Adult Peripheral Neuropathy can be a serious, debilitating and life-altering medical condition that can limit an individual’s mobility and significantly impact his or her quality of life. The following brief article will examine this health malady, as well as cover associated topics including the different forms of the illness, the disease’s causes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis and treatment options.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy affects the body’s peripheral nervous system. This region comprises nerves that are apart from, but controlled by the central nervous system, which is made up of a person’s brain and spinal column. The peripheral nerves perform specific functions upon receiving messages from the central nervous system. Neuropathy occurs when such nerves become damaged and are unable to receive those important messages and execute specific bodily functions. Peripheral nerves can be found in various bodily regions such as the muscles, skin and internal organs. When these nerves become damaged, impacted parts of an individual’s system can, in certain instances, be rendered severely disabled.

What Are The Different Types Of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Medical researchers have identified in excess of 100 different forms of this nerve-related disability. However, each separate condition is classified based upon the extent of the nerve damage it causes. Manifestations impacting only one particular nerve are labeled mononeuropathies. Unfortunately, however, most affect several nerves at a time and are therefore categorized as polyneuropathies. In addition, neuropathies also impact specific parts of a nerve.

What Are The Condition’s Symptoms?

Manifestations often depend upon the severity of the condition, in addition to the specific type of nerve that has suffered damage (motor, sensory or autonomic). Motor nerves enable individuals to control voluntary movements. When these nerves are injured, someone might experience difficulty and/or be unable to move body parts needed to perform everyday activities such as walking, lifting and grasping objects and/or speaking. Impacted motor nerves often precipitate symptoms including muscle weakness, cramping, muscular twitching, slowed reflexes and atrophy (a decrease in muscle size).

Sensory nerves enable people to experience various sensations like pain, heat and cold. When these nerves encounter damage, manifestations can include limited or decreased sensation in affected bodily regions, specifically the hands and feet, loss of coordination skills, balance problems, mobility challenges, insensitivity to temperature changes. and insensitivity to pain.

Autonomic nerves regulate the body’s involuntary actions performed by various organs such as respiration, digestion, excretion, circulation and glandular functions. Injured autonomic nerves may elicit symptoms like loss of bladder and/or bowel control,frequent blood pressure alterations and the inability to sweat.

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

This illness can be precipitated by a host of physical, biological and environmental issues.

Physical

Sudden or repetitive injury are among the condition’s most common precipitators. Acute trauma that can occur in the wake of automobile accidents, falls or even during medical operations can result in nerve damage. In addition, those who perform jobs or leisure activities in which awkward, repetitive movements are executed over long periods of time can experience stress-related nerve damage resulting in various peripheral neuropathies.

Biological

Many biological ailments could precipitate nerve damage such as various forms of cancer, kidney problems, infections, autoimmune disorders, small blood vessel conditions and endocrine diseases.

Environmental

External factors like such as prolonged use of certain medications, long-term exposure to numerous environmental toxins and allergens, as well as excessive alcohol intake and/or substance abuse can bring forth the condition.

How Is This Illness Diagnosed?

Because peripheral neuropathy can be precipitated by numerous and sometimes a combination of causes, diagnosis is typically only reached after an extensive examination of an individual’s medical and environmental histories. However, when and if a physician’s investigation leads him or her to a potential diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, he or she may be able to confirm those suspicions by employing many different diagnostic tools including various blood tests, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), nerve biopsies, nerve conductor tests and electromyography.

How Is Peripheral Neuropathy Treated?

Most treatment protocols involve first diagnosing the condition’s specific underlying cause. Sometimes fixing the precipitating problem can alleviate or possibly even eliminate the pain, weakness and other associated manifestations. In instances where nerve damage is extensive and/or the symptoms are particularly severe, treatment might be geared towards managing said symptoms using medications, electrical nerve stimulation and/or surgery.

Peripheral Neuropathy can be an especially debilitating condition for the aged and/or people with other physical disabilities and/or complicating factors. In such instances, rehabilitation might be necessary. Those in need of rehabilitation may benefit from the services we provide at Maplewood of Sauk Prairie. We are a skilled nursing facility and provide outpatient rehabilitation as well. For more information, please contact us.

Sources:
1. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet#3208_2
2. https://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-peripheral-neuropathy-basics#1
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352061

The World Health Organization reports that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will increase three-fold by 2050. And according to studies conducted by UCLA 5.5 million Americans currently, suffer from Alzheimer’s. This number is expected to be around 15 million by 2060.

The early detection of Alzheimer’s is of extreme importance and there are a number of warning signs for loved ones to look when interacting with elderly family members. Here are some of the top Alzheimer’s disease signs and symptoms.

Disruptive Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most prevalent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Both short and long-term memory is affected by the effects of short-term memory loss is usually more easily noticed.

Seniors may be observed to forget important dates or appointments, repeating the same questions or information, or increasingly becoming dependent on memory aids or family members to recall things that they once could on their own. This loss of memory can often time become extremely disruptive in the lives of seniors.

Difficulty Performing Common Tasks

Senior family members afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease will often find it difficult, and maybe even impossible to complete routine tasks. An example of this would be a grandmother was known for her cooking prowess being unable to prepare her most enjoyed meal.

Seniors may also have trouble with arriving at locations familiar to them, playing games they enjoy or managing finances.

Placing Things In Odd Places

Discovering car keys in the refrigerator, the remote control in clothes hamper, or regularly finding items that had been missing in strange locations is strong evidence that an elderly family member could be suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

While some may believe that forgetfulness is a simple byproduct of aging, the person with Alzheimer’s does not only forget the whereabouts of possessions occasionally but often leave them in unusual places and are unable to retrace their path to locate them.

Seniors may also become suspicious of others when unable to locate items.

Struggling To Communicate

Visible evidence of diminished ability to communicate is another common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Sufferer’s of Alzheimer’s may often stop talking in mid-sentence and become unable to continue.

Vocabulary can also become problematic and seniors with Alzheimer’s may also struggle in searching for correct words or terms or refer to objects or people with incorrect names, and in some cases invent words that do not exist.

Aimless Wandering

A potentially dangerous warning sign of Alzheimer’s is the tendency for elderly sufferers of the disease to wander off and often become lost. This tendency toward aimless wandering is often exacerbated by the feelings of restlessness, confusion with time, anxiety, and difficulty with recognition of familiar faces that Alzheimer’s patients often experience.

Cases have been reported where individual’s with Alzheimer’s have left the home late at night in response to a need, like using the bathroom, that could easily have been fulfilled in the home. Alzheimer’s sufferers have also been reported to leave ‘for home’ when already present in their homes.

Difficulty With Visual Information

The vision problems experienced by seniors with Alzheimer’s is much different than that of most common age-related visual impairments. With Alzheimer’s there is the inability to gauge distances or determine the color or contrast of an object.

Problems with perception such as observing themselves in a mirror and believing their reflection to be someone else present in the room can also occur with Alzheimer’s.

Actions With No Purpose

Alzheimer’s sufferers will often be seen engaging in pointless activities such as packing and then unpacking belongings, pacing to and fro with no destination, or opening and closing drawers, doors, or windows repeatedly for no reason.

To the onlooker, these activities will have no reason attached to them but experts on the disease believe that these activities are repeated to fulfill a need on the part of the Alzheimer’s sufferer to stay busy or feel productive.

Withdrawal From Social Activities

Loneliness and Isolation are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and persons with the disease may begin to ignore many of the activities that they need or once loved to do. Many times this is fueled by shame or embarrassment felt by the Alzheimer’s sufferers due to the changes they have experienced with themselves.

Depression

Depression is often a central theme in the lives of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Depression can be a difficult symptom to identify and this is made more difficult for Alzheimer’s sufferers due to impairments with cognitive function.

Senior family members that sleep much more than usual or repeatedly spend entire days watching television while engaging in little or no other activities may be suffering from depression.

Decline In Motor Skills

The proper functioning of fine motor skills is often a casualty to Alzheimer’s disease. This decline in motor skills can manifest itself in ways like struggles with tying shoes, buttoning clothes, or making use of eating utensils.

Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely debilitating for elders and a cause of much sadness to family members. Recognizing the signs of Alzheimer’s is crucial as early detection of the disease affords Alzheimer’s experts like those presently at work at the Maple Wood of Sauk Praire, in Sauk City Wisconsin.

Alzheimer’s Disease. (2017, May 08). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/alzheimers-disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved December 24, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

As many as 300,000 people, over the age of 65, experience a hip fracture each year. Without the once-strong bones, this can be a life-changing experience for most.

Why a Hip Fracture is so Threatening

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, less than 50% of those who suffer a fractured hip are ever able to regain their previous way of life. Decreased hip function takes away independent walking from an estimated 40% of those afflicted. Over 60% require aid with simple movements less than a year after the occurrence. This means that a large portion of seniors suffering from a hip fracture have to become dependent on constant care, like a nursing home.

What Causes Susceptibility to a Hip Fracture?

There are several reasons why hip bones are susceptible to fracture. These may include:

• Weakening from normal aging
• Blunt trauma
• Long-term obesity
• Disease like Osteoporosis

As one grows older, the density and strength in these bones begin to diminish. Add to this poor eyesight and poor balance and you have the making of a fall on a hard surface. Or something as simple as riding in a car can result in a hip fracture if you are involved in an accident that has heavy jarring. People that are overweight may experience weakness in hips, back and legs due to the constant pressure put upon them. And then there is Osteoporosis, the silent disease. You can have osteoporosis without even knowing it until a break occurs. The only way to be sure is by having a bone mineral density test performed by your physician.

Complications

Having strong bones in your younger years makes surgery to repair a broken hip easy enough. However, when age has debilitated this area, surgery is often not an option. There are certain risks that are attached to performing surgery. These can include:

• Unhealthy bones surrounding the break
• Blood clots that can form and travel
• Developing infection at the incision

It is up to the physician as to whether the physical condition, age of patient and severity of the break is worth the risk of trying to repair a hip fracture. The patient has to be strong enough to withstand general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia and the bones must be strong enough to support a metal plate and screws. If the patient is not well enough to endure a surgery procedure, they are forced to be confined to a chair or bed.

Without the ability to have a hip surgically repaired, there are many life-threatening medical issues that can develop. When there is a fracture in the hip, inflammation sets in. This creates good conditions for blood clots to form. In addition, being bed-fast increases muscle breakdown. It has also been noted that blood pressure can increase and cause heart disease to develop.

There are life-threatening medical issues that can transpire for the elderly regardless of hip fracture surgery or not. The most common of problems is the worsening of existing medical problems, new medical symptoms forming from inactivity and debilitating pain. Once a hip fracture occurs, an elderly patient is 6 times more likely to die in the hospital from the development of post-surgery complications, like a stroke, heart attack, or blood infection.

Getting Help for the Elderly

It takes a good rehabilitation program to help an elderly patient to recover from hip fractures. While a hospital can perform certain procedures, a specialized rehabilitation program is essential. Reducing pain and swelling is the first step in gaining back your freedom. The next step is increasing mobility and flexibility, followed by strengthening. It is often difficult to receive the personal treatment needed at a nursing home due to the numerous duties that they are required to perform. Be prepared by seeking the best, such as Sauk Prairie Physical Therapy located in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Their team of dedicated nurses and nursing assistants are available 24 hours a day to assist you and support you on the road to recovery.

Sources:

Hip Fractures Older Adults Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016, September) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adulthipfx.html

Facts and Statistics, Hip Fracture, IOF, International Osteoporosis Foundation (2017) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics#category-16

Osteoporosis, Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine (2017, November) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://medlineplus.gov/osteoporosis.html

Hip-Fracture Surgery Risk Not Just Due to Age, Newsmax Health (2015, September) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/hip-fracture-surgery-risk/2015/09/15/id/691715/

Ongoing research continues to show that getting exercise on a regular basis can extend your expected lifespan. Newer studies are showing an association that can be related to nearly any type of activity and an increased life expectancy. Activity is also linked to a decreased risk for developing many different diseases, which can be important for maintaining a good quality of life throughout your senior years.

Consistent Exercise and Longer Life

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week for adults [1]. This can be broken down into 30 minutes on each of 5 days during the week. Adults who completed the recommended amount were found to have an increase the expected lifespan by 2 to 5 years when compared to those who were leading a sedentary lifestyle, according to information provided by the Center for Advancing Health [2]. While this is good information, it’s important to note that some people may experience limited mobility, especially during aging. This could make it extremely difficult for these individuals to engage in moderate activity, especially for the recommended half an hour on 5 days every week.

Any Activity May Help

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are finding that any type of activity is better than none at all when it comes to longevity [3]. Those who did moderate forms of activity, such as walking briskly, were able to add almost two years to their life expectancy when completing only half of the recommended amount. This means that even competing 75 minutes a week or 15 minutes a day is still beneficial to longevity.

Not only is half of the time found to be beneficial, but so is half of the exertion. International studies are finding that those who engage in any type of physical activity for the recommended 30 minutes a day on 5 days a week can enjoy a longer lifespan [4]. Individuals can perform a wide range of activities that involve physical movement toward their overall time. Some activities found to be helpful for increasing longevity include:

  • Lifting
  • Moving around
  • Sweeping
  • Scrubbing
  • Folding laundry
  • Walking
  • Gardening

Whether the activity was from housework, activity required through employment, or scheduled exercise time, all forms of activity were found to be helpful. Adults who enjoyed any type of activity from between 2 1/2 and 12 1/2 hours a week were found to have a 20% less likely risk of death than those who engaged in less activity. Unsurprisingly, those who enjoyed even more activity, more than the 12 1/2 hours a week, had a 35% reduced risk of dying. Even the not-so-physical activity of reading has been shown to help lower the risk of dying by more than 20%.

Activity and the Elderly

Even individuals with mobility impairment concerns or who engage in little activity may find hope in more recent studies. It seems that just leaving your home on a regular basis may help to increase longevity in seniors [5]. This effect on life span was found to be independent of social and medical factors. It may be that the point of remaining engaged and doing things that you enjoy as you get older can be enough to maintain resilience to provide benefits to your health and length of life.

Getting the Right Care

Because any activity is better than nothing, seniors may want to find ways to increase their movement and time spent in enjoyable activities throughout the day. Just getting out of the house for an easy walk and a breath of fresh air can go a long way toward a better and longer life.

If you have physical limitations due to an injury, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie can help you to get back on track with outpatient rehabilitation services. Even if you need a long-term care solution, you’ll be able to get the activity that you need to enjoy a longer, healthier life. You won’t be confined to the facility, and you’ll still be able to get out to enjoy the things that you love to do.

Sources:

[1] “Physical activity improves quality of life”, The American Heart Association. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.Wku8Jt-nHIV

[2] Fauntleroy, Glenda. “Exercise Can Extend Your Life by as Much as Five Years”, Center for Advancing Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2012/exercise-can-extend-your-life-by-as-much-as-five-years

[3] “A Little Exercise Might Lengthen Life”, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/little-exercise-might-lengthen-life

[4] “Any Kind of Regular Physical Activity Can Lengthen Your Life”, Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://cspinet.org/tip/any-kind-regular-physical-activity-can-lengthen-your-life

[5] Hubbard, Sylvia Booth. “Leaving the House Every Day Helps Seniors Live Longer”, Newsmax Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/seniors-longevity-survival-leaving/2017/11/22/id/82768

Being overweight can have severe impacts on overall health. The older a patient gets, the more likely the extra weight gain can be detrimental. Every system in the body is affected by being overweight. The cardiovascular system has to work overtime. The lungs have a harder time getting air. The endocrine system has a harder time processing sugar.

Unfortunately, as humans age, it already becomes harder for the body to do normal things. Being overweight becomes absolutely dangerous at this stage. In fact, many patients with weight problems can expect to have shorter life spans. This is no laughing matter. There are several severe consequences to being overweight.

Heart

The strain on the heart caused by being overweight can cause some real problems. Risks of heart attacks and strokes increase. The arteries of the body can harden, making it difficult to pump blood to the body. Additionally, obesity is often caused by personal habits. Those habits, such as overeating, can also lead to heart complications. If the patient is a chronic overeater, it may be difficult to break those habits. That means that many patients will literally eat themselves to death rather than change their habits.

The mayo clinic has listed obesity as a main cause of heart failure. This is so widely accepted in the medical community that it is usually assumed that people who are overweight are extremely likely to have heart complications and short life spans.

Pancreas

Being overweight is also harmful on the pancreas. This important organ is responsible for processing sugar. All carbohydrates that enter the body are processed as sugar. The pancreas breaks down food. Diabetes is the result of a faulty pancreas. Diseases of the pancreas are extremely dangerous. Unlike hearts and lungs, it is impossible to get an artificial pancreas. Donor organs are uncommon. Although there is insulin available to help with some of the functions of the pancreas, this is an expensive and life-long process.

Many credible sources link being overweight with problems in the pancreas. This is coupled with lifestyle factors as well. One good solution to both the weight problems and the potential pancreas problems is to limit consumption of processed sugars like soda and candy. Moderation is key on all sugar. This is the best way to prevent these problems.

Brain

It is not hard to see why being overweight has an influence on heart function. However, being overweight also affects the brain. A recent article in Psychology Today cites being overweight as a leading cause of stroke, sleep apnea, depression, and early brain degeneration. That is a lot of side effects for simply being overweight. The poor diet associated with being overweight also contributes to cloudy memory, lack of motivation, and general feelings of tiredness.

There has also been more recent discussion about the concept of the brain blood barrier. This is how the things that go into the body can impact the brain. There are some concerns that medication associated with treatment of diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure may not be the healthiest things for the brain. In fact, any material that is not a natural food source is not wonderful for the brain. Unfortunately, people who are overweight also seem to be on a variety of medication.

Muscles and Bones

It makes sense that weight has an impact on muscles and bones. This can create problems such as a repressed spine or damaged knees over long periods of time. Older people may have a harder time recovering from these surgeries. General back and neck pain, as well as foot pain, can also be a consequence of being overweight. This can make mobility difficult.

Mobility gets more difficult as the body ages. Being overweight may directly lead to a person not being able to take care of themselves. Older people may be forced to move into assisted care facilities. Many overweight people may need walkers or wheelchairs sooner than people of a normal size. Hip and joint problems can make simple functions like using the restroom more difficult. Weight is difficult on the muscles and bones, and this usually leads to a negative impact on the person’s life.

It is true that people of all sizes are beautiful. However, that does not account for the health risks associated with being overweight. Unfortunately, the risks get higher the older the patient is. Treatment centers like Maplewood of Sauk Prairie can greatly help individuals dealing with the complications of being overweight. These centers can help loved ones learn to maintain their weight in order to live long and healthy lives.

diet-to-save-your-memoryOne of the primary fears of older people and caretakers is dementia. For anyone who has already watched a loved one slowly and painfully lose the battle against Alzheimer’s, this worry is even more acute. There isn’t as much good news as everyone would like, but two important studies have shown how important the correct diet can be in saving your memory.

Great Food for Your Brain

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a combination of two heart-healthy diets, the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While either diet offers a number of health benefits, a special combination of the two appears to be particularly useful in fighting late-onset Alzheimer’s, the form of the disease seen most frequently.

Special diets can be difficult for the cook who may need to prepare two separate meals. One of the great attributes of the delicious MIND diet is that it’s good for everyone. Many treasured family recipes can be adapted by substituting one ingredient for another (olive oil instead of butter, for example).

Start the MIND Diet at Any Age

Unlike some diets, the MIND diet is helpful even if you don’t follow it as rigorously as you should. Starting early and not “cheating” provides the most benefits for delaying dementia, but even a less than perfect adherence to the MIND diet will pay dividends over time.

The participants in the large national Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, had a mean age of 67.8 years. The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study followed 7,000 older women for 10 years.

The results from both studies were enlightening and produced similar results.

What is the MIND Diet?

  • Closely following the MIND diet resulted in a 34%-35% reduction in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.
  • Moderately following the MIND diet conferred an 18-24% reduction in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.

The MIND diet isn’t very complicated and doesn’t require you to buy exotic foods. The guidelines are broad enough to accommodate most tastes. A few recipe ideas to spark your creativity can be found here.

Foods to include:

Foods to avoid:

  • Green leafy vegetables: 6 servings per week
  • Other vegetables: 1 or more servings per day
  • Nuts: 5 servings per week
  • Berries (especially blueberries and strawberries): 2 servings per week
  • Beans: 3 servings per week
  • Whole grains: At least 3 servings per day
  • Fish: 1 serving per week
  • Poultry: 2 servings a week
  • Olive oil: Use as your primary cooking/salad oil
  • Wine: 1 glass per day

Why the MIND Diet Works

  • Red meat: Eat less than 4 servings per week
  • Butter or margarine: No more than 1 tablespoon per day
  • Cheese: Less than 1 serving per week
  • Pies, cakes and other sweets: Fewer than 5 servings per week
  • Fast or fried food: Fewer than 1 serving per week

Vitamins C and E: The MIND diet is high in vitamins C and E, which help protect the brain. Plant-based foods contain these and other vitamins which help to preserve memory and cognitive skills. Vitamins C and E also contain antioxidants which offer protection from free radical damage. While these vitamins are helpful individually, a John Hopkins study found C and E protected the brain when used together, lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C also helps to remove metals such as aluminum, long believed to contribute to cognitive impairment.

Vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid: Green leafy vegetables are abundant in these nutrients which help to improve the brain’s function and reduce brain atrophy and shrinkage.

Vitamin K: Also found primarily in green veggies, it is believed Vitamin K helps to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Berries: Berries are the only fruits that have been shown to improve memory and decrease the loss of neurons. Berries also have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which tackle two of the suspected causes of Alzheimer’s.

The prevention and delay of dementia’s onset with the MIND diet can be significant. When it’s time for professional assistance, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie understands the importance of family and your loved one’s unique needs. For over 40 years, they have been providing high quality care to residents of Sauk City, WI and the surrounding region.

The Overuse of Prescription Drugs in America

Medicine has been around for thousands of years in human society, although not as beneficial as it stands today. Diagnosing diseases and illnesses, administering injections, prescribing medication, and recommending courses of action to take have all helped humans maintain higher quality of living. The research and practice of medicine has obviously allowed the average person to live longer. In 1900, the world’s average life expectancy was a mere 31 years of age. Today, the average person is expected to live more than 70 years, nearing 90 years of age in the world’s most advanced and established countries.

While medicine is undoubtedly a modern marvel, the overuse of prescription drugs in America is a public health issue. Today’s most commonly abused type of medication is prescription opioids. While people have used the poppy plant and its opium latex for thousands of years in treating health issues and for recreation, prescription opioids are far worse than anything seen before. Opioid abuse is by far the world medical problem in America today regarding medications, although drugs used to treat anxiety, sleep problems, and ADHD are also commonly abused.

The history of opioid use in America

Morphine and codeine both naturally exist in poppy plants as alkaloids, although they were isolated, extracted, and used in the early 1800s. However, these drugs were often abused and caused significant physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. In the late 1800s, pharmaceutical giant Bayer developed, advertised, and distributed prescription formulations of heroin as a less addictive form of morphine.

Widespread proliferation of semi-synthetic opioids

Today, we know heroin is highly addictive. However, history often repeats itself. In the mid-1990s, Purdue Pharmaceuticals developed OxyContin, an extended-release formulation of painkiller oxycodone, also derived from poppy plants. OxyContin quickly became one of the most popular painkillers on the medical market, as it was marketed as a non-addictive opioid in alternative to other painkillers.

OxyContin proved to be highly addictive, just as heroin did, and was easily abused. In 2009, the drug’s manufacturer began creating tablets in non-abusable formulations, hoping to combat opioid abuse. While people in future generations won’t be able to abuse OxyContin as easily as Americans could before, this formulation switch prompted people to start using heroin.

Switching to heroin

Around 2012, doctors in the United States began prescribing opioids less frequently and in smaller amounts. With fewer prescription opioids on the black market, their price skyrocketed. The combination of fewer opioid painkillers in circulation and their rising cost facilitated situations for opioid abusers to opt for street heroin, cheaper than illegally-sourced opioids. Prescription drug production is regulated, making sure all tablets and solutions are made identically and in safe dosages. The manufacture and trade of street drugs, however, isn’t overseen by any regulatory bodies. As such, the potency of each and every batch differs, with many batches adulterer with super-powerful, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl, able to cause overdose many times easier than with heroin.

This results in an exorbitantly high amount of overdoses in our great nation, deeply saddened by this epidemic.

Regulatory bodies in the United States have encouraged doctors to write fewer prescriptions for opioids and have educated them on the dangers of opioids. The opioid epidemic is likely to slow in coming years, although there’s no immediate remedy to the harm legally-produced painkillers and illicit heroin has caused.

Congestive Heart Disease – What is it?

Intro to Congestive Heart Disease

Congestive heart failure happens when the muscle of your heart doesn’t pump your blood properly. Some conditions, like high blood pressure or narrowed heart arteries, leave your heart too weakened for it pump as it should.

You can’t reverse every condition that leads to congestive heart failure, but many treatments can take care of the symptoms of heart disease and help you to live a longer lifespan. Undergoing lifestyle changes like exercising, managing stress, reducing your salt intake, and losing excess weight, can improve your life. You can prevent congestive heart failure by controlling such conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and obesity.

Causes of Congestive Heart Disease

You can get congestive heart disease when you have some of the conditions that cause damage to your heart muscle. Some of these conditions include the following:

Cardiomyopathy: This condition comes from damage to your heart muscle from causes other than blood flow issues.

Coronary Artery Disease: This disease affects the arteries that brings oxygen and blood to your heart. This condition causes a decreased amount of blood to flow to your heart muscle. When your arteries get blocked or narrowed, your heart gets starved for nutrients and oxygen.

Heart Attack: A heart attack happens when your coronary artery suddenly gets blocked. At this time, the flow of blood to your heart muscle stops. A heart attack will not only damage your heart muscle but will also develop a scarred area that will not work as it should.

Other Conditions That Exhaust The Heart: The following conditions can all cause heart failure. Congestive heart failure can also occur if two or more of these diseases are present in the same body:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Valve disease

Any symptoms of congestive heart failure that you may have could be mild or severe. You may also have no symptoms at all. Some of the symptoms of heart disease that you may experience include the following conditions:

  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Fluid retention in the lungs
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Water retention and weight gain

You should visit your primary care physician if you experience any of the symptoms of congestive heart failure. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek out emergency treatment immediately.

  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat, along with chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Pain in your chest
  • Shortness of breath along with coughing up pink mucus

When you’re first experiencing these symptoms, call 911. Emergency care providers will determine whether or not you have heart failure or another heart or lung condition. You should never try to diagnose yourself in this state. Leave that to the first responders and the physicians in the emergency room.

3 Home Stretches to Help Your Low Back Pain

Low back pain accounts for a tremendous amount of healthcare in the US. Every year, the debilitating effects of scoliosis, osteoporosis, and even just the normal arthritic changes that come with age send hundreds of thousands to the doctors’ offices and the hospital. Low back pain can cause people to lose the freedom of mobility, and can severely impact the quality of their lives.

The good news is that while more than half a million people opt for back surgery every year, most lower back issues can be prevented or alleviated by a committed regimen of strengthening and stretching. An ounce of prevention is worth tens of thousands of dollars worth of cure in the case of those all-too-common lower lumbar miseries. Here are a three exercises recommended for seniors to reduce pain, strengthen key muscles, and keep you out of the doctor’s office.

The Leg Raise

You have probably heard a lot about strengthening your “core”. Made up of the abdominal, pelvic, and gluteal muscles, core strengthening is an important base for stability in seniors. Strong core muscles help support other muscular efforts, and can also help you prevent falls. One core activity that helps with low back pain is the Leg Raise, which enhances abdominal strength while simultaneously stretching the muscles around the lumbar spine.

1) Lie flat on your back on a stable surface, such as a firm mattress or the floor.
2) Lift one leg in the air and bend it toward your chest at a 90 degree angle.
3) Hold that position for a count of five to ten seconds, then slowly return the leg to its resting position.
4) Continue alternating each leg up to ten cycles.

The Back Extension

Prolonged periods of sitting can cause severe low back pain in elders. The Back Extension is a stretching exercise that reverses the pressure imposed by the seated position and directly works the muscles attached to the lumbar spine. This particular maneuver is especially helpful with reducing low back and associated leg pain induced by walking.

1) Lie on your stomach on a comfortable (but not too soft) surface.
2) Push up onto your elbows to elevate your upper body and gently flex your spine. Try to hold this position for about five to ten seconds.
3) Lower your body back down to rest for few seconds and repeat the exercise for a total of ten cycles.

The Cat-Cow

Spinal flexibility is another critical component of pain-free mobility. The Cat-Cow stretching exercise is an excellent tool to regain spinal muscle tone and lumbar flexibility. It is a seated exercise, and so is especially helpful for people who have severely limited mobility that impedes other types of exercises.

1) Start in a seated position with both feet on the floor.
2) With your hands on your hips, stretch your shoulders back and head upward to make the spine form a gently arch. This is the “cow” position. Push your abdomen forward until you feel the tug on your lumbar spine muscles.
3) Next you will switch to the “cat” position, in which you will stretch your back the opposite way. Roll your shoulders forward and push your spine outward, like a cat arching its back. Simultaneously flex your chin toward your chest as much as possible to stretch the upper back.
4) Alternate the “cat” and “cow” maneuvers for ten cycles.

The key word to success when taking on a new exercise regimen is “committed”. These methods work best when they are repeated at least three times per week. As always, if you are experiencing worsening or debilitation back pain, discuss your symptoms with your doctor before undertaking new activities.

Dementia vs. Alzheimers Disease – What is the Difference?

alzheimers and dementiaTwo of the most common diseases that adversely affect memory and cognitive functions are those of dementia and Alzheimers disease. These two conditions are oftentimes used interchangeably due to the very similar effects that they cause. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of, especially if someone close to you has been diagnosed with one of these diseases.

What is Dementia?

This term basically refers to an umbrella of symptoms that tend to display themselves as memory loss. These symptoms generally affect thinking, memory and social abilities. There are a wide range of causes of this syndrome, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Despite the fact that this condition is generally referred to as a syndrome instead of a disease, it can worsen with time, largely depending on the cause of the symptoms you face.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimers disease is one of the common causes of the aforementioned syndrome, appearing in an average of 60 percent of cases. The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s include confusion, impaired thought, and impaired speech. There are a wide selection of tests that can be administered in order to determine whether or not you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s. These tests can also identify if the reason for some of your memory loss is due to the development of a separate condition.

Primary Differences Between These Two Diseases

The primary difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is simply that dementia is the syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease can be the cause of that syndrome. Dementia is more so a set of symptoms that could indicate the presence of a wide range of conditions.

To better understand dementia, it could be compared to a sore throat or a runny nose. Either of these symptoms could be the sign of springtime allergies or a common cold that you’re suffering from. In the same way, the cause of dementia (the syndrome) could be Alzheimer’s or several other diseases.

It’s also important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not reversible, while some causes for the dementia have the ability to be reversed. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that comes in the form of stages. The symptoms will worsen over time. People who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s typically have 8-10 years to live.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the symptoms may impact how a person lives their everyday life, but that person will still typically have the ability to lead an independent life.

Once the middle-stage is reached, the symptoms become more severe, oftentimes causing the affected person to become confused or even refuse to eat for a period of time. This is caused by damage to the nerve cells within the brain. This is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s and can last for a multitude of years.

Once Alzheimer’s disease reaches its late-stage, the person afflicted with the disease will require around-the-clock care and will display a severe degradation of cognitive and memory skills.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most severe causes of dementia. However, if the memory and cognitive issues that are experienced can be attributed to some other cause, it’s possible for the symptoms to be improved or reversed.

Causes of dementia are divided into three basic groups; those of progressive types, those that are simply linked to the syndrome, and those that are wholly reversible.

The conditions related to dementia that can be effectively reversed include infections, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, subdural hematomas, and even adverse reactions to medications. For instance, dehydration can cause some of the symptoms that appear with this syndrome. The most important thing for you to do if you suspect that yourself or someone close to you is suffering from one of these conditions is to actually seek medical care to identify what exactly you’re suffering from.

For those that have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie provides a wonderful center of hope.  Our facility offers amazing care including skilled nursing, memory care activities, physical therapy, social activities and a strong network of resources for the family.  Feel free to contact us at 608-643-3383 to speak with us about our Alzheimer’s and dementia programs.