational drinkers, women outnumber men.

Where can I go for help?

Here’s the good news: According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors who seek help for a drinking problem have a good chance for recovery because they are likely to stick with treatment programs, especially when the programs are geared specifically to seniors’ needs.

If you are family members or friends of an elder with a drinking problem, you can also help by realistically assessing the difficulties he or she faces and being alert to changes in behavior. You can assist a senior with a drinking problem by helping him acknowledge and mourn any losses that may have spurred the problem drinking, by helping him find treatment and a support group, and by suggesting alternative activities. If he or she is in danger from alcoholism, you may want to do an intervention — that is, confront the person (perhaps with a counselor present) about the difficulties caused by the alcohol abuse and suggest the person immediately enter an inpatient or outpatient detoxification and rehabilitation program.

References

Seniors and Alcohol and Seniors and Drugs. Anoka, MN: Minnesota Prevention Resource Center. 1992.

Brymer C, Rusnell I. Reducing substance dependence in elderly people: the side effects program. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Autumn;7(3):161-6.

Todtman K, Todtman D. Seniors outreach program: an alternative service for older people with substance use problems. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1997 Nov;8(4):405-8.

Grant, B.F.et al. The 12-month prevalence and trends in DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: United States, 19911992 and 20012002. Drug Alcohol Depend, Volume 74, Number 3 2004

National Institute on Alcohol Aging. Alcohol Use In Older People. February 2010.http://www.nia.nih.gov

Kirchner JE et al. Alcohol Consumption Among Older Adults in Primary Care. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Volume 22, Number 1. January 2007.

 
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