A while back, we published a post about Seniors and Sleep detailing the adverse effects of not getting enough sleep and the sleep problems seniors face. Today, we bring you another look into seniors and sleep, with an article from Candace Osmond. This page details sleep problems and solutions. See below for an excerpt.


When you’re struggling to drop off, or if you’re battling the demands of work and home life, you can find yourself wondering how much sleep you can get away with. Is it ok to have just four or five hours or must you get a solid eight or nine hours every night?

If you’re suffering from insomnia, or just the demands of a newborn baby, you may be wondering – how much sleep do you need?

No matter what your circumstances, we’ve answered that question and given you all the information and facts you need to make sure you get the right amount of sleep every night.

For more information about sleep, read the full article here.

Freelance Contribution by Jason Lewis

It’s no secret that older people suffer with health issues more often than their 30-something counterparts. But what is surprising is the fact that animals can help with many of the most common ailments of the 65+ crowd.

 

  1. Depression

 

Depression is depressingly common among senior citizens. Mental Health America points out that while depression is not a natural part of aging, seniors are at risk because of other factors that are. Sadly, depression is often undiagnosed in the elderly as it routinely co-occurs with the loss of a loved one and chronic health conditions, which are more common with age.

 

While having a dog is not a guaranteed cure for depression, there is mounting evidence to suggest that pets do relieve life’s lamentations. For one, having a dog or cat is a soothing presence from a living being that offers unconditional love and acceptance. Taking care of an animal provides a distraction and offers seniors the chance to feel needed once again.

 

  1. Obesity

 

Obesity is a major concern throughout the United States, and especially in the elderly who may not have the physical abilities required to properly exercise or the financial means to provide for themselves an array of healthy and nutritious meals. According to Comfort Keepers, obesity can also exacerbate physical disabilities, affect joint, and cause problems with mobility.

 

There is no doubt that people who own a pet are more active. Between walks and fetch sessions in the backyard, pets keep people on their toes. For seniors who have not yet lost their mobility but are struggling with weight concerns, a dog can encourage regular treks to the dog park or dog-friendly walking trail for a bit of sunshine, exercise, and fresh air. Scout out the one nearest to you by using a site like Rover.com, which lists dog parks by city. Here are a few examples: San Jose, Portland, Knoxville, Madison, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Miami, Calgary, Raleigh and Saint Paul.

 

  1. Mobility issues

 

There are numerous factors that affect the senior’s ability to maneuver themselves in- and outdoors. According to the National Institutes of Health, mobility issues often stem from illness-related immobility, such as being admitted into the hospital for an extended period.

 

Dogs and cats will help seniors stay active, which will not only promote weight loss but long walks can also help strengthen lower extremities and improve overall balance and coordination. Furthermore, owning a pet can help improve a senior’s heart rate and blood pressure, reducing his or her chances of experiencing dizziness upon standing.

 

  1. Cognitive impairment

 

Up to 20% of adults age 65 and older present with symptoms that indicate mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment is that which affects memory or other thinking skills. Its causes are not completely understood but risk factors are similar as those for dementia: family history of Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and advancing age.

 

Dogs force a routine, which is a good thing for people with early dementia or other cognitive issues. According to US News & World Report, the “routine of caring for pet give structure and purpose to daily life.”

 

  1. Physical injuries

 

Falling is one of the most common physical injuries among the elderly population. Many older people have spatial issues that make navigating obstacles difficult. Walking up stairs or avoiding low-lying furniture can become a real problem. Sadly, fewer than half of older patients admit to their healthcare providers when they have an accident. Ostensibly, this is due to fear of losing their independence or feelings of inadequacy related to their frail physical state.

 

Having a dog or cat won’t prevent injuries, but it can speed the recovery process and help an injured senior manage pain. Experts have long noted the correlation between humans and pets and overall health and wellbeing. Animal Assisted Therapy is used all over the world to help with issues such as fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

 

Seniors should consider their health, financial abilities to provide food and veterinary care, and breed before taking the plunge into pet ownership. Dogs and cats are a lifelong commitment but one that, especially for seniors, can improve the quality of that life and encourage healthy habits.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

Childhood is a carefree time, during which the parents make sure their little ones are happy, healthy, and content. However, as the years go by, the roles get switched, and it is now the grown up children who have to ensure their elderly parents’ or grandparents’ welfare. It’s estimated that by 2029, there will more than 1 million people aged 65 or over residing in South Carolina. Watching your parents and grandparents age and their health and mental capacity decline is a difficult thing for any child or grandchild to witness, but it’s even harder to make the decision to withdraw them from the place they’ve called home for decades, to  put it on the market and choose a high rated nursing home for them to move into.

Making the decision

The annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in the US is $92,378 which is a big expense for anyone, so making the decision to move a relative to one is a big decision to make; both financially and emotionally.

It can be extremely difficult to admit to yourself that your relative is no longer the person they once were and that they don’t have the mental capacity to stay in their own home and look after themselves as they once could. When you’ve made the decision you may feel guilty and a sense of grief knowing the changes that are to come to both you and your loved one. However, it’s important to recognise that you’ve made the best decision for your relative and that their new home will provide around the clock care and amenities which they don’t have in their own home.

Selling up

You’ll likely need to sell your relative’s home to fund the costly sum of a care home. If you’re looking for a quick house sale so that you can arrange for your relative to be placed into care sooner rather than later, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.

If you’re not comfortable leaving your relative in their own home during the selling process, then it’s advisable they move in with you temporarily. This will allow you to get their house in top condition ready for any possible viewings. It’s important that the house is clean, tidy and inviting, so be sure to repair any damaged areas, remove any clutter and personal items and give the property some curb appeal by giving the front yard a tidy and the front door a lick of paint.

Choosing the right home

When moving your loved one into a care home, you want to ensure that they will receive the best quality care and attention and that all their needs will be met, day and night. Therefore, it’s vital you take the time to research any potential care home you are considering selecting. A good care home won’t mind you asking lots of questions, visiting multiple times and speaking to existing residents and their family to discuss their experiences and feelings of the home.

It’s a hard decision to make to sell a relative’s home and to move them to a care home but deep down you’ll know when the time is right and that it’s the best thing to do.

Guest Post by Karen Weeks

Moving into a new home can be a very stressful experience, especially if you’ve lived in one location for any length of time. Relocating an elderly relative into a more suitable home presents another layer of stress, for you, and them. As we get older we tend to settle down in one location for years, and continue to acquire belongings. Downsizing on its own can be difficult, but that’s not all that will change for them. Their familiarity in their home will be gone, and they’ll need to start doing even their daily tasks in a different way. If ever possible, making it a slow process will help reduce the stress for everyone, and being organized ahead of time will make it go much smoother.

If everything goes well, you’ll be able to get a gradual jump on this process. Try gathering loved ones together and have a casual conversation about the idea of moving into a home. Don’t overwhelm them. If they haven’t thought about moving into an assisted living facility, it may be an unwelcome surprise. Even if they have considered it, it is still a very big step, so be sure to focus on all of the positives so they’re comfortable with the idea.

Once you’ve had a conversation with them, help them organize everything with some helpful checklists. Discuss what kinds of amenities and features that they would like to have in their new home. Maybe they look forward to someone else cooking for them three times a day, or even helping keep their medications organized. Even if it’s something more frivolous like a pool to swim in, or a space to garden, no matter what it is, write it down.

Here are a few ideas of facility features to help with conversation:

  • If they’re active, find out if they would like a fitness center, or even outdoor space to walk in.
  • Enjoy cooking? See if the rooms are like apartments with small kitchens, or if they are just rooms to stay in.
  • Are they social? See if having a roommate at the facility is something they would like, or if they would prefer to be in a space by themselves.

After you find out what they would like to have in their new home, start a checklist of all the necessities the facility must have. A lot of places have standard features, like community rooms and dining halls, but not all of them are suited for handling some medical needs. Be sure to address these thoroughly.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do they have a medical condition? The staff and facility should be capable of handling it. It’s important to know that your loved one will be taken care of if anything comes up.
  • Do they need assistance with daily tasks? Maybe they can’t do something like open a lid on a jar, or hold a pencil to write, is someone there to help?
  • Will they need transportation doctor’s appointments, or even just going to the grocery store?

Gather a list of potential future homes together, and start scheduling appointments for tours. Accompany them on the tour, help them ask questions and take notes along the way. They are going to be overwhelmed at first, and could even be excited when they tour a place, which can easily result in forgetting to ask all the questions. Not only do you want them to be happy with where they live, but you want to feel good about it as well.

The next step is to start the decluttering and downsizing process. Going through years of accumulated items can seem daunting, but when you break down the process into a few steps, and know what to keep and get rid of, it will go much smoother.

Image via Redfin.com

  • Go room by room, and start small. Focusing attention in one space at a time, rather than an entire house, can make it a little easier to go through.
  • Try to take it slow and start by asking yourself questions like “Do I need it or want it?”, “Do I use this item often?”. Be sure to assess what is most important about each item. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of cherished belongings, so if something incites a lot of emotion, slow it down and come back to it later.
  • Clear out items that will not be needed. Some places supply furniture like beds and side tables, but some do not. Be sure to hold onto items that will be making the move with them.
  • Plan to hire movers for the big day. Movers can take a lot of the stress out of the equation. Not only will they make the move itself less physically demanding, but they can make it less emotional. Allowing someone else to come in for the heavy-lifting gives your loved one a chance to part with what has been so familiar for so long, and an opportunity to start their new life with a fresh outlook.

Moving into an assisted living home is a lot of work, but staying organized and taking it as slow as possible will will help ease this stressful experience. Knowing what to do and what to ask will make everyone involved more confident in the move.

Freelance Contribution from Nick Johns

The corruption of Big Pharma are well known. But these facts demonstrate just how insidious their influence is.

  • In the first quarter of 2017 alone, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent a total of $78 million in lobbying, a $10 million increase from the same time period in 2016.
  • The 21st Century Cures Act loosened regulation of the approval process for drugs and medical devices. Critics of the bill including Public Health Citizen’s Research Group believe the Cures Act will “endanger public safety” because it weakens FDA standards.
  • Pradaxa Manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim has faced thousands of lawsuits because of the internal bleeding side effects and reached a $650 million settlement in 2014 to resolve roughly 4,000 claims.
  • Larger companies have employed “Pay-for-Delay” agreements, offering patent settlements to generic drug manufacturers in order to delay or block the release of lower-cost, generic versions of medicine.
  • The Prescription Drug User Fee Act passed in 1992 requires the FDA to answer drug applications within 10 months of receiving them. It has been argued that the shortened timeframe can negatively impact drug safety.

For more Big Pharma facts, read an article on the 21st Century Cures Act (how lobbying dollars mean more than patient safety), and an article on one pharmaceutical company’s major contribution to the opioid epidemic.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

 

Accepting that our parents and grandparents are no longer as astute as they once were is a painful process. However, no matter how difficult this may be, it is our responsibility as their children and grandchildren to take care of them as they grow older. It is also our responsibility to protect their legal interests.

Some seniors are still in perfect health but others are not so lucky. In fact, one in eight people over 65 have dementia. According to a 2014 estimate, approximately 5.2 million people in America live with Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive impairment affects memory and communication and it can be a painful ordeal for those who are taking care of parents or grandparents with this condition.

The Best Care Possible

For individuals with relatives who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the best care possible is desired. Obtaining nursing home information and learning the rights of your parents and grandparents is a must. Nursing home abuse is rampant and it is something that every family should know more about before sending an elderly relative into the unknown.

Some seniors experience symptoms such as malnutrition, bed sores, pressure ulcers, bruising, hip fractures, physical and sexual abuse, dehydration, and general abuse while living in a nursing facility. This is something that every son or daughter should keep in mind since a third of families in America have an elderly relative who had to endure this kind of abuse. As one can imagine, elderly Americans who have dementia are some of the most vulnerable residents in nursing homes.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is basically a set of symptoms that happen due to disease or injury. It is typically caused by brain damage, Hungtington’s disease, or stroke.

Symptoms such as subtle short-term memory changes i.e. forgetting what they ate for breakfast, difficulty in understanding conversations or not knowing the right word to use, and disinterest in hobbies and activities they used to love are some of the early signs of the condition. Those with dementia also have difficulty accomplishing tasks that require planning and concentration. Some even have periods of mental confusion.

It must be noted that the symptoms mentioned above usually show up before an official diagnosis. However, experts remind family members not to jump to conclusions until a doctor has seen the patient. If you suspect that your parent or grandparent is showing early signs of dementia, it is best to visit a physician immediately. A General Practitioner (GP) with an expertise in memory problems will be able to rule out other possible conditions that can cause the problems mentioned above.

Talking to a Loved One with Signs of Dementia

Talking to your parent or grandparent who might have a dementia diagnosis can be challenging. This is because most people who have this condition will either be confused or in denial of what is going on.

Experts note that you can talk to your elderly family member about the symptoms and whether he or she have noticed it.

If the diagnosis is dementia, make sure that you tell your parent that knowing what it is will help you and the whole family in taking the right steps towards managing the symptoms.

Legal Planning

Early diagnosis can help you and your parent or grandparent prepare for the future. Legal planning for those with Alzheimer’s can be empowering because this means that the one diagnosed with the condition knows that his or her wishes will be met. Legal planning involves power of attorney for healthcare, durable power of attorney for properties and finances, among other legal concerns.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

The recent US World & News Report indicated that out of 183 nursing homes graded in South Carolina, 15% were considered as top performing while 13% were rated as the worst. In this assessment, several criteria were used such as health inspections, quality of resident care and staffing. Healthcare inspections in nursing homes are seen in their totality. Hence, inspectors look at several components including ensuring residents are cared for adequately by hiring enough staff to look after them and protecting them from neglect. Health inspections also include medications management and safe storage & preparation of food.  Cleanliness and hygiene are imperative in nursing home settings to ensure that patients are safeguarded from diseases and infections.

The Elderly Have Weak Immune Systems

Overall, good hygiene practices are important to prevent bacteria and germs from contaminating the nursing home. This means that toilets and bathrooms must be properly sanitized to inhibit bacteria and germs from spreading that can cause the elderly to become sick or acquire infections.

The kitchen is an area that must be kept spotless and sanitary because this is where food storage and preparation occur. To prevent contamination, countertops, utensils, and materials must be clean. Food handlers must wash their hands properly before touching anything. Among the elderly, this is critical because they have weaker immune systems whether due to the normal effects of aging or to a chronic illness. Mature adults are at high risk of getting infections and diseases. If food is prepared in unsanitary conditions and meals are contaminated, the probability of getting foodborne illnesses among seniors is high. The elderly, age 65 years and above, is predisposed to morbidity and mortality due to foodborne gastroenteritis compared to younger groups (Smith, 1998). According to the same study, practicing a healthy lifestyle, paying attention to personal hygiene, sanitary food preparation habits, exercise and balanced diets can reduce the incidence of foodborne diseases and infections among older adults.

Poor Hygiene and Sanitation Constitute Neglect

Often, poor sanitation in nursing homes is a result of inadequate staff. There are not enough personnel to take care of the facilities round the clock or nurses to care for patients. Administrators might forget to contract professionals to clean and maintain structures. Failure to keep the premises clean can cause infections and diseases among the elderly. Seniors whose personal hygiene are not monitored and addressed by the nursing home staff are also at high risk for getting ill which can result in complications and even death. Disregard for the sanitation & hygiene in a nursing home and its patients constitute a form of neglect. The nursing home is, in effect, liable for medical complications that arise due to lack of cleanliness or hygiene.

Regular cleaning and sanitation of nursing home premises are instrumental in protecting the health of patients. Without proper sanitation and hygiene, seniors are susceptible to diseases and foodborne infections that can cause complications and even death.

St. Louis Today reported that troubled nursing home St. Sophia Health and Rehabilitation Center received notice in October that Medicare and Medicaid would not pay for any new residents through the government insurance programs starting Nov. 2.  The 240-bed nursing home is owned and operated by Midwest Geriatric Management, or MGM Healthcare, which owns 22 facilities in three states.

The latest problems stem from a resident who pulled out a dialysis catheter and bled to death in September.  The death marks the second in two years that federal investigators linked to negligence at the nursing home. An 88-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease was found dead in a bathtub at St. Sophia last year after being left unsupervised for eight hours.

An investigative report dated Sept. 28 by the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services details the events based on interviews with St. Sophia staff and an emergency responder:

The patient came to St. Sophia on Sept. 7 with diagnoses that included heart failure, dementia, one-sided paralysis and a seizure disorder. The patient had a catheter for vein access in an arm, a dialysis catheter in the groin area and a feeding tube. The patient was also taking blood thinners. On Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 nurses reported the resident continually pulled at the tubing and “requires constant watching.”

At 4:18 a.m. on Sept. 9, a nurse noted that the patient continued to pull at the tubing. The next entry at 6:50 a.m. says the nurse “was called to the room to find a significant amount of blood on the floor and bed” after the patient pulled out the stitches and catheter. At 6:55 a.m. the patient was unresponsive, according to the nurse’s notes.

Investigators discovered that the patient’s electronic medical record was changed two days later to add notes at 5:42 a.m. and 6:38 a.m. showing all tubing intact.  A nursing aide told investigators the patient pulled the feeding tube out earlier the same night. The aide told two nurses “all night, about a thousand times, what the resident was doing” but was not instructed to stay with the patient, according to the inspection report.

An emergency medical technician who was called to the facility later told investigators some of the blood that pooled under the bed was coagulated on arrival. “The resident was not conscious. Staff were unable to say when the incident happened or when (the patient) was last seen. Their stories conflicted,” the EMT told investigators.

 Police were also called to the facility Nov. 3 after receiving a report of sexual abuse. Health inspectors returned to St. Sophia on Nov. 20 and found that on two occasions a resident sexually assaulted another resident who is severely mentally impaired, according to staff interviews.
The family of a resident reported another problem later that month. CuSandra Wright said her mother Mabel Wright, 71, remains hospitalized and unresponsive after falling out of bed at St. Sophia on Nov. 28. Nursing homes can be cited by regulators if a fall was determined to be preventable.

In an article from the University of Missouri News Bureau, Sheena Rice details a new federal report which reduced hospitalizations and saved Medicare thousands of dollars per person. Read an excerpt below:

Researchers from the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing are continuing to see success in their work to improve quality of care in nursing homes. In 2016, a federal report found that the Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes (MOQI) reduced potentially avoidable hospitalizations by 48 percent and reduced hospitalizations from all causes by 33 percent. This reduced total Medicare expenses by $1,376 per person, saving 33 percent of the costs of all-cause hospitalizations and 40 percent of potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

You can read the full report here.

Freelance Contribution by Karen Weeks

In older age, people often find themselves with an abundance of free time. What better to do with it then learn a fun new skill? With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever. Here are several skills seniors can add to their portfolio by taking just a few online courses.

Music

Whether you’re searching for the best online guitar lessons or how to play the piano, you’ll find you won’t be at a loss for videos that teach you all about playing an instrument online. Not only are there video guides, but there are games and music theory worksheets as well that will help you learn to read music and find the notes on your instrument of choice. It takes a lot of commitment to learn to play an instrument, but if you practice daily, it’s a skill that will bring joy to everyone around you.

Cooking 

If you’ve always wanted to cook like a pro, but never had the time to devote to the kitchen, there are an abundance of free videos and step-by-step instructions with visual aids online to help you achieve your goal. Several classes on Study.com “cover basic and advanced cooking techniques, including cooking meat, using herbs, working with seafood, creating sauces, assembling appetizers, cooking vegetables and using pastry dough.”

The best thing about learning to cook a particular recipe through a video is the fact that you can always rewind or pause it if you need more time before moving on to the next step. With the internet at your fingertips, you’ll also never be at a loss for ideas on new recipes to whip up.

Photography

Whether you’re wanting to unlock your camera’s full potential, take photos of the grandkids, or better document your next trip, there are several free online tutorials available to help you excel in photography. You’ll also find tips on how to compose your photos and utilize the right lighting, as well as the ins and outs of editing software like Photoshop. Make sure you have a camera and its manual handy before starting any courses because they might confuse you if you don’t have something to practice and follow along with.

Language

While speaking a foreign language may seem like quite the task, online computer programs like  Rosetta Stone allow you to listen, practice speaking it yourself as well as with other people from around the world, and see visual examples of how the language is used in the correct context. According to The Guardian, users are usually “able to pinpoint their specific needs, be that tailoring a classroom lesson to the interests of a particular age group, or learning the basics for a holiday abroad.” The way each lesson is set up, it often feels more like you’re playing a game than studying a new complex linguistic pattern. Additionally, though learning a language online will cost you, it affords you the opportunity to go at your own pace and difficulty setting.

In order to make the learning process easier and more entertaining, many of these skills can be picked up and shared with a group of friends. When in doubt, search the likes of YouTube to find a helpful video. You might even find that learning a new skill as a senior will keep your brain on its toes and increase your sense of fulfillment.