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. During a preventive visit, your doctor will look at a number of factors to determine what vaccines, screenings, and lab work are necessary for you. These factors include age, gender, current level of health, health history, and any current symptoms you are experiencing.

Unfortunately, it’s common for the elderly to not receive proper preventive care, including important health screenings and vaccinations. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2003, nine of every 10 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 importantly, preventive care allows seniors to remain independent longer, promoting not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health.

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 who are found to have an increased risk of fracture should begin screening earlier.

In addition to receiving the proper screenings, the USPSTF also recommends that clinicians ask all adults about their tobacco use. Tobacco cessation counseling is covered under Medicare Part B for up to eight visits with a qualified doctor in a 12-month period.

On top of screenings, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive a yearly influenza vaccination. A Rand Corporation Study done in 2003 shows that getting the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly as a result of the flu virus. They also recommend a pneumococcal vaccination for those aged 65 and older. This vaccine can prevent a serious bloodstream infection.

To develop these recommendations, the USPSTF and ACIP collected data from self-reported surveys. Despite the fact that this data is dependent on the ability of the adult to remember when they last received specific preventive care, these experts believe that there are gaps in the use of preventive services. These gaps vary by race, gender, insurance coverage, and education level.

In order to reduce the number of elderly Americans not receiving the proper preventive care, local, state, and national plans have been implemented. These include things like reducing out-of-pocket costs, promoting annual wellness visits, client reminders for screenings and other tests, distributing videos and brochures to raise awareness about available services, providing transportation to medical facilities for the elderly, and expanding healthcare to take place at the patient’s home, church, or other facility.

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you’re interested in helping a loved one maintain their health and their independence, 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.

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Easing the Transition of Moving the Elderly to a New Residence

moving the elderly

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.

Once your loved one has chosen their next residence, you can zero in more clearly on what can be taken, which can offer some comfort. By drawing the rooms of their new home on graph paper according to scale and cutting out pieces of paper to represent furnishings they’d like to take, you and they can easily visualize what will fit and how things can be positioned ahead of time.

Since 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 and while in your 50s or 60s when you are physically stronger and more capable of decision making.

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 to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

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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.

 

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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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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, in order to 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, along with 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 and 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 on your next vacation, 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 support you need.

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The Importance of Elderly Friendships

elderly-friendships

It’s easy to make friends and continue social relationships early in life and into our middle years, but after retirement, after our children have moved out and our friends either move away or pass on, it becomes much harder. Many seniors have the additional hurdle of being physically unable to leave their homes to interact with others.

An article in Everyday Health discusses how important elderly friendships are for maintaining good mental and physical health and well-being; having friends can even extend your life. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, of the 1600 seniors who participated in the study, those who felt lonely were almost 1.5 times more likely to die over the course of the next six years.

These are some of the reasons why you need to keep your elderly loved ones socializing.

Physical Health

Lonely study participants were less able to do simple things like dressing and showering, taking walks, and carrying ten-pound objects. Simple social interactions like meeting a friend or relative for lunch or taking a short walk together can help seniors avoid depression brought on by loneliness, which can cause pain, raise blood pressure, and lower immunity.

Mental Well-Being

Memory loss and depression are two things that can result from social isolation; both of these things can be dramatically improved through socializing. In addition, researchers in the Netherlands discovered that a perception of loneliness, as opposed to actual social isolation, made study participants 1.6 times more likely to develop dementia. The article states that the quality of friendships is far more important than the quantity—having at least one good friend to talk to can encourage feelings of being understood and belonging.

Proper Nutrition

Not liking to eat alone can sometimes lead to malnourishment when a lonely senior doesn’t bother preparing healthful meals for themselves. And, sometimes a person with restricted physical abilities won’t be able to go out to buy groceries regularly.

When it’s hard to get them out of the house or they can’t go out alone and you just don’t have the time to take them out, it might be time to hire a home health aide (HHA). The aide can escort them to senior centers or friend’s homes so they can socialize a bit. An HHA can safely take them for walks and to stores, or the HHA can prepare meals, making sure they get proper nutrition and eat regularly.

That’s where David York Agency comes into the picture. Our certified Home Health Aides can help relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness and encourage more social behaviors. Whether your loved one just needs part-time assistance with getting out of the house and running errands or he or she is in need of full-time aide, we can provide the personalized care they need.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate home 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.