Get Screened for Osteoporosis

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in 2015 that states 25 percent of all American women aged 65 years or older suffer from osteoporosis.  They found that in men over 65 years, it is closer to 6 percent.  Since anyone with osteoporosis is more at risk for dangerous fractures, it is important for seniors to be aware of whether they suffer from the condition.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Healthy bones look like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope, but for those with osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycombs are much larger and the abnormal porous bone is compressible or sponge-like.  As the bones lose density or mass and are made up of more abnormal tissue structure, the bones become less dense, weaken and more likely to break.

Healthy, strong bone is composed of protein, collagen and calcium. Osteopenia is the term used when a person’s bones are slightly less dense than normal bones but are not considered as severely compromised as those with osteoporosis.

Thankfully it is easy to evaluate a person’s risk of fracture with a painless X-ray absorptiometry test (also called DXA or DEXA).  The noninvasive test measures the bone mineral density (BMD) of the spine, hip or total body bone density and only takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

Health care professionals recommend a bone mineral density test for all postmenopausal women with risk factors and all women 65 or older.  Men should be tested at age 70 or at age 50-69 based on risk factors.  The test lets you and your doctor know if you have normal bone density, low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis, and if there appears to be a problem, what steps to take to help prevent broken bones in the future.  If you are taking osteoporosis medications, professionals advise having a bone density test by central DXA annually or once every two years to determine if your medication is working.

This post is intended for informational purposes only; please consult your health care provider regarding any medical concerns.

MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan represents the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.   Please schedule a tour to experience firsthand our comfortable, home-like atmosphere.     

Sources:

webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20150813/1-in-4-senior-women-in-us-has-osteoporosis-cdc

nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/

Wearing the Right Shoes Can Help Prevent Falls

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There are many misconceptions about what is the safest footwear for older adults.  The fact is many of the qualities we think are important in a shoe can actually cause seniors problems.  Research from the Foot and Ankle Center at the Orthopedic Hospital in L.A. found that all too often shoes that were considered “safer” were to blame for falls that caused injuries.

The study, led by director, Dr. Carol Frey, interviewed 185 men and women over 55 and discovered that the shoes worn by those 65 years and older were often to blame for their fall.   They found “70 percent of the older people who fell had been wearing athletic shoes, oxfords or loafers,” and were considered to be sturdy, safe footwear.

The problem seemed to stem from the fact that bulky rubber soles worn on carpet can be hazardous as a shoe gets caught or dragged on the floor causing the person to trip.  Flat-soled athletic shoes were found to be problematic as they become slippery on wet surfaces.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends seniors wear shoes with low heels, non-slip soles and completely surround the foot and to avoid loose or backless slippers or slip-on shoes, such as sling backs or flip flops.  Seniors’ shoes should have a wide toe box, laces and a non-skid sole (avoid heavy lugged soles), and when shoes and socks are removed, your feet should not have any marks on them.

NIA says the best everyday footwear for seniors is a walking shoe with a light rubber sole that offers both traction and support.  In addition avoid shoes with rubber toes as they can stick to carpet resulting in falls as well as shoes with worn out soles or smooth leather or plastic soles.

Our post is for information purposes only and not a substitute for seeking medical advice from your health care provider.

At MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan, we represent the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.  Please contact us to schedule a tour. 

Sources:

nytimes.com/1998/02/24/science/when-the-elderly-fall-shoes-may-be-to-blame.html

nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/faq/faq20.html

Stay Hydrated and Healthy

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A recent study from the University of Chicago Medical Center reports that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were in people over age 65.  The Mayo Clinic explains that there are several reasons why older adults are more susceptible to dehydration including “their ability to conserve water is reduced, thirst sensation is less acute, and seniors do not respond to fluctuations in temperature as well as when they were younger.”

The National Institute on Aging also cites other factors why the elderly do not fare well in extreme heat conditions such as heart and blood vessels problems and less effective sweat glands.  In addition heart, lung, or kidney disease can weaken individuals and often cause fevers.   Medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers and other heart and blood pressure medicines can inhibit the body’s ability to cool by sweating or act as a diuretic.

At around the age of 50, our body’s kidneys do not conserve fluid as well as they once did, and by age 70, the problem generally worsens.  Also many seniors experience a decrease in appetite and can forgot to drink and eat for long periods of time.  Chronic conditions including dementia and diabetes can also interfere with getting enough fluids as well as being overweight or underweight.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it is more important for seniors to be aware of overheating and to stay hydrated.  The symptoms of heat exhaustion include: paleness, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, headache, and rapid, shallow breathing.  If you suspect heat exhaustion, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cool place.  While you wait for medical assistance, have them lie down, remove any heavy or tight-fitting clothing and apply cold water or compresses directly to the skin.   Offer water or juice if they are able to drink.

This post is intended for informational purposes only.  Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

At MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan, we represent the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.   Please schedule a tour to experience firsthand our comfortable, homey community.      

Sources: mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/risk-factors/con-20030056

aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/elderly-heat-stroke

nia.nih.gov/health/publication/hyperthermia

 

Protect Your Eyes with Annual Exams

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Eye problems are a common complaint among the elderly.  The American Optometric Association advises that older adults need to be aware of the warning signs of age-related eye health problems as they can cause loss of vision.  Also since some eye diseases have no early symptoms, they recommend annual eye examinations for everyone over age 60.  It is important to remember that while many eye conditions are easily treated, diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to serious eye problems.

One almost universal vision change experienced by older adults is Presbyopia, which is the gradual, age-related loss of the eyes’ ability to focus clearly on nearby objects.   Typically the condition is not treated with any intervention other than a pair of reading glasses.

Floaters are another problem seniors experience and appear as tiny specks or spots that seem to float across your field of vision.  The Mayo Clinic says that most eye floaters are caused by “age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina, which appear to you as floaters.”  It is important to have the condition checked by an eye doctor as it can also be a sign of more serious eye problems including retinal detachment.

Dry eyes are also common in seniors and can cause itching, burning and even loss of vision.  Treatment includes nutritional supplements, medications to reduce inflammation, or eye drops that simulate real tears.  On the other side some older adults can have too many tears that may result from temperature changes or sensitivity to light.  Taking precautions such as wearing sunglasses can help but you should be checked by your doctor as it could signal an infection or blocked tear duct.

In addition cataracts and glaucoma are frequent problems affecting older adults.  In the case of cataracts, once they begin to affect your eyesight they can usually be removed by surgery.  Glaucoma is not curable but it is treatable, and without treatment, it can eventually lead to permanent blindness.

This post is intended for informational purposes only.  Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

At MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan, we represent the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.  Please contact us to schedule a tour.      

 Sources:aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/adult-vision-19-to-40-years-of-age/adult-vision-over-60-years-of-age?sso=y    nia.nih.gov/health/publication/aging-and-your-eyes

mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/basics/definition/con-20015113

Shingles

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that almost 1 out 3 people in the U.S. will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes, at some point in their lives and that 50% of those cases occur in women and men 60 years and older. With approximately 1 million cases reported each year, you can get shingles if you have ever had chickenpox as the varicella-zoster virus remains inactive in nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain.

The Mayo Clinic says symptoms can occur anywhere on the body but “most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.”   While not life-threatening, the rash is very painful and complications from shingles include a long-lasting pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) that can last for months or even years.

Generally the first symptom is pain, and given the common location around the trunk, it can be confused with problems of the heart, lungs or kidneys.  The course of the disease can be improved and shortened with early treatment and a vaccine can lessen the risk of getting shingles.  While some people will never develop a rash, you need to see a doctor immediately if you suspect shingles.

According to the Mayo Clinic common symptoms include:

  • pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • sensitivity to touch
  • a red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • itching

Other symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue and sensitivity to light. The CDC recommends that anyone 60 years or older should get a shingles vaccine even if they have already had the disease as it can prevent future occurrences.

The CDC states that, “Zostavax® is the only shingles vaccine currently approved for use in the United States.”  They add that, “This vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%.”  A shingles vaccine requires just one dose and can be done by your doctor or at a pharmacy.

For informational purposes only, please consult your health care provider if you have any questions regarding your health.

MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan represents the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.   Please schedule a tour to experience firsthand our comfortable, home-like atmosphere.      

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shingles/basics/definition/con-20019574

Frequent Walks May Help Slow the Decline of Alzheimer’s

 

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A recent article from the New York Times reports on a study that achieved modest improvement in the physical decline and memory loss for some people in the early-stages of Alzheimer’s.  Conducted by the University of Kansas, it is one of the first studies to use physical activity as an experimental treatment for dementia and their results suggest frequent, brisk walks may help to “bolster physical abilities and slow memory loss”

While the improvements were not universal in all study participants, researchers are now considering the question of why exercise helps some people with dementia and not others.  We know earlier studies support a correlation between regular physical exercise and improved memory and also find that active seniors are less likely to develop mild cognitive decline, which is a frequent precursor to Alzheimer’s.  This may be due to the fact that brain scans show physically active older people have more volume in their brain’s hippocampus (the part of the brain linked to memory function) than their sedentary peers.

Until this study, most of the research has involved trying to prove whether or not exercise can help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.   In this new research, published by PLOSOne, it considers whether or not exercise can help to improve the trajectory of the disease.  The participants were all older adults who had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and were still in the early stages.  They also had the ability to walk well.

The research “assessed the effect of 26 weeks (6 months) of a supervised aerobic exercise program on memory, executive function, functional ability and depression in early AD.”  The conclusion drawn from the study suggests that the exercise fitness gains produced not only improved memory performance but reduced hippocampal atrophy.  It is still unclear why only some of the participants’ fitness endurance and brain activity improved.  Researchers speculate that perhaps a specific exercise program may be more beneficial to a wider group of participants.

At MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan, we represent the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.  Please contact us to schedule a tour.    

Sources:nytimes.com/2017/03/01/well/move/frequent-brisk-walks-may-aid-those-with-early alzheimers.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fwell&action=click&contentCollection=well&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0170547

 

Safety Tips for Seniors Taking Medications

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Often seniors take multiple medications daily that in some cases have been prescribed by a couple of different doctors for different conditions.  In addition they may also be taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  All of this can lead to problems with drug interactions and side effects that range from mild to severe including death.

In a recent report by the US News & World Report, it cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that suggest each year there are four visits to the ER per 1,000 adults attributed to adverse drug effects.  First published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, statistics find that almost 60 percent of Americans take at “least one prescription drug, and nearly 20 percent are taking more than five prescriptions medicines.”  The study also looked at OTC medications and warns that there is a huge potential for “side effects, drug-drug interactions and negative outcomes.”  It also states that for the elderly, the possibility of dangerous drug interactions is even greater.

One of the most important things that a patient or family member can do to reduce the likelihood of this happening is to communicate with all of your health care providers about the prescription and OTC medications that you take.   It is a good idea, especially if you take more than one medications, to write down the names of the drugs and the amount you take each day and carry it in your wallet.  You can also take a picture of the list of medications with your cell phone so you always have it handy.  Another tip is to fill your prescriptions at the same drug store and to build a relationship with the pharmacist as he or she can help to spot potential problems involving drug interactions.

Annually review the need for each medication with your health care provider and discuss how long you will need to take the drug.  Lastly be sure to check each new prescription container for accuracy as pharmacies sometimes do make mistakes.

MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan represents the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to value, to invest.”  We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting and a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve.   Please schedule a tour to experience firsthand our comfortable, home-like atmosphere.     

 Source:health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-01-13/the-dangers-of-medication-mix-ups-at-home