Posts Tagged ‘preventative steps’

Do You Know The Answer to These Common Questions About Breast Cancer?

careforagingparent

You probably know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But do you know the answer to these questions about the disease? Click here to put your breast cancer knowledge to the test!

Chronic Illness and Aging

Many people assume that chronic health problems are an inevitable part of aging. While it is true your likelihood of suffering from many diseases and health conditions does increase as you age, it is not necessarily a given. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “older adults who practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of clinical preventive services, and continue to engage with family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently, and incur fewer health-related costs.”

Over 70% of older Americans are living with multiple chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. These persistent diseases can take their toll on a person in many ways, including a loss of independence, depression, lower quality of life, hospitalization, and a higher mortality rate. The financial cost of chronic conditions to individuals and the health care system each year is enormous. According to the National Council on Aging, over 90% of Medicare expenses are related to individuals dealing with chronic conditions. The good news is that there are proven ways to help aging Americans take charge of their health and avoid chronic disease. In an effort to help connect programs designed to help older Americans make healthier lifestyle choices to seniors in need, the National Council on Aging is partnering with the U.S. Administration on Community Living. The goal of the agreement is to make sure that the individuals suffering from chronic health conditions have access to the information and programs they need to manage and control their diseases.

The CDC is also working hard to promote the health of older Americans. Key areas of focus include encouraging seniors to utilize clinical preventative services such as immunizations and cancer screenings, helping older Americans adopt healthier lifestyles by incorporating more physical activity and smarter food choices into their daily regimen, and addressing mental health issues and cognitive impairment.

For more information, visit the National Council on Aging’s website. The CDC’s website is another great resource for information on chronic disease prevention and management.

 

The Caregiving Burden

Family caregivers often have to make huge sacrifices to be able to take care of a spouse or relative in need. These sacrifices most commonly involve missed time at work, less time to spend with the rest of their family and friends, and fewer hours for themselves. Over time, these daily sacrifices can leave the caregiver feeling both physically and emotionally drained. Recognizing the caregiving “burden” for what it truly is can help a caregiver take the necessary steps to prevent burnout.

A 2009 study entitled “Caregiving in the U.S. A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 and Older” by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP actually sought to define and measure the “burden” placed on family caregivers by looking at the amount of time they spent providing care each week in combination with the type of daily activities they assist with. According to this study, nearly one-third of caregivers are in a high-burden situation, with caregivers 65 years and older being most likely to have a high burden. This same study found that over 50% of caregivers say that the emotional stress of caregiving is moderate to high. Those who are in a high burden care situation are the most likely to report a high level of emotional stress. Those caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease typically fall in the high burden/high emotional stress category as well.

The fact that many people feel forced into caregiving due to lack of options makes the burden feel that much greater. Take steps to ease the burden before it becomes more than you can bear. Connecting with support groups and other caregivers in your situation either in person or on the internet can be an outlet for your emotional stress. Just knowing other people are going through the same thing you are can buoy your spirit through a shared sense of camaraderie. Need other suggestions for maintaining your sanity? Ask family and friends for help, hire a professional caregiver from a trusted company like Home Care Plus to give you much needed breaks during the week, maintain an exercise routine, go on vacation—taking care of yourself is as important to being a good caregiver as anything else you do to help your loved one.

September Newsletter: Permission to Veg Out!

News You Need to Know

Check out our September newsletter for great tips on how much fruit & vegetables you should be eating, why protecting your eyesight is so important, and much more!

Looking Out For Your Eyes!

Protecting your eyesight as you age might be more important to your health and quality of life than you realize. Older people with poor eyesight often have to curtail activities that bring them joy and a sense of independence, including driving, reading, and watching TV.  According to the CDC’s publication, The State of Vision, Aging and Public Health in America, elderly people experiencing vision loss are more likely to have other health problems, suffer from falls or other injuries, be depressed and/or socially withdrawn and even have a higher mortality rate. Given what is at stake, making an annual visit to the eye doctor should be a no brainer.

There are several different types of eye disease that can strike as we age, including cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens, which reduces the amount of light that can enter the eye. Over 24 million Americans age 40 and up suffer from cataracts, and corrective surgery for cataracts is extremely routine and has a 95% success rate. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that for patients with cataracts, having cataract surgery reduced their likelihood of suffering a hip fracture from a fall in the year following surgery as compared to cataract patients who did not undergo corrective surgery. Good eyesight is critical to maintaining good balance, and cataracts often cause vision changes that affect postural stability. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss or blindness if it’s not treated early. Age-related macular degeneration affects a person’s ability to see fine detail. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina.

Fortunately, roughly half of all vision problems can be corrected or lessened through preventative eye care or corrective treatments. Lifestyle changes can help too—smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries can all contribute to vision loss but can be managed by you. It is recommended that adults have a comprehensive eye exam, including dilation, at least once every couple of years. Looking out for your eyes can help you live a longer, healthier, happier life!

Great article on the benefits of exercise and yoga in preventing falls

senior yoga

Perhaps you are one of the growing number of baby boomers in our country, or maybe you are hoping to help your aging parents  remain independent as long as possible. A great way to keep them safe from falls as they age is to encourage them to exercise and stay active. The Post and Courier’s article Preventing falls becomes tantamount as baby boomers move into their senior years is a great read for anyone entering their senior years.

A Smile a Day May Keep the Heart Doc Away!

 

laughing-senior-couple

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, a John Hopkins team of medical researchers examined 7,400 Americans and found an association between optimism and fewer cardiac events. While the study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, Lisa Yanek, the study lead, found that despite having many risk factors for heart disease, the cheerful participants had a reduced risk of heart attacks, cardiac death, and other heart problems. Add a dose of laughter and happiness to your apple a day to keep visits to the doctor at bay!

The full article, Sunny Disposition May Shield You From Heart Problems, can be found at Medline Plus.

Taking Senior Safety Seriously: Part 2

As part of our focus on safety (June is National Safety Month!), our blog last week looked at some common safety concerns around the house—a sort of “senior proofing” exercise for any caregiver. Falls are a particularly common and dangerous hazard for seniors, but other safety concerns should be on a caregiver’s radar as well.

Driving is an activity that can become less safe as we age. Unfortunately it is never easy to have a conversation with your aging loved one about their ability to drive, but it is important to monitor them closely to prevent dangerous accidents. Declining eyesight and slower reaction times can make driving more dangerous. Medications and their side effects could also impair a driver’s cognitive ability. If you notice your loved one coming home with scratches or dents on their car or if they start getting in minor traffic incidents, it may be time to take away the keys. Fortunately many cities offer alternate forms of transportation for the elderly, and in-home care companies such as Home Care Plus can often handle a client’s driving needs. Offering solutions to your loved one will help them retain their sense of independence and will make giving up driving easier.

Many aging adults take multiple prescription medications to manage the myriad medical conditions they suffer from. Side effects can alter everything from moods to mobility, which can make everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and running errands less safe. Certain drugs don’t mix well with others, so it’s important that your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist know of all the medications they are taking so they can screen for potential problems. Keeping an accurate list of meds is even more important if they are seeing multiple doctors or using multiple pharmacies. Remembering which drugs need to be taken with food or how many times a day to take a certain medication can be tricky, so consider using one of the many apps available today, such as Apple’s MedCoach app, to help you and your loved one keep track.

Poor hearing or declining vision can make everyday life challenging. Navigating the house, going for a walk, cooking—these skills will have to be re-learned as the physical changes progress. Spend time with your loved one in the kitchen to make sure they are still cautious and observant when using the stove and other appliances. Encourage your loved one to use timers when they cook. Consider investing in a phone with a larger keypad so it is easier to see. Home medical alert or emergency devices are a great idea if your love one is home alone for extended periods of time.

National Safety Month is a great time to do a little “senior proofing” around your or your loved one’s house. Most aging adults want to remain in their own home as long as possible, so if it is no longer safe for them to be there alone, bring in a caring, qualified company like Home Care Plus to help keep them safe.

 

Heat Safety Tips from the CDC

elderly_woman with water

Stay Safe As Temperatures Rise This Summer

Heat related illness and death strikes many people each year, and it can usually be avoided. Find out how you can keep yourself and loved ones safe this summer by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Extreme Heat tips.