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It is important to plan for the future and empower ourselves with options that meet our needs and desires. When faced with a life-limiting or terminal illness, many decisions must be made. These decisions can involve financial matters, advance directives, funeral arrangements, how the last days of life will be spent, and other issues. Even though discussing these issues may bring up feelings regarding difficult losses and changes, it is important to be proactive and to communicate in order to ensure choice and control during difficult times.Continue reading
Feeling Dizzy? One of These Culprits Could Be to Blame
With the right care, dizziness can often be treated. Here are five things that can cause dizziness and what can be done to treat it.
Bouts of dizziness are common for seniors, with 30 percent of people over age 60 and 50 percent of people over age 85 experiencing dizziness. But while this issue is common, that does not mean it can be shrugged off as a natural part of aging.
With the right care, dizziness can often be treated. Here are five things that can cause dizziness and what can be done to treat it.
You may think vertigo and dizziness are the same thing, but vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness in which individuals feel like their world is spinning. The most common kind of dizziness for seniors is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is caused by crystals in the inner ear becoming dislodged. If BPPV is the cause of your dizziness, it can be treated with some simple maneuvers that help the crystals move back into place.
“Vertigo can not only be frustrating for seniors, but it can also be deadly,” says Clay Gardner, executive director at Vista Knoll Specialized Care Facility. “Untreated, dizziness can lead to falls, which can cause broken bones and even death. Getting appropriate treatment can help cure vertigo and avoid dangerous complications.”
Sudden vertigo that lasts up to a week could be the result of a prior infection. Vestibular neuritis is often caused by a viral respiratory illness like the flu that causes the nerve cells in the inner ear to become inflamed. Vertigo caused by infections can be treated with anti-nausea medication or physical therapy. Steroids for inflammation can also help bring down the swelling in the inner ear.
Some medications can cause dizziness, especially among elderly patients. For people with high blood pressure, hypertension medication could be to blame for dizziness that happens when they get up too quickly. Other medications like salicylates and some cancer drugs can cause permanent damage to the inner ear, affecting a person’s hearing and balance. Unfortunately, people who are taking medicine for dizziness could actually end up with more dizziness, as some sedatives can worsen the symptoms.
If you have dizziness along with ringing in your ear, distorted hearing, and nausea, you may have Meniere’s syndrome. These attacks can last for a few minutes or for several hours. Meniere’s can be treated on several fronts, including diet and medication. Limiting salt and caffeine can help, and anti-nausea medication might provide some relief.
Stroke or TIA
Strokes, or transient ischemic attacks (TIA), aren’t the most common reasons for dizziness in seniors, but they are one of the most serious. Because time is of the essence when treating a stroke, it is important to rule stroke out when sudden dizziness occurs. Symptoms of a stroke can be similar to vestibular neuritis, so you should seek medical attention the first time you experience dizziness to figure out what is causing it. People who are having a stroke often have other symptoms like confusion, numbness, or slurred speech. Even without other symptoms, someone with dizziness could still be having a stroke or TIA, which can lead to a stroke.
Dizziness is a common complaint among seniors, but it does not need to be a fact of life. If you are experiencing dizziness, get medical attention. Your doctor can help determine what is causing your dizziness and figure out the best treatment.
A Thriving Social Life Will Do Wonders for Your Body and Mind
Here are four things to know about the benefits of having an active social life and how to improve socialization.
As people get older and circumstances change, their social lives can suffer. From the death of a spouse to family and friends moving on to new endeavors, a person may find him or herself suddenly socially isolated.
Eight percent of American seniors live in social isolation, and the situation can have a big impact on physical and mental health. Here are four things to know about the benefits of having an active social life and how to improve socialization.
Social Isolation Can Lead to Depression
Loneliness can lead to depression in older adults. People who are divorced or whose spouses have died may feel lonely and disconnected from other family members as well. Depression and loneliness can contribute to a lower quality of life. However, socializing with others and building new friendships can improve feelings of well-being and improve mood.
Socializing Can Benefit Physical Health
While socialization can improve mental health, it also has an effect on physical health. People who socialize with others and have a strong support system have been shown to live longer. Elderly people with a strong social network of friends and family may have a stronger immune system. This can help people fight off infections and improve overall health.
Cognitive Health Can Be Improved with Socialization
Social connections may help fight dementia and improve cognitive function. Researchers believe interacting with others can help people avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People with large social networks of people to rely on and socialize with keep their brains active and focused, which helps cognitive function.
Look for New Ways to Socialize with Others
While socializing improves physical, mental, and cognitive health, it may be difficult to find new ways to spend time with other people. Look for opportunities to meet other people, such as visiting a senior center or volunteering with a group. If you are retired, get a part-time job that will offer opportunities to interact with new people. If you live far from family, consider moving closer. Moving into a retirement home may provide an avenue to form new friendships.
It can be easy for people to become socially isolated in old age as family dynamics change and friends move away. Staying socially connected with other people can have a positive impact on a person’s well-being. Make an effort to step outside of your comfort zone to meet new people and have an active, thriving social life. Whether you beef up old relationships or form new ones, your life will benefit from spending time with others.
Are You Protected From Bone Loss?
Important Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Osteoporosis
Here are five things to know about Osteoporosis and what can be done to prevent it.
Breaking a bone isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time. But when a simple sneeze could break a bone, it is more than just a painful inconvenience. More than 50 million people in the United States have osteoporosis or low bone mass, and an estimated 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men over age 50 will break a bone due to the disease.
Osteoporosis may seem like a disease you only worry about later in life but preventing the painful disease can begin in infancy. Here are five things to know about osteoporosis and what can be done to prevent it.
Osteoporosis affects bone mass
Osteoporosis is a disease affecting the bones. Over time, a person with osteoporosis will lose bone density. The bones become more fragile and porous, which increases the risk of a fracture. Bones naturally have holes and spaces in them, but with osteoporosis, the holes and spaces grow much larger.
Related link: Bouncing back from accidental falls
Osteoporosis doesn’t present obvious symptoms. “Instead, most people don’t realize they have bone loss until they have a serious injury,” said Tanya Sydnor, wellness director at Redmond Heights Senior Center. “But there are early signs of bone loss. Talk with your healthcare provider if you experience prolonged back pain, loss of height, and a change in posture. Those are sometimes indicators of bone loss.”
Women have a higher risk
Everybody is at risk of osteoporosis. However, women get osteoporosis more than men, and the risk of getting the disease increases with age. White and Asian women also have a higher risk, as do people who have a family member with osteoporosis. People with smaller body frames also have a higher chance of getting the disease. Several risk factors for osteoporosis are preventable, like eating disorders, hormones, medications, activity level, smoking and drinking.
It is a “silent” disease
Osteoporosis is often unnoticed until a bone breaks. It develops silently because there are no signs of the bone loss before a fracture. A bone break that occurs due to a minor injury like a sneeze, bump or fall could be a sign of osteoporosis. Other signs of the disease include height loss or a curving spine. Osteoporosis is diagnosed using a bone mineral density test, which can test.
Exercise and medication can help
Treatment for osteoporosis can vary depending on how far the bone loss has advanced. If the risk of a bone breaking is not high, treatment for the disease may focus on a healthy lifestyle. Treatment can include a diet high in calcium in vitamin D and exercise. “We have exercise classes every day to build bone and strength,” said Sydnor. People with osteoporosis must also avoid situations likely to cause a fall and lead to a broken bone. Medications are also available to help stimulate bone growth and improve bone density.
A healthy lifestyle is crucial
Many risk factors for osteoporosis cannot be prevented, but lifestyle changes can improve bone health and minimize the risk. Calcium, vitamin D and exercises can help keep bones strong. Eating foods that are rich in calcium throughout a person’s life will help build strong bones and lower the risk of osteoporosis. Bones continue to grow and strengthen throughout adolescence, reaching peak bone mass in a person’s mid-20s. Developing a healthy lifestyle early in life helps bone growth and development. A 10 percent increase in peak bone mass reduces the risk of a fracture due to osteoporosis as an adult by 50 percent. Avoiding smoking and alcohol is also recommended for anyone at risk of osteoporosis. Smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to bone loss, and drinking alcohol increases the risk of falling and breaking a bone.
Osteoporosis is a serious bone disease that many seniors will have to deal with in their lifetime. Although it may not be completely preventable, steps can be taken to lower the risk of the disease with a healthy lifestyle.
This article was originally published by the Daily Herald and republished here with permission.
5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System
There are steps you can take to keep your immune system strong.
Things tend to slow down a little as people age, and the immune system is no exception. Older people tend to get sick easier and take longer to recover from illnesses.
Although the immune system can decline with age, there are steps people can take throughout their lives to keep their immune system going strong. In general, a healthy lifestyle will benefit the immune system, from eating right to sleeping well and getting your shots.
Get some exercise
Regular exercise will improve a person’s overall health, which benefits the immune system. Exercise improves the cardiovascular system and protects a person’s body from some diseases. All of the specific immunity benefits from exercise aren’t yet determined, but a healthy lifestyle helps keep your immune system happy and healthy. Exercise may help cells move better and do their jobs right.
Eat a colorful diet
Your mom always told you to eat your fruits and vegetables, and she was right. Good nutrition helps boost your immune system, and a few essential components of your diet are especially helpful for boosting your immunity. Fill your plate with balanced portions that include protein, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A can be found in orange and red foods like red peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes, as well as spinach.
Vitamin C is a well-known immune system helper and is found in citrus fruits and strawberries, among other foods. Enjoy some nuts, nut butters and nut oils for your fill of Vitamin E, and enjoy lean meats, seafood, beans and seeds for zinc.
“Eating a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables is a proven way to bolster the immune system, but sometimes eating loads of vegetables is hard to do every day,” said LaShonda Mitchell, director of nursing at Desert Terrace Healthcare Center. “That is why we love to drink our fruits and vegetables. A morning smoothie is just the ticket for providing needed energy and the vitamins and minerals necessary to build a strong immune system.”
Go to sleep
Getting adequate sleep will help your immunity in more ways than one. It can help reduce stress, and it gives your body the physical rest it needs to stay healthy. Lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to illnesses you are exposed to and can make it take longer for you to get better when you are sick. Get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night to help your body fight off infections.
Get your vaccines
Related link: Are You At Risk of Getting Shingles?
As you age, it can be harder for your immune system to fight off illnesses. Give it the help it needs by getting recommended vaccinations. Get the flu vaccine every year, as well as the pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines. Be sure to get the shingles vaccine if you are over age 50, even if you have had shingles before.
Be a homebody
Related link: 5 Healthy Ways To Live Longer and Stronger
There’s no need to go overboard and become a recluse, but it may be wise to stay away from sick people when you can. Avoid shaking hands when people have a cold and wash your hands often. A little prevention can go a long way in helping your immune system do its job.
Your immune system may not be quite what is used to be, but it’s no slouch either. With a little help from a healthy lifestyle, your immune system can still fight off infections with the best of them.
This article was originally published in the Daily Herald and republished here with permission.
Bouncing Back From Accidental Falls
Here are five everyday tips to practice and implement to prevent falls.
We do a lot for the people we care about, especially those who spent their early life caring for us. We make sure they eat right, exercise, spend quality time with friends and family, and visit their doctor. We do what we can to handle their changing needs, but one slip or misstep can make their world come crashing down. Accidental falls, or unintentional injuries, are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. The reasons vary, but experts attribute these injuries to diminished balance brought on by medications, poor vision, and the lack of exercise, namely strength training.
There are a number of safety measures a caregiver can take to reduce the risk of injury within their loved one’s home, such as lighting and removing clutter, but older adults can also use daily exercise to improve their sense of balance to better navigate the bumpy road ahead.
Did you know that squatting is the most primitive movement pattern known to mankind? In fact, our ancestors used to perform this type of movement in daily activities such as harvesting, hunting, gathering, cooking, eating, etc.
Scott Dagenais, rehab director at Palm Terrace Healthcare and Rehab Center, advises grabbing a chair to hold onto for balance when performing this movement. The first step is to stand shoulder width apart and simply lower yourself down while engaging the core. Make sure to squeeze the glutes, keep your head up, and hold for a couple of seconds. To take the exercise up a notch, raise your toes up and then back down. Repeat this 10 times for three sets. This exercise helps with independent balance as it increases quadriceptive and glute strength.
Single leg stance
Movement can become a bit shaky as we age and especially as we move from side to side or reach up to grab something. The single leg stance is another exercise to improve balance to prevent falling in the elderly. This movement begins in the same stance as the squat, however, instead of dipping down, you lift your leg up to the side and then bring it back. Make sure to squeeze the glute, hold it for a few seconds, repeat, and alternate legs. As you become more advanced, try to close your eyes!
Regular eye check-ups
The Vision Council of America reports that approximately 75 percent of adults use some form of vision correction. According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), “A rapidly increasing proportion of the aging population experiences eye problems that make simple daily tasks difficult or impossible, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses. Severe eye problems are not just a matter of ‘getting older.’ The risk of severe eye problems has been found to increase significantly with age, particularly in those over age 65.”
Make sure your loved one has a current prescription as directed by a doctor. Remember that tint-changing lenses can be dangerous, so be aware of the changes in the environment from a darkly-lit building to a bright, sunny day. By pausing and waiting for the lens to adjust, a bump or fall can be avoided.
Take your vitamins
By keeping your bones strong, you stay standing. The two key nutrients to defy osteoporosis are Calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is important because our bodies cycle calcium through the bones to keep them strong, while vitamin D aids your body in absorbing calcium and encourages bone growth. Health.com advises that adults up to the age of 50 should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day. Adults over 50 should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400-500 IUs of vitamin D.
Simplify your home
The older we get, the more items we tend to accumulate and sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to part with items that hold sentimental value. One of the things you can do to help your loved one clean up his or her home is to remove things that could easily be tripped over. This includes a throw rug, low-sitting bench, room heater, or a raised doorway threshold. Another risky item would be an electrical cord or any other kind of clutter, such as shoes.
Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand, except when you’re 65! By encouraging a daily exercise routine, monitoring vision, eating right, and removing dangerous clutter and other hazards from the home, your loved one will be ready to tackle whatever lies on the road ahead by staying on the path to good health and avoiding accidental falls.