Archive for the ‘Aging Tips’ Category

Another Bruise?

What causes that dark, unsightly mark on a limb known as a bruise? Unable to remember bumping into anything, an older adult may be baffled about how a new bruise happened. It’s common to experience easy bruising with increasing age, because blood vessels become more fragile with age.

Bruises result when trauma or a blow to the body damages or ruptures tiny blood vessels under the skin. Not only are the elderly more prone to bruising, less force is required to cause a bruise. And with greater impact, deeper bruises of the muscles or bone can happen, which take longer to heal.

According to A Place for Mom, the medical term for a bruise is a contusion. What happens is blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually the body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. If a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard, it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.

Some people – especially women – are more prone to bruising than are others. In fact, several factors may contribute to increased bruising, including (Mayo Clinic):

  • Aging capillaries – Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.
  • Thinning skin – With age, skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels against injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates the aging process in the skin.

Generally, the harder the blow, the larger the bruise. However, if a person bruises easily, a minor bump – one they may not even notice – can result in substantial discoloration. Arms and legs are typical locations for bruises.

Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) or medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix) reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Because of this, bleeding from capillary damage that would normally stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing enough blood to leak out to cause a bruise.

In addition, certain dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo also may increase bruising, because these supplements have a blood-thinning effect. Make certain the doctor knows about any supplements.

Bruise prevention

Below are some steps to take to prevent bruising from falls and collisions:

  • Hold the handrails on stairways.
  • Don’t stand on a chair to get to something.
  • Clear floors where you walk.
  • Mount grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Tack down all carpets and area rugs.
  • Always close cabinet doors and drawers so you won’t run into them.
  • Be especially careful around pets.
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Guide for senior grandparents in Joliet

“Grandparents hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.” – Anonymous

The joy of being a grandparent is immeasurable. Some think grandparenting is even better than parenting – not as much pressure or worry and lots more sheer enjoyment. And they do go home, don’t they?

Most new grandparents are shocked by the depth of love they experience. It’s as if grandchildren are compensation for growing old.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to play, to love a young child again, and to appreciate the magic of a developing mind. Grandparents can share the things they’re passionate about with a new audience; experience music, nature, the zoo, museums, reading, gardening, theater and other interests in conjunction with a curious young mind.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to watch children develop through all stages of growth; it is an invitation to learn about ‘their’ music and ‘their’ passions and to provide input that parents cannot.

Usually, grandparents have the benefit of interacting on a level that is once removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents. This can make it easier to develop a close bond with grandchildren. From near or far, grandparenting can provide continuity in a child’s life, since grandparents are often the family historians who can add a rich sense of family tradition to a child’s life.

Contact with grandparents can teach children positive attitudes towards aging and help them develop skills to enhance their own lifelong learning.

Making the most of your grandparenting time from helpguide.org:

  • Carve out one-on-one time. On occasion, spend time with individual grandchildren. It will give an opportunity to bond, without competition.
  • See the sights. Concerts and plays, movies, zoos, science centers and museums, parks or simple walks in the neighborhood provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions.
  • Play games. Board and card games are a unique opportunity to watch kids in action and to see how they operate in the world. Games also allow you to help your grandchild learn to be a good sport and play fairly.
  • Communicate family history. Tell stories about games or trips you shared when the grandchild’s parents were young. This is a great way to weave a ‘tapestry’ of shared experiences for the whole family.
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Seniors in Joliet prepare for a doctor’s visit

Visiting a doctor’s office can make a senior nervous, impatient, or even scared. He or she may have only a few minutes with the health care provider, and later the patient may remember unasked questions. And it’s hard to remember what was said.

Before the visit, take a list of specific questions to the appointment, making sure to list the most important ones first. It’s a good idea, too, to review your health history, so you can convey it concisely to your doctor. Writing out a brief synopsis to give a new doctor can be helpful and save time.

A list of medications and dosages is essential. Make copies of this list for all doctors.

During Your Visit:

  • Tape-record the visit or bring a pencil and notebook to take notes or bring a trusted friend or relative to take notes.
  • Keep the discussion focused, making sure to cover the main questions and concerns, symptoms and how symptoms impact your life.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what you have been told or if you still have questions.
  • Ask for explanations of treatment goals and side effects.
  • Let your doctor know if you are seeing other doctors or health care providers.
  • Share information about any recent medical tests.
  • Let your doctor know how much information you want and if you have religious or cultural beliefs that affect your treatment.
  • Stand up for yourself or have a friend or family member advocate for you if your concerns are not addressed.
  • Balance assertiveness with friendliness and understanding.

Hopefully these tips will help seniors understand their diagnosis and any recommended treatments.

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Skin concerns by seniors in Joliet

No matter what, skin ages because of too much cold weather, too much sun, and too many years. Most people make a point of taking care of their skin, using moisturizers and creams to keep inevitable damage at bay as long as possible. But as aging takes place, skin dilemmas happen to nearly everyone.

According to the Mayo Clinic wrinkles happen due to many years of ultraviolet rays and gravity. The skin becomes less elastic and subsequently sags and wrinkles. Habits like frowning and smoking can cause wrinkles around the mouth.

Seniors are prone to dry skin which is rough and scaly skin that appears on the lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. A few causes of dry skin include:

  • Dehydration due to not drinking enough fluids
  • Staying in the sun for long periods of time
  • Being in very dry air
  • Smoking
  • Experiencing stress
  • Losing sweat and oil glands which happens naturally with age
  • Some health problems like diabetes or kidney disease
  • Using excessive amounts of soap, antiperspirant, or perfume
  • Taking hot baths

Dry skin can lead to itching, bleeding, and infection. It can also contribute to sleep problems. Such problems can be treated by medication, so it is encouraged that one seek medical attention before itchy skin leads to more serious conditions. Men and women can also use lotions and ointments, take fewer baths, use milder soap, use cooler water when bathing, or use a humidifier in order to treat dry and irritable skin.

Age spots, which are sometimes referred to as liver spots, are brown spots that can appear on the hands and body. They are harmless signs of years of sun exposure.

Skin tags are flesh-colored growths of skin that can grow anywhere, but the neck is a likely spot.

Although these age spots and skin tags are harmless and are simply due to aging, it is important to alert the doctor as it may be difficult for those without medical training to discern between these and irregular growths. A dermatologist can remove both of these types of growths if they are bothersome.

With age, men and women can bruise more easily and take longer to recover from bruising. Seniors with excessive bruising should see a doctor.

Psoriasis. This skin condition is marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales.

Thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormones, reduces the activity of sweat and oil glands, leading to rough, dry skin.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is mainly caused by exposure to the sun, sunlamps, or UV light in tanning booths. People with fair skin are more at risk for developing skin cancer. If diagnosed early, skin cancer can be cured.

According to SeniorAdvice.com , some ways to prevent skin conditions are as follows:

  • Sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the brightest, should be limited. Cloudy skies or staying in water does not mean you are not being exposed. UV rays travel through these translucent surfaces to reach the skin.
  • SPF15 sunscreen and higher should be reapplied at least every two hours with long periods of sun exposure.
  • Hats and sunglasses can help protect the face and eyes from harmful UV rays.
  • Purposefully exposing the skin to direct UV rays without protection is discouraged.
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Seniors in Joliet: To drive or not to drive

Giving up driving can be a tremendous blow to an older person. There’s the practical side: how to run errands, get to the doctor, visit friends, etc., and then there’s the emotional side: driving is a key symbol of independence.

Agreeing to forgo driving is in many ways also an agreement to give up one’s independence. It is very tough. Most seniors will drive as long as they can, and many times, it is up to the adult children to decide when driving has become unsafe.

Remember, the issue is safety – both the senior’s and other people. If a person can’t make decisions quickly enough or has difficulty seeing, then it is time to stop driving.

What about driver’s licenses? According to SeniorAdvice.com, many seniors will argue they can still drive, because the DMV is still giving them a license. The DMV, however, only sees them for a short period of time and often there is no road test. There is little basis for determining whether they are adequate drivers in a real world environment, so a license doesn’t really mean that much.

Study after study shows that the mere fact a person is older is not an indicator as to whether they can drive. Just because someone is 65 does not mean they should lose their license automatically. The only exception is once a person reaches the age of 80, because people older than 80 get into as many accidents as teenagers.

People age differently. For that reason, it is not possible to set one age when everyone should stop driving. So, how does one know when to stop?

The website HelpGuide.org tells about unsafe driving warning signs:

  • Problems on the road. Abrupt lane changes, braking, or acceleration. Failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes. Drifting into other lanes. Driving on the wrong side of the road or in the shoulder.
  • Trouble with reflexes. Trouble reading signs or navigating directions to get somewhere. Range-of-motion issues (looking over the shoulder, moving the hands or feet). Trouble moving from the gas to the brake pedal, or confusing the two pedals. Slow reaction to changes in the driving environment.
  • Increased anxiety and anger in the car. Feeling more nervous or fearful while driving or feeling exhausted after driving. Frustration or anger at other drivers but oblivious to the frustration of other drivers, not understanding why they are honking. Reluctance from friends or relatives to be in the car with the senior driving
  • Trouble with memory or handling change. Getting lost more often. Missing highway exits or backing up after missing an exit. Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs, pavement markings, or pedestrians.
  • Close calls and increased citations. More frequent “close calls” (i.e., almost crashing), or dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs. Increased traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers.

If some of the descriptions above are apt, it may be time to think about whether or not a senior is still a safe driver.

Some helpful websites are www.seniordrivers.org and www.granddriver.info

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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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Seven simple steps for aging well for seniors in Joliet

If only there was a recipe for aging well – a little of this and a little of that, and voila! Perfect old age.

Well, according to the National Institutes for Health’s magazine, “Medline Plus,” there are seven important “ingredients” to aging well. There are no concrete promises that it will turn out perfectly, of course, but these seven steps are everyone’s best shot.

First, quit smoking! It is never too late to quit, especially because smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer. Quitting smoking may be challenging, but there are resources to help. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has guidelines for quitting in its Cancer Topics online. The American Lung Association’s “Freedom From Smoking Online” program describes smoking cessation program and offers support from many other smokers and former smokers.

Second, lose some weight! Studies show that being overweight increases the risk of many diseases in seniors including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and other health-related problems. Losing as little as 5 to 15 percent of body weight can significantly improve health. A safe, healthy rate of weight loss is half a pound to two pounds per week.

Third, get moving! It’s a fact that exercise burns calories. Generally, seniors have less muscle mass in the body, but strength exercises can help to restore strength and muscle mass, often fairly quickly. To get started on an exercise plan, talk to the doctor about what is right for you. Working up to exercising 4 to 6 days per week for 30 to 60 minutes will work wonders.

Fourth, control blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems and kidney failure. High blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure of 140 over 90 or higher at two different checkups. What helps is a healthy weight, regular exercise, healthy diet, watch the salt, watch alcohol, and listen to the doctor!

Fifth, control cholesterol levels. The body needs some of this waxy substance, but an excess of it in the blood can clog arteries and lead to heart disease or stroke. To reduce levels of LDL and increase HDL, it’s vital to eat well and exercise. If medications are needed to control cholesterol, they will be used in combination with a good diet and exercise.

Sixth, don’t drink too much. Drinking more than the recommended amount (two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women) can increase the risk of certain cancers, cirrhosis of the liver, problems with the immune system, and brain damage. In other situations, irresponsible drinking can lead to car accidents. The best advice is, if you drink, drink responsibly.

Seventh, practice prevention. Stay with the same doctor if possible, that is if you like him or her. Keep up to date with flu shots, and use sunscreen. Take medicines on time, and stay informed. Trusted, up-to-date information can be found at www.medlineplus.gov and www.nihseniorhealth.gov.

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Long distance grandparenting for seniors in Joliet

Some of us remember when elder grandparents lived in the same household with their children and grandchildren. It’s a rarity these days. Today, many families are scattered and separated by distances both great and small. The website GrandParenting.org says that no matter how far grandparents and grandchildren live from one another, there are two things working in their favor that can help to keep their bond alive and well:

First, young children have the ability to expand time. Remember when you were younger how time moved more slowly, and your house seemed enormous? This means the time you spend alone with your grandchild can nourish your grandchild for quite a while.

Second, technology is a marvelous asset in helping to encourage emotional connections over distance. True, technology can’t go fishing with a grandchild or help out a harried parent, but it can be a godsend to foster ongoing communication

In fact, communication is the most indispensable factor in keeping grandparent and grandchild as close as possible no matter how far apart they live. Today, there are lots of ways to communicate.

About.com reminds us that the “old” ways are still extremely meaningful: letters to an individual grandchild, letters with sketches or drawings, photos of yourself, greeting cards, a note with a stick of chewing gum, packages with several small items, or send something hand-made like a birdhouse or quilt. Young kids like the thought more than the content. Just the fact they receive a letter is more important than what is in it.

Technology has given everyone even more options. Lots of kids are computer literate, and now’s the time to have someone show you the ropes of email. There’s also videoconferencing (you can talk with your grandchild real-time, face-to-face). E-Mail, computer games, and the ability to send notes back and forth (or recipes, jokes,) can keep your contact loving and lively. You can even establish your own home page on the world-wide-web.

Faxes can be fun. One grandmother gave all of her grandchildren fax machines so they could keep in touch on a daily basis. Children can fax jokes, report cards, drawings etc. to their grandparents and vice versa. This grandma faxes her grandchildren individual notes several mornings a week.

Telephone contact is important, too. It’s a live voice. But make sure that you call your grandchild alone. Your grandchild wants to feel special and individual. It’s best to call at a regular time when your grandchild is not rushed or a parent is not harried about getting a meal on the table.

Some suggestions from GrandParentsToday.com:

  • Videotape yourself reading a grandchild’s favorite story. If possible, have someone else record you and your spouse, especially on birthdays or other special occasions.
  • Bake and send favorite cookies. Include the recipe, and videotape yourself making the cookies for a personal cooking lesson.
  • For a far-away grandchild’s birthday, buy party hats, favors, balloons, etc. and send them to the grandchild to use at their party.
  • Create a video family history using old slides and pictures. Narrate it or just set it to music. Or create a scrapbook with copies made from the original pictures.
  • Watch a television show or rented movie “together.” For instance, at Christmas, plan to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and share your thoughts via a phone call, letter or e-mail.
  • Have a prearranged time on New Year’s Eve for you and your children and grandchildren to each light a candle and make a special wish for the coming year.
  • Make up a quiz about you and your spouse. It can be a fun way for your grandchildren to get to know you better.

Most importantly, be there when your grandchild is born and be there for the important events; graduations, religious passages, recitals, holidays, whatever events your family values highly. With a little time and ingenuity, connections can be strong and loving in spite of the miles between you.

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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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Mastering the art of aging well in Joliet

Seniors Aging Well in Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, LockportToo often, the term “aging,” invokes negative images which can stigmatize older adults. But more and more, leaders in the healthcare field, the media, and seniors themselves are focusing on the positive elements of healthy aging over a lifetime. Perhaps the aging Baby Boomers have wrought this change, but it is indeed refreshing to think of post retirement years as a time to consider new roles, new relationships and creative ways to communicate.

Let’s think of the advantages older adults have. At last there is time to stay engaged in one’s social life which can lead to greater health and longevity. I’m convinced isolation and loneliness age people faster than the years going by. Remaining social, especially being helpful to others, promotes wellness by keeping older adults physically active and mentally connected.

Another advantage is a senior’s vast accumulation of experiences, skills and knowledge. It’s like a very deep toolbox. From showing a grandson how to use pliers to adjusting, yet again, to setbacks and losses, older adults have the benefit of knowing they have coped before and will again. Many seniors have developed solid confidence because of this wisdom. It’s almost as if they now truly believe, “If I got through that, I can get through this!”

More older adults see their lives as valuable resources that should not be wasted by passivity. Even older adults with physical limitations can find activities and social events that suit their needs and challenge them to remain engaged.

In conclusion, thinking of aging in positive terms can help prevent the well-known pitfalls of lost ability, relationships, and autonomy. By remaining engaged socially, mentally, and physically, older adults can make post retirement some of the “best days of their lives.”

Visit The Timbers of Shorewood web site to learn more about how we engage our residents. http://www.timbersofshorewood.com

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