When Is International Day of Older Persons? October 1, 2014

life-over-60-infographicOctober 1st is a UN backed holiday for the ‘International Day of Older Persons’,  I thought it was a good idea to share some content specifically celebrating the life of the older person.

Please see this info-graphic that covers the topic of life after 60. A person’s life can take on new meaning at this stage in life because people have more free time.

A big thanks to Helen over at http://www.homecareplus.ie/dementia-care for the great and positive aging information.

Guest Post: Information About Age Related Hearing Loss

According to The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), estimates put the US population of hard of hearing people at close to 48 million. Within this group, the biggest are comprise are those over 65, where the likely cause of hearing loss is directly linked to changes due to aging in the body. For this reason, it is described as ‘age related hearing loss’. In this article we will describe how age related hearing loss occurs, its typical symptoms and ways to manage it.

The Hearing

inner-earThe cochlea, one of the main structures of the human inner ear, contains small structures called hair cells. (They have nothing to do with hair, but are so called as they have hair like structures protruding from their tops when viewed under a microscope). Hair cells are found in great numbers within the cochlea; and they are help to transfer information contained within incoming sound to the brain for interpretation. As the body ages, as early as ones forties, the structure and functioning of hair cells can deteriorate. As more and more hair cells are affected, the effects on hearing are more and more noticeable. Hair cells can also be damaged due to prolonged exposure to harmful noise levels; which is a type of hearing loss called ‘noise induced hearing loss’. The body is unable to regrow or repair the hair cells, meaning in that any resultant hearing loss is permanent in there is currently no medical cure.

The Symptoms

Because the rate of hair cell deterioration varies across individuals, not everyone experiences all the common symptoms. Generally speaking, individuals first start to notice that they find it difficult to understand people when they’re in a noisy place. Other symptoms include:

  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • Feeling that people often mumble
  • Certain sounds seeming overly loud
  • Problems telling apart certain sounds such as “s” or “th”
  • More difficulty understanding people with higher-pitched voices
  • Ringing in the ears

The Risk

It is important to treat hearing loss, beyond the obvious effects it has on quality of life. In recent years several studies have linked the risk of unmanaged hearing loss to the progression of dementia. The studies all discuss the negative impact that social isolation has on an individual’s cognitive ability. This social isolation is very commonly experienced by older people with hearing loss. Additionally, they point out the additional stress that the brain is under when hearing loss is left unmanaged.

Management Options

hearing-test-resultAny management plan for hearing loss should begin by having a hearing test. These are available and in many cases for free, on the high street at any reputable hearing center. An individual’s hearing levels are measured and compared against normal hearing. If hearing loss is present, the audiologist will further investigate the cause(s). Management of hearing loss aims to reduce the impact on day-to-day activity. It will include the following:

Self-Help – Tell people you have hearing loss so they are more aware of why you may ask for repetition. You may also find it useful to sit closer to the speaker or sound source.

Hearing Aids – These devices provide additional amplification to the ear. They aim to compensate for the lost functioning of the hair cells and make the most of residual hearing ability. These days, hearing aids use mostly digital sound processing and are fitted either behind the ear or inside the ear canal. You may also come across amplified phones, mobiles, alarms, and many more useful devices that aim to amplify one specific sound source.

If you or someone you care for experience signs of hearing loss, you should discuss it with your doctor or book a hearing test.

Article by Joan McKechnie, BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology. Joan works for Hampshire based HearingDirect.com. Joan is HCPC Registered (Health Care Professions Council in the UK).

Lighting Safety Tips For Seniors

senior lighting issuesAs the nights get darker faster and the mornings stay dark longer, lighting is key for your senior’s safety. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 Check light levels for daytime and nighttime vision to be sure they are more than adequate in work areas, hallways, frequently used rooms, and pathways outside the home.

 Illuminate edges of stairs.

 Install night lights throughout the home to light the way.

 Install senior light switches. These detect movement and will turn on the lights automatically when you enter a room. The lights also turn off automatically when there is no one in the room.

 Install a remote. This is a device held in your hand that controls a light that is plugged into a receiver that is plugged into a standard outlet.

 Install outdoor security sensor lights for added security.

 Even levels of light throughout the house make it easier for eyes to adapt moving from one area to another. Illuminating the ceiling and the tops of the walls helps the light reflect around the room without glare.

 Use task lights to see more clearly while reading, writing, cooking, and personal care.

Caregiver Tips:

 Seniors can tend to accept a lower level of lighting because they assume that poor eyesight is part of aging. They don’t realize that it is very likely just a lighting issue.

Experiment with your seniors lighting to see if they have improved vision and safety.

Six Common Aging and Eating Issues

Senior Eating IssuesHealthy eating can start to become a serious challenge as we age. Often eating problems are signs of underlying health concerns, some can become very serious. It is important that older adults learn news ways to incorporate healthy eating. Below, we address a few common eating issues that face older adults focusing on helping them get complete nutrition.

Issue One: Chewing food

If you have difficulties chewing you may have trouble eating fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.

What to do: Try different types of the same food

Instead of:
Try:
Fresh fruit
Fruit juices; soft canned fruits, like applesauce, peaches and pears
Raw vegetables
Vegetable juices; creamed and mashed cooked vegetables
Meat
Ground meat; other high- protein foods, like eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt; and foods made with milk, like pudding and cream soups
Sliced bread
Cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding, and soft cookies

Issue Two: Upset stomach

Stomach problems, like too much gas, may make you stay away from specific foods that you love because you think they are causing the problem. You could be missing out on important nutrients, like vitamins, calcium, fiber and protein.

What to do: Try eating the food in another dish.

Instead of:
Try:
Milk
Milk foods that may not bother you, like cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cheese
Vegetables like cabbage and broccoli
Other vegetables, like green beans, carrots and potatoes; vegetable juices
Fresh fruit
Fruit juices; soft canned fruits

Note: Be sure to visit your doctor about any stomach problems.

Issue Three: Difficulty Shopping For Themselves

Shopping may have become difficult if you no longer can drive or find it very painful to stand for extende periods of time.

What to do: Have someone help you

  • Ask your local Grocery store to bring food directly to your home. Some stores will deliver for free. However, sometimes there is a small charge that may be worth it for your senior.
  • Let your church or synagogue know you need help and they can request a volunteer who can bring food to you. Or sign up for help with a local senior center.
  • Request that a family member or neighbor do your shopping for you when they go shopping. Or pay someone to shop for you. Some companies let you hire home health aid workers for a few hours a week. These workers may shop for you and run other errands. Look for these companies in the Yellow Pages of the phone book under “Home Health Services.”

Issue Four: They can’t cook for themselves anymore

It is difficult to hold cooking utensils, pots and pans due to arthritis related pain.

What to do: Cook food differently

  • Use a microwave oven to cook healthy TV dinners, frozen foods, and packaged foods made by the grocery store.
  • Take part in group meal plans offered through senior citizen programs. Or, have meals brought to your home.
  • Move to a place where someone else will cook, like a family member’s home or a home for senior citizens.
  • To find out about senior citizen group meals and home-delivered meals, call (1-800) 677- 1116. These meals cost little or no money.

Issue Five: Loss of appetite

Older people who have lived alone sometimes feel very isolated at mealtimes. Loneliness can make you lose your appetite and making eating sad.  Or they may not feel like making meals for themselves, as it is too much work for one person.

Maybe food has lost its flavor or tastes bad now. This could be caused by medicines they are taking.

What to do: Eat with others

  • Schedule time to eat with family and friends.
  • Take part in group meal programs, offered through senior citizen programs. Most of these programs are offered with someone visiting your home while they eat.
  • Ask your doctor if your medicines could be causing appetite or taste problems. If so, ask about changing medicines.
  • Increase the flavor of food by adding spices and herbs. Be careful of adding too much sodiu.

Issue Six: Money concerns

Financial problems may keep your seionr from eating nutritiously.

What to do: There are many ways to save money

  • Buy low-cost foods, like dried beans and peas, rice and pasta. Or buy foods that contain these items, like split pea soup and canned beans and rice.
  • Use coupons for savings on foods you like.
  • Buy foods on sale. Buy store-off brand foods. They often cost less.
  • Find out if your local church or synagogue offers free or low-cost meals.
  • Buy in bulk to lower costs and share the food with your senior.
  • Take part in group meal programs offered through local senior citizen programs. Or, have meals brought to your home.
  • Get food stamps. Call the food stamp office listed under your county government in the blue pages of the telephone book.

Eating well is key to good health. If your elder needs help with their nutrition it should be a priority. Any weight changes are a key sign that you will need to step in and help.

Seniors, Dementia & Research Trends

dementia & Nursing Home CareAlzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death and accounts for up to 80 percent of all dementia cases: killing more than 83,000 people annually.

Other types of dementia include:

  • vascular dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease

Those afflicted with these illnesses are most often in need of an adult child or guardian to advocate for them. Needs arise for home health care, frequent doctor visits, home modification, and 24-hour care to provide safety, managing finances, and the list goes on. Other issues arise when a long-time home and possessions have to be sold and a loved one must move to a sheltered environment like a senior community with memory care.

Possible Early Detection:

It is an understatement to say these are very significant numbers. But researchers are looking for the answers to whether using a yearly screening tool during a Medicare yearly well-visit is useful. Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to an annual wellness visit under the Affordable Care Act: there is no out-of-pocket charge. In addition to routine check-up items like measuring weight blood pressure, and evaluating medication effectiveness, the visit covers an evaluation for cognitive impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that seniors undergo cognitive impairment screening and evaluation with a trained medical professional to establish a baseline for comparison, and then have regular follow-up assessments in subsequent years.

More Research Needs To Be Done!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of medical experts who have come to the conclusion there is NOT sufficient evidence to screen yearly for dementia. The conclusion is the same from a study performed more than a decade ago, when it last evaluated dementia screening. Experts say the evidence is crystal clear in one respect: More research needs to be done. Those who treat older adults have been tasked to, “use their best judgment.” That can be tough when dementia causes so many emotions.

What is your opinion on this topic?