Ageism and Dental Care

Senior woman at the dentist. Ageism and dental care concept

For many Americans age 65 and older, dental care is a necessity that they cannot afford. Some older adults live on Social Security benefits of just $850 per month. Unfortunately, the cost of dental insurance and associated copays are just too expensive with this limiting budget. Additionally, the link between ageism and dental care means the care seniors receive is less than what they require.

As a result, seniors live with cavities, cracked or damaged teeth, and periodontal disease. Some seniors will turn to the emergency room for help while others may rely on over-the-counter remedies, or perform their own tooth extractions.

 

Dental Issues That Affect Older Adults

Oral health concerns that are common in people age 65 and older include:

  • Dry Mouth Syndrome is common in older adults. Caused by over 400 medications, severe dry mouth can contribute to cavities, mouth sores, infection, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Periodontal disease causes the gums to become red and swollen. Over time, the gums may separate from the teeth, and bone, tissue and tooth loss may occur. The inflammatory processes associated with long-term periodontal disease have been linked to dementia.

 

Ageism and Dental Care

Ageism is a term that refers to stereotypes assigned to older adults. Typically, ageism results in unequal access to medical prevention, detection, and treatment. For example, seniors receive fewer screenings for colorectal cancer, skin cancer, and osteoporosis than younger people. Even taking into account balancing the stress of the procedure on an older person, there is still a disproportionate imbalance in care. This is also troubling because the senior population is at greater risk for these diseases.

Although concern about age discrimination in healthcare usually focuses on medicine, disparities also occur in dentistry:

  • Ageist beliefs are a major factor in the inadequate provision of dental care for long-term care residents. Studies found that nursing home administrators believed that dentists were reluctant to see older residents, while the dentists felt the staff did not reach out for dental consultation often enough.
  • A survey of over 300 dental students found that a significant number believed older adults are less vital, less adaptable, and less likely to actively pursue goals than younger patients.
  • There are not enough geriatric-informed treatment standards. There is also call for better education among dental providers, caregivers, families, and patients.

 

Challenging Ageist Ideas

Research shows that when dental hygienist students and dental students have an opportunity to work directly with seniors, negative stereotypes towards this group are reduced.

 

Finding Affordable Care

Several resources are available to seniors who struggle to pay for dental care. Some dental hygienists can see older adults in their homes or at care facilities. This ensures cost-effective preventative care.

 

 Providing Compassionate Care

  • Address dry mouth by encouraging the use of over-the-counter rinses, pastes, sprays, and lozenges. All of these simple remedies will help lubricate the mouth.
  • Caregivers must ensure their own safety when assisting agitated clients with oral hygiene. For some patients with dementia, small brushes or oral foam swabs may work best.
  • Give dental hygiene its due focus. Devote at least 2 minutes to brushing teeth each day.

 

Dental health is of utmost importance to seniors. The rising tide of ageism makes it difficult to ensure all seniors are receiving proper care, but David York can help!

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.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

If you live an hour or more away from a parent or relative who relies on you for some form of care, you are considered a long-distance caregiver. Managing long-distance caregiving is no easy task.  It is stressful and time-consuming and difficult to accomplish without additional help. Being far from your loved one when they need assistance can be draining and, as this role-reversal presents itself, you are thrust into a realm of new responsibilities.

There is no one right method to approach your new role. Every situation is different. But the task of managing long-distance caregiving doesn’t have to be daunting with these helpful tips.

managing long-distance caregiving

How will I know help is needed?

Regrettably, if your parents need care, they probably won’t tell you when they need help. The last thing they want is to become a burden to their children. Typically, a person will experience a health crisis or a “wake-up call,” triggering the awareness that they need assistance. Barring a sudden health event, difficulties and changes in performing ADLs (activities of daily living) will be a telltale sign that help is needed. Routine ADLs include:

  • Bathing and showering
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring (for example, moving from a chair to the bed)
  • Self-feeding

 

What is my role?

As a long-distance caregiver, you will play the role of information gatherer as well as coordinator of assistance.

As the information gatherer, you can use websites and other resources to locate local community services that specialize in care for older persons or the disabled. You will also gather relevant data pertaining to your loved one. This information will be your go-to resource in the event of an emergency. David York Agency provides an excellent resource in the form of our Essential Documents and Emergency Information Workbook.

As the coordinator of assistance, you will make arrangements for care as well as set appointments. Consult with your loved one to determine their needs in the following areas:

  • Meal delivery
  • In-home care
  • Medical devices
  • Transportation
  • Help with Medicare/Medicaid claims
  • Support groups
  • Telephone check-ins
  • Financial Assistance

 

Additionally, David York Agency publishes a handy Essential Documents and Emergency Information Checklist to make your new role more manageable. This checklist provides a place to record pertinent information that will help you determine what your loved one can and can’t do. The AARP also offers a Caregiver’s Checklist that may be of use as well.

 

Evolving Care

It is never too early to start thinking about the future needs of your loved ones and how you will handle the evolving nature of your caregiving journey. Once you have completed the caregiver’s checklist and determined the wishes and needs of your loved ones, it will be time to speak to professionals in the caregiving industry. Check references and do whatever you can to make things as straightforward as possible for the caregiver. In-home caregivers help with a variety of household and personal tasks and will be in a good position to update you on day-to-day progress.

Remember that you are not alone.  An estimated 43.5 million Americans provide care, advocacy, and healthcare navigation for a relative or friend 50+ years or older.

 

For more information about David York Agency‘s qualified, compassionate caregivers, 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 TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

Taking care of ill or elderly relatives is a complicated and stressful situation. That stress is compounded in the case of long-distance caregiving. As more and more adult children care for their elderly parents, this issue is becoming more common.

Health visitor with smartphone and a senior man during home visit. A female nurse or a doctor making a phone call. long-distance caregiving concept

According to a survey conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving, long-distance caregivers experience negative impacts on their time, finances, and work schedules. Despite this, over half of these caregivers see their loved ones at least a few times a month, and over 75% help with basic services such as shopping, cooking, and transportation, spending 22 hours on these aspects of caregiving alone.

If you are managing long-distance care, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Recognize the Added Strain

Caregiving can cause major stress. Compounding this stress with the addition of travel, finances, and schedule increases the load for the long-distance caregiver. It is important to ensure that caregivers, as well as the patient, have the support they need.

In order to receive this support, the long-distance caregiver must acknowledge their added stress. Once the problem is recognized, steps can be taken to help relieve the pressure. Consider support groups, in person or online. These meetings can be an important source of comfort. Regular, healthy meals and exercise can also help reduce stress levels.

Remember: you can only care for others if you care for yourself first.

 

Gather Information

When medical emergencies arise, it’s important to have all the information you’ll need. Make copies of insurance documents and medical information, including medications and doctors’ orders and phone numbers. Keep these documents handy, so you don’t have to find them during stressful moments.

One important document to have is a durable medical power of attorney. This is particularly important if there are multiple siblings or you are taking care of an in-law. It is extremely important to clarify your right to make medical decisions if the patient is unable to do so.

DYA has handy publications for organizing you essential documents on our website.

 

Keep Communication Open

When possible, it’s a good idea to attend doctor’s appointments with the patient. They may not remember everything the doctor says or feel comfortable talking about the visit. If you can be there to hear the doctor’s orders and keep notes, it can help you see that the patient is getting what they need.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to keep lines of communication open. Some of the things they recommend are:

  • Speak with your loved one’s healthcare providers. A release signed by your loved one will allow their doctors to talk to you about their treatment. See if you can set up conference calls or log into their online medical records to stay fully informed.
  • Get support from friends. People who live nearby can check in on your loved one. Having a few people look in periodically can give you insight on how they are doing.
  • Consider hiring help. Someone to help with tasks such as meals and bathing can ease the burden on both of you.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Save time and money in case there is a crisis. Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act, which can provide you with unpaid time off with no threat to your job.

 

Maintain Your Relationship

Finally, remember to spend time visiting. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the tasks of caregiving and forget the relationship. Try to set time aside for sitting and talking, or doing an activity you enjoy together, such as taking a walk. The reason you are doing this monumental task is that you care so much about this person. Remembering that can ease the strain on both of you.

 

There are many difficult choices to make when taking care of a loved one. Living far away complicates those decisions. If David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers can help you in this process, please 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.

5 Low-Impact Exercises for Active Seniors

Senior Exercise

The aging process doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise. In reality, it is just as important to work toward fitness now, as it was in your teens. A  study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that too few people over 50 participate in regular physical activity. More than a quarter of adults in this age group are at higher risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. A lack of exercise can exacerbate typical risk factors. With the ageism in medicine that we have spoken about in the past, the importance of senior physical activity is rarely emphasized.

The CDC recommends that adults get at least thirty minutes of exercise five days a week. Maintaining this level of activity can help manage and prevent chronic diseases. Seniors will also be able to maintain their good health and to live independently for longer. Regular exercise can also help with balance, depression and arthritis pain.

There are lots of low-impact exercises for active seniors, and studies have shown an array of health benefits which will ultimately improve quality of life.

Portrait of smiling senior couple exercising at home

Of course, not all exercises are created equal, and finding the right activity for your lifestyle and physical limitations is important. Take some time to research senior-centric programs and find the best fit for you.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 5 low-impact exercises that are suitable for seniors.

 

Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

 

Barre Class

Based on exercises utilized in ballet, barre classes focus on strength, flexibility, and balance. Seniors will also appreciate the barre for the safety it provides. They can grab onto it to prevent falls. This is a flexible format that provides options available that allow you to customize your experience. Do you need lighter weights? No problem. You can also perform wall push-ups instead of traditional push-ups.

 

Silver Sneakers

Designed specifically for the elderly, the Silver Sneakers senior fitness program offers low-impact exercises for active seniors. Classes include targeted instruction and proven results. Happily, it’s compatible with many insurance carriers, including Medicare! Visit your local gym to learn more about Silver Sneakers classes, availability, and focus. Strength, balance, and cardio classes are available at participating gyms, giving you the freedom to choose a course that suits your needs.

 

Zumba Gold

If dancing is your passion, Zumba Gold classes are designed for you! Built around simple choreography, these classes will get your blood pumping. Seniors can enjoy all the wonderful music that makes Zumba so great, and get an age-appropriate workout.

 

Pickleball

Pickleball is a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. Although it’s a fast sport, it is low impact and easy to follow. Commonly played on an adapted tennis or basketball court, the playing area is small, limiting the amount of movement necessary to play. The paddles resemble a cross between ping-pong and racquetball paddles, the ball is similar to a whiffle ball, and the nets are much lower. You can usually find pickleball at community centers as well as senior centers. Play with 2, 3 or 4 players and enjoy a different experience every time.

 

Line Dancing

This form of exercise is also social entertainment. You and your friends will arrange yourselves in lines and perform a choreographed dance in unison. Line dancing is a great way to get moving and have some fun. No instructor needed, just plenty of friends willing to participate.

 

These are just a few of the low-impact exercises for active seniors. With a little research and persistence, you can find an activity that speaks to you and actively improves your health.

 

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

Exercise Can Delay Dementia

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a type of cognitive decline characterized by memory loss, communication difficulties, and impaired thinking. Dementia is a growing concern for aging populations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 47 million people have dementia worldwide. WHO also estimates 75 million people will be affected by dementia by 2030. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of patients suffering from dementia also have Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is not a normal part of the aging process, and signals damage to the brain. Doctors have long advocated a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia. A new study finds that exercise may also play a vital role in helping to delay dementia.

Group Of Seniors Enjoying Dancing Club Together

 

Study Results

Results of this ground-breaking study were published in the September 2017 issue of Scientific Reports. The study found that mice who ran on a wheel for one week had more new neurons in their brains than those of mice who did not run. Neurons are brain cells that transmit information to other parts of the body and provide direction.

Since dementia patients have damaged neurons, the creation of healthy neurons through exercise is a fantastic find. Researchers surmise that exercise can help change brain cells in humans, protecting them from the onset of dementia as well as ensuring a higher quality of life.

 

Exercising to Delay Dementia

Though the study focused on running, there are many other ways for seniors to stay active and keep their brains healthy. Here are four types of exercise to help seniors stay mentally and physically active:

  • Aerobic exercise, or cardio, gets the heart pumping. Some examples of easy aerobic exercises for seniors include jogging, brisk walking, or dancing. Chair-based aerobic programs are also available.
  • Flexibility exercises help seniors maintain good posture and normal a range of movement. Examples of flexibility exercises include stretching and yoga.
  • Strength exercises benefit seniors’ muscles and bones. Examples of strength exercises for seniors include lifting light weights or using resistance bands.
  • Balance exercises can help seniors stay steady on their feet and prevent falls. Tai chi as well as yoga are a popular balance exercises among seniors.

When starting any exercise routine, it’s important for seniors to start out slowly and listen to their bodies. Seniors with medical conditions should also consult a doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen. Be sure to find trainers that are specially trained to work with the elderly.

Have your trainer lay out a safe exercise plan and have it approved by your healthcare practitioners. David York Agency has a handy workbook that can help.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it can help seniors maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.

 

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 your loved one with the care and assistance they need. 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.

Recover from Cataract Surgery with Assistance

woman eye exam

Our sight diminishes with age, which naturally has an impact on our quality of life and our ability to live independently. According to the CDC, 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from cataracts.  The good news is that cataracts disease is treatable with cataract surgery. With a little help, continuing to live on your own is entirely possible.

The National Eye Institute defines a cataract as “a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.” This cloudiness can affect one or both eyes and is not transferred from one eye to the other. As people age, the proteins in the eyes can clump together, forming the cloud over the lens. Smaller clumps may not affect vision, but they will continue to grow over time. A cataract may also change the color of the lens of the eye, gradually tinting it brown. Some of the symptoms that cataract sufferers will notice include: blurry vision, faded colors or inability to identify blues and purples, double vision, and poor night vision.

New glasses and brighter lighting in your home may provide temporary relief. However, if cataracts interfere with daily activities, the only truly effective treatment is surgery. The operation is simple, but it may require anesthesia (depending on your risk factors and personal preference). Care after surgery can be crucial in ensuring your eyesight returns appropriately.

In the first couple of days after surgery, you will experience mild discomfort. In the first few weeks, your doctor will recommend you avoid heavy lifting and bending at the waist. Healing is not fully complete for eight weeks. During your recovery period, home health care services could be of great assistance to you.

YOU’LL NEED HELP

After surgery, a home health aide can assist with housekeeping duties, grocery shopping, and transportation to and from follow-up doctor’s appointments. In addition, a home healthcare agency has supervising registered nurses to give direction and guidance to the home health aides. This can be a significant aid during recovery as there are risks associated with cataract surgery. While problems like loss of vision, infection, bleeding, and inflammation are rare, having someone there to provide insight and help get you prompt medical attention can prevent permanent damage.

If you are suffering from cataracts and are considering cataract surgery, contact us to discuss how we can assist with your individual needs. Cataract surgery can improve your quality of life and preserve your independence. Let our quality, personalized home care aid you back to healthy vision.

At David York Agency, it is our mission to provide the highest-quality support services to the aged, infirmed, and disabled. Our highly trained and vetted professionals can provide your family with a level of in-home assistance that meets your needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best for you and your loved ones.

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

Caregiver Stress Needs to Be Taken Seriously

Caregiver Stress Needs Serious Attention

Caregiver Stress is Real

Caregivers experience stress just as frequently as anyone else. Unfortunately, they are often dismiss it. It’s assumed that caregiver stress is an expectation that comes with the job. People feel that the stress should be tolerated, like learning to cope with long, boring commutes.

Caregiver Stress Has Medical Consequences

In fact, caregiver stress can cause demonstrable medical problems. Those who take on the responsibility of caring for aging or ailing individuals need to stay healthy themselves. They should not fall into the trap of denial. Just because they’re helping others does not mean they won’t need help themselves. Round-the-clock care can lead to running on lack of sleep or lack of food – both causes of declining health. Caregivers do not receive the amount of healthcare monitoring they themselves deliver, so self-care is exceedingly important.

Patients Can Suffer As a Result of Caregiver Stress

When caregivers deny their own health needs, it isn’t just negative for them. According to some recent research from UC Berkeley, patients suffering from dementia will have a shorter life expectancy if their caregivers experience persistent untreated anxiety or depression.

As many as 40 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from depression. Though the problem is widespread, it is rarely discussed. Those who experience caregiver stress should not feel as if the problem is unusual or that it reflects poorly on them as people. The job is fraught with emotional and physical realities that are often sad. These sad realities naturally lead to stress often culminating in depression. This occupational hazard is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Working Through Caregiver Stress

There are many resources available for caregiver stress, including groups that provide social support and therapists who specialize in helping people cope with caregiver stress. Of course, many people will be able to overcome caregiver stress if they reach out to others in order to get some help with their responsibilities.

Home health aides can work with caregivers in order to provide the best possible standards of assistance for the patients. Being a caregiver is difficult, and getting more support can make all the difference in the world.

An Additional David York Agency Service

David York Home Healthcare can refer you to an agency to help you work through the caregiver stress and feelings of depression you may be experiencing. We can also recommend services that target depression in the elderly, should your loved one be experiencing mental health problems. Please contact us for more information on caregiver stress and related issues.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

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, 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 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.

Tips to Avert Elderly Falls

Regular exercise helps maintain muscle mass and improve balance

 

Falling poses a serious risk to the elderly. According to an article published by the CDC, over one-quarter of Americans over the age of 65 fall each year, making falling the number one cause of injury, both fatal and non-fatal, in this age group.

Falling not only poses a physical threat but also threatens one’s independence, self-confidence, and socialization. The elderly person’s mental and physical welfare, therefore, depends on preventing a fall to begin with.

While elderproofing the home is a necessary step toward fall prevention, focusing on the individual may provide them with benefits far beyond that.

Some of the areas to focus on include:

  • Regular Exercise: Techniques such as yoga and tai chi focus on balance directly, while weight-bearing exercises, especially for the lower body, may prevent bone loss and help maintain muscle mass.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be beneficial to recover properly from a previous injury, surgery, or chronic condition.
  • Check Vision and Hearing: Keep up on checkups for vision and hearing. Outdated eyeglass prescriptions may cause blurred vision, which can contribute to falling. Additionally, undiagnosed auditory deficits can directly affect your balance.
  • Dizziness: Even seemingly minor dizziness may indicate something much more significant, such as blood sugar issues, poor circulation, or low blood pressure.
  • Medications: Be sure to understand each medication taken, paying particular attention to those that may cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Stand Up Slowly: Getting up slowly reduces the likelihood of lightheadedness due to blood pressure drops. In addition, gentle movements may decrease the risk of injury to older muscles and joints.
  • Footwear: Rubber soled shoes with no or a very low heel are best to prevent slipping. Be certain that the shoes fit properly. Shoes that leave room for swelling feet may be loose, which can contribute to the risk of falling.
  • Alcohol: Limit the amount of alcohol consumed. Not only can alcohol interact with other medications taken, but alcohol itself has a disorienting effect on the individual.
  • Sleep: Getting the proper amount of sleep may reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve pain tolerance.

 

Focus on the Individual Elderly Person

A full assessment of each individual with respect to their risk factors for a fall will go a long way toward keeping them safe from a fall. Fall prevention within the elderly community can be enhanced by having a home healthcare aide present, either full-time or part-time, to ensure that your elderly loved one has someone nearby to assist them if they do experience a fall.

At David York Agency, we are committed to providing the personalized and dedicated care that people need as they age. 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 you need.

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