Category Archives: Senior Health

Five Symptoms it Might be Worth Trying to Treat Naturally

Some symptoms of disease or illness demand the need for medical attention and prescription or over-the-counter medication. However, not every ache and pain should send you reaching for pills. There are many treatment options involving items that you probably have lying around the house. The following are some symptoms you may experience that are worth treating with a natural remedy. Five Symptoms it Might be Worth Trying to Treat Naturally

Headache

Headaches are one of the ailments most frequently experienced. A headache can be debilitating, making it difficult to focus or concentrate on routine tasks. While it is common to reach for an over-the-counter pain killer like Motrin or Advil, there are some natural options believed to help cure the pain just as effectively. Many people have experienced relief from a headache by drinking ginger tea. Acupuncture and pressure point massage are two other options for those who are battling migraines.

Stomachache

Instead of reaching for the Pepto-Bismol or Mylanta next time you are experiencing a stomachache, try a natural remedy. The anti-inflammatory properties in ginger root can calm an aching stomach. For cramps, use a warm compress or heating pad to find relief. To treat indigestion, mix a tablespoon of baking soda into a glass of warm water.

Sore Throat

A sore throat can be irritating and disruptive to daily life and negatively affect sleep. Licorice root dissolved into warm water is believed to have powerful soothing properties. Honey dissolved into warm tea has also long been used as a natural home remedy.

Aches and Pains

A very effective natural remedy for muscle soreness and overall body ache is a warm bath with Epsom salt. Fill your tub with bathwater and add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt. Soak in the warm water for 15-20 minutes to find relief.

Vertigo and Dizziness

Vertigo symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, sweating and vomiting. There are some natural remedies that have proven to be effective at helping get rid of these symptoms. One of the most common procedures involves lying down on a table or on the floor on one side until symptoms begin to decrease. Switch the other side and continue to lay there until the symptoms totally dissipate.

Many common aches and pains can be cured with simple natural remedies. Next time you experience one of these five symptoms, pass on the medication and try one of these methods. You just might experience faster and more effective relief from your aches and pains.

How to Plan a Nutritious Menu Your Elderly Residents Will Love

As people age, their nutritional needs remain the same, but a healthier diet has been shown to reduce the risks of many conditions common to older people, such as diabetes, bone loss and stroke. Eating well can help patients with existing conditions manage chronic conditions by keeping blood sugar steady, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Caloric needs change from person to person depending on age, sex, level of physical activity, and other factors. Finding the right balance of activity, nutrients, and calories can result in a longer life with more energy and fewer complications.

Great food choices have a remarkable effect on how the body works. The right amount of fiber and fluid can make digestion easy and comfortable, which will reduce bloating and lessen chances of constipation, gas, or other uncomfortable issues.

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Aging means increased risk of heart disease, dementia, and chronic disease. It’s more difficult to recover from injury and falls are common. Healthy changes include reducing sodium and saturated fats, and adding antioxidant-rich foods, calcium, and fiber.

Herbs are surprisingly nutritious. Substitute fresh parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil, and other varieties for salt add flavor and nutritional value.

Organization and Planning

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Meticulous planning can be tedious, but it’s a great way to keep costs down while taking advantage of seasonal produce and readily available supplies. Meals should be based on quality and nutrition, considering feedback from patients and insight from team members involved in all aspects of food service. Consult with your team’s dietitian during the planning stage to ensure the meals meet the health and regulatory needs of the patients and the facility.

One of the main goals of healthcare menu planning is cutting waste. In the past, few choices were offered and a lot of food landed in the trash, leaving diners undernourished, underfed. and unhappy. By eliminating foods your charges dislike and offering an array of choices, you allow people to make healthy choices they really want to eat.

Respecting their choices shows elderly residents they have a voice, and that the people charged with their care do care. Build in flexibility to tweak the menu as you go, adding more popular choices and cutting down on dishes that add nothing to the experience.

Addressing Multiple Dietary Issues

One of the most challenging aspects to menu planning for elderly residents is addressing dietary restrictions for people with multiple health conditions. An alarming percentage of elderly patients in long-term care facilities have nutritional deficiencies.

Get creative with the food by adding combination vegetable and fruit smoothies for picky eaters, offering tasty low-sugar cream pies made with yogurt or ricotta cheese and dressed up with colorful berries loaded with fiber and antioxidants. People who have trouble chewing or swallowing will appreciate the thought that goes into delicious soft treats and you’ll have the satisfaction of making sure they get the rainbow of vegetables and fruits they need to stay healthy.

Some residents will have delicate digestion issues. Nausea or other side effects from medications can be difficult to address. The patient may not want to eat at all, or may only agree to something inappropriate like banana pudding or chocolate milkshakes. Be ready with down-home favorites updated with nutrition supplements and healthier ingredients.

Cultural Uptake

We live in such a richly diverse culture today that restricting your menu to one type of cuisine may prove a boring mistake. Consider the regional cuisines popular in the area where the facility is located and the age and various ethnicities of your residents. You may need to create healthier versions of old favorites, but nothing is more appealing than food you grew up with. Don’t underestimate the power of cooking smells. Stimulating the senses with memories of home of youth will also stimulate your diners’ appetites.

A Feast for the Eyes

Once you’ve detailed your new menu, consider presentation. A colorful display with an array of healthy choices, fresh fruit and vegetables, and aromatic hot foods will help your residents react positively to mealtime. Even unappetizing pureed meals can be presented in an attractive way. Butternut squash soup swirled with just a bit of creme fraiche and garnished with a sprig of fresh basil looks less like something an invalid is forced to eat and more like a gourmet entree.

Making the Change

Offering more choices, creative menus, and fresher foods may require an overhaul of your entire healthcare food service process from the way you order to the way you serve. It will be worth it. Excellent food and response to patient wants and needs makes everybody happy, including staff, patients, and patient families.

The VA Nutrition and Food Services made the switch, and the results have been dramatic and impressive. One of the most successful implementations of the new VA attitude towards food service can be found at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. The staff reports that less food is being discarded and patients are making far more healthy choices on their own when given choices they actually want to eat. The hospital has invested in new carts with cold and hot compartments and a serving station. Foodservice workers take the patient’s order and plate right on the spot, giving restaurant quality meals in a bedside setting as opposed to the old method of plating in a central kitchen far from patient floors and then delivering dozens of lukewarm, no-choice meals to an entire ward at once.

Even with a limited budget and a program mired in tradition, the VA foodservice has broken from the past to address a new, more savvy generation of baby boomer vets who are accustomed to a different lifestyle and a fresher outlook on institutional meals.

Bio: Sherry Gray is a freelance writer from Key West, FL. She writes about medical, science, college and business topics. Connect with Sherry on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Caring for an Elder with Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (also known as A-fib) can be difficult to understand and plan a life caring for another around. Understanding A-fib and the dangers involved with the disease can help you center your care on an elder’s needs.

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A-fib is an irregular heart rate that usually causes the rest of the body to receive reduced blood flow. The upper chambers in the heart tend to beat out of time with the lower chambers. A person can have occasional or chronic A-fib. Occasional or paroxysmal A-fib is marked by symptoms lasting from a minute long or an hour long before returning to normal. On the other hand, chronic A-fib means that the person’s heart chambers are always out of sync with each other and symptoms may last much longer if left untreated. This can lead to serious complications, even though A-fib is not deadly in itself. Here’s what you need to know as a caretaker.

Many things can cause Atrial Fibrillation

There are several conditions associated with A-fib. The following things may cause A-fib:

  • viral infections

  • stimulant use

  • overactive Thyroid

  • stress

  • chronic lung diseases

  • sleep apnea

  • high blood pressure

  • heart attack

  • congenital heart defects

  • unusual heart valves

  • prior surgery on the heart

The symptoms

Although some sufferers of A-fib may not experience any symptoms at all, people with A-fib will experience chest pain, heart palpitations, decreased blood pressure, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, confusion and weakness.  If you ever hear a patient discussing how they feel a fluttering or pounding feeling in their chest accompanied by dizziness they need to get checked for A-fib. It is more common in senior citizens as the likelihood of developing A-fib increases with age. Too many cases go undiagnosed which is dangerous.

Deadly Complications

Stroke is a serious complication that can arise from A-fib due to the blood pooling in the upper chambers of the heart. Pools of blood can easily form clots that then travel through the bloodstream, and into the brain where they do serious damage. An ischemic stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is cut off because of a clot. Without oxygen, the nerve cells in the brain will die with no chance of restoration. 75% of strokes are due to blood clots which makes ischemic strokes the most common type. About 20% of strokes in the U.S. are caused by A-fib. Approximately 70% of sufferers of A-fib who also suffer a stroke die because of it.

If anybody is showing signs of stroke call 911 right away and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even just one symptom is reason to be concerned. Note the time that symptoms began so you can give this information to healthcare providers. Every second counts to be able to prevent permanent brain damage and disability.

Heart failure can also be a result of A-fib. As time passes, untreated A-fib will weaken the heart to the point of exhaustion.

Medication to prevent stroke

Coumadin (Warfarin) is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that has dangerous side effects including internal bleeding. If a patient is taking Warfarin it is important to have regular blood monitoring performed by a doctor. While it is dangerous because it may cause internal bleeding, there is a reversal agent for Warfarin, so the risk is a bit lower than some others.

Pradaxa (Dabigatran) doesn’t require a doctor monitor your blood, and is as successful as Warfarin in preventing blood clots but this medication is not for those with an artificial heart valve. Many find it quite unsettling that Pradaxa lacks a reversal agent and therefore has a much higher risk for fatal internal bleeding, which has triggered many lawsuits.

Knowing about treatment options

It’s possible to fully relieve the irregular heart rhythm by taking care of underlying conditions, but each case is different and a doctor may need to reset the heart rhythm.  A doctor can reset the rhythm using a procedure called cardioversion which can be done either an electrical shock to the heart or with medication.

Surgery might be necessary if cardioversion doesn’t work. There are two main surgical procedures that control A-fib including Radio Frequency Catheter Ablation and Surgical Maze Procedure. Both stop the atria from sending irregular electrical impulses to the ventricles either by using a pacemaker or simply altering the pathways of electrical current by creating scar tissue.

Consult a doctor

Advise an elder with any symptoms of atrial fibrillation to see a doctor. It can be diagnosed by an electrocardiogram worn by the patient monitoring the heart. The symptoms may be another heart arrhythmia or A-fib, but it’s always important to listen to the body and get help when needed.

I’m Madeline Ferdinand. Two years ago my mother had a stroke, and I became fascinated with cardiovascular health. I care for my mom at my home where we constantly snack on almonds and drink tea.

Understanding Those Aches and Pains in Your Body

Pain is a part of life. You’ll find that pain comes and goes throughout your life, but it’s always there to some extent. Whether it’s the sharp pain from a recent injury, an ache in your head after a long and stressful day, that pain you get when your muscles are sore, or the cramping pain women experience each month, discomfort is inevitable and learning how to deal with it is necessary.

Understanding the various pains will help you to know how to cope with them, deal with the pain, and even prevent it.

Types of Pain

There are three basic types of pain:

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Acute Pain — This is the sort of pain that you experience when you get injured, and it is usually a short, sharp pain. Think about those times that you sprained your ankle, got punched, or received a cut – these are all forms of acute pain. Anything that involves a trauma or injury to your body can cause this type of pain, as can disease and inflammation. This type of pain usually disappears within a short amount of time as the body repairs the damage done.

Recurrent Pain — There are certain pains that come and go frequently, such as headaches, muscle pains, or joint pains. These types of pains are known as recurrent pains, and they are fairly sporadic. The pain is usually short-lived, but it will recur regularly until you address the problem causing the pain.

Chronic Pain — Chronic pain is any form of pain that lasts for a long time. Pain is considered “chronic” usually after 3 to 6 months of persisting, such as in the case of joint pain, back pain, or muscle pains. This type of pain often resistant to medication and treatments, and it can be debilitating. Chronic pain often manifests as a symptom of a disease or disorder, and both stress and environmental factors can make it worse.

How Pain Works

PMIR Medical Center explains pain in a very simple way:

Step 1: Pain is caused by a trauma, injury, surgery, disease, or inflammation.

Step 2: The nerve endings at the source of the pain pick up the signals, and transmits the signals through the nerves.

Step 3: The pain signals travel up the nerves to the spinal cord, where the nerves are all bundled up into the nervous system superhighway connected straight to the brain.

Step 4: The pain signals reach the brain, registering the sensation of “ouchie”.

In the case of chronic or consistently recurring pain, the nerves in the spinal cord and nerve endings at the injured spot can become very sensitive – picking up non-existent or mild pain signals and blowing them out of proportion in the sense receptor portion of the brain.

Dealing with Pain

shutterstock_136923536For acute pain, apply PRICE treatment (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) as needed, and visit your doctor to find out what is causing the pain. Burns, cuts, broken bones, and other forms of acute pain may need medical attention if they are very severe, or you can treat them at home yourself.

For chronic and recurring pain, visit your doctor to see what medications or treatments he will recommend. Some pains will require the use of strong narcotics, while nerve blockers will be used in other cases. Surgery may be needed to deal with whatever is causing the pain, or physical therapy will be recommended. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychological counseling can often deal with chronic pains that are psychosomatic in nature, while alternative treatments like acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, and special relaxation techniques may be recommended to help you deal with chronic pain.

Five Health Habits You Need to Step Up in Old Age

Part of aging is dealing with the changes that occur naturally in the body. Older individuals have different health needs than younger people. This often means it is necessary to change some of the basic health habits that have been a part of life for decades. Five health habits need to be stepped up in old age.Five Health Habits You Need to Step Up in Old Age

Remain Mentally Active

It is important to remain mentally active every day. Older individuals who do not remain mentally active slowly lose mental acuity over time. Remaining mentally active can involve taking up an interesting hobby, participating in the community or even performing light and engaging work. Socializing with friends in a meaningful way will also help to keep a person mentally active.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Changes in the body as a person ages makes it very important to eat a highly nutritious diet. Vitamins and nutrients tend to be absorbed less efficiently in older individuals. This means higher levels of vitamins and nutrients are required to achieve recommended daily doses. It might even be necessary to take supplements to get enough B-complex vitamins and minerals like magnesium. Additionally, high levels fiber become essential since it helps to regulate the metabolism and digestion.

Regular Dental Visits

The teeth are important to health. They help to determine what foods can be eaten as part of a good diet. Periodontal diseases can also increase the risk of heart problems or strokes over time. Older individuals should make every effort to visit dentists like those at Eastside Dentistry at least twice a year. Visiting a dentist every six months can help to prevent serious problems. Dentists can also deal with issues like decaying or damaged teeth with implants. According to Indianapolis dental implants, dentures and implants can resolve many issues permanently. This will improve overall health.

Stay Hydrated

The metabolism of the body changes as a person grows older. One of the results of this is that water leaves the body more quickly. This makes it much easier for an older individual to become dehydrated during the day even when not performing physical activity. It is important to drink water throughout the day in order to remain healthy and hydrated.

Daily Physical Activity

Exercise and daily physical activity is necessary for good health and long life even in old age. No person should remain sedentary for long periods during the day. Basic physical activity like walking, gardening or cleaning for 30 minutes a day will help to keep the body, muscles and bones healthy. More active individuals could exercise in a gym or jog for 15 to 30 minutes to get the same benefits.