Elder Care Issues

Advice on tackling common health care issues affecting the senior population and resources to turn to for help.

KHN: You’re Not Just “Growing Old” If This Happens To You

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Some medications can induce fatigue, as can infections, arthritis, an underactive thyroid, poor nutrition and alcohol use. Perhaps most important is ensuring that older adults remain physically active and don’t become sedentary.

Some medications can induce fatigue, as can infections, arthritis, an underactive thyroid, poor nutrition and alcohol use. Perhaps most important is ensuring that older adults remain physically active and don’t become sedentary.

Kaiser Health News: You’re Not Just ‘Growing Old’ If This Happens To You 

Judith Graham reports: “When Dr. Christopher Callahan examines older patients, he often hears a similar refrain. “I’m tired, doctor. It’s hard to get up and about. I’ve been feeling kind of down, but I know I’m getting old and I just have to live with it.” This fatalistic stance relies on widely-held but mistaken assumptions about what constitutes “normal aging.” (Graham, 12/8)


It’s Never Too Late To Benefit From Exercise

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Exercise can ward off chronic disease and help you maintain your independence and mobility. But the older we get in the United States, the less active we are.

Exercise can ward off chronic disease and help you maintain your independence and mobility. But the older we get in the United States, the less active we are.

Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity. And it’s never too late to start. In fact, seniors lacking mobility have found improvements in their health by doing low-impact exercises and stretches from a chair.

Exercise can ward off chronic disease and help you maintain your independence and mobility. But the older we get in the United States, the less active we are, according to a study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers analyzed data from a 2014 national health survey, focusing on adults ages 50 or older. Over all, about 28% of those people had not exercised in a month. But inactivity increased with age: non-exercisers amounted to about 25% of people ages 50 to 64, about 27% of people 65 to 74, and about 35% of people 75 or older.

Exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of developing or dying from a variety of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure and can improve health in the following ways, reports the CDC:

  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Helps control weight.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
  • Promotes psychological well-being.

The CDC also reported the following health burdens that could be improved through physical activity:

  • 5 million people have coronary heart disease.
  • 5 million people suffer from a heart attack in a given year.
  • 8 million people have adult-onset (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.
  • 95,000 people are newly diagnosed with colon cancer each year.
  • 250,000 people suffer from a hip fractures each year.
  • 50 million people have high blood pressure.
  • Over 60 million people (a third of the population) are overweight.

Be sure to visit your health care professional before starting a new exercise program.


Have Chronic Pain? Ask Your Health Care Provider These Questions

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You can reduce your symptoms of pain by learning about pain self-management and asking your health care providers these important questions.

You can reduce your symptoms of pain by learning about pain self-management and asking your health care providers these important questions.

Pain is a common complaint of the elderly. As the number of individuals older than 65 years continues to rise, frailty and chronic diseases associated with pain will likely increase, according to a report in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Primary care physicians will face a significant challenge in pain management in older adults. The elderly are more likely to have arthritis, bone and joint disorders, cancer, and other chronic disorders associated with pain.

Understanding the causes of this pain, the special medical needs of the elderly, and the role of pain self-management can help seniors reduce or eliminate this condition. Communication with your health care team is vital to your success in managing pain. Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health:

-What is causing my pain? What can I do about it?

-What is the name of the pain medicine I will be taking?

-How long will it take for the medicine to work?

-What side effects should I expect?

-If I forget to take the pain medicine, what should I do?

-When should I take the pain medicine—on a regular schedule? Before, with, or after meals? At bedtime?

-Are there any dangers to taking this pain medicine I should know about?

-Will this pain medicine cause problems with any other prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines I am taking?

For a great article on older people and pain, check out this article from Huffington Post 6 Simple Ways For Older People To Deal With Chronic Pain