11.14.10

Preventing Senior Falls

Posted in arthritis, Assisted Living, care at home, Caregiver, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Home Health Care, Senior Citizen at 9:54 am by admin

Possibly one of the most preventable yet sometimes life-threatening incidents seniors face is falling down. Brittle bones, unstable balance, slower reaction time all contribute to the hazardous nature of an incident that in the younger years was not such a big deal. For many seniors, a simple fall can be a big time set back for even an active senior. Healing usually takes longer and other complications can arise when you are immobilized.

My own active Grandmother took a fall in her favorite restaurant, broke her hip, and ended up wasting away in a nursing home where she was exposed to a secondary infection that weakened her dramatically and ultimately ended her life. While not every fall ends in severe injury or death, any serious fall takes its toll on a senior’s health. Something to consider especially since many senior falls are preventable.
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Providing Steadying Support
The answer to preventing falls may be as simple as using a cane for walking to help stabilize your balance or even just taking the arm of someone steadier on their feet. Many seniors balk at the idea of using a cane. It took some convincing to talk my own father into using such a support device. It wasn’t until we found one that suited his sense of style and individuality, that he finally warmed up to the idea. No cane-like walking device would do; he chose a six-foot, hand-carved walking staff with built-in flute on the top end. Whatever floats your boat, right? It provide just enough support to keep him steady. Having to shift to a walker later on was a harder sell, but he liked the idea of a walker that converted into a seat. Again, the dual purpose device appealed, and it gave him a place to get the rest he needed to stay steadier on his feet. Walkers designed with a personalized pocket storage system might do the trick for someone else.

Making the pathways smooth and clear
One of the biggest causes of falls often lies in the senior’s own home. Steps, uneven ground, obstructed pathways, and loose throw rugs are often the biggest culprits of senior falls. Replacing steps with ramps or adding grab bars and hand rails can make a huge difference in safety. Putting in smooth pathways in outside areas further reduces falling risks. Removing throw rugs and thick carpets and replacing them with rubber mats, or no carpeting at all is a quick fix. Making clear paths through the house is an absolute must. Removing stacks of stuff, low decor, and rickety furniture that will not safely offer support if grabbed will hugely reduce the senior’s risk of falling. Adding proper lighting such as motion sensor lights or night lights particularly for nighttime trips to the bathroom or kitchen will also go a long way to keeping seniors on their feet.

Caution when out and about
In the hustle and bustle, seniors often forget physical limitations and caution when they’re out and about. Having someone along to ofter a steadying arm and watch for wet floor signs, uneven ground, slick surfaces, traffic, or obstructions maybe the best excuse ever for making most outings a social event with a friend or family member. Remembering that senior reaction time might be a bit slower than it used to be might be added motivation for caution when venturing out into the fast lane of the grocery store or busy sidewalk.

Taking these few simple steps to preventing senior falls may be one of the simplest yet worthwhile things you can do for yourself or the senior you love. It is family elderly care, and it is worth your while.

If you need TX assisted living, or senior housing in any other state, submit your area information in the box at the top of this page.

08.04.10

Senior Aches and Pains: Osteoarthritis

Posted in arthritis at 3:55 pm by admin

One of the hardest parts of aging many seniors face is when your body slows down but your mind is as active as ever. The aches and pains and stiffness, many people attribute to “just getting old” can turn a senior’s life upside down.  A quick trip to the doctor’s office may tell you that what you’re experiencing may be more than just “old age.” Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis affecting seniors.
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What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints that is a cushion between bones wears down and eventually may disappear altogether leaving bone to rub against bone, causing, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Boney spurs may also form around the joint, contributing to the problem. Muscles and ligaments connected to the joint and bones often loosen and become weak.

What causes osteoarthritis?

There is no known single cause of osteoarthritis other than it is related to aging, but several contributing factors can increase your risk of having osteoarthritis:

Family history of osteoarthritis

Being overweight

Fractures or joint injuries

Long-term overuse, repetitive motion, or high-impact sports activities

Patients with the following medical conditions also have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis:

Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia

Disorders that inhibit blood circulation near a joint, such as avascular necrosis

Other types of arthritis such as chronic gout, pseudo gout, or rheumatoid arthritis
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How do you know if you might be at risk for having osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis::

Do you have deep aching joint pain  in your hands, knees, hips, or spine that gets worse particularly after exercising or gaining weigh?

Is your pain relieved by rest?

Do you feel a grating sensation in the joint when you move?

Do you have pain even when you are at rest?

Does your pain increase during humid or rainy weather?

Do you have any visible joint swelling?

Have you experienced any loss of mobility or range of motion?

Do you any muscle weakness around painful joints?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, it doesn’t mean you have Osteoarthritis, but it does mean you should check with your doctor. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, so depending on how long you have had it, the above symptoms may appear more or less severely. The symptoms may not all be present, and may not be present at all for some patients who have osteoarthritis. Any of the above symptoms could indicate something else altogether, but if you do experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor and ask about osteoarthritis.

The good news? The effects of osteoarthritis can be reduced and the disease may be slowed down if proper treatment is received.  Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatment options depending on which joints are affected:

Medications:

Your Doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers (Tylenol), nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), or the prescription drug, Celebrex, although long term use of the above medications can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Corticosteroids injected right into the affected joint can help reduce pain and swelling, but are not usually used as long-term solutions since they only relive pain for a short time.

Some osteoarthritis patients find some relief from the use of the dietary supplement, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Your doctor may recommend a 3 month trial to see if it improves your condition.

Capsaicin (Zostrix) skin cream is used topically to reduce pain. Pain relief may not be felt until after 1-2 weeks of consistent application to the affect joint.

Artificial joint fluid (Synvisc, Hyalgan) may be injected directly into the joint and often provides pain relief  that lasts 3-6 months.

Exercise

Your doctor may recommend certain kinds of exercise depending on the joints affected. Exercise can help maintain or even increase your joint mobility, strength, and overall movement. Water exercises such as swimming and water aerobics are often recommended because they work the entire body, but are gentle on your joints. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for physical therapy.

Physical therapy

A physical therapist can show you specific exercises and stretches to strengthen the joints and connected muscles which can increase range of motion, and decrease pain and inflammation. Your therapist may also recommend applying heat to relax your muscles or cold to reduce swelling, and a brace, splint, or wrap to help support or immobilize the joint properly. These support should only be used under the advice of your doctor or physical therapist since improper support could lead to loss of mobility, increased stiffness, or injury.

Loosing excess weight

Carrying extra pounds places more stress on the joints, so your doctor may recommend changes in diet and exercise in order to lose weight and relieve pressure on your joints. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet and getting adequate rest will also promote healing in your muscles, ligaments and joints.

Alterations on the job

If your work causes excessive stress on certain joints, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend ways to reduce trauma on joints. Or you may need to adjust your work tasks or request modifications to your work area to help you function without putting added strain on your joints.

Surgery

Patients with severe cases of osteoarthritis may need surgery to replace or repair damaged joints. Surgery options are:

Hip or knee replacement

Arthroscopic surgery to trim torn and damaged cartilage (osteotomy)

Surgical fusion of bones, usually in the spine (arthrodesis)

Realignment of bones to relieve stress

Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to keep you down. Check with your doctor. The effects of  “old age” might be reversible or at least able to be reduced.  Ask your doctor about osteoarthritis.

02.28.08

Sunshine for the Elderly

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, arthritis, Assisted Living, Caregiver, dementia, Depression, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Home Health Care, Nursing home, Senior Citizen, Taking Care of a Loved One, Texas Elderly Care Services at 10:45 am by admin


This morning the sunrise looked like sunshine was gently stroked with a paintbrush onto the pale blue and pink sky. There’s something therapeutic about sunshine. I believe that it helps calm and uplift a person to a degree. When a baby is born the doctor tells the mother to sun bathe the baby by bringing the infant in direct sunlight for a few minutes to half an hour. Everyone, not just babies, could use some sunlight. The elderly however aren’t able to get out much and maybe don’t have a good view out the window. Not getting sunlight may be a factor of depression. Statistics have shown that there are more suicides in places that don’t get much sunlight such as Alaska’s winters. So if your loved one is battling depressing from alzheimer’s or has been cooped up for too long take them out for a walk and a picnic. Your loved one will enjoy your company as well as the fresh air and sunshine.

08.17.07

Fall Injury Preventatives

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, arthritis, Assisted Living, Assisted Living Safety, care at home, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Elderly Diseases, exercises, Home Health Care, pain releif, Senior Citizen, soothes joints at 3:42 pm by admin


Elder Care Safety

Falls are the most common cause of injury in American adults age 65 and older. According to the National Safety Council falls are the leading cause of death. One in three of those 65 and older falls each year and 90% of hip fractures that occur in the U.S. are the result of a fall.


But do not panic over these statistics. Here are a few things to do to fall-proof your home and to learn how to fall the correct way to help prevent injury.

To fall proof your home:

  -Don’t pile clutter or items in pathways or stairways.

  -Put adhesive texture strips or a rubber mat on the bottom of shower. Install grab bars on the walls. Place a slip resistant rug on the floor to safely get in and out of bath.

  -Keep appliance cords out of walking area. Don’t put them under rugs.

  -Remove small area rugs at top and bottom of stairs and put adhere non-slip treads to bare-wood steps.

  -Place night lights to light the way from bedroom to bathroom.  Keep a flashlight with new batteries close to the bed in case of power outage.

  -Clean up spills immediately.

  -Wear sneakers around the house and outside. Do not wear stocking feet or high heals.

In case a fall does happen here are a few steps to follow to do avoid or minimize injury:

  -If at all possible try to fall on your butt or side. Roll over naturally, turning your head in the direction of the roll.

  -Keep joints (wrists, elbows and knees) bent. Do not break your fall with your hands or elbows.

  -After falling take several deep breaths. Do not quickly get up especially if you feel you have been injured.

  -If you feel you have been injured call 911 or a family member for help.

  -If you feel you are not injured and are able to get up, crawl to a stable piece of furniture like a chair to support and help pull yourself up. Put both hands on the seat.

  -Slowly begin to raise yourself up and bend whichever knee that is stronger keeping the other knee on the floor. Slowly twist and sit in the chair.

Remember to have physical checkups and exercise regularly.


07.31.07

Water Therapy

Posted in arthritis, Assisted Living Referral Service, Assisted Living Safety, Elder Care, Elderly Care, exercises, osteoporosis, pain releif, soothes joints, water exercises, water therapy, water therapy for elderly at 5:17 pm by admin

Water therapy, a good excercise for the elderly


A great way to excercise

Water Therapy is said to be the best form of exercise for the elderly. Water therapy is easy on the bones which is especially good for those with Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis. Water therapy warms and soothes the joints and increases range of motion. Water therapy conditions and builds the muscles yet it releives a lot of pain. Many poeple with back pain start doing water exercises to relieve that pain whereas weight workouts would likely increase the pain.

Hard and padded surfaces uncomfortable

Many people find that as they age exercising on hard or even padded surfaces is very uncomfortable but water exercises are enjoyable and a nearly painless workout. If a person has a muscle strain or tear, has had a fall or other injury then the gentle resistance and friction that water therapy provides makes a quicker recovery while reducing the risks of re-injury due to loss of balance or overstraining the bones and muscles. 

Consult your physical therapist

Those with high blood pressure and other heart related problems should consult their physical therapist before performing water therapy.

If you or a loved one has arthritis then begin water therapy that works for you as soon as possible to get rid of pain and stiffness.