Stories & Tips

The Truth About Flu Shots and Seniors

Why Flu Shots Don't Work in Seniors

You know how dangerous the flu can be for a young, healthy person, and you probably know that it can be deadly for infants and seniors. It’s important to get a flu shot, but what if they don’t work? A new study in Cell Host & Microbe talks about the truth about flu shots and seniors.

Why Flu Shots Don't Work in Seniors

The Truth About Flu Shots and Seniors

 

The study found that your B-cells, which fights infections, weaken as you get older. What this means is that you can’t fight off the flu as well as you used to.

Most vaccines depend on your B-cells responding to work. This could be the reason why flu shots don’t work in seniors.

The team from the study looked at how B-cells and antibodies from adults between the ages of 22 to 64 and seniors aged between 71 and 89. The team compared how they responded to the latest flu vaccine.

The B-cells in younger people were able to recognize the mutations of the virus and create protective antibodies. Older people’s B-cells did not do so well with the constantly changing flu virus.

Their B-cells were stagnant and the antibodies they made were less diverse and less powerful. Essentially, they are unable to change with the times and are getting left behind.

Interestingly, seniors’ B-cells were great at fighting against flu mutations of the virus from their childhood. Younger people were not able to fight against older mutations.

Does Science Know Why This Happens?

 

Why this happens is currently unknown. Though researchers have noticed that people between 50 and 70-years-old had occasional dips in their influenza fighting power. The steepest drops happen after your 70s.

Even though they don’t work as well, it’s still important for seniors to get flu shots. A shot can reduce the chance of catching the flu by 40 to 60% in the general population, and seniors’ percentage is a little below that.

Make sure you and the people around you get their flu shots as soon as they can.

Read more here.

8 Symptoms to Worry About

Seniors on Medicare are Spending Less on Healthcare

No one likes to be sick. In fact, you may be ignoring symptoms, desperately hoping they go away. Sometimes this works, other times not so much. When this tactic doesn’t work, things can go bad quickly. Here are 8 symptoms to worry about.

8 Symptoms to Worry About

8 Symptoms to Worry About

 

These are symptoms that are common but taken less seriously than chest pain and irregular moles.

1. Being Sleepy During the Day

Stress can leave anyone drained and tired. So can insomnia, which is when you can’t sleep no matter how hard you try. While this can happen occasionally, if it continues to happen, then you have a problem.

This could mean that you have sleep apnea. This is when you have disruptive breathing patterns. You will not get enough oxygen during the night and keep waking up to get it.

Other symptoms include loud snoring, sore throat, or a headache.

2. Erectile Dysfunction

This is usually seen as more of an emotional problem than a physical one. Most of the time, men fix it with Viagra without checking out why it happened in the first place.

Erectile dysfunction could be a sign of heart disease. Men who have this problem are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease or die of a heart attack.

3. Unintentional Weight Loss

This type of weight loss isn’t the result of hard work. It’s when things get a bit scary. This symptom could mean cancer. If you lose around 10 pounds a month, that’s a common sign of cancer.

It can also mean that you have a thyroid problem.

4. A Persistent Cough

If you continue to have a cough that won’t go away, there could be a respiratory problem.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, also known as COPD, is a common problem. It can cause permanent lung damage.

A chronic cough could also be a sign of lung cancer.

5. Peeing Often

Have you noticed that you are going to the bathroom more often than normal? Some people brush it off as having an older bladder, but it could be something more.

Too much glucose in the blood can trigger a need to pee. This is a symptom of Diabetes.

For women, it can be a sign of urinary tract infection. For men, it could mean a potential prostate problem.

6. Slipping, Falling, and Losing Your Balance

We all know that falls happen, but if it happens a lot, then there is a problem. A potential neurological problem. Things can cause your brain to go off and make you lose your sense of balance.

Such problems can include motor diseases like Parkinson’s, autoimmune diseases, and diabetic neuropathy.

7. Always Being Constipated

Going to the bathroom is important. Being constipated is annoying, but is it something to take seriously?

Constant constipation could indicate colon growths or colorectal cancer. The growths can cause a narrowing or blockage, which leads to constipation.

8. Chest, Neck, and Arm Discomfort When Exercising

Pain that spreads to the chest, neck, and arms after exercising can be a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). This type of symptom can affect women more, while men have the classic chest pain.

Read more here.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals Getting Fined for Pushing Drugs on Seniors

Avanir Pharmaceuticals Getting Fined for Pushing Drugs on Seniors

We’ve talked before about a pharmaceutical company pushing drugs on seniors. Now, they are getting fines from the Department of Justice. The company wanted to take advantage of seniors and how they are less likely to speak up with their doctors.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals Getting Fined for Pushing Drugs on Seniors

A Brief Summary Avanir Pharmaceuticals

 

In our previous article, we discussed how Avanir was up to no good. They have been aggressively marketing their drug to nursing home residents and doctors who interact with seniors.

A 2017 CNN investigation found that they were using the drug, Nuedexta, falsely in elderly dementia patients.

The government only approved Nuedexta for a rare condition whose symptoms include uncontrollable laughing and crying. This disease is pseudobulbar affect or PBA.

PBA can happen to patients with neurological conditions like dementia, but it’s not very common.

That didn’t stop Avanir salespeople from pushing it onto seniors in communities. Doctors with connections to the company have been caught misdiagnosing seniors with PBA so they can prescribe the drug.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals Getting Fined for Pushing Drugs on Seniors

 

Avanir has publicly acknowledged the investigation and that they have reached an agreement with the Department of Justice. The details of that deal are still unknown.

Though, financial filings from Avanir’s parent company, Otsuka, guess the agreement could mean $120 million in fines.

Nothing is completely confirmed.

Avanir hasn’t said anything else about the agreement. They have said they are “deeply committed to regulatory and legal compliance, as well as the health and safety of the patients we serve.”

Read more here.

8 Things to Be on Your Retirement Checklist

8 Things to Be on Your Retirement Checklist

Retirement is a big deal. If done right, it will feel like a vacation. A time to do anything you want. But, getting to that point is overwhelming. Make yourself a retirement checklist to make things easier.

8 Things to Be on Your Retirement Checklist

8 Things to Be on Your Retirement Checklist

 

These 8 things have to be on your retirement checklist.

1. Pick Where You Want to Live

Where do you want to spend the rest of your life? Does your current home support this? Do you want to live near your family? Maybe get rid of your things and downsize?

These are questions you need to ask yourself and think long about the answers.

2. Practice Retirement Now

Retirement is a huge change in lifestyle. You won’t have a place to go every day. It’s easy to get isolated. You can even get easily depressed.

Because you won’t be in your normal social circle, you need to find a different way to be social. You could try volunteering, clubs, or even sports.

3. Get Rid of Your Debt

If you can, you should get rid of all your debt before you retire. This way you can truly enjoy it. Without debt, all your costs are the ones that you have control over.

You can make a list of all your debt. That way everything feels more organized. You can have the debt with the highest interest at the top of the list and lowest interest at the bottom.

4. Think About Your Risk Profile

A risk profile has to do with investing. When you are around 5 years away from retirement, it’s time to look at all your investments. You may have been more aggressive and free while you were still making money, but it’s different now.

Now you aren’t making a lot of money. You need to diversify your investments. This way you lower your risk of losing a lot of money.

5. Consider Healthcare

Healthcare is expensive, and it becomes more important as you get older. You need to keep this in mind when you make plans for your retirement.

Medicare might not pay for any expenses that happen out of the states just as an example.

Take the time to look at all possible plans.

6. Make a Budget

Making a budget may be the most important thing. How are you going to support yourself? You need basics like food, clothing, healthcare, home, and the like.

Then there are the things you want — things like traveling, hobbies, club memberships.

Make sure that you can have it all.

7. Apply for Social Security Ahead of Time

Don’t wait until you’re at full retirement age to collect Social Security. You should apply at least 3 months before you want your benefits to start.

Make sure you know how to do this and that you have all the documentation.

8. Consider Rolling Over Your 401(k)

You have spent years putting money in your 401(k), and now there are some decisions to make. You can transfer money out of it to an IRA. This can increase investment options, more flexible estate planning, and offer more distribution options.

Before you move your money think about your age, current financial status, and all the costs.

Make sure to look at all your options.

Read more here.

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

Do you know what Cerebral Small Vessel Disease is? Would you believe that adults 60 to 90-years-old show signs of this disease 95% of the time? Consequences of this disease include cognitive decline, problems with walking or balance, strokes, and vascular dementia.

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

 

Other names for this disease are small vessel ischemic disease, white matter disease, periventricular white matter changes, perivascular chronic ischemic white matter disease of aging, and more.

Cerebral Small Vessel Disease (SVD) is an umbrella term that covers a bunch of different abnormalities with the small blood vessels in your brain. Just like the body’s bigger blood vessels, it can develop plaque, inflammation, and chronic damage. This can lead to the small blood vessels in your brain getting blocked.

Blocked blood vessels mean your brain won’t get oxygen or will leak, which can cause bleeding.

Your brain can change appearance on MRIs. The report will say that there has been “white matter changes.” Meaning the doctor can see signs of SVD.

Symptoms and Causes of SVD

 

Symptoms are often not very noticeable. They can include cognitive impairment, problems with walking and balance, strokes, depression, vascular dementia, other dementias, possible disability, and death.

It’s unknown what specifically causes SVD since it’s an umbrella term. There are certain risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, diabetes, smoking, and age.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is at risk, don’t be afraid to ask for an MRI.

There are studies to figure out how to treat or prevent SVD, but there is no clear conclusion yet.

Read more here.

How Cold Temps Affect Your Body

If there is one thing New Hampshire is known for, it’s our bitter cold winters. Along with the fact that they last a long time. Winter not only makes you have a runny nose but also can affect other parts of your body. Do you know how cold temps affect your body?

How Cold Temps Affect Your Body

How Cold Temps Affect Your Body

 

It’s important to listen to your body when you are out in the cold. Your body will give you signs when it’s time to go inside.

For some people, they should spend as little time outside as possible. People who are sensitive to cold, have heart conditions or are a little frail in general.

Warning signs include extreme shortness of breath, chest discomfort, lightheadedness, dizziness, and confusion. Seniors are especially sensitive to the cold.

Also, check to see if you or your senior’s medications have any side effects involving cold temps. One type of beta-blocker can squeeze your small blood vessels. This can lead to injuries like frostbite.

Finally, make sure not to drink any alcohol and wear layers. Alcohol can warm you up at first, but it will make you unable to feel how the cold is affecting you.

Read more here.

5 Ways to Help With Transitional Care

5 Ways to Help With Transitional Care

Change is hard and moving is stressful. Now, imagine that you have to change your entire lifestyle. This is what many seniors have to go through when they deal with transitional care. They may have to leave their home for a community, or downsize their home and allow strangers to come in and help them. There are ways to help ease your senior and make the changes smooth.

5 Ways to Help With Transitional Care

5 Ways to Help With Transitional Care

 

If you aren’t careful, your senior could get very sick because of that change. If they have any chronic conditions, their symptoms can be made worse. There can also be symptoms like losing their voice, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, delusions, falls, and so much more.

But fear not, these 5 tips should be able to help you with transitional care.

1. Prepare and Educate

You should always make sure that you talk to your senior about what is going to happen. Make sure that they understand that things will be different and why.

It’s also important to educate yourself. Your senior is relying on you as their caregiver. Make sure you have all the information you need to make everything as easy as possible for both of you.

This information can include what to do if you are going from home to a hospital, what’s the best community for your senior’s needs, and who your senior’s doctors are.

2. Keep Communication Open

There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to senior care, even more so when it’s just the beginning. Your senior could be moved from a hospital to a community without having important info.

See if you can find a way to make sure all people get the information they need. This could mean keeping records yourself and making copies to hand out. It could be asking your senior’s doctor to send the info to the people who need it.

Make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Pay Attention to Your Senior’s Care Goals

Do you know what your senior wants when it comes to their care? Do they have any treatment preferences? Would they prefer to be at home or a community? Do they have an advance directive?

If no such options are available, it’s important to think about what your senior would truly want. If you have to, gather opinions from other people who know your senior well.

4. Make a Team

The best way to get through all the changes in one piece is to create a team. This way everyone can help you make sure your senior gets the best treatment. It will also make your senior feel supported and safe.

Make sure anyone who is going to help and care for your senior knows what they’re doing. Make sure they know how to care for any chronic conditions that your senior may have.

5. Avoid Hospitalizations

It’s best you avoid any unnecessary changes in their environment. This can mean hospitalizations or ER visits. This can mess with the flow of care your senior gets and upset them. Upsetting them can cause illness and agitation.

Read more here.

How to Keep Long Term Care From Bankrupting You

Ways to Keep Long Term Care From Bankrupting You

When people in power talk about the costs of long term care, it’s often overwhelming and cold. They use statistics you can’t really understand. All you want to know is how to keep long term care from bankrupting you. A Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) report may have some solutions.

Ways to Keep Long Term Care From Bankrupting You

How to Keep Long Term Care From Bankrupting You

 

As much as statistics make everything less human, they are good to show how needed this talk is. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 52% of people turning 65 will need long term care. That’s a lot of people.

The Cost of Long Term Care

 

If the government, insurance companies, and employers all adopt proposals in the BPC report, long term care could be a breeze. The report, Financing Long-Term Services and Supports: Seeking Bipartisan Solutions in Politically Challenging Times, lays out how to make paying for long term care easier on the average family.

According to the report, over 12 million people need long term care support. The need will rise as Baby Boomers get older. The cost for long term care is $138,000 for men and $182,000 for women. How many people can actually afford that?

A nursing community costs around $91,300 a year. A home health aide is $45,800 a year. Both are much higher than what the average family can afford.

Plus, Medicare usually doesn’t cover long term care expenses to the shock of many people. Most people believe that the program will help them cover these costs. To qualify for Medicaid, you need to lose almost all of your money.

What the BPC Thinks Will Help

 

The Bipartisan Policy Center has a few ideas on how to ease the pain of Americans when it comes to these costs.

1. Give employers incentives to give affordable “retirement long-term care insurance” as an employee benefit. They can also auto-enroll employees age 45 and older. BPC thinks that the annual premiums for someone in that age bracket might be $600 instead of $2,400.

2. Let employees withdraw from 401(k) and similar retirement accounts without owing federal tax penalties if they use the money to buy long term care insurance policies through their employers.

3. Let Medicare Advantage plans, and other Medicare provider organizations offer up to 14 days a year of respite care coverage to high need, high-cost Medicare beneficiaries who have 3 or more chronic conditions, functional or cognitive impairment, and are part of a person and family-centered care plan. Today, Medicare only offers respite care to beneficiaries in hospice who are expected to die within 6 months.

4. Let Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans sell limited, affordable long term care coverage as an optional, voluntary benefit or a separate insurance policy financed through premiums paid by beneficiaries.

5. Allow state and federal health insurance marketplaces sell lower cost, limited benefit, retirement long term care insurance policies.

If these proposals are put in place, the cost of care would be cut in half.

Read more here.

7 Ways to Handle Medical Management

7 Ways to Handle Medical Management

Managing your health is hard enough, but it can get chaotic when you have to manage someone else’s. There a few different ways you can handle medical management of your senior without wanting to pull your hair out. If you aren’t properly prepared, then things can go poorly when there’s an emergency. You may be in charge of your senior’s medical management for years.

7 Ways to Handle Medical Management

7 Ways to Handle Medical Management

 

By knowing what you are doing, you provide a better quality of life for your senior. You also reduce the stress for yourself.

1. Use a Person-Centered Approach

By focusing on the person, you use a more positive approach. It will remind you that the person’s needs are most important. This way it can improve their well-being and their quality of life.

People who are care providers, but not medical professionals, should take a holistic approach with their care. They should try to remove any barriers of the coordination of medical and non-medical care and support.

This method will make your senior feel better overall.

2. Know What the Doctors Should Be Doing

You need to keep track of what each of your senior’s doctors does. That way you know how your senior’s care is supposed to be going.

You can work together with those doctors to create a single idea of what your care goals are.

3. Talk to the Doctors

The best thing you can do for your senior is know how to take care of them. Ask doctors about the chronic conditions your senior has and how you can help them with their symptoms. Should you change anything to their house if they are living at home? Is there something you should let the community know if they are in assisted living?

Don’t be afraid to tell any of your caregivers about changes in your senior’s health.

4. Try Using Methods That Don’t Involve Pills

There are a lot of different ways to help with dementia symptoms that don’t involve pills. There is a lot of evidence showing that other methods can work just as well if not more.

We actually explore this idea more in our article “9 Ways to Help With Dementia Symptoms Without Medications.”

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Pills

It’s not bad to use pills when they are necessary. There are times when pills are the right solution. Make sure you talk to all your care providers about what to use and when to use them to best suit your senior.

6. Prepare for Emergencies

Often when it comes to senior care, it’s a matter of when and not if with emergencies. It’s always better to have a plan prepared so your senior can be as safe as possible during the situation.

7. Do End of Life Discussions ASAP

No one wants to talk about the end of a beloved’s life, but it needs to be done. It’s good for you to know what your senior wants and how it should be done. This will also lessen the stress on you.

Read more here.

Gambling Problem Among Seniors

Gambling Problem Among Seniors

Gambling can be a fun way to let loose every once a while. Seniors, in particular, like to go to a casino to socialize and have a break from routine. The problem is that some seniors may enjoy it a little too much, leading to a gambling problem among seniors.

Gambling Problem Among Seniors

Gambling Problem Among Seniors

 

People who have a gambling problem are those who risk more than they can afford to lose. Seniors tend to realize they have a problem when they gamble away their rent and prescription money.

A lot of time, people don’t realize that their senior has a problem until they help them pay bills or balance their checkbook.

Signs of a Gambling Problem

 

Some signs of a gambling problem can be subtle, but there are some things to look for. If your beloved senior talks about gambling wins all the time but never losses, that can be a sign. If gambling replaces other hobbies, then that’s also a sign that there is a problem.

Other signs include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling/ always thinking about gambling
  • Having to up the stakes to maintain excitement
  • Always failing to stop or cut back on gambling
  • Getting mad when they try to cut back
  • Using gambling to run from depression and anxiety
  • Chasing losses instead of stopping
  • Lying to hide gambling activities
  • Using illegal acts like forgery or fraud to finance gambling
  • Risking or losing a relationship or job because of gambling
  • Borrowing money from others to make up losses

Seniors are the Lifeblood of the Gambling Industry

 

A survey of over 6,500 older people in Omaha, Nebraska found that going to casinos is the second favorite activity, right after bingo. They see it as an escape.

Casinos will also cater to seniors as a way to influence them. They will offer mobility options like motorized scooters and make everything more colorful.

Read more here.