Posts Tagged ‘elderly exercise’

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

Osteoporosis

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Osteoporosis is a bone disease where an individual has a below normal bone mass combined with a gradual deterioration of the bone structure. This leads to a weakness in the skeletal system of the individual; most often it is in the hips, spine, and wrists. Osteoporosis is the worst in the hips and spine, where fractures of the bone are more serious. A hip fracture of the hip bone requires immediate hospitalization as it can paralyze the individual as well as cause internal organ damage. A spine fracture can be even more serious as it can lead to nerve damage or it could be fatal.

Osteoporosis affects over half of all Americans over the age of 50; however, women seem to be its main target. It is possible for it to affect people of any age.

This is very difficult to detect on its own, as bones slowly lose their mineral content and become brittle and weak. The bones can become so weak that even a gentle bump could cause a bone to break and unfortunately, until then, there is no way to detect it properly. In the case of a weakened spinal vertebra, osteoporosis can be felt as back pain, lessened height, or changes in the curvature of the spine. The only way to properly diagnose osteoporosis is through a bone density test.

It is not enough to consume more calcium in order to prevent osteoporosis from occurring; it also requires other nutrients that help the body utilize and integrate calcium into the bone structure along with the activity to induce the body into using that calcium. To stop osteoporosis from ever developing, plenty of calcium and Vitamin D should be consumed, have a generally healthy lifestyle with no smoking and little to no alcohol consumption and also make sure to have weight-bearing exercises as part of your exercise routine. More information about weight-bearing exercise is here.

In many ways, treatment for individuals that already have osteoporosis is very similar to preventative medicine. The focus is on helping the bone create new bone and fill in the holes left by the deterioration. There are also some medications also focus on slowing the absorption of bone so that the creation of new bone has a chance to overtake it; however he best action that can be taken is to maintain a healthy life-style with proper diet and exercise.

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.

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

Signs of Elder Abuse

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

At first, you might not see the signs of elder abuse; it may look like a case of dementia or just simply an age factor and caregivers may explain it like that. In fact, many of the signs of elder abuse DO resemble those of dementia but that doesn’t mean that they should be dismissed.

Warning signs of elder abuse include frequent arguments and tension between the caregiver and the elderly person and personality and behavior changes. If you suspect elder abuse but are not quite sure, look for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained physical injury such as bruises, welts or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two sides of the body
  • Broken bones, sprains or dislocations
  • Drug overdose report or failure to take medications regularly
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Rope marks on wrists or other signs of restraint
  • Caregivers refusal to allow elder to be seen alone

In addition to the signs you can see, there are also signs that you cannot see such as those relation to emotional, sexual, or neglect. Those signs include:

  • Threatening or controlling behavior that you witness
  • Behavior that mimics dementia such as rocking or mumbling
  • Bruises on or around breasts or genitals
  • Unexplained genital infections
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Torn, stained, or bloody under garmets
  • Unusual weight loss or signs of improper eating
  • Bed sores
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Personal hygiene being neglected
  • Clothing not appropriate for weather
  • Desertion of elder such as the mall, restaurant, or some other public place
  • Significant withdrawals from the elder’s account
  • Sudden change in the elder’s financial status
  • Missing items from the elder’s household
  • Changes in wills or power o attorney
  • Name additions to elder’s signature card
  • Unpaid bills even though there is money enough to pay for them

These signs are not all inclusive; however, they do present themselves the most.

Among all forms of abuse, there is yet another: Healthcare abuse and fraud. One would not think that their doctor’s office was trying to fraud them, but it happens more often that one would think. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Duplicate billing for the same service or device
  • Evidence of over-medication or under medication
  • Evidence of inadequate care when bills are paid in full
  • Problems with the care facility such as poorly trained or insufficient staff, crowding, or inadequate responses to questions about 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 Wednesday, October 6, 2010 for more on elder abuse

Abuse

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Abuse. It happens. And when it does, it affects many people. The victim feels alone and at fault.

Abuse of the elderly is not limited to physical or mental abuse; it is also considered abuse when senior citizens are exploited or when they abuse themselves by neglect.

Where does this abuse take place? Right where they live. In a place where the abusers are more likely to be older children or other family member such as grandchildren, spouses, or companions. Nursing homes and other institutional settings are also places where seniors can face the possibility of abuse.

Mental elder abuse involves individuals speaking or treating elderly persons in ways that cause emotional pain. Verbal abuse can include intimidation, humiliation, yelling, and threats. Non-verbal emotional abuse can be in the form of ignoring, isolation, or terrorizing the elderly person.

Physical elder abuse is the non-accidental use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. Examples are confinement, burns, beatings, sexual abuse, and cuts.

Neglect is considered to be the failure to provide goods and services necessary to protect an elderly person from physical or emotional harm. This can be lack of food, housing, heating, cooling, confinement, desertion, or lack of mental or physical health treatment.

When someone entrusted to care for an elderly individual improperly or unethically uses an elderly person’s money or resources for the personal gain of the caretaker, this is called exploitation.

Some examples of exploitation would include stealing social security checks, stealing income or property, or transferring titles to property without authorization. Other examples of exploitation include convincing and elderly person to change the beneficiary on his or her will to the caregiver’s name.

Any kind of abuse needs to be reported to the proper authorities, even if it is the senior doing it themselves.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233.

Check back on Tuesday, October 05, 2010 for ways to recognize elder abuse

Erectile Dysfunction

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Many men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their life. A large percentage of these men are age 55 and over. Sadly, only a small percentage talks with their doctor about this problem.

Impotence can happen at any age, however, most men feel that it is an age-related problem and that it is normal to have an simply do not talk to their physician. And let’s face it, it’s a personal matter and embarrassing to some, so men just avoid the subject all together for the most part. In a survey of men age 60 or over, 61% reported being sexually active, and nearly half derived as much if not more benefit from their sex lives as they did in their 40s (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Erectile dysfunction in elderly men is more of a side effect with disease than age. Older men are more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure than younger men. Sometimes, these conditions and/or some of their treatments (medications, etc) are in fact to blame for impotence.

There are in fact, many physical and psychological reasons that can cause brief periods of impotence; this should be considered as normal as getting a cold. To be honest, getting a cold could be a common reason that could cause temporary impotence. Most men do experience this from time to time in their life. Persistent problems should be discussed with a physician, particularly since it is treatable. It may also be a symptom of another type of problem. When in doubt, speak with your doctor (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Works Cited

(2010). Retrieved October 3, 2010, from About.com: Health Topics A-Z: http://adam.about.com/reports/000015_1.htm