Seniors And Pain Management: The Importance Of A Supportive Network

Although aches and pains are a natural part of aging, chronic pain can lower one’s quality of life. Today, many people rely on opioids to manage their pain. There’s a downside, however: patients can become addicted to their painkillers. The CDC reports that prescription opioids are now involved in 66.4% of drug overdose fatalities. Meanwhile, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 115 people die daily in the United States from opioid overdoses. In this article, we’re going to focus on seniors and pain management and how a supportive network can help secure their well-being.

Elderly female patient talks with her Latin descent home healthcare nurse about treatment options in nursing home or home setting. Doctor or nurse gives prescription medication to woman.

Working With Your Doctor For Pain Management

Seniors must have regular checkups. However, a candid conversation about prescription drug usage is equally important. Below, we list some key questions to ask a doctor or healthcare practitioner during appointments.

  • What is the dosage and the duration of medication? Will it be short term or long term?
  • What is the alternative if the prescribed dosage isn’t enough?
  • How often can the medication be safely taken?
  • Are there any side effects to watch out for?
  • How will the medication interact with other substances if taken together?
  • What are other options for pain relief?

Although many seniors have a firm grasp of pain management, others are not so fortunate. The latter may particularly appreciate the support of a loved one or trusted friend during doctors’ visits. In any case, every effort should be made to help seniors overcome their fears and challenges.

How A Strong Supportive Network Can Help

If you’re a loved one or friend who is helping a senior with prescription pain management, here are some additional questions to ask:

  • How often can the medication be refilled?
  • Are there any resources available to caregivers who are helping their loved ones with pain management?
  • How can one help a loved one who is abusing prescription pain medication?
  • What can one do to encourage reluctant seniors to take their medication?
  • How can one help seniors prevent pain medication abuse or overdose?

It’s also important to realize that there are affordable professional resources to help caregivers.

We emphatically stress that pain should not rob anyone of comfort or stability in life. Seniors can enjoy an improved quality of life with a little teamwork and education. In short, pain management can be easily integrated into the daily routine of life.

David York Agency Can Help

For more tips about seniors and pain management, be sure to explore David York Agency’s blog.

For 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.

Last, but not least, you can get more help and information by contacting us today.

Eldercare Planning: Your Parents & Home Healthcare

Many adult children start to worry about their aging parents. They see them struggling as they get on in years and believe they would be better off with help. Eldercare planning is a difficult subject to broach (especially with seniors who are resistant to such discussions see our post on the subject), but it’s also a necessary conversation for seniors who are experiencing a decline in health or finding it hard to care for themselves.

 

Eldercare Planning for Parents

Approaching Eldercare Planning with Your Parents

Conversations about diminished capacity can be very difficult to have with your parents. They may get offended that you are worried about them and they may have no interest in hearing your viewpoint. It can be frustrating for you to make your concerns clear. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some tips to help you through this discussion.

  • Choose the right time. Don’t think that you are going to talk to your parents when you both have five minutes. This conversation cannot be rushed. Instead, find some time that you are all free to sit down and talk.
  • If possible, include all of the children. It can be helpful if all of the children are on the same page. Otherwise, it might look like you are ganging up on your parents.
  • Be prepared with the options. It is important that you are ready to have the talk. Write down the different options that are available to your parents. Prepare a list of pros and cons, as well as the costs associated with each of them.
  • If it gets heated, take a break. The conversation may get heated, and it may be better to take a break before things get said that can’t be taken back. Leave the list of options, pros, and cons, and plan on coming back in a day or two (after your parents have had time to think).

Difficult Now, Helpful When Necessary

Talking to your aging parents about getting help can be quite difficult. However, if you find the right time and come prepared, it is more likely to go well. If not, take a break and revisit the issue once everyone has settled down. David York Agency has a Checklist and Workbook to help guide you through the discussion. Please check them out on our website.

Remember, though this discussion is difficult now, it could lead to a better future for your parents. Decide on small changes that can be implemented now and others that will be helpful down the road.

 

If eldercare planning is a concern for you and your loved ones, please consider the David York Agency. Our qualified, compassionate caregivers are ready to help. 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.

Long-Distance Caregiving: Feeling Adequate at a Distance

At a time when seniors wish to remain independent  – and in their own homes – for as long as possible, establishing a support system is essential. The act of caregiving often falls on relatives or close friends, but these caregivers are not always local and long-distance caregiving is on the rise.

Grandparents talking on the phone at the table. Long-distance caregiving

But how can you provide adequate care from a distance while maintaining the balance of your daily life?

Remaining involved in your loved one’s life, providing long-distance care, and living your own life is a difficult balance. The “sandwich generation,” – identified as middle-aged adults “sandwiched” between caring for their children and their aging parents – can be full of overwhelming and thankless tasks, but maintaining your relationship and providing care at a distance can be done!

Here are a few ways to maintain the caregiver relationship when living far away.

 

The Reality of Long-Distance Caregiving

Long-distance caregiving is an undeniable stressor. The difficulty of balancing the duties of a caregiver with work and family can be daunting and exhausting. You will have to learn to manage your time and your loved one’s time simultaneously. You will also have to adapt your schedule to include travel time as well as care time.

Expect to make sacrifices if you plan to maintain significant involvement in your loved one’s life. From missing work to rearranging appointments, your job as a caregiver will be all-encompassing. Frequent phone calls at all hours of the day and night may become a new norm. You may also take on the added expense of additional home care in order to ensure your loved one’s well-being when you cannot be present.

 

What Can I Do?

How can we accept the reality of distance as a barrier but also incorporate ways to embrace it? Finding peace of mind away from your loved one is difficult, but not impossible.

Some ways may include purchasing new forms of technology such as a fall alert system. This is a small investment ensuring that emergency personnel would respond if a loved one suffered a fall. There are also various forms of medication reminders to help loved ones take their medications at the recommended time.

Establish methods of communication that are readily available and easily understood. When utilizing the telephone, your loved one may prefer a landline with multiple cordless phones and charging stations placed around their living area. If your loved one is receptive to video chat, ensure these newfangled programs are installed properly and simplified for ease of use. Many seniors suffer from hearing and vision loss so preset the volume on devices to ensure they can hear properly. Place telephones in locations that are accessible and uncluttered.

 

Helpful Tips from the AARP:

1. Maintain your identity and embrace the characteristics and strengths that you have while incorporating them into caregiving.

2. Reprioritize as circumstances arise.

3. Get organized. Check out these David York Agency publications for the task: Workbook & Checklist.

4. Be open to accepting help whether it be with minimal daily tasks, assistance from other family and friends or hiring a home care agency.

5. “Keep filling your tank.” Caregiving requires mental and emotional energy. Allow yourself to unwind and reboot.

 

Understanding the reality of caregiving and accepting ways to embrace it may ease the struggle of long-distance caregiving. David York Agency prides itself on individualized care and maintaining the dignity of your loved one. If you need assistance, support, or an open ear in the world of caregiving, reach out today!

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.

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: Lack of Geriatric Specialists Creates Medical Ageism

The number of geriatric medical health caregivers is not keeping pace with the increasing number of older Americans. In addition, there is a lack of adequate training in the field of geriatric medicine as well as an insufficient amount of hands-on clinical experience. While physicians may have experience dealing with senior patients in their practice, they don’t have the same broad base of knowledge specific to the elderly as physicians who specialize in geriatric medicine. Unfortunately, this all adds up to a lack of geriatric specialists and ageism in senior medicine.

 

Lack of geriatric specialists

Focusing on Geriatric Problems

According to the AARP, specialists in fields such as oncology, urology, and neurology focus on these specific fields, but neglect to study the particulars of accumulated diseases in the elderly. Seniors accumulate medical issues over a lifetime, and these problems require a different medical approach. Geriatric healthcare professionals also understand the necessity of high-level compassion and communication when handling older patients. As it stands, doctors often discuss their senior patients’ prognosis or treatment with family members, bypassing the patient altogether. This creates a feeling of invisibility and lack of respect.

Geriatric Specializations: The Facts

Research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that most existing medical training does not cover the scope of the special needs and diverse conditions of older patients. In addition, medical students are not choosing geriatrics as a specialty. The following data demonstrates this problem:

  • fewer than 8,000 physicians are certified in geriatrics
  • less than 1 percent of pharmacists have geriatric certification
  • less than 1 percent of registered nurses specialize in geriatrics
  • fewer than 2,000 doctors specialize in geriatric psychiatry

Changing the System

Geriatric specializations need to be taken more seriously. First, there need to be more programs that offer this specialty. Next, – what with the rising population of elderly patients –  it should be made a more established path into medicine. We must see geriatric focus in healthcare programs for primary care doctors and offered as a specialty by more educational facilities. Above all, medical institutions should make geriatric medicine more attractive to those choosing a specialty.

Seniors benefit in many ways from seeing geriatric specialists; not only is their overall healthcare and quality of life better, but they are hospitalized less often and can lead more independent lives. This, in turn, lowers overall medical costs and creates a healthier generation of Americans. Ageism in medicine is an unfortunate reality. However, the right information can lead to improvement.

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When you need home healthcare for a senior in your family, contact us. Our licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), certified personal care aides (PCA) and certified home health aides (HHA) are ready to help. We employ professionals trained in the care and needs of geriatric patients. Let us can help your loved one live a more independent, fulfilled life.

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.

Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat causes an average of 658 deaths per year in the United States. That’s more than many natural disasters in this country! No one is more at risk from heat exhaustion and heat stroke than the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Avoid spending too much time outdoors at once, but if it does happen, be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most common signs of heat exhaustion are dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, clammy skin, and cramping. If you notice these symptoms, get indoors or in the shade immediately and drink water. Heat stroke is the more severe of the two, and symptoms include a high body temperature, alternating between chills and sweating, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate. If you think you’re beginning to suffer from heat stroke, stop what you are doing immediately and seek medical assistance.

Protect yourself this summer season by following these guidelines.

  1. Limit your time outside in the hottest parts of the day: from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Even if you stay in the shade, the heat and humidity can do just as much damage without the sun being directly on you.
  2. If you must go out, ensure that you are wearing proper attire. Hats with a wide brim, loose fitted clothing, and sunscreen all help to protect you from the heat.
  3. Light colors help to reflect the sun’s rays and the heat associated with it. Whites and pastels will keep you much cooler than dark blues and blacks. Also be sure that your clothing is lightweight and loose fitting.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Fluids will keep your body hydrated and less likely to suffer the ill effects of heat exhaustion. Avoid any drinks with alcohol in them; they will only dehydrate your body and make the situation worse.
  5. Avoid exercise and other strenuous activity in the extreme heat. Work out in air conditioned gymnasiums or through activities that are cooling, such as swimming.
  6. Avoid hot areas such as attics or cars that have been outside for a long time. Cool your car down before getting in.
  7. Let your body get used to the heat. If you go on vacation to a place with temperatures that you are not accustomed to, allow a few days for your body to adapt to these new conditions before you do any kind of vigorous activity.

One of the most dangerous issues with overexertion in the summer is actually a psychological one. Many people, especially the elderly, do not want to admit when they can’t do something safely. Some would rather risk severe injury or death rather than appear weak or incapable. However, be aware of your own limitations and the seriousness of the summer weather. Don’t allow your idea of what you could do in the past keep you from taking care of your health now.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

 

iPads are Great for Seniors

For many years, seniors have faced the stigma of being slow adopters of new technologies. However, as computers and graphical interfaces become more user-friendly, nearly everyone has been able to utilize them to make their lives more convenient and more accessible. Here are some of the great benefits that iPads offer to seniors.

  1. iPads offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of text and image sizes. Simply pushing your fingers apart makes the text as large as it needs to be. As eyesight fades with age, this can allow anyone to continue to read books or stay up-to-date on current events.
  2. Nothing is more troubling for seniors than feeling disconnected from their friends and loved ones. iPads give them access to email and messaging software so that they can still keep in touch. Video streaming applications such as FaceTime even allow them to chat with children, grandchildren, and friends who may live on the other side of the country.
  3. Even if motor control is a problem for some seniors, iPads have an extremely easy-to-use graphical interface. A man with arthritis may not be able to rummage through old photos in a box, but swiping from picture to picture on an iPad is a breeze. The same is true for most applications. Interacting with the iPad is often as simple as touching the icon you want. Apple prides itself on its simple touch-screen model which is ideal for many seniors.
  4. There are many great healthcare apps for seniors that will allow them to track their diet, monitor their health, and even communicate with their doctors and other healthcare providers. There are even apps that can warn loved ones of any troubling physical signs in their elderly relative.

If you do decide to get an iPad for your elderly friend or family member, take the time to talk with them about what he or she wants out of an iPad. Show them how to set it up and how these benefits will make their lives easier, safer and more fulfilling.

Having this gateway to the outside world is critical once the elderly become homebound. David York Home Healthcare Agency is very sensitive to the potential of feeling isolated and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. David York Home Agency (DYA) is well versed in the problems of the elderly and all factors related to eldercare services. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Toward a Better Care Plan for the Elderly

Have you taken the time to build a care plan for your elderly loved one? A recent AgingCare.com post suggests creating a personal health action plan as soon as possible is the single best step you can take. If you’ve already built one, updating it at least once a year is equally a must. Not sure where to begin? The same post offers a number of very helpful tips.

Together forever

  • Start with a Conversation: You’ll want to begin by at least talking to your elderly loved one to get a stronger sense of how much he or she understands about their underlying health conditions. Taking a closer look at changes or complaints is a must so you can discuss it with a doctor at the next appointment. Understanding how tired the individual is, how well his or her appetite and digestion are doing, and even any changes in mental status should all be evaluated.
  • Think About After the Hospital: Any time the hospital or another care facility is required, know exactly what you should expect when your loved one comes home. Knowing more about the condition, the medication, and any doctor’s orders is critical. Deciding on the next steps, including hiring a part-time or overnight caregiver, is going to be essential. Be sure to schedule those follow-up appointments, too.
  • Create Goals: Building new goals, on an ongoing basis, is key. Don’t think for a moment that these have to be big goals, either. Something as simple as walking to the bathroom may be the goal for the moment. As recovery continues to progress, you could consider other options like walking to the mailbox.
  • Think Communication: Talk to everyone involved in the care of your loved one on a regular basis, including any home health care professionals like physical therapists. You may also want to ask about a contact number if you have questions. Don’t forget to make your loved one part of this loop too.
  • Consider Yourself: As a caregiver, it’s just as important that you consider your own wellbeing as part of the plan, too. It can be difficult to take care of yourself when you’re putting so much into caring for someone else, so take the time to learn about what you need and what you can do to relive the stress and get the occasional break.

Take some time to look closer at the helpful post from AgingCare.com before you build your plan. If choosing a caregiver becomes part of your plan, contact David York Agency for more information about how we can help you care for your loved one. David York Home Healthcare Agency is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and is always available to set up a senior care plan taking the whole patient into account.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.

 

Surviving a Stroke – The Tips You Need Now

Stroke – It’s a leading cause of death throughout the United States. The American Stroke Association suggests it is the fourth leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., and it can happen very fast. A recent Next Avenue post had some insights that are helpful to any household.

What Is It?

stroke recovery

There are two basics kinds of strokes. Ischemic strokes occur most frequently. A blood clot stops blood flow to the brain in cases like these. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the brain’s blood vessels break and bleeding occurs in the brain.

What Does it Look Like?

Strokes have very noticeable symptoms. Often there is a sudden sense of numbness or weakness on one side of the body. It’s usually noticed in the face, arm, or leg. Sometimes there is confusion, too. You may notice the individual has trouble speaking or even understanding. The person could also have trouble seeing or difficulty walking. Maintaining balance is usually an issue, too. Occasionally a severe headache will occur as well.

There are other potential symptoms of stroke, though they tend to be less frequent. There could be a sudden round of nausea. There may also be a brief loss of consciousness. Sudden pain in the face or limbs could also be a sign of stroke. Shortness of breath may also signal the onset of a stroke.

There are a few of simple tests to decide if it’s a stroke:

  1. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  2. Ask the person to raise his arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  3. Ask the person to say a simple sentence. Watch for garbled words and slurred speech.

If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 emergency services immediately. The “Time Lost is Brain Lost” campaign is absolutely true. The sooner medical attention is sought, the more likely it is that the person will fully or mostly recover.

To learn more about stroke and what you can do to help an individual experiencing a stroke with this Next Avenue post.

David York Agency (DYA) is skilled at recognizing the symptoms of various diseases endemic to the elderly and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.