Tips To Reduce Elderly Depression During The Holidays

Portrait of the old woman in the winter

By: Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS

Although we like to think of the holidays as a joyous time of year, not everyone feels that way. It can be a depressing and lonely time for seniors — especially for seniors who are separated from their loved ones. In addition, some seniors might be reminded of lost friends or family members or for the first time find themselves spending the holidays without their significant other. These losses bring on a lot of strong emotions and can be difficult to face alone.

Those of us that work with the elderly approach this time with trepidations. It is a period when they enjoy time with their loved ones, but may mourn all they have lost in terms of loved ones as well as physical capabilities. I have tried to put together some helpful tip sheets in addition to some concrete suggestions on how we can help the senior loved one, caregiver and their families navigate joyfully through this holiday season.

So, what can you do as a loved one of a senior who might be having a difficult time coping during the holidays?

1. Really listen to your senior loved one when they want to talk.

When your loved one talks, listen. Encourage them to express what they are feeling about the holidays, good or bad. If possible, just check in with them daily either by stopping by, calling or even using Skype to see how they are doing and to be there for them if they need to talk. Often, seniors just want to know that someone cares about them and that they are not alone.

2. Ask them for help and advice.

Seniors often get depressed because they feel they cannot participate in holiday planning the way they used to. If you are planning a holiday celebration, let them know they are a big part of that celebration. Ask for their advice or help preparing for the event. Even something as simple as asking them for a recipe can make them feel included in the process. Most importantly, remind them how much they are loved by everyone in the family.

3. Spend quality time with them.

Quality time with your loved ones is important all year long, but especially during the holidays. It can be a great remedy for seasonal depression in the elderly. Look at old holiday pictures, cards or videos with them. Leave them somewhere visible and accessible so your loved one can take a walk down memory lane when they are alone. Ask to hear their memories of the season or stop by to watch some favorite holiday movies.

4. Plan a family gathering.

There is no better way to brighten someone’s mood and show them how much they are loved than by surrounding them with family. Dedicate a special night for everyone to get together for dinner, view a family video or even enjoy a game night. Invite friends, family and anyone else you think your loved one will enjoy seeing. Conversely, let them have a say in which family gathering they would prefer not to attend.

5. Help them with their holiday planning.

Many elderly seniors cannot get out and shop like they used to. Depending on their physical health and age, they may no longer be driving or may not be able to move around a store or mall without assistance. Offer to take your loved one out to do their holiday shopping. If getting out is not feasible for them, bring over a laptop or tablet to help them shop online. It might be a fun experience for them. You can help them decorate their house, wrap gifts or even make gifts. Also, a little extra help baking or preparing meals might be really appreciated.

6. Help them keep to a regular schedule.

With all that is going on around holiday time, it can be easy to slip out of a regular routine. It is important that seniors stay on as much of their normal schedule as possible including keeping up with their medication, getting about seven to nine hours of sleep and eating their three healthy square meals a day. It is equally important to not overeat or overindulge in sweets or alcohol. Be vigilant or tell their caregiver to make sure they keep up their strength during the holiday season.

7. If they are mobile, take them out.

There is no better distraction than getting out of the four walls surrounding them every day. You can bring them to social activities they normally attend or forums for their hobby. Museums in small doses could be quite manageable and shows are even better since you get to sit down. You could even take them shopping if they are so inclined in the busy season. Even grabbing lunch in the neighborhood could be just the fun outing they need.

8. Let’s get physical!

In addition to all the other physical benefits, exercise is great for mood improvement. It can be as effective as anti-depressants without the ill effects and toxicity. There are plenty of exercises designed for the elderly to do at their level of ability taking any limited mobility and stamina into account. Yoga and Tai Chi are also excellent low impact alternatives. Exercise can enhance their weight bearing, balance and muscle density. A qualified personal trainer that comes to the house might be a good solution for those who are unable to get out to classes or a gym.

9. Get them an iPad.

There are many studies that demonstrate the cognitive and psychological benefits of the Internet for the elderly. It opens vistas for them in terms of connecting with the outside world and like minded people. It is also a great platform for connecting with grandchildren and relatives. Buy them an iPad if they don’t already have one, crack it open and sit together with them as they explore what is a new and exciting technology for them. They’ll learn a new skill that could spark some creativity for you both.

10. Consider getting a pet.

Don’t underestimate the value of pets in the life of a senior. Having a manageable, low maintenance pet can provide not only a much needed distraction and companionship, but a sense that seniors can still love and care for another living thing. These are important factors that can ward off the all too pervasive affliction of depression in the elderly. This is also an opportunity to employ an important form of therapy called therapeutic touch.

11. Arrange time for them to laugh and put on a happy face.

If your senior loved one is not up to going out, invite their friends in. Help them make it a pleasant experience by serving light fare and arranging an activity they can have fun with. Even watching a comedy can provide comic relief for all involved. Remember, positivity is infectious. If you’re able to keep a smile on, you’ll spread that holiday cheer to everyone around you, including your loved one who may be struggling with a bout of seasonal depression.

12. You’re never too old for a spa day.

Of course, there is nothing as relaxing as a pampered experience at the spa. However, that might not be feasible for your senior loved one. As the baby boomers age, house call businesses are burgeoning. You can get everything in the comfort of your home, from manicures to massages. Calling in some spa-like professionals could also be a fun activity with their friends.

13. Hire a home healthcare provider.

If you do not have the time to help your loved one during the holidays, consider hiring a home health aide. An aide can help them with errands, decorations for the holidays as well as preparing meals. Home health aides can also provide much needed companionship. You will feel more at ease knowing someone is covering for you and helping take care of your loved one during what might be a vulnerable time in their life.

Depression in the elderly is a serious problem that is far too often overlooked. If you feel the situation is really serious, consider bringing in a professional. There are support groups for all sorts of conditions which could be extremely helpful for appropriately directing your loved one to get insight and help from those facing the same challenges. One on one talk therapy and supportive counseling can help them work through their individual underlying issues without the risks and side effects of medication. However, when medication is deemed necessary, be sure to monitor their intake since the elderly metabolize medications differently than younger adults. You might want to explore some alternative remedies for depression such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, SAMe or St. John’s wort. Also, be on the lookout for any warning signs of suicide. Tragically, when the elderly decide to take that step, they are much more ‘successful’ at it than their younger counterparts.

Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

7 Quotes When You’re Feeling Caregiver stress

caregiver-stress1

You have either been a caregiver, you are a caregiver, you will be a caregiver, or someone will care for you.” – Rosalynn Carter

The former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, knew about serving and caregiving from personal as well as professional experience. She was first to hold a caregiver conference that identified issues such as burnout and guilt. Her words focus on the interdependence at life’s foundation.

How we approach caregiving…

The question isn’t will we need care, or will our life call upon us to provide care. We are all part of a caregiving equation in our lives. The question is, how do we manage caregiving, as receiver as well as giver. In many ways, how we received shapes how we give.

And so for some, caregiving is easier and more natural than for others. And for some, caregiving is more natural with one person who requires care and not as easy or natural with another person in their life who requires it. Each experience of caregiving is unique as each relationship is unique.

For everyone, caregiving is an opportunity for growth, for increasing compassion or learning to set boundaries, for setting aside blame of others or for oneself, for deepening the dimensions of intimacy or for recognizing the limits of control.

With that uniqueness of experience in mind,

Here are 7 Quotes When You’re Feeling Caregiver Stress:

Love prevails

To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.” Dr. Seuss

“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and sing it to them when they have forgotten.” Thomas Chandler

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”Emory Austin

Boundaries and Negative Feelings

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”Dalai Lama

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”Lena Horne

When Love Bonds Seem Broken

“Be determined to handle any challenge in a way that will make you grow.”Les Brown

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act: it is an attitude.”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Our reality is our interdependence, from birth to death. Our response to interdependence provides our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity for growth in life. For assistance with your caregiving role, please contact us.

Preventing Falls in an Elderly Home: Review

preventing elderly fallsAccording to the CDC, one in three seniors experiences a fall. Of those that fall, 20 percent have a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head trauma. Therefore, preventing falls in seniors is extremely important. Although this is a topic we have discussed in the past, it is important enough to review again, as it affects so many people. Consider the following ways to make the home of your senior loved one safe.

Stairways

Stairways are dangerous because a fall can easily cause serious injury. Implement these tips to make the stairway safe.

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs. Most stairways only have handrails on one side.
  • Be sure the handrails are sturdy. Tighten down any that are wobbly.
  • Clear the stairway of all clutter. No items should be stored on the stairs.
  • Check that the lighting is adequate, so the stairs can be seen when it is dark outside.
  • Take the above steps for all stairways, including those outside that are used to enter the house.

Bathrooms

Falls in a bathroom are so dangerous because of all the hard surfaces. The tile floors and fixtures have no give and the edges of the sink and tub can cause injury. A few changes will make the bathroom much safer.

  • Install a night light for nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Install grab bars by the toilet and tub.
  • Ensure the toilet seat is at the right height. Consider buying an elevated seat if the existing seat is too low.
  • Remove trip hazards such as loose carpets, and install non-skid mats.

Living Area

A dark, cluttered home is a trip hazard. Consider the following tips to reduce the risk in the living area.

  • Remove any loose carpeting.
  • If lighting is not adequate, install new lighting. It is difficult to avoid tripping on items you cannot see. Bright light is beneficial.
  • Make sure wires do not run along walkways. Relocate wires to the edges of the room and tack them along the walls.
  • Remove clutter from rooms and walkways. If you must, put items in storage. Clear paths are critical.

Learning More

If you have an elderly loved one living at home, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of falls. Implementing the above safety tips will help keep your loved one from being injured. For additional information on preventing senior falls, check out our handout and our resource page.

David York Agency can help you elder-proof your home. For more information about David York Agency’s services and their qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.”

5 Qualities to Look for in a Home Health Aide

home health aideAre you looking for someone who can provide senior care for your elderly or disabled loved one? If so, you might be shopping around for a caregiver to ensure that you choose the right person. Here are five qualities that may indicate you’ve found a good match.

1. Patient

Caring for an elderly person can be a bit trying. They are used to being fully independent and often resent their diminished abilities to the point where they are irritable mush of the time. They may even take it out on those around them. This means that it’s important to look for a caregiver who is patient.

2. Reliable

If your loved one needs care on a regular basis, you’ll need someone who will be able to provide it, without a lot of excuses or the need for a lot of days off. The elderly person and their family are depending on the aide for essential help daily. Make sure they are the type that takes their job seriously and is reliable.

3. Pays Attention to Detail

Day-to-day care of someone else requires individualized consideration. They need to be mindful of the particular eating habits of their patients, be on top of their grooming needs as well as keep an eye out for even slight warning signs of any worsening of a condition they may have. You will want to find a caregiver who pays attention to detail.

4. Easy to Get Along With

You don’t want to bring someone into your loved one’s home who is not friendly or pleasant. After all, a caregiver is supposed to make things easier for your loved one and less stressful for the family. Someone who lets things slide will add positively to the atmosphere. It is best to look for someone who is easy to talk to and get along with.

5. Multi-Tasker

Someone who provides care for an older or disabled person has to know how to do a lot of things, such as light cooking, light cleaning, helping with bathing, and more. Look for someone who can juggle and “keep all the balls in the air”. You will want to make sure that person you hire does not get thrown by multiple responsibilities and is a good multi-tasker.

At David York Agency, we set the bar high and ensure that all of our home health aides offer these important qualities—and so much more. We look for people with common sense and a heart. We continually monitor them to ensure consistent, high-quality service. We do not send anyone to your home that we would not want in ours.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Senior Care: Art, Creativity & Dementia

art therapy

Dementia affects millions of Americans each year, but doctors have yet to find a way to prevent the onset of this disease. However, studies have shown that the use of art and creativity often provide solace to seniors and caregivers alike.

Art Therapy

Art therapy benefits seniors tremendously. Creative activities, such as painting, craft making, or collaging, provide a positive creative outlet to seniors living with dementia. They often recall pleasant memories from their past and feel joy in those moments. And, since loneliness and depression are common emotions for seniors both with and without dementia, the joy derived from a creative endeavor can be a powerful force for positivity in their lives.

Collaging

One of the best artistic activities for seniors is collage-making. Collages often expose parts of someone’s world and their perspective. Magazines contain images that can evoke emotions and memories. When one chooses an image to use in a collage, it reflects inner machinations of his or her world, inside and out. Consciously or unconsciously, seniors create more than a collage. They create both a window to their world – past, present and future – and a safe haven for themselves.

Naturally, assistance will be necessary for this activity. Seniors may have difficulty using supplies such as glue and scissors. But materials that stimulate sight and touch prove therapeutically beneficial to participants, so it is worth it to help with this activity.

It is highly recommended that caregivers be part of the creative process with their loved ones. It proves rewarding for everybody involved. When you create art with the special person in your life who has dementia, you not only help them create something new, you give them a way to connect to their past. When that happens, you can be on the spot to catch a glimpse. This will help you build a stronger bond with them and memories of your own for years to come.

Getting Help

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that dementia can bring, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone in their life. We provide families with the support and care they need during this particularly difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

How Hospital Social Workers Ease the Transition from Hospital to Home

Discharge planning

After a hospital stay, plans upon being discharged involve careful consideration of the patient’s medical issues and development of a plan of care for that patient’s return home. This critical area is called discharge planning and it arranges the logistics so that the patient can recover safely in the comfort of their own home.

Discharge planners are usually hospital social workers that work with the patient and their family to determine how to make the transition from the hospital to the home as smooth as possible.

Transitioning your loved one from the hospital to home can be a scary time since there is a lot to plan for and consider. This is especially the case when the patient is faced with diminished capacities, even temporarily. However, a discharge planner can help smooth this transition and get your loved one back home safely again.

They do the following:

  • Discuss plans for discharge with the patient and/or their family based on the recommendations of medical professionals treating the patient. The social worker may also visit several times toward the end of the hospital stay in order to ensure the discharge plan is appropriate.
  • Assess the needs of the patient and make necessary referrals to ensure he/she will have access to any medical treatment that may be needed after returning home. This may include arranging in-home nursing, in-home therapies, and/or arranging for necessary medical equipment to be delivered to the home.
  • Provide information on resources  within the community as well as any contact information for any state or federal resources that may be needed to assist with the needs of the patient.
  • Possibly contact insurance companies in order to ensure coverage and may also assist with finding alternate payment options for anything not covered.

Once home, a qualified compassionate caregiver from the David York Agency can provide the extra in-home assistance the patient’s needs. For more information about David York Agency’s home health care services, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the care they need. From geriatric social work to advice on how to deal with a diagnosis, David York Agency can help.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. For more information on discharge planning, contact us.

Drug Abuse is Becoming More Common After Age 65

drug-abuse-after-65

It starts slowly and innocently at first. An older adult needs relief from the knee or back pain that so often comes with aging. Or, perhaps a life-changing event, like divorce or the death of a loved one, throws him or her into a pit of depression and an antidepressant is prescribed. Even retirement can bring on anxiety caused by a sudden lack of purpose, structure, and self-worth for which a prescription anti-anxiety medication is recommended.

A Common Problem

Although these scenarios sound relatively harmless, they can be the start of drug abuse after the age of 65. According to the New York Times, there are a number of factors that make the elderly in general and today’s aging baby boomers specifically more susceptible to becoming addicts.

  • the elderly metabolize drugs and alcohol more slowly which means that they stay in their systems longer,
  • tolerance to these drugs increases over time and addiction can begin after as few as 10 days of use,
  • more established folks often have the money to afford their addiction, and
  • Baby Boomers don’t have the same attitude toward drug use as the previous generation. There is less of a stigma.

Pain pills such as OxyContin and Percocet, along with antianxiety and antidepressant pills like Xanax and Valium, are the most frequently prescribed. And since most doctors don’t usually screen for addiction, even low doses can quickly escalate into full-blown addictions. Couple that with the fact that these medications are being used in conjunction with other prescriptions and alcohol, and you have “the perfect storm,” says Brenda J. Iliff, executive director of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Naples, Florida.

Notice the Symptoms

The signs of addiction—like confusion, brain fog, mood swings, and shaking—may not raise red flags when exhibited by seniors because such symptoms are written off as part of aging. Many times, senior addictions are only discovered by medical professionals after they fall or sustain another type of injury. If you notice any of these symptoms and know that your loved one has been taking pills, schedule an appointment for them with a doctor, or try and gently confront them about the issue.

Getting Help

Detox for seniors is difficult and needs to be done slowly and with a lot of monitoring. Cognitive and physical issues can also slow detox treatments down, but once completed, patients can return to living more normal lives, without the debilitating effects of prescription addiction.

Drug abuse is not just a problem faced by young people. It may come as a surprise that as we age, we are, in many ways, more susceptible to prescription pill addiction. At David York Agency, our experienced in-home healthcare providers can help to monitor medication and keep an eye out for warning signs of substance abuse. They are certified and trained in the latest guidelines for eldercare.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

 

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.”

Understanding a Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis

lewy-body-dementia

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) affects 1.4 million people in the United States and is the second leading cause of dementia, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association. LBD is a combination of two distinct diagnoses, Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Lewy bodies are clumps of abnormal proteins in the outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex and are associated with both forms of dementia. When dementia develops after the established motor disorder, it is called Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD). When dementia occurs at the same time as the motor disorder, it is called dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). They are both on the continuum of the same disease. These two conditions can cause the same underlying biological changes in the brain. In the later stages, the two diagnoses exhibit similar behavioral, cognitive, physical, and sleep symptoms. Sufferers also frequently experience hallucinations and bouts of ongoing depression.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

Despite being widespread, LBD is frequently underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed by health care professionals. It can resemble other causes of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. James E. Galvin, MD at Florida Atlantic University has developed a way to assess and diagnose LBD. The system is known as the Lewy Body Composite Risk Score (LBCRS).

The LBCRS system of diagnosis is based on a rating scale. The assessment is one page long and features six questions that quickly outline whether the patient suffers from six non-motor symptoms that are distinct to LBD, but not other forms of dementia. The physician can quickly determine if the person suffers from rest tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, or postural instability by asking a few questions.

Getting the Help You Need

A clear diagnosis of LBD is imperative to help prevent patients from being misdiagnosed and, therefore, misprescribed. In fact, taking the wrong medication could possibly have serious adverse consequences and will not help to treat LBD.

A definitive and prompt diagnosis of LBD gives physicians the chance to quickly begin medical therapies that may help or improve the quality of life for the LBD sufferer. Usually, a combination of the Lewy Body Composite Risk Score System, PET scans, CSF biomarkers, high-density EEG, and MRI tests are used to arrive at a clear diagnosis of LBD.

Facing a Lewy Body Dementia diagnosis can be frightening for both the patient and their loved ones. If you need extra help caring for a loved one who suffers from LBD, our in-home health care services, whether part time or full, can offer you additional support.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. For more information on discharge planning, contact us.

The Importance of Vitamin D by Dr. Sarah Brewer

Dr. Sarah Brewer is a medical nutritionist, nutritional therapist and the author of over 60 popular health books. We are excited about her guest blog post on this vital topic. 

At one-time, vitamin D was all about ensuring good calcium absorption from the diet to maintain healthy bones. Researchers now realize this important vitamin does a lot more than that and has beneficial effects all over the body.

vitamin-d-brewer2

What is it?

Vitamin D, or calciferol, is the collective term for five different, fat-soluble vitamins. The most important for human health is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which we can make in our skin to some extent. Vitamin D3 is also obtained from animal-based foods such as liver, oily fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products and is added to some fortified foods. We also obtain small amounts of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) from a few plant foods such as mushrooms.

What does it do?

As well as regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the diet, and helping to maintain strong bones, vitamin D helps to stimulate immune cells to reduce the susceptibility to infections such as pneumonia. It’s no coincidence that sun exposure was once a leading sanatorium treatment for tuberculosis before antibiotics were available.

Vitamin D helps to reduce calcium deposition in arteries, is involved in memory and mood, and has a strengthening effect on muscle fibres that improve stability and help reduce falls.

Studies have also found associations between good vitamin D status and reduced risks of:

  • breast cancer[i]
  • type 2 diabetes[ii]
  • depression[iii]
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease[iv]
  • stroke[v].
The difficulty with making vitamin D

Even in youth, it’s difficult to make all the vitamin D3 you need, which is why it is classed as an essential micronutrient. Its synthesis depends on the presence of a cholesterol-like building block (7-dehydrocholesterol) in the skin, and exposure to sunlight when the UV index is greater than 3.

People living at a latitude of 52 degrees N (which passes through the center of the UK and Canada) are not exposed to enough UVB radiation to make vitamin D between October and April. Those living at a latitude 42 degrees N (which forms the northern limit of Spain and part of the border between Canada and North America) are unable to synthesise vitamin D3 between November to February.

Low vitamin D levels are frequently seen in people living at northern latitudes, especially in those who cover up in the sun, use high factor sun protection, or who stay indoors most of the time – which includes many older people, especially those who are frail or relatively immobile.

People who are taking a statin drug are also at risk of vitamin D deficiency as they produce less of the cholesterol-like precursor in their skin.[vi]

Skin synthesis falls with age

Over the age of 50, the ability to synthesise vitamin D3 reduces so that skin concentrations fall by at least half between the ages of 20 to 80 years. One study showed that people aged 62 and over synthesised four times less natural vitamin D than those in their 20s.[vii]

Due to a combination of less sun exposure, and less ability to make vitamin D3 even when the sun is shining, vitamin D deficiency becomes more common with increasing age.

Vitamin D3 deficiency has wide-ranging effects on health

In older people, lack of vitamin D is associated with the bone diseases, osteomalacia and osteoporosis, and has been linked with muscle weakness, falls and bone fractures.

In the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, involving 2,099 older people (average age around 75 years) who were initially well-functioning, a low vitamin D level was associated with increased risk of developing mobility limitation, disability and poor physical function. [viii]

In the United States, the CDC Injury Center estimates that the number of fatal falls in older people will rise to 100,000 per year by 2030, but that these future fatal falls could be reduced by nearly a quarter through screening for fall risks, reviewing medications, and recommending Vitamin D supplementation.[ix]

Vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in constipation and increase the risk of common age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arterial calcification, hypertension and heart disease as well as some cancers.

What’s the answer?

Despite the limitations mentioned, it’s important to encourage the elderly to spend time out of doors, to obtain some sun exposure, and to eat food sources of vitamin D regularly. The most important intervention, however, is to offer them a vitamin D3 supplement.

Elderly lady using a walker in the garden standing on a pathway with buildings in the background smiling at the camera.

What’s the best dose?

Opinions vary, with recommendations ranging from 10mcg to 50 mcg vitamin D3 per day. Some researchers have found that the United States, for examples, studies show that an intake of 100 mcg (4000 IU) is needed to maintain vitamin D levels in all older women. [x] This intake is equivalent to the currently suggested EU Upper Safe Level.[xi] If in doubt, blood tests can predict the best dose.

Safety

Intakes above 100mcg vitamin D3 are best taken under medical supervision. Excess can lead to side effects associated with high calcium levels, such as demineralization of bone, kidney stones, headache and weakness.

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Read more about vitamin D and health here: https://drsarahbrewer.com/a-z-of-vitamins/vitamin-d

Subscribe to my newsletter to get a FREE 46-page PDF Do You Need A MultiVitamin? at nutritionupdates.subscribemenow.com

For more information on diet and supplements, visit my Nutritional Medicine website at www.DrSarahBrewer.com.  Read my general health articles at www.MyLowerBloodPressure.com and www.ExpertHealthReviews.com @DrSarahB  

References

Warning Signs and Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease

 

Nearly one million people in the U.S. suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder. Symptoms can vary from person to person. However, in general, people with Parkinson’s disease lose control over their range of motion which gets worse over time. The good news is that Parkinson’s can be managed and many people live with it for decades.

Here’s what you need to know about the condition if you suspect you or a loved one is showing symptoms:

What It Is

Parkinson’s generally affects the brain’s neurons. The neurons malfunction and die, and when they die, the amount of dopamine—a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement—decreases. The progressive death of neurons means that less and less dopamine gets sent to the brain, which is why symptoms get progressively worse over time.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Tremor of hands, legs, arms, jaw, and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Stiff limbs
  • Imbalance and loss of coordination
  • Speech problems
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Freeze attacks

To be diagnosed, doctors generally look for at least four motor symptoms. Some people experience tremors first, while others notice their imbalance before anything else. If you or someone you know has any of the above symptoms, it might be worth a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment

To date, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are many medications available to ease some of the symptoms. Some patients have also experienced relief from a surgical option called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in which an impulse generator is implanted into the brain.

While the surgery does not do anything to stop the progression of the disease, it can increase the quality of life for some patients. As with any brain surgery, it does come with certain risks, including bleeding and stroke. Be sure to learn all about the procedure and speak to a doctor and surgeon to see if this is the right treatment plan for you or your loved one.

Reach Out

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be scary, but knowing what to expect can ease some of the anxiety associated with it. At David York Agency, we know understand the unique challenges of Parkinson’s disease, and we’re here to help you and your loved one as you navigate them.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

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