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Walking & Nighttime Restlessness In Those With Dementia

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As countless studies have shown, nighttime routine, especially in the hectic society we live in, is key to having clarity the next day. Even without the research, most people know what it is like trying to function normally the day after a bad night’s sleep. Impaired sleep is especially common in older persons and is associated with poor daytime function, greater risk of mood disorders, poorer quality of life, impaired immune function and greater rates of falls, injuries, physician visits and healthcare costs. Sleep problems are particularly prevalent in persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Many independent and assisted living homes are part of a larger complex called a Continuing Care Retirement Community. CCRCs are communities that offer several levels of health care on one campus. Some states refer to them as “residential living.” Independent Living is for residents who do not require personal assistance. Assisted Living is for those who require some assistance with the activities of daily life such as eating, bathing, walking and medication.

Memory Care, sometimes referred to as “special care” provides assistance to those who are have cognitive impairment and suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, both short and long term, are provided at an on-campus Health Care Center. Many patients living in the Memory Care wings need special nighttime monitoring to assure their safety because of restlessness and the tendency to wander, a condition that accompanies the disease. Scientists theorize that sleep disturbances in people with dementia may be caused in part by a reduction of external cues that synchronize our internal “clock” to the 24-hour light and dark cycle, called the Circadian Rhythm.  Within the Circadian cycle, a person usually sleeps approximately 8 hours and is awake 16. During the wakeful hours, mental and physical functions are most active and tissue cell growth increases. During sleep, activities nearly disappear and there is a decrease in metabolic rate, respiration, heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. The activity of the digestive system decreases during the resting period, but that of the urinary system increases.

insomnia by *dreamon72 on deviantART

Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia whose biological clocks are not functioning normally are significantly affected with restlessness, insomnia and the resulting nighttime wandering. A variety of factors can trigger wandering in Alzheimer’s patients, but it is more likely to happen if a patient or resident:
Is restless, pacing, or making repetitive motions.
Is having trouble finding familiar places like the bathroom or kitchen.
Is trying to investigate where familiar people are.
Seems to be performing a hobby or chore, but gets nothing done.
Becomes lost or confused in a new environment.
Attempts to go to work or fulfill some other former obligation.
Wants to “go home” even if they are already are.

Healthcare workers and staff in memory care units utilize methods of dissuading or preventing an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient from wandering such as:
Encouraging daytime movement, exercise, and recreational activities such as music therapy or movie watching, especially if the person is pacing or seems restless. Lower levels of daily physical activity have been proven to be associated with sleep disturbances. Making sure basic needs, like hunger, thirst or bathroom necessities are met, as the person may wander to meet these needs. Securing exit doors in a way that makes them difficult to open, or camouflaging doorknobs or doors with cloth or curtains. Placing large signs on exits that say “Stop” or “Do Not Enter.” Taking precautions, knowing the triggers, and planning can all help protect and retrieve a patient with dementia who may be restless and try to wander off.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Los Angeles and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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If Seniors Don’t Know It’s Broken How Can They Fix It

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

It is reported that 133 million Americans have a chronic condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or cancer. Every 35 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  One in five older adults is caught in the grips of depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is the most prevalent mental health problem among older adults, yet many of them do not realize they are suffering through a treatable condition. Many elderly people resist seeking treatment because of the stigma that is still frequently attached to getting help with an emotional issue. While going through a particularly long period of depression after losing a spouse, one elderly woman stated that, “if my own family members can’t help me, how could someone else?” Perhaps stubbornness or fear prevented her from seeking relief from a treatable emotional condition. Many elderly people fear they may be considered “crazy” and cling to the myth that “such problems” are matters of shame or imply some perceived character imperfection.

Some progress is being made on the issue through education and awareness. Though federally funded programs for mental health services provided through Medicare and other insurances are available, it continues to be one of the most overlooked areas of senior health. Seniors, who have trouble sleeping, feel tired, have lost their appetite or are unable to concentrate, may be suffering from depression. Unlike some conditions that affect the elderly such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist and antidepressants can lessen, if not eliminate depression. The staff in assisted living facilities is trained to observe and identify symptoms of depression in their residents. They know that depression is not always “just a feeling of being sad” and that it can interfere with the routine of daily living and greatly diminish the quality of life. When a caregiver notices an assisted living resident whose behavior has changed, they may notify the family and suggest that their loved one may benefit from seeing a doctor to treat their symptoms of depression. Other seniors may not seek treatment for depression because they truly do understand how psychotherapy works or how it can help them.

sad Feeling by *Auu on deviantART

Psychotherapy does not translate well into sound bites, but could best be described concisely as gaining insight. A patient in therapy will know when it happens. Unlike intellectual learning, they will realize the benefits when they start feeling clearer, saner, more hopeful, more decisive, more energetic, and the symptoms begin to go away. When a patient feels the things they have been trying not to feel, and becomes aware of things they have tried to avoid, they begin to feel and function better. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, University of South Florida psychologist Amber Gum, the study’s leader, told author, Paula Spain, “I’ve had older clients say, ‘I’m not depressed, I’m not sad and crying all the time.’ Depression in older people can take an unusual form however. Though depression with sadness continues to be the most common type, seniors are more likely than younger adults to suffer depression marked by loss of interest. Because this form of depression is a bit unusual, even professionals may not recognize it in older people, Dr. Gum said. “If someone comes in and says, ‘I’m sad,’ you start thinking about depression. If someone says, ‘I just don’t feel like myself,’ it’s less obvious.”

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care Dallas, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Potential Good News For Seniors Who Take Blood Thinners

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Many seniors citizens take the blood thinner, Warfarin, also called Coumadin and the population of those who require it is expected to peak in 2030, when the number of people over age 65 will soar to 71.5 million — one in every five Americans. Blood thinners do not actually thin the blood, but work on chemical reactions in the body to lengthen the time it takes to coagulate and form a blood clot. The drug is prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke from the formation of blood clots in the arteries and veins. Other conditions that warrant taking the anti coagulant are abnormal heart rhythm, heart valve surgery and congenital heart defects.

In October 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first potential anticoagulant rival to the sixty year old Warfarin. German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim’s drug, Pradaxa, is expected to limit some of the negatives of the problematic Warfarin, which interacts badly with food and other drugs. Clinical trials that ultimately led to the FDA approval say the lower dose of Pradaxa, (dabigatran), causes less bleeding and was easier to manage than Warfarin, a famously difficult drug to administer and monitor.  In contrast to Warfarin, dabigatran is given in a fixed dose twice daily independent of body weight, sex, food, whatever, and you don’t need to monitor the coagulation system,” study author Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener, Chairman of Neurology at University Hospital in Essen, Germany, said during a news conference held during the meeting.

Orfarin-ad by *georges-dahdouh on deviantART

“For patients and health care providers, dabigatran is a far more convenient drug than Warfarin, because it has no known interactions with foods and minimal interactions with other drugs and therefore does not require routine blood coagulation testing,” wrote the international team of researchers led by Dr. Sam Schulman of McMaster University and the Henderson Research Center in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Warfarin has been effective in limiting the formation of deadly blood clots, but is a medication that must be taken exactly as directed to be safe and effective. Regular blood tests are required to monitor the seconds it takes for clots to form. The effectiveness of Warfarin is also affected by alcohol and certain food consumption.

Diet is very important in maintaining proper coagulation times. The synthesis of the clotting factors in the liver depends on the availability of Vitamin K. Thus, the amount of Vitamin K in the diet changes the effects of the Warfarin. Foods high in Vitamin K are green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts. Certain over the counter drugs and herbal supplements can easily alter the effectiveness of Warfarin: too much coagulation can allow blood clots to develop, whereas not enough can cause internal bleeding. The Pro Time, or “prothrombin time,” is the name of the test used to monitor the effects of Warfarin. It measures the tendency of blood to clot as compared with a normal control sample. It is measured in the number of seconds it takes for the blood to clot, and may be expressed as a ratio of the blood sample to the control.

The proper ratio depends on the reason for taking Warfarin in the first place. For most conditions, the International Normalized Ratio or INR, is optimally kept in the range of 2.0 to 3.0. For some conditions, the desirable range is higher, around 3.0 to 4.0. The goal is set by the attending physician, depending on a number of factors of the condition. Without the Pro Time test, there no way to tell for sure what range a person’s dose should be. An eighty pound woman may need 20 milligrams a day, while her two hundred fifty pound counterpart may only need 2.5 milligrams a day. Simple blood tests are normally done on a monthly basis and more frequently if results do not fall into the projected INR range and dosage is adjusted.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Chicago and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Healthcare Workers In Assisted Living Are Vigilant For Signs Of A Life Threatening Condition

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The death certificate listed the cause of death as malignant esophageal neoplasms, essential hypertension and severe septicemia. Those who knew her were aware that she had cancer of the esophagus and high blood pressure, but no one knew about septicemia, let alone what it meant. According to a recent survey, neither do the majority of Americans know what the life threatening immune response condition known as sepsis is.  “The lack of awareness and understanding is one of the major challenges we face in healthcare today,” Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, part of the North Shore LIJ Health System in New York, said in a news release from the health system.

“One in four hospital deaths are caused by sepsis, yet the majority of Americans have never even heard of the condition. Sepsis is a mystery to most Americans.” The survey of 1,000 adults found that although adults over 65 are particularly vulnerable to sepsis, nearly 70 percent of them do not know what it is. Healthcare workers in assisted living and skilled nursing environments are especially vigilant in watching for signs of infections that could lead to sepsis. Some of the symptoms of developing sepsis are chills, confusion or delirium, decreased urine output, fever, hyperventilation, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, shaking, skin rash and warm skin.

The lay term for sepsis is blood poisoning. Sepsis is a serious medical condition characterized by a whole body inflammatory state and the presence of a known infection. Your body’s response to a bacterial infection in the blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues usually causes it. Your immune system goes into overdrive, overwhelming normal processes in your blood. The result is that small blood clots form, blocking blood flow to vital organs. This can lead to organ failure. Severe sepsis is defined as sepsis with organ failure, hypoperfusion, (decreased blood flow through an organ), or hypotension, (decreased or low blood pressure.) Babies, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sepsis. Even healthy people can become deathly ill from sepsis. A quick diagnosis is crucial because one third of people who get sepsis die from it.

The Elderly by *ironist on deviantART

In hospitalized patients, common sites of infection include intravenous lines, surgical wounds, surgical drains, and sites of skin breakdown known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers, which make elderly people who are bedridden particularly vulnerable. The infection is confirmed by a blood test, but if the patient is on antibiotics, it may be difficult to detect. In sepsis, blood pressure drops, resulting in shock. Major organs and systems, including the kidneys, liver, lungs, and central nervous system, stop functioning normally. Sepsis is usually treated in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility. Intravenous antibiotics and fluids may be given by assisted living medical professionals to try to knock out the infection in seniors and to keep blood pressure from dropping too low. Assisted Living residents suffering from this condition  may also need respirators to help them breathe.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing Los Angeles, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Assisted Living Residents Discover Not All Pain Is Created Equal

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The patient went out of her way to avoid situations where someone might bump into her. She described her body aches as feeling as those she had a bruise all over her entire body.  Rebecca, 52, has been living with this chronic type of pain for more than 30 years. After struggling without proper treatment, she took charge of her disease and sought alternative therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation to achieve pain control. In the past she described her pain as a nine or a ten but now she says it’s a one or a two. She has written a book to help others who are like her, Beyond Chronic Pain: A Get-Well Guidebook to Soothe the Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Rebecca has fibromyalgia. Most people have aches and pains and stiffness from time to time, but as they age, many simply attribute it to arthritis or just “getting old.”  If residents in assisted living homes complain frequently about having muscle pain, the healthcare staff may suggest a check up by their physician. The staff will also talk with those responsible for the facility exercise program and determine if a different approach is needed to help alleviate the pain. The condition of Fibromyalgia is described as widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues above and below the waist and on both sides of the body. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome or set of symptoms that happen together but do not have a known cause. In this syndrome, the nervous system comprised of nerves, the spinal cord, and brain, is not able to control what it feels, so ordinary feelings from muscles, joints, and soft tissues are experienced as pain. People with Fibromyalgia feel pain and/or tenderness even when there is no injury or inflammation.

Fibromyalgia by *astraldreamer on deviantART

Less common symptoms include headaches, morning stiffness, trouble concentrating, and irritable bowel syndrome. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, it is common for people with Fibromyalgia to have anxiety and depression. Having Fibromyalgia does not harm the muscles, joints, or organs, but untreated, the symptoms of chronic pain can affect lifestyle and one’s ability to participate in normal daily activities. Fibromyalgia can also cause sleep problems and fatigue.

Theories on the cause Fibromyalgia
Although there are several theories on the cause, there is not enough evidence to support any single argument.  Some experts think that people with Fibromyalgia may have nerve cells that are hypersensitive. Others believe that chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters may be out of balance. One theory is that it may be related to problems with the deep phase of sleep. Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle are considered deep phase and shorten dramatically in older people causing them to get less total deep sleep than younger people do.

How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose Fibromyalgia based on two things. One is widespread pain, which means the pain is on both sides of your body above and below the waist. The other is tenderness in at least 11 of 18 trigger points when they are pressed. A doctor will generally take steps to be certain other conditions that cause similar pain are ruled out. Conditions with comparable symptoms are rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, lupus and other autoimmune diseases.

What are the Treatment options?
Controlling symptoms can be accomplished with regular exercise and by finding better ways to handle stress. Good sleep habits are also very important.  Changes to routine, schedule, and sleep environment can help. Counseling can improve coping skills to deal with chronic pain. Symptoms of depression, such as a loss of interest in things usually enjoyed or changes in eating and sleeping habits can often be successfully treated with medication prescribed by a physician. Complimentary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques may also help relieve symptoms. There is currently no cure for the long lasting and chronic condition. Many sufferers report that symptoms often come and go and after particularly painful episodes, the condition seems to go into remission. Others find that their symptoms worsen in cold and damp weather, during times of stress, or when they over exert themselves.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Chicago and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

When the Elderly Fall, It’s Not Always Just A Matter of Getting Back Up

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Elderly people have the highest risk of falling and hurting themselves. Hip fractures are the most common result of these falls. “They fall because they lose their coordination. They have difficulty with their eye sight and they have difficulty with their balance, and they become weak,” says Dr. Charles A. Peterson, an orthopedic surgeon at Seattle Orthopedic and Fracture Clinic. “When they fall, they tend to have a higher frequency of fractures due to osteoporosis and weaker bones.” Most often, an individual knows immediately that he/she has a broken hip.

Symptoms of hip breakage can include stiffness, contusions, or inflammation in the hip area. The elderly are not able to quickly heal from an injury such as a hip fracture. Their bones are fragile and weak resulting in requirement for long term assistance and health care. The best option for seniors who are suffering from injuries such as hip fractures would be to move to an assisted living facility in their area. Assisted living facilities provide the assistance and medical care that seniors need. They help seniors bathe, get dressed and provide any other assistance to perform their day to day routines.

Falling by *m-a-t-h-e-s on deviantART

Although surgeries to repair fractures are relatively straightforward for seniors, complications afterward can increase their mortality rates to about 25 percent in the year after surgery. Some complications can include blood clots and infection. As we grow older our ability to ward off infection is not as strong. Post-surgery complications more often lead to death if a patient already suffers from another serious medical condition. A lengthy process is usually associated with recovery after hip surgery. The typical hospital stay lasts four days to a week, but a longer stay isn’t unusual. After a hospital stay, patients can go many different routes towards their recovery depending on insurance, age and medical complications. Assisted living facilities are a more affordable option than staying in a hospital.

Physical therapy is part of the recovery process for seniors suffering from hip fractures. This is one of the many medical services offered at an assisted living facility. Physical therapy for a hip fracture usually consists of muscle regeneration and strengthening, balance exercises, bed mobility, transfer and gait training. Occupational therapy focuses on the activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, and bathing. The amount of physical therapy a patient receives depends upon the type of health care insurance they have and their recovery progress. Therapy typically lasts about four to six months post operation. Depending on the doctor and how the patient is coping the physical and psychological demands of their condition could receive more intensive therapy. Assisted living facilities are a great option to consider for seniors who have undergone surgery due to a hip fracture.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Dallas and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Sounds of Silence – Seniors Get Left Out Because Of Hearing Problems

June 21, 2011 Leave a comment

About one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing problems. About half the people who are 85 and older have hearing loss. Whether a hearing loss is minimal or severe, left untreated, problems can get worse. The National Institute on Aging indicates hearing loss is the third most prevalent treatable health condition often associated with aging, after arthritis and hypertension. A hearing aid can help ninety-five percent of older adults with hearing problems. Only 22 percent of older adults who need aids have them.

Hearing loss can affect your life in many ways. You may miss out on chats with friends and family. On the telephone, you may find it hard to hear what the caller is saying. At the doctor’s office, you may not catch critical information. It’s easy to withdraw when you can’t follow a conversation. It is also easy for friends and family to think you are confused, uncaring, or difficult, when the problem may be that you just can’t hear well. Attempts to communicate are fraught with irritability and disconnect.

hearing aid by *mrdynamite on deviantART

Seeing a doctor is the first step in dealing with a hearing problem. Your physician’s referral to a specialist who can determine the extent of hearing loss and prescribe various options for improvement such as hearing aids, special training, medicines or surgery is usually the next step.
There are other “hearing aids” you might consider. There are listening systems to help you enjoy television or radio without being bothered by other sounds around you. Some hearing aids can be plugged directly into TVs, music players, microphones, and personal FM systems to help you hear well.

Some telephones work with certain hearing aids to make sounds louder and remove background noise. Some auditoriums, movie theaters, and other public places are equipped with special sound systems that send sounds directly to your ears. Alerts such as doorbells, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks can give you a signal that you can see or a vibration that you can feel. For example, a flashing light can let you know someone is at the door or on the phone.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Los Angeles and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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