Posts Tagged ‘home care provider’

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.

Diverticulitis

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Diverticulitis is a disorder that comes from diverticulosis, which is characterized by small, bulging pouches in the digestive tract.

These pouches are also called diverticula, and they are common in the United States. Over half of the population older than 60 years of age has them; however, it is not limited to just those over the age of 60 as those younger can get the disorder as well. The pouches don’t always cause problems and many times, people do not know that they are there; however, the pouches can become infected or inflamed (diverticulitis). This can cause severe pain in the abdomen, fever, nausea, and changes in bowel habits. Diverticulitis happens when the diverticula become infected. Cases can range from mild to severe; the milder cases can be treated with antibiotics for the infection as well as rest and diet changes. The more severe cases require hospitalization and in some cases, removal of the affected part of the colon (bowel resection).

There is good news-most people with diverticulosis do not develop diverticulitis. This condition can be prevented by eating a well-balanced diet with food rich in fiber.

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Pain in abdomen and lower left side
  • Tenderness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and constipation

Other signs considered less common are:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain while urinating
  • Tender abdomen

So what causes this in the first place? Diverticula are formed in weak places in the colon that give way under pressure. Then the pouches, which are about the size of a marble, protrude through the colon wall. The pressure in the colon can lead to infection of the diverticula. It was once thought that nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn were to be avoided by those who had diverticulosis; however, recent research has shown that not to be the case and in fact, a higher intake of nuts and corn could possibly help to avoid diverticulitis in male adults.

Diagnosis is usually by CT scan and its 98% accurate in diagnosing diverticulitis. Other diagnostic studies include barium enema and colonoscopy; however, these are only done when the inflammation has subsided due to the possibility of perforation.

When to Consider a Nursing Home

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The decision to consider nursing home care for your loved one is tough and making the choice between in-home care and nursing home care can be frustrating. It’s one of the most important decisions that you can make for you loved one, so take your time to make sure you are making the best possible one.

A nursing home provides round-the-clock care for those whose conditions requires nursing care and do not require intensive care like is received in a hospital setting. The nursing home provides medical care as well as personal care such as dressing, bathing or eating.

Nursing homes are available for long-term and short-term care. For patients who are recovering from an illness or injury, a nursing home can provide care until the patient is recovered and ready to go home. Long-term care is for those individuals who have more serious medical conditions. Admission to a nursing home requires a doctor’s order.

Choosing a nursing home is not easy and you might be confused as to where you need to begin. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What are your loved one’s needs? Talk to their doctor about what kind of care is required and how long they might need to be there. Ask what the patient can do for himself or herself and how intense their medical needs might be. For example, caring for someone with diabetes is much different than one with Alzheimer’s.
  • What can you afford? A few weeks or months of short-term care can be covered by Medicare, but long-term care may not be covered. Medicaid and private insurance might pay for some of the costs; however, the majority of the financial burden could fall on the family.
  • Choose nursing homes to visit. Narrow down the nursing homes in your area and research them by reading inspection reports. Also if the patient is capable of helping to make the decision, discuss options with them so that they can feel a part of the plan.
  • Visit the nursing homes. Plan to see each one you have selected and speak with the administrators and staff and even say hello to the residents. Ask to see private as well as public areas. Have a list of questions and don’t accept any vague answers.
  • Compare notes on each facility before making a final decision. Make sure you have all the answers you need before making a decision.

The best nursing home will offer medical and custodial care. It can also offer you a peace of mind. Take your time in your research so that you can make the best decision possible for your loved one.

Shingles

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Elderly citizens age 60 and over should receive a vaccine to protect them against shingles, or herpes zoster.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends a single dose of the zoster vaccine, Zostavax, for adults age 60 and over. This is even if they have had a previous outbreak of shingles.

A new recommendation that was published in the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity recently replaced a former provisional recommendation made in 2006. This provisional recommendation was made after the vaccine was licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

In those ages 60 and over that received the vaccine, the occurrence of shingles was reduced greatly. Particularly with those ages 60-69, it reduced the occurrence rate by 64 percent.

Side effects of the vaccine from those that had it seem to be redness, pain and tenderness, swelling at the injection site, itching and headache.

It is reported that half of the people living to age 85 have had or will get shingles.

Shingles is characterized by clusters of painful blisters which develop on one side of the body in a band-like pattern and can cause severe pain that may last for weeks, months or years. Shingles is caused by the childhood disease chickenpox that becomes dormant within the nerves and reactivates later in life. It is said that over 95 percent of people are infected with the varicella zoster (chickenpox) during their lifetime. About one in three persons will develop shingles during their lifetime, resulting in about one million cases of shingles per year.

Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults. The risk of contracting shingles increases with age starting at around 50 and is highest in the elderly.

Caretaker for Elderly Gets Four Years for Theft

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Justice is served in Redwood City, CA. A caretaker of an elderly woman was convicted of stealing more than $138,000.00. She was sentenced to four years in prison. She will serve her time in Chowchilla, which is the Valley State Prison.

The caretaker was ordered to pay $145, 00.00 in restitution to the elderly woman she had been hired to take care of. Niumai Adele Lawanivalu was hired to look after the elderly woman who suffers from dementia. She immediately started writing herself checks from the elderly woman’s account. She was charged with three counts each of commercial burglary and elder financial abuse, which are all felonies.

The police began investigating Lawanivalu not long after a worker at one of the elderly lady’s banks became suspicious over a large amount of account activity and contacted them.

An investigation traced the activity back to Lawanivalu. She begged the family not to turn her in to the police. This phone call was recorded by law enforcement.

She was later arrested as she was returning from a Las Vegas trip with the Fijian rugby team. She was initially hired through a local referral agency, From the Heart Homecare; however, two weeks later, she offered to work directly for the family at a cheaper price and they accepted her offer.

Please visit here for more information.

Incontinence

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Incontinence simply means loss of bladder control and it is a common condition that many who care for the elderly must deal with. It is more of a symptom and not a disease and is caused by a wide range of conditions and disorders including pelvic surgery, injuries, certain medications, and just basic degenerative changes that occur with aging.

Elderly with incontinence can experience both physical and emotional uneasiness. These are many things that can be done to treat and manage the condition. The first step in treatment is to see your doctor to find the cause and establish a treatment plan.

The following are some additional tips to help you, the caregiver, deal with some of the challenges associated with incontinence:

  • Make the bathroom easy to find by using night lights in the bedrooms and hallways.
  • Many elderly have accidents because they are unable to make to the bathroom in time; consider purchasing a bedside commode. This can be used in the bathroom over the regular toilet or it can be used bedside at night.
  • Keep pathways through the home safe and clear; rearrange furniture and remove clutter; make sure throw rugs have a non-slip backing on them.
  • Encourage the use of a walker or can to increase mobility.
  • Get a waterproof bed sheet to help protect your mattress from night time accidents.
  • Provide chairs with sturdy arms so that it reduces the strain of getting up; straining to get in or out of a chair can put pressure on the bladder.
  • Make sure the elder is allowed enough time in the bathroom to completely empty the bladder.
  • Remove wet clothing immediately after an accident and rinse out to cut down on odor; if the wet item cannot be rinsed right away, store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
  • Have a schedule for toileting needs; start with every 2 hours and progress from there.
  • Consider a raised toilet seat and handrails beside the toilet to make toileting more comfortable. A raised seat helps an elder get up and the handrails help to steady.

It only takes time and a little patience to work through the symptoms of incontinence.

Elderly Social Worker

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

What do you think of when you hear the words, “social worker”? If you are like most people, you think of one of those people in the welfare office. Social work has been associated for a long time with Child Protective Services and other non-profit organizations that work to help improve the lives of children and help to remove them from abusive situations.

Adult Protective Services is also an important part of the field of social work; however, APS is understaffed in many places throughout the United States and some cities do not even have an APS department. Cases involving the elderly have increased in recent years and the increase in reports added with the media attention on the issue has finally given APS the focus it deserves.

Choosing to be a social worker for elderly citizens is going to give you a challenge. You have to be willing to learn specific skills both personally and academically in order to succeed at working with the elderly.

Working with the elderly demands a level of education that can only be obtained through a college or university; a social worker must have at the minimum, a bachelor’s degree, to start a career. Many times, however, it is necessary to have a master’s degree. While working on a degree, electives can be taken to give the more specialized training you may need to work with the elderly.

Some of your coursework might include:

  • Death, Loss and Grief
  • Social Work with the Elderly
  • Evaluation in Adults and Elderly
  • Basic Social Work Research
  • Adulthood and Aging
  • Policies and Services for the Elderly

To work with seniors, you must have compassion and patience. You have to see things through their eyes; many times they won’t understand with a younger person coming to help them. While most elderly are wonderful to know, just like any other group of people, there are bumps along the way. And if the elderly is a victim of abuse or neglect, this may amplify the negativity in them and they may call you names and seem very angry.

It is also good to be able to work with those that have mental illnesses. Many of the individuals in nursing homes are there because of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other mental illness and require constant care. It is important to know how to talk with these elderly and be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction as these individuals will often have issues with confusion.

Being a social worker and working for the elderly can provide you with a fulfilling career.

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

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