For seniors, slipping and falling can be the cause of numerous injuries.  Commonly, a slip and fall can be the cause of broken bones, head injuries, sprains/strains or painful bruising.  Ideally, the best way to approach this issue is to try to prevent the falls in the fist place.

walking seniorsAlthough anyone, at any age, can slip and fall, it becomes more common as we get older.  Balance issues, dizziness, and weakness of muscles are quite common in seniors and this provides the right mix to increase the chances of falling and and potentially injuring themselves.

Often, the fall may cause injury, but it becomes the secondary issues due to the fall that rises up and becomes the major health problem.  Due to increased chances of weakening bone structure in the senior population, a fracture can certainly occur upon falling.  If the fracture causes reduced mobility, such as in a hip fracture, the individual can suffer from longer term effects such as chronic pain, reduced lung function and weakening of the musculature.

For these reasons, it is extremely important that steps are taken to try to limit the possibilities of falls. Whether you are a senior yourself or are the loved one of a senior, actions can be taken right now to help to prevent unnecessary falls.

During Winter – Watch For Ice

During the winter time, it is important to watch for ice buildup on steps and sidewalks.  Gutters that drip can often be the cause of ice buildup and should be repaired.  Sand or salt could also be applied.  Someone should be dedicated to making certain that all sidewalks are clear from snow and ice.

Proper Handrails

Properly installed handrails can make a considerable difference for those who have difficulty with balance.  By securing handrails at the proper height in the proper areas, this can prevent falls.

Use a Cane or Walker

For those that have difficulty walking, it is often necessary to use a cane or a walker.  These can be used for stabilizing the person while they are moving.  Some are resistant to using a walking aid, but it may be time to have a discussion if that is the case.

Bathroom Aids

Installing bathroom aids like grab bars in the shower area can be a great benefit.  These wet surfaces can be the perfect place for a slip and fall and any aid that can help to assist the person with standing or walking is a good thing.

Watch the Floors

Keep the floors clean of any objects that may cause a fall.  Straighten rugs and remove any objects that may get in the way and cause a loss of balance and a fall.

It is important to stay safe and prevent slips and falls at any age.  But, it is even more important to take steps to prevent those that are especially at risk for falling.

 

 

 

If you, or anyone you know has ever suffered from Gout, you understand the fact that it can be a very painful condition.  Let’s talk about the health condition called Gout.

gout

One of the most painful types of arthritis is called Gout.  It is caused when the body has an over accumulation of uric acid. This can then lead to:

  • Sharp uric acid crystal deposits in joints, often in the big toe
  • Deposits of uric acid (called tophi) that look like lumps under the skin
  • Kidney stones from uric acid crystals in the kidneys.

The Signs and Symptoms of Gout

Gout can affect a variety of joints, however, the great toe is a joint that is commonly involved.

There are signs and symptoms with Gout which include pain, redness, swelling, stiffness and warmth in the affected joint(s).

The Cause of Gout

Uric acid is normally in the body and is created from the breakdown of ‘purines’. Purines are found in the tissues of your body and are also found is certain foods, such as sardines, anchovies, liver, kidney and some other foods.

If for some reason, a person’s body does not remove enough uric acid and it begins to build up in your system, Gout can occur.

Contributing Factors of Gout

Certain individuals are at greater risk of acquiring Gout.  You have increased risk if you:

  • Have family members with the disease
  • Are a man
  • Are overweight
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Eat too many foods rich in purines
  • Have an enzyme defect that makes it hard for the body to break down purines
  • Are exposed to lead in the environment
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Use some medicines such as diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine, or levodopa
  • Take the vitamin niacin.

Treatment of Gout

If you are diagnosed with Gout, your doctor may prescribe you with a medication to control the pain and inflammation.  Attacks can last from days to weeks (or even months).

It is best to discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.

Gout is an arthritic condition that can be very painful and debilitating for those who suffer from it.  However, there are things that you can do to reduce the attacks that occur.  This means working with your doctor with any necessary medications, eating the right foods that are low in purines, decreasing alcohol consumption, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.

 

 

For more information, visit NIH

 

 

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, wife of country artist Brad Paisley, has opened up about the struggles that her mother has faced. Her mother was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a form of dementia that is incurable.

Her mother’s diagnosis came in 2005 after she began to act irrationally during Kimberly and Brad’s wedding. Her mother who now resides in an assisted living facility continues to struggle with the illness.

In her NBC interview, Kim states, “I’ve learned the same thing from my children that I’ve actually learned from my mother, and that is to be in the present,” she said. “And I think that’s actually a gift that my mother got from dementia. And I think my kids have a similar sense about it. They don’t go and look at my mom and imagine how she used to be.”

Kimberly Williams-Paisley shares candidly about her mother’s dementia

What is Primary Progressive Aphasia?

According to the National Aphasia Association, Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a rare neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired, while other mental functions remain preserved. Unlike other forms of aphasia resulting from stroke or traumatic brain injury, PPA is a degenerative brain condition.

Primary Progressive Aphasia is not related to Alzheimers Disease.  Those who suffer from PPA will continue to be able to take care of themselves and pursue hobbies that they enjoy.  However, they will progressively lost their ability to speak, write, read and understand what they hear.

Cause and Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no know cause of PPA.  Although it typically effects the left hemisphere of the brain, it continues to be a very elusive illness.

Researchers and physicians are testing a variety of medications for PPA, however, there is no cure for the disease.

 

One of the complications that can occur after an orthopedic surgery includes blood clots in the legs.  Also called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), blood clots can occur when the bloods movement is slowed.  A common time for this to happen is after a surgery, when a person has greatly reduced mobility.

Although there are other factors that place one at increased risk for DVT’s, post-surgical knee and hip patients are especially susceptible.  Due to this fact, it is important that you understand the risks and preventative steps prior to undergoing your surgery.  You can speak with you physician about the risks and steps that you need to take to prevent clotting.

It’s for this reason, along with movement of the joint itself, that your healthcare team wants you to begin recommended movements following your orthopedic surgery.  Based on your specific condition and risk factors, other preventative measures include mechanical pumps, exercises and prescribed medications.

Ultimately, the goal of your surgery is to improve your pain and way of life.  Although post surgical complications can happen, there are things that you can do (recommended by your healthcare team) that can help to prevent blood clots.

A common health problem that often flies under the radar is prediabetes.  This health issue can be the start of a cascade of health problems that left undiagnosed, can lead to the more serious problem of Type II diabetes.

diabetespevention_a250px

To understand prediabetes, you must understand a little bit about how the body works.  You must especially understand how the pancreas controls your blood sugar levels.

For us to live, we all must be able to control the sugar levels within our blood.  Blood sugars are increased within our blood as we eat (especially by eating carohydrates) and are reduced as our cells utilize the sugars for energy.  However, a special hormone that is produced by the pancreas, called Insulin, is the major factor that helps us to control the amount of sugar that we have in our blood.  Like a thermostat controls the temperature in your home, Insulin controls the sugar in your blood.

 

 

 

According to the American Diabetes Association, this chart shows the requirements for normal, prediabetes and full blown Type II diabetes.

fasting-blood-sugar-levels

The Problems With Increased Blood Sugar Levels

So, why should we be concerned about elevated blood sugar levels?

The amount of blood sugar that flows through your blood can create dramatic changes within your body.  These changes can affect many systems within your body including, but not limited to, your vascular system, the neurological system, the endocrine system, and virtually every other system in your body.  The health effects are far reaching.

Unfortunately, there are not significant symptoms of prediabetes, so blood testing is the best choice.  This is why it is so important to regularly see your health care provider.

If not recognized or not treated, your prediabetes can turn into Type II diabetes, which can cause significant health problems.  This is why the recognition of early onset of elevation of your blood sugar levels is so important.

The Good News:  It’s Reversible

Here is the good news, prediabetes is reversible.  Typically, the best way to reverse your prediabetes is through proper diet and exercise, however, you should work with your health care provider to decide on the best treatment route for you.

The Risk Factors For Prediabetes

Here are the risk factors for prediabetes:

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds

Race and ethnicity are also a factor: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.

Prediabetes is a serious, but reversible, health issue.  One of three Americans (86 million) have prediabetes.  Certainly the best way to deal with prediabetes or diabetes is to prevent it from ever occurring.  However, once acquired, prediabetes is reversible and you should immediately work with your own health provider.

According to the American Stroke Association, Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is theNo. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

Some Stroke Statistics

  • About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke kills nearly 129,000 people a year. It is the No. 5 cause of death.
  • On average, every 4 minutes someone dies of stroke.
  • About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in females.
  • In 2010, worldwide prevalence of stroke was 33 million, with 16.9 million people having a first stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability.
  • 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.
  • African-Americans have nearly twice the risk for a first-ever stroke than Caucasians and a much higher death rate from stroke.

It is extremely beneficial to be able to identify when someone is having a stroke.  The faster they are able to get medical attention, the better their chances of recovery are.

To identify someone who is having a stroke, remember the acronym FAST.

fast

F:  Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A:  Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S:  Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T:  Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Identifying the symptoms of a stroke and getting prompt medical attention can make all of the difference in the lasting effects and the recovery of the stroke victim.

The shoulder.

Imagine how often it’s used throughout the day.  You use it to help you get out of bed, to raise your fork or spoon to your mouth and to reach to get a glass from a cabinet.

shoulder-painHowever, like other joints in the body, the shoulder is vulnerable to injury, as well as wear and tear.  In fact, the shoulder is more susceptible to injury because of its unique ability of motion.  The shoulder has a tremendous amount of motion, but that vast motion also allows for lesser stability.  In other words, you can move your shoulder to a greater degree, but that allows for a greater risk of injury.

There are some common issues that can occur with the shoulder.  Some problems are more acute and some can be longer standing.

Arthritis

The shoulder is susceptible to arthritis in the glenohumeral joint (ball and socket) as well as the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint on top of the shoulder).  Through overuse or injury, these joints can develop arthritis causing pain, inflammation and lack of mobility.

Sprain and Strains

The muscles and ligaments of the shoulder can be over worked, causing minor tears.  This is often referred to as sprains (of the ligaments) or strains (of the muscles). 

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The Rotator Cuff is a group of several muscles of the shoulder.  As we age, the muscles of the Rotator Cuff can weaken leading to a greater risk of injury.  Injuries from falls and lifting injuries are common in these muscles.

Taking Care of the Shoulder

It is always best to take care of your shoulders and try to prevent any problems from occurring in the first place.  This is often done through flexibility and exercises of the shoulders that can help greatly.

Simple stretches and strengthening of the muscles in and around the shoulder can help to prevent shoulder injuries from taking place.  However, it’s important to understand that these should begin slowly and work your way up to better health of the shoulders.

In the event that an injury has already occurred, you should see your healthcare provider for evaluation.  Treatment often occurs with physical therapy, which can be very helpful in helping you to recover from your shoulder injuries.

There are many forms of arthritis, however, one of the most painful and disabling forms is called rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

According to the American College of Rheumatology,  rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans. Of these, about 75 percent are women.

RA is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion and function of many joints. While RA can affect any joint, the small joints in the hands and feet tend to be involved most often. Inflammation sometimes can affect organs as well, for instance, the eyes or lungs.

The stiffness seen in active RA is most often worst in the morning. It may last one to two hours (or even the whole day). Stiffness for a long time in the morning is a clue that you may have RA, since few other arthritic diseases behave this way.

RA, unlike osteoarthritis (OA) can effect multiple joints on both sides of the body.  Typically, OA is limited to more specific joints and caused from overuse or injury to that particular joint(s).

The Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is an autoimmune disease. This means that certain cells of the immune system do not work properly and start attacking healthy tissues — the joints in RA. The cause of RA is not known. However, new research is giving us a better idea of what makes the immune system attack the body and create inflammation. In RA, the focus of the inflammation is in the synovium, the tissue that lines the joint. Immune cells release inflammation-causing chemicals. These chemicals can damage cartilage (the tissue that cushions between joints) and bone. Other things likely play a role in RA as well. For instance, genes that affect the immune system may make some people more prone to getting RA.

The Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA can be difficult to initially diagnose because it provides many hidden or subtle symptoms.  Often the diagnosis is made when the following are found:

  • Warmth, swelling and pain in the joints
  • Anemia (a low red blood cell count)
  • Rheumatoid factor (an antibody, or blood protein, found in about 80 percent of patients with RA in time, but in as few as 30 percent at the start of arthritis)
  • Antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides (pieces of proteins), or anti-CCP for short (found in 60–70 percent of patients with RA)
  • Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (a blood test that, in most patients with RA, confirms the amount of inflammation in the joints)

If your doctor believes that you do have RA, you should consult with a Rheumatologist, a specialist who can correctly diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.  Your Rheumatologist can work with you to provide the best treatment options for you.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research shows that people with RA, mainly those whose disease is not well controlled, have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Talk with your doctor about these risks and ways to lower them.

It is important to be physically active most of the time, but to sometimes scale back activities when the disease flares. In general, rest is helpful when a joint is inflamed, or when you feel tired. At these times, do gentle range-of-motion exercises, such as stretching. This will keep the joint flexible.

When you feel better, do low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, and exercises to boost muscle strength. This will improve your overall health and reduce pressure on your joints. A physical or occupational therapist can help you find which types of activities are best for you, and at what level or pace you should do them.

For further information, visit the American College of Rheumatology

Many have heard about congestive heart failure, but what exactly is it?

According to the American Heart Association, congestive heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

Romantic Hot Heart Background

Romantic Hot Heart Background

Nearly 6 million Americans are living with heart failure, and over 900,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.  Heart failure is more likely to happen as we age, but anyone can develop heart failure, which is a serious, long-term (chronic) condition. But you can live a full and active life with the right medical treatment and the attention you pay to your lifestyle.

Warning Signs of Heart Failure

By themselves, any one sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have more than one of these symptoms, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart problems, report them to a healthcare professional and ask for an evaluation of your heart.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Consistent coughing or wheezing
  • Buildup of excess fluid in the body tissues
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate

If you have any, or a variety, of these symptoms you should report it to your health provider.

Causes and Risks of Heart Failure

There are a variety of causes and risks for heart failure.Most people who develop heart failure have (or had) another heart condition first. The most common conditions that can lead to heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and previous heart attack. If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these conditions, it’s critical that you manage it carefully to help prevent the onset of heart failure.

Treatment Options and the Management of Heart Failure

If your doctor suspects that you have heart failure, specific tests may be ordered to confirm their diagnosis.  These may include further physical examination, blood tests, chest x-rays, EKG, exercise stress test, and cardiac catheterization.  These tests allow your doctor to better understand how your heart is functioning.

Once you are diagnosed with heart failure, your doctor will often put a treatment plan together that may include lifestyle changes, medications, the use of devices or surgical procedures.  You and your doctor can best decide on which is the right treatment plan for you.

Living With Heart Failure

Although it can be difficult to live with a chronic condition like heart failure, many people can and do learn to manage the symptoms and live full and enjoyable lives. People who typically report greater levels of improvement and emotional wellbeing are often the ones who are willing to build new habits around eating better, exercising as directed by their healthcare team, and tracking and managing their symptoms.

 

Here is an informative video on dementia from the Dementia Society of America

To learn more: Dementia Society of America

Dementia is an umbrella term for the loss of cognitive function associated with a number of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, Huntington’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. This loss of cognitive function results from the death of once active nerve cells in the brain. The common threat between these conditions is the loss of a person’s ability to think, remember, and reason. Symptoms of dementia often include difficulties with visual perception, language skills, and ability to pay attention. Some people also suffer from the inability to control their emotions. There are many causes of dementia.

Some dementias are reversible, and some are progressive. Dementia caused by infections, metabolic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and poisoning may be reversed with appropriate therapy. However, progressive dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and frontal temporal dementia only get worse with time. So being diagnosed with dementia is often a frightening experience. The diagnosis affects not only the patient, but also their families, loved ones, and caregivers. Furthermore, many individuals have what is referred to as mixed dementia, meaning: They suffer from multiple causes of cognitive dysfunction, and often the cause of dementia is not known.

The major risk factor for dementia is age, although dementia is not a normal part of aging, and many elderly people maintain high levels of cognitive function well into the 90s.