Insomnia In Seniors: Substance Abuse & Over-Medication

Many seniors struggle with sleep disorders and can’t remember the last time they had a good night’s rest. Rest is more important than most people think. Consider these facts: A study from the journal SLEEP indicates that seniors with sleep apnea are at greater risk for early deaths. Add to that, since sleep apnea impacts the quality of sleep, sleepiness puts seniors at a greater risk for dreaded falls. Other studies report that seniors with persistent insomnia are 1.8 to 3.5 times more likely to remain depressed. These are only some of the ramifications of insomnia. All told, we see that good sleep is critical to a good quality of life. Unfortunately, insomnia in seniors heightens the potential for substance abuse.

Insomnia in seniors has potential for substance abuse.

Alcohol: Potential for Substance Abuse in Senior Insomniacs

 

It is important to realize, that sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) increases with age. As such, the idea of using alcohol as a sleep aid becomes very tempting. Many seniors mistakenly believe that having a couple of beers or a glass of wine will help them get a better night’s rest. Be aware, for its part, alcohol amplifies, rather than mitigates sleep disorders.

Older adults have a decreased tolerance for alcohol. Moreover, seniors who rely on alcohol often find sleep disruptions the norm in their daily battle against insomnia. While alcohol may induce sleep, its lulling quality comes at a price. The sleep that it induces is a more disruptive sleep especially during the second half of the night. It also has a negative impact on the deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is so critical to feeling rested.

As one might expect, seniors with substance abuse histories are at a higher risk of persistent addictive behavior with respect to alcohol use.

Prescription Medication And Its Negative Effect On Seniors

Older adults may take different types of medication for a number of ailments. Unfortunately, these medications often interfere with getting the sleep they need. Many medications for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, and chronic pain have markedly negative side effects such as changing their biological clock. Few seniors may be aware that a common side effect of some medications is insomnia. A point often overlooked is that a combination of medications can result in a variety of sleep disorders.

Over the Counter (OTC) Medications And Caffeine: A Dangerous Mix

Many seniors unwittingly use medications or stimulants that adversely impact sleep. For example, they take coffee with their breakfast, unaware that caffeine can significantly reduce the quality of their sleep. In fact, caffeine stays in the digestive system for several hours after ingestion.

Many seniors rely on caffeine for a much-needed boost of energy in the mornings. However, this can result in wakefulness at night-time. Meanwhile, other seniors turn to OTC sleep medications to help them sleep. Ultimately, they become dependent on them. Seniors who rely on both OTC medications and caffeine face even greater dangers. They risk compounding their sleep problems and indulging addictive habits that can negatively affect their health.

David York Agency Understands The Risks Of Insomnia In Seniors With Substance Abuse Histories

Of course, many factors contribute to sleep disorders among the elderly, and we recognize that each senior is unique. For more about how seniors and substance abuse, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

If you need more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim 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.

We’d also like to point out that you can get answers to your immediate concerns by contacting us today.

Coping with Elderly Depression

Depression affects people of all ages and does not care whether you are 18 or 80. However, many do not realize how many seniors struggle with depression. Unfortunately, signs of elderly depression are frequently attributed to other conditions. As a result, elderly depression goes undiagnosed.

If you believe a senior you know is suffering from depression, you can help. Here’s how:

Start a Conversation

First, get your loved one to open up. Avoid words like “depressed,” “anxious,” or “mental health” if possible. These trigger words might cause them to become upset and shut you out. Begin by starting a conversation. Ask about their day, whether anything has been on their mind, or if anything is making them sad. Hopefully, you will gather information that highlights a potential problem. From here, you can breach the subject of getting help.

Getting Professional Help

Most seniors do not seek treatment for their depression. It is your job to convince your loved one to find professional help. However, do not immediately suggest therapy, as many elderly individuals may feel shame or guilt about their depression.

It may be easiest for them to consult a friend who has been through a similar experience. Many elderly individuals may also feel more comfortable talking about their depression to their primary care physician rather than a mental health professional.

Call David York Agency for Help

Follow our blog for more advice on how you can help an elderly loved one cope with depression, as well as information about the signs that can indicate elderly depression. Keep this in mind; elderly depression is often a result of loneliness and isolation, so call us to arrange unparalleled care and companionship.

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.

Loss of Vision and Hearing May Cause Cognitive Decline in Seniors

It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience hearing and vision loss. Sadly, these changes can cause both physical and emotional hardships. They may feel a loss of independence, an inability to do the things they love, and a disconnect from the world around them. Beyond these discomforts, with the loss of vision and hearing, they may experience cognitive decline.

Read on to learn more about how hearing and vision loss causes dementia and cognitive decline in seniors.

Senior woman inserts hearing aid in her ear learning about Cognitive Decline in Seniors from nurse

Vision Loss and Cognitive Decline in Seniors

The most recent study on the relationship between vision loss and cognitive decline looked at two datasets. This data covered 16 years and included more than 33,000 people aged 60 and up. Published in JAMA Ophthalmology in September 2017, it concluded that “vision dysfunction…was associated with poor cognitive function.”

This confirms a study conducted at the University of Michigan in 2010. This six-year study followed 625 elderly participants and had similar findings. These findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and concluded that “untreated poor vision is associated with cognitive decline, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.”

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Hearing loss also plays a part in cognitive decline in seniors. The reason for this is unclear, but there is speculation that  uncorrected deficits in vision and hearing may accelerate this.

The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Suzann Pershing – lead author of the study and an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine – to learn more. Pershing said that “this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline. Intuitively, it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2013 observed 1,984 adults with an average age of 77. The study confirms that “hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment.” Also noteworthy, Adults with hearing loss will experience cognitive decline 30-40% faster than those with normal hearing.

A Causal Relationship?

According to Dr. Frank R. Lin, otolaryngologist at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, said, “Older adults with hearing loss face an increased risk of dementia even when you control for diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. So we think they’re causally related.”

There are a few reasons this may happen:

  • hearing-impaired people tend to become isolated and lack stimulation
  • hearing loss causes brain atrophy that affects memory and thinking
  • the brain has to work harder to understand muffled or distorted speech

But There is Hope for Improvement.

Dr. Pershing also said that cognitive function can be improved if vision problems are treated. Regular visits with your ophthalmologist can lead to improvement, and help prevent deterioration.

Almost two-thirds of adults over the age of 70 have hearing loss, yet they remain significantly undertreated. Hearing aids are affordable and accessible. Hearing is again possible with treatment.

Cognitive decline is a problem for seniors, but now that we know the causes we can help prevent deterioration. With this information, our elderly loved ones can live fuller lives, and tackle future health problems.

David York Agency Can Help

Cognitive decline in seniors does not need to be a continuing trend. With the help of trained healthcare professionals your loved ones can learn more about their wellbeing, and fight the problems that come with age. Knowledge and proper care are the keys to living a better life.

If you would like to learn more about David York, please contact us. Our healthcare services are the best available. We provide transportation, care, and companionship to the elderly, as well as specialty services.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified and compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services will provide the assistance your loved one needs. Also, please like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. We hope to hear from you soon and look forward to providing the very best in care.

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.

Ageism in Medicine: Clinical Trials Limit Elderly Healthcare

One-quarter of patients who regularly take prescription medications are over 65. However, clinical trials severely underrepresent this age group. Unfortunately, this is no oversight. Ageism in clinical trials is an unfortunate reality. The International Longevity Center reports that people over the age of 75 are “explicitly excluded” from participating in 40% of clinical trials. These trials evaluate not only the effectiveness and safety of medications, also treatments. Eliminating older patients from these assessments has the potential to result in improper treatment strategies and dosages, as well as overlooked drug interactions.

Elderly Ageism

 

Facts and Figures

Heart disease is a major cause of death in older populations. Despite this fact, less than 2% of people over 75 were included in clinical trials for unclogging blocked arteries. Worse, trials for advanced heart disease treatments did not include any patients over 65. In treatment trials for cancer – a disease where age is a significant risk factor – the number of patients 65 and up was extremely low. In breast cancer treatment trials alone, the number of participants over 65 was a mere 9%. This is a shocking statistic, given that more than 50% of diagnosed women are over 65.

 Why is Ageism So Prevalent?

Why do these statistics exist? Will this exclusion from medical trials hurt our older population?

There are several reasons for this trend. The first: medical practitioners – including 50% of oncologists – consider older patients to be “ineligible” for participation based on age alone. Another reason for ageism in clinical trials is that coexisting medical issues automatically make a person ineligible. True, varying factors can wreak havoc on the results of a controlled trial, but most patients who ultimately receive treatment will likely have multiple medical concerns. Another reason for this ageism: situation. Doctors deem some older patients ineligible for participation due to distance, inability to travel, and other related costs.

Taking a Stand

Designing trials specifically for the elderly would help alleviate this discrepancy. Quite simply, there is no way to determine how a new treatment will react with an untested population. This includes those with other pre-existing conditions. Prescribing untested drugs among the 65+ community leads to incorrect dosages, poor reactions, and other dangerous problems. Regardless of the reasons, eliminating any age group can have unintended consequences. This is particularly true for the older population who take the most medications and have the most health problems.

It is important to include all age groups in clinical trials. The medical community must make this effort to provide the safest and best healthcare to patients of all generations.

For more information about David York Agencys 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.

Ageism in Medicine: The Elderly Need Preventive Care Too

ageism elderly preventative carePreventive care is used to find and maintain a good personal health standard. Unfortunately, when it comes to seniors, the medical community does less for prevention, intervention and aggressive treatment. Ageism is a real problem.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

During a routine preventive visit, your doctor will look at a number of factors to determine what screenings and lab work you need. These factors include: age, gender, health history and any current symptoms you are experiencing. The elderly track the same markers. Still, it is common for the elderly NOT to receive proper preventive care, including important health screenings.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 75% adults over the age of 65 did not receive the appropriate screenings. Preventive care has many benefits. Preventing disease and illness reduces overall healthcare costs. Healthy, working adults are more productive and attend work more consistently. Most important, preventive care enables seniors to remain independent longer. This promotes not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health.

Five Important Screening Tests

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lists five different screenings as part of their recommendations for older adults:

  • Breast cancer screening every other year for women aged 40 years or older
  • Colorectal cancer screening for adults aged 50 to 75
  • Type 2 Diabetes screening for adults aged 40 to 70 who are also overweight
  • Lipid disorder screening for adults aged 40 to 75
  • Routine Osteoporosis screening for women aged 65 and older. Women have an increased risk of fracture should begin screening earlier.

Steps to Remedy the Situation

In order to increase the number of elderly receiving the proper preventive care, the government has stepped in. Plans have been implemented on a local, state, and national level. These include reducing out-of-pocket costs, promoting annual wellness visits, client reminders for screenings and other tests. They have also distributed videos and brochures to raise awareness about available services, provided transportation to medical facilities. They have also begun to allow screening to take place outside of the traditional facility such as in the patient’s home, church or other facility.

If you’re interested in helping a senior loved one maintain health and independence, try a home health care assistant may be able to provide the support you need. At David York Agency, our healthcare professionals can help to ensure that your loved one is receiving the proper preventive care.

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.

Easing the Transition of Moving the Elderly to a New Residence

moving the elderly

Psychological and Logistical Challenges

One of the biggest difficulties when moving the elderly to a new residence is the sorting through all their possessions. These are things they’ve accumulated over their lifetime, and many have emotional attachments and cherished memories connected to them. While de-cluttering can have a freeing feeling, it can also signal the end of the life they’ve known and shines a spotlight on their mortality.

According to an article on Next Avenue, it can take up to two years to sort through all of a person’s belongings and make decisions about whether to sell, donate, or take individual items with them. These types of decisions can take a psychological toll on the elderly. Surrounding them with love, care, support, and compassion during the process can help ease this emotional transition.

Moving To the New Place

Once your loved one has chosen their next residence, you can zero in more clearly on what can be taken. This can be a source of great comfort. Draw the rooms of their new home on graph paper. Do it according to scale and cut out pieces of paper to represent furnishings they’d like to take. That way, you and they can easily visualize what will fit and how things can be positioned ahead of time.

Many baby boomers look at downsizing as a fresh, new start. Why not start the process way before it becomes necessary? Start the discarding process before the need becomes immediate. Doing it in your 50s or 60s when you are physically stronger and more capable of decision making is a great idea.

 

If your loved one is considering downsizing or has recently moved to a smaller home, contact us. Our caregivers can help make the transition easier and give them the attention and care they need during this potentially difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, call us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one 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.

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. Did you ever think there would be a problem with drug abuse after age 65?

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 prescribed most frequently. 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. Such symptoms are written off as part of aging. All too often, medical professionals discover senior addictions only after their elderly patients 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. You might also try to 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. However, once completed, patients can return to living more normal lives, without the debilitating effects of prescription addiction.

Drug abuse is a problem faced by more than just young people. It may come as a surprise that as we age, we are 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. Our staff is trained in the latest guidelines for eldercare. All our home health aides are certified. 

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. Our aim is 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.”

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. However, 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. Our aim is 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.”

4 Tips for Traveling With the Elderly

traveling with the elderly

Family vacations can be a wonderful way to bring everyone together for some much needed rest and relaxation. But, when traveling with an elderly family member who has special needs due to debilitating disease or dementia, it’s important to plan ahead and take special care to ensure that everyone stays safe and happy during your trip.

Keep these tips in mind as you plan your next family vacation with your elder loved one.

  1. Make a Plan. Create a detailed itinerary of where you plan to go and what you plan to do throughout your trip, so your loved one feels more prepared. Go over the itinerary with them and keep copies on hand. If possible, choose a destination that is already familiar to them. This will minimize the stress and disorientation they feel.
  2. Be Prepared. When traveling with a loved one who suffers from dementia, be sure to have a bag of essentials handy at all times, including medications, a list of emergency contacts, your travel itinerary, water, snacks, etc. Be sure you’ve packed enough medication for their entire trip. Remember to include an updated medical record and any important legal documents.
  3. Consider Their State of Mind. When traveling with your loved one, be considerate of their mindset. Be patient with them if they get confused or overwhelmed. Also, be aware that being in an unfamiliar environment can trigger wandering behaviors in dementia patients. Keep your loved one close and take special precautions to make sure they stay there.
  4. Be Mindful of Physical Limitations. Traveling can be stressful for anyone, but especially for those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. According to an article from the Alzheimer’s Association, families should take care when deciding whether or not their elderly loved one can handle the challenges of travel. Consider the special needs of your loved one and also to what stage their disease has progressed. Early on, dementia patients may be perfectly capable of handling a vacation and could even benefit from one. However, if they already experience significant disorientation in their normal environment, dragging them along to an unfamiliar place may make things worse.

Decide if Travel is Right for Your Loved One.

You may need some additional assistance when on vacation with your senior loved one. That is when a home health aide can be a godsend. Consider taking your regular aide if you already have one or contacting a local agency to help provide one for you on locale.

At the David York Agency, we are dedicated to providing the resources, advice, and high-quality home healthcare services that can make caring for your aging loved one more manageable, whether you’re at home or on the road. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers and how they can help your family, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one with the support you need.

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