Archive for April, 2010

Seniors in Joliet recognize the top 10 health care mistakes

Health care can be a maze of doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, tests, safety measures, etc. As seniors age, the maze becomes even more complicated. What the doctor said is unclear, driving becomes a challenge, and a myriad of additional issues add to the confusion.

Ten areas of concern are outlined below. Some of these concerns are moot when a move to an assisted living community occurs. In a community, systems exist to manage medications, safety measures have been carefully considered and built-in, more help is available, and many seniors give up the car when they move to a community.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Advancement it’s true that many seniors are living longer, but it’s also true that many could improve the way they deal with health problems. To help seniors stay healthier longer, the IHA has identified the 10 most common mistakes older adults make in caring for their health:

  1. Driving when it’s no longer safe
    Seniors often associate mobility in a car with their independence, but knowing when it is time to stop driving is important for the safety of everyone on the road.
  2. Fighting the aging process and its appearance
    Refusing to wear a hearing aid, eyeglasses or dentures, and reluctance to ask for help or to use walking aids are all examples of this type of denial.
  3. Reluctance to discuss intimate health problems with the doctor or health care provider
    Older Americans may not want to bring up sexual or urinary difficulties. Sometimes problems that the individual thinks are trivial, such as stomach upsets, constipation, or jaw pain, may require further evaluation.
  4. Not understanding what the doctor told them about their health problem or medical treatment plan
    Not understanding the doctor or not remembering what he said are typical complaints. Reluctance to ask the doctor to repeat information or to admit that they do not understand what is being said can result in serious health consequences.
  5. Disregarding the serious potential for a fall
    To help guard against falling, seniors should remove scatter rugs from the home and have adequate lighting throughout. They should wear sturdy and well-fitting shoes, and watch for slopes and cracks in sidewalks. Participating in exercise programs to improve muscle tone and strength is also helpful.
  6. Failure to have a system or a plan for managing medicines
    By using daily schedules, pill box reminders or check-off records, seniors can avoid missing medication doses.
  7. Not having a single primary care physician who looks at the overall medical plan of treatment
    Health problems may be overlooked when a senior goes to several different doctors or treatment programs, and multiple treatment regimens may cause adverse responses.
  8. Not seeking medical attention when early possible warning signs occur
    Reasons for such inaction and denial may include lack of money or reduced self worth due to age. Of course, such treatment delays can result in a poorer prognosis.
  9. Failure to participate in prevention programs
    Flu and pneumonia shots, routine breast and prostate exams are examples of readily available preventive health measures that seniors should utilize.
  10. Not asking loved ones for help
    Many older Americans are reluctant to ask for help whether due to a need for independence or because of early signs of dementia. It’s important that elderly people alert family members or other loved ones to any signs of ill health or unusual feelings so that they can be assessed before the problem advances.
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Knee pain nothing to sneeze about for seniors in Joliet

Oh my aching knees. According to senior-fitness.com, in a typical year more than 6 million seniors, age 62 and older, will visit a doctor because of knee pain.

A healthy knee easily can withstand loads equal to more than four times the body weight. Pretty amazing, don’t you agree?

A knee is a joint, and a joint occurs wherever two bones come together. But that definition doesn’t begin to convey the intricacy of joints which provide the body with flexibility, support and a wide range of motion.

The body has four types of joints: fixed, pivot, ball-and-socket, and hinge. Knees are hinge joints which work much like the hinge of a door, allowing the joint to move backward and forward. Knees are the largest and heaviest hinge joints in the body. They’re also the most complex. In addition to bending and straightening, they twist and rotate like a gyroscope. This makes knees especially susceptible to damage which is why they sustain more injuries on average than do other joints.

The knee joint is four bones held together by ligaments. The thighbone (femur) makes up the top part of the joint, and two lower leg bones, the tibia and the fibula, are the lower part. The fourth bone, the patella, slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Ligaments are large bands of tissue that connect bones to one another. In the knee joint, four main ligaments link the femur to the tibia and help stabilize the knee as it moves through its arc of motion.

Over the course of a lifetime, natural lubricants dry-up, and the cartilage wears away. This can lead to arthritis. Then is knee pain inevitable? Many experts think that the human knee can last a long lifetime, provided it’s not abused and receives some basic preventive maintenance. The right lifestyle and activity choices can help make knees stronger, healthier, and more pliant. Most important is to keep moving.

Tips & Warnings from ehow.com:

  • First and foremost, ask your doctor whether knee exercises are safe for you.
  • Walk around for a few minutes before doing knee exercises to give muscles a chance to warm and stretch.
  • Repeat any knee exercise only two or three times in the beginning.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes to enhance balance and avoid jerky movements when doing knee exercises.
  • Do not hold your breath when doing muscle-tightening exercises.
  • Do not kneel directly on your knees when gardening or doing chores around the house. Seniors should use a low stool or padded kneepads.
  • Do not exercise to the point that you start to feel pain
  • Knee exercises must be done very slowly and gradually increased to avoid putting too much stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The following exercises are recommended for seniors by ehow.com:

To strengthen the quadriceps (front of the thigh):

  • Sit in a chair with your back straight and the balls of your feet touching the floor. If your entire foot lies flat on the floor, sit on some cushions to lift yourself up so only the balls of your feet touch the floor. Your hands can be either resting on your thighs or holding the chair.
  • Bring your right leg in front of you and lift it very slowly until your knee is straight without feeling painful.
  • Point your toes back towards your head while in this position and hold for 3 seconds.
  • Lower your leg back slowly to the starting position, resting the balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Repeat the entire exercise with your left leg. You can repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times if comfortable.

To strengthen the hamstrings (back of the thigh):

  • Sit up straight in a chair with arms that will not move as you do this exercise. Prop the chair against a wall if that will keep it stable. Place legs at a 45-degree angle with heels resting on the floor.
  • Dig your heels into the floor as you hold onto the arms of the chair. Hold that position for 5 seconds. You will feel your hamstring muscles tighten as you do this.
  • Relax for 10 seconds and then repeat 5 to 10 times.
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Seniors in Joliet ‘get it down in writing’

Most seniors, as they age, they think about their Will. They see a lawyer and make decisions about the division of assets among children and/or grandchildren. There’s another kind of asset to leave family members that is historic and incalculably dear – the story of your life.

A granddaughter expressed regret that she never really knew her grandparents on her father’s side. They came through Ellis Island from Finland, and they both were gone by the time the granddaughter was 12. Decades later, as she faced her own mortality, her thoughts dwelled on the couple, and she wished she had asked her dad more details about what his parents were like. But he had died, too, and the unasked questions were haunting. Any stories about the courage it must have taken to come to America are impossible to know.

If only…if only they had written down a personal story or two.

The drama of coming through Ellis Island isn’t a necessity to tell a life story, however. All the remembrances and experiences of a long life are precious and priceless. Life story writing leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. And it can bring enjoyment, satisfaction and even closure in the last stage of life.

Of the many excellent books on autobiographical writing, perhaps the best for seniors is Lois Daniel’s How to Write Your Own Life Story. The author suggests writing in small sketches of a few sentences each. In addition to genealogical and family life stories – circumstances of birth, favorite toys, stories about siblings and grandparents, she suggests topics such as where were you on important days in history, accomplishments of which you are the most proud and inventions of the day.

According to CreativeQuotations.com, Grandma Moses, in her autobiography, wrote, “I have written my life in small sketches, a little today, a little yesterday, all the things from childhood on through the years, good ones and unpleasant ones, that is how they come out and that is how we have to take them.”

Life story writing in a group can be very enjoyable, and it’s an excellent way to build community with others. Sometimes a family member can serve as a scribe while the senior reminisces aloud. Often a grandchild or great-grandchild compiles the stories and self-publishes from his or her computer. With a little computer know-how, the document can have photos to go along with the stories.

Writing your life story: six suggestions for seniors from JournalTherapy.com

  1. Write in small sketches of five or ten minutes on specific topics, such as a favorite holiday, the first job, a memorable world event.
  2. Engage family members in the process. Invite correspondence, or ask nearby relatives to scribe “spoken poems” by writing down everything that is said, in your exact words.
  3. Join a life story or memoir writing group. Ask at your senior center, library, or doctor’s office. If a writing group doesn’t exist, see if you can get one started.
  4. Tell the stories of how you participated in world history. Where were you when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? How did you and your family spend the Great Depression years? Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated? How did you and America react to 9/11?
  5. Write your “ethical will.” What life lessons, personal philosophies, mottos, and core values do you want to leave as legacy to your descendants? How did you learn these lessons or acquire these philosophies?
  6. Ask someone in your family with computer skills to compile your stories into a self-published memoir.
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