Tag Archives: Elderly

Diabetes Alert Day is Tuesday, March 28

You Better Watch Out

According to the book “Fast Food Nation”, 96% of American schoolchildren can identify Ronald McDonald. The only other fictional character which they were able to recognize more – was Santa Claus. Just let those facts sink in. Then ask yourself, ‘What exactly does that say about our nation?’

Today in the United States more than two-thirds of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. The numbers are staggering. Diabetes is a common factor in the majority of those numbers. In fact, the two main causes of diabetes are obesity and lack of exercise. Diabetes has become a serious epidemic in our country. It affects more than 29 million Americans or about 9% of the U.S. population. An estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes and 90% of those don’t even know they have it. Probably the most alarming fact is diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Every year on the fourth Tuesday in March, The American Diabetes Association observes Diabetes Alert Day. It is a one-day, wake-up-call to inform Americans how serious and important diabetes is, as well as to alert everyone to the increasing numbers of people who are affected by this disease and how severe the outcome can be when left undiagnosed and untreated. This day encourages all to take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test; a quick and easy test you can take online in minutes. This alert day also encourages anyone and everyone to participate in work friendly activities that teach you how you can reverse the effects of diabetes and live a healthier and longer life.

There are two types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is the more severe form and is referred by different names like insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes-juvenile diabetes because it usually occurs in children and teenagers. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin which then causes the body’s immune system to attack its own body, and in this case, a part of the pancreas. Scientists do not know why, but they do know the immune system mistakenly recognizes the insulin producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, so it destroys them. It is this characteristic that classifies type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disease.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all diagnosed cases and has several causes, but lifestyle and genetics are the most common. A combination of these can cause insulin resistance when your body doesn’t use insulin well. Insulin resistance is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is also hereditary, which doesn’t guaranty you diabetes if your parent or parents have it, but it does mean you have a greater chance of getting it. Researchers have not been able to pin point which genes carry the risk, but the medical community has been researching certain genetic mutations that lead to a risk of type 2.

Symptoms of diabetes include: extreme increase in thirst, recurrent urination, unexplained weight loss, an increase in hunger, and tingling in your hands or feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor who can run a variety of tests, such as a fasting or a normal plasma glucose test.

To help reduce your risk of getting diabetes, tips include exercising regularly, eating a balanced and healthy diet, limiting processed foods in your diet, managing your weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and not smoking.

As Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation wrote, “Fast food is popular because it’s convenient, it’s cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu.”

The facts don’t lie. Ignoring them can be deadly. On March 28 take part in Diabetes Alert Day. Be aware. Be active. Be involved. It is time that we make healthier life choices for ourselves and for our children. It’s okay that Santa Claus is at the top of the list of fictional characters’ children recognize. Let’s change who number two is. Children don’t make choices where they eat, parents do.

 

 

 

 

Love You Forever

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When the author of the ever-popular book, “Love You Forever” first wrote those famous words: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be” he didn’t write them, he actually sang them. There is a much darker side to this popular children’s book, the actual story behind the famous four lines. The author, Robert Munsch, sang those words inside his head, speaking them not even out loud for his wife to hear. He did this after his wife gave birth to their stillborn baby, the second stillborn they would have to mourn. After the loss of their second child the doctors informed them they would never be able to conceive a child on their own. The couple went on to adopt three children, but the loss of his first two babies as well as the little song he made up to sing inside his head silently, “my way of crying” stayed with him over the years, eventually becoming the blockbuster book published in 1986 . By 2001 it was listed as No. 4 on Publishers Weekly’s list of best-selling children’s books.

The parents, who would have read that book to their babies, back in 1986, would be around 60 years old. Certainly not an age most would think need care, but the idea that we as children should take care of our elderly parents seems simpatico with that book’s theme. It’s a common theme throughout our lives, that we will always take care of what is ours. A nice thought, a solid ideal, but one that can fall short when the actual task comes to hand.

As our parents age and become elderly, where they need our assistance, we often find ourselves in a position we did not plan for or give much thought to. Often like making out a will, if we don’t do it, then won’t that mean we won’t die? Why take on worry when it’s not at our door? But the reality of this situation is our parents are aging and living longer lives and we are marrying later in life and starting our families later, meaning we have our own children still in the home, still to be raised by us as we were by our own parents. Do you see where we are coming in this crossroads of life we didn’t want to ‘look’ at for fear it would happen?

We as adult children of parents, who are aging, believe our parents would want to be cared for by us, possibly live with us when that time came when they needed assistance. But the truth is, they all don’t want to, in fact – a majority of them do not want to. Less than a third (31%) of those surveyed for a Gallup & Robinson research project on aging and quality of life said they would live with a younger family member when they could no longer live on their own. We are raised by our parents to be independent, to build our own lives, hopefully close by, but on our own all the same. Our parents drilled that into us because they also love their independence. The assumption that they want to be living with us when they are elderly or cared for – primarily by us – is not true. Remember when you came home after college, flopped into their basement and thought your Mom was going to continue to cook your favorite meals and do your laundry? Do you remember how well that went over? You were shocked to find your Mom not home and your Dad had turned the basement into his ‘big game room’ filled with deer heads and stuffed turkey.  You were ushered to the door and it was soundly locked. The keyless entry on the garage was changed and it no longer bore your birthdate. They are independent. They are active, viable, and busy on their own. They love you, they love your children, but they raised you with the understanding the world had opportunities galore for you to thrive and survive. They did not, nor do not, want to live in your home to see what a bad job they did raising you.
Arthur homeThankfully Eberhardt Village and Arthur Home have paid attention and have kept up on what the elderly of this new generation are looking for. Eberhardt Village offers many amenities for their active seniors including; card club, live music, transportation to scheduled outings, a Main Street Eatery and so much more. Located on sight is a Beauty & Barber Shop, a full laundry facility with complimentary washers and dryers and even a weekly housekeeping service. If the needs are greater they have Arthur Home, a full scale nursing home for both long and short term skilled care. Plus, they offer rehabilitation services for those who just need time to mend and get back on their feet. At Arthur Home they know that not everyone has the same wants or likes for their living arrangements so they offer two different room styles, many just remodeled, which fit the many needs of their seniors. Wireless internet, built-in dressers, call lights and so much more.

By offering continuum care with options that include completely independent living, assisted living, and even nursing home-level care, Arthur Home and Eberhardt Village meet the needs of today’s senior. Enabling them to make their new home –  their last home, which has been a reoccurring ‘MUST’ among elderly who are moved around from one place to the next. They want their own home. And with this new era, long  gone are the days of ‘Old Folks Homes’, replaced by the up to date living communities that are centered on meeting the needs of viable seniors who like yoga, who play euchre on their computer and enjoy going on trips to shop. They like to spend their money, not save it for you. They made you independent for a reason. And the resources for you to earn a good life and make a good savings of your own are more abundant than ever before.

If you remember the book “Love You Forever” you must then also remember the very end of the story. The son, grown now, went to his mother’s home to hold her and rock her. He didn’t go down the stairs to the den that was converted into a bedroom. Perhaps the author was telling us something?

 

 

 

Fighting the Winter Blues

As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, it’s common to feel the winter blues.  In fact, nearly one in four adults experience different degrees of depression in the winter due to the lack of sunshine and limited activities. However, for the majority of us, there are several tactics we can do to help stay upbeat and positive this winter.

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Additional Quality Time

If you’re starting to feel a little down this winter, spend additional quality time with friends and loved ones. Most people tend to isolate from others when their mood goes south, so it’s important to reach out to friends and family members for group support.  It can be as easy as spending time with them listening to music, playing cards, or even flipping through old photo albums.  A little additional time spent with others can go a long way to improve a person’s well-being.  If you don’t live within driving distance to your family members, consider setting up a video call.  A face-to-face video chat can help communicate with loved ones and improve your mood through uplifting conversations.

Daily Diet

Since we receive most of our vitamin D from the sun, choosing a daily diet rich in vitamins can go a long way in fighting the winter blues.  Vitamin D rich foods include salmon, eggs, tuna, milk, yogurt, sardines and fortified cereals.  Winter is also a great time to test out mood boosting soups and stews.  Key ingredients may include squash as it is a good source of magnesium and potassium, as well as eggplant, which is full of fiber, copper, vitamin B1 and manganese. Sweet potatoes is also a hearty winter food packed with vitamin b6, biotin, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Here’s a list of recipes for delicious dinners that include these key mood boosting ingredients.

Light Lamp

Researchers believe that sitting in front of a fluorescent light lamp, which mimics outdoor light, can cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Results show that this technique can start to improve depression symptoms within just a few days. Seniors should sit in front of the light for about 20 to 30 minutes within the first hour of waking up in the morning. They’re designed to be safe and effective and with prices starting at $39.00, light lamps are affordable.

While the winter months can be difficult at any age, all it takes is a little patience and some small adjustments in your daily routine to help beat the winter blues.  It’s important to remember that winter doesn’t last forever. Try to envision the spring and sunshine at the end of the blustery tunnel.

Preparing for Your Immunizations

By Stephanie Thompson RN, Eberhardt Village Community Nurse

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August is national immunization awareness month. There has been a lot of talk in the media about children not getting immunizations, but the need for immunizations does not end with childhood. Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized or even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Some of these include whooping cough, influenza, certain bacterial infections, hepatitis A & B, shingles and even some cancers.

For instance, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that though the shingles vaccine is recommended for all adults over age 60, only an estimated 15.8% of that population received it. Furthermore, less than 1/3 of females 19-26 years have received the HPV vaccine which prevents infection with the human papillomavirus, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

There are many factors why so few adults are receiving the immunizations thy need to maintain good health. One of the simplest reasons is that many people don’t realize the need for adults to receive vaccines. It has been reported that 40% of adults believe they do not need vaccines because they were vaccinated as a child.

ImmunizationProtection from some childhood immunizations wears off over time, leaving you vulnerable to disease. There has been a rise in the adult cases of whooping cough for example. Adults are now recommended to get one booster of Tdap whooping cough vaccine.

Some other reasons for adults not being immunized are gaps in insurance coverage, inability to pay for vaccines if not covered by insurance and limitations to access to care.

Many adults may be recommended for certain vaccines due to age, illnesses, hobbies or jobs. Some adults might be at higher risk of serious complications from vaccine preventable diseases.

Adult immunization does not only protect the person receiving but loved ones and those in the community as well. Vaccines can be obtained at your healthcare provider, pharmacies, work places, and health departments.

 

 

Understanding and Preventing Falls

By Stephanie Thompson, R.N.

June is National safety awareness month. The safety topic we are going to discuss is falls.

Falls are common and oftenFall1a devastating problem among older people, causing morbidity, mortality and can cause premature nursing home admissions. Some of the identifiable risks that are associated with falls are weakness, unsteady gait, confusion, and certain medications. Unintentional injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in older adults.   Identifying at-risk patients is the most important part of management.

To understand falls, one must understand the prerequisites for a normal gait. Among these are neural networks in the brain stem, musculoskeletal structures with regulated muscle tone, and proper processing of sensory information. Effective coordination of all of these components, along with adequate cognition and concentration is needed to prevent fall and maintain gait.

It is not surprising that many of these functions show at least some decline with aging and increase the risk of falls. Many changes occur with aging , such as decrease in step length and decrease in lower limb strength. Accumulating medical problems and side effects of medications to treat those problems also put one at a higher fall risk.

Medications are a well established risk factor for falls. It is important to consider the reason for taking a medication before deciding to stop it for the purpose of fall prevention because the condition the drug is used to treat might itself be a risk factor for falling. Each medication should be examined individually.

Some medication classes that have been associated with an increase risk of falls include:

  • Antihypertensive agents
  • Sedatives and hypnotics
  • Neuroleptics and antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Various interventions have been shown to decrease the risk and rate of falls. Some of these are:

  • Vitamin D- this supplement has been shown if given in doses of 800IU or more to decrease falls
  • Exercise-programs focusing especially on balance exercises have been shown to decrease falls
  • Medications-gradual reduction of psychotropic medication reduces the rate of falls. This should be done carefully and your physician should be consulted.
  • Vision-Visual impairment is one important risk factor. Annual eye exams and cataract removal have reduced falls
  • Environment- avoiding clutter, wearing foot wear that fits correctly, using assistive devices as needed, uneven surfaces are also good interventions for reducing falls