Caregivers of Older Adults

What is a Geriatrician and Who Needs One?

Posted on Tue, Aug 04, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

Cardiologists. Neurologists. Gastroenterologists. Ophthalmologists. Urologists. As a caregiver of an older adult you are probably struggling to juggle the long list of healthcare providers your loved one is seeing in addition to a primary care physician. But is it time to add one more to the list? Let's take a closer look at the role of geriatricians, and whether one might be a valuable addition to your aging loved one's healthcare team.

A geriatrician is trained to meet his/her specific needs.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Health

The 411 on Sexuality and Seniors

Posted on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 @ 04:24 PM

While many people assume that seniors stop having sex after a certain age, this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, 61 percent of men and 37 percent of women over the age of 60 are sexually active, according to a study by the National Institute on Aging. While the topic may seem awkward, caregivers can play an important role in ensuring that seniors are maintaining safe, healthy sexual relationships. Here's what you need to know.

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Topics: Sexuality & Aging, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Health

The 411 on Glaucoma and Aging Eyes

Posted on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 @ 11:23 AM

The risk of severe eye issues increases significantly after the age of 65, according to a special report on aging and vision loss from the American Foundation for the Blind. Glaucoma, along with age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy, earns a spot among the four leading eye diseases. Let's take a closer look at this common condition, along with what seniors and their caregivers can do to promote optimal vision and quality of life.

About Glaucoma and Aging Eyes

Glaucoma comprises a group of diseases which cause vision loss by damaging the eye's optic nerve. There's no single type of glaucoma, although many forms -- including the most common types, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG) -- involve a problem with the eye's drainage system in which fluid drains too slowly leading to buildup, pressure, and eventual damage to the optic nerve and surrounding parts of the eye. If left untreated, loss of vision can occur.

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Topics: Caregiver Info, Health, Hearing and Vision

Senior Fall Prevention: Help for Caregivers

Posted on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 09:34 AM

A third of all older adults fall every year, but less than half of seniors discuss fall-related concerns with healthcare providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is particularly troubling considering that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors. Read on to learn more about falls and older adults, along with preventative measures caregivers can take to ensure the ongoing health and safety of the seniors in their care.

A Closer Look at Falls and Seniors

Millions of older Americans fall every year. Just how severe is the problem? The CDC determined that in 2013 alone, U.S. emergency rooms treated 2.5 million nonfatal senior falls resulting in 734,000 hospitalizations. Common fall-related injuries include lacerations, hip fractures and head traumas. Unfortunately, these injuries can not only detrimentally impact your aging loved one's mobility and independence, but can also increase the risk of premature death.



In addition to injuries from falls, seniors also suffer from another troubling phenomenon: fear of falling. Even seniors who survive falls with no injury can develop fear of falling, leading to limited activities and loss of strength and flexibility. Unfortunately, this becomes a vicious cycle: the corresponding decrease in physical fitness may actually increase the risk of actual falls.

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Topics: Assistive Devices, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Falls

Osteoporosis and Exercise: What Caregivers Need to Know

Posted on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

Millions of older Americans have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing the disease. While risk factors like gender, age, size, ethnicity, and family history are outside an individual's control, other risk factors for low bone density are lifestyle-related. One of the easiest yet most impactful ways to prevent this debilitating disease? Exercise. Let's take a closer look at the link between exercise and osteoporosis, along with what every caregiver should know about senior bone health.

The Link Between Exercise and Strong Bones

The National Osteoporosis Foundation cites two types of exercise as pivotal to building bone strength and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Fall Prevention

Everything Caregivers for the Elderly Need to Know About Cataracts

Posted on Sat, Jul 11, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

More than half of Americans have had a cataract or cataract surgery by the age of 80, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). However, just because cataracts are common among the elderly doesn't mean seniors have to live with poor vision and declines in quality of life. Here's what seniors and caregivers of seniors need to know to manage cataracts and promote optimal eye health.

Blurred vision? Cataracts may be the cause.

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Topics: Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Health, Hearing and Vision

The 411 on Respite Services for Caregivers

Posted on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 01:12 PM

As many as a third of caregivers not only experience high levels of stress, but also report having less time to spend with friends and loved ones. These factors don't just affect your quality of life, they can also affect your quantity of life: research links chronic caregiver stress with a shortened mortality rate of up to eight years! Unfortunately, many caregivers suffer unnecessarily because they are unaware of programs and services available to help them, including respite care. Let's take a closer look at this valuable service designed to help families cope with the demands of caregiving.

What is Respite Care?

Simply put, respite care offers temporary relief for caregivers. Available for a few hours on a one time-basis or for regular extended sessions -- even over night -- respite care offers caregivers the important opportunity to take a break and tend to their own needs, as well as the needs of other family members.

Respite care serves a very different need than hospice. While hospice is focused on a dying person's needs, respite directly serves caregivers.

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Topics: Caregiver Info

Dementia Assessment Tool: The SLUMS Examination

Posted on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

 

There is no single, definitive test to determine whether an individual is suffering from dementia. Rather, the healthcare team considers all potential causes while conducting a comprehensive assessment of the patient. Doctors often use the SLUMS Examination in order to determine whether further testing might be necessary. Let's take a closer look at this widely used, clinician administered diagnostic tool.

All About the SLUMS Exam

Created by the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Saint Louis University, the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS) is frequently used by professionals who suspect that a patient may have Alzheimer's disease, an alternate form of dementia, or mild neurocognitive impairment. In addition to helping physicians determine whether dementia onset may be imminent, the SLUMS Exam also helps providers rule out the diagnosis of dementia.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Dementia

Help for Caregivers: Understanding Sundowner's Syndrome

Posted on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 02:17 PM

If your caregiving duties become extra challenging in the late afternoon, you're not alone. In fact, many people with dementia and Alzheimer's experience dramatic changes in behavior during this time of day resulting in increased demands upon caregivers. The phenomenon -- thought to be brought on by fading light -- is so common that it's earned its own name: sundowning. Let's take a closer look at sundowner's syndrome, as well as tips and tricks for managing the condition.

About Sundowning

Scientists aren't sure why sundowning happens, but believe that the internal body clocks of people with dementia may be unable to accept waking and sleeping signals. Other triggers may include fatigue, hunger or thirst, depression, pain or boredom.

People who are sundowning may exhibit a number of difficult behaviors, including anxiety, confusion, ignoring directions, pacing, wandering, and aggression. They may also struggle with separating dreams from reality.

While there is limited data about sundown syndrome, research suggests that as many as 25 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease may have sundown syndrome, which is considered to be the second most prevalent type of disruptive behavior among institutionalized dementia patients. Meanwhile, research published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society indicates that as many as 66 percent of people living at home may exhibit sundowning.

Tips for Managing Sundowning

Maintaining a routine can be an effective part of managing sundowning. From bedtime and waking to meals and activities, establishing and sticking to a schedule is a helpful technique. Arranging activities, limiting sugar and caffeine intake in the afternoon, and cutting out daytime naps can further minimize symptoms.

If impending darkness seems to exacerbate your aging loved one's symptoms, try using a nightlight. Additionally, limiting background noise and avoiding stimulating activities -- including technology, such as television and computer use -- can also help reduce agitation. Meanwhile, gentle music or relaxing nature sounds can help promote a sense of comfort.

Being in an unfamiliar location can lead to worsening symptoms, so bring along familiar comfort items if you are traveling -- such as a cherished photograph or favorite blanket.

Additionally, daytime activities can help promote more restful evenings. 

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Dementia

Meditation Offers Critical Caregiver Support

Posted on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Caregiver stress can become a chronic, long-term health challenge without proper intervention. While eating right, exercising, carving out "me time," and relying on a support network all offer valuable ways to counter caregiver burnout, a growing body of research points to another way to keep stress at bay: meditation. Let's take a closer look at meditation, along with its many benefits for caregivers.

About Meditation

Practiced by humans for thousands of years, meditation is a simple way to "restore your calm and inner peace," according to the Mayo Clinic. While the practice originated for spiritual purpose, it has since evolved into a common relaxation technique.

There are many different types of meditation, although all have the same goal: to promote inner peace. Popular meditation techniques include visualization (AKA guided meditation), mantra meditation, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, transcendental meditation, and mindfulness meditation. The latter, in particular, has been linked with beneficial outcomes for caregivers.

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Topics: Caregiver Info

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