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Better Health - In a Glass of Water!
Better Health - In a Glass of Water!

IT IS right there at the kitchen sink. Usually it is readily available for all. It costs little, but can bring better health. It is one of our body's most important nutrients. It is cool, clear water. Yet the simple advice to drink more water is often neglected by even health-minded people.

Did you know that about 70 percent of our total body weight is made up of water? So it is not difficult to see why we need plenty of water for our bodies to function in a healthy way.

Of course, our kidneys do a wonderful work. Equipped with millions of filtering units, the kidneys screen out impurities from the blood and return the purified fluid to the bloodstream. It has been estimated that we would need to drink thousands of cups of water a day if it were not for the recycled water provided by our kidneys.

But even with healthy kidneys functioning well, the supply of clean water in our bodies drops constantly and needs replenishing. Without sufficient fluid to flush out the by-products of cell metabolism, body cells can slowly become poisoned by their own waste.

Fortunately, much of the food we eat supplies a great deal of the water we need because many foods are made up largely of water. Take the egg as an example. You may not realize that an egg is about 74 percent water. A piece of steak is about 73 percent water, and a watermelon has a huge 92-percent water content. But even so, most of us would still benefit by drinking more water.

A small group of athletes was instructed to drink no water at all and asked to walk briskly at three miles an hour (5 km/hr). They kept going for about three and a half hours. Then their body temperature rose suddenly to about 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39° C.). Soon after, they collapsed from exhaustion. A second group followed the same routine, but they were allowed to drink water whenever they felt thirsty and as much as they wished. This group lasted for about six hours and then experienced exactly the same reaction as the previous group.

Then a third group was tested. But this group was monitored closely, and it was found that they lost about one cup of water every 15 minutes. By replacing this amount of water as it was lost, none of this group experienced the sudden rise in body temperature, nor did they reach the point of exhaustion. In fact, all of them claimed that they could have walked on indefinitely. So it seems that natural thirst may not be an accurate barometer of our body's need for water. We might need more than thirst dictates.

Perhaps we could all improve our health by drinking more cool, refreshing, God-given water.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7569950

Posted 4/15/13

Staying Active and Healthy
Staying Active and Healthy

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to look it. With a little bit of effort, you can keep your youthful appearance. And what’s nice about looking good is that it’s going to help you feel good, too. It’s not going to cost you a lot either. When it comes to living healthier, it’s never too late to start, and the sooner you start, the sooner people are going to notice. So let’s get going!

Getting fit
As far as getting fit goes, what’s important is to be realistic. Of course, before you begin any fitness routine, you definitely want to discuss with your health care provider your capabilities and your limitations. Remember, everybody is different and so is every body.

When it comes to staying active, options abound! You’ll definitely be more likely to stick with your exercise routine if you’re doing things that you enjoy. But be careful because doing the same type of activity over and over can lead to boredom. Having a homecare helper is one way to facilitate getting to and from excercise classes and doctors appointments to allow for diversity in your routine. Once you get bored, you’ll find plenty of excuses for not working out. So make sure to vary your exercise routine.

When it’s too cold (or too hot) to go out, think of some indoor activities you enjoy. Here are a few ideas. You could find a partner and take a dancing class or get a group together and go bowling. When the weather’s nice outside, you could go walking, kayaking, or golfing. Even gardening is a healthy option.

If you’re having trouble getting your exercising routine started, just try adding more steps to your day. If you can, walk up and down your stairs. When you shop, park further away from the store’s entrance. If you have a pet, put on a leash and take your pet for a walk. It’s something you’ll both enjoy. Once you’re willing to put forth the effort, it’s really not that hard to get your heart beating and your blood circulating.

Eating better
As far as eating better, you don’t have to go out and buy healthy eating cookbooks or clear your cupboards. Again, start simply by adding a fruit or vegetable to every meal. Add a banana to whole grain cereal. Fix yourself a salad with dinner (just be careful with the dressing!). Make a big pot of vegetable soup that you can eat every day for lunch. With minimal effort, you’ll be providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function more efficiently.

There are other ways you can improve your diet, if you’re willing. For example, you can choose leaner cuts of meats and snack on nuts instead of potato chips. You can cut out (or cut down on) sugary drinks and alcohol. You can stop taking seconds and learn about portion control including what a serving size really looks like.

When it comes to eating right and increasing activity, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on menu planning, health spas and the like. All you need to reap tremendous health benefits is the right outlook.

Posted: 4-15-13

Home Safety Tips for Seniors
Home Safety Tips for Seniors

 

Relying on home care for elderly seniors is an increasingly viable and popular elder care option, but it’s still important to make sure you and your loved one are aware of the potential dangers in one’s home and prepare accordingly. Please use the following home safety tips for seniors to help your loved one stay safe while living at home.

General
Consider a medical alert or a buddy system.
Keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor.
Use extreme caution when smoking. Never smoke when alone or in bed.
Always get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Take your time, and make sure you have your balance.
Wear proper fitting shoes with low heels.
Use a correctly measured walking aid.
Remove or tack down all scatter rugs.
Remove electrical or telephone cords from traffic areas.
Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
Wipe up spills promptly.
Avoid standing on ladders or chairs.
Have sturdy rails for all stairs inside and outside the house.
Use only non-glare 100 watt or greater incandescent bulbs (or the fluorescent equivalents).
Make sure that all stair cases have good lighting with switches at top and bottom.
Staircase steps should have a non-slip surface.
Bathroom
Leave a light on in your bathroom at night.
Use recommended bath aids, securely installed on the walls of the bath/shower stall and on the sides of the toilet.
Skid-proof the tub and make sure the bath mat has a non-slip bottom.
To avoid scalds, turn water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Mark cold and hot faucets clearly.
Use door locks that can be opened from both sides.
If possible, bathe only when help is available.
Kitchen
Keep floors clean and uncluttered.
Illuminate work areas.
Mark "on" and "off" positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
Store sharp knives in a rack.
Use a kettle with an automatic shut off.
Store heavier objects at waist level.
Store hazardous items separate from food.
Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.
Make sure food is rotated regularly. Check expiration dates.
Drug Safety
Review your medicines frequently with your doctor or pharmacist and when you take new medication.
Make sure medicines are clearly labeled.
Read medicine labels in good light to ensure you have the right medicine and always take the correct dose
Dispose of any old or used medicines.
Never borrow prescription drugs from others.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you mix alcohol and your drugs.
Have medication dispensed in a bubble pack or convenient dispenser.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist before mixing non-prescription drugs and prescription drugs.

Posted: 4-15-13

Understanding Home Health Care and Your Options
Understanding Home Health Care and Your Options

Home health care is an option that allows seniors and disabled individuals to maintain their independence, in their own home, for an extended period of time. Your options for home health include hiring a live in nurse, having an aide attend to basic chores for a few hours a day, or having a rehabilitation specialist come to your home for care. With the right option for your personal needs, you can have the care you need without leaving home.

Options Available

Choosing the right types of home care is an important step. You will need to consider whether you need rehabilitation services, medical care, or personal care. For example, home care aides that have been trained in assisting you with personal care, such as grooming and cooking, can't provide medical but will help you with your everyday tasks. A nurse can provide more specialized care than an aide, including assisting with medications and administering care in an emergency. Rehabilitation nurses offer the most specialized care by providing services such as physical therapy.

The type of care you choose will depend on your personal health and the activities that you can complete without assistance. Families often choose to have more than one care provider in the home to ensure proper care. You will also need to determine whether a full or part time care provider is needed. Some families may need a part-time caregiver while away at work to ensure elderly family members are cared for during working hours, while other patients require medical care twenty-four hours a day. A medical assessment can help you determine the type of care that is best for your family if you are unsure of which is the best fit for you.

The Basics of Home Care

According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, over six million people receive in-home services annually. One of the benefits of choosing home health care is that family members can stay in their own home for a longer period of time, maintaining their independence even when a health issue limits mobility. In home care is usually covered by insurance if a physician has recommended the service or when a medical need for the service has been shown. Generally, the type of health care services you are eligible for through your insurance company will vary depending on your health.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7611695

Posted: 4-15-13

What Causes Summer Breathing Issues?
What Causes Summer Breathing Issues?

Every climate brings with it its own pleasures and pains. The winter brings with it colds and sniffles, while the pollen in the spring air brings on allergies. The summer too has its fair share of issues. Heat has a way of bringing on summer breathing issues. It is not an easy task to assess the difficulty of breathing. Similarly, it is very difficult to study the effects of heat and humidity on breathing problems as every person handles weather in a different manner. For instance, a person who lives in a tropical climate or near the ocean may be able to cope with heat very differently from a person who is more accustomed to living in colder regions.

The Triggers...

It is a fact that heat triggers asthma, heat stroke and stress. All of these can eventually result in shortness of breath. Let's take a look at how these various factors affect breathing:

Asthma - Asthma is a chronic condition caused due to inflammation of the lungs. Heat and humidity are definite asthma triggers. This happens primarily because humidity is very conducive to the growth of airborne allergens such as molds and dust mites. Of course, heat is not the only cause of an asthma attack as high pressure, low and high temperatures and rainfall can also lead to an increase in asthma. However, if those who suffer from asthma undergo appropriate treatment, they can even go out and play football under the blazing sun.

Stress - Humid and hot weather can be a stress trigger. Extreme heat also tends to sap the body of energy and increases stress levels. The body has to work harder to maintain its optimal temperature in the heat. What this also means is that it uses more energy to cool-off and ends up using more oxygen. Consequently shortness of breath follows. Panic attacks, anxiety and depression which are considered to be stress factors also cause breathing issues.

Heat stroke - Extended exposure to hot and humid weather may lead to a heat stroke. Dizziness, seizure, headache, fatigue and disorientation are all heat stroke symptoms. They lead to an increased heart rate and summer breathing issues. In this particular case though, breathing difficulty is not directly related to heat exposure but is one of the numerous complications that might arise due to dehydration and heat stroke.

Precautionary Measures

Older people and young children are most prone to summer breathing issues. Drinking plenty of fluids and wearing light, cotton clothing helps the body maintain its temperature. Rigorous activity should be restricted to cooler periods of the day. Those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues should preferably stay indoors if there is a weather advisory of excessive heat. Meals should be light and non-spicy. Protein should also be consumed in a limited manner as it tends to produce more heat in the body.

Always keep the number of a 24-hour medical facility handy to be used in case of an emergency.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_Solo

Article: 5/3/2013

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling.  They can:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in their homes.

To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.

Senior Centers Mission

The mission of the Senior Centers are to be a community focal point where older persons age sixty (60) and older can come together for services and activities which enhance their dignity, support their independence and encourage their involvement.

Program & Services

ACTIVITIES/PROGRAMS:  Book discussion groups, arts and crafts, creative writing and language classes, drawing, china and one-stroke painting, ceramics, wood carving, quilting, crochet, embroidery, knitting, mahjong, bridge, cards, billiards and bingo.

HEALTH PROMOTION:  Health education classes and screenings on preventive health issues, blood pressure clinics, an annual Health and Safety Fair.

TRAVEL:  Day trips and luncheons are organized to local restaurants and venues.

LIBRARY:  Book Mobile provides a library of books and language CD's; as well as on-site library.

RECREATION/FITNESS: Fitness and recreation classes, dance classes and chair exercises.

TAX AIDE PROGRAM:  In conjunction with AARP and VITA, provide free income tax completion & filing for seniors.

SPECIAL EVENTS:  Dances, craft/bake sales, birthday and holiday events, sing-a-longs and on site entertainment; as well as Defensive Driving classes.

  • Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • No membership or fee is required
  • Confidential registration form required
  • Minimal fees for some classes

For additional information, please call (561) 355-4746 or visit one of the Division of Senior Services Senior Centers in your area.

Locations:

North County Senior Center
5217 Northlake Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Tel: (561) 694-5435
Fax: (561) 694-9611

West County Senior Center
2916 State Road #15
Belle Glade, FL 33430
Tel: (561) 996-4808
Fax: (561) 992-1011

Mid County Senior Center
3680 Lake Worth Road
Lake Worth, FL 33461
Tel: (561) 357-7100
Fax: (561) 357-7114

Fighting Aging : it's All About Your Attitude

Entering your 70s, 80s and 90s should mean challenging the very idea of growing old. It doesn't have to mean walkers and canes. Your goal should be to live a long time, but to spend that time being as healthy and strong as you can.

The key to staying independent, physically fit and mentally sharp is to not see old age as frailness and nursing homes. Look at yourself as strong, capable and intelligent.

A recent study by Yale University showed that the more television seniors watched, the more negative their images of aging became. Participants between the ages of 60 and 92 were divided into two groups. Both groups filled out viewing diaries for a week, with one group filling out an additional page about how the elderly were portrayed on television. That group showed greater awareness of negative images of the elderly, who barely had roles on television and were often the butts of jokes.

A study in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that while fitness declines with aging, exercise plays a key role in helping us stay independent.

Researchers tested 375 men and 435 women, ages 21 to 87, on treadmills every four years. The rate of decline in fitness was 3 percent for people in their 20s and 30s, but 20 percent for people in their 70s.

The good news is that exercise can raise fitness levels in the elderly by 15 percent to 20 percent - similar to being 10 to 20 years younger.

As we age, our muscles shrink. Muscle strength decreases by 10 percent every decade. Strength training can help.

The following are common myths about aging:

Myth: Being old means being sick.
Fact: Only about 5 percent of the elderly live in nursing homes today. Better health care and medication - along with a better understanding of the roles of diet and exercise - help us live longer, healthier lives.
Myth: Older people can't learn new things.
Fact: Not true. The keys to staying sharp are exercising regularly, having good relationships with friends and family, engaging in activities you enjoy and believing in yourself.
Myth: It's too late to become healthy.
Fact: It's never too late. Even if you have a health condition, you can decrease your risk of a heart attack and diabetes-related problems by exercising and eating right.
Myth: It's all in the genes.
Fact: Some aspects of aging - as well as certain conditions and diseases - are passed down. However, eating right and exercising go a long way in improving your health. Taking your medication and getting your screenings also help, and if you smoke - stop.
Having a positive attitude and taking good care of yourself won't erase your chances for disease or mean you can ignore conditions like diabetes and heart disease. You will, however, be able to better deal with these conditions.

11/7/13  Article Souce: http://www.thehomecaredirectory.com/home_health_care/related_articles/fighting_aging_:_its_all_about_your_attitude/160/

What are some common facts about health in seniors?
What are some common facts about health in seniors?

What are some common facts about health in seniors?

 

  • As people get older, physiological changes occur in their body as a natural part of aging.
  • Physical changes due to aging can occur in almost every organ and can affect seniors' health and lifestyle.
  • Some diseases and conditions become more prominent in the elderly.
  • Psychosocial issues can also play a role in physical and mental health of older adults.
  • A balanced diet and regular exercise are strongly linked to better health outcomes in seniors.
  • A series of routine screening tests and preventive measures are recommended for the elderly.
  • Important preventive measures at home can improve the safety and health of seniors.
  • Geriatrics is a medical subspecialty dedicated to the care of the elderly. Physicians who have specialized training in this field are known as geriatricians.

What changes occur in the body as we age?

 

A wide range of changes can happen in the body to different degrees as we age. These changes are not necessarily indicative of an underlying disease but they can be distressing to the individual. Even though the aging process cannot be stopped, being aware of these changes and adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce their impact on overall health.

Expected bodily changes of aging include change in:

  • Skin: With aging, skin becomes less flexible, thinner, and more fragile. Easy bruising is noticeable, and wrinkles, age spots, and skin tags may become more apparent. Skin can also become more dry and itchy as a result of less natural skin oil production.
  • Bones, joints, and muscles: Bones typically lose density and shrink in size making them more susceptible to fractures (breaks). Muscles shrink in mass and become weaker. Joints can suffer from normal wear and tear; joints become inflamed, painful, and less flexible.
  • Mobility and balance: A person's mobility and balance can be affected by various age related changes. Bone, joint, and muscle problems listed above in conjunction with changes in nervous system are the major contributors to balance problems. Falls may occur resulting in further damage with bruises and fractures.
  • Body shape: As a result of bony changes of aging, body stature can become shorter and curvature of the back vertebrae may be altered. Increased muscle loss and reduced fat metabolism can also occur. Fat can redistribute to the abdominal area and buttock areas. Maintaining an ideal body weight becomes more difficult.
  • Face: Aging changes also take place in the face. Other than wrinkles and age spots, the overall facial contour can change. Overall loss of volume from facial bone and fat can result in less tightness of the facial skin and sagging. The face becomes droopier and bottom heavy.
  • Teeth and gums: Teeth can become more weak, brittle, and dry. Salivary glands produce less saliva. Gums can also recede (pull back) from the teeth. These changes may result in dry mouth, tooth decay, infections, bad breath, tooth loss, and gum disease.
  • Hair and nail: Hair can become thinner and weaker as a person ages. Dry hair may lead to itching and discomfort. Nails may become brittle and unshapely. Nails can also get dry and form vertical ridges. Toe nail thickening (ram's horn shape) is common. Nail fungal infections may occur frequently.
  • Hormones and endocrine glands: Hormonal changes are seen commonly in the elderly. Most common is the hormonal control of blood sugar and carbohydrate metabolism leading to diabetes. Thyroid dysfunction and problems with fat and cholesterol metabolism are also commonly encountered. Calcium and vitamin D metabolism may also become altered. Sexual hormones reach a low level and can lead to erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness.
  • Memory: Problems with memory are common in seniors. However, it is important to realize that minor memory problems do not constitute dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Simple lapses of memory such as not remembering where you left a key or whether you locked the door are a normal part of aging.
  • Immunity: The body's immune system can get weaker with age. Blood cells that fight infections (white blood cells) become less effective leading to more frequent infections.
  • Hearing: changes in nerves of hearing and ear structures can dim hearing and cause age-related hearing loss. Higher frequencies become harder to hear.
  • Vision: Eyes can become drier and the lens can lose its accuracy as we age. Vision can be affected by these changes and can become blurry and out of focus. Glasses or contact lenses can help correct these problems.
  • Taste and smell: Sense of smell and, less commonly, sense of taste may fade leading to poor appetite and weight loss.
  • Bowel and bladder: Bowel and bladder control can cause problems with incontinence (involuntary loss of feces or urine). Additionally, bowel and bladder habit can change. Constipation is common in older adults, as are urinary frequency and difficulty initiating urine.
  • Sleep: Sleep patterns can significantly change with age. Duration of sleep, quality of sleep, and frequent night time awakening are commonly seen in seniors.

These changes are different in every individual. Some people may experience more changes in a particular area compared to other

Some things you never outgrow–like your need for healthful eating. Good nutrition is important at every stage of life, from infancy through late adulthood. The basics of a balanced diet remain the same but individual nutritional needs change as you grow older. No matter what your age, it is never too late to start living a healthier life.

Whether you are 50 or 85, active or homebound, your food choices will affect your overall health in the years ahead. The risk for certain diseases associated with aging such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes can be reduced with a lifestyle that includes healthy eating. Good nutrition also helps in the treatment and recovery from illness. While healthy living can’t turn back the clock, it can help you feel good longer.

Eating healthfully means consuming a variety of good foods each day. Food provides the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water you need for good health. For one reason or another your body may not be getting the right amounts of these nutrients.

There are several factors that indicate an increased risk for poor nutrition. If you have three or more of the risk factors listed below consult with a physician or registered dietitian:

  • ill health
  • poor eating habits
  • unexpected weight gain or loss
  • taking medications
  • poor dental health
  • economic hardship
  • loneliness and lack of social contacts
  • the inability to care for yourself

Nutrition Facts

Older adults need the same nutrients as younger people, but in differing amounts. As you get older, the number of calories needed is usually less than when you were younger. This is because basic body processes require less energy when there is a decline in physical activity and loss of muscles. However, contrary to popular belief, basic nutrient needs do not decrease with age. In fact, some nutrients are needed in increased amounts. The challenge is to develop an eating plan that supplies plenty of nutrients but not too many calories.

This can be done by choosing nutritious foods that are low in fat and high in fiber like whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables. Also be sure to include moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products and protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, beans and eggs. Sweets and other foods high in sugar, fat and calories can be enjoyed from time to time but the key is to eat them sparingly.

The Food Guide Pyramid is a great guide for your daily food choices. Calorie needs vary depending on age and activity level but for many older adults 1600 calories each day will meet energy needs. Chosen carefully those 1600 calories can supply a wealth of nutrients. The recommended number of daily servings from each group in the Food Guide Pyramid, with a few additions of fats, oils and sweets, will easily add up to 1600 healthful calories.

Calcium is important at any age and may need special emphasis as you grow older. Calcium is a mineral that builds strong bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. Many older adults don’t eat enough calcium rich foods and the aging body is less efficient in absorbing calcium from food. In addition, many adults don’t get enough weight bearing exercise like walking to help keep bones strong.

It is not too late to consume more calcium and reduce the risk of bone fractures. Eat at least 2-3 servings of calcium rich foods everyday. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are good choices. Some dark green, leafy vegetables, canned salmon with edible bones, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium fortified soy milk can add a significant amount of calcium to your diet. In addition, do some weight bearing exercise like walking for a total of 30 minutes each day.

The National Institutes of Health advise adults over 65 to consume 1500 mg of calcium daily. This amount may be difficult to achieve through food alone so for some people a calcium supplement is a wise choice. If you do take a supplement, take it between meals. Calcium can hinder the absorption of iron from other foods.

One Serving Equals
Grain Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
1 slice of bread
1/2 bagel or hamburger bun
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice
5-6 small crackers
1 cup milk or yogurt
1.5 ounces natural cheese|
2 ounces process cheese
Fruits and Vegetables Meat, Poultry, fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 cup cooked, chopped or canned
3/4 cup juice
1 medium
1-3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
1 ounce of meat equivalents:
1/2 cup cooked cry beans
1 egg or 2 egg whites
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/3 cup nuts
Can Food Do It ALL?
Yes, food can provide an adequate diet and the pleasures of eating too. But for those who are unable or unwilling to eat a healthy diet a multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good way to get all the needed vitamins and minerals. The guideline is to get enough without getting too much. Look for a supplement that provides about 100% of the RDA. Physicians regularly prescribe supplements for certain health conditions. It is not a good idea to take mega-doses without first discussing it with your physician. Beware of supplements that claim to be magic or promise miracle cures. Taking unproven remedies in place of well-proven treatments could make your health worse in the long run.

Vitamin D protects against bone disease by helping deposit calcium into bones. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is made within the skin by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Only 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight on the hands or face two to three times per week will provide enough vitamin D. However, dark skinned people do not make vitamin D from sunlight so they must get it from food sources. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and cereals. Look for it on food labels.

Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from plant sources of food. Most people who follow the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid consume enough vitamin C. Poor eating habits or smoking can contribute to low levels of vitamin C. A lack of vitamin C can cause bleeding gums, delay wound healing and contribute to low levels of iron. The most effective way to increase vitamin C is to eat citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes, green peppers and berries.

Sodium is found naturally in foods such as milk, seafood and eggs. Processed foods such as tomato juice, frozen dinners, canned soups, canned fruits and canned vegetables are high in added sodium. People with high blood pressure and certain types of heart disease may be advised by their physicians to reduce the amount of sodium in their diets. For healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends not more than three grams (3000 mg) of sodium each day. One and a half teaspoons of salt is equal to 3000 mg of sodium, so go lightly with the salt shaker.

Special Considerations

The ability to smell and taste may decline gradually with age. When the sense of smell becomes dulled, it affects the sense of taste and makes food less appetizing. Also, some medications may leave a bitter taste, which affects saliva, giving foods a bad flavor. Smoking reduces the ability to enjoy flavors too. Poor eating habits can result when food just doesn’t taste as good as it used to.

To compensate for the loss of smell and taste, create meals that appeal to all the senses. Intensify the taste, smell, sight, sound and feel of foods. Perk up flavors with herbs, spices and lemon juice rather than relying solely on salt or sugar. Choose foods that look good and have a variety of textures and temperatures. Try new ideas. Use garlic and seasoning on foods, add a new texture like crushing crackers in soup, or change the temperature like serving applesauce warm with cinnamon.

Safety in the Kitchen
With age may come a variety of physical difficulties that can interfere with food preparation and eating. Older adults may experience a decrease in stamina and physical strength or deal with the challenges of arthritis, deafness or failing vision. Following are some suggestions to make food preparation and eating less of a challenge or risk to safety.

 

  • Wear flat, rubber soled shoes in the kitchen and wipe up spills immediately so you don’t slip.
  • Remove throw rugs from the kitchen to prevent falls.
  • Sit while working at the kitchen table, or use a stable stool when working at the stove or counter.
  • Organize the kitchen so everything is within easy reach. Keep appliances out on the counter and store heavy pans on lower shelves. Use a rolling tea cart to move food and dishes from kitchen to table.
  • Use a loud timer to avoid overcooking and potential fires, especially if you have trouble hearing or tend to be forgetful.
  • Keep a magnifying glass handy to read the small print on packages or recipes.
  • Keep the cordless phone nearby while you cook for safety and convenience. If you do fall or have an emergency you can call for help.
  • Check with your physician or a medical supply store for adaptive kitchen devices. Utensils with specially designed handles, an all-in-one fork and spoon and cutting boards with spikes to hold foods in place can make food preparation and eating easier for people with arthritis or other physical limitations.

Dry mouth is another problem faced by many older adults. When it feels like your mouth is filled with cotton balls and your lips are parched and cracked, food just doesn’t taste good. It can be difficult to chew and swallow because of a lack of saliva. Dry mouth is a potential side effect of many medications such as drugs to lower blood pressure or treat depression. It may also be a symptom of cancer or kidney failure.
To relieve dry mouth discomfort, watch out for spicy foods that irritate the lips and tongue. Eat soft foods that have been moistened with sauces or gravies. Try sucking on hard candies or popsicles and drink plenty of fluids. A room humidifier may help by moistening the air. It will also help to breathe through your nose–not your mouth.

Tooth loss or mouth pain can be an obstacle to good eating. Generally, people who wear poorly fitting dentures chew 75% to 85% less efficiently than those with natural teeth. Dentures should be adjusted for a proper fit. Softer foods are easier to chew. Drinking plenty of water or other fluids with meals may make swallowing easier. Good dental care (brushing, flossing, regular check-ups) will help keep teeth and gums healthy.

Many older adults say they just aren’t hungry. There are many factors that influence appetite including digestive problems, certain medications, depression or loneliness. To encourage eating and appetite, keep portions small, allow plenty of time to dine, eat smaller meals more often, prepare attractive meals, play dinner music, eat meals with friends, and increase physical activity where possible. Consult a physician if the lack of appetite results in unwanted weight loss.

Constipation can be a chronic problem for many older adults. It can be caused by not getting enough fiber or fluids and by being physically inactive. To stay regular and avoid the strain of constipation engage in physical activity, drink plenty of fluids and eat fiber rich foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Fiber gives bulk to stools and fluids help keep stools softer making them easier to eliminate.

Some older adults have trouble digesting milk, even if it wasn’t a problem in their younger years. The small intestine may no longer be producing the enzyme lactase which breaks down the natural sugar, called lactose, in milk. When the lactase enzyme is missing you may experience bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Tolerance to lactose is variable. Try eating smaller amounts of these foods, eating them during a meal instead of alone or having them less often (perhaps every other day). Lactose-reduced and -free products are now available. Look for them in your supermarket. Also, the lactase enzyme is available in tablets or drops that can be added to milk before drinking. Follow the specific directions found on the packages.

More and more when experts talk about eating right, sleeping enough, and staying physically fit, they will mention how these things are good for “brain health.” That sounds appealing, but what is it and how does anyone know when they have it?

The answer is like a puzzle (which is also good for brain health): it changes. That is, the health of one’s brain is changing throughout life.

“We wouldn’t expect a two-year old, a 12-year old, a 20-year old and a 92-year old to have the same heart health or the same brain health,” said Heather M. Snyder, PhD, Director of Medical and Scientific Operations at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Overall, what brain health means is that for your age your brain is working at it’s maximum efficiency.”

In other words, aging determines brain health. Age is not the only determinate of good brain health though, and there are things individuals can do to improve their brain health.

Eat, Play, Move

The reason nutrition plays a role in optimum brain health is because eating well can benefit the heart and other parts of the body that keep blood flowing to the brain. “If the heart is not healthy and not working at maximum efficiency and the brain needs blood, then it impacts brain health,” explained Dr. Snyder. “When we think about things that make you more at risk for Alzheimer’s--cardiovascular disease, diabetes—we see a link between healthy choices and a healthy brain.”

The Alzheimer’s Association offers recommendations for a “brain-healthy diet” on their website.

Another way to keep the blood flowing to your brain is through exercise. Again, the first step is to reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks and diabetes, which in turn minimizes the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Regular physical exercise—shown to reduce brain cell loss in the elder population, according the Alzheimer’s Association—can be as simple as walking, gardening, or bicycling, as long as 30 minutes of aerobic activity is achieved to get the heart rate up and the blood pumping.

If those exercises can be done with friends, check one more way to improve or maintain brain health off the list. Social activity has been shown to reduce stress levels and maintain healthy brain cells and function.

“One study reported that leisure activities that combine physical, mental and social activity are the most likely to prevent dementia,” states the Alzheimer’s Association. “In the study of 800 men and women aged 75 and older, those who were more physically active, more mentally active or more socially engaged had a lower risk for developing dementia. And those who combined these activities did even better.”

Are We There Yet?

Dr. Snyder cautions that not everyone has the same brain health, even if they are the same age. “Just as there is a range in blood pressure in a heartbeat, with brain health, we don’t all think the same,” she said.  “We won’t all have the same experiences.”

In her own life, Dr. Snyder uses the example of balancing the checkbook, a habit she has done weekly for decades. Her husband, however, has never balanced the checkbook. “To judge brain health, you have to judge a change in something you’ve done your whole life,” she said. “If I could not balance the checkbook, that would be a change for me. If my husband could not balance the checkbook, that wouldn’t be a change in brain health.”

While it is encouraged to always be learning—in addition to eating well, remaining socially engaged and exercising--to stimulate brain cells and maintain that good brain health, just because one doesn’t pick up tango dancing at age 87 or learn how to balance the checkbook at age 36 does not mean they have poor brain health.

“Take on life to the fullest,” said Dr. Snyder. “If you notice a change in brain health, have a conversation with your health provider.”

http://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/homewatchnews/14-02-25/What_is_Brain_Health.aspx

Article: 4/18/2014

Hospital readmission rates for people with heart failure are a major concern in the healthcare continuum. There are currently penalties and fines against hospitals for exceeding certain readmission percentages and experts are looking at ways to keep people from returning to the hospital within 30 days of being released.

Doctor and Staff“It’s a changing playing field,” said Robert Bonow, MD, past president of the American Heart Association and national spokesman and the Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, Director, Center for Cardiovascular Innovation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We used to see 28 percent readmission rate, and a lot of hospitals now are reporting declining numbers because of penalties.”  In other words, the penalties seem to have motivated hospitals to make a variety of changes that are leading to a decrease in readmissions.

Dr. Bonow is quick to point out that statistics on readmission rates can be misleading as the readmission may be due to something unrelated to the patient’s heart failure. Many of the reasons for readmissions are avoidable with proper follow up care.

“People may be readmitted because of an unrelated chronic condition, a fall in the home, it’s difficult to predict,” he said. “It’s really multifactorial. A patient can be sent home with the right medications and on the outpatient side there is not an understanding of the medications.”

Right Medications, Wrong Understanding

medication managementNot understanding medications could be anything from not being able to read or speak English, Dr. Bonow said, to not understanding dietary restrictions that come along with the medications.

For example, warafin (which sold under the brand names Coumadin and Jantoven) is a common medication for people who have had a heart attack and it can prolong their life. The American Heart Association describes the benefits on their website. “Warafin is a prescription medication used to prevent harmful blood clots from forming or growing larger. Beneficial blood clots prevent or stop bleeding, but harmful  blood clots can cause a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Because warfarin interferes with the formation of blood clots, it is called an anticoagulant. Many people refer to anticoagulants as “blood thinners”; however, warfarin does not thin the blood but instead causes the blood to take longer to form a clot.”

Keeping in mind this is just one of the important medications a patient returns home to self-administer, this one small pill has an array possible side effects and the AHA notes, “Many medications can alter the effectiveness of warfarin, resulting in an INR that is either too high or too low. Some of the most common over-the-counter pain relievers, such as: ibuprofen (brand name Advil) and naproxen (brand name Aleve), enhance the anticoagulant effects of warfarin and increase the likelihood of harmful bleeding.” Furthermore, foods high in vitamin K—such as green and leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli—can make warafin less effective and potentially increase the risk of blood clots. Yet, the AHA also tells people it is not necessary to avoid these foods while taking warafin.

Avoiding Readmission

Falls are an even greater risk to heart failure patients who are on warafin, and it is recommended that people taking it avoid activities that include a fall risk.

“There are lots of things in play here,” said Dr. Bonow of the many reasons that heart failure patients might be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. “ I think the  more important point is that we understand this is a huge burden for Medicare and we don’t understand fully what the cause is so there is no one size fits all approach to know how we should prevent this.”

Family caregivers and professional in home care can help people with heart failure reduce the possibility of a hospital readmission within 30 days of being released from the hospital—whether in the form of medication reminders, doing a fall risk assessment of the home and subsequently removing fall hazards, managing diet or driving someone to the doctor for follow up appointments.
 

Article Source: http://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/homewatchnews/14-01-28/Heart_Failure_and_Hospital_Readmissions.aspx

4/18/2014

Limiting Fall Risks for Those Living with Dementia

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults 65 and older fall every year and seniors go to the hospital five times more for fall-related injuries than any other causes.

People living with dementia experience additional issues that may increase their risk for a fall; older adults with dementia are more likely to experience a fall by up to 60 percent. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may have impaired judgment, a decline in sensory perception over time and an inability to tell others what they need.

Families and people living with dementia can trust caregivers who know this about the condition and take steps to ensure safety. To help people providing dementia care to a loved one, Homewatch CareGivers assembled a specialized list of tips designed to help limit fall risks:

1.    Make sure there is enough lighting in the home and make use of visual cues. Because dementia can damage a person’s the visual system, some people may experience illusions and misperceptions. By putting enough light in the room, it decreases the number of shadows and dark areas, which can cause a person living with dementia to misinterpret what they see. Additionally, those living with dementia may experience trouble separating similar colors, like the carpet in a hallway and carpeting on a staircase. It also helps people living with dementia when contrasting colors define the top and bottom of a staircase.

2.    Clear walking paths inside and outside of the home. Those living with dementia can have difficulty recognizing the danger of a loose rug, electrical cords stretched across the floor, or leaves and rocks outside of the home. Make sure to keep pathways clear of any tripping hazards.

3.    Keep important information and essential items in an easy-to-access location. This includes a single place for notes or reminders, so a person living with dementia does not have to go room-to-room looking for information. It’s also helpful to keep items like water, eyeglasses or the phone on a bedside table in case the person needs them in the middle of the night.

4.    Provide an easy way to call for help. This goes beyond ensuring easy access to a telephone. You may want to consider various forms of remote care technology, such as a fall alert bracelet or auto detector, which can be used in case of an emergency. For more information, read through our Guide to Remote Care Technology.

5.    Provide safe footwear. The shoes a person wears on their feet can become a major fall risk, especially if they can easily slip off. However, a person living with dementia may struggle to tie shoe laces or fasten buttons. So, shoes with Velcro fastenings can be a good solution. This makes shoes easy to take on and off, but keeps them from slipping off accidentally and causing a person to trip.

Article Source: 4/18/14

For more dementia-related fall risk tips, visit http://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/dementia-care-tips/preventing-dementia-related-falls.aspx and for more general dementia care tips to help someone living with dementia visit http://homewatchcaregivers.com/dementia-care-tips.aspx.

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