Archive for July, 2012

Getting ready to age in place

As we all know, thinking ahead can be a bit of a challenge as we get caught up in our everyday responsibilities and routines. We came across Washington Post’s cover story from last week featuring 88-year-old Bill Cousins.

Suffering from post-polio syndrome, Cousins decided to plan ahead for future health problems as he noticed his ability to walk slowly diminishing. This cover story focuses on the growing “aging-in-place” movement, which aligns perfectly with our beliefs here at AmeriCare Georgia.

Cousins’ home modifications allowed him to stay in his home with health care that would usually be provided in assisted-living facilities. Over a period of five years, Cousins installed ramps, an elevator, and lowered his oven so he could live hassle free in a wheelchair.

“I’m an independent man,” said Cousins, who’s lived in the house since 1968. “I don’t like to be on an institution schedule. I don’t take well to rules I don’t agree with.”

Other tricks Cousins has discovered include using drawers for storing objects that he could not reach in the cabinets. Cups, plates, and other appliances are all in his easy accessible, height friendly kitchen drawers. Experts also suggest scoping out closets to eventually turn into elevators and installing showers that can be accessed without lifting your feet.

Although many people make home modifications as they need them, this rising aging-in-place movements highlights the importance of thinking and planning ahead.

When do you think is a good age to begin thinking about home modifications?

July 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

How effective are vaccinations for the elderly?

In the past 40 years, vaccinations have been globally adopted as the primary measure to illness and disease in the elderly population. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of evidence supporting the appropriate use and effectiveness of vaccinations in the elderly.

The influenza vaccine, one of the most common vaccines that has been highly recommended for people over the age of 65, is losing its reputation as an effective way for the elderly to fight the flu. These new findings are very discouraging to some, especially when considering that people over the age of 70 account for three-fourths of all flu deaths.

A New York Time’s article cites previous studies that show “not any actual protection against the flu virus but a fundamental difference between the kinds of people who get vaccines and those who do not…simply because they went to the doctor more often.”

Lone Simonsen, PhD, and collegues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases conducted a review of consecutive 33 flu seasons from 1968 to 2001. Their findings were very interesting and supported the idea of the lack of effectiveness vaccines have on the elderly.  The most important conclusion these researchers reached from their studies was that “the number of flu-related deaths along elderly Americans increased steadily during the 33-year-period, despite the fact that their acceptance of flu vaccinations also steadily increased.”

Another alarming study conducted by Dr. Wilbur H. Chen and colleagues at the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that “elderly participants needed four times the amount of antigens given in a standard dose of the flu vaccine to have the same immune response as healthy adults under 40 years old.”

Many vaccinations contain ingredients such as mercury and aluminum, which are regarded as highly toxic. There are possible harmful side effects to every vaccination, especially when containing these types of ingredients, and unfortunately the elderly and chronically ill are more vulnerable to experience these effects.

So what do all of these recent findings mean for the elderly and chronically ill? First, many tend to believe that getting the vaccination on an annual basis is still not a bad idea. Although the effectiveness has been severely questioned, it will not hurt loved aging ones who have been receiving vaccinations for decades to continue to do so.

AmeriCare Georgia’s Director of Nursing Karen Rawls, named 2012 Education Nurse of the Year by March of Dimes, has strong opinions and recommendations concerning immunizations for the elderly:

  • First and foremost, understand the effectiveness of frequently washing your hands and get in the habit of doing so.
  • Give elderly more nutrients, not needles. Older people have often have inadequate diets, and unfortunately with aging and illness comes the increase necessity for vital nutrients.
  • Increase intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Selenium, and Zinc.
  • Build immune systems by ensuring plenty of sleep and a diet full of fruits and vegetables.

July 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm 1 comment

Bon Voyage: Travel tips for seniors

With summer in full swing, more and more seniors may be catching the travel bug. Take advantage of these hot months and escape for a few days with your aging loved ones. Whether you plan on traveling to visit grandchildren a few hundred miles away or spending a relaxing long weekend at the beach, it is important to plan ahead.

The U.S. Travel Association estimates that, in 2010 Americans spent more than $526 billion on leisure travel. Elderly travelers represent 21 percent of all leisure travelers in the United States.

We found a great article that outlined some things to note as your aging loved ones travel. It is much better to be safe than sorry, so take into consideration these tips that could be easily overlooked!

  • Address mobility issues with travel agents when planning vacations.
  • Pack enough medicine to last you the entire trip, plus a few extra days. You never know what could happen!
  • Carry doctor notes that explain the use of each medication as well as become familiar with medical facilities around the vacation area.
  • Call airports and hotels ahead of time to make necessary arrangements for wheelchairs, service dogs, or oxygen tanks.
  • Visit a doctor beforehand to get all necessary vaccinations.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying too much cash.
  • Carry medication in carry-on bags incase of an emergency during travels.
  • Make a list of AmeriCare Georgia’s 24/7 service phone numbers, as we are always here to help.

Lastly, take President of AmeriCare Georgia and Advocacy Chair of NAIPC Doug Lueder’s advice–

“Plan activities that match energy levels and make certain to get enough sleep through out the vacation,” he said, “we understand the importance and benefits of leisure time with the family, so take advantage of these opportunities to spend quality time with your aging loved ones!”

July 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm 2 comments

Yummy tricks for better sleep

As our loved ones age, their ability to get a good night’s rest may become more and more of a problem. We all know how crucial sleep is to the maintenance of our health, especially as our bodies grow older, so finding a solution to their problem becomes a priority.

A National Institute of Aging study several years ago found that over 50 percent of men and women aged 65 and older complain of at least one chronic sleep issue.

Check out these 5 calming foods to help your senior loved one get that sleep they need and desire—

  1. Tart Cherries and Cherry Juice: Both these products contain not only antioxidants, but also melatonin. Studied seniors were given 8 ounces of juice twice a day and saw positive results.
  2. Bread:  Carbs, carbs, carbs. Contains tryptophan and aids your senior’s sleep response.
  3. Turkey: Along with all of its other health benefits, turkey contains tryptophan which enhances the function of the hormone serotonin, which aids in relaxation. Must be why we are all so tired after our Thanksgiving meals!
  4. Chamomile Tea: Drink this for a calming effect and a non-caffeinated treat before bedtime.
  5. Fortified cereal: Contains B6 which helps give a more sound sleep. Other sources of this vitamin are tomato products, bananas, and rice.

So next time you are grocery shopping, make sure to stock up on some of these food items and incorporate them in your loved one’s diet.

One more note! Sleep better and stay away from items such as:

Fatty Meals

Caffeine

Alcohol

Spicy Foods

Eat and sleep well! 

July 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment


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