Seniors' Preventative Health & Wellness

Seniors' Preventative Health & Wellness

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    Elderly people can prevent falls by being mindful of their everyday routines and things around the home that might contribute to falls, since more than half of all falls happen in the home. Some of the likely culprits include:
    • carrying heavy or bulky items up or down the stairs
    • loose rugs
    • not having stair railings
    • not having grab bars in the bathrooms
    • clutter on the floor or on the steps
    • poor lighting or improper placement of lamps
    • furniture that blocks pathways
    • wet or slick floors
    This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.
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    A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Fatigue, a problem faced by many older adults, can be caused by several factors including difficulty sleeping, poor nutrition and medication side effects, as well as certain medical conditions. While it's fairly common, it is often treatable -- and if it's a sign of a more serious condition, it's important to determine the cause.

    Fatigue can be a sign of hundreds of medical problems. Fatigue should definitely not be considered a normal part of aging, although certainly at the very end of life people lose energy. But it is best to consider a real change from one's baseline level of energy as a warning sign requiring medical evaluation.
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered
    Older adults who remain as physically and socially active as possible have a better chance of not becoming disabled in their elderly years, according to Rush University researchers.

    Researchers in Chicago studied 954 older adults who were not classified as disabled at the beginning of the study. The scientists measured social activity by having participants report how often they did activities such as going out to eat, attending sports events, playing bingo, taking weekend trips, doing volunteer work and more. They then assessed the subjects regarding disabilities by asking them about daily task performance, and whether they were able to bathe, prepare meals, get dressed, walk across a room unassisted, do housework, go up and down stairs and other daily activities.

    Results found that seniors with a high level of activity were twice as likely to remain independent and disability-free for longer periods of time.
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    If you have osteoporosis, which impairs your skeletal strength, you need to have a fall prevention strategy. A comprehensive fall risk strategy includes both medical and physical assessments.

    A medical assessment should determine if your judgment, balance, vision, or hearing are impaired. It should also determine your postural hemodynamic stability, meaning your ability to stand up suddenly or change position suddenly without loss of balance. Your blood pressure should be checked after sudden changes of position or after a meal. A physical assessment should check your gait and include training with assistance devices, such as canes or walkers, or the use of rubber soled shoes if needed. Physical therapy should include an exercise program for muscle strengthening and physical reconditioning.

    In addition, a fall risk strategy should include a home safety evaluation to identify common dangers such as rugs, poor lighting, and cluttered walkways. It is also wise to invest in home safety features such as bathroom grab bars and raised toilet seats.

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    A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of

    In one sense, the role of home health providers is simple: to keep vulnerable elders, who wish to remain there, at home. However, like so many things in life, this is not as easy as it sounds. This work truly does take the proverbial "village." Depending upon each state's own licensure and certification requirements, even with federal level regulation, available services in one area of the country will look very different from those available in another. Delivering home services in rural areas has its own set of challenges / urban areas another. 

    Home health providers come in many incarnations. From the Home-Delivered-Meal driver; to the Home Health Aide; Homemaker: Personal Care Attendant: Designated Money Manager; Laundry Service... to the Visiting Nurse; Social Worker; Elder Service Caseworker... to the Nurse Case Manager; Nurse Practitioner; Physician (yes, rare but there)... to the emerging Medical Home models of care.

    Keeping an elder, especially a vulnerable elder, at home - safely - takes planning and resources. Supportive family and others in the community play a huge role, too. Then, should the time ever come, when an elder DOES need more care than can be given at home, all involved have had time to explore the alternatives available to them.

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    A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Whether or not an exact cause of your fatigue has been identified, there are steps you can take to boost your energy levels. If your medications are making you drowsy, talk to your doctor about alternative treatments or changing the time of day that you take your pills.

    An obvious lifestyle issue is getting enough sleep, ideally seven to eight hours per night. If you feel tired during the day, try a short nap. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Drink enough fluid: six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, unless contraindicated by a medical condition. And exercise! Most experts recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

    People think that it's counterintuitive to exercise while they're feeling tired, but increased physical activity actually increases mood and energy as well as mental and social engagement.
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    What can you do to maintain your health at age 65 or older? More than you might think! The following preventive vaccines provide one aspect of health maintenance:
    • Flu vaccine
    • Pneumonia vaccine
    • Tetanus vaccine
    • Shingles vaccine
    Remember to always ask your doctor or other healthcare professional about the safety and appropriateness of any vaccine.
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    A Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of
    If doctors perform a bone-density test on elderly patients when they are healthy, they can determine if these people might be at high risk for fractures and for developing fractures in the future. Treatments that may prevent these fractures can then be prescribed.

    In the past, it was thought that there were certain conditions, like osteoporosis and osteopenia, that naturally occur as you begin to age, and as an elderly person it was your burden to learn to live with them. Now we know better.
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    A Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular), answered on behalf of
    There are a core set of recommended preventive services that are very effective in preventing disease or detecting disease early. Among these services are screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers, and vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease.

    Despite the effectiveness of these potentially life-saving preventive services, only one-quarter of adults aged 50 to 64 in the United States, and fewer than 40% of adults aged 65 and older, are up to date on these services.
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    A , Geriatric Medicine, answered
    Wearing shoes may keep you safe from falls. Researchers from the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research have found that seniors who go barefoot or wear only socks around the home are at greater risk for falls. Up to 52% of the seniors studied who reported a fall were barefoot, wearing socks without shoes, or wearing slippers at the time of the fall, according to the report. These shoeless fallers were more likely to experience serious injuries, including fractures. Falls prevention programs should include discussions about footwear, researchers said.