Caring For More Than Physical Health Of Elderly Relatives

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine

seniormanWhile visiting elderly relatives over the holidays, be on the lookout for some tell-tale signs of declining health, said a Baylor College of Medicine geriatric expert.

These signs encompass all aspects of health – physical, mental and even fiscal, said Dr. Robert Roush, director of the Texas Consortium Geriatrics Education Center at Baylor’s Huffington Center on Aging.

“Fiscal health is just as important as physical health,” he said.

The No. 1 physical change to look for in aging people is frailty. He noted that frailty is the precursor for almost everything that can go wrong as people age.

Frailty is defined as the presence of at least three of the following:

* Weight loss
* Weakness
* Self-reported exhaustion
* Gait (slower walking speed)
* Low physical activity

Incorporating resistance weight training and any other type of physical activity into daily routines is a way to avoid frailty.

“It’s important to remember everyone ages differently,” Roush said. “We shouldn’t define age by years but rather by functional age.”

Other health changes such as eyesight decline, hair color changes and hearing loss are normal and usually do not indicate serious health decline.

Roush said a decline in self-care, such as a change in appearance and attitude and poor hygiene, can be a sign that health, both physical and mental, is deteriorating.

As health declines, individuals may not be able to make sound financial decisions and, because of this, aging adults in America are targets for financial scams.

“Elderly adults are always targets for investment fraud and financial exploitation, but during the holidays these scams are usually in full swing,” said Roush, also associate professor of geriatrics at Baylor.

If it is out of the ordinary to find any of the following items at a relative’s home, they may be a victim of financial exploitation.

* Excess lottery tickets
* Magazine subscriptions for giveaways
* Bus tickets to cities with casinos

Additionally, if relatives are not sure how much money they have or what their financial investor is doing with their money, they could be vulnerable to investment fraud.

In some cases, Roush said, having a new power of attorney or will drawn up without informing close, immediate family is a sign that someone could be a victim of financial exploitation.

“This issue is just as important as physical health because financial health impacts overall health,” he added. “Financial loss impacts available food, medication and other health services.”

Tactics That Can Enhance Nutrition In Elderly

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By Edward Francis

seniors2Malnutrition is a serious problem among the elderly, which is often underestimated. Of non-institutionalized elderly people, an estimated 10 to 50 percent suffer from malnutrition. There are different strategies to improve their nutrition, including dietary approaches, and the use of nutritional supplements.

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition is a situation where a person’s body is not getting the correct nutrients that it needs to function well. It usually refers to a deficiency in energy producing foods and protein. When a person does not have the food they need, it can result in a decline of their body functions and poor health. Results may include lower muscle strength, reduced immune system, and slower healing of wounds and injuries. There can also be psychological effects, with detrimental impacts on attitude, mood, and self-esteem.

Causes of malnutrition in the elderly

Old people naturally eat less. As people age, there is a natural decrease in energy use, and an associated loss of weight and appetite. Aging also has some effects on the gastrointestinal system that reduce the absorption of some nutrients. Sometimes weakness, dementia, arthritis, pain in the mouth, or general confusion can hinder a person’s ability to eat, resulting in malnutrition. Anxiety, depression, illness, nausea, bereavement, resistance, alcoholism, or social anxiety can all contribute to a person having a poor appetite.

Some medications can interfere with a person’s nutritional status. For instance, they could cause altered tastes, confusion, dry mouth, vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhea, or hypermetabolism. Some people may not have enough food to eat, either due to their financial situation, or difficulty doing the shopping. In this case, it is paramount for seniors to ask for help and find a way to improve their lifestyles and their diet habits. People who have cancer often suffer from malnutrition too, due to metabolic and physical changes, and the effects of treatments. Surgery can also cause metabolic changes.

Strategies to improve nutrition in seniors

seniorwoman2Before giving someone oral nutritional supplements, the first step should be to get as much of the nutrition as possible for them via their diet, with regular food and drink. This is called the “Food First” approach. Here are specific strategy suggestions.

• Try eating more times per day, with small servings. Instead of three large meals a day, try three small meals plus snacks, so that there is food eaten every 2 or 3 hours.

• Make the most of natural cycles. If a person is naturally hungrier in the morning, make that their biggest meal of the day.

• Eat favorite foods anytime. People are more likely to eat the food they like. If they like breakfast cereal, then why not allow eating this for dinner. If they want soup for breakfast, that’s fine. It will help them keep eating.

• Walk before meals. Taking a short walk before sitting down to eat can stimulate a person’s appetite.

• Drink after meals. Even a glass of water can make you feel more full, resulting in less food intake. Try drinking after eating instead of before.

• Stock convenience foods. Keep a regular supply of food that is easy to prepare and eat. This could include canned soup, pre-made pudding, cereal, nuts, fruit, granola bars, or frozen meals.

• Fortify meals. Add extra energy to meals by adding butter, cheese, salad dressing, honey, oil, or other calorie-rich additions.

Finding solutions for loss of appetite in seniors

Some medications may interfere with a senior’s ability to eat. A cooked breakfast in the morning with eggs, cheese, and baked beans prior to taking medications will keep them energized. Seniors with chewing and swallowing problems are more susceptible to malnutrition than others. In their case, the caregiver should modify the food’s consistency. Tender cuts of chicken meat, soups, and purées, are highly recommended. Adequate mouth and dental care should also be considered.

seniormanSenior people have extremely sensitive bodies. They have a slow metabolism that doesn’t burn much energy and they can’t eat because of the adverse effects of pills. Malnutrition is common in older people and it may lead to more aggressive illnesses, especially when the condition is also caused by mental problems. Caregivers should pay more attention to seniors’ diets and take action as soon as they spot irregularities.

– Edward Francis is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge at this field. Also he writes for a site supplemented.co.uk which offers high-quality vitamins and supplements at the best possible prices.

5 Nutrition Tips For The Elderly

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seniorcoupleexercisesmallEating healthy is important for people of all ages. The foods we consume have a major impact (positive and negative) on our physical and mental well-being. A good diet and nutrition plan is especially important for young children and the elderly, as the former are still growing and developing, and the latter are naturally subject to weaker immune systems.

The Importance of Healthy Aging

Although there are millions of physically fit older folks, many of whom rival younger generations in terms of daily activity (the obesity rates in this country have skyrocketed in the last decade); many older people contract illnesses and diseases far easier. Our bodies naturally become weaker over time, which is why it is imperative for individuals aged 55 and older to evaluate their current nutrition requirements.

Of the many bodily changes that occur, the most important ones are a gradual slowing of a person’s metabolic rate (which makes it more difficult to lose and maintain healthy weight levels), less fluid production that hinders one’s absorption of vital minerals and nutrients (e.g. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid), and fluctuations in appetite for people who take daily medication.

We all may experience these nutritional restrictions at some point in our lifetime, so knowing how to effectively combat them is crucial. Fortunately, a few dietary recommendations will help you maintain peak health and stave off a wide array of conditions that can result from a compromised immune system, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Top nutrition tips for the elderly

• Eat plenty of fruits, veggies and grains – These foods contain the greatest amount of vitamins and nutrients compared to any other group, so aim to incorporate at least two servings into every meal.

• Eat smaller portions more often – Since seniors are at a disadvantage with regard to nutrient absorption, splurging on calories lumped into three daily meals is not recommended. Instead, a healthier approach is to divide your daily food intake into 5 or 6 smaller meals, as this will counteract slow digestion problems that are common in the elderly. Nutrition is not just about what kind of food you eat, but how you eat it as well!

seniorjogger• Consider the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)– This diet plan was specifically formulated for older individuals, particularly those who suffer from heart-related health afflictions. As such, it consists primarily of whole grains, meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables, albeit in custom proportions. The DASH diet is also helpful in reducing your sodium intake and increasing the amount of foods that can help lower blood pressure through crucial nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

• Drink adequate amounts of water – As humans, we are comprised of over 80% H20; it plays a vital role in every bodily process. As stated, given the issues older individuals face in terms of fluid absorption, greater fluid intake is a must. Avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible, as caffeine is a natural diuretic, though it can aid in the removal of excess fluid retention.

• Last, but certainly not least, it is important to understand your proper caloric intake. Women need slightly fewer calories per day (1600 to 2000) than men (2000-2800), with the higher numbers applying to individuals that live very active lifestyles. Ultimately, the best elderly nutrition advice you can get is from your doctor.

– This article was provided by Griswold Home Care, a national home care service. Griswold offers home making services such as meal preparation, meal planning, and grocery shopping just to name a few. Contact Griswold Home Care today to explore the wide range of services.

Oops, Where Did I Leave It? – Part 2

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By Sunie Levin

Continued from part 1 of this article…..

seniormanHere’s a toughie. Remembering names. Hopeless? Probably. The real problem isn’t memory. It’s indifference. My husband has never been able to remember names. Never. But even at his age, if a good-looking woman is introduced to him, somehow he remembers her name. When you meet someone new, try saying the name in your mind several times. Start a brief conversation, “Nice to meet you Alice.” “Where is your hometown, Alice?” “How long have you been here, Alice? Try to make a snapshot of the person in your mind, emphasizing some feature that stands out. The system works. Sometimes. As a fallback, exchange calling cards, or write down the name as quickly as you can.

Did I do it? Did I turn off the oven? Did I lock the door to the house? Did I put down the garage door? Make a list of important routines. Then say each out loud 2 or 3 times as you do it. “I’m turning off the oven” Check. “I’m taking my pills” Check.“ I shut the garage door when I left” Check.” I locked the front door.” Check.

What am I suppose to do today?

Every day there are things I need to do, people I need to call, chores I need to do, bills I need to pay, thank-you notes I must write. Lots of things. Make a list. Simple. But do it. My husband puts his billfold upright on his night table to remind himself of something that needs doing the next day. Just about anything out of place that focuses your attention will do. I like turning a shoe upside down, so that it reminds me of why I left it like that.

It was a relief the other day when my 55 year daughter told me she forgot what she had in mind when she walked in to the laundry room carrying a bottle of Ketchup in her hand. She’s a law school professor, lectures in countries around the world, writes learned law review articles, and even she forgets from time to time. Somehow I find that comforting.

seniorcoupleexercisesmallAll of us seniors joke about our loss of short term memory, but it’s very real and troubling to us. The real solution for most things is to write everything down, or dictate it to a tape recorder. Let’s say you meet someone new. In your small notebook, write their name, telephone number, number of children and grandchildren, birthday, anniversary—everything you can pick up about them. Write it down before you forget, which, if you don’t, means the info vanishes in the nanosecond after you stop visiting with them. Look at the notebook before meeting with them again. What a way to make new good friends. They’ll be astonished you remember, particularly when they’ve already forgotten everything about you.

So there you have it. It’s not rocket science. It’s mostly common sense, really. The trick is just to try it.

– Sunie Levin, author of Make New Friends… Live Longer, is a graduate of the University of Missouri and holds degrees in psychology and education. She has appeared on local and national T.V. and was a syndicated columnist for many newspapers.

Oops, Where Did I Leave It? – Part 1

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By Sunie Levin

seniors2I lost my car keys. I have searched everywhere. You know what? It doesn’t matter. I won’t need them unless I find my car!

My husband laughed until he choked when I told him I was writing this article. I manage to lose something everyday, some days several things. The daily list includes glasses, purse, car keys and cell phone. I panic when they are gone. Did I leave them in a restaurant? At the beauty shop? At the doctor’s office. He patiently assures me they’re right here, at home, and he’s always right.

So why am I writing this type of article? I’m 82 years old. My senior moments come too frequently. Some days my 85 year old husband has to supply the tip of my tongue with my missing word. “Where did I put the purple stuff?” He replies,”You mean the grape juice, and it’s on the counter, right there. Once not all that long ago I went to a lecture and put my purse and umbrella under the seat. When the lecture was over I went to my car, but couldn’t get in. The keys of course were in my purse. Panicking, I ran back and luckily they were still there, right where I left them.

Memory. It bothers all of us ‘of a certain age’. When we remember to think about it. When I saw my internist recently for a checkup I shared my concern about my daily “oops” and said fearfully, Do you think it’s Alzheimers?” He said, not the least worried, “You managed to get here on the date and time of your appointment, didn’t you? You didn’t get lost on the way, did you? And you are still writing articles and books. Why don’t you write how you compensated for the natural memory loss you are experiencing? It’s an everyday problem.”

exercisebrainGood idea! So here’s the article. I’m going to share some of the tricks I now use to jog my memory. They’re easy, and I’m not going to harass you to learn mnemonic devices. Forgetting is normal. Losing your keys doesn’t mean you are losing your mind. Much forgetfulness is just a symptom of bein distracted.

So here are a few tricks I found extremely useful. When I remember to use them, that is:

* Find a basket for everything you routinely use,. Keep it in the exact same place, and use it to put down your eyeglasses, house and car keys, cell phone, pill box. Once you’re firmly in the habit of going to that exact spot, you’ll always find what you are looking for. Hey, I trained my schnauzer. I can certainly train myself.

* Losing your car in parking lot isn’t fun especially, if it rains. “Oh my gosh, somebody must have stolen it.” The simplest way is to look back twice, picking up a landmark so you’ll remember the row it’s in. Another way is to carry a small tape recorder or text a message where to find your car. In fact, use your tape recorder to remind yourself about anything you’re afraid you might forget.

* Something on the tip of my tongue I can’t recall. Like the purple stuff, try reciting the alphabet and when you get to the right letter of the alphabet the word starts with, the answer usually pops to mind.

* Put something down and can’t find it five minutes later? Focus! Pay attention! Take a second, and visualize in your mind a detailed picture. Say it out loud when you put it down. “I put my file with medical bills on the low bedroom dresser.” Then take a second to visualize the file. Just what could I have done with the file? Thrown it in the trash? Okay, maybe. Retrace everywhere you’ve been and visualize the file. You’ll find it. It will be there.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Sunie Levin, author of Make New Friends… Live Longer, is a graduate of the University of Missouri and holds degrees in psychology and education. She has appeared on local and national T.V. and was a syndicated columnist for many newspapers.

How To Prevent Harm To The Elderly In Your House

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By Matthew Ward

seniorcoupleexercisesmallAccording to the CDC, falls are the main cause of injury death in the over 65s and 20-30 per cent of people who fall suffer injuries ranging from fractures of the spine, forearm and hand, to lacerations and head traumas. Needless to say, the aging process makes our bodies’ less robust and more susceptible to bone fractures and bruising. Even the job of remaining safe in bed can become a difficult one, with the potential for falls to occur if proper precautions are not taken. Accordingly, to help Your Health Journal’s elderly and caregiver readers, we are going to look at some ways to prevent harm around the house.

Have a health check-up

It is important to take precautions – rather than waiting for something to go wrong – and the following should be reviewed on a regular basis:

• Medication: Certain prescriptions drugs can lead to drowsiness or dizziness, while elderly people who are currently on 3 or more medications are more likely to fall. Also be wary when combining them with allergy medications, alcohol or painkillers. Alternatives to medications which cause light-headedness include exercise, good nutrition and spinal manipulation.

• Mental health: Parkinson’s disease interferes with mobility and may lead to poor balance and impairment of decision making. It is therefore important to have regular check-ups for signs of mental health problems such as dementia.

• Health conditions: Other health issues which can lead to potentially harmful falls include low blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and vitamin D deficiency.

Fix home hazards

Trip and fall hazards should be removed where possible. They tend to include loose carpets and wires, throw rugs and phone cords.

Trip and fall hazards should be removed where possible. They tend to include loose carpets and wires, throw rugs and phone cords. Effective steps to remedy home hazards and the potential for harm to the elderly include cleaning spilled liquids in the house when they happen, putting needed items in easily reachable places and using non-slip mats around the house. In most cases, making small changes and ensuring there is no clutter can go a long way to making sure trips and falls do not happen. Wearing suitable footwear and not being barefoot around the house can also help to prevent trips and falls.

Assistive devices

There are assistive devices for the elderly and disabled which can be implemented around the house. These include grab bars, which can be used on stairways and in the bathroom; footstools to help make items easily reachable; trays for use in bed and around the house; specially made tap turners; and a range of bathing aids that include bath lifts, shower chairs and bath mats. But you must remember to take the time to understand what your requirements are and to get only appropriate assistive devices. Even placing night lights in the bedroom and hallways, and having a lamp next to your bed, can be effective.

Dangers in the bedroom

The bedroom and the bed itself can pose a dangerous prospect for elderly people in terms of potential falls, due to reduced mobility. Even getting comfortable to fall asleep can become a difficult task. And if mental health is a problem then this may lead to falls out of bed at night. In such cases, there are assistive bedroom devices specifically made for the elderly, including adjustable beds, bed-side rails and pillow lifts. There are also waterproof sheets and covers to aid seniors in the bedroom.

Exercise

As said earlier, prevention is often better than cure, which is where exercise proves so vital. To improve your strength, flexibility and balance, try some walking, swimming and tai chi, but only after you have received an okay to do so from your doctor.

Over to you

It is all well and good saying the types of things you can do to protect an elderly person in your house, but the changes you make will ultimately depend on your specific situation. The important thing is to involve seniors in any decision that are made and to take their particular mental and physical needs into account.

– This article was provided by Matthew Ward from Manage at Home where there is additional information on mobility aids for the elderly and disabled.

Rand Study Cites Benefits Of Chiropractic Care For The Elderly

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By Dr. Kevin Kita

seniorcoupleexercisesmallSenior citizens who receive chiropractic care report overall health, fewer symptomatic chronic conditions, less days in hospitals and nursing homes and more mobility than elderly non-chiropractic patients, according to a study conducted by the prestigious Rand Corp.

The three year randomized study of people 75 years or older showed 87 percent of chiropractic patients described their health status as good to excellent, compared to 67 percent of non-chiropractic patients a significant 19 percent difference. The chiropractic patients also were less likely to use prescription drugs and more likely to exercise regularly and participate in community activities.

The study revealed better overall health and higher quality of life among those who receive chiropractic care. An estimated 15 to 17 percent of a chiropractor’s practice is comprised of patients over the age 65.

In general, the chiropractic patients reported fewer health problems 15 percent fewer reported two or more chronic conditions, 22 percent fewer suffered with symptoms of arthritis, 15 percent less time in nursing homes and 21 percent less time in hospitals over the previous three years.

While people over 65 account for 12.6 percent of the population, they purchase 31 percent of all prescription medications, account for 31 percent of all hospital discharges and are responsible for 42 percent of days of care in non-federal hospitals.

The number of people over the age 85 will double, creating a potentially devastating effect on our health care system. A healthier older population could translate into savings of billions of health care dollars annually.

– Dr. Kevin Kita, Chiropractor, Author, International Speaker, and Radio Host.

Dr. Kita is well known among his patients for his compassion, wisdom, astonishing intuition, gentle and caring demeanor, and non-invasive chiropractic technique. He is a 1997 graduate of the Sherman Chiropractic College and has been practicing Chiropractic in the Yardley/Morrisville area for the past 15 years.

Dr. Kita was an international speaker and teacher for the Koren Specific Technique and has been featured on numerous television and radio shows for health related issues, Chiropractic, and for his book Healing Journeys Stories of Mind, Body, and Spirit. He was the Chiropractor for the Trenton Shooting Stars professional basketball team. Dr. Kita was also the publisher for an internationally recognized Chiropractic newsletter and has spoken to many companies and groups regarding the benefits of Chiropractic care.

Dr. Kita is on the board of the Ivins Outreach Center and is involved in many other local charities. He is considered the Chiropractor’s Chiropractor because there are many Chiropractors that seek him out for care and professional advice.