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Some Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

 

  • One in eight women in the United States will be Diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and more than 40,000 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in males is rare, an estimated 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 440 will die each year.
  • About every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • More than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Exercise reduces breast cancer risk for women of all body types – even lean women, according to Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., director of cancer etiology at City of Hope.

 

Did YOU know??

 

Another top risk factor for breast cancer is getting older? YES.  – 79 percent of new cases and 88 percent of deaths occurred in women age 50 and older; according to the American Cancer Society fewer than 11,000 cases occurred in women younger than 40, and just under 49,000 in women under 50. In women ages 50 to 64, breast cancer was even more common with more than 84,000 cases. Women over age 65 accounted for more than 99,000 cases last year.

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Did you know that the (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and prevention rated (COMPLICATIONS) from Parkinson’s disease as the 14th top cause of Death in the United States?

Parkinson’s disease itself is not fatal, but the complications can be serious. For Example, Difficulty swallowing can lead a patient to aspirate food into lungs which can than lead to Pneumonia or other pulmonary conditions. In addition, loss of balance can lead to a fall that may cause serious injuries or even death.  Incidents depend greatly on a patients overall health and age.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly overtime in most people who have the disease.  Symptoms take years to develop and those with Parkinson’s live years with the disease.

 

Here Are 10 Early Warning signs of the disease:

 

  1. Trouble moving or walking (Stiffness in body, arms, or legs
  2. Constipation
  3. soft low voice (If there has been a change in voice, your voice is soft when speaking
  4. Masked face (Have you been told that you look: mad, serious, depressed and your NOT)
  5. Dizziness of fainting ( fainting or dizzy, also signs of low blood pressure
  6. Hunching over or stooping
  7. Tremors or shaking (in your finger, thumb, hand, chin, or lip)
  8. Small Handwriting (Overtime writing  may get smaller and smaller)
  9. Loss of smell (Trouble smelling certain foods: bananas, pickles, of licorice
  10. Trouble sleeping (Sudden movement during sleep)

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in health_care

 

Do you remember the last time you were physically active on purpose?? IE: went to the gym, jogged or even just simply went for a walk? Did you know that new research shows that exercise helps protect older adults' brains from memory loss and mental decline. In fact the UofM found, in their research that physical fitness reverses brain shrinkage. which is tied to Alzheimer's disease. 34 inactive participants ranging in age 61-68 engaged in a 12-week exercise regimen and the findings were impressive to say the least. They were shown to have improvements with their heart and lung function, and also the brain increased in thickness in the region that typically shrinks from Alzheimer's. You can find the study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

 

I Hope you found this helpful and will consider the benefits of being more active and decide to get moving and save your brain.

 

 

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When the thyroid is not working properly, the body is not using energy at the rate is should be and can cause many different health problems.

Thyroid disease is broken down into two main categories:

 

1. Hypothyroidism which is an underactive thyroid include - fatigue, constipation, depression, hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, hoarse voice, muscle aches, forgetfulness, and lack of mental clarity.

Treatment: Hypothyroidism - would be a gradual hormone replacement therapy.

Hypothyroidism is more common in adults over 60 and steadily increases with age. As many as 1 in 4 nursing home residents have hypothyroidism that goes undiagnosed.

 

2. Hyperthyroidism which is an overactive thyroid include - the functions of the body tend to speed up and cause symptoms such as excessive perspiration, rapid heart rate, slight tremors, increased bowel movements, weight loss, nervousness, fatigue, lack of mental clarity, and irregular heart rhythms.

Treatment: Hyperthyroidism can include - antithyroid drugs and radioactive iodine.

 

It is not uncommon for thyroid disease to look like heart or bowel disease or a nervous system disorder. Therefore, in older adults who may only present a couple of the symptoms of thyroid disease, it may go undiagnosed.

 

Testing: Usually a blood test and imaging test can be used to diagnose thyroid disease.

Thyroid disease is primarily a genetic disease

Prevention: Suggestions include proper exercisereducing stressnot smoking,RDA Iodine.

Requirements: lifelong follow-up for the more common Hypothyroid disease

Because lifelong follow-up is required, a great option for your loved one would be to hire a caregiver who can accompany them to their doctor appointments, and take notes recording what the doctor suggests.  This will aid them to have an improved quality of life. If the doctor changes their medications, the caregiver can take note of it for you.

If you or your loved one is dealing with a diagnosis of thyroid disease and you need some extra help, call ElderCaring to find out how we can help.  We will connect you with a qualified caregiver to help make life easier and enhance quality of life for you and your loved ones. You don’t have to do this alone. If you are the primary caregiver for your loved one, we can come alongside you to provide respite care and give you time off for yourself.  We have full-time and part-time options.

Call today to set up a free in-home consultation to discuss your options.

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Vision loss can cause your world to become a frightening place, especially if it is caused by a sudden, traumatic event.  Your once simple, seemingly mundane life has been turned around.

*Tasks you had previously completed with ease, are now much more complicated.

*Family members will want to keep you safe and protected, but this can often lead to smothering.  Those with vision loss should be encouraged to become independent once again.  This will help the person with the vision loss as well as the family member.  Often times, family members caring for an aging, sick or visually impaired loved one can become overwhelmed with the responsibility.

*This is when a qualified caregiver can come in to relieve the stress of the family members, while at the same time allow their loved one to regain some of that independence which was lost.  At ElderCaring, we can connect you with a caregiver to do just that.  Our caregivers can help with light housework, personal hygiene, laundry, meal planning and preparation, organization, escort to doctor’s appointments, and much more.  When dealing with someone who has recent vision loss, it can feel like a monumental task to organize each area of the home for ease and safety.  Our caregivers can help organize closets, pantries, cupboards, bathrooms, etc. to make it easier for those with vision loss to find what they need when they are alone.  This will give them greater independence.  We also provide live-in assistance if you feel you loved one needs around-the-clock care. This may be a short-term option for those with very recent vision loss until they regain some independence.  You can easily transition from 24 hour assistance to fewer hours as needed.  Whatever your need, know you are not alone in this.  ElderCaring will be there with a screened, qualified caregiver for as long as needed.

Questions to ask yourself if you or your loved one are dealing with vision loss:

Are you feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to do?

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of your loved one experiencing vision loss?

If you answered yes to either of these questions then you could definitely benefit from the support of an in-home caregiver backed by the top agency servicing Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indio, Indian Wells and Cathedral City. Get the support you need now before your health becomes an issue, because you need to be healthy in order to be there for your loved ones who depend upon you for help.

Isn't it time you called today to get that long awaited and much needed help?

Call us today for a free, no-obligation home assessment.

 

For some helpful information on vision and brain injury, here is a link to an article written by Thomas Politzer, O.D.  Former President of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association:

Introduction to Vision & Brain Injury

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Posted by on in Senior Health

What is glaucoma?

It is the leading cause of blindness. In the US, 9%-11% of all cases of blindness are caused by glaucoma. An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know it. It is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye. There is no cure for glaucoma, but if caught early, it is possible to stop further vision loss. There may be no symptoms, such as pain or pressure in the eye, to warn you that you have glaucoma. It may begin with loss of peripheral vision or small blind spots in the field of vision. The fluid in your eye is constantly being cycled and is regulated to maintain the balance between the fluid being produced and the fluid filtered out. If this becomes unbalanced, it changes the pressure in your eye and can damage your optic nerve. Because of the lack of symptoms, it is important to have regular eye exams. The intraocular pressure check and visual field tests can alert you to high pressure in your eye. Early glaucoma treatment can avoid any damage to the optic nerve and vision.

If you or a loved one suffers from glaucoma, it is possible to slow the progression of the disease by combining medical treatment with supplements and lifestyle changes. Here are a few suggestions:

 

  1. Eat fresh vegetables every day, make your meals as colorful as possible.

  2. Take a good vitamin/mineral supplement.

  3. Exercise daily.

  4. Have regular appointments with your doctor.

Living with low vision or blindness:

Sometimes, people with vision loss find it hard to ask for help, for fear of being a nuisance. Tasks that once required no thought, such as hanging a picture, now require the help of a friend or caregiver. When offering to help, you should be specific. Instead of, “Give me a call if you need anything.” say something like, “I'm going shopping, would you like to come along?”

You can also provide help in their home by reducing clutter and removing throw rugs, increasing lighting (halogen bulbs are best for those with low vision), use lampshades and sheer curtains to reduce glare, purchase address stickers for any forms they may need to fill out, encourage them to use voice memos instead of written shopping lists, increase the contrast between items such as the stove and pots or table/counter and dishes, use wide tape that contrasts with the carpet/wall color to outline stairs and electrical outlets, use large print labels for pantry items and keep them organized – putting them back in the same place each time they are used.

 

Be My Eyes is a great app for those who need assistance with small things like checking a food label at a grocery store or the expiration date on the milk in their fridge. Click on the link for more information:

BeMyEyes

If you would like assistance while you are dealing with the effects of glaucoma, contact us at ElderCaring. We would love to connect you with a caregiver to help ease the stress of meal planning/preparation and doctor appointments, and provide you with many other services.

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Posted by on in Senior Health

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection that has spread by way of the bloodstream. It is caused by an immune reaction triggered by an infection, most commonly from a bacteria. Sepsis can occur from any kind of infection, even a minor one. Because sepsis is caused by an infection, the symptoms can include regular infection signs as well as:

  • A fever above 101.3 F
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Increased heart rate (higher than 90 beats a minute)
  • Sleepiness or confusion
  • Shortness of breath (higher than 20 breaths a minute)

Anyone can develop sepsis, but it's most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Sepsis can progress to septic shock and death if it is not treated quickly. The earlier sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the more likely you are to survive. If you are continuing to feel worse or not getting better after you have had surgery, it is important that you tell your doctor that you are concerned about sepsis. People hospitalized for other reasons often develop sepsis as a secondary complication. Doctors usually treat people with sepsis in the hospital with antibiotics as soon as possible. Many people who have suffered with sepsis completely recover and return to life as usual. Unfortunately, some people may experience permanent damage to their organs. It is important to see your doctor if you think you may have developed sepsis. In an effort to prevent sepsis, you should clean any cuts, scrapes and wounds well, and practice good hygiene such as washing your hands and bathing regularly. If you have developed an infection, watch for the signs of sepsis.

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Well here we are--another month has passed-- a new topic to discuss!!

When we see or hear the word "immunizations", we usually think of infants and school age children. But immunizations are for people of all ages--even us 'older adults'.

Older adults need to get certain vaccines to protect their health and prevent serious diseases.

SHINGLES: At the age of 60 and older, you need to get a vaccine to prevent shingles. Shingles is a painful rash, often with blisters. The vaccine reduces the risk of shingles by 50%. A single, one time dose of the shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older.

PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE: At the age of 65 or older, you need to get a pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease which includes pneumonia, meningitis and certain blood infections. Adults with certain medical conditions may receive a pneumonia vaccine earlier than the age of 65. Your physician would inform you of this need.

INFLUENZA VACCINE (FLU VACCINE): All adults should get a flu vaccine every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. The flu spreads easily from person to person. When you get the flu vaccine, you don't just protect yourself, you also protect everyone around you.

Tdap and Td VACCINES: The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). Us adults age 60 and older may not be as familiar with the Tdap vaccine. We are more familiar with the Td vaccine (tetanus and diphtheria). Pertussis (whooping cough) was practically eradicated by the 1970's. It started to re-emerge about 40 years later (2000's). The Tdap vaccine entered the scene in hopes of eradicating pertussis again. Everyone needs to get the Tdap vaccine once. After a dose of the Tdap--booster dose of Td should be given every 10 years.

**There are always side effects, risks and contraindications with vaccines. One should discuss the pros and cons with your physician to make an informed decision on what is best for you!**

 

Tagged in: elder care senior care
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Posted by on in Senior Health

USE OF SUNSCREEN

Sunscreen is a product that you put on your skin to protect it from the sun's UV rays. But it is important to know that sunscreen is just a filter-it does not block all UV rays.

Sunscreens are available in many forms-lotions, creams, ointments, gels, sprays, wipes and lip balms to nae a few.

Some cosmetics, such as moisturizers, lipsticks and foundations are considered sunscreen products if they have sunscreen. Some makeup contains sunscreen, but you have to check the label-makeup, including lipstick, without sunscreen does not provide protection.

READ LABELS

When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.

Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection.

Sunscreens labeled with SPF's as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people don't understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen protects you completely.

Sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 must now include a warning on the label stating that the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.

Broad spectrum sunscreens: Sunscreen products can only be labeled "broad spectrum" if they have been tested and shown to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some of the chemicals in sunscreens that help protect against UVA rays include avobenzone (Parsol 1789), ecamsule, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Only broad spectrum sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if use as directed with other sun protection measures (as discussed last week).

Water resistant sunscreen: Sunscreens are no longer allowed to be labeled as "waterproof" or "sweatproof" because these terms can be misleading. Sunscreens can claim to be "water resistant", but they have to state whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming, based on testing.

Expiration dates: Check the expiration date to be sure it's still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least 2-3 years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods may be less effective.

BE SURE TO APPLY THE SUNSCREEN PROPERLY

Always follow the label directions. Most recommend applying sunscreen generously. When putting it on, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms and any other areas not covered by clothing. If you're going to wear insect repellant or makeup, put the sunscreen on first.

Ideally, about 1 ounce of sunscreen (about a shot glass or palmful) should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult. Sunscreens needs to be reapplied at least every 2 hours to maintain protection. Sunscreens can wash off when you swim and/or sweat and then wipe off with a towel, so they might have to be reapplied more often. Be sure to read the label. And don't forget your lips, lip balm with sunscreen is also available.

I hope the information shared this month helps you enjoy the sun a little more safely!!

New topic next month!!

 

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People who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer and eye problems.

Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but you don't have to avoid the sun completely. Physical activity is important for good health, so you don't want to stay inside all the time. But getting too much sun can be harmful. You have to have balance and take steps to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun.

Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure. if you are going to be in the sun, "Slip!" "Slop!" "Slap!" and "Wrap!" is a catchphrase that can help you remember some of the steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays: slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.

SEEK SHADE

Seeking shade here in the desert is a challenge! Avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long, especially between the hours of 11Am and 2pm when UV light is strongest. UV rays can also reach below the water's surface, so you can still get a burn even if you're in the water and feeling cool.

Some UV rays can also pass through windows. Typical car windows block most UVB rays but a smaller portion of UVA rays. Tinted windows help block more UVA rays. If you spend a lot of time in your car, it would be wise to apply sunscreen, especially to left arm for driver for protection.

PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH CLOTHING

When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to cover as much skin as possible. Most protective are long-sleeved shirts and long pants as they cover the most skin. Dark colors generally provide more protection then light colors.

Some companies now make clothing that's lightweight, comfortable, and protects against UV exposure. These sun-protective clothes may have a label listing the UV protection factor (UPF) value. The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.

WEAR A HAT

A hat with at least a 2-3" brim all around is ideal because it protects areas that are often exposed to intense sun, such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. A shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7" of fabric draping down the side and back) also is good, and will provide more protection for the neck.

WEAR SUNGLASSES THAT BLOCK UV RAYS

UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves.

The ideal sunglasses should block 99%-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say "UV absorption up to 400nm" or "Meets ANSI requirements" means the glasses block at least 99% of rays, Those labeled "cosmetic" block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don't assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Hope I provided you with some useful information. Next week: all about sunscreen!

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Posted by on in Senior Health

JUNE IS NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH!!

Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages--and the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-44. There are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries.

We can use this month to raise awareness about important safety issues like: prescription medication abuse; transportation safety; ergonomics; emergency preparedness; slips, trips and falls.

This week we will focus on prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse is when a person doesn't take his/her prescription medicine properly. This term is usually reserved for abuse of "controlled substances" or narcotics e.g. pain, sleep or anxiety medicine. But it can also refer to any medication that is not taken as prescribed.

People who abuse prescription drugs may take more medicine than their doctor instructed, take medicine when it is not needed, or mix the medicine with alcohol or other drugs. This can lead to serious problems, such as addiction, drug interactions or overdose.

Older adults are at risk for prescription drug abuse because they take more prescription medicines than other age groups. Americans 65 years of age or older make up only 13% of the U.S. population, yet they consume 33% of all prescription drugs.

Older adults are also at risk for prescription drug abuse because they often take more than one prescription medicine each day. This increases the risks for mistakes when taking the medicines and for drug interactions.

In addition, growing older slows down your liver's ability to filter medicines out of your body.

How to help the elderly with their prescribed medications:

Keep all physicians your loved one sees up to date with medications prescribed. This includes any herbal therapies and OTC (over the counter) medicines. OTC medicines are ones you buy at a store without a prescription.

Medication list should be reviewed at each visit.

If loved one is not capable of managing medications--a family member or caregiver shuld dispense medications.

Keep medications out of reach if loved one not reliable.

ElderCaring is here to provide care in your home!!!

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Posted by on in Senior Health

SAFETY AND MOBILITY

We will end the month addressing some safety and mobility issues with stroke survivors. You may need to make modifications that require professional installation, especially if your loved one is in a wheelchair.

*Entry ways and hallways should have a 32 inch clearance to accommodate people in wheelchairs. An uneven threshold should be fixed or changed to prevent tripping and allow easier wheelchair access.  A portable ramp is often an affordable solution.

*Stroke survivors who are unable to grasp with their fingers or twist their wrists to open doors can use a downward movement of their fist top open lever door handles more easily than regular doorknobs.

*To allow for movement in a wheelchair, furniture may need to be moved and thick rugs may need to be replaced. Throw rugs should be removed unless they are secured sufficiently to the floor with non-skid tape.

*Stroke survivors who are ambulatory can benefit by wearing non-skid shoes to prevent slipping. Handrails should be installed on all stairs to provide support.

*A stair glide or stair lift is a way to transport a person up or down stairs while the person is seated. It may be expensive to install. Another option is a platform lift which is similar to a small elevator.

*Pathways should be clear of clutter and electrical cords.

*Phones should be easily accessible in every room of the house. Cordless phones or a wearable call button may be necessary. Emergency phone numbers should be posted in a highly visible area. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and check them regularly. Have a well-thought-out and posted fire escape plan.

ELDERCARING is here for you!!! Call for information on getting in-home care for your loved one!

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When your loved one suffers a stroke, you may have a lot of questions about whether your loved one will recover and what his/her needs will be in the months and years ahead. It can be overwhelming.

Here are some tips that can help you balance the needs of the stroke survivor with your own health and happiness. In the first weeks after a stroke, you'll have a lot to learn and assess as you look to the future.

EDUCATE YOURSELF: There can be a lot to learn, so take advantage of every opportunity to learn about stroke and your loved one's condition and prognosis. Take part in support groups or programs that are offered by the hospital and/or rehabilitation center. Talk with the health care team about what the stroke recovery and rehabilitation process will be.

LOOK INTO INSURANCE/FINANCES: Medicare and/or health insurance will cover most of the hospitalization expenses. There may be restrictions on which facilities and providers are covered. Be sure to find out exactly what is covered and what out-of-pocket payments may be needed. Also, remember, that as your loved one gains abilities or is no longer progressing, coverage may change or stop. A Social Worker or Case Manager may be able to assist you in these insurance issues.

STROKE REHABILITATION: Attend a few therapy sessions so that you can support your loved one during the recovery process. Be supportive and allow survivors to do things for themselves. It may take them longer to accomplish a task but once done- will help them become more self-reliant and confident!

ASSESS NEEDS WITH ABILITY TO MEET THEM: Your loved one's health care team can help you determine what kind of help will be needed. Caregivers often need to: provide personal care such as bathing and dressing; coordinate health care needs including medications and appointments (both doctor and rehab); manage finances and insurance; help the survivor maintain and increase his/her ability to function. Remember you can't do everything!! Be realistic about what you can take on and what you may need help with.  ElderCaring can provide skilled caregivers!!!

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The month of May recognizes a few topics that are relevant to the "Elder" community. We will profile STROKE AWARENESS. Hope you find this information helpful and you learn something new. If you or a loved one needs assistance in your home, call ElderCaring for the perfect caregiver!

WHAT IS A STROKE?

A stroke is a "brain attack". It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

While stroke prevention and treatment research is ongoing, the most important things you can do now is know the symptoms and fight as many of the risk factors as you can.

STROKE FACTS:

Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke.

One out of 6 people will suffer a stroke in his or her lifetime.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S.

American Stroke Month is a yearly opportunity to make more people aware that stroke threatens millions of American lives, young and old, male and female, from every background.

Stroke is preventable, treatable and beatable if spotted F.A.S.T. and 911 called.

F=face drooping

A= arm weakness

S= speech difficulty

T= time to call 911

Beyond F.A.S.T.-- other symptoms you should know: sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face; sudden confusion or trouble understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If someone shows any of these symptoms, immediately call 911! Note the tome of the first symptom. This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.

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Parkinson's Disease can eventually lead to slow or delayed balance responses. Your doctor may recommend a Home Safety Evaluation where an Occupational Therapist comes to the home and provides tips to make your home safer.

This week we will list some safety tips for various rooms in your home. Hope you find some of these helpful!

One safety challenge many patients with advance Parkinson's face is "freezing". Freezing is the temporary, involuntary inability to move. There is no known cause and the episodes are unpredictable. Here are some tips for patients to try to help alleviate a "freezing" episode: marching, shifting weight of body from one leg to another, listening to rhythmical music and stepping with the rhythm, using a mobile laser device that creates a line in front of them to step over.

BATHROOM  SAFETY TIPS: Most falls take place in the bathroom because of difficulty getting on/off the toilet; in/out of tub; difficulty seeing due to lighting issues;slipping on wet surfaces; tripping on throw rugs or dizziness. Here are some tips: Use of bath bench or shower chair. Elevated toilet seat. Grab bars and/or tub rail. Hand held shower. Lower heat of water to prevent burns. Light switch near door--always put light on before entering room. Use of nightlight. Rubber mat and/or non-skid decals in bath/shower. Make sure all throw rugs have intact rubber backing.

KITCHEN SAFETY TIPS: Use longer cabinet handles versus knobs as handles make it easier to open/close doors. Install sliding drawers to avoid need to reach or bend over too far to look in back of drawers. Use a single handle faucet as easier to control and turn on/off. Place frequently used items for cooking within easy reach. Make sure a smoke alarm is in working order.

BEDROOM SAFETY TIPS: Make sure your bed is easy to get in and out of in terms of height-average height is 22 inches. Consider use of bedside commode and/or urinal if bathroom not close. Make clothing accessible: clothing rods should be at height that is easy to reach. Store clothing in drawers that will allow access without stooping/bending. Carpets should be smooth to create a safe walking surface. Adequate lighting: keep flashlight available in case of power outage; lamps and/or light switches near bed to avoid having to walk in dark; nightlight. Have telephone and clock near bedside.

LIVING ROOM SAFETY TIPS: Make sure all furniture is secure, sturdy and does not swivel. Have adequate lighting. Adequate space to move around furniture. Adjustable blinds/shades to regulate glare. Room free of clutter to prevent a fall. All cords are out of the flow of foot traffic.

STAIRWAY SAFETY TIPS: Provide adequate lighting. Apply brightly colored tape to the top and bottom step to show beginning and end of steps. Apply non-skid surface to steps. Install a ramp over stairs if unable to safely climb steps. Install hand rails on at least one side of steps. Keep step clutter free.

Living with Parkinson's is a challenge for patient, family, friends and caregivers. I hope we have provided some useful information to you this month. Please feel free to contact us if we can provide assistance.

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DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF PARKINSON'S

DIAGNOSIS: There is no definitive test for Parkinson's. One's primary physician is often the first to make the diagnosis after taking a careful neurological history and exam. One of the most important things to remember about diagnosing Parkinson's is that there must be two of the four main symptoms (see last week's blog) present over a period of time for Parkinson's to be considered.

Once Parkinson's is considered,it is suggested that you be referred to a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson's--often referred to as a movement disorder specialist. The examination by the neurologist remains the first and most important diagnostic tool. This includes: a detailed medical history and physical examination; detailed history of your current and past medications, to make sure you are not taking medications that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's; performing tasks to assess the agility of arms and legs, muscle tone, your gait and balance. The response to medications (that imitate or stimulate the production of dopamine) causing a significant improvement in symptoms is how the diagnosis of Parkinson's is made clinically.

When questions arise, some newer imaging modalities such as PET and DAT scans may aid diagnosis, when performed by an expert in neuroimaging. DAT scan is FDA approved for differentiating Parkinson's from essential tremor.

 

TREATMENT: There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but medication and therapy is used to treat its symptoms. The treatment for each person with Parkinson's is based on his or her symptoms. Treatments include medications, surgical options and lifestyle modifications.

MEDICATIONS: aimed at either temporarily replenishing dopamine or mimic the action of dopamine. These types of drugs are dopaminergic. They help reduce muscle rigidity, improve speed and coordination of movement and lesson tremor. Caution: These medications may have interactions with certain foods, other medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, over the counter cold pills and other remedies. Discuss all medications with physician!

SURGICAL OPTIONS: surgical treatment is reserved for Parkinson's patients who have exhausted medical treatment. Options should be discussed with physician.

LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS: exercise is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities. Getting more rest is also very important.

SPEECH AND SWALLOWING: people with Parkinson's may notice changes in or difficulty with chewing, eating, speaking or swallowing. It is recommended to see a speech-language pathologist for proper evaluation and treatment of these issues.

Hope you found this information helpful. We at ElderCaring can provide excellent caregivers to you in your home.

Next week: Living with Parkinson's.

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A new month and a new topic for us to focus on! We at ElderCaring can provide experienced caregivers for your loved one living with Parkinson's.

WHAT IS PARKINSON'S? Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. Most people's symptoms take years to develop, and they live for years with the disease.

In short, a person's brain slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With less and less dopamine, a person has less and less ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions.

Parkinson's disease itself is not fatal. However, complications from the disease are serious.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's. The doctor's goal will be to treat your symptoms to keep your quality of life as high as possible.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE?

Four Main Motor Symptoms of Parkinson's:

1. Shaking or tremor at rest.

2. Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia.

3. Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk.

4. Trouble with balance and falls, also called postural instability. This usually appears later with disease progression and may not be present with initial diagnosis.

Secondary Symptoms:

Small, cramped handwriting, called micrographia.

Reduced arm swing on the affected side.

Slight foot drag on affected side creating a shuffled walk.

"Freezing"- a term used to describe the phenomenon of being 'stuck in place' when attempting to walk.

Loss of facial expression due to rigidity of facial muscles, called hypomimia.

Low voice volume or muffled speech, called hypophonia.

Tendency to fall backwards, called retropulsion.

Decrease ability in automatic reflexes such as blinking and swallowing.

Other Symptoms:

Depression, anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, sleep disturbances (vivid dreams, talking and moving during night sleep), constipation, pain and increase in dandruff or oily skin.

All these symptoms can vary widely between people in terms of their type and severity.

 

Next week: Diagnosis and treatment.

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HELP FOR SENIORS WITH VISION LOSS: TIPS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND CAREGIVERS

Vision loss can greatly affect the participation levels and safety of seniors. As people lose vision they tend to isolate themselves and do not believe they can still maintain an active, independent life style. We at ElderCaring can assist in achieving a safe environment to keep your loved one home. We can help you choose an experienced caregiver to meet your needs.

Different eye conditions (as explained in last week's blog) affect the ability to see and function in varying ways. Example: macular degeneration affects central vision and the ability to read, see faces and drive.

Tips to help provide a friendlier, safer environment for one experiencing vision loss:

1. Control glare by using appropriate window coverings. Make sure person is not seated facing window. Position lighting directly onto tasks such as reading, cards or hobbies.

2. Increase use of contrast: paint door trims, put contrasting tape on steps.

3. Use white index cards or light yellow paper with large print using a dark colored, bold tip pen for activity calenders and labeling.

4. Use of magnification: magnifying glasses; large print books, calenders, calculators, remote control devices, clocks, watches and playing cards.

5. When walking with one with vision loss-offer your arm for the person to hold unto. Walk about 1/2 step ahead to avoid objects in the pathway. This assistance is called "sighted guide".

6. Face person directly when talking to them.

7. Describe the place setting and food arrangement on the plate in terms of a clock face so the person can participate in meal time more confidently. You may even offer to cut food into bite size pieces if the person is worried about cutting self. Can also use same clock face technique to describe furniture placement in rooms. Do not move furniture or objects without announcing changes ahead of time.

8. Use of canes and even dogs can be used to help one with low vision to navigate.

 

LOW VISION SPECIALISTS

These professionals have the knowledge and experience to help find personal solutions for specific needs. Vision rehabilitation can help with mobility training as well as methods to organize, mark and label things, and resources for and proper use of low vision aides. Many vision rehabilitation programs even offer mental health services to help with the anxiety or depression that often accompanies loss of vision.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vision problems are more common as we get older.

Most common causes are: Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.

CATARACTS: a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. Cataracts can make it difficult to read or drive a car. When your vision becomes impaired that it interferes with usual activities- you might need surgery. Cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.

MACULAR DEGENERATION: a disease of the center of the retina called the macula. The macular is used for detailed work like reading, watching television or driving. Macular degeneration comes on slowly and impairs the center of vision. Usually causes blurry vision. Discussion with your Ophthalmologist regarding treatment options is suggested.

GLAUCOMA: an eye disease that causes loss of peripheral (side) vision; also, increased pressure inside the eye. Cause not known. Can be treated with eye drops and sometimes laser surgery.

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY: an eye disease associated with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Diabetics need a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year and ongoing discussions with physicians regarding treatments.

Be looking out for next week's blog for further insights on your vision!

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You start to notice little things when you visit your parents...the kitchen hasn't been cleaned for days,  you aren't sure if they are taking their medicine, and the scariest...once the stove was still on.  Maybe they need some help. Or maybe you already spend a lot of time helping them and you need a break.  In-home care could really give you some peace-of-mind.  However, you may be hesitant because you think you can't afford it.  Fortunately, there are many levels of home care and it may be more affordable than you think.  

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Deciding on care for a loved one who has had a stroke can be a very stressful situation.  Do they need 24-hour care at a live-in facility or are they able to return home?  Rehabilitation can be a long and slow process, and most likely, even if they are able to live at home, the loved one will probably need some degree of help.  Of course, you will need to speak with the medical professionals and your loved one to determine exactly what care they might need.

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Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.   Some normal memory loss is age-related, however, if these problems interfere with daily life, this may be a sign of early Alzheimer's.   If your loved one is experiencing any of the following behaviors, you should schedule an appointment to meet with their doctor.  Although this can seem overwhelming, keep in mind that there is help for managing these symptoms.   ElderCaring can provide the assistance your loved one needs to maintain their independence and quality of life.

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