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10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

There’s lots of different health issues that come with aging. Luckily, some of them are easy to manage with proper preparation. Here are 10 common health issues for seniors.

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

 

1. Chronic Illness

It’s very common for seniors to have at least one or more chronic illnesses. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are the most common to have.

2. Cognitive Health

Alzheimer’s and dementia are pervasive diseases. They are so much more than simply forgetting, they can cause problems with motor skills, personality changes, and confusion are major symptoms of both of these diseases. Alzheimer’s is also fatal.

3. Mental Health

Many seniors suffer from depression because of so many life changes that happen later in life. As we’ve written about before, it’s hard to diagnose mental illness in seniors.

Older adults are around 18 percent of suicide deaths in America.

4. Falls

Falls are the number one cause for emergency visits. Falls cause all kinds of bone fractures due to bones weakening with age.

5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In 2013, the CDC found that 21 percent of AIDs cases were in people over 50 in the US. Seniors are less likely to use protection, and their weaker immune system makes them more vulnerable to HIV.

6. Malnutrition

It’s easy for seniors to develop malnutrition for a number of reasons. Cognitive impairments may cause them to forget to eat, dietary restrictions, limited income, and more can cause problems with getting proper nutrition.

7. Sensory Impairments

Vision and hearing loss are common in Americans over the age of 70.

8. Oral Health

Around 25 percent of people over 65 don’t have any natural teeth left. Cavities and tooth decay can lead to unhealthy diets, low self-esteem, and other health problems.

9. Substance Abuse

Addiction is more of a problem among seniors than most people realize. Older adults with substance abuse problems are expected to reach five million by 2020.

10. Bladder Control and Constipation

These symptoms can either be due to age or be symptoms of a poor diet or medication.

Read more here.

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

Loneliness is a major problem for seniors. They slow down, and their social circles slowly diminish until they spend all their time alone. A new survey of UK seniors reveals that they usually go a week without talking to someone.

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

 

The survey of 1,896 seniors showed that twenty-two percent would have a conversation with three or fewer people each week. Why is this a big deal?

This means that 2.6 million seniors don’t have daily human contact and 225,000 don’t talk to people at all.

The survey also showed that thirty-eight percent of seniors feel lonely as they’ve gotten older. The loneliness has gotten so bad for some that twelve percent said loneliness kept them from leaving their home.

Forty percent of seniors would feel more confident in leaving the house if they knew their neighbors. Fifty-four percent of seniors said that even a short conversation with a neighbor or acquaintance would brighten their day.

Read more about how loneliness can affect your health in our article, Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote.

Read more about the UK survey here.

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Researchers at Indiana University found that women and seniors who take multiple medications are more likely to experience dangerous drug interactions. For women, there was a sixty percent increase in the risk of drug interactions compared to men. With people over fifty-five, one in four people take drugs that can cause an adverse reaction. For people seventy through seventy-nine, that risk goes up to one in three people.

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

 

The project was done in the Brazillian health care system and published npj Digital Medicine. 181 drug combinations that were prescribed against recommendation was discovered. The drugs were all widely known to interact poorly with one another and given to 15,527 people in the study’s population. 5,000 people got drug combinations that would cause them to need medical attention if something were to go wrong.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one out of three hospital visits in a year are due to side effects of drugs.

The medication that appeared to be most commonly prescribed in bad combinations were relatively normal medications. Familiar names like omeprazole—a heartburn medication also known as Prilosec, fluoxetine—an antidepressant also known as Prozac, and ibuprofen— a type of aspirin were the top drugs prescribed.

Researchers made sure to take in other factors that could result in dangerous drug interactions, like older people taking more prescription drugs. The study compared drugs actually prescribed to older patients against a random selection of medicines that are used among older adults. This would show that dangerous drug combos were more common in real life than in the random model.

Further research will be done to dive further into this subject.

Read more about the study here.

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

It’s no secret that Asia is leading the way when it comes to robotic caregiving. The latest news has to do with robotics helping Chinese seniors with rehab. Doing physical rehab is more engaging and enjoyable with the help of these robots.

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

 

People over 60 in China have reached 250 million in 2018, out of a total population of around 1.4 billion. The country realized it needs to come up with alternative ways to treat their aging population because soon the senior community will be bigger than the country can handle.

So, scientists and tech companies are creating artificial intelligence applications to make things easier.

A woman named Wang Lingmei is using a training machine and playing a game at the same time. The device resembles an electronic piano with a TV attached to it. Wang, 84, is reaching to touch virtual fruits by moving a handle as part of her daily exercise. The exercise regiment is to help her recover mobility after fracturing her right arm and leg in a fall.

“The game is interesting and makes me feel happy. We have a therapist to monitor our condition while using it, so I am not afraid of this technology and machine.”— Wang Lingmei

The Lujiazui Elderly Community Center, where Wang resides, uses the game/rehab machine and also uses smart mattresses. The mattresses have sensors to help monitor the health of patients, and the data can be shared with everyone who’s allowed to see. GPS can even find residents if they wander off.

Before having the rehab machine, the center would hire a therapist to visit every day to help patients. The therapist would direct the patient’s hand to an object and repeat the move with them hundreds of times. It took a lot of time and wasn’t fun for the patient.

Now with the machine, while a therapist is still needed, the exercises are more engaging, and there is a sense of independence.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the robotic caregiving field.

Read more here.

7 Ways to Start Cutting Back on Medication

6 Ways You Can Avoid the Flu

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.

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.

For instance, 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 from 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 create 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.

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.

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.