Vitamin D is Important for Senior Health

Vitamin D is Still an Important Factor Regarding Senior Health

When you are involved in elderly caregiving in NY and Long Island, it’s important to remember that Vitamin D is important for senior health. The recommended amount of vitamin D for senior citizens over the age of 71 is 800 IU a day, but a simple blood test can determine if you are taking in the correct amount for your age group.

Vitamin D is a natural vitamin that the body produces in response to sunlight. Vitamin D allows the body to absorb calcium, which is important for healthy, strong bones. Unfortunately, too many elderly men and women are not getting enough vitamin D, which can lead to high blood pressure, brittle bones and autoimmune disorders.

Not Just Sun- Getting Vitamin D for Senior Health Inside

Lots of people believe they get enough Vitamin D from natural sunshine. However, elderly men and women are often deficient due to an inability to get outside. Whether because of weather limitations or limited mobility, seniors don’t necessarily have the same outdoor access as their younger counterparts.

Spending an hour or so a day in the sun is the first step, but when that isn’t an option it’s extremely easy to get the amount that you need by eating the right types of foods. Many are already fortified with this vitamin, such as milk, certain dairy products and cereals. Tuna, cheese, egg yolks, tofu and pork are just a few more vitamin D enriched foods. Supplements are also a great source of vitamin D.

Lower Health Risks to Seniors

Seniors who regularly take vitamin D will lower their risk for osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Vitamin D is important for senior health, fortifying bones and offering protection in the event of an elderly fall. Your caregiver can remind you to take your vitamin D, ensuring you stay on track. For more information concerning elderly caregiving in Long Island, NY, please contact us today.

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.

A Couple’s Guide to Eldercare Planning

Senior couple using laptop to discuss eldercare planning at home

Eldercare planning is a tough topic that most couples avoid. The thought of losing their independence and then later, their life together, can create feelings of fear and loss. As difficult as it is to consider, the earlier you discuss your eldercare expectations with your spouse, the easier it will be to implement a successful plan for care. With this in mind, we’ve created the ‘couple’s guide to eldercare planning.’ So, have courage and tackle eldercare planning together, with David York Agency by your side.

David York Agency’s Guide to Eldercare Planning

Once you are ready to discuss an eldercare plan with your spouse, be sure to schedule plenty of time to discuss all aspects of your future. Using a checklist can help you ensure that nothing is forgotten. David York Agency has published a comprehensive checklist to help in this task.

Take the time to research and discuss all the options, and compare notes. David York Agency has also published a wonderful workbook just for this purpose. You can access it here and print out as many as you need. Please note that your spouse will need a separate eldercare plan.

Below, you’ll find a list of important topics you’ll need to visit when you begin planning for eldercare:

  1. Professionals List. Gather the contact information for your doctors, accountant, and other trusted professionals.
  2. Important Documents. Gather essential documents such as your birth certificate, social security card, and insurance cards.
  3. Financial Assets List. Pull together all the information on valuable possessions like vehicles and property.
  4. Estate Planning Documents. If you have yet to do so, discuss creating a will and a living will. Determine how you want to spend the final years of your lives. For example, if you want to stay at home for as long as possible, consider utilizing an agency that can provide in-home care.
  5. End of Life Arrangements. Discuss burial plans and options for the widowed spouse.

 

Early eldercare planning will bring confidence and security to both you and your partner. Each of you will be able to make decisions on the other’s behalf, knowing that you’ve already determined how your spouse would handle any given situation.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Danger of Polypharmacy in the Elderly by Anita Kamiel, R.N., M.P.S.

Definition

Polypharmacy is a term used for taking five or more drugs concurrently and this trend is on the rise. While this is a cause for alarm in the young, it is much more alarming in the elderly. They usually take a panoply of medications prescribed to them by their stable of specialists along with their internist or geriatrician. As such, the dangers can be extremely serious. With so many doctors and healthcare professionals managing the patient, it is easy to both rack up the number of drugs at play as well as fall into the “prescribing cascade” where drugs are prescribed to counteract the side effects of another prescribed drug.

Risks in the Elderly

As with most things, the problem of drug interaction is more acute in the elderly than their younger counterparts. If dizziness is a side effect, as it is with beta blockers, and a fall occurs, the results can be catastrophic as compared to someone younger. In fact, higher medication use in the elderly has been cited as responsible for some falls. Consequently, doctors have been advised to avoid medications that have been linked to falling.

Older patients seem to use their own discretion when taking their medications. They don’t easily cede their independence and it extends to this area of their lives as well. The senior patient may also be loath to tell the doctor about a complementary therapy or remedy. They may have experienced a closed-minded or judgmental reaction it in the past.

Rising Trend…

According to a Harvard study, polypharmacy has seen a 70% increase over the last 12 years. A longitudinal study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than 33% are taking five or more medications, 66% are taking dietary supplements and 40% are taking over the counter drugs.

In 2006, 8% of seniors were at serious risk for drug interaction, but that number rose to over 15% in 2011. Adverse drug interactions include combining aspirin with the blood thinner Plavix. Taken together there is an increased risk of abdominal bleeding. Taking fish oil for heart health combined with the blood thinner Coumadin can also cause bleeding.

Most elderly patients don’t bother to tell their doctors about the non-prescription drugs or supplements. Doctors simply often neglect to ask them about it. As a result, patients are uninformed about any risks of drug interaction. If the elderly will be choosing which medication they want to take (or can afford – a whole other topic), it is important to educate them about the purpose of each and the possible interactions, so they, their families and doctors can make informed decisions.

Communication & Follow-up Is Key

A serious problem is that medications are very often prescribed by specialists who don’t necessarily communicate with each other. A clinical pharmacist specializing in geriatric care can help. They are often the repository for all the prescriptions for the patient and can be a central clearinghouse. They can perform a drug reconciliation to make sure the patient is not combining substances with negative interactive effects. Consult Beer’s List put out by the American Pharmacists Association for drugs not to use in older adults. There is a handy list of “Tips on Polypharmacy Management” available through the ClevelandClinic.org.

Another problem is once we start medications, we almost never stop them. Money is poured into efficacy tests for a course of drug treatment, but we almost never study how and when treatment is to end. A study out of the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital showed that 44% of elderly patients were actually given at least one unnecessary medication upon discharge.

At Your Next Visit….

In the meantime, go along with your senior loved one to the next checkup or doctor visit. Be sure to bring every prescription and non-prescription over the counter remedy or supplement with you. Let the doctor do a comprehensive review. It will be a good time to re-visit the necessity of the medications as well as a time to tweak dosages.

If elderly patients are confused about what to take or are in the beginning stages of dementia, it can get complicated. It’s easy to mismanage the arsenal of medications they are prescribed or recommended to take. A caregiver or family member must step in to avert what can sometimes become a life-threatening disaster.

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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.