Genetics + Environment ≠ Inevitable Health Profile

A new study gives insight into the role of exercise on overall health measures while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. A study out of Finland examined ten sets of identical twins for the effects of exercise on health and brain development while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. One twin was active physically and the other was sedentary.

AA052490Ten sets of identical twins from Finland, who grew up together, obviously sharing the same DNA, were examined. While their pasts were similar, their future exercise habits differed. While past studies of twins with respect to divergent exercise habits focused on their effects on aging, this study focused on factors that measured overall health: endurance capacity, body composition and insulin sensitivity. The sedentary twins exhibited lower endurance capacity, higher body fat percentages and signs of metabolic problems with respect to insulin resistance. The active twin had more grey matter than his sedentary counterpart especially in the areas having to do with motor control and coordination. Interestingly, the twins had similar diets. This led the research team to conclude “that the results strongly imply that the differences in the twins’ exercise habits caused the differences in their bodies.”

On the bright side, genetics and environment don’t equal inevitability. We can make significant changes with respect to exercise regimens that can dramatically impact our overall health and that of our brains.

David York Home Healthcare Agency is always on the lookout for tips on improving our overall health and alleviating the debilitating aspects of aging. However, when home healthcare becomes necessary, we provide certified home health aide services for the elderly. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website www.davidyorkagency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Overuse of Benzodiazepine in the Elderly

The New York Times recently reported that even after 30 years of warnings regarding the dangers it poses to the elderly, use of benzodiazepine, sedative-hypnotic drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin, rises sharply with age. A study in the February 2015 edition of JAMA Psychiatry reports that 9% of those between 65 and 80 years of age take them and the proportion is even higher among women at 11%. These are astounding figures for any class of drug.

The known adverse effects of these drugs include increased risks of falls and fractures, diminished cognition in terms of memory and other neuropsychological measures, as well as an increased risk for car accidents.

497526103Yet, doctors persist in prescribing them. Why?

Doctors like to prescribe them because they work fast for such things as insomnia and nervousness. Doctors encounter resistance to employing alternatives like meditation and talk therapy by their senior patients.

Seniors don’t want to give them up. They are addicted to either the drug or the notion that a magic pill will cure any symptom that ails them. Moreover, the withdrawal process from the drug brings on some of the same symptoms such as insomnia, sweats and nervousness that prompted their use initially and patients don’t want to go through it.

Doctors are afraid to fight with their elderly patients about discontinuing the prescription. They are also under the mistaken notion that the process is too daunting. A Canadian study has shown that even a brochure with a schedule for weaning can have a dramatic effect on those wishing to make the change.

There is plenty of support out there if you want to find it. Doctors and healthcare professionals need to be more motivated identifying potential abusers and heed the long standing warnings of over prescribing these drugs. The elderly need to be fully counseled on the associated dangers and assisted in weaning themselves off these drugs.

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. A nurse is waiting to take your call. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

 

New Blood Test for the Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

There is exciting news in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research with the advent of a new blood test which can determine the presence of a key marker, brain amyloidosis, the buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain, as well as other blood proteins known to be associated with AD. Early detection of the disease can have implications in terms of benefitting from any current and new treatments, joining research trials underway and taking advantage earlier of any support services available.

T181985743he blood test can be administered after a clinical examination uncovers symptoms of Alzheimerhttp://www.alz.org/’s disease including cognitive impairment such as dementia. This new blood test is safe, affordable and easy to administer in a variety of settings. Currently, the only definitive tests for the presence of AD either have major drawbacks associated with them or can only be done post mortem. The first method of extracting cerebrospinal fluid requires an invasive spinal tap and carries the risk of nerve damage. The second is a PET scan testing for amyloids in the brain exposes the patient to radiation, is not usually covered by insurance and few centers have the technology. Autopsies can reveal brain beta amyloid proteins in the brain, a hallmark sign of AD, but, obviously, has no benefit to the sufferer at that time.

This new test also has the benefit of reducing the stress of not knowing for the patient and their loved ones. An important byproduct of the test is enhancing the integrity of research by ensuring that only true AD patients are included in any treatment trials which currently have an error rate of about 25% of non-AD patient inclusion.

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is naturally extremely stressful to all concerned. Anticipating and planning for the eventual outcome of the disease is not easy, but David York Home Healthcare Agency can help. When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly and infirm in their home. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Prescribed Drugs: Possible Risk to the Elderly

A study out of Brown University finds that doctors in the U.S. are prescribing drugs to the elderly that can have harmful side effects and the problem is even more acute in the south.

122422920Many drugs such as valium are harder for the elderly to metabolize so they stay in their systems a lot longer and this lingering effect can cause lightheadedness in an older person. This compromised physical state can very well lead to falls which we all know can have deadly consequences for the elderly.

Furthermore, a problem now termed as polypharmacy seems to be taking hold as a public health issue. This relates to the fact that the average senior citizen’s treatment plan includes four prescription drugs at the same time opening endless possibilities for harmful interactions which are suspected to be responsible for almost 33% of all hospital admissions.

The elderly and their caretakers need to review their medications regularly to make sure they know all associated risks, possible side effects and negative interactions. This link from Merck can be a handy reference.

David York Home Healthcare 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.

Getting Important Documents Assembled for the Elderly

So often, when crisis hits, a family can be caught unawares by this emergency situation. Adult children are blindsided by not knowing where to find critical documents necessary for deciding on the care for their elderly parents and they feel handcuffed by not having access to important assets or documents that are needed. However, it is never too early to start that ‘just in case’ file.

While the holidays are a wonderful time for family sharing and bonding, it is also an opportunity for adult children to help organize essential information for their elderly parents. I think that in addition to feasting and spreading joy this holiday season, all of us, whether we be seniors, caregivers or potential caregivers, should take the opportunity to get some ‘ducks in a row’ and organize those all important documents and bits of information. David York Agency has compiled a handy checklist and a small packet of worksheets to assist in this task. Both are accessible through these links or on the Caregiver Resources page of the David York Agency website.

Essential Documents & Emergency Information Worksheets (pdf version)

Essential Documents & Emergency Information Checklist (pdf versionDec newsletter

  • Professionals List – All Contact Information for:
    • Doctors: Primary Care and Specialists
    • Accountant
    • Attorney
    • Financial Advisor
    • Insurance Brokers
  • Important Documents Packet (Originals and/or Copies):
    • Social Security Card
    • Birth Certificate
    • Driver’s License
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Divorce Certificate
    • Passport
    • Medical Information
      • Allergies
      • Medications
      • Treatments
      • Major Operations
      • Immunization Records
    • Medicare/Medicaid/Insurance Card
    • Life Insurance Policies
    • Military Discharge Papers
    • Deeds
    • Titles
    • Tax Returns for last 6 years
    • Instructions on Location of all files
  • Financial Accounts List – All Contact Information and Account Numbers for:
    • Bank Accounts
    • Investment/Brokerage Accounts
      • Stocks
      • Bonds
      • CDs
    • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Financial Assets List:
    • Car Ownership
    • Mortgage Documents
    • Real Estate Holdings
    • Loans Owed or Owed to them
    • Tax Returns
    • Insurance Policies
      • Home
      • Auto
      • Health
      • Long Term Care
      • Life
    • Original Invoices for Important Possessions
    • Partnership Documents
    • Jewelry and Valuables
    • Safe Combination and Directions
    • Location of Safety Deposit Key
  • Sources of Income:
    • Annuities
    • Social Security
    • Pensions
    • Annual Distributions from Retirement Accounts
    • VA Benefits
    • Disability Payments
  • Recurring Bills:
    • Mortgage
    • Loans
    • Utilities
      • Telephone
      • Electric
      • Gas
    • Insurance Premiums (monthly & quarterly)
    • Car Lease
    • Annual Expenses (i.e. home alarm)
    • Deliveries (i.e. newspaper, milk)
  • Computerized Information:
    • Email Accounts and Passwords
    • Password for Computer
    • Recurring Online Billing
  • Estate Planning Documents:
    • Will
    • Special Instructions regarding personal property
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Advanced Healthcare Directive/Living Will
    • Healthcare Proxy
    • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order
    • Retirement Plans
    • Disability Plans
    • Governmental Benefits for which they are eligible
  • End of Life Arrangements:
    • Cemetery Plot Ownership
    • Pre-Planned Burial Papers
    • Personal Statement regarding burial services

Most important is that all this information be easily accessible clearly labeled and a trusted person know its location. Also, if you choose to keep this all stored on a computer, make sure a back up is made and a print out is kept in a location known to a close friend or relative. Healthcare decisions are often quite pressing, so knowing where to find medical records and decision makers in time can be crucial. With respect to assets, at times the government takes possession of unclaimed assets and while you might be able to get a hold of something belonging to you that was overlooked, it is not always an easy process. It is best not to get into that situation and have everything organized ahead of time.
When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services. David York Home Healthcare Agency can satisfy all your questions and would be happy to give you more information and discuss your case with you. Visit our website at David York Agency – providing healthcare professionals to the elderly and infirm, with the highest degree of personal service. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Elder Proofing a Senior’s Home

Simple falls can have catastrophic effects on the elderly leading to disabling conditions, extended hospital stays and even death. These falls can be prevented and a good caregiver can minimize any negative long term effects if one does occur.  With most falls occurring at home while doing mundane tasks, “elder proofing” homes becomes critical to those seniors that are able to stay in their homes. David York Home Healthcare Agency is intimately aware of what a safe living space for an elderly person should look like and can help set that up.  That is why our aides are instructed frequently during in-service training about safe environments for our elderly clients.

The National Institute on Aging has a handy article about making a home safe for the elderly. Tripping hazards from carpets, wires, and clutter need to be removed.  Grab bars in places like the shower, tub, and toilet as well as proper lighting often prove essential.

Here is a summary:

Stairways, Hallways and PathwaysHandicap-Shower

  1. Keep electric cords and wires next to the wall and tacked down.
  2. Affix all carpets and area rugs firmly to the floor.
  3. Arrange furniture so there are clear paths for walking.
  4. Make sure sofas and chairs are the right height for sitting and getting up.
  5. Don’t walk on wet, newly washed floors.
  6. Keep often used items in easy reach.
  7. Don’t stand on a table or chair.
  8. Have a reach stick (obtainable in hardware stores) for hard to reach items.
  9. Know where your pet is before sitting or standing so you don’t trip on them.
  10. Keep emergency numbers in large print near the telephone.

Living Areas

  1. Have handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  2. Make sure there is good lighting,
  3. Keep the walkway tidy.
  4. Check that the carpets are fixed firmly.
  5. Don’t use throw rugs or small area rugs

Bathrooms

  1. Grab bars for the tub, toilet and shower.
  2. Place non-skid mats, strips and carpets.
  3. Place nightlights.

Bedroom

  1. Put nightlights and light switches near the bed.
  2. Keep the telephone on the night table.
  3. Have all remote controls within reach.

Source: National Institute on Aging: AdPage: Falls and Fractures; September 2012

At David York Home Care Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in New York in their homes 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 like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Is It Hypoglycemia or Dementia?

With diabetes on the rise in the U.S. and its accompanying concern regarding hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) seems to be given short shrift. In an article entitled “Hypoglycemia Rising in Older People With Diabetes”, the New York Times gives it some of the attention it deserves.

177008288Hypoglycemia is a serious condition especially in older segments of the population 75 and older. Impaired kidney function and adverse reactions from drugs prescribed along side their diabetic medication are two of several things that make hypoglycemia much more of a concern for seniors. Hypoglycemia can cause a host of symptoms such as intermittent dementia, shakiness, sweats, dizziness, overall weakness, blurry vision and intense hunger.

Senior caregivers must be attuned to these symptoms of hypoglycemia before it causes a misdiagnosis of dementia or, worse, results in a loss of consciousness or even death.

It is something that we can no longer ignore. According to studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine, hospital admissions for this condition jumped 11.7% between the years 1999 and 2011 for hypoglycemia while they decreased by 38.6% for hyperglycemia. One study remarked, “Hospital admissions rates for hypoglycemia now exceed those for hyperglycemia.” In fact, hypoglycemia was the third most common complication for the 70 and over population segment.

David York Agency is skilled at recognizing the symptoms of various diseases endemic to the elderly. We provide skilled home health aide services for home healthcare and could assist you in mapping out and managing the total care of your senior loved one. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website www.davidyorkagency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

How to Choose a Home Healthcare Agency

When it comes to choosing the right Home Healthcare Agency for you or your loved one, it can sometimes feel like a daunting and emotionally charged task.  But, it does not have to.  If you have the right questions to ask, the answers will lead you to the right agency.  These six questions will make it easy. Choosing home health agency

  • Can the agency provide all the services you require?  Ask the agency if they will develop a personalized care plan designed to meet your individual needs and requirements as determined by you, your family and your doctor.  Ask that it includes the parameters for making revisions, should needs change in the future.  Then, request this plan in writing.       
  • Does the agency require special certification for their employees? For example, do the aides they send need to be certified and does the agency do anything in terms of checking that this certification is current.  All qualified agencies offer in-service classes to keep the aide’s skills current with new procedures and refresh their skills.  They also make sure that the aide’s work papers and state required medical forms are up-to-date.  
  • Is the agency licensed by the state?  All states require licensing of home health care organizations, except Idaho, South Dakota, and Vermont.  If an agency is supposed to have a state license, but does not, then you should look for another agency.  Check with your state health department to confirm.  
  • Is the agency certified by Medicare/Medicaid and/or The Joint Commission?  To become certified, an agency must meet specific state and federal requirements and quality standards for patient care.  Accreditation may indicate a commitment to providing a higher level of quality care.  An agency may also be contracted to accept Medicaid patients through a larger certified one.  It’s best to clarify your situation with each individual agency if you plan on Medicaid reimbursement.  
  • Will your insurance cover a home health aide?  Long Term Care Insurance plans usually cover home health aide services.  Your insurance company will likely require that you contract with an agency that is licensed by the State Department of Health and will probably not cover you if you hire someone privately.  You should call your plan to verify.  
  • How much can I expect to pay for this service?  A recent New York Times article on choosing a caregiver cited that the median rate for a home health aide that provides personal care such as bathing and dressing is $20 per hour. Of course, prices vary by location and agency.  

The Home Healthcare Agency that can answer all your questions and that you feel comfortable with will be the right choice for you.  David York Agency would be happy to give you more information about issues relating to home healthcare.    Contact us and visit our website where we have a resources page for further research.