Fall Factors

One of the top reasons that we get calls or inquiries about assisted living is when families have an elderly loved one who has had a fall.  Falls among seniors are unfortunately very common.  It was recently reported in the news that falls are the number one causes of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among people aged 65 and older.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  Now, falls can still occur in any environment but knowing what to watch for and having others looking out for you can help avoid potential falls.

 

Here are some key factors from the National Council on Aging to consider regarding falls:

 

  • Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

 

Be aware of these factors and keep the dialogue open with your loved ones regarding falls and the issues related to them.  Ask questions and be proactive if you notice changes in health and/or behavior.

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Check It Out

I spend more time than I would like to at hospitals and clinics.  I guess it is just part of the job.  But last week I had to go for a visit for my own health.  It was time for my annual mammogram.  Now my tween-age daughter might say this is “TMI” or too much information.  But I think…that this is actually the opposite.  I think it is necessary for us to discuss important health issues at any age.  And being informed and keeping the lines of communication open regarding breast health should be a priority.

According to Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, half of newly diagnosed women with breast cancer are over 60, and more than a fifth are over 70. Although the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age, the chance of dying from it declines steadily. “Women who have lived to an advanced age do very well when treated for breast cancer,” says Dr. Hal Burstein, senior physician and breast cancer specialist at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

But the path to early detection and effective treatment isn’t always clear for older women; once you’ve reached 75, there is no hard-and-fast schedule for screening or protocol for treatment. Instead, how often you should get a mammogram or the kind of treatment you undergo for early breast cancer is a decision for you to make with your doctor.

What are the risk factors?

The Mayo Clinic and National Cancer Institute list these primary risk factors:

  • Age
  • Chest radiation as a child
  • Start of menarche before the age of 12
  • Adolescent weight gain
  • No pregnancy or late pregnancy (after 30)
  • Lengthy use of oral contraceptives
  • Post-menopausal weight gain
  • Late menopause (after age of 50)
  • Increased breast tissue density

It is important to keep your appointments for all regular checkups for women and men of all ages.  What may be uncomfortable or inconvenient for a day can save your life.

You can find more information at http://www.cancer.org

 

Under Pressure

One of the hardest things that we all have to come to terms with is that we are not Superman or SuperWoman.  Why…our entire lives most of us are taught that we can do anything…if we just set our mind to it.  Recently, I had a personal struggle.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and had to start taking a daily medication.  Have you been there?  I personally always thought…not me! No way!  I don’t want to have to take a medication every day.  But then I faced the facts, my genes nor my health were going to change.  I had to do something different.  What did Einstein say?  “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.  So, I had to bite the proverbial bullet and start blood pressure medication.  You know what?  I feel SO MUCH BETTER!!!  I don’t end each day with a headache now and I don’t feel like I’m running a race with my days.  Are you or a loved one struggling with this health care situation?  You don’t have to be Einstein or a hard-headed woman like me to know that blood pressure is not something to ignore.

According to an article by senior advocate and health care provider Elizabeth Bemis, there are “Three Good Reasons You Should Keep Track of Your Blood Pressure”:

  1.  Blood pressure problems are easy to overlook. Your blood pressure is “out of sight and out of mind”. There are no visible signs of high or low blood pressure and few physical symptoms. Because of this, it is important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. Blood pressure problems are a “silent condition”.
  2.  Low blood pressure can contribute to feelings of dizziness or weakness, which can increase the risk of falls and other injuries, but many people attribute these feelings to other things, such as being overtired.
  3.  High blood pressure may cause headaches as one of the few symptoms and can lead to:
  • An overworked heart
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Hardening of the arteries

But regardless of your age, take heart!  Blood pressure issues are manageable.  Always seek the advice of your health care professional with any medical issues.  Be sure to report any problems you are having and don’t be a back-seat driver in your health!  Take the wheel and be sure you are being an advocate for your health and well-being.

elderly-with-dr

The Changing Face

Someone recently asked me was the face of assisted living changing? Well I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. I guess mainly because the faces or the people that I know within our communities are all so very different. They are different on many varied levels. Now while they all have to meet the requirements for eligibility…that still doesn’t look like one particular demographic. So if you have in your mind what assisted living looks like…let’s try this on for size. This may not be the case for all residents. But this is a more commonplace that many realize.

 

pink-lady

It is very typical for our residents within our communities to be very vibrant contributing members of society. We have folks that do charity work, volunteer to read at local schools and even pink ladies at the local hospital. I have one lady that I swear travels more during the week than I do. She has plenty of living left to do and she enjoys every minute of it. I heard her tell a friend once, “I know I don’t have to live in assisted living, but for me it is a comfort to know that someone is always there for me if I need them no matter what. She went on to say that since her husband passed away a few years back, she feels that being in our community allows her the freedom to keep going while not becoming a burden on anyone else. It is so amazing to see lives so full and abundant. Assisted living communities provide so much more than assistance with the activities of daily life. What we are able to do in most cases is make sure that the jobs of cooking, cleaning and keeping up with laundry and other tasks are handled so that seniors can focus on the truly important things in life.

So while we certainly pride ourselves in offering as much assistance as we can provide our residents, you may see that your view of what assisted living looks like may be changing for you. We encourage our potential residents and families to not wait. Keeping medications and nutrition scheduled and balanced is such a benefit that we can oversee. The assisted living model may be exactly what you need to keep you on pace with your lifestyle. Want to find out more? Give us a call today. We would love for you to join us for lunch and take a tour. Have your own opportunity to try us on for size.

Shifting Gears to the New Year

After all the fun and festivities that the holidays bring, it is commonplace for most to begin thinking of making changes to begin a new year.  New Year Resolutions are a good thing for folks of all ages.  Making resolutions regardless of our age, creates a sense of purpose for all of us.  It helps us to focus on the things that are the most important.  Seniors can especially benefit from this if resolutions are made to prevent illness and injury. Making resolutions such as participating in a new physical activity, developing a new exercise routine, or eating better are all good goals for seniors.  But what is the best way to do this and succeed?

Write it Down

Writing down your resolution is only half the battle!  Chart it and not only seniorwriting-052313-vr-tifdocument your defeats, but celebrate your victories!  According to a study by the University of Scranton research shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  Writing it down puts it in black and white and gives a sense of accountability.  Trying to lose weight or exercise more?  Writing it down or having someone chart it for you will help you track your success.

Keep it Simple

Now most of us have heard of the KISS system.  You know, Keep It Simple Stupid!  Now while this may sound ridiculous, it is rather ingenious.  If you have a simple and small goal that you want to achieve….and you have written it down…well, then it is more likely to stick with you!  According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, “it’s more sensible to set simple small attainable goals, rather than a singular overwhelming goal”.  A resolution to lose weight is a bit more daunting than to just cut out soft drinks.  It’s less restrictive and much more clear cut.  So, pick something small to change and work on that.

Give Yourself a BreakSenior couple having fun in park

If you do have a slip up, don’t give up!  Remember that you are only human.  Have you been dieting and feel like you could eat your weight in chocolate??  Well…don’t do that and try to A-V-O-I-D feeling deprived.  Eat a small piece of chocolate.  Have a cheat day.  Are you trying to exercise more?  Start slowly.  Don’t feel like you must exercise every day if this is new to you.  Maybe your target is walking two or three times a week to start with.
Set yourself up for success and keep your goals realistic.

By taking small steps, making your goals clear and realistic you stand a better chance of making 2017 your best year yet.  You also want to check with your physician first before making any changes to your diet and exercise plan.  If you feel like Assisted Living is a goal for you or a loved one this year, reach out to us today.  Our staff is trained to help our residents with the activities of their daily life.  We would love to welcome you home to a Great Oaks Management Property in 2017.

In Good Taste

 

plate-of-foodI guess it never really dawned on me until I starting working in the senior living industry that just as our hearing and eyesight are impacted as we age…so are our taste buds.  SERIOUSLY!!  Those go away??  Well, that is just fabulous, right?  Now don’t go thinking all is lost!  But believe me when I say that there is a GREAT DEAL of time and energy that is spent in planning meals for Assisted Living Communities.  And what is on the plate is not what you would expect!  We are not talking cafeteria style boredom.  Sure it may be difficult to appeal to a crowd of differing tastes and disappearing taste buds.  It can be a tall order!  But we have more than one approach to take on the task.  While bearing in mind that Assisted Living residents are given a type of diet that their physician suggests…but remembering that the resident is the captain of their own ship.  They have resident rights to direct their care and this includes their nutrition.  Our job is to do our novel best to offer food to meet their dietary needs.  It is also helpful to know that ALF communities have regulations in place that cover food from everything from receiving and storing to cooking and serving.  By following these best practices, we can offer safe, delicious and nutritious meals.  Here are some ways we aim to please.

eating-sandwich

  1. Always Available Menus. So today is Taco Tuesday and Mexican food doesn’t agree with you?  No problem!  In our communities, we offer Always Available Menus that will give you options that are designed to please.  With a little head’s up, the dietary staff can make sure that your mealtime doesn’t go South of the border.
  2. Menus that change with the Season. Guided by our Dietitian Consultant, we create menu suggestions that offer variety and nutrition to attempt to appeal to any palate.
  3. Another approach that we have incorporated is resident suggestion! Got a great recipe for your favorite dessert?  Then we want to hear about it!  We will do our best to submit it for approval to add to our menu.  From the beginning intake process, we do our best to find out what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to food.  No two tastes will be the same.  But by treating everyone as an individual, it helps set the situation up for success.

Check out our menus at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

 

 

Whenever I See Your Smiling Face

In this day and age, there is literally an app for everything.  If you look for it, you will even find an app for how to tie your shoes.  Seriously!  Now while apps are a great concept, obviously some things can’t take the place of real life application.  But that is where technology steps in!  Working with members of the senior adult population, I find that many of them truly appreciate the marvel and wonder of the Internet, email, and social media.  No, not too many have their own accounts…but some do!  I cannot tell you the number of times I have had children and grandchildren ask to email or text me pictures to share with their family member that lives in our community.  And it is a wonderful feeling to download or even print these images to share with them!  Oh, how they light up to see the face of new great grandbaby or pictures from a graduation.

As we continue our theme of CONNECTING…I encourage families and assisted living professionals alike to embrace the idea of helping your elderly continue to connect!  Now, of course, sending anything or receiving anything must be HIPPA compliant and agreeable by all appropriate parties.  As with all types of communication, you want to respect your resident’s rights and encourage them to navigate safely.  I find that many just want help getting to a certain comfort zone.  We have residents that like to do crossword puzzles or other brain games on their iPads and some just want to be able to see the pictures that a family member emailed or posted on social media.  Another thing that can be valuable for them is reading on electronic devices allows for the font to be much larger that some print books.  Who am I kidding…it helps me too!!

So even if you find that Mom is Facebook savvy or maybe, on the contrary, your Dad wouldn’t touch a computer if you bought him the latest and greatest…do them a favor and strive to KEEP CONNECTED!  And senior living professionals…so long as you have the proper permission paperwork in place, take time to take pictures and send them to your resident’s families.  Pictures don’t have to be just for marketing.  We all have those residents that have family that is far away.  Help close the distance by sending a smiling pic of their loved one.  It will brighten their day and yours!

 

For information on Internet Safety for seniors check out this link from the Department of Homeland Security https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Cybersecurity%20for%20Older%20Americans_0.pdf

 

 

Balance Problems

Have you ever felt suddenly dizzy or felt the room spinning or you feel light headed?  It is a very scary sensation when it happens.  You are not alone; you may be one of 33 million Americans who had a balance problem in the past year.  Balance problems are one of the most common reasons senior adults seek medical care each year.

Good balance is important, especially in senior adults as it often leads to falls and more serious injuries.  An intact sense of balance allows us to do simple things like walk without staggering, get up from a chair without falling or bend over to pick something up without falling. Often issues with the inner ear create problems with balance, or cause dizziness or feeling light headed.

Weight loss can also contribute to balance issues, especially in senior adult women.  Weight loss, even a small amount, can shift our center of gravity and cause balance issues, especially when standing up from a chair.  This can often lead of falls in senior adults.

Good balance is important to our ability to get around, stay active and independent.  If you are having concerns about dizziness, light headedness or feeling unsteady, especially when rising from a chair, talk to your primary care provider.

Mom Is Forgetting Things, Could She Have Dementia?

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Everyone is forgetful from time to time especially when it comes to things like remembering where we put the car keys or forgetting to pick up something at the grocery store.  Adults over 65 say they are more forgetful than when they were younger, sometimes having a “senior moment” when they forget something.

Occasional forgetfulness is different than dementia and as our parents age, sometimes we wonderful is the forgetfulness we see is a part of the natural aging process or the beginning of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  As the child of a senior adult, how will I know the difference?

Research has shown that the early warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may begin to occur years before our parents get the diagnosis, sometimes as much as 10-15 years before the diagnosis.  That’s why it is important to pay attention to early signs of forgetfulness and consider a trip to the physician for a medical work up if we are concerned about the possibility that our parents may be developing dementia.  Forgetting a friends name or missing a lunch date is something that people without dementia do from time to time. Someone with early dementia, though, might repeatedly forget names or plans, and forget all about the incident soon afterward. It may seem strange but while someone with early dementia may forget something that happened the previous evening, they may recall in detail events that happened in the more distant past, last year, say, or during their childhood.

The Alzheimer’s Association has published a list of 10 warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  They are:

  1. Forgetfulness and memory loss
  2. Lack of concentration and confusion
  3. Losing things
  4. Difficulty doing familiar tasks
  5. Language and speaking problems
  6. Problems with simple math
  7. Poor judgment
  8. Personality changes and mood swings
  9. Changes in grooming and personal hygiene
  10. Withdrawing from friends and family

If you are concerned about your parent, make an appointment to see their primary care physician.  There are medications available which slow the progression of some forms of dementia, but they work better if they start early in the disease.

What Do These Famous Individuals All Have In Common?

What do Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Glen Campbell, Pat Summit, and Perry Como have in common?  Your first response might be that they are all famous, successful individuals.  You would be right, but the one thing that they all have in common is Alzheimer’s disease.  November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and now is a good time to learn more about the disease and what to do if you are concerned that a loved one may have memory problems.

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that affects memory, language, thought and eventually, the ability to complete basic activities of daily living.  Scientist think as many as 4.5 million American’s have Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers go up beginning at age 60.  Scientist estimates that 50% of Americans age 85 and older have the disease.  One important point is that Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging.

If you have a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, make an appointment to see your primary care provider as soon as possible.  There are medications available today which help slow down the progression of the disease if they are started early in the disease process.  Delaying getting a diagnosis reduces the ability to slow the disease earlier in the process.

If you have a loved one who has been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, get as much information as you can and look for a support group in your area.  Explore programs in your area for individuals with memory loss and begin to look at senior living options for when living at home is no longer possible.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself.  Care giving for an individual with memory problems is challenging and many care givers face health challenges of their own.

Alzheimer’s disease affects individuals regardless of their race, sex, social background or financial class.  Getting up to date information will help you find the answers you need.