Stories & Tips

7 Ways to Start Cutting Back on Medication

7 Ways to Start Cutting Back on Medication

Taking too many medications is a typical problem among older adults. As the body gets older, the more care it needs. Meaning more doctors and more medication. Many times doctors will prescribe medicine for side effects, thinking they are new symptoms. You can start cutting back on medication. You have to be the one to take the first step.

7 Ways to Start Cutting Back on Medication

7 Ways to Start Cutting Back on Medication

 

Overmedication is a serious health hazard for older adults. It’s easily overlooked, making it even more dangerous. It’s easier to assume side effects are new symptoms than side effects from medication.

Seniors become more sensitive to drugs as they get older. The side effects affect them differently than it does in younger people. Americans age sixty to seventy-nine use five or more prescription drugs daily. The more drugs a person takes the higher risk of adverse drug reactions.

These reactions can be things easily thought as part of an illness, like diarrhea, constipation, lightheadedness, weight loss, nausea, confusion, difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much.

Cutting back on medication you take can help reduce cognitive decline and falls.

1. Schedule a Doctor Visit(s)

Do not decide what medication to stop taking on your own. It’s dangerous and could make you very sick.

One reason that people take too many medications for too long is that you schedule a doctor’s appointment when you don’t feel good. Instead, make an appointment to specifically go over all your medicine.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what the drugs are for and if there are any that you can stop. See if any side effects are symptoms you are experiencing at that moment.

Expect that it will take a few appointments to get off medications properly. There are usually plans to slowly lower dosages to avoid any withdrawal symptoms or see how you do. If you react positively to a lower dosage, that can be a sign that you don’t need to take the drug.

This process can take months, so be patient.

2. Be Informed

You need to know what you’re taking and why. You can make a list or even a spreadsheet with info like the drug’s name, why you are taking it, who prescribed it, how long you’ve been taking it, is it working, and side effects. This will not only help you but your doctor as well. It allows for a bigger picture to be shown.

3. Talk About Treatment Goals and Preferences

Never assume that your doctor knows what your preferences are. They don’t. Make a list of what your goals have and discuss them with your doctor. Your goals may affect what medication you take.

4. Nondrug Avenues

There are plenty of alternative avenues that don’t involve drugs that you can try. Changes in diet, lifestyle, and activity can significantly change your life. Talk to your doctor about which of these paths you can take and what medications they may lessen or even eliminate.

5. Keep Your Doctor in the Loop

If you start something new, let your doctor know and why you are taking it. If it’s from another doctor, make sure to let your primary know that as well.

It’s up to you to keep track of your prescriptions and to communicate if they aren’t working for you.

6. Be Smart About Adding to Your Prescriptions

If any doctor wants you to try a new drug, do research. Find out if it’s a drug that could cause you harm because you’re older, versus someone younger. Ask your pharmacist about drug interactions and side effects. Then you can decide whether to take it or not.

7. See a Geriatrician

It may be better to see a geriatrician instead of a primary care doctor. They’re more focused on older people than the general public. They have more knowledge about how older people react to drugs and different illnesses.

Read more here.

There are More Homeless Seniors in America Than Ever

There are More Homeless Seniors in America Than Ever

In the early 1990s, around eleven percent of the adult homeless population in the U.S. was fifty and older. It went up to thirty-seven percent by 2003. Now, there are more homeless seniors in America than ever. Around half of this country’s homeless are over fifty.

There are More Homeless Seniors in America Than Ever

There are More Homeless Seniors in America Than Ever

 

There could be a light at the end of the tunnel, though. A new research institute was created in July 2019 at UC San Francisco, called the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. It was funded by a thirty million dollar donation from tech billionaire Marc Benioff. This donation is the biggest private donation ever given in America for research on homelessness.

The mission of the institute is to study homelessness and come up with ways to create housing and services for people. It’ll also collect a library of local and national research, that way policy leaders and the public can understand the issue.

The head of the research institute is Margot Kushel, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California. Her previous research has found that a significant amount of the homeless in Oakland, California, became homeless later in life.

That specific population all had a similar story of both men and women working low-wage jobs and then having something significant happen in their life. Job loss, illness, a new disability, a death, or interaction with the criminal justice system have all been possible causes.

Current research isn’t thinking of homeless seniors. People at high risk of falls are put in danger by bunk beds or shared bathrooms that don’t have grab bars and a slip-resistant floor. Plus, any additional help they need with daily tasks like bathing and dressing is not thought of.

Homeless seniors die at a rate of four to five times what would be expected in the general population. They die from the same causes of other people, but twenty to thirty years earlier.

Read more here.

After a Heart Attack, Medication Could Impact Function

After a Heart Attack, Medication Could Impact Function

After a heart attack, you are usually prescribed medication to stop any more from happening. While it can help prevent heart attacks, it could also make you frailer.

After a Heart Attack, Medication Could Impact Function

After a Heart Attack, Medication Could Impact Function

 

A study found that within 90 days of a heart attack, seniors who took three or more medications were less likely to die than those who took one. Functional decline happened more often with people who took a lot of drugs, though.

Different types of medicine that used after a heart attack are blood thinners, anticholesterol drugs, and blood pressure drugs.

There’s little evidence about the effectiveness and safety of the frailest seniors taking these medications. Because many people are older when they have a heart attack, seniors represent a big part of the group that will take secondary prevention medicines.

Many older people prefer quality of life more than living longer.

The Data

 

The researchers looked at Medicare claims data between 2007-2010 for over 4,700 nursing home residents over 65.

The researchers compared people who took one, two, or three drugs and saw how they did for the first 90 days in terms of death, rehospitalization, and functional decline.

Overall, there was more than 500 deaths, 1,200 rehospitalizations, and 800 instances of functional decline. The group was around 2/3 women, and half of the group was 84 or older.

Patients who took three or more medications were 26% less likely than those taking just one to die during the 90 days after their heart attack. There was no difference in rehospitalization rates or in outcomes by age, sex, race, or ethnicity.

There were no differences based on a patient’s cognition or functional status. Around half of the group had moderate or severe cognitive impairment. Around 3/4 of people needed help with their daily living activities.

Using more secondary prevention medications was tied with a 30% increase in functional decline.

Future studies will look at the effects of different combinations of medications and what happens when you add over the counter medicines to the mix. Starting and stopping medications is another consideration.

Read more here.

What You Need to Know About Oral Health

What You Need to Know About Oral Health

It’s easy to miss brushing your teeth every once in a while. Sometimes you might be too tired to put in the effort, but oral health is important to your overall health. Especially as you get older. There’s a lot you need to know about how your oral health affects your overall health.

What You Need to Know About Oral Health

What You Need to Know About Oral Health

 

There is a lot to break down with dental/oral health. It’s easy to overlook how much your mouth exposes the rest of your body to. Harmful bacteria and inflammation in your mouth are connected to heart disease, premature birth, and low birth weight.

Some Quick Dental Health Facts

  • Almost 100% of adults have at least one dental cavity
  • Around 15 to 20% of adults between 35 to 44 have severe gum disease
  • Around 30% of people aged 65 to 74 don’t have any natural teeth left
  • In most countries, for every 100,000 people, there are 1 to 10 cases of oral cancer

Why You Develop Dental/Oral Problems

Your mouth collects bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Having a little of it is normal and can even help you sometimes. When you get too much, that’s when problems start to surface. Acid-producing bacteria is what you have to be most afraid of. It can dissolve tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Bacteria around your gum line is called plaque, and it builds up, hardens, and goes down the length of your teeth. If you don’t get rid of it by brushing and flossing it can inflame your gums and create gingivitis. Inflammed gums tend to pull away from your teeth, creating pockets where bad bacteria can build and turn into periodontitis. It will make your teeth looser.

Symptoms of Poor Oral Health

  • Ulcers, sores, or tender areas in your mouth that won’t heal after a week or two
  • Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing
  • Always having bad breath
  • Teeth sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain or toothache
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Swelling of the face and cheek
  • Your jaw clicking
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Always having a dry mouth

How to Keep Your Teeth Clean and Healthy

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth at once a day
  • Don’t eat a lot of sugar
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Keeping up with professional dental care
  • Getting Fluoride treatments

Learn more here.

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in Seniors

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in Seniors

Growing older can bring about different types of stress. The older you get, the more life changes. People move away, people pass away, you may have to move to a new home, and your health could change. Keeping a positive mentality keeps you healthy and is essential to living well. Seniors especially need help maintaining a positive attitude. Here are ten easy ways to reduce stress in the senior in your life.

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in Seniors

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in Seniors

 

By being aware of your mental health, you can make sure that you stay healthy. Your brain affects your body and vice versa.

1. Learn to Cope with Change

Change can be hard. Good or bad, everything becomes different in a flash. As mentioned before, a lot of changes come as you get older. Try to be flexible and find healthy ways of facing these changes. It will make you appreciate the good times and prep you for the bad.

Some people find it soothing to write in a journal, talk to a professional, or try to anticipate and prepare for changes. Find what works for you.

2. Being Grateful

It can be hard to feel grateful when it feels like you are losing important things in your life. It’s okay to be upset about it. You are only human. If you can, try to move past those feelings of loss and find small things to be thankful for.

Like if your kids move away, be grateful you can talk to them on the phone. If your health is declining, focus on what is still going strong in your body.

3. Don’t Bury Emotions

Emotions are tough. They can bring you to the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. It’s natural that you may want to keep your feelings to yourself, especially when they may be negative, but that’s not healthy. It’s important to express your thoughts and emotions.

If you hide them all the time, you get anxiety, possible sleep problems, and even depression.

Once again, you can try writing in a journal or talking to a professional if you don’t feel comfortable talking to loved ones.

4. Travel

There is nothing worse than staying inside all day. Even if you are retired, you can still explore the town. Visit friends that live far away. Go to your bucket list places. Try new things every weekend.

5. Learn From Mistakes

No one likes to make mistakes, but they happen. Instead of dwelling on the mistake, learn from it. Think about how to use your error to avoid getting into the same situation.

6. Savor Life

When you’re younger, life happens so fast that it’s hard to appreciate positive moments. Now that you’re older enjoy the good moments. Be completely in the moment. Take that time to imprint that happiness into your mind.

7. Go Back to that Hobby

Life gets busy, and fun hobbies are forgotten. Now that you’re older, you have more time to do things you enjoy. Go back to that hobby that fell by the wayside, or take the time to learn whatever you’ve wanted to know more about.

8. Accept the Things You Cannot Change

We can’t control life, as much as we want to think we can. Instead of stressing over it, try to figure out how to get out of bad situations. What is your best way to cope?

9. Keep Up Your Social Circle

You would be surprised at how quickly you can end up alone. People pass away or move away. It’s important to keep up your social circle and creating new additions to it.

10. Be Active

We’ve talked about this a lot—exercise is important. It keeps you healthy and makes you happy. Just don’t do it in a way that causes you pain.

Read more about easy ways to reduce stress here.

There Isn’t Enough Help for Seniors

There Isn't Enough Help for Seniors

We all know that the senior care field needs some serious help. With the Silver Tsunami heading our way, it’s only going to get worse. At this moment, around 25 million Americans depend on assistance from other people or devices for basic daily living. But there just isn’t enough help for seniors.

There Isn't Enough Help for Seniors

Study from Johns Hopkins University

 

Researchers from the university looked at how seniors respond to changes in physical function, which isn’t studied often or understood well. They showed that around 1/3 of adults who live in the area that they focused on have substantial needs for assisted living. The community has almost 13 million seniors that need help with bathing, eating, getting dressed, using the toilet, and more.

Around 1/ 3 only need help with one or two things, and another third do pretty well on their own. It’s that final third that is worrying.

There Isn’t Enough Human Help for Seniors

 

Nearly 60% of seniors with compromised mobility say they stay in their homes instead of going out. 25% say they stay in bed. 20% of seniors who can’t dress themselves go without changing because they don’t have help. 27.9% of those who need help with toileting issues have accidents.

In a different John Hopkins study in 2017, they found that 42% of people with probable dementia or people who have a hard time doing daily tasks, didn’t get help from family, friends, or paid caregivers. 21% of seniors that had at least three chronic conditions and high need didn’t have any help.

Help from Devices Isn’t Enough

 

Until this study, it was unknown how many people use an assistive device and how often they use them. Assistive devices can include canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, shower seats, tub seats, grab bars, reachers, and specially designed clothes.

60% of seniors surveyed used at least one device, usually for bathing, toileting, and moving around. 20% used 2 or more tools, and 13% received personal assistance. 5% had issues with daily tasks but didn’t have help or made any adjustments. Only 1% got help.

Why Aren’t Seniors Getting Help?

 

The biggest problems that experts noted is that Medicare doesn’t pay for most of these nonmedical services. As a result, seniors who have little to no money go without assistance despite having Medicaid.

A little more than 10% of seniors with high needs had at least one type of hardship, like not being able to pay expenses (5.9%), utilities (4.8%), rent (3.4%), or skipping meals (1.8%). Some people had more than one of these difficulties at once.

This kind of stress puts seniors’ health at risk.

Researchers believe that Medicare needs to rethink how to support their beneficiaries.

Things have started to change like with the CHRONIC Care Act passing. The act lets Medicare Advantage plans offer supplemental benefits like wheelchair ramps, bathroom grab bars, transportation, and personal care to chronically ill member.

Though it’s not known how far these benefits will go. Plus, 39 million people enrolled in traditional Medicare are left out.

Read more here.

Ikea and the Queen of Sweden Team Up to Build Affordable Elderly Homes

Ikea and the Queen of Sweden Team Up to Build Affordable Elderly Homes

Affordable and safe housing has been a long-running problem for seniors all over the world. In Sweden, IKEA and the Queen of Sweden are working together to build affordable elderly homes. The houses will also be adapted for the needs of those for dementia.

Ikea and the Queen of Sweden Team Up to Build Affordable Elderly Homes

Ikea and the Queen of Sweden Team Up to Build Affordable Elderly Homes

 

The project is named SilviaBo and IKEA, Skanska, and Silviahemmet are working together. Silviahemmet is a dementia care foundation created by Queen of Sweden, Silvia.

They are using the modular BoKlok housing as a base. They will add shared social facilities and changed interiors with a more “dementia-friendly layouts,” allowing seniors to live independently longer.

Similar to BoKlok, SilviaBo apartments will be made from wooden components that are premade and put together on site. The apartments will range from two to four floors with a mix of one and two-person bedrooms. It will feature wide entrances, and flat walkways perfect for wheelchairs. There will also be low thresholds for elevators and stairs, along with automatic door openers and extra lighting.

For those with dementia, there will be clear and enlarged signs that will direct them where to go. There will also be low shower-walls for assisted bathing, heat sensors for stoves, and calming interior finishes for all rooms.

Not only will their living spaces be made safe, but seniors will get the social interaction that they need. The apartments will have gardens with flowers and vegetables and even a clubhouse to spend time in.

The idea is that not only will seniors be able to live independently longer, but it will also save the Swedish government money that would have been spent on eldercare.

The first six SilviaBo apartments are being finished outside of Stockholm. IKEA is working on getting more land to build future projects.

Read more here.

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Sometimes seniors struggle with their weight. Whether it’s that they’ve gained weight from lack of moving or lost a lot of weight due to lack of appetite, it can be dangerous for them. A study in South Korea found that huge weight changes can increase dementia risk in seniors.

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

 

A team of researchers from the Republic of Korea studied BMI and dementia changes over two years. They looked at 67,219 people aged between 60 and 79. They noted the participants BMI changes in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005. The difference between these two years represented the BMI changes.

Other factors that were measured included socioeconomic status and cardiometabolic risk factors.

After two years, the researchers monitored the participants’ dementia incidents for five years. After five years, 4,887 men and 6,685 women showed signs of dementia. This proved that late in life changes to BMI can affect both sexes. Massive changes equal a two percent increase or decrease in BMI.

It’s shown that those with stable BMI had a lower risk of dementia than those with fluctuating BMI.

Read more here.

Want to Learn How to Live Until 90?

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in Seniors

We may now have the key to live a long and healthy life. Physical activity, weight, and even your height can affect your chance to live a long time. It can even be influenced by whether you are a male or female. So, do you want to learn how to live until 90?

Want to Learn How to Live Until 90?

How to Live Until 90?

 

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health shared what they found about how to live a long life.

Researchers found that for women, around an hour of exercise was connected to having the best chance to live a longer life. Exercising over that had no extra value.

Men have it a little better. The more exercise they did a day, the better chance they have to live a long time.

Body size influenced reaching age 90 more for women than it did for men.

More About the Study

 

The researchers of the study used the Netherlands Cohort Study, which began in 1986. They looked at the data from people between the ages of 68 and 70 who had given their height and weight at age 20 and their current weight.

The participants listed their current level of physical activity like walking, biking, or gardening. They also took note of their alcohol use and smoking habits.

They were watched until they reached age 90 or had died.

Out of all the 7,807 participants, 433 men and 994 women lived to 90. Women over 5 feet 9 inches tall were 31% more likely to live to 90 than women who were less than 5 feet 3 inches.

They also weighed less at the start of the study and had less weight when they were 20.

Men who were active for more than 90 minutes a day were 39% more likely to reach 90 than those less active. Every additional 30 minutes of exercise was connected with a  5% increase in the chance of hitting 90.

Women were 21% more likely to reach 90 with 30 to 60 minutes of activity a day than those who did less.

Want to Live to 90?

 

What all this boils down to is that exercise it important. Even though it can be hard at first and no fun, you need to do it if you want to live a long life.

You don’t have to go full throttle right away, take things at your own pace.

We’ve written many different articles that can help you start — articles like 10 Ways to Make Exercise Part of Your Everyday Life, 7 Exercises People Over 50 Shouldn’t Do, and 9 Easy Tests to See if You’re Fit.

Read more here.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer’s

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer's

We all know how important our oral health is to our overall health, but now some studies are suggesting that gum disease is connected to Alzheimer’s. More and more evidence is appearing that shows that gum (periodontal) disease is a risk factor, and some research suggests it can double your risk if you have gum disease for ten years or more.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer's

Breaking Down Gum Disease

 

The beginning of gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums are inflamed because bacterial plaque builds up on the surface of your teeth. Gingivitis happens to around half of the adults, but is generally harmless, if it’s treated. If left untreated, it creates pockets between your teeth and gums. The pockets are bad because it will fill up with bacteria.

The pockets are a sign that it’s turned into periodontitis. Periodontitis is almost impossible to get rid of but treatments can help control it.

People who smoke, have medications, have certain genetics, food choices, puberty and pregnancy can all contribute to developing gum disease. Plus, if you don’t care of your teeth, then that’s the biggest risk factor of them all.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer’s

 

The bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis or P. gingivalis, has been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It appears to have spread from the mouth to the brain and destroyed nerve cells. The studies were done in mice and human trials will be happening soon.

The University of Central Lancashire was the first to notice the mouth and brain connection. P. gingivalis can recreate all the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, but it’s one way to lower your risk.

Read more here.