Posts Tagged "risk"

Be “Stroke-Wise!”

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

Every 10 minutes, a Canadian will suffer a stroke, meaning strokes affect more than 50,000 Canadians every year. The good news is that recognizing early warning signs and getting prompt treatment has improved the chance of surviving a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. Blood flow is interrupted by a blood clot (blockage) or rupture of a blood vessel.  Without oxygen, brain cells die. Depending on the size and location of the stroke, the individual loses some function. You can reduce your risk for stroke by making these choices in your daily life Treat high blood pressure Stop smoking Reduce salt and sodium in your diet Have an active lifestyle To find out your unique risks, take the assessment offered by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. http://heartandstroke.ca/hs_risk.asp?media=risk Those who survive a stroke may experience a range of physical and emotional problems. These include: Physical impairments Personality and behaviour changes Communication problems Cognitive changes  Knowing the risks, making wise lifestyle choices, and recognizing the early signs can dramatically reduce your chances of being a victim of stroke. Vol. 4, No. 4 © ElderWise Publishing 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, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE...

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Drawbacks of Bed Rest

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Caregiving, Health Care Team and System |

Sometimes acute injury or illness leaves a senior bedridden but too much bed rest can have negative health effects. For the older adult, bed rest or chair rest, even for a few days, can cause deconditioning; that is changes in muscle strength and muscle bulk that can result in dependence and  impairment in balance.  Muscle strength is important to perform daily activities.  For example, strength in the quadriceps (thigh muscle) is necessary to rise from a chair, independently. Loss of strength in the muscles of the ankle joint may result in falls. Deconditioning can result in a loss of independence that lasts long after the acute problem has been treated. How does deconditioning begin? The human body is designed for movement. It is also subject to the forces of gravity, so  that each move we make to stand and walk is a move against gravity.  When we are at rest, gravity doesn’t have its usual effect. Without this force to pull against, muscles and  bones get weaker. This weakness can lead to loss of muscle mass, muscle shortening, changes in the joints, changes in cognitive abilities, and reduced circulation. Keeping moving, even small steps or little stretches can make a big difference to recovery. How can you help? If you have a senior who is in hospital or a long-term care home, ask for a physiotherapist who can work with them to prevent deconditioning.  Many hospitals have programs designed to help.  Some even bring specialized equipment like a half-barrel or sling to help a senior in bed gently work their muscles. You can also ask the nursing staff to show you how to help the older adult do the exercises safely. As a family member, you can provide essential support and encouragement. If an exercise program is not offered or you have a senior who is at home and on bed rest, simple range of motion exercises can be done while lying in bed.  Start at the shoulders and work through all the joints of the body gently moving the limb through its normal range of movement.  These movements should be gentle and not cause strain or pain.   1. Make circles with the arms and straighten and bend the elbow.  Rotate the wrists. Open the hand and then make a fist. 2. To help hips remain loose, lift the leg and move it away from the body, then return it to rest. 3. Bend and straighten the knee. If the person is able, bring the knee toward the chest and then return the leg to rest on the bed. 4. Rotate the foot in a full circle. Reverse the direction. 5. Even sitting up in bed a few times can help the muscles, since multiple muscle groups are required to move from a lying to a seated position.  Sometimes we feel a person is safer lying quietly in a bed, and when bed rest is required it can be just what the doctor ordered.  However, we should change our view that bed rest means complete rest.  It should include working the muscles and bones that were designed to be in motion. Vol. 3, No. 23 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. 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 FREE bi-weekly...

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Male Breast Cancer

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Health Signals |

Special events and the color pink draw our attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Overwhelmingly breast cancer occurs in women. However, 1% of all breast cancer patients are men, and it usually strikes them in later life. One per cent may not sound like a lot, but consider that 1 in 9 women are expected to develop breast cancer in their lifetimes; therefore, the figure for men is 1 in 900. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a small painless lump and/or a small discharge from the nipple.  Most men don’t immediately associate a lump in the breast with cancer and therefore may delay or forget to have a doctor check it out.  However, breast health, whether for women or for men, is all about noticing changes.  Any changes you notice should be reported to your doctor. Knowing the following risk factors for male breast cancer may help more men get diagnosed and treated: Age: Men who develop breast cancer are generally 60 to 70 years old. Family history of breast cancer: Five to ten per-cent of breast cancers in men are inherited through gene mutation. Radiation: Receiving chest radiation therapy as a child can increase the risk of acquired mutations that lead to cancer growth. Liver disease: Liver disease will reduce androgen activity and increase estrogen activity. Excessive alcohol: According to the Mayo Clinic website, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Some of these factors are beyond an individual’s control. However, losing excess weight, limiting alcohol intake, and smoking cessation can help minimize the risk. A past ElderWise Info, Aging and Men’s Health, outlined some of the risks that older men take with their health.  Moreso than women, they may delay seeking medical attention, keep health concerns to themselves, or be unaware of what is normal and what needs to be checked out by their doctor.  As with many other cancers, early detection and treatment is key. For more information check out: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-breast-cancer/DS00661 Vol.3, No. 20 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. 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 FREE bi-weekly...

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Adverse Drug Reactions

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Health Emergencies |

Seniors may need both prescription and over the counter medications to manage chronic conditions. Packaging of over the counter medications and printouts given with prescription drugs include a list of “adverse reactions” that each product can cause.  But what exactly are adverse drug reactions? And what about side effects and allergic reactions?  An adverse drug reaction refers to any unwanted effects of a medication.  These can range from uncomfortable symptoms to potentially dangerous reactions. Adverse drug reactions do NOT alter the effectiveness (or efficacy) of the drug. Side effect is the more common term used for unwanted effects. Common side effects include nausea, insomnia, drowsiness, headache, and dry mouth.  Mild side effects are generally not a sign that the drug is doing damage to your body or that you need to stop taking the medication. They are simply part of what happens when the drug is absorbed and processed. For the most part, side effects are predictable, and many are tolerable. More serious side effects can include vomiting, bleeding in the intestinal tract, or dizziness. When serious side effects occur, the medication will be discontinued. Allergic reactions are actually quite rare.  Rather than noticing any of the above side effects, someone with an allergy to a medication is more likely to develop hives, itching, or trouble breathing. If you develop any of those symptoms, it is important to call your doctor and get medical advice right away. Anyone can have a negative reaction to a drug. It can happen the first time you take it, or it can happen with long-term use.  Some factors that put people at higher risk for having an adverse drug reaction are: Age: seniors and children can be more susceptible Medical conditions: asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid problems Polypharmacy: using several medications at the same time, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and natural health products.  According to www.familydoctor.org, here’s what you can do to help reduce the risk of having an adverse drug reaction: Read the label carefully.  Ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain any information you don’t understand. Tell your doctor about ALL the over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, natural health products, and vitamins that you take. Keep track of any adverse reactions and any allergies you had in the past, and avoid products with those ingredients. Do not take medications with alcohol. Do not crush tablets, or mix them with food or beverages (different than “taking with”) unless you have checked with your pharmacist.   Being aware of the risks and following the steps above can help you minimize the discomfort and hazards of adverse drug reactions.   Vol.3, No. 7 © ElderWise Inc., 2007 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 FREE bi-weekly...

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