Posts Tagged ‘elderly activities’

Living with Arthritis

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

This is the third and final part to series on arthritis. Besides medications, diet and exercise, there are other approaches for arthritis.

In some cases, surgery to rebuild the joint (arthroplasty) or to replace the joint such as a total knee joint replacement may help to maintain a more normal lifestyle. The decision to perform joint replacement surgery is normally made when other alternatives, such as lifestyle changes and medications, are no longer effective.

Normal joints contain a lubricant called synovial fluid. In joints with arthritis, this fluid is not produced in adequate amounts. In some cases, a doctor may inject the arthritic joint with a man-made version of joint fluid. The synthetic fluid may postpone the need for surgery at least temporarily and improve the quality of life for persons with arthritis.

A few arthritis-related disorders can be completely cured with treatment while most other arthritic disorders are chronic (long-term) conditions; however, the goal of treatment is to control the pain and minimize the joint damage. Chronic arthritis frequently goes in and out of remission.

Complications resulting from arthritis are chronic pain and lifestyle restrictions or disability.

Call a doctor if:

  • Your joint pain persists beyond 3 days
  • You have severe unexplained joint pain
  • The affected joint is significantly swollen
  • You have a hard time moving the joint
  • Your skin around the joint is red or hot to the touch
  • You have a fever or have lost weight unintentionally

If arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, joint damage can be prevented. It’s important to find out if you have a family history of arthritis; share this information with your doctor, even if you have no symptoms. Osteoarthritis may be more likely to develop if you abuse your joints (injure them many times or over-use while injured). Be careful not to overwork a damaged or sore joint and avoid excessive repetitive motions as well. Excess weight could also increase the risk for developing osteoarthritis in the knees and possibly in the hips. Know your body mass index to learn if your weight is healthy.

More on Arthritis

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Testing, or diagnosis, of arthritis might include:

  • Obtaining a detailed history to conclude if arthritis or another musculoskeletal problem is the cause of the symptoms.
  • Thorough physical exam to see if fluid is collecting in the joint (effusion); the joint might be tender when it is gently pressed and may be warm and red. It may also be painful or difficult to rotate the joints in some directions. This is known as limited range of motion (ROM).
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Extraction of fluid from the joint for further exam

Testing, however, will depend on the individual circumstances.

Medications without a prescription can include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) as a pain reliever; this is usually the first course of treatment that is used instead of a prescription.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen are used as an over the counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This will help reduce swelling and inflammation.

Prescription medications may include:

  • Biologics~most recent breakthrough for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Such medications include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira) and they are administered by injection and can improve quality of life.
  • Corticosteroids (steroids) ~these are medications that suppress the immune system and inflammation. This is another injection and it is injected into the affected joint.
  • Cycloonygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors~these drugs block and inflammation-promoting enzyme called COX-2. This class of drugs was initially thought to work as well as traditional NSAIDs, but with fewer stomach problems. There have been numerous reports of heart attacks and stroke and this has prompted the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) to re-evaluate the benefits. Celecoxib (Celebrex) is still available but labeled with strong precautions.
  • Immunosuppressants~these drugs like azathioprine or cyclophosphamide are used for serious cases of rheumatoid arthritis when other medications have failed.

It is important to remember to take all medications as directed; if any difficulty is experienced, it is important to talk with the doctor. Do not stop taking medications unless directed to do so by a physician.

Check back on Thursday, October 28, 2010 for more information on Arthritis

What is Arthritis?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Twinges in the knee, sharp shooting pain from shoulder to elbow, joints making crackling or popping…not a big deal. Or is it?

It is a big deal and all too often people assume that this twinge or cracking is a normal part of everyday life and that they just must deal with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a serious problem because the pain caused by it can affect every portion of a person’s life including interactions with others, how daily life is handled, and one’s livelihood.

This pain can be caused by arthritis. Arthritis is defined by Google as an inflammation in one or more joints which results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement; there are over 100 different kinds of arthritis.

Arthritis may cause:

  • Joint pain/swelling
  • Reduced mobility of affected joint
  • Redness of skin around joint/warm to the touch
  • Stiffness, especially upon rising in the morning

Treatment of arthritis depends mainly on the kind of arthritis one has, which joints are affected, the severity, and how the condition affects daily life. An individual’s age and occupation will also be considered in the treatment plan. The main goal of the treatment is to reduce the pain and prevent further disability. It is possible to improve symptoms by simple lifestyle changes instead of medications such as exercise; exercise helps maintain the healthy joints, relieve stiffness, reduce pain and exhaustion, and improve muscle and bone strength. A doctor will work to tailor an exercise plan for each individual’s needs.

Check back tomorrow for more information on Arthritis

Elderly Employment

Monday, October 18th, 2010

There are many senior citizens who want to work again despite the limitations that society imposes on them. While there are physical limitations to the kind of work that they are able to do, elderly individuals must be permitted to take on jobs that will help them to continue to lead a happy, productive life. With the current state of the economy, jobs for anyone are hard to come by or find, but that is not saying that it’s an impossible task to accomplish. Work for the elderly is more difficult due to limitations and age, however, jobs for the elderly can be found if you know where to look.

For the most part, elderly work should be free from strenuous activities. This includes jobs that require a lot of movement, lifting heavy objects, or stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Physical exhaustion and too much effort would not be conducive to a job for an elderly individual.

What sort of work would then be appropriate for an elderly individual given these conditions? This job should not only be physically mild but also it needs to be meaningful. A job for an elderly individual does not need to be monotonous or absent of emotion to be a good fit for them.

The elderly could work from home and earn money and feel fulfilled without leaving home. There are many job opportunities out there for those who want to work without leaving home. These types of jobs can be based on previous employment such as tutoring, teaching piano, or a craft.

Many elderly want to reach out to others and often either volunteer for charities or non-government organizations. There are many opportunities for elderly social work that is open for employees as well as volunteers. This can be a rewarding experience.

Leading a happy and fulfilled life does not stop at retirement. There are plenty of work opportunities for the elderly that will allow them to earn a bit of money and feel productive as well as feel good about themselves by helping their community. Being happy, productive and fulfilled can lead to a healthier mental well-being.

Thanksgiving

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

For the most part, Thanksgiving is a day where family and friends travel far and wide to celebrate the day with a huge feast of traditional favorites like turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy and pumpkin pie. For senior citizens, this day often means loneliness.

Each year, many elderly rely on community outreach programs such as Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, and many local organizations to celebrate Thanksgiving. These elderly face many challenges such as being unable to cook a large meal, no family or family that is too far away, as well as other issues.

Below is a small sampling of organizations who help with a Thanksgiving Meal:

  • Self-Help for the Elderly, who opened their doors in 1966, has a Thanksgiving Luncheon at 3 locations. They also deliver meals. Please click here for more information.
  • Glide Memorial Church operates one of the largest free meal programs in San Francisco. The church is located at 330 Ellis Street in San Francisco. Call the church to find out times and days.
  • Tenderloin Tessie’s is one of San Francisco’s oldest community meals. Last year was its 32nd year and the meal was served at the First Unitarian Church at 1187 Franklin Street. Call the church to find out times and days.

Holidays are times to be spent with family, friends, and those you love; the elderly often are unable to do this. These community organizations mentioned as well as many others, help to make the holidays a bit brighter. Please consider donating or volunteering.

Making the Holidays Brighter

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of the year full of friends, family, presents, and yummy goodies. In the hustle and bustle of this busy season, the elderly and shut-ins are often overlooked. There are many ways to squeeze in a little time to share with an elderly neighbor and make their holidays just a bit brighter.

Here are a few ideas but the sky is the limit!

  • Take a senior out to a special dinner. Check out local festivals, plays, tree lightings, or parties. Go tree shopping—an elderly person might enjoy helping you shop for a tree or even their own. Take them on a drive and look at the Christmas lights. Many areas have a ‘festival of lights’ show through a local park. Make sure on any outing that you consider any special needs and be sure you can
  • The elderly enjoy shopping; however due to no longer driving or mobility issues, they may not be able to get out much so taking them shopping could provide a nice service for them.
  • Help them do things that they are unable to do for themselves such as shoveling their sidewalk if it snows, helping them decorate the tree or how, or anything else they might need you to do for them.
  • Hugs and lots of them. Who doesn’t need a hug? For some reason, the elderly aren’t often touched and would welcome a genuine, heart-felt hug at Christmas.
  • Visit an elderly person in a nursing home or simply someone who is a shut in and bring them a Christmas card or a small gift.
  • Help the elderly through a local charity that supports seniors at the holidays. Charities are always looking for volunteers and can help you to find somewhere to volunteer your time.

The elderly are thankful for being remembered at Christmas and you will feel warmth in your heart for helping to make their holidays a bit brighter!

To Market, To Market

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Elderly grocery shopping is so much different than shopping for a family. When grocery shopping elderly style, you are no longer buying in large quantities as you would for a family. Instead, you are looking for products that are easy to open and handle and in smaller sizes.

Here are some guidelines for your shopping trip:

  • Easy to Handle Products: Seniors do not have neither the strength nor dexterity as they did when they were younger. Lifting bottles of cleaning supplies, milk, juice, or other items found in large, bulky containers, are awkward. Smaller containers may cost more; however they are easier to lift and carry. Buy milk and juice in quart bottles, coffee in 1 lb cans, ketchup and mustard in small bottles as well as mayonnaise, salad dressing, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.
  • Easy to Open Items: Make sure asprin and all over-the-counter medications are in easy to open bottles instead of child proof bottles. When purchasing cans of soup, vegetables, fruit and meat, look for the pop top cans so that the elder doesn’t have to use a can opener.
  • Smaller Portion Sizes: Think smaller when it comes to food that can go bad. For example, ask the butcher at the grocery store to package just 1-2 chicken breasts, pork chops, or steaks. Look for canned food in small cans. Many vegetables have the single-serve portions available.

For elderly shopping, it isn’t so much about buying in quantity to save money; it’s more about convenience and ease. With a little bit of practice, you can learn to shop for the elderly. And trust me; they will let you know when something doesn’t work for them.

Information in this article obtained here

Preventing Abuse

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The incidence of elder abuse can be reduced, but it will take more time and effort that we are making right now. Preventing elder abuse means doing three things:

  • Listening
  • Intervening
  • Educating

If you are a caregiver and overwhelmed by the demands of caring for the elderly there are a few things you can do as well to prevent an abuse of elder incidence:

  • Request help when you need it so you can take a break
  • Find an adult day care program
  • Stay healthy
  • Seek out therapy for depression
  • Find an elder caregiver support group
  • Seek help for drug and alcohol abuse

Remember, elder abuse hotlines offer help for caregivers as well. Call a help line if you think that there is a possibility that you could cross that line and commit elder abuse.

As a concerned family member or friend, you can also help by:

  • Watching for warning signs and if you suspect abuse report it
  • Keep watch on the elder’s medications; does the amount in the container match up with the date of the prescription?
  • Watch for possible financial abuse; ask if you could scan the bank accounts and credit card statements for possible unauthorized transactions
  • Call and visit as often as you can
  • Offer to stay with the elder so that the caregiver can take a break

If you are an elder, there are ways you can protect yourself against elder abuse. Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. If they aren’t, seek professional help to get them in order, with a trusted friend or relative if necessary.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends and avoid isolation.

If you are unhappy with the care you’re receiving, whether it’s in your own home or in a care facility, speak up. Tell someone you know and trust and ask that person to report the abuse, neglect or substandard care to your state’s APS (Adult Protective Services) office, or make the call yourself.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233

Reporting Abuse

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Are you an elder who feels you are being abused, neglected, or exploited? Then tell at least one other person that you trust—your doctor, a close friend, or a family member. Other people care and can help you.

There are thousands of reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year; the majority of those reported are proven true. This number is only the tip of the iceberg; according to data from different states, for every case of elder abuse reported, there are about a dozen more that go unreported. There is a great need for people to report suspected abuse.

In every state, physical, sexual, and financial abuses that target elders violate laws against assault, rape, theft, and other offenses are punishable as crimes. With some variation among states, certain types of emotional elder abuse and neglect are subject to criminal prosecution, depending on the perpetrators’ conduct and intent and the consequences for the victim.

States do differ on who is required to report suspected elder abuse (there is no federal standard), though the categories of mandatory reporters are expanding. Typically, medical personnel, nursing home workers, police officers, emergency personnel, public officials, social workers, counselors, and clergy are listed as mandatory reporters. That responsibility is spreading to financial institutions and other people that work with senior citizens.

While it is important for elders to seek help from abuse, either by calling a local agency or by telling a doctor or trusted friend, many seniors don’t report the abuse they face even if they are able to. Many fear retaliation from the abuser, while others believe that if they turn in their abuser, no one else will take care of them. When the caregivers are their children, they may be ashamed that their children are behaving this way or they blame themselves or they just may not want their children to get in trouble with the law.

Please note that the first agency a report of elder abuse goes to in most states in Adult Protective Services (APS). Its role is to investigate the claim, intervene and offer services and advice. Calling the local police department is also a way to get into contact with APS.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233

Check back on Friday, October 8, 2010 for the final installment in this series

Risk Factors

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

It is difficult to take care of a senior citizen when he or she has many different needs and on the other hand, it is difficult to be an elder person when age brings with it a lot of dependence on another person. But the demands of the caregiver and the one needing care can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur. Stress can get great for both at this time.

Many of those who are nonprofessionals such as spouses and adult children, find taking care of the elderly, satisfying; however the responsibilities that can come with deteriorating health can be stressful. That stress that results from being burned out for example can lead to mental and physical abuse.

Among caregivers, risk factors for elder abuse are inability to cope with the stress, depression, lack of support from other caregivers, the ideation that taking care of the elderly carries heavy burden, and substance abuse.

Even those that give care in institutional settings can experience this kind of stress levels that lead to abuse. Even nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they do not have the proper training, have many responsibilities, are not suited to care giving, or work under poor conditions.

Several factors concerning the elderly, while they do not excuse the abuse, might have influence over whether they are at greater risk for abuse. These factors include the degree of an elder’s illness or dementia, social isolation (the caregiver and the elder are alone together a lot), whether the elder had been an abusive parent previously, a history of domestic violence in the home, and the elder’s own tendency toward verbal or physical aggression.

In many cases, elder abuse is not intentional. Caregivers are often pushed beyond their capabilities or psychological means and may not intend to yell at, strike out, or ignore the needs of the elderly in their care.

If you suspect elder abuse, do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233

Check back on Thursday, October 7, 2010 for the 4th installment in the series on elder abuse