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Falls are a Big Deal for the Elderly

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 No Comments

While it may seem like no big deal for a young person to slip and fall, falls and their resulting injuries can prove fatal for an elderly person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an elderly person dies from a fall every 20 minutes in the United States.

There are a number of factors that make falls more dangerous for people over age 65. Bone density decreases with age, and weaker bones mean falls can result in fractures and broken bones. The elderly also have to deal with side effects from medications, poor vision and reduced mobility—all of which increase the risk for falls. People are also at risk for traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall. Hospital stays and recovery tend to take longer for the elderly, and according to a study published at the University of Rochester Medical Center, only 22% of fall victims age 70+ were able to regain independent living status after being discharged from a fall-related hospitalization.

Fortunately many steps can be taken to fall proof your loved one’s home. Adding no-slip mats and grab bars in the shower, keeping the floor clear of clutter, and using good lighting can help prevent falls around the house. Taking bone-building supplements and exercising can strengthen bones and improve mobility.

Falls for the elderly are a serious issue, and improving awareness of the risks and preventative steps can go a long way to preserving quality of life for many older Americans.

 

 

Why We Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Posted on: September 24th, 2017 No Comments

The Home Care Plus team recently participated in the Charleston Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This wonderful event helps raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, research and support. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a debilitating disease that destroys a person’s memory and cognitive abilities over time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it currently affects over 5 million Americans and is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented or cured. Millions of caregivers provide billions of unpaid hours of care each year  to individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.

National Immunization Awareness Month

Posted on: August 28th, 2017

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and with flu season only a few months away, it is a great time to remind older adults that vaccines aren’t just for kids! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults over age 65 are at greatest risk for complications from the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and above get a flu vaccine by the end of October if possible.

Older adults are also at risk for contracting shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. According to the CDC, one in three adults age 60+ will get shingles, and one in six will suffer from long-term pain caused by their bout with shingles. A vaccine can reduce your risk of contracting shingles and, if you do get the virus, it can help lessen the chance that you will suffer from long-term pain.

Be sure to discuss which vaccines are recommended for you with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can tell you which vaccines are appropriate given your age, health history and other personal information.

For more information on the CDC’s vaccination schedule, visit their website

Unintentional Injuries: How Can You Protect Yourself?

Posted on: July 26th, 2017

According to the National Safety Council, more than 145,000 deaths in 2015 were the result of unintentional injuries. Topping the list is poisoning, usually as a result of a prescription drug overdose. Motor vehicle crashes come in second for unintentional-injury-related deaths. Everyone can do their part to make the roads safer by not texting while driving or driving while tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In terms of unintentional injuries, the elderly are especially at risk for dying from falls or suffocation by choking. Fortunately there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk for falls. Keeping floors clear and uncluttered, making sure indoor and outdoor lighting is sufficient for visibility, installing grab bars and no-slip mats in showers and tubs, and keeping often-used items easily accessible are just a few ways you can reduce fall risk. In addition, staying active and practicing yoga or tai chi can improve balance and coordination, which can significantly reduce your risk of falling.

For more information on fall prevention and protecting yourself from unintentional injury or death, visit the National Safety Council’s website.

Heat Stroke: Know the Signs

Posted on: June 30th, 2017

Shot of an old lady sitting on the grass on a sunny day, feeling faint, and a young woman assisting her

As the mercury rises this summer, it is important to recognize the signs of heat stroke and know how to prevent it. Older people are more susceptible to heat stroke because their bodies are less adaptable to changes in temperature. In addition, certain medications can also affect how their bodies react to changing temperatures.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following are all signs of heat stroke:

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Feeling confused
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you or a loved one experiences the above symptoms. While you can cool someone off by bringing them into an air-conditioned home or using cool towels on them, the CDC says you should not give them anything to drink.

If you are caring for an aging loved one, make sure they drink plenty of water, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Make sure they spend time in air conditioned buildings or in a cool, shady spot during the hottest part of the day. Have them dress in light colored, loose fitting clothing and avoid strenuous exercise or activity during the heat of the day.

For more information on heat stroke and heat-related illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s Hurricane Season: Are You Ready?

Posted on: June 28th, 2017

palms at hurricane

It’s that time of year again—the 2017 hurricane season officially kicked off on June 1st and there have already been several tropical disturbances to date. It’s always a good idea to review your emergency plan with your family and make sure you have a disaster supply kit with up-to-date non-perishables and other necessities on hand.

An emergency plan lets you and your loved ones know where to go and how to communicate during an emergency. Build in alternative forms of communication in case of cell service disruption and power outages. For more information on developing an emergency plan, visit Ready.gov.

What should your disaster supply kit include? Pack enough water and non-perishable food for 3 days per person, flashlights & batteries, and a first aid kit. For a complete list of other emergency kit essentials, visit Ready.gov.

It’s a good idea to review your evacuation routes. If you are local, you likely experienced Hurricane Matthew last October and the experience may be relatively fresh on your mind. Consider what worked (and what didn’t work) during and after the storm and adjust your plans and preparation accordingly.

For more information on hurricane and emergency preparedness, visit Ready.gov.

Is It Alzheimer’s?

Posted on: June 1st, 2017

A senior couple. The wife is caring for the husband.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is not a normal part of aging. The disease usually strikes individuals 65 years and over, but younger people are not without risk. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments available that can help slow the progression of the disease and help manage symptoms. Early detection can make a huge difference in the quality of life of someone who is diagnosed with this disease.

So what are some of the symptoms and how do you know whether to worry? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 early warning signs that you or your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease. If you are suddenly forgetting dates or information you just recently learned, having difficulty completing tasks or following a conversation, and misplacing things, it may be time to call your doctor. The Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease is a great guide for knowing when a symptom is something to worry about or whether it is just a normal part of aging. Knowing your risk factors for this disease and knowing the early warning signs can help you identify red flags—and seek appropriate medical help sooner rather than later.

May is Older Americans Month

Posted on: May 30th, 2017

Older Americans Month is really a celebration of what aging means in today’s society. Being an “older” adult doesn’t mean the end of your career or that you suddenly have to give up doing the things you love. In fact, the opposite is often true–seniors today are taking on a new career, trying new hobbies, and volunteering with organizations that inspire them. Encore.org is utilizing those in midlife and beyond and their  “powerful source of talent with the accumulated skills, experience and wisdom to tackle some of society’s most urgent challenges.” Whether you are looking for volunteer work or a supplemental revenue stream, Encore helps seniors connect work, service and social impact. The National Center for Creative Aging is another great resource for seniors interested in the arts. Considering a second career in retirement? The AARP’s article “Ready for Your Second Career” can answer some of the questions you might have. Growing older has never been so fulfilling!

Grow Your Greens!

Posted on: May 1st, 2017

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The warm, sunny days of spring and summer offer the perfect opportunity to get outside and exercise your green thumb. Gardening offers many physical and emotional benefits. Almost everyone’s health could benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables (which are high in fiber and antioxidants), so plant a few of your favorites or expand your horizons and try something new. Being outside helps reduce stress and anxiety, and weeding, planting and tending to your garden keeps you active. A flower garden can brighten your yard and your mood with every colorful bloom that grows.

Gardening doesn’t have to be intimidating, even for novices. Most plants don’t require a lot—just plenty of sunshine, decent soil and regular watering. Tomatoes, basil, squash and greens are great plants for gardening newbies to start with. If you don’t have space in your yard for a traditional garden, tomato plants and herbs like basil, cilantro and rosemary can be grown in containers in a sunny corner of your porch. Just make sure they are convenient to a hose or another water source to make watering easy.

Studies have shown that physical activity decreases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and protects cognitive function. Gardening keeps you active—tilling the soil, spreading mulch, weeding, planting, watering—every little bit of movement helps. Make a plan to visit your local garden store today!

Your Brain Health and Aging

Posted on: April 26th, 2017

Female Anatomy Brain Full

The human brain is a wonderful, complex organ, which, among other things, is responsible for our cognition and memory. Unfortunately for many, aging brings a host of unwanted changes, both physical and mental. Many people mistakenly believe that you either get dementia (or other forms of cognitive decline) as you age or you don’t—but research has found many factors can contribute to or make cognitive decline worse. The good news is that a number of these risk factors are within our control and, like so many other chronic diseases and health conditions, can be managed by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Did you know that poor oral health has been linked to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oral Health Basics)? Researchers are currently studying whether a common bacteria associated with chronic periodontal disease could play a role in dementia. A small study at the University of Central Lancashire found products from the bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in the brains of several deceased individuals who suffered from dementia. Visiting the dentist on a routine basis, along with consistent daily brushing and flossing can help bolster oral health.

The ACL, NIH and CDC have collaborated on several wonderful resources to help you better understand certain risk factors for dementia and steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Check out their Brain Health as You Age fact sheet and their Medicine, Brain and Your Age informational resource to learn more. Exercising, eating a diet high in fiber with lots of fruits and veggies, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline as well as many other chronic diseases.