Posts Tagged "elderly"

Drinking Problems of the Elderly

Posted by on Sep 16, 2010 in Health Signals |

Alcohol misuse or abuse can be dangerous for the elderly and heartbreaking for their families. Is there a senior in your life who:  Drinks and drives?  Drinks too much and falls?  Drinks at a family or public event and causes embarrassment?  Drinks while taking medications?  Drinks and forgets – to turn off the stove or put out the cigarette?  Drinks too much and is told to move out of the seniors’ housing facility? When we first notice a potential drinking problem, it’s tempting to ignore it, minimize it, or find “reasons” to accept it. But once the problem veers toward crisis, the responses available can become more complex and costly. Being proactive is always best. What is the problem? As many as 250,000 Canadian seniors have problems with alcohol use. Like other mental health problems, misuse and abuse of alcohol are often under-diagnosed. Both the drinker and the family may deny that a problem exists. Some family members might not raise the topic because of their own drinking habits. Others feel hopeless because it’s a long-standing problem and the senior has refused previous suggestions to seek help. According to Eliopoulos, some key points in understanding alcohol abuse are:  It affects an estimated 15% of the older population.  It often goes unnoticed or unreported.  It may cause changes in behaviour, mood, or physical signs.  It may be a chronic, life-long problem or may develop in later life, linked to factors such as loneliness, depression, or chronic pain. Long-term alcohol abuse increases the risk of physical health problems, including depression, cognitive impairment, and falls. Can you help? Talking about alcohol or drug use problems is hard. That’s why many families avoid the subject, or hope that the family doctor will address it. It may be easier to face the problem if you know that treatment can be effective. Many older adults are successful in overcoming alcohol problems. If you and your family are stymied about what to do about a parent, grandparent, spouse, or good friend, your first steps include: Recognizing and acknowledging the problem Considering ways to approach the subject Searching for treatment programs in your area Being proactive about alcohol problems can improve quality of life for seniors and their loved ones. For added insight and resources about this issue, read more about our Just-In-Time e-guide, Seniors With Alcohol Problems. Vol. 6, No. 9 © ElderWise Inc., 2010 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our FREE...

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Fitness with Exercise Bands

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Staying Active |

Most of us know why exercise should be part of our life: reduced weight, toned muscles, and heart health. But exercise can also help with age-related health concerns including: improved balance and coordination, reduced stress, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and even improved mood.  Research shows that resistance exercise can improve functional independence and also reduce the risk of falls. With all those benefits, elderly persons are wise to include an exercise program in their plan for healthy aging. One easy solution is exercise bands. What are they? Originally developed by physical therapists to help patients recovering from injury or surgery, exercise bands are used for resistance training in the same way people use free weights or some exercise machines. The advantage of the bands is less risk of injury and a gentler, yet effective workout. Exercise bands do feel different than other resistance devices, because their tension is continuous throughout the exercise.  However, you can control the amount of tension – and make the exercise easier – by lengthening or shortening the band. Choose a band with the right resistance. Are all bands the same? Long, thin latex bands, which look like ribbons, are suited to more gentle exercises and stretching.  Other bands are made of rubber tubing and have handles at each end.  Choose these for a more intense workout and to help build muscle.  However, the user must be able to grasp the handles. What can I do with exercise bands? Many popular weight exercises – from bicep curls to quad lifts – can be modified for exercise bands. In fact, you can work your whole body. Many videos, DVDs and books are available on the subject.  Check with your favourite bookstore or library. Before starting any exercise program check with your physician. Where can I get exercise bands? You can find bands at sporting goods stores, home health care stores, and most major department stores. Exercise bands provide a portable, affordable, and reasonably safe way for older adults to exercise in the comfort of their own home. “I watched a TV show for seniors on exercise while sitting safely in a chair. I started using the bands and was surprised by how much strength I gained in my arms.” M.F.  Age 85    Vol.4, No. 1 © ElderWise Inc., 2008 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: “Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our...

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Seniors in the Emergency Room

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Health Emergencies |

  Each year in Canada, thousands of seniors arrive at a hospital emergency department (ER) – either by ambulance or accompanied by adult children. Many will make more than one visit within the year. About 50% of patients coming to the ER are over 65 years of age. The major reasons that older adults are taken to the ER include: falls; stroke; heart attack; infections; and delirium (acute confusion). For your parent, it may be more a matter of “when” rather than “if” this happens, so being prepared – with the right information and expectations – is key. It can help you to ease your way through the crisis, know what questions to ask, and to take care of your parent and yourself.  What to Expect The ER is often busy and seemingly chaotic. The experience can be frightening and exhausting – for the senior and for family members. You may be there for several hours and even more than one day!  All this time, your parent may be lying on an uncomfortable gurney. The ER might be drafty, too cold, or too hot.  It is likely to be noisy 24-hours a day. Staff is often operating at full speed to cope with the continued flow of patients, many with urgent or life-threatening illness or injury. Most will welcome your willingness to help a family member. What You Can Do Whatever caused the trip to the hospital is likely to interfere with your parent’s ability to speak and act for themselves. You can provide needed information, be a valuable advocate, provide comfort, and help prevent health complications such as delirium and deconditioning. It’s important to look after yourself at this demanding time, even though it may seem appropriate to set your own needs aside. Although the health crisis might pass within a day or so, what follows might require your ongoing support for a long time. For more details, consult the ElderWise e-guide Seniors in the ER Vol. 5, No. 11, © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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Older Caregivers Face Extra Risk

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Caregiving, Health Signals |

Expecting to “take it easy” in your senior years? According to 2007 figures from Statistics Canada, at least 675,000 Canadian seniors have had to curtail travel, leisure and personal interests – and have put themselves at risk for physical and emotional problems – because they are providing care to another elderly person. They could be looking after close friends (30%), spouses (23%), neighbours (15%) – even parents (9%).  One third of these seniors are over the age of 75. Fewer than one in five older caregivers gets a break from these responsibilities. Without help from family, community or private services, caregiver burnout – physical and emotional exhaustion due to prolonged high levels of stress – is almost inevitable. Not only can physical health problems multiply, but mental health issues, such as feeling powerless, resentful, and isolated, can compromise a caregiver’s well-being. Most of these seniors may not think of themselves as caregivers, but that’s exactly what they become when they take responsibility to help others with their daily needs. Caregivers are from all walks of life and income levels. They are predominantly female but increasing numbers of men are taking on the role. But what they often share in common is stepping unaware and unprepared into a demanding role.  Caregiving responsibilities can occur suddenly, but they typically become long term (chronic), and they don’t always have a happy outcome. Responsibilities can continue even when the person receiving the care moves from a private home to an institution. Older caregivers are up against more challenges than their younger counterparts. They are unlikely to have the strength and energy of a younger person. Older caregivers may have to manage their own chronic health problems (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis) while caring for another. Doing yard work, shoveling snow, or going up and down the stairs with the laundry basket may be more than they can handle. Other caregiver duties can be mentally demanding. Managing finances, scheduling appointments, and other household decisions take more time and energy as you age. Conflicting emotions can drain energy as well, particularly when the personal relationships between caregiver and care recipient are strained.  Caregiving for a spouse can be especially demanding. The marital relationship is more intense, private and personal than many. A spouse’s illness results in greater stress, yet spouses are less likely to ask for help from others. Often, there’s a belief that what is happening should be kept private. Without greater awareness, understanding and action, more seniors will run the risk of burnout, which can lead to physical and mental collapse. Older caregivers face extra risk, and that has significant implications for families, communities and our health care system. For more insight on this topic, purchase our downloadable e-publication: Caregiver Burnout – How To Spot It, How To Stop It Vol. 5, No. 6 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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