Monday, November 28, 2016

Health Care and Senior Wellness

Most senior citizens typically have at least one health care issue that they deal with on a daily basis, whether it’s either physical or mental difficulty. Possibly it is both in many cases. As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying physically active. Now more than ever, seniors are leading active lifestyles, traveling, and trying new activities. However, older adults that could use a little support and assistance in their daily lives often are not sure how to accomplish those tasks.

There are many available resources that provide the human connection needed to enhance a senior’s quality of life, also to help reduce loneliness and provide information on available senior support services, including caring volunteers who provide support with errands such as transportation for grocery shopping, short medical appointments, errands and social outings. Seniors in many cases need assistance, depending on age and physical and mental capabilities.

Providing coordinated care with specific attention to most common problems within the senior population is important for a well rounded senior wellness regimen. Some of the more critical areas of care and support should include the following steps:

Basic Physical Assessments:
·         Intellectual impairment
·         Immobility
·         Instability
·         Incontinence
·         Iatrogenic (inadvertently induced) disorders

Geriatric Assessments
·         Clinical history
·         Nutritional assessment
·         Social evaluation
·         Neuropsychiatric evaluation
·         Physical examination
·         Functional examination

Support services and educational classes:
·         Nutrition
·         Diabetes
·         Independent living
·         Memory and healthy brain function
·         Fall prevention
·         Exercise
·         Caregiver support

Both seniors and caregivers should understand the importance of preventive healthcare and be involved with senior wellness programs that focus on prevention, detection, education and follow-up in order to achieve and maintain productive, high-quality lives.  Whether you live independently at home or in a senior living facility, you may benefit from occasional visits by a registered nurse to ensure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At your first visit, a complete medical assessment should be provided by a registered nurse for the following areas:
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychosocial
Another consideration for seniors is prescription adherence. According to the Institute of Medicine, over 1.5 million people each year have adverse reactions due to medication errors or interactions. Caregivers and medical professionals, such as a doctor, nurse or physician assistant, should come to your senior center, group residence, or home and perform a complete medication review, to help you with the following needs:

·         Understand what medications you are taking and why
·         Learn how to properly take your medication and at what times for optimal results
·         Develop a medication chart that is easy to follow
·         Separate medication into daily/weekly containers
·         Create a telephone list of contact numbers or medication record in the case of an emergency to keep in a convenient location

For seniors to stay their healthiest and enjoy life to the fullest, it's important to have regular health checkups by a medical professional. Assessments can include:
·         Physical
·         Emotional
·         Psychosocial
·         Neurological
·         Chronic illness such as diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension and asthma
·         Hearing
·         Medication review

An indepth health program for seniors may provide more detailed provision for the following needs for wellness that focus on helping them strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook:

Gross motor skills—including balance and proprioception to keep you on your feet and active. Proprioception is the ability to innately sense your body’s position, movement, and spatial orientation, even when you are not looking. Examples of this are walking up and down steps without looking at each step, catching a fly ball, or closing the eyes and touching the nose.

Mental processing, motor planning, and motor sequencing—the ability to take information, process it, plan next actions, and implement those actions. The goal is to keep the senior’s mind and body working together.

Visual motor skills—like peripheral vision and efficient visual information processing—to maintain and enhance the mental connection between what seniors see and how their bodies reacts to it.

Personal Training--fitness specialists work with seniors one-on-one—at their comfort level—to develop a customized fitness plan that focuses on the areas and skills they wish to target.

Bone & Joint Health Program--uses state-of-the-art technology to help seniors safely and comfortably build bone, muscle, and joint strength and counteract the effects of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Accessible health, nutrition, exercise, and insurance information is increasingly important to older adults, seniors, and members of their families, who are often their part-time caregivers. Yet information about providers, programs, services, resources, and preventive care is overwhelming, confusing, and fairly inaccessible. Because many federal, state, and city programs overlap, older adults and seniors need help understanding what services are available and whether they qualify.

A good senior wellness program engages both English- and Spanish-speaking seniors to help them understand the information, services, benefits, and programs that exist to help them maintain and improve their physical health and emotional well-being. Senior wellness program benefits may also include:

·         Insurance counseling, including Medicare and Medicaid
·         Benefit Access Program
·         Energy assistance
·         Senior companion program
·         Pet companion service

Educational classes may include:
·         Aging well and diseases related to aging
·         Medical management for physical health and mental health
·         Crime prevention
·         Senior resources, including government benefits and housing information

Here are a few websites that have senior friendly information: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Home-Modification-for-Senior-Friendly-Living-104573.htm ; http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-in-seniors.aspx ; http://www.assistedlivingct.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/RT-Aging-in-Place-Safe-at-Home-Checklist.pdf ; http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/elderly-depression .

Senior wellness programs can be very basic, such as just providing an exercise program or minimal social services at a local senior daycare center, to as inclusive as providing most of the services described in this story. Depending on the financial capabilities of how seniors can most afford those programs, it is in the best interest of caregivers and those seniors they are assisting to help those senior adults in navigating their pending wellness needs.


Until next time.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Health Care and Sleep Apnea

One of the most challenging aspects of sleeping soundly is a health issue known as sleep apnea. It is a common disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain. Sufferers wake hundreds of times per night, each time normal breathing is interrupted and the brain is depleted of oxygen.

As a result, they never feel rested and experience excessive daytime grogginess. It is not a disease but increases risks of contracting other diseases and conditions. There are three types: obstructive, central and complex, which is a combination of the first two, according to SimpleSleepSolutions.com.

Central Sleep Apnea is caused when the brain fails to properly signal the muscles to breath. It is very uncommon and snoring is generally not a symptom.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea, with some estimates at 1 in 7 people in the U.S being afflicted with some form of OSA. In OSA, the muscles around the throat and airway relax, causing the airway to collapse. Sometimes the tongue falls back and obstructs the airway. The brain can no longer receive oxygen and sends a signal to the muscles to open, often causing the person to wake up with a gasp or a snort. Most of the time, sufferers do not recall waking up during these episodes.

More than 18 million adults have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It is very difficult at present to estimate the prevalence of childhood OSA because of widely varying monitoring techniques, but a minimum prevalence of 2 to 3% is likely, with prevalence as high as 10 to 20% in habitually snoring children. More information is located at this website: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea/page/0/1 .

Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired or unrefreshed even though you have had a full night of sleep, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. During the day, you may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating or you may even unintentionally fall asleep. This is because your body is waking up numerous times throughout the night, even though you might not be conscious of each awakening.

The lack of oxygen your body receives can have negative long-term consequences for your health. This includes:
·         High blood pressure
·         Heart disease
·         Stroke
·         Pre-diabetes and diabetes
·         Depression

If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause the tongue to fall back. This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway causes snoring by making the tissue in back of the throat vibrate as you breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea in adults is considered a sleep-related breathing disorder. Causes and symptoms differ for obstructive sleep apnea in children and central sleep apnea. More info is available at this site: http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/sleep-apnea .

Anyone can develop it, regardless of gender or age, and even children can be afflicted, according to Simple Sleep Solutions. The most common risk factors include:
·         Excess weight, especially obesity – about half of all OSA sufferers are overweight
·         Male, although recent research has indicated that women’s risk increases to about the same level as men once they reach post-menopausal age
·         Over the age of 60
·         Smoking
·         Enlarged tonsils and adenoids, one of the most common factors for children with OSA, particularly overweight children
·         Having certain anatomical features such as a thick neck, narrowed airway, deviated spectrum or a receding chin
·         Using alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers, all of which relax the muscles in the airway
·         Having asthma, in adults and children, particularly if they are overweight
·         Race and ethnicity can play a part as well – some studies have indicated African Americans, Hispanics and other races have a slightly higher risk
·         Allergies and chronic nasal congestion

Only a doctor or sleep specialist can confirm if you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea. More information is available at this website: http://www.simplesleepservices.com/what-is-sleep-apnea/ .

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results. Your primary care doctor may evaluate your symptoms first, and will then decide whether you need to see a sleep specialist. Sleep specialists are doctors who diagnose and treat people who have sleep problems. Examples of such doctors include lung and nerve specialists and ear, nose, and throat specialists. Other types of doctors also can be sleep specialists.

If you think you have a sleep problem, consider keeping a sleep diary for 1 to 2 weeks. Bring the diary with you to your next medical appointment. Write down when you go to sleep, wake up, and take naps. Also write down how much you sleep each night, how alert and rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel at various times during the day. This information can help your doctor figure out whether you have a sleep disorder.

Sleep studies are tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. These tests can help your doctor find out whether you have a sleep disorder and how severe it is. Sleep studies are the most accurate tests for diagnosing sleep apnea. There are different kinds of sleep studies.

If your doctor thinks you have sleep apnea, he or she may recommend a polysomnogram (also called a PSG) or a home-based portable monitor. Testing can show patterns and symptoms that can help lead to a diagnosis and treatment options. More information is available at this site: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea .

According to HelpGuide.org, if your sleep apnea is moderate to severe, or you’ve tried self-help strategies and lifestyle changes without success, a sleep doctor may help you find an effective treatment. Treatment for sleep apnea has come a long way in recent times, so even if you were unhappy with sleep apnea treatment in the past, you may now find something that works for you.

Treatments for central and complex sleep apnea usually include treating any underlying medical condition causing the apnea, such as a heart or neuromuscular disorder, and using supplemental oxygen and breathing devices while you sleep. Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include:
·         CPAP
·         Other breathing devices
·         Dental devices
·         Implants
·         Surgery

Medications are only available to treat the sleepiness associated with sleep apnea, not the sleep apnea itself. Much more material on this health care issue can be found at this website: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm .

According to this website: http://vjpillow.com/sleep-health-benefits-science/, there are at least 8 reasons why sleep is important to you. Check out how you benefit from getting good sleep; it's important to your health.  

Since so many people suffer from sleep apnea, it is perceived as a very common problem, but not that many take steps to deal with the problem. As sleep apnea can result in long term more severe health issues, it is advisable to see your doctor for a solution that is to your benefit. If you have it, or think you do, get help. You’ll sleep better for it.


Until next time.