Read these 48 Elder Care Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Senior tips and hundreds of other topics.
Your senior health care physician will want to check you for polyps in your colon. The procedure to remove polyps during a colonoscopy is simple: a thin snare wire passes through the colonoscope, encircling the polyp. The snare is then tightened and an electric current is passed through the wire that cuts off the polyp. The poly is removed from the colon and sent to a pathologist for further examination. Most all polyps are benign. The removal of polyps does not cause pain.
An important factor we should know: certain drugs or combinations of drugs can impair visual abilities and affect results of diagnostic tests. It's very important to tell our optometrist or elder care physician the names of ALL prescription or non-prescription medications we take.
Glaucoma is an important senior health care issue. Glaucoma usually occurs when fluid pressure inside the eye rises above normal and damages the optic nerve. Though glaucoma affects only 3% of the population, it's more prevalent in over-40 and black people. There is rarely any early warning signs, so it is very important to have thorough annual eye exams that test for glaucoma; untreated, glaucoma can cause complete blindness.
ALWAYS read the label of your medications when getting them. Is that YOUR name on the label or package? Is it the medicine your senior health care physician told you to take? Errors can be made, especially during 'flu-season' and other rush times for the pharmacist, so check your medications carefully. AND look closely for any special instructions.
Before buying a hearing aid, find out from the audiologist if: 1.Could my hearing loss be treated by a senior health care physician? 2.Which design of the aid is best for me? 3.What is the total cost of a hearing aid? 4.How long is the warranty and can it be extended? 5.If repairs are needed, will a 'loaner' be available to me? 6.Who makes adjustments and minor repairs? 7.Are there special instructions and training I will need and be provided to me?
If at any time our stomach is upset after taking a medication, eat a few plain crackers or rice cakes. Never stop taking your medications until you have first called your senior health care physician or pharmacist for advice. (did you by chance take your meds with wrong liquids?)
Senior care experts tell us that the sciatic nerve can cause neuralgic pain to the lower back, hip and thigh area. By strengthening our stomach muscles (exercise!), we will also be relieving the pressure of the sciatic nerve, and lessening our lower back pain.
Thanks to my senior care physician, my cateract surgery went just fine. But within 7-8 months I was having blurred eyesight. I mean, I couldn't read a 12 font size e-mail, or a book...nuttin'! And it kept getting worse. I finally made an appointment with my optometrist...thinking I would need stronger lenses. Surprise! She found I had a 'membrane' growth over my implanted lense, and sent me back to my eye surgeon. What a simple procedure - laser 'zapping' to burn off the membrane (one eye at a time). I immediately could see so much better! Not one bit of pain or strain...just gain! This doesn't happen to everyone after cataract surgery....but if you begin seeing everything blurred, get to your surgeon ASAP!
Most importantly, we should discuss our pains, in depth, with our senior health care physicians. Talk about what has worked well for us in the past; discuss medications that may be new on the market, BUT remember to ask about side effects from these. Oft-times, some good exercises, therapies (massages, heat/cold packs) can be recommended. Remember to discuss allergies you may have to some types of pain medications...they come by so many new names, now! Senior home care does not mean we should 'treat' ourselves with over-the-counter medications without discussing with our doctors - too many times I've heard of problems worsening because of 'o-t-c' meds causing bad interaction with other meds being taken. We know our bodies; doctors and pharmacists know medications!
Leg cramps can be caused by many factors. The obvious is over-exercising of the leg muscles, causing soreness and spasms of those muscles. These types of cramps can be lessened by easing up on exercises. Night cramps are different and can be very painful; they can awaken you from sleep for no apparent reason. These latter type are often symptomatic cramps; a lack of vitamins, or worse, a possible warning of peripheral arterial desease. If ANY cramping of the leg occurs, day or night, for no apparent reason, you should consult your senior health care physician soon. These warnings could save your life, or your leg.
If we are taking aspirin (or coated aspirin: Ecotrin) for our heart problems, DO NOT take ibuprofin as a pain medication for arthritis. Studies show that ibuprofin counteracts the effect of aspirin for blood-thinning therapy of heart patients. Always check with your senior health care physician.
Guarding against diseases such as West Nile Virus is part of good senior health care. Once the mosquito bites us (SWAT!)...the damage is done. What we should concentrate on is the prevention of biting mosquitoes. ..biting us and our families, that is. Read more 'prevention' tips for this.
Osteoporosis is a major health problem; a disease of progressive bone loss associated with an increased risk of fractures. It can be caused by aging, heredity, nutrition and lifestyle, and medications and other illness. But there is 'help' available talk to your senior health care physician or senior home care specialist to learn more.
Arthritis comprises a variety of diseases and related conditions that affect the movable joints of the body: knees, wrists, elbows, fingers, toes, hips, and shoulders. Affected joints no longer glide smoothly past one another; the result: a bone-to-bone joint with excruciating pain! Today your senior health care physician has lots of options for dealing with arthritis.
Home treatments are an important part of senior health care. Here's how to make your own therapeutic heat pack for just pennies: 1.) Cut a piece of old T-shirt about 16 by 10 inches. (Use double thickness for a thin tee.) 2.) Fold together. Sew up three and a-half sides using small machine stitches; turn right side out. 3.) Using a funnel, fill bag with rice or dried field corn. DO NOT USE POPPING CORN! 4.) Stitch remaining opening together by hand. 5.) Heat the pack in a microwave about a minute...adjust time to suit. The hotter the pack, the longer the heat lasts. (If you get it too hot, cover with a layer of sheet or other cloth, then remove as the pack cools.) 6.) Last, put it where it hurts...and in a few minutes you can say, "Aah! Now, that's much better!"
Unless specifically told otherwise by your senior health care physician, it is important to take medications with an 8-ounce glass of water. This amount of water eases dilution of the medications in our system, and speeds the medication process for us. Read the labels carefully - they often state 'never with milk', 'never with caffeine', 'only with.....'. Some liquids can actually counteract the effect of medication, so caution is necessary.
Under present Medicare law, covered eye-care services include the eye health part of your elder care examination and necessary resulting treatment. A vision check for eyeglass or contact lens changes are not covered by Medicare...unless...the eye-wear is needed initially after cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is covered.
Senior care specialists suggest several ways to improve our sight while driving our cars by: 1. Keep eyeglasses, windshield, and headlights clean and in good repair. 2. Wear quality sunglasses for daytime driving. 3. Wear proper glasses for day driving and for night driving (there may be a difference). 4. Minimize driving at dusk, dawn, and at night; confine night driving to well-lit or familiar streets. 5. Don't only depend on rear-view or side mirrors to tell if there is another car near; there are sometimes 'blind' areas.
Oft-times, common medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) are ascribed as a cause of hearing loss or aggravation to an existing condition. Watch for any drugs that are considered 'ototoxic' (poisonous to the ear). Discontinuing usage of these drugs (IF advisable by your senior health care physician) could reverse the condition.
A colonoscopy is an examination by your senior health care physician of the colon (large intestine) by means of a long, flexible, lighted tube inserted into the rectum and beyond. Don't fret, as most colonoscopies are performed with medical sedation to relieve any discomfort. If polyps are found, they can readily be removed during the examination procedure. Be sure to give permission to remove polyps, if discovered, before the exam.
Senior health care experts recommend calcium supplements to help prevent osteoporosis, but there's nothing like the 'real-thing' foods. Calcium obtained from food sources is best, as these foods are also rich in vitamin D that helps in the absorption of calcium. Don't overload on supplements, as our body can only absorb so-much at a time.
Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active at dawn, dusk, and early evening. Senior care specialists recommend that seniors avoid being outside at these times. Make sure that all of the windows and doors in your home have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace those with tears or holes to keep mosquitoes from entering your home/apartment.
Senior care physicians recommend taking pain medications when pain first starts or on a regular schedule to prevent pain from occuring. Once pain begins to take hold, it is much harder to ease the pain. NEVER attempt to drive a car, mow the yard, walk a tight-rope :o)...when taking strong pain medications...our reflexes just don't work so well in these times. If pains persist, never 'overdose' with medications, but call your doctor or the nurse for advice immediately.
As with most medications perscribed for senior health care, and especially high blood pressure meds, mixing these with alcoholic beverages can be dangerous. A very tasty, and bubbly, alternative would be Martinelli's Sparkling Cider (100% juice of fresh apples). You won't have to hold back on celebrations drinking this. Yes! Drink it from a champagne glass!
As all Seniors have learned, pain can be debilitating. It can keep us from being active, from sleeping well, from eating, from enjoying friends and family. It can also make us feel afraid or depressed. It's time we take control of this problem. Please check other senior health care tips on Healthcare: Dealing with pain, for help.
Has your senior health care physician mentioned cataract surgery? Don't grimmace! Cataract surgery is such a simple procedure, now, and the alternative is not acceptable (going blind!). You just need a good eye surgeon, someone to drive you home, and follow doctor's orders to a TEE for proper 'after-care'; just a routine of drops in the eye (one eye surgery at a time), and followup visit to the doctor. I've had both eyes taken care of and am so glad I did. Don't put off having this procedure if it's needed. You won't feel any discomfort afterwards...they've done away with the need for stitches! You'll never regret having this procedure; with prescription lens implants you may avoid needing corrective glasses, at least not as strong as before surgery. And I would suggest starting the use of 'artificial tears' drops, with clearance from your surgeon. Be sure to read my 'after cateract surgery' tip...it may save you grief!
Senior health care experts tell us that as we age, the amount of tears in the eye decreases, causing itching, burning, or a sensation of having something foreign in our eyes. Dryness can be added to by medication we take or allergies we have. There is relief (under normal circumstances): Artificial Tears®, or similar over-the-counter eye drops. Keep a bottle by your bed and in your purse (or pocket :o).
Preventing mosquito bites is part of good senior care. Although citronella candles are useful for getting rid of mosquitos when sitting outdoors, try oil of citronella (purchased at most drugstores) on your skin when moving about outdoors to avoid those nasty mosquito bites!
Oh, if only we had been warned about ultra-violet rays from the sun when we were younger! Well, it's not too late to incorporate skin care into your senior care regimen. Using a good sunscreen (SPF15, at least) is a very good habit to begin when going outdoors in the late spring/summer months. The higher the SPF number, the better protection you will get. Find these sunscreens at your grocery or drug stores; add this item to your next shopping list, and protect yourself from skin cancers! Do it NOW!
Senior home care simpler and safer with the following: 1. Use extra lamps and higher-watt light bulbs. 2. Keep TV in a place where it does not reflect glare from lamps and windows. 3. Leave one or two night-lights burning in hallways or bathrooms. 4. Keep a flashlight handy when walking in dark areas or outside of house at night.
A lot of seniors use the computer to stay in touch and as part of their senior home care. Reduce pain from repetitive wrist and arm motions at the computer! To make a computer mouse`s "double-clicks" turn into single ones: After one hand clicks the mouse once, send the other hand to the RETURN (Enter) key...the computer will count that as a "double-click!" Sure, you`ve done two motions, but one hand didn`t do ALL the work! Keep this up and it will make a huge difference by the end of the day!
If we wake up mornings with aching bones or joints, we just may need a softer or firmer mattress. Talk to your senior health care physician. Before buying a new mattress, try adding an inch or so thick of styrofoam padding on top of existing mattress for more softness...or...place a board under existing mattress for more firmness. An inexpensive alternative to aching bones!
Pain management is an important part of senior health care. Deep breathing exercises can help relax us when in pain. Try the following exercises in place of or with medications: 1. Breathe slowly, deeply, regularly, comfortably. 2. As you breathe out think relaxation; feel tension released from your body. 3. Set a pace for your breathing: in-two-three, out- two-three. 4 Think relaxing words with each 'out' breath: "peace", "relax", "vacation", "slumber". 5. Continue until you reach your goal, ending with a slow deep breath and "I feel alert and relaxed."
So, you took your senior care physician's advice and got a colonoscopy. In most cases, the colonoscopy procedure is simple and not uncomfortable. The aftermath? Well, if you had to drink a gallon of 'gook' (my terminology), you may have reactions within a day or two...like acidic stomach, sores in the mouth. I found that eating yogurt gives relief...plenty of yogurt (even the flavored type). I resorted to swirling yogurt in my mouth to reduce the pain and mouth sores. 'Taint funny, so be forewarned and stock up on yogurt.
To aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, senior care experts recommend you limit the consumption of rich foods like beef liver, bologna, fried chicken, hot-dogs, ground beef and ham. These foods inhibit calcium absorption and increase calcium excretion. Restrict salt (sodium) intake, as this forces the kidneys to excrete calcium as well.
You know you have some hearing loss when: 1.Others complain you have the TV turned too loud, 2.You often ask people to repeat themselves, 3.You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone ring, 4.You complain that others mumble, or you can hear only parts of the conversation 5.You can't laugh at jokes because you miss the punch-line, 6.You are told by family/friends you don't seem to hear well. Talk to your elder care physician. If any of the above applies to you, it's time to see an audiologist.
Your senior health care or senior home care physician (or nurse) may ask you to 'measure' our pain by rating on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst imaginable pain). This 'measurement' will help them know how well a treatment is working, or what is best to prescribe for you. Pain treatment works differently for different people; even when a doctor uses the right medicines and right treatments in the right way, we may not get the relief we need. This also works in reverse, you may need lesser strength medications so as not to be overdosed. We need to be VERY specific in 'measuring' our pain. Pain Intensity Scale ....0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 no pain ..................................worst pain
Gettin' a little personal here, eh! But something everyone should be aware of. You don't need to be a senior care expert to know that as we age we tend to have more problems with diarrhea and/or constipation; even hemorrhoids. But remember, this is not JUST a 'senior health' problem. Are you aware hemorrhoids can develop internally in the colon? If they burst, they cause bleeding in the bowel. If any of these indications occur to us, we should see our doctor and discuss the probability of having a colonoscopy. This is a 'definite' for early detection of colon cancer possibilities.
Although women account for 80% of people with osteoporosis, other risk factors have been linked to this disease: thin and/or small body frame, age, family history of osteoporosis, cessation of menstruation (natural or surgically induced), anorexia or bulimia, smoking, lack of exercise, diet low in calcium, excessive use of alcohol, and certain medications (some anti-seizure and cancer drugs). Talk to your senior health care physician. Reduce your risks!
It is SO important to check over-the-counter medication labels before buying; especially read the part 'Cautions'. This could save your life. Many of these meds contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sugar or alcohol, and should NEVER be taken with certain medical conditions. Check with your senior health care physician or pharmacist before taking any medications that do not require a prescription by you doctor. And ALWAYS report to your senior care physician /emergency room/etc., any of the o-t-c meds you take on a fairly continuous basis.
There are some medications that just aren't right for us. I tried three different high blood pressure medications before there was one that didn't upset my system or make me constantly dizzy. Then another time I was given additional medication that litterally 'zapped' me. Ask for 'samples' of medications to try out before buying a prescription. If our medications don't agree with our systems/us, we need to notify our senior care physician immediately to report the problems; in all probability the medications should be changed.
One question you may want to write down to remember to ask your senior health care professional is: Am I getting the nutrition I need as I get older? Give doctor the basics of what you eat over a period of time; tell if you are listless, weak at times, stay hungry all the time. We may benefit from taking vitamin/mineral supplements that our doctor can recommend.
Seems like we need arm extensions as we age! I mean, the books and newspaper can't get out far enough to be read :o)...Some of us will buy the reading glasses from the drug store...fine...BUT, we still need a visit to our senior care optometrist. These professionals fix us up with the corrective lenses that we need to see our best, with the least strain to our eyes. They will also do tests for glaucoma, peripheral vision, and find cataracts in the early stages. So don't put off making an appointment with the optometrist...NOW! Shoot, we'll see more and enjoy life better!
Senior care and elder care specialists recommend that anyone reaching the age of 50 have a colonoscopy. It is through this examination that polyps can be detected and removed. Left undetected, some polyps can develop into tumors, both benign and malignant. Don't put off having your colonoscopy! Please!!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|