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How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

Monday , January 25 , 2021

How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

By now, we all know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But many people, especially seniors, are experiencing symptoms that aren’t typical – and those symptoms can last for quite some time.

Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 infections in older adults and what to expect in the long run:

 

COVID-19 in Older Adults 

Senior citizens don’t always display the same signs and symptoms of a coronavirus infection as younger adults. Instead, seniors may just seem “off” or like they’re not acting like themselves. They may sleep more or less than usual, stop eating, or appear confused. They may become dizzy or stop speaking. They may even collapse.

Because seniors often have underlying health conditions to begin with, it may not be obvious that these atypical symptoms are the cause of COVID-19. Unfortunately, missing the early signs of COVID, or attributing them to something else, can stop your older loved one from getting the proper care. In addition, people may go in and out of their homes without adequate protection measures, further spreading the infection.

 

Ongoing Effects 

As many people have learned, the troublesome effects of COVID-19 don’t necessarily stop after you’ve tested “negative.” This is especially true for older adults.

Many seniors who’ve become critically ill from the coronavirus report an ongoing “brain fog” – difficult putting thoughts together or problems with concentration – even after the virus has subsided. This can make it challenging to plan out their day-to-day activities, remember appointments, or even have a conversation.

Other reported issues include muscle and nerve damage, continued shortness of breath, lethargy and fatigue, and depression or anxiety.

According to Dr. Zijian Chen, medical director of the Center for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai Health System, while many younger adults experience these same issues, seniors tend to have “more severe symptoms, and more limitations in terms of what they can do.”

Recovery for older adults may take months, not weeks. Many of those who were critically ill may still feel unwell after a year or more and can require rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation.

A Long Road Ahead

Researchers have found that frailty, a clinical condition caused by lack of reserves or energy, leaves those recovering from COVID-19 at risk for sudden changes in health and a higher risk of needing hospitalization or long-term care.

Older adults, especially, may suffer from Post-intensive Care Syndrome – a group of psychological, cognitive, and physical disabilities that may develop after treatment in the intensive care unit.

To help combat these ill effects, doctors suggest starting various therapies as soon as a COVID-19 infection is discovered. Treatments to assess lung capacity, improve cough effectiveness, and increase trunk muscle strength may help reduce the care needed later and lead to less pain.

They note that an emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation is significant for seniors because there is often a limited window in which they can improve. Once muscle strength, function, and flexibility are lost, they can be exceedingly difficult to restore.

While recuperating from COVID-19 may be challenging for our nation’s seniors, it’s not impossible. Catching the virus early in combination with the appropriate therapies can help facilitate a quicker and more complete recovery.

ComForCare can help make the recovery process more manageable. Our in-home care specialists are not only highly qualified, but they’re also kind and compassionate – and whether your loved one requires 24-hour care or only a ride to the doctor, we’ve got you covered. Reach out today to learn more.

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

Monday , January 18 , 2021

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and at ComForCare, we’re encouraging people to start the new year by getting a comprehensive eye exam.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, affecting about 3 million people. While anyone can get it, those most at risk include African Americans over the age of 40 and anyone over 60.

Unfortunately, without a dilated eye exam, many people don’t even know they have symptoms. The disease is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight.”

With a rapidly aging population, the epidemic is only expected to grow. To help raise awareness, we’ve put together a quick guide to Glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more about the disease and what you can do to help prevent it.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affects the optic nerve within your eyes. It gradually damages the nerve’s ability to function correctly, affecting the brain processes the way images. Typically, it is entirely painless.

The disease’s progression varies from person to person, but it often affects peripheral (side) vision first and later leads to “tunnel vision.” According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, about 5% of cases result in blindness.

Types of Glaucoma

There are several types of Glaucoma, but the main two are open-angle and angle-closure. These are marked by pressure inside the eye.

  • Open-angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma, accounting for more than 90% of cases. It’s caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased pressure. This is a lifetime condition that develops slowly with symptoms that are not noticed.
  • Angle-closure Glaucoma is also caused by the clogging of drainage canals in the eye, however, it usually develops quickly and has very noticeable symptoms. Without immediate medical attention, the damage could be severe.

Risk Factors

Because Glaucoma can destroy vision before any symptoms are apparent, it is vital to be aware of these risk factors:

  • Being of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Having a family history of Glaucoma
  • Having diabetes
  • Being severely nearsighted

Regular screenings are essential to help diagnose the disease as early as possible. If Glaucoma is found, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Glaucoma; however, medical treatment can help slow the spread of the disease. The effectiveness of medication or surgery depends on early diagnosis and the type of Glaucoma treated.

Final Thoughts

Regular eye exams can help detect Glaucoma in the early stages before severe damage has occurred. If you or someone you know needs help getting to an eye doctor appointment or picking up medicated eye drops, ComForCare can provide a reliable, safe, and flexible transportation solution.  Reach out today to schedule your transportation services.

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What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Monday , January 11 , 2021

What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Older adults are among those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. That is why, now that vaccines against the virus are being distributed, seniors will be some of the first to receive them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that people living in long-term care facilities, as well as those 65 and older, be included in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

While distribution will vary from state to state, here in New Jersey, all residents aged 65+ are eligible for vaccination beginning January 14.

As you get ready to receive the vaccine, you may have some questions. That’s understandable.

In this blog, we address some of the most common queries older adults have about the COVID-19 vaccine so you can feel more comfortable as you move forward with the process.

Keep reading to learn more:

Older Adults and COVID-19

According to the CDC, “risk of severe illness increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.” In the U.S., 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have been in adults aged 65 and higher, and those aged 85 and higher have a 630x greater chance of death.

One of the reasons older adults are so likely to become gravely ill is underlying medical conditions, such as COPD or diabetes. To mitigate risks, experts recommend that older adults continue with their regular treatment plan and have at a least a 30-day supply of any medications. Most importantly, they say that you SHOULD NOT avoid going to the hospital or doctor office out of fear of contracting COVID-19.

Vaccine Distribution

The CDC has recommended that states give vaccine priority to health care workers, long-term care residents, essential workers, adults with high-risk conditions, and those aged 65 and older (in that order).

Already, more than 9.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the U.S. – mostly to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Soon, the process will be opened to those aged 65 and older (some states, such as Florida, have already begun inoculating older adults).

It is estimated that about 50 million doses of vaccine should be available this month, followed by another 60 million doses in February and March. That’s enough vaccine for roughly 85 million people, and should be enough to immunize medical personnel, front line workers, and older adults.

Getting the Vaccine

There are two authorized vaccines in the United States (Pfizer and Moderna), and both require two shots to be effective. Vaccine doses are purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars and will be given to the American people at no cost, however vaccination providers may charge an “administration fee” for giving the shot. The fee may be covered by your insurance company or, if you are uninsured, by the Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund.

Each state has its own plan for who will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine first. For more information on when you may be eligible, contact your state health department.

Is the Vaccine Safe For Older Adults?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been tested in adults aged 65 and older. Research shows that they are safe and effective at preventing illness due to COVID-19. Since it is known that older adults can become gravely ill from COVID-19 and are more likely to die from the infection, it is highly recommended that they receive the vaccine.

What are the Side Effects?

Based on what scientists have seen so far, there seem to be few side effects. Most often, recipients have noted symptoms such as:

  • Soreness at the site of injection
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

Please note that if you are on chemotherapy to treat cancer or immunosuppressants (such as post-transplant), you may experience additional side effects and you should speak to your doctor before receiving your first dose.

Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask Post-Vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic, people continue to wear a mask that covers their face and nose, even after receiving the vaccine. It is unknown whether vaccinated people can become carriers of the disease and spread it to other people, leaving the possibility that they could become silent spreaders of COVID-19.

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