Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Senior Care Chapel Hill and Durham: Don't Let Age be an Excuse - 86 yr old Grandma Schools us ALL!

By Helen Antipov
It is always great to find those that are the exception to wake us up out of stereotypes and preconceived ideas. This 86 year old has kept up her fitness and flexibility that would put most of those one quarter of her age or more to shame.

Click here for the video...

However if you have aging family around you that need some assistance, we are here to help.
At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Cold Weather Falls are Preventable

By Helen Antipov

The National Institutes of Health offers a sobering statistic related to falls among seniors: 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room each year due to fall-related injuries. A variety of studies have shown a high correlation between cold weather and an increase in falls among older adults, too. The chances for falls in colder weather increases significantly after age 65, and dramatically for seniors 75 years and older.  At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we can provide the senior care and elder care to greatly reduce the chance of a fall and also provide needed care if a fall occurs.
Unfortunately, other statistics about seniors and fall-related injuries are alarming as well. Falls are the leading cause of injury at home among Americans 65 years and older. According to the National Safety Council, each week falling seriously injures 300,000 Americans over age 65. Twenty to 30 percent of these falls lead to permanent disability. The news can even be worse: falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among those age 75 and older. 
Once cold weather comes, seniors should be aware of their increased risk for falls. Snow and ice is a danger for anyone who ventures outdoors in winter, but it is especially unsafe for older adults for a variety of reasons:
  • As seniors age, sensation in their feet may decline, especially if they have arthritis, diabetes, poor circulation, or complications from a stroke. A decrease in sensation can affect proper balance. For this reason, venturing outdoors in cold weather can cause an added risk for them.
  • Seniors are more likely to be on multiple medications, which can sometimes cause side affects that make falling easier such as mild dementia or dizziness.
  • Many seniors walk with an unsteady gait compared to when they were younger. Also, if seniors don’t practice good exercise habits, muscles can lose strength and elasticity, thereby leaving older adults more susceptible to falls.
Take good care year round to prevent falls in winter
Those seniors who work hard to maintain and even increase their flexibility, strength, balance and endurance are less likely to fall. Occupational therapists recommend routine exercise year round so senior adults stay healthy. Even something as simple as a healthy diet can reduce your chance of falling year round—and especially—in wintertime. 
Another important healthy habit that can help prevent falls is getting routine eye exams. If you are wearing the wrong prescription eyewear, your chance of falling is much greater. Taking care of your eyes as you get older can help catch problems early such as glaucoma or cataracts. Since these and similar conditions get gradually worse, it’s easy to miss how serious they have become over time.
Finally maintaining good relationships with your physician and pharmacist are important for year round health so side affects from medication that could lead to falls are monitored and prevented. Keep in mind that cold and flu remedies often contain ingredients that make some people drowsy.
Stick to common sense adages
Perhaps the adage, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is so popular because it’s true. The best time to get prepared for winter is long before it arrives. Senior care experts recommend these preventive safety tips to prevent falls:
Maintain your exercise habits as the weather starts getting colder. It’s hard to stay motivated to exercise when you’re homebound. But lots of indoor exercises can keep you fit when you can’t venture out. Stand at a counter and do knee-bends, or practice balancing on one leg (always near something you can grab if necessary). March in place, or stand up from a couch, sit down and stand again to help keep legs strong. Consult with a doctor or exercise specialist to help you develop a more complete indoor exercise program.
If you feel fatigued stay at home. Getting out can help cure the winter blues, but know and don’t push your limits. Going out when you’re not at your best is putting yourself at risk for a dangerous fall. Consider utilizing delivery services from pharmacies or grocery stores.
Have a safety plan. Carry a cell phone or other alert device so you can get help quickly in the event of a fall. Don’t use assistive devices without practicing at home. Rely on others. Let them know where you are, and ask yourself, “If I fell here, what would I do?” This will remove some of the panic that might set in if you do fall. Make sure outdoor light bulbs are working before winter starts. Consider adding some additional light sources outside your home. Hire someone ahead of time to shovel snow and salt your sidewalks.
Wear the right clothing. You might be used to getting dressed up for church and other favorite activities, but in the winter, stick to rubber-soled shoes with a non-skid surface. Bundle up but make sure you can move easily and see in all directions. Do some light stretching before you venture out; it will make you physically more able to prevent a fall.
Don’t assume anything. Blacktop may look just wet, but cold weather causes black ice to form fast. Don’t be tempted to think you can make a quick trip to the mailbox in your indoor shoes. Sometimes grassy areas can be less slick than road surfaces. 
Look for products that could keep you safe. You can find ideas by visiting websites, at orthopedic stores and through your visiting nurse or physician. Shoe chains are an example. These products fit on the bottom of shoes, adding traction for walking outdoors in snow and ice.
Unfortunately some studies indicate that falls among seniors are on the rise. Keeping all these tips and information in mind can help prevent you from being among those senior adults who sustain an injury by falling in winter.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through if a fall happens.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.
“Cold Weather Tips for Seniors,” by Chase Patton, an Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens news article, www.aasc.org. 
“Monday Top Tips: Stay Safe this Holiday Season; Tips to Prevent Falls in Winter Weather, by Rupali Joshi for Hospital for Special Surgery, www.hss.edu. 
“Falls Prevention: A practical guide for preventing falls,” by the editors of the Cornwall Council, www.cornwall.gov.uk. 
“4 Simple Steps to Prevent Falling: Improve Your Body Balance with Exercise,” About.com Senior Living
“Trauma and Falls in the Elderly,” by Miriam T. Ashkenasy, M.D. and Todd C. Rothenhaus, M.D., for the Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, www.emed.theclinics.com. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Advice for Seniors - Get a Flu Shot

By Helen Antipov
As with any medical treatment and prevention, your doctor is the only one who should advise you or your loved one to obtain a flu shot. However, information from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicate the best way to prevent the flu and stop it from spreading is a flu shot, especially for senior adults. This is because the flu can be especially dangerous to seniors above the age of 65.

What is influenza and why is it more dangerous for seniors?
Influenza, also know as the flu, is caused by a virus, also commonly known as a germ. More specifically, influenza is a respiratory infection. While most people recover in 1-2 weeks from the flu, for others influenza develops into a more serious lung infection. This type of flu complication can land one in the hospital, and also lead to Pneumonia, Bronchitis and other serious infections. At worst, the flu can cause death, and is the fourth leading cause of death among seniors 65 and older.
The specific numbers are scary: More than 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older, the CDC reports on cdc.gov. About 90 percent of deaths that occur from influenza happen to seniors.

The flu is a greater concern for the elderly because, as we get older, our immune system becomes weaker. This makes it easier for seniors to not only get the flu, but to fight off complications that might develop from it.

What is a flu shot and when should I get it?
As with any vaccine, a flu shot contains a weakened or killed part of the germ that causes the illness. Because this germ is so weak, it helps your body develop antibodies, which are substances that boost your immune systems. According to the CDC, once you develop antibodies against the flu, cells that have ‘learned’ to fight the virus remain ready to combat it when you are exposed, or come down with the flu.

Because it takes a bit of time before your body is fully ready to fight off the flu virus, most medical experts recommend you get a flu shot in November. In general the ‘flu season’ begins in December and can last until the spring. If you wait until midst of flu season to get a shot, these antibodies won’t have enough time to develop immunity from the flu.

Many pharmacies, such as CVS, are now offering the flu shot. Even though these flu shots must be administered by qualified professionals, talk to you doctor first to let them know you plan to get vaccination and where. According to the National Institution on Aging, Medicare will pay for a flu shot.

Are caregivers more susceptible to the flu?
Although younger adults are more likely to successfully fight off the flu, if you are caring for a loved one, you might be exposed to the flu before your loved one shows symptoms.

The flu virus is contagious and can spread to someone only six feet away. An article written by Anthony Cirillo for About.com’s Assisted Living page states one can infect another person one day before symptoms begin, and up to five to seven days after. Some studies show children may pass the virus to others for a longer duration.

The flu typically spreads when someone sneezes, coughs or talks. It can also be spread when someone touches a surface, then their own mouth, nose or eyes.

Because the flu is so easily spread, caregivers should take extra precautions when near a loved one who has the flu. They should also take precautions to avoid getting the flu themselves because a senior in their care is more susceptible to the virus.

In addition to a vaccine, how do I prevent the flu?
Everyday precautions are you or your loved one’s best defense against flu. Some basic ways to prevent the virus is to wash your hands carefully and often; avoid touching your eyes; and stay inside and away from others if you don’t feel well.

Your doctor may prescribe anti-viral drugs for you or your loved that can be beneficial within 48 hours of the onset of the flu. However, some physicians and other medical professionals advise against the elderly using these prescriptions.

There is a fair amount of evidence that a healthy diet and some supplements can prevent the flu and lessen its severity. According to Simin N. Meydani, Ph.d, a researcher at Tufts University, studies conducted in nursing homes indicated that zinc plays a role in fighting the flu. In nearly 600 nursing facilities, the residents who had normal zinc concentration were less susceptible to the flu, and had a shorter duration of it than those with low zinc levels.

How do I know if I should call my doctor about the flu?
The common symptoms of the minor flu are: muscle aches, dry cough, sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose.

If you suspect your loved one’s symptoms have grown worse over one or two days, always call the doctor. Here are some signs that indicate the flu has reached a severity that requires hospitalization or additional treatment:
  •   shaking chills
  •   pain in the chest or abdomen, or shortness of breath
  •   confusion and abrupt dizziness
  •   high-fever or sweating (how high of a temp here?)
  •   diarrhea
  •   coughing up phlegm that is yellow, green or white.
At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through in this transition.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

The editors of the National Institute on Aging’s website: www.nia.nih.gov
The editors of www.flu.gov
Consumer Reports News, ‘Should I take Tamiflu to treat the flu? January, 2013
‘Adequate Zinc Levels Help Quell Pneumonia in Elderly,’ by Tufts University’s Simin N. Meydani, Ph.D, via Med Page Today.
The editors of WebMD
‘What You Should Know and Do this Flu Season if You are 65 Years and Older,’ by the editors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via www.cdc.gov

Friday, November 1, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Weight Struggles Common for Senior Adult

By Helen Antipov
When it comes to weight and maintaining one’s health as we age, we’ve heard it countless times—eat less and exercise more. But most of the specific information we hear is aimed at younger adults.
In dealing with senior care and elder care in Chapel Hill and Durham, the basics of managing weight still apply to senior adults, they tend to gain weight for different reasons and in different ways. And, because many chronic illnesses develop in old age, it can be especially important to avoid being overweight—and especially obese—as we approach the senior years. At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we can help you with a meal plan and even help keep healthy foods available to help battle this growing concern of senior nutrition.

Treating and preventing obesity in children routinely gains press attention. But some of the studies also show a significant number of senior adults are overweight, including many who are obese. According to a study conducted by the Journal of American Medicine in 2010, about 70 percent of adults over the age of 60 are overweight or obese. This condition puts them at high risk for developing diabetes and many other diseases.

What causes senior adults to get overweight or obese?
As muscle mass decreases over time, fat mass increases. Studies show that high percentage of fat mass in older adults increases the risks of disability, mobility limitations and decreased physical function.

Many seniors simply continue to eat the same amount of food as they did when they were younger even though they’re less active. That makes it easy for older adults to gain weight without changing anything else.

Hormonal changes that occur as we age contribute to weight management. For example, we develop a resistance to leptin, a protein hormone that regulates energy intake and expenditure. It’s also believed that aging plays a role in reduced responsiveness to thyroid hormone. These hormonal changes in senior adults can contribute to an increase in fat mass.

A change in metabolism in older adults contributes to quicker weight gain and slower weight loss. As we age, our digestive systems work less efficiently, which means less energy from food is burned off as calories while more is stored as fat.

According to a journal article by Ann Mabe Newman, DSN, APRN, CNE published by the American Nursing Association, there are genetic factors that play a role in senior adult obesity. It’s believed certain genotypes produce a different sensitivity to changes in body fat after over-eating.

According to the same journal article, our environment contributes to the chances of putting on weight as we age. Some seniors have less access to exercise and fitness centers, especially those who can offer specialized weight and physical activity programs. Seniors need safe places to walk and bike, and they aren’t always readily available.

One of the biggest lifestyle factors that lead to obesity in seniors is our society’s growing habit of eating out. Studies show that when we eat out, we consume both more food and more food higher in fat that when we cook our meals at home.

Why is it more dangerous for seniors to be overweight or obese?
According to the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, while weight-related chronic diseases lead to high rates of mortality in people of all ages, the risk of dying from weight-related disease increases as people age. Additionally, it’s proven that older adults who struggle with obesity also have higher rates of depression, especially those aged 60-74.

The lungs of obese patients decrease in size, making it easier to develop respiratory problems. Because, as we grow older, we naturally lose about 20 percent of our skin’s dermal thickness, older adults who are overweight and obese can develop pressure sores much more easily.

Being overweight or obese as a senior adult can cause and/or exacerbate serious conditions such as type-two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

For all these reasons, some studies show over-weight and obese senior adults are more likely to need nursing home care.

What should seniors do to avoid obesity?
  • The facts about seniors with obesity are scary. But, unlike many signs of getting older like wrinkles and greying hair, avoiding obesity is controllable. Even though genetics play a role in our weight and our ability to lose it, there are a variety of things older adults can do to maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you or your loved one is struggling with weight as they get older, you should focus on not only modifications to eating and exercise, but also developing community support with others committed to maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Routine physical activity, even in the very old or frail elderly is shown to help avoid obesity and its related chronic illnesses. Older adults who struggle with weight should focus on physical activity designed to preserve muscle and bone mass. Both the American Society for Nutrition and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity recommend routine physical activity that includes stretching, aerobics and strengthening exercises.
  • Talk with your doctor about the effects of your prescription drugs on weight management, and get advice on the best way to address it.
  • Believe it or not, getting enough sleep helps you burn more calories. Because of certain hormone changes that occur when you don’t get enough sleep, you crave more food but feel less full. A lack of sleep also contributes to sleep-deprivation, and that leads to craving high-energy foods, which are often sweet or salty.
  • Protein leads to healthy muscle development, but if certain sources of protein, such as meat, are harder to eat, focus on other, softer sources of protein like yogurt or eggs.
  • Consult a dietician or your doctor before losing weight. For a number of reasons, diets that are recommended for younger adults can be dangerous and counter-productive in older adults. Don’t rely on weight-management tips you used when you were younger unless your doctor says it’s OK.
  • If long exercise sessions are too much, adjust your physical fitness activity to short intervals throughout the day. For example, you can gain as much physical benefit from three 10-minute exercise sessions than one for a total of 30 minutes.
At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through in this transition.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data Brief Number 106, published September 2012
“How much physical activity do older adults need?” published by the Centers for Disease Control and Management, www.cdc.gov, September 2013.
“Older Adults and Obesity—is Dieting the Answer?” by Lindsey Getz for Today’s Dietician, Volume 15, No. 8, page 44.
“Weight Loss After 40: Why it’s So Hard—and What Works,” by Melanie Haiken, Senior Editor, Caring.com.
“Obesity in Older Adults,” by Ann Mabe Newman, DSN, APRN, CNF for The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Volume 14, No. 1, Manuscript 3.
“How to Prevent Obesity,” by the editors of www.StanfordHospital.org on behalf of Stanford Hospital & Clinics