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Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Hospitalization

Monday , August 3 , 2020

Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Hospitalization

Hospitals are usually thought of as a safe place where people can go for help when they’re sick or injured. But for older adults, even a short hospital stay presents risks such as medical errors, medication mistakes, or falls.

Add in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the risks are even greater.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to help keep safe at home – and to help keep you or your older loved ones out of the hospital. Here are our top tips:

Ramp up Physical Activity

Many seniors tend to reduce their physical activity as they age, leading to increased fall risk, poor mobility, decreased immunity, and more. But the benefits of physical activity for older adults are well documented – just a small amount of daily exercise can lower the risk of many common physical and mental health issues. Try adding in a simple daily walk or some stretching and reap the benefits!

Reduce Your Fall Risk

A fall at home can quickly land you in the hospital, but there are several things you can do to help reduce the risk. In addition to physical exercise, try the following:

  • Reduce clutter
  • Repair or remove tripping hazards
  • Install grab bars and handrails
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing
  • Keep rooms and hallways well lit
  • Wear non-slip shoes
  • Move around carefully!

Eat Well

Vitamins and minerals play a big part in keeping our bodies strong and fit, and many common health issues can be avoided simply by practicing proper nutrition. Here are four nutrients you should take care to include in your diet, especially as you age:

  • Vitamin B12 plays a key role in brain and nervous system functions. It can be found in fish, eggs, poultry, meat, and milk.
  • Fiber helps keep you regular and lessens the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Most fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, and whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are a great source as well.
  • Potassium has many functions in the body, such as regulating water balance and aiding in muscle contraction. You can find it in beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, and more.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are important for maintaining bone density as we age. Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark leafy greens, and almonds. Pair it with a Vitamin D supplement for best results!

Keep Track of Medications

People aged 60 – 65 take an average of 15 prescription medications per year. Those over 80 take an average of 18. Not only are all these medications expensive, they can bring on adverse effects when not effectively managed. When you or an older loved on get a new medication, make sure to speak to the pharmacist about any side effects and how it might interact with an existing medication.

Stay in Touch with Friends

Loneliness can have a strong impact on both our mental and physical health. Socializing may seem difficult during the age of Covid-19, but it’s not impossible. Take part in social-distanced gatherings with friends or loved ones by taking a walk in the park or gathering on the lawn for a chat. Or consider utilizing technology for video chats, online book clubs, or even virtual game nights!

Ask People to Wash Their Hands

While we’re on the subject of Covid-19, let’s discuss cleanliness! If you must interact with others, make sure all people who come into your home wash or sanitize their hands as they enter and that they wear a mask. This includes medical professionals and home health aides!

Get Your Flu Shot

Flu season is quickly approaching and that means vaccines will soon be available. The CDC recommends that older adults get the shot in September or October for maximum effectiveness. It is recommended that seniors visit their doctor to first make sure they are healthy enough to receive the shot, and that they ask any regular visitors to their homes to receive the shot as well.

Don’t Ignore Symptoms

Many older adults end up in the hospital from illnesses that could have been easily handled at home with early diagnosis. Don’t ignore symptoms for fear of going to the doctor or because you think you can recover on your own. Many simple complaints, such as sore muscles or light headedness, can be signs of more serious issues.

ComForCare caregivers can help with companionship, disability support, grooming & hygiene, and much more. If you would like help living more comfortably at home, please reach out to speak with us about setting up a home care assessment today.

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Telemedicine: A Safer Option for Seniors

Monday , July 27 , 2020

Telemedicine: A Safer Option for Seniors

Providing care for your older loved one can be complex and challenging during the best of times. Supporting those same loved ones during the covid-19 pandemic requires extra precautions to keep them safe.

Research shows that adults aged 60 and older, especially those with preexisting conditions, such as heart or lung disease, are more likely to have a severe coronavirus infection than other groups.

Because of this, many older adults are choosing to forgo regular doctor appointments. For example, someone with diabetes may opt to postpone a regular follow-up visit to avoid potential exposure to coronavirus. But while covid-19 is dangerous, so is ignoring everyday medical needs.

What’s the solution? Telemedicine.

Telemedicine has become the norm for many people, both young and old, in the last few months. It’s a cost-effective healthcare solution that allows for independence in the aging population while still keeping them safe.

Keep reading for more information:

What is Telehealth?

A telehealth appointment is simply a regular doctor visit done over the phone or on a computer. The doctor’s office will provide your older loved one with a special phone number or link that they can use to connect with their physician privately, in a safe and secure environment.

Their doctor can address concerns, make suggestions, and even prescribe medication over the call.

The benefits are many. Besides the convenience of “seeing” a doctor from the comfort of their own home, telemedicine appointments don’t require any transportation, and they reduce exposure to covid-19 and other viruses.

Types of Telehealth 

There are three main types of telemedicine available for seniors. These are the options:

  • Synchronous telehealth involves real-time communication. A phone call or two-way video conferencing is used to communicate from afar.
  • Asynchronous telehealth is the a store-and-forward process, similar to email. Using a secure platform, the patient can share medical data with their doctor who will review it and respond later.
  • Remote patient monitoring allows for the tracking of vital signs using sensors, cameras, and other devices.

 Making the Most of a Visit

Just like in-person doctor visits, your older loved one should go to their telemedicine appointment prepared. Here are a few tips:

  • Make a list of the issues they want to address so nothing gets missed. This is especially important during telehealth visits, where people are more likely to lose their train of thought.
  • Keep track of symptoms and when they started/if they’ve changed. A brief record can help the doctor figure out what is causing symptoms.
  • Have any medical equipment that the doctor has prescribed on hand.
  • Take and share photos of obvious symptoms, such as bites, moles, or rashes.
  • Call from a quiet place so the doctor is able to hear and understand.
  • Don’t forget to address routine medical issues, like medication refills or paperwork required by the insurer.

Sometimes Face-to-Face is Best

Despite the ongoing pandemic, sometimes an office visit is the best option. For urgent or complex issues, such as dehydration from vomiting, the doctor’s office is still open for business.

Remember, an emergency is still an emergency: Sometimes the doctor needs to examine a patient and check vital signs to make an accurate diagnosis. Likewise, telemedicine doesn’t work for preventative procedures such as colonoscopies or mammograms.

Bottom line? In most instances, telemedicine offers a convenient and safe way to receive healthcare. When so much of regular life has been upended, it’s a great, stress-free way to connect with medical professionals.

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Sun Safety for Older Adults   

Monday , July 20 , 2020

Sun Safety for Older Adults  

Summer is here! For many, the warm weather and longer days mean more time spent outdoors – even in the wake of coronavirus.

But while we all enjoy sitting on the porch with a glass of iced tea or taking a trip to the shore, too much time in the sun can be harmful. Especially for seniors.

According to the CDC, less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for an hour or more on a warm, sunny day. And this may raise their risk of getting skin cancer.

If you’re aged 65 or older and plan on spending some time outdoors this summer, it’s vital that you take care to protect your skin.

We’ve put together a handy guide on defending yourself from the sun’s harmful rays to help keep you safe. Keep reading to learn more.

Skin Cancer Risk in Older Adults

Melanoma is often referred to as “the silent killer.” You can feel fine while you have it. You may not see any visible skin lesions or abnormalities, even as it continues to spread, invading lymph nodes and other body systems. By time you find out what’s happening, it could be too late.

That’s why it’s vital to take precautions to protect yourself from the sun. This is true for everyone, but especially older adults.

Why? Because most cases of skin cancer are found in people aged 65 and older. And as healthy adults in the United States continue to live longer and longer lives, it is essential that skin health in the aging population takes a front seat.

But besides staying in the house all the time, what can you do to protect yourself? These everyday habits can help keep your skin healthy, lower the risk of sunburn, and lower the overall risk of getting skin cancer:

How to Stay Safe

  1. Take Precautions (Even on Cloudy Days). It’s easy to have a false sense of security under a cloud-filled sky – but it is possible to get a sunburn, even on overcast days. In fact, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and damage your skin. Make sure you always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing (like sunglasses and a hat), even on the grayest of days!
  2. Remember That Darker Skin Won’t Protect You. One of the oldest summertime myths is that people with darker skin don’t have to worry about the sun. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Although the melanin in darker skin does offer some natural protection against UV radiation, it only safeguards to a certain extent. People with darker skin can still get sunburned and develop skin cancer.
  3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings. Many people believe that the only time they need to worry about skin damage is when they’re outdoors, in direct sunlight. This is not the case. UV rays can reach you when you’re riding inside a car, lounging under a shady tree, or even sitting beside a window in your home. If you’re exposed to sunlight – even if it’s not direct – take precautions to protect your skin.
  4. Use the Appropriate SPF. According to experts, most people either don’t use enough sunscreen or don’t use a strong enough SPF. When choosing your sunscreen, remember that the rating indicates the proportion of UVB rays that are blocked – the higher the number, the more protection it offers. Apply a thick coating of lotion and reapply often for the best defense.
  5. Limit Your Time Outdoors. During the summer especially, the best thing you can do for your skin is to limit time outdoors. If possible, try to avoid going outside between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. If you do need to go outside for any reason, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

In addition to the above tips, it’s important to examine your body for signs of sun damage or skin cancer on a regular basis. Most skin cancers, when caught early, can be easily cured. If you see a spot on the skin that is changing in size, shape, or color during a period of 1 month to 1 or 2 years, contact your healthcare provider immediately for further guidance!

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