Ageism in Medicine: Senior Mental Health is of Vital Importance

Much as in the general population, senior mental health is of equal importance to physical health.

In fact, the two play off each other.

In 1999, the U.S. surgeon general defined mental health as “the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity”. Quality of life suffers when any of these things cannot be done.

Poor mental health can:  affect financial stability; strain families; open up the possibility for crime or victimization, and even negatively impact physical well-being. Unfortunately, mental health is often an area most doctors avoid when treating older patients. This sends the message that depression is normal in the elderly.

Senior mental health and ageism

Sadly, the rate of suicide in the elderly is four times the national average. In addition, 75% of those who committed suicide had seen their primary care doctor within the past month. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society funded by the National Institute of Mental Health found that doctors do not spend enough time talking to elderly patients about their mental health. Results also showed that doctors “need more support in how to identify, treat and refer patients to mental health specialists.” Apparently, doctors and need to do more.

Family Advocacy Can Stem Negative Effects of Ageism

In order to advocate for your loved ones, caregivers and family members of the elderly should be aware of the possible signs of mental illness.

These signs can include:

  • Sadness or depression lasting longer than two weeks
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or social activities
  • Unexplained decrease in energy or changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulties with concentration or decision-making
  • Change in appetite or changes in weight
  • Memory loss, especially short-term memory
  • Feelings of unimportance, misplaced guilt or thoughts of suicide
  • Unexplainable physical setbacks such as aches, constipation, etc.
  • Changes in appearance or problems taking care of the home
  • Struggles with money or working with numbers

Going Forward: Next Steps

In order to better serve our elderly population, doctors should be required to undergo more formal training in geriatrics. Aside from improving the overall health status, understanding the elderly will serve to maintain their mental well-being. Caregivers and family members can protect the mental health of the older adults in their lives by being watchful for the symptoms and advocating for quality care. Therapy, medications and lifestyle changes can all be used to effectively treat mental illness and enable older adults to live longer, fuller lives.

 

David York  Agency is well aware of the issues surrounding aging. We put a premium on personalized services and attention. If you would like more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

 

Ageism, Elderspeak, and Long-Term Care

Wouldn’t you be confused if a near-stranger patted your head and called you “sweetie”, or if a nurse shouted instructions despite your excellent hearing? These behaviors are confusing and elicit irritation, but, for seniors, they are becoming more and more common. Ageism, elderspeak, and bias are an unfortunate reality for many seniors in long-term care. Seniors everywhere are struggling against the presumptions that demean them as well as the negative toll on their personal lives.

a care worker or medical professional with a senior client at her home . She is discussing the senior woman’s options on her digital tablet.

Ageism in Medicine

Ageism refers to negative stereotypes about older people that lead others to treat seniors differently from younger people. In medicine, extensive clinical evidence shows that older adults do not receive the same level of preventive care, diagnostic care or treatment as other age groups.

By speaking to residents in certain ways, long-term care workers perpetuate stereotypes about seniors. In turn, older adults may shut down or become angry at staff, which reduces their willingness to ask for help or to talk about their health concerns.

What is Elderspeak?

Elderspeak refers to a communication approach towards seniors that is based on the assumption that older people are incompetent, fragile or impaired. To some, elderspeak is unavoidable because many elders suffer from hearing loss or cognitive decline. But most seniors view elderspeak as a type of bullying that belittles their age. Elements of elderspeak include the following:

  • Speaking in a sing-song voice
  • Using baby talk
  • Talking too slowly
  • Interrupting frequently
  • Speaking loudly when it is unnecessary
  • Saying “we” instead of “you”
  • Using overly familiar endearments (“dearie,” “sweetie”) towards unfamiliar seniors
  • Using overly familiar signs of affection (hair-tousling, back-patting) towards unfamiliar seniors

Elderspeak and Dementia

Research suggests that elderspeak may be distressing to older adults, and may lead nursing home residents with dementia to act out negatively (e.g., disregard instructions, act aggressively) or to withdraw from social interactions altogether. This throws into sharp relief that even in the face of cognitive decline elderspeak has a negative impact on seniors.

Challenging Elderspeak

Several approaches can reduce the frequency of elderspeak. These include:

  • Self-awareness. Most nursing home staff do not realize that they sometimes use elderspeak to communicate with residents. This form of speech may occur among caregivers who genuinely want what is best for the people in their care. When caregivers become aware of their speech behaviors towards seniors, ageist assumptions are challenged.
  • Clear, respectful speech. Nursing staff should learn to speak to seniors in a normal, conversational way, including the use of humor when appropriate. A simple educational lecture is all the difference necessary to raise awareness among caregivers.
  • Encourage assertiveness. Not every senior will take offense at all elderspeak practices. Some seniors find nicknames such as “sweetie” or “honey”, endearing. However, when seniors are annoyed or hurt by certain utterances they can be encouraged to speak out, for example, to say, “You don’t need to yell, I have a hearing aid” or “My name is Lori, can you call me that?” By using calm, clear wording, seniors can advocate for themselves and challenge the inaccurate perceptions of others.

David York Agency provides exceptional in-home care for seniors. If you have further questions about ageism, please contact us.

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 TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Ageism in Medicine: 5 Mind-Blowing Facts on Elderly Participation in Clinical Trials

Imagine if studies on the effects of eating dog food looked only at its effects on cats. While it sounds outrageous, that is the logic currently employed by many medical researchers studying treatments for a vast array of chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses affect older people at a higher rate than younger people. At the same time, seniors make up a growing portion of the population which is most in need of the treatment of chronic disease. By continuing to conduct studies that rarely include older patients, researchers become part of the picture of ageism in America.

For many years, when it has come to participating in medical trials, the elderly have experienced ageism and discrimination. As a result, these studies may fail to reach conclusions that are truly applicable to the elderly population.

1. 39% of medical trials from 1994 to 2006 excluded people over age 65 (*1)

Dr. Ken Covinsky, a researcher at the University of California in San Francisco, told the New York Times in 2011, “In taking care of older patients, we’re often guessing the best therapy on insufficient data.” This is a major problem for older patients, their families, and their doctors.

(*1 source: “Clinical Trials Neglect the Elderly” Paula Span, New York Times, August 2011)

2. Of the trials that don’t have age limits, almost 50% use other criteria that limit senior patient participation (*2)

Age restrictions notwithstanding, there are plenty of other factors that keep our elderly out of medical trials. On a disproportionate basis, patients over 65 are routinely excluded from participation based on other factors common to the elderly. These include varied factors from suffering from illnesses and to non-inclusion of patients living in nursing homes. Thus, it would seem that removing age limits in medical trials is not the only impediment to inclusion.

(*2 source: *“Examining the Evidence: A Systematic Review of the Inclusion and Analysis of Older Adults in Randomized Controlled Trials” Journal of General Internal Medicine, July 2011)

3. One in four people prescribed medication are 65 or older, but less than 10% of medical research findings are specific to older patients (*3)

Unfortunately,the likelihood we will need prescription medication increases as we age. Interestingly, while seniors use more prescribed medicine, the vast majority are also more likely to ask for and study information from their doctors about the effectiveness of OTC drugs.

(*3 sources: “Prescription Drug Use Among Midlife and Older Americans” Linda L. Barrett 2005; “Ageism: How Healthcare Fails the Elderly” Alliance for Aging Research;“Disparate Inclusion of Older Adults in Clinical Trials: Priorities and Opportunities for Policy and Practice Change”Am J Public Health. 2010 April)

4. 2/3 of cancer patients are over 65, but only 25% of cancer trial participants are over that age (*4)

While the elderly account for 60% of new cancer patients, study after study shows that they account for a disproportionately small segment of research trials. This obviously restricts our ability to determine if newly discovered treatments are effective for the group suffering from cancer the most—the elderly.

(*4 source: Simonetta Alvino, Senior Medical Director at inVentiv Health Clinical)

5. Between 1985 and 1999, only 2 OUT OF 60  heart disease treatment trials included enough older patients to make valid conclusions (*5)

As indicated by this shocking statistic, the group most likely to suffer from heart failure —people over 65—is the LEAST studied in treatment trials. Sadly, this means that the results may not be easily applied to people over 65.

(*5 source: Simonetta Alvino, Senior Medical Director at inVentiv Health Clinical)

Since the elderly are often frail, it is understandable that researchers are reluctant to include them. By including this high-risk population in trials,  researchers will obtain more reliable results for all sufferers. Fortunately, as noted above, there are more and more of studies that are relaxing their criteria to include older participants.

Even with medical trials becoming more inclusive, newer research suggests that a very large percentage still have rigid age limits. With our the aging of baby boomers, elderly underrepresentation in clinical trials demands attention.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. Our dedicated healthcare professionals are well equipped with the best, most up-to-date information about elderly caregiving. In order to determine the best level of care for your situation, a free phone consultation can help you. Let us help you decide what services might be best to provide you with the assistance you need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

Taking care of ill or elderly relatives is a complicated and stressful situation. That stress is compounded in the case of long-distance caregiving. As more and more adult children care for their elderly parents, this issue is becoming more common.

Health visitor with smartphone and a senior man during home visit. A female nurse or a doctor making a phone call. long-distance caregiving concept

According to a survey conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving, long-distance caregivers experience negative impacts on their time, finances, and work schedules. Despite this, over half of these caregivers see their loved ones at least a few times a month, and over 75% help with basic services such as shopping, cooking, and transportation, spending 22 hours on these aspects of caregiving alone.

If you are managing long-distance care, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Recognize the Added Strain

Caregiving can cause major stress. Compounding this stress with the addition of travel, finances, and schedule increases the load for the long-distance caregiver. It is important to ensure that caregivers, as well as the patient, have the support they need.

In order to receive this support, the long-distance caregiver must acknowledge their added stress. Once the problem is recognized, steps can be taken to help relieve the pressure. Consider support groups, in person or online. These meetings can be an important source of comfort. Regular, healthy meals and exercise can also help reduce stress levels.

Remember: you can only care for others if you care for yourself first.

 

Gather Information

When medical emergencies arise, it’s important to have all the information you’ll need. Make copies of insurance documents and medical information, including medications and doctors’ orders and phone numbers. Keep these documents handy, so you don’t have to find them during stressful moments.

One important document to have is a durable medical power of attorney. This is particularly important if there are multiple siblings or you are taking care of an in-law. It is extremely important to clarify your right to make medical decisions if the patient is unable to do so.

DYA has handy publications for organizing you essential documents on our website.

 

Keep Communication Open

When possible, it’s a good idea to attend doctor’s appointments with the patient. They may not remember everything the doctor says or feel comfortable talking about the visit. If you can be there to hear the doctor’s orders and keep notes, it can help you see that the patient is getting what they need.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to keep lines of communication open. Some of the things they recommend are:

  • Speak with your loved one’s healthcare providers. A release signed by your loved one will allow their doctors to talk to you about their treatment. See if you can set up conference calls or log into their online medical records to stay fully informed.
  • Get support from friends. People who live nearby can check in on your loved one. Having a few people look in periodically can give you insight on how they are doing.
  • Consider hiring help. Someone to help with tasks such as meals and bathing can ease the burden on both of you.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Save time and money in case there is a crisis. Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act, which can provide you with unpaid time off with no threat to your job.

 

Maintain Your Relationship

Finally, remember to spend time visiting. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the tasks of caregiving and forget the relationship. Try to set time aside for sitting and talking, or doing an activity you enjoy together, such as taking a walk. The reason you are doing this monumental task is that you care so much about this person. Remembering that can ease the strain on both of you.

 

There are many difficult choices to make when taking care of a loved one. Living far away complicates those decisions. If David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers can help you in this process, please contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones 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.

Aquatic Activities for Seniors

As we have discussed many times, seniors need exercise just as much as the younger generation. It’s so important that they find routines that meet their needs. Water-based activities are some of the best workouts seniors can experience. Aquatic activities for seniors are in high demand because they provide an excellent low-impact, low-risk exercise for seniors.

A multi-ethnic group of senior adults are taking a water aerobics class at the public pool. They are holding water weights and are working out.

For many seniors, pain can be an obstacle when committing to an exercise routine. Fortunately, aquatic exercise cuts back on the possibility of injury. Water’s buoyancy results in very little pressure on joints and muscles, but still allows for full range of movement. Stretching and resistance training can both be achieved in the pool with much less effort than on dry land!

Not only do water-based activities provide the exercise that senior bodies require, they also fulfill social needs. Because pools are typically available in shared spaces like community centers, these aquatic classes force seniors to socialize.

Senior classes meet the needs and safety concerns of seniors. Here are just a few aquatic activities that the elderly may enjoy.

 

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics classes provide fun social interaction and all the health benefits of aerobic exercise. Led by a trained professionals who are qualified in CPR, water aerobics is a great activity that keeps seniors in mind. Seniors-only classes are designed specifically for seniors, utilizing oldies music and simplified exercises to keep everyone happy and healthy.

 

Swimming Laps

Many seniors choose swimming as an option since you can do it at any time, you can go at your own pace and stop at any time. Like any new activity, if you are new to swimming or haven’t been swimming laps in a while, you may want to start by consulting a trained professional or take private lessons until you are comfortable in the environment.

 

Water Walking

Take your daily walk to the next level with water walking. In this activity, seniors go through the motions of their walking routine in the swimming pool. This activity is wonderful because you can do it alone or with a group. For an added challenge, add ankle weights.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones 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.

Yoga and Meditation: Proven Benefits for Senior Health

Yoga is  the preferred form of movement for many people. Meditation might be a luxury for others. However, for the aging community, regular practice of these mindful activities should be taken more seriously. They provide quantifiable benefits for overall senior health.

Group of happy seniors practising yoga for senior health

A gentle yoga class can help improve flexibility and circulation while simultaneously reducing heart rate and blood pressure. These are measurable advantages, but there are also innumerable subtle benefits that will be unique to each individual.

For some, thought processes and attitudes will become more positive, while others may experience increased tolerance to pain. The best part is that all participants will benefit from improved quality of life.

 

Just the Facts

Mindful, intentional movement, has reportedly reduced back pain and stiffness with as little as 33 minutes a day, three days a week. “Yoga and Other Low-Impact Exercise for Seniors,” a blog post published by A Place For Mom, is an excellent resource for further information. It carefully explains the many and varied advantages of a yogic practice, citing research from Harvard Medical School.

In addition to physical movement, some practices engage mantra (word repetition) and mudra (hand postures) to create dynamic brain-building exercises. One such exercise, Kirtan Kriya, has been studied extensively due to the remarkable improvements found in practitioners’ brain function.

Better recollection, mood improvement, and increased connectivity have been observed in cases incorporating a practice of only 15 minutes a day! Psychology Today notes that this minimal investment pays off exponentially with increased memory recall and verbal acuity.

The cumulative benefits of physical yogic exercise and meditative mantra can significantly improve quality of life expectations in the senior community. The aging community often focuses on attempting to reduce the negative effects of time. With yoga and meditation, it is possible to improve and re-energize the body and brain.

 

Here’s how you can take advantage of yoga’s extraordinary benefits:

 

Yoga for Senior Health

Yoga is a wonderful option for the aging senior. The best thing about yoga is that you can practice anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a mat to practice yoga just a few minutes a day.

Think about yoga as a state of mind, a way of creating an inner peace with yourself and the world. This mindset will help you get the most out of your practice.

If you’re a beginner, the AARP has some great information to get you started with basic poses. However, if you find yourself without a mat, you can practice these simple techniques.

 

Mindful Meditation

Meditation is the art of clearing your mind to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the world around you. Practicing mindful meditation as a senior can help you center your thoughts and create an inner calm.

 

Focus on Your Breathing

Pranayama, also known as yogic breathing, is the practice of breaking down your breath to help you relax. This form of yoga can help lower your heart rate and get more oxygen to your brain. It will also help your muscles relax. Just a few minutes a day of this technique can help you renew your energy for the day.

 

Practice Your Standing Poses

Standing poses allow you to work on your balance, strength, and flexibility. Incorporate a few forward folds, standing backbends and side bends to help you keep your muscles pliable. These poses will also help reinvigorate you.

 

The most wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a personal practice. Make it what you want, take from it what you need. It is a great activity for active seniors as well as those new to exercise.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones 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 Low-Impact Exercises for Active Seniors

Senior Exercise

The aging process doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise. In reality, it is just as important to work toward fitness now, as it was in your teens. A  study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that too few people over 50 participate in regular physical activity. More than a quarter of adults in this age group are at higher risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. A lack of exercise can exacerbate typical risk factors. With the ageism in medicine that we have spoken about in the past, the importance of senior physical activity is rarely emphasized.

The CDC recommends that adults get at least thirty minutes of exercise five days a week. Maintaining this level of activity can help manage and prevent chronic diseases. Seniors will also be able to maintain their good health and to live independently for longer. Regular exercise can also help with balance, depression and arthritis pain.

There are lots of low-impact exercises for active seniors, and studies have shown an array of health benefits which will ultimately improve quality of life.

Portrait of smiling senior couple exercising at home

Of course, not all exercises are created equal, and finding the right activity for your lifestyle and physical limitations is important. Take some time to research senior-centric programs and find the best fit for you.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 5 low-impact exercises that are suitable for seniors.

 

Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

 

Barre Class

Based on exercises utilized in ballet, barre classes focus on strength, flexibility, and balance. Seniors will also appreciate the barre for the safety it provides. They can grab onto it to prevent falls. This is a flexible format that provides options available that allow you to customize your experience. Do you need lighter weights? No problem. You can also perform wall push-ups instead of traditional push-ups.

 

Silver Sneakers

Designed specifically for the elderly, the Silver Sneakers senior fitness program offers low-impact exercises for active seniors. Classes include targeted instruction and proven results. Happily, it’s compatible with many insurance carriers, including Medicare! Visit your local gym to learn more about Silver Sneakers classes, availability, and focus. Strength, balance, and cardio classes are available at participating gyms, giving you the freedom to choose a course that suits your needs.

 

Zumba Gold

If dancing is your passion, Zumba Gold classes are designed for you! Built around simple choreography, these classes will get your blood pumping. Seniors can enjoy all the wonderful music that makes Zumba so great, and get an age-appropriate workout.

 

Pickleball

Pickleball is a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. Although it’s a fast sport, it is low impact and easy to follow. Commonly played on an adapted tennis or basketball court, the playing area is small, limiting the amount of movement necessary to play. The paddles resemble a cross between ping-pong and racquetball paddles, the ball is similar to a whiffle ball, and the nets are much lower. You can usually find pickleball at community centers as well as senior centers. Play with 2, 3 or 4 players and enjoy a different experience every time.

 

Line Dancing

This form of exercise is also social entertainment. You and your friends will arrange yourselves in lines and perform a choreographed dance in unison. Line dancing is a great way to get moving and have some fun. No instructor needed, just plenty of friends willing to participate.

 

These are just a few of the low-impact exercises for active seniors. With a little research and persistence, you can find an activity that speaks to you and actively improves your health.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones 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.

Eldercare Planning: Tips for the Future

It’s never too early to start planning for your golden years; in fact, the best time to plan is well before you actually need care. Eldercare planning is a necessity, and preparing for your future is simple if you know the steps. The process can help you create a strategy that ensures you live the life you envision for yourself. Plus, laying out your information, needs, and expectations will prevent any last-minute scrambling should something unexpected occur.

Of course, if you or your senior loved one haven’t planned for eldercare yet, it’s never too late to start.

eldercare services

Assembling the Necessities

Lots of people put off eldercare planning. Whether it’s due to stubbornness, optimism, or ignorance, it is a necessity that isn’t on everyone’s radar. However, if this planning is left undone, it can put an unnecessary burden on children or spouses.

To help you avoid this pitfall, David York Agency has published a workbook and checklist to assist you in this task. These links will take you to these publications. Contact our office if you would like hard copies mailed to you.

Here are some tips on what information you can start putting together now. Start by creating a simple document that includes the following information. This simple document will help others help you when the time comes.

  1. Professionals including your doctors, financial advisers, attorney, accountant and any others, along with their contact information.
  2. Create a file with your important documents (or copies) such as your social security card, insurance papers, birth/marriage/divorce certificates, detailed medical information (including allergies, medications, immunizations, etc.), Medicare/Medicaid card, passport, deeds, titles, etc.
  3. Financial information with account numbers, locations, and contact information.
  4. All sources of income from investments, annuities, salaries, and other benefits.
  5. Recurring bills from mortgages and utilities to loans and auto-renewing subscriptions, services, and deliveries.
  6. Sensitive computer information including passwords, email accounts and online billing.
  7. Estate planning and end-of-life documents such as your will, burial arrangements, funeral services preferences, property distribution, disability and retirement plans, Do No Resuscitate (DNR) order, etc.

No detail is too small to help ease the burden to your family and protect you if the need arises. By starting to compile this information as early as possible, you and your family will be prepared for any eventuality.

Planning for Home Healthcare

David York Home Healthcare Agency is well acquainted with the issue of planning for home care and can provide valuable input as you chart your course. Should you need home healthcare help, please contact us to determine the best possible professional care for your family’s needs.

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 your loved one with the care and assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Exercise Can Delay Dementia

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a type of cognitive decline characterized by memory loss, communication difficulties, and impaired thinking. Dementia is a growing concern for aging populations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 47 million people have dementia worldwide. WHO also estimates 75 million people will be affected by dementia by 2030. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of patients suffering from dementia also have Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is not a normal part of the aging process, and signals damage to the brain. Doctors have long advocated a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia. A new study finds that exercise may also play a vital role in helping to delay dementia.

Group Of Seniors Enjoying Dancing Club Together

 

Study Results

Results of this ground-breaking study were published in the September 2017 issue of Scientific Reports. The study found that mice who ran on a wheel for one week had more new neurons in their brains than those of mice who did not run. Neurons are brain cells that transmit information to other parts of the body and provide direction.

Since dementia patients have damaged neurons, the creation of healthy neurons through exercise is a fantastic find. Researchers surmise that exercise can help change brain cells in humans, protecting them from the onset of dementia as well as ensuring a higher quality of life.

 

Exercising to Delay Dementia

Though the study focused on running, there are many other ways for seniors to stay active and keep their brains healthy. Here are four types of exercise to help seniors stay mentally and physically active:

  • Aerobic exercise, or cardio, gets the heart pumping. Some examples of easy aerobic exercises for seniors include jogging, brisk walking, or dancing. Chair-based aerobic programs are also available.
  • Flexibility exercises help seniors maintain good posture and normal a range of movement. Examples of flexibility exercises include stretching and yoga.
  • Strength exercises benefit seniors’ muscles and bones. Examples of strength exercises for seniors include lifting light weights or using resistance bands.
  • Balance exercises can help seniors stay steady on their feet and prevent falls. Tai chi as well as yoga are a popular balance exercises among seniors.

When starting any exercise routine, it’s important for seniors to start out slowly and listen to their bodies. Seniors with medical conditions should also consult a doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen. Be sure to find trainers that are specially trained to work with the elderly.

Have your trainer lay out a safe exercise plan and have it approved by your healthcare practitioners. David York Agency has a handy workbook that can help.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it can help seniors maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.

 

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 your loved one with the care and assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

What is Ageism in Medicine?

Today, there is an unfortunate epidemic that is affecting the elderly. This problem is the result of biases, misconceptions, and assumptions. We refer to it as “ageism in medicine.”

Consider this: a doctor tells a 75-year-old woman to ignore her back pain because aches and pains is a “normal” part of aging. Miles away, a research study about the side effects of a cholesterol-lowering medication includes no research subjects over the age of 60. In addition, the drug in question is most commonly prescribed to the elderly. What’s wrong with this picture?

These stories have one theme in common. They reflect a serious social issue called medical ageism, a phenomenon that affects millions of American seniors.

 

What is Ageism in Medicine?

Ageism is described as the “systematic stereotyping of, and discrimination against, people because they are old.” In medicine, ageism results in deficiencies in the medical care that older adults receive. Ageism is a term coined in the 1970s by the late Dr. Robert Butler, renowned and groundbreaking geriatrician, and it is still occurring today.

It is a fact that the elderly receive less aggressive medical prevention, detection, and treatment than younger adults. As a result, greater rates of preventable disability and early mortality occur among this age group.

Ageism is everywhere. It occurs at the institutional level, as evidenced by the lack of training provided in geriatric medicine. It also happens at the individual level. For instance, a doctor or nurse does not spend the required time with her senior patients to get to the root of the problem because they are “depressing” or “old”.

 

Examples of Ageism in Medicine

  • Only 40% of older Americans receive routine health care screenings for high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. This occurs despite the fact that these conditions worsen with age.
  • Only 10% of older Americans receive prostate and colon cancer exams even though early intervention is crucial for treating these diseases.
  • A doctor complains that his next patient is a “difficult old lady” who is a “trainwreck” waiting to happen.
  • A 70-year-old widower tells his doctor that he is always sad and has lost a lot of weight. The doctor doesn’t refer the man for depression screening despite the fact that the suicide rate for elderly white men is higher than it is for any other group in America.

The list goes on.

 

How Can I Help?

If you are a healthcare provider or professional caregiver

  • Seek out training opportunities in geriatric care and medicine.
  • Be mindful of any implicit biases (prejudices you may not be aware of) that affect how you perceive and interact with older adults.
  • Be aware of the language you use to describe older patients. Phrases like  “cranky old-timer” and “sweet old lady” may seem harmless, but they can perpetuate stereotypes about older adults.

If you are a family member or caregiver

  • Be assertive in ensuring that your loved one receives routine, preventive care. Do not assume that her physician’s office will automatically conduct regular screenings.
  • Help empower your senior relative to have a plan before talking to the doctor.
  • Educate yourself about ageism in medicine and become an advocate for your older relative.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation will help determine what services your loved one needs. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.