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Top Health Concerns for Seniors

Top health concerns for seniors - Just Like Family Homecare

As we age, not only do we feel older mentally, but physically as well. For seniors, health conditions follow age, and the older we get the more susceptible we become. Fortunately, modern medicine has extended the average life span of humans in many developed, and non-developed countries.

In order to know what to look out for you need to be aware of the potential risk for disease as you age. We’re going to list the top health concerns for seniors and then talk about how you can lower your risk for certain diseases.

Health Concerns for Seniors

Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the biggest health concerns for older people. At least 50 million US adults have some form of arthritis, most commonly among women and the elderly.

If you want to learn more about what arthritis is and how to treat it, check out our article on managing arthritis.

Cancer

Cancer is not just affecting the elderly, it affects us all. As of 2014, it has been the second leading cause of death for those over 65 based on CDC data. It’s important to schedule regular checks and screenings to catch and treat early forms of cancer.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is typically known for affecting seniors. It’s a chronic condition that affects cognitive functioning and it’s still hard to diagnose correctly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 9 people over age 65 and a 3rd of those over 85 have Alheimer’s.

How to spot the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has found that 54 million Americans have this condition. The disease is caused by multiple factors such as cancer, medicine, genes, age, and sex.

We have another article just on Osteoporosis, the types, and prevention methods.

Falls

Slips and falls are more likely and more dangerous as we age. A typical fall for a teenager may end with bumps and bruises, and it could mean broken bones for a senior. According to the NCOA, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those over 65.

6 Steps for Preventing Falls Among Your Older Loved Ones

Pneumonia and the Flu

Seniors are not only more susceptible to catching the flu and pneumonia but also are more at risk of death due to them. It’s recommended that you get an annual flu shot and see your doctor for any flu like symptoms.

Shingles

The National Institutes of Health has found that one in three people over age 60 will get shingles. It can cause severe pain, rash, and blisters on one side of the body. There is a vaccine available so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

What can I do now to lower my risks?

First off, you need to quit smoking. “But it’s just one cigarette every now and then.” This is a common excuse for those who say they’re not addicted to cigarettes. But why not just quit altogether? More and more research is coming out about just what cigarettes can do to our bodies….and it’s not looking good.

Second, get yourself in the healthy lifestyle mindset. Don’t just diet for a few weeks and say it’s not for you. You need to find a healthy medium that allows you to eat right, exercise, and eat the foods you enjoy every now and then. One of the leading risks of health disorders is being overweight. If you can catch it early and correct it, you’ll save yourself from the complications that come with being overweight or obese like diabetes, gout, certain heart diseases, and more.


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How to Snack Right

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Snacking, we love and hate to do it. We love the salty chips, the sweet candy, but we hate the feeling we get after finishing a whole bag of the things. What if you could snack without the guilt?

Now, it’s not completely possible, because too much of anything really is not a good idea. But you can start moving in the right direction when it comes to what you’re eating and what you’re buying at the store to keep on hand.

The problem many of us have is temptation and the ability to resist. We all know that going to the store hungry is not the best idea. But what if you’re getting a craving for chips and decide to just get a bag to last the month? You know what will happen during that next movie night, the chips will be gone!

There are a few solutions to this, which we’ll discuss below.

Limiting Your Quantity of Bad Snacks

Bad snacks are all the ones we love to eat: chips, Oreos, cookies, candy, donuts, gummies, Pop Tarts, etc. You know the ones I’m talking about. The problem isn’t that you’re eating them, it’s that you’re eating too much. If you eat out of the whole bag of chips, it’s impossible to know exactly how much you’ve eaten. There was a study about giving people at a movie theater a big container of popcorn and giving others a smaller container. Who do you think ate the most popcorn? Those with the big container. These people even ate more stale (14 day old) popcorn when it was given in a big container!

We can use the results from that study to help us limit our bad snacking, but still get to indulge every once in a while. Instead of eating from the bag, put the chips or cookies on a plate and only eat that amount, no more. Once you can see what you’re eating, you’ll slow down so you can savor the flavor.

Eating More of the Right Stuff

If you need to snack in order to quell your appetite, you need to be eating the right stuff. This means vegetables, fruits, nuts, granola, yogurt. This is all stuff we don’t think of as fun snacking. But if you want to snack smart, especially at work or on the go, start making your on snack packs. This will prevent you from allowing yourself to get chips or a candy bar from the vending machine because you’re hungry. Now there’s no excuse because you have your own snacks with you.

We don’t eat enough healthy snacks because the flavors don’t excite our brain as much as unhealthy snacks do. Bring a variety of snacks with you when you’re on the go and keep them in your pantry. Having a variety means you won’t get tired of eating the same celery sticks over and over.

Here are some ideas:

  • Celery and nut butter
  • String cheese
  • Beef jerky
  • Protein bars
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Bean or kale chips
  • Dark chocolate
  • Mixed nuts

Snacking doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to make the conscious effort that you’re going to stick with the healthy stuff and that you can indulge every once in a while with portion-controlled amounts.


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Health tips for the always on the go nurse

Nurses are a busy bunch. Not only are they out all day taking care of others, but many come home to take care of their own families as well. It’s a draining day to say the least. It’s no wonder that many nurses find it hard to exercise and eat healthy when they’re always on the go.

In this article, we want to give nurses, home health aides, and other medical professionals some ideas on how to get in a little extra exercise and healthy eating into the day.

Take Care of Your Mind

Your mind is as valuable as your body, yet how many of us exercise our minds as regularly as we exercise our bodies? There’s no “gym” for the brain, but there are activities that can help strengthen your mind and keep it sharp.

The best activity is developing a love of reading. You may have grown to hate reading after being told what to read in school, but there are thousands and thousands of books and there is sure to be one that will grab your attention.

“But I don’t have time to read”. Of course you do! Even just 5 minutes before bed. If you have trouble falling asleep, get rid of the screens at least 30 minutes before bed and get a book in your hand, it will help.

Listen to stimulating audiobooks or podcasts during your commute or chores. This is a great way to pass the time and learn a little in the process. You may actually enjoy your commute once you find a great audiobook you can’t wait to finish.

Prepare Better Food

We all succumb to the fast food drive thru when it’s been a long day at work and we’re starving. Start using your days off to prepare your next week’s worth of meals. Create healthy dishes and put them in tuperware. So now you have no excuse to go to the rive thru when you know you have food ready to eat when you come home.

Carry around healthy snacks at all times. We get cravings, but if you have an apple, nuts, or a Clif bar, you’ll eat that because it’s there. Avoid the vending machines!

Meal Prep Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

10 Minutes of Exercise Before Work

You may feel like you have absolutely no time to work out before work. Get up 10 minutes earlier and do bodyweight exercises. Try push ups, sit ups, pull ups (get a bar that goes in the doorway), and squats. Just 10 minutes, that’s all you need! You can get up 10 minutes earlier, can’t you?

10 minute workout ideas

Resources

How to be a healthier nurse

Keeping nurses healthy, safe, and well

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™


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Water exercises and why they work

Water aerobics are a big thing in Florida. Nearly year-round we can hop in the pool and not be met with freezing water. That invites many homeowners and communities to install pools, which guests and residents enjoy using for parties, swimming, and exercise.

It’s well known that water aerobics is a great way for the elderly to get their exercise in. If you wanted to get into this exercise movement, what exactly should you be doing? And why does it work so well?

Why Water Aerobics?

These exercises are great because not only does the water help hold you up, providing you balance, but the water also provides resistance.

When you do dumbbell curls without anything, you don’t feel much. But when you add a weight in your hand, you are adding resistance that your arm must now deal with.

The resistance from the water is just the right amount for seniors who don’t feel comfortable just yet to go to the gym and use weights or machines.

Types of Water Aerobics Exercises

Water Walking
Just walking in water can be a challenge. Start in water shallow enough that you can comfortably walk and hold your head above water. Keep moving deeper and deeper to add more resistance.

Kick and Punch
As easy as it sounds, just practice kicking and punching through the water. Go as slow or as fast as feels comfortable.

K- Tread
This exercise targets your butt, abs, chest, arms, and back. In the deep end, you’ll want to tread water. Lift one leg straight in front of you and hold for 5 seconds. Then switch legs, and do this for 30 seconds.

Hand Webs
Add even more resistance to your workout by using hand webs, gloves meant for water exercise.

Water Weights
Specialized weights have been developed for water. These are foam barbells that help add extra resistance to your under water workouts.

Kickboard
Practicing your kicks by utilizing a kickboard to go around the pool only powered by your legs.

Resources

Aquatic exercises | Mayo Clinic

Slim Down in a Splash: Pool Workout


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How to be a healthier nurse

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Nurses! It’s time you take care of yourselves! Here at Just Like Family Homecare we know how hard our caregivers work to provide for their patients. But it’s equally important that you, as a caregiver, find time to take care of yourself both in mind and body.

Yeah, it’s easy to say and tough to do. But we will give you some easy routines you can implement into your day to start getting on track to living a healthy life so you can continue to do what you do best: care for others.

Body

Snack right
Snacking is often where our diet can go wrong. We get a little hungry during the workday and want something quick to munch on. So we reach for the Sour Patch Kids or the Twix. Instead, carry around healthy snacks in your lunch like trail mix, nuts, fruit, vegetables with hummus, plain Greek yogurt.

Less sugar
This one is difficult for many of us because sugar is such a big part of our diets. Try going for one week without any sugar (that doesn’t include natural sugars like in fruits). See how you feel. There are often stories from those that cut out sugar that they feel happier and more energized. Here’s a story from a family that cut out sugar for a whole year.

An easy way to cut out unnecessary sugar is to stop drinking soda. Not sure what to eat? Here’s The No-Sugar Diet Plan from Livestrong.com.

Drink more water
This one is easy! Start carrying a water bottle everywhere. Get a nice stainless steel one that you can continue to refill. You want to always have it with you so you’re not tempted to purchase a drink out somewhere. If you’re thirsty, water is the best thing for you. Avoid buying other types of drinks like bottled tea or coffee, soda, fruit drinks.

Do a 15 minute morning workout
This doesn’t need to be a sweat-filled workout. But you should do it before your day begins to ensure you get it done. You can do bodyweight exercises like situps, pushups, pull ups (get a pull up bar for your door frame), squats.

Mind

A healthy mind is a huge part of being in overall great shape that many of us tend to neglect.

Meditate
If find that your mind is running and running with thoughts all the time, try learning to meditate. Now, it can turn some people off to hear the word meditation, but there are tons of very successful people that constantly recommend it to others. That’s not saying it works for everyone, but it’s worth trying out for a few weeks. If you’re not sure how to start, use apps like Calm or Headspace to guide you.

Read more
When was the last time you read a full book? If you can’t remember then it’s been too long. Carry a book or Kindle with you in the car, to appointments, to work. Instead of grabbing your phone to check Facebook or play a game, pick up your book. The key is kinding a great book that keeps you entertained.

Sleep better
You can improve your sleep by doing a few things. One includes an hour of screen-free time before you plan to go to sleep. This means turning off the phone, TV, and computer. During this time, wind down by reading (which often puts many people into a sleepy mood). Don’t drink caffeine anytime before bed either, this means 4 hours or less before bed. Here are some other helpful tips from the National Sleep Foundation.


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How to prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is on the rise, especially here in the United States. In 2014, the CDC released a report that 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population at the time) had diabetes. And about 8.1 million of them were undiagnosed. Now that’s an alarming number!

infographic-diabetes

Source: CDC.gov

In this article, we want to take you through the two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Then we’ll let you know the factors that can lead to getting diabetes and finally talk about prediabetes and how to know if you’re at risk.

The Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes. (NIDDK.NIH.Gov)

Risk Factors of Diabetes

For Type 1 Diabetes, the common risk factors are:

  • Family history
  • Infection or illness
  • Disease of the pancreas

This is the type of diabetes that is not generally something you can control, as opposed to the risk factors of Type 2 Diabetes.

To put it simply, there are 4 major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Overweight
  • Family History

Other major factors include:

  • Ethnic background
  • Age
  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance

    inforgraphics-prediabetes

    Source: CDC.gov

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition when someone has a higher blood sugar level than normal, but
not high enough to diagnose them with diabetes. This person is considered prediabetic because of this high level.

If this person also has several other risk factors like they’re over the age of 45, are overweight, have a family history of the disease, etc. they really need to consult with a doctor about what they can do to prevent diabetes.

According to the CDC, if you have prediabetes, doing two things can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Lose 5-7% of your body weight
  • Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week

 


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How to manage your arthritis

Arthritis is something we all want to avoid, but it’s increasingly common as we age. It’s a painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it’s not very well understood. They mention that there are over 100 different types of arthritis!

Who can be affected by arthritis?

Well, just about anybody. Over 50 million US adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. It’s more common among women and the elderly.

arthritis infographic.png

Source Penn Medicine

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is caused by the reduction in the amount of cartilage tissue. This can be due to normal wear and tear due to daily activities, but also by infection or injury. It has been found that you are more at risk for Osteoarthritis if you have a family history of the disease.

For an autoimmune disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis, the cause is unknown.

What are the first symptoms of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

If you have continued pain like this, it could be due to arthritis and it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are different ways to pinpoint whether or not you have arthritis, and, if you do, which kind it is.

Doctors will use:

  • Lab tests (blood, joint fluid, urine)
  • X-Rays
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

How is arthritis treated?

Although there is no cure, many medications have been developed to help reduce the severity and the pain.

These medications include:

  • Analgesics- Reduce pain, but no inflammation
  • NASIDs- Reduce pain and inflammation
  • DMARDs – Use to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Biologic response modifiers – Target protein molecules
  • Counterirritants – Creams and ointments to reduce pain in aching joints
  • Corticosteroids – Reduce inflammation, suppresses the immune system

Surgery is another option that a doctor may suggest.

Types of surgeries include:

  • Joint fusion- Used on smaller joints. Remove the end of two bones and then lock the ends together
  • Joint repair- Smooth or realign joint surfaces to reduce pain
  • Joint replacement – Removes a damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. Common for knees and hips

Additional Arthritis Resources

The Arthritis Foundation

MedlinePlus.gov | Arthritis