Archive for January, 2010

Chronic pain can be common for seniors in Joliet

According to the National Pain Foundation, pain among older adults is too frequently left undiagnosed and untreated. Statistics show that as high as 65 percent of older adults living on their own or with family, and up to 80 percent of seniors in long-term care facilities, have pain. Conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease further complicate an older adult’s ability to seek and receive adequate care for his or her pain.

As the baby boomers age, this could become even more of an issue, so the problem of pain in older adults needs to be addressed.

There are many reasons why seniors may suffer pain, from chronic disease to infection to joint and bone conditions. Here at the 10 common reasons why seniors have pain:

  1. Falls/trauma – Falling from lack of balance or weakness can end up a nightmare of pain. Safety proofing the environment is a must.
  2. Arthritis – While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common affecting 80 percent of older adults. Other diseases and conditions that cause joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
  3. Pain after surgery – While most people seem to bounce back after surgery once the worst of the pain is over, many times seniors don’t have that ability. This can result in long-lasting chronic pain.
  4. Osteoporosis – Thinning of the bones causes fractures. The fractures may not be obvious like hip or arm breaks; they can be in the spine, causing chronic and severe back and neck pain.
  5. Shingles – Shingles are an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. The pain associated with shingles can be intense and is often described as “unrelenting.” Approximately 20 percent of shingles patients develop post-herpetic neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the nerve fibers and skin.
  6. Face pain – This condition may include severe headaches, jaw tenderness and aching, muscle spasms and strain, dry mouth and toothaches.
  7. Back and neck pain – Back and neck pain can be caused by spinal stenosis, sprain or strain, past fractures, swollen or herniated disks, sciatica or arthritis.
  8. Abdominal pain – Causes include gallstones, appendicitis, bowel obstruction, peptic ulcer disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, or gastroenteritis. Another reason may be constipation.
  9. Circulatory problems – Symptoms include muscle cramps, fatigue and aching, chest pain, leg pain, itchy skin, vein pain or varicose veins, and sores that heal slowly or not at all. Circulation issues frequently affect those with diabetes, a condition that affects nearly one out of five Americans over the age of 60.
  10. Cancer – Pain is one of the most common symptoms of all types of cancer. It is usually classified as one of two types: nociceptive pain, which is described as sharp, aching and throbbing and neuropathic pain, which is described as a burning or numb sensation.

According to About.com, It makes sense that older adults with chronic pain tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety than those who don’t suffer from chronic pain.

Seniors may already feel a sense of loss, as they gradually lose the ability to function as they previously did. Decreased eyesight may keep them from driving. They may no longer be able to walk through the grocery store. They may resent having to use assistive devices such a walker or a cane. A perceived loss of independence can lead to feelings of depression and despair. These feelings are intensified by the presence of a chronic pain condition.

Chronic pain is not something anyone should go through alone. Seniors are more vulnerable to aches and pains than the average adult, and often these aches and pains do not go away with time. No one needs to suffer quietly.

It is vital to talk with the doctor, and complete honesty is a must. The doctor can help diagnose the reason for the pain and guide an individual toward a treatment that brings relief.

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The future: Hundreds of 100th birthdays for seniors in Joliet?

Centenarians in Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, LockportIn 2005, the Social Security Administration redesigned its life expectancy tables to extend to age 119. That says something, doesn’t it?

The New England Centenarian Study (NECS) is the largest comprehensive study of centenarians in the world. Initially this study was a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Now it is under the auspices of Boston University Medical Center.

The study found that Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of our population. The second fastest is the age group 85+. Currently, there are about 40,000 centenarians in the United States; 85% of them are women, 15% are men.

More and more people are now able to achieve their individual life expectancy potentials. This is a dramatic change from the turn of the 20th century, when many people died prematurely especially in infancy. The average life expectancy was 46 years. Families on average would lose a quarter of their children to infectious diseases.

With the advent of clean water and other public health measures, much of this high childhood mortality disappeared resulting in an average life expectancy of 64 years by 1960. Then with marked improvements in medical prevention and intervention for diseases that befall adults, such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart failure and coronary artery disease, life expectancy has climbed to almost 78 years.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century are:

  1. Immunizations and vaccines
  2. Motor vehicle safety
  3. Workplace safety
  4. Control of infectious diseases
  5. Heart and stroke mortality reduction
  6. Safer, healthier foods
  7. Protection of mothers and babies
  8. Family planning
  9. Fluoridation of drinking water
  10. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard

Life span is the maximum age obtainable for the species, and it is defined by the age of the oldest living individual. In the case of humans, that individual was Madame Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who was born Feb. 21, 1875 and died on Aug. 4, 1997 at the age of 122.

Madame Calment once said: “I have an enormous will to live and a good appetite, especially for sweets.” (Oh, if only it were that easy…just a daily stop at Fannie Mae)

The New England Centenarian Study found that most centenarians are uncommonly healthy, have emotional resilience, a good sense of humor, self-sufficiency, good longevity genes, resistance to stress (good coping skills), strong connections with other people, low blood pressure, religious beliefs, a zest for life, and an appreciation of simple pleasures and experiences. In addition few are obese, and a substantial smoking history is rare.

“The average person is born with strong enough longevity genes to live to 85 and maybe longer,” said Thomas T. Perls MD, MPH, director of the New England Centenarian Study. “People who take appropriate preventive steps may add as many as ten quality years to that.”

We have great potential to extend our lives, researchers say, if we just take care of ourselves: reduce stress, stay connected with others, cultivate optimism, watch the diet, exercise, increase cognitive capacity by doing crossword puzzles, playing bridge, or experiencing the new and unfamiliar and floss teeth. (That’s right. Flossing may help prevent heart disease. There is preliminary evidence that inflamed gums release substances into the bloodstream that cause clogged arteries.)

On a final note, life expectancy changes as one gets older. By the time a child reaches their first year, their chances of living longer increase. By the time of late adulthood, ones chances of survival to a very old age are quite good. For example, although the life expectancy from birth for all people in the United States is 77.7 years, those who live to age 65 will have an average of almost 18 additional years left to live, making their life expectancy almost 83 years.

And here’s the final proof. Hallmark Cards sold 85,000 100th birthday cards last year.

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Seniors in Joliet are never too old for romance

Senior Romance in Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, Lockport at the Timbers of ShorewoodPuppy love. Young love. Mature love. It never really ends, does it? All people have the desire for companionship and intimacy, and that does not exclude people in their 70s, 80s or 90s. In affairs of the heart, age hardly matters.

Single seniors enjoy making sociable connections just as the younger generation. Now, do these seniors want to go to bars and rock concerts? – Probably not, but there are many activities to enjoy. Some seniors are looking for meaningful friendships and not necessarily marriage. Others definitely are seeking marriage.

According to Ruth Purple, relatioinship coach, in her article, “Single Seniors – Never Too Old for Romance,” common obstacles are adult children who can be unforgiving if the widowed parent moves on after a separation, especially after a parent’s death. Others find it difficult to understand that their parents have the same feelings and needs as they do, while some react out of a need to protect their parent from being taken advantage of.

“However, it is still the seniors’ prerogative whether it is the right time for them to move on or not,” Purple said.

A vast number of seniors date for companionship and to fill emptiness in their lives. This is normal, and should be respected. Seniors have as much rights as the younger individuals when it comes to dating.

Making some interesting points is Helen E. Fisher, PhD, biological anthropologist and a member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the anthropology department of Rutgers University:

“Senior dating is often a good deal like junior dating—full of excitement, angst, euphoria when it goes well, and despair when things fail,” Dr. Fisher said. “Perhaps the most interesting thing about senior dating is that now, people are living long enough to do it. Additionally, they aren’t living with their children and grandchildren, so they have the opportunity to do it.”

Heretofore, the biggest obstacle to senior dating is the misconception that dating is only for the younger generation. It’s as if “society” frowns on the very notion and considers seniors just too old to even think of romance.

The internet is changing all that. There are senior dating sites that make the process much, much easier. In addition, senior groups hold charity events, dances and other activities at which like-minded people can meet and enjoy good times while getting to know each other. Churches also have singles groups for specific age ranges with activities based on age and interests.

“The world of dating and marriage has changed more in the past 50 years than in the past 5,000, due largely to the entry of women into the paid labor force,” Dr. Fisher said. “We are returning to a social life style that is very similar to life as it was in hunting and gathering societies, before people settled down on the farm and marriage codes became much more rigid.”

One thing’s for sure. Mature dating is much more a state of mind than a date of birth.

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