How Long Does Shingles Last In The Elderly?

View Original Article Here: How Long Does Shingles Last In The Elderly?

Shingles is a viral infection that follows a varicella-zoster infection, although it can take decades for symptoms of the secondary disease to emerge. The condition presents as a painful and blistering rash, but it is not life-threatening.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are nearly one million cases in the United States each year, and almost half of those cases are in older adults over age 60. Some people only see one instance of the illness, while others have recurring symptoms, but 30 percent of Americans will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime.

shingles duration

Duration of Shingles: Timeline of the Virus

The timeline of shingles is consistent once symptoms begin, but many people may have the condition for years without realizing it. Internal shingles can take decades to present itself, while many people never show symptoms at all. If you’re asking yourself, “how long does shingles last,” it can be different for each person, but below is a general progression.

Itching, Pain, or Tingling

Before any irritation appears, the site may first itch or tingle, or even feel painful. These sensations start to happen between one and five days before redness or itching begins. Many people may not recognize these symptoms, particularly if they have a mild case of shingles.

Blister-Like Rash

shingles rash After the initial discomfort in a specific area, blisters begin to emerge. This contagious rash can take two to four weeks to go away, but once a flare-up ends, an individual will no longer be contagious. Shingles duration varies based on whether people take medication and the current state of their health, however.

Potential for Transmission

During the time that the blisters are active, a person with shingles can transmit the varicella-zoster virus to others. Once the blisters scab over, the transmission risk disappears. People who have chronic conditions or have undergone cancer or other treatment that suppresses the immune system may be more vulnerable to disease transmission.

Treatment

While you cannot cure shingles, antiviral medicines may shorten the eruption period of rashes. These medicines can also help lessen the severity of an outbreak. Both topical pain relief and oral medications may also relieve discomfort. Calamine lotion and gentle oatmeal baths may help with itching, too.

Return to Health

Once the irritation clears, most people with shingles feel healthy again. However, most adults with shingles can experience flare-ups more often when their immune function is low, or they are otherwise ill.

In total, the condition can last for anywhere from two to six weeks, and many people only experience an outbreak one time. However, it is possible to have it multiple times.

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a condition that lies inactive in people who have a particular type of herpes. If you look at shingles pictures, a shingles rash appears as blisters. The pattern usually follows a stripe across the torso, but variations do occur.

How Does Someone Get Shingles?

Only people who have carry a dormant infection can contract shingles because the viral illness sticks around in nerve tissue that can reactivate later in life. While people of all ages can develop shingles, it’s most common in people who are over age 60.

Risk factors for shingles include increased age, leukemia, lymphoma, and HIV infection. People who receive steroid treatments and cancer chemotherapy are also part of the high-risk category. At the same time, people with underlying conditions that affect their body’s ability to fight infection are also at risk. This can include people with diabetes or other conditions.

Shingles Symptoms

Although the National Shingles Foundation notes that the symptoms of shingles are understandably vague, because each person feels the effects differently, there are general guidelines for what people can expect to result in a diagnosis. However, the symptoms are often similar to the mild flu, which leads to people delaying a doctor’s visit.

According to the Mayo Clinic, early symptoms include mild tingling, numbness, burning, or discomfort in a small area of one side of the body. Sensitivity to touch, red skin, and itching come before clusters of fluid-filled blisters. Additional symptoms can also involve fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.

While these symptoms can also indicate other health issues, individuals who have a higher risk of shingles need to remain aware of their body’s signals and contact their medical care provider in case of any concerns.

In very rare cases, shingles can occur without visible indications. This subcategory of shingles is zoster sine herpete, but still involves shooting sensations, numbness, tingling, or itching. In some cases, people do not notice the emergence of blisters, and so assume that their symptoms have nothing to do with shingles at all. This is more common than actual zoster sine herpete.

When Should I See The Doctor?

If you have never experienced shingles before, you should contact your doctor and bring along a list of your symptoms to make sure that you address any underlying issues or oddities. This is especially important for people over age 60 because seniors often face additional complications.

You can visit any medical professional, such as a general practitioner, family physician, internist, dermatologist, or even a neurologist for assistance. A test will confirm or deny the suspicion of shingles.

Your care provider needs to know about any prior health conditions as well as any medications that you are currently taking. If you require any drugs to help recover from shingles, your care provider will need to avoid drug interactions, so a list of medicines that you are on is helpful for this.

You should also consult medical help if large areas of the body show blistering activity, or if the affected area is close to your eyes. Severe complications can occur if these conditions remain untreated, but with medical assistance, patients can avoid many undesirable outcomes.

Many people can live with shingles and avoid severe complications, but an early and accurate diagnosis is the first step in promoting and protecting your overall health.

Shingles Treatment Options

To effectively treat shingles, you should first obtain an official diagnosis from a medical professional. Ideally, you should begin a course of action within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms.

At your initial visit, your care provider can take fluid and tissue samples and provide prescriptions for antiviral drugs like Zovirax or Valtrex for shingles treatment. A range of medications is available to alleviate shingles pain as well.

Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex) are two common antiviral drugs that can aid recovery of shingles. For management of discomfort, topical capsaicin patches (Qutenza) or numbing agents such as lidocaine in cream, gel, spray, or patch form soothe from the outside in.

Injections of corticosteroids, local anesthetics, anticonvulsants like gabapentin (Neurotonin), and even tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline) can also offer relief. The right medication can help shingles sufferers retain their normal function and get back to living life as usual, despite their underlying diagnosis.

However, not all medications will work for all patients, and each medication carries its own side effects and risks. You should discuss these potential side effects with your health team and decide which is in your best recovery and health maintenance interest.

One important consideration, while you are taking medications for shingles, is to avoid alcohol. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of many medicines, including those that relieve shingles symptoms.

Managing Shingles in Older Adults

Populations of elderly adults are at a higher risk of contracting shingles because of lower immune capacity. As we age, our bodies begin to become more susceptible to outside influences.

Immunocompromised individuals with other underlying conditions also face a higher risk. In fact, by age 80, half of all people have had shingles. This means older adults have the most to worry about when it comes to contracting shingles and living with its effects.

There are unique factors to consider for elderly populations, particularly if those individuals live at home and do not have access to medical support or means of self-care.

Long-Term Pain and Other Complications

In many cases, shingles causes lasting problems for older adults.  These complications range from minor to severe and debilitating and vary based on each person’s unique life circumstances and healthcare history.

Vision and Hearing Problems

If the outbreak originates near a person’s eyes or ears, this can affect their vision and hearing. Scarring and sensitivity can damage eyes and ears. Permanent blindness is a serious potential side effect of shingles on elderly populations. Luckily, treating instances of facial shingles quickly can help avoid long-term damage.

Bacterial Infection and Scarring

Because the blisters present as open sores, seniors who cannot manage self-care, or those who do not receive assistance, can contract bacterial infections. In some cases, however, people develop bacterial infections because of environmental factors, not personal care abilities.

When bacterial infections take hold, tissue can become scarred or necrotize completely without proper medical care. This dangerous and devastating effect of shingles can result in disfigurement or potential handicap if it continues without rehabilitative measures.

Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Post-herpetic neuralgia is a complication that stems from nerve damage. It affects nerve fibers inside and outside the body and can prolong discomfort even after rashes clear up. People who are over 50, those with severe shingles outbursts or who had shingles on their faces or torsos, and people with chronic diseases are at higher risk of this disorder.

Many people with this condition report that it is difficult to even wear clothing in some cases, because of the extreme sensitivity of their bodies. Sleep can be difficult to come by because of topical irritants, and venturing out of the house can become an insurmountable challenge.

Fortunately, the CDC reports that the zoster injection is 66.5 percent effective in preventing post-herpetic neuralgia, and it also appears to reduce the severity of shingles and PHN if a person contracts shingles despite preventative vaccination.

Depression

For seniors who live alone and deal with shingles, the condition can influence more than their physical health. Because older people are already at a high risk of isolation, already more than seven million American adults over age 65 experience depression each year.

This unfortunate fact means that even minor illness, and particularly a condition like shingles that influences both physical and mental abilities, can pose a huge challenge to senior adults living alone. In addition to the regular aches and headaches from depressive episodes, older adults dealing with shingles outbreaks face further isolation and emotions that are difficult to process.

As with any disease, older adults who live alone or in an assisted living facility require additional support and care, both from family and medical staff. This is an important aspect of action because both social and medical factors should contribute to whole-person care solutions.

Loss of Sleep

With or without post-herpetic neuralgia, many sufferers of shingles deal with long-term sensitivity, tenderness, and severe discomfort. This can impact their sleep habits, therefore affecting their ability to engage in enjoyable activities and maintain energy levels throughout the day.

Keeping active is a vital part of aging healthfully, so elderly adults with shingles should focus on healthy habits as a primary means of combating potential flare-ups. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and maintaining food intake can all help the body combat illness.

Frequently Asked Questions:

From “how long does shingles last” to “how much time will I need off work”, there are a lot of questions surrounding how to cope with a shingles diagnosis.

Here are the most common questions surrounding the condition along with their answers.

How Long Can Shingles Last Without Medication?

Without medication, blisters typically scab over within seven to ten days, clearing completely by two to four weeks later. Symptoms can arrive before an outburst, but also continue to remain after the redness and blistering subside.

Medication is optional for people suffering from shingles, but it’s often a welcome reprieve from the complications of the condition. Still, some medication can prolong shingles outbreaks if a person is allergic or suffers other side effects from any dosage.

How Long Does Pain Last With Shingles?

Because every person is different, the duration of a shingles outbreak can last anywhere from two to six weeks, but the after-effects can linger for months or even years. Once blisters heal, many people still deal with soreness and painful recovery.

When Does Shingles Stop Being Contagious?

Shingles is only contagious during periods when the active blisters leak fluid. Also, you cannot give shingles to another person, but they may contract chickenpox from exposure.

How Do I Shorten The Duration of Shingles?

Antiviral drugs can speed healing after a shingles outbreak, and topical and internal medicines can aid in relieving discomfort. In this way, the overall duration shortens, and the effects are less severe. However, medication is entirely optional for people with shingles, although its ability to offer comfort and a shorter outbreak period is something to consider.

How Long Do Shingles Blisters Continue To Appear?

Blisters typically stick around for under two weeks, and often people only experience one shingles episode in their lifetime. However, it’s possible for the condition to recur, since that is the nature of all viruses.

Some people experience multiple outbreaks, particularly with increased age, standard illness, chronic pre-existing conditions, or seasonal sickness that knocks down their immune systems’ defenses.

According to the National Shingles Foundation, shingles recurs in roughly one to five percent of patients. However, the location of the blisters usually varies, and many recurring cases are not actually shingles, but another variation of herpes instead.

Accurate diagnosis requires testing and a professional opinion, so attempting to self-diagnose is often more harmful than helpful.

How Can I Prevent Transmission?

To keep from getting others sick, avoid direct contact with people during an outbreak of shingles where blisters are active. Alternatively, you can attempt to cover the affected area to avoid contact. Either way, once blisters scab over, they no longer pose a transmission hazard, because the fluid inside is what carries the viral material.

varicella-zosterAlso, even people who have received the zoster or varicella vaccines are still at risk for contracting this form of herpes from people with shingles. This is because Zoster is not 100 percent efficacious, meaning it does not prevent shingles 100 percent of the time.

According to Immunize.org, the efficacy of zoster is 51 percent in people ages 60 and older, but this number decreases with an increase in age. Also, according to their research, shingles protection with zoster appears to last for less than ten years. This means most people will see a recurring risk of shingles regardless of vaccination status.

Does Valtrex Shorten The Duration of Shingles?

Valtrex, or valacyclovir, is a drug that blocks the spread of herpes that creates shingles. This helps fight infection and reduce the duration of outbreaks. It works for shingles as well as other herpes conditions like genital herpes and cold sores in adults.

There are serious side effects with Valtrex, but its ability to shorten the period of blisters and discomfort with shingles are often worth the risk for many people. Side effects include harm to the kidneys, especially when you take this medication along with other medicines that tax those organs.

Fever, bruising or bleeding, red spots unrelated to shingles blisters, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fainting, and lack of urination are concerns that warrant immediate action.

How Long Will I Be Out of Work?

People who work with at-risk populations, such as seniors or immunocompromised individuals, should ensure that they adequately cover any lesions so that none of the fluid from the blisters touches others. If that’s not possible, it’s better to abstain from working completely during an outbreak.

Ideally, you should avoid working when you are contagious when blisters are present, but for many people, this is not feasible. However, if the blistering episode has passed and symptoms like fever, fatigue, or discomfort remain, consider taking extra time for recovery.

Should You Get The Shingles Vaccine?

According to geriatric pharmacist Kenneth Cohen, PharmD, Ph.D., CGP, zoster (also Zostavax), the shingles vaccine, “significantly reduced the incidence of herpes zoster” and can preserve the quality of life of people who avoid shingles through vaccination.

However, the Center for Disease Control’s Q&A on zoster does advise people with severe allergies, immunosuppression, or those who are pregnant to avoid receiving the shot. They do recommend routine vaccination for people over 60 but only advise vaccinating in specific cases for those ages 50 to 59.

For people ages 50 to 59, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, does not recommend routine vaccination with Zostavax. This is because disease rates are lower in this age group than in the 60 and above population. Also, their statement notes that there is “insufficient evidence for long term protection” with the shot.

Because the protection period lasts roughly ten years, the ACIP states that vaccination should take place at age 60 at the minimum. However, because Zostavax is FDA-approved for ages 50 through 59, physicians can still administer the shot without the ACIP’s recommendation.

When it comes to the injection itself, even for people who do not have a significant risk of reaction to the shot may experience redness at the injection site, tenderness, swelling, and itchiness. In the CDC’s key clinical trial, 1.4 percent of participants reported serious adverse reactions, but they note that the placebo group’s percentage was identical. Overall, this equates to a high safety profile on the vaccination.

Prevention of shingles is tricky business, partly because there are no clear answers on why some individuals experience outbreaks while others do not. Experts reason that this is a result of individual health and immunity factors, as well as other considerations like age.

Beyond these innate differences across populations, the unpredictability of the shot’s efficacy means that some people will have protection against shingles, while others will not, and there is no reliable way of predicting who will avoid infection and who will end up with a diagnosis.

More Information About Shingles

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the duration of shingles in the elderly.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

National Shingles Foundation

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Learn How To Make A Family Tree With This Simple Guide

View Original Article Here: Learn How To Make A Family Tree With This Simple Guide

Learning how to make a family tree can be an easy and fun experience for everyone in the family.

You may be wondering how to make a genealogical tree, and in this article, we’ll tell you exactly what to do. You won’t need any specialized tree templates to make your tree chart, so don’t be afraid to dive right in.

What is A Family Tree?

how to make a family treeA family history is a diagram which charts the familial relationships of each generation of a family. In essence, a family history tracks your family genealogy and is the way you make a family tree: who is related to who, and how. You could also call family history charts genealogical trees, but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well.

A very small family history chart might be one node for a mother, another node for a father, and then above them, nodes for their children. Most families who make family history charts want to go a bit further than the obvious, though.

Complicated family history charts look more like tree charts than simple diagrams because they contain a lot of information. Each node of the family history chart shows who gave birth to that person and also any children that person subsequently had, and with who. If you’re trying to establish your family’s lineage past a couple of living generations, you’ll rapidly find that things get difficult.

How to Make a Family Tree

Making a family history chart can be as simple or as difficult as you choose to make it. Some families prefer to hunt down distant relatives in other countries, whereas others are content to account for everyone within two or three generations.

You’ll follow four main steps to make a family history chart: tallying your living relatives, figuring out where dead relatives should go, hunting down more detail on dead relatives if desired, and compiling all of the information together.

If you don’t have a poster board, pins, and boxes of old photos, you should probably assemble those before starting. You can also use a software program to keep track of your family’s genealogy if you prefer.

Account for Living Relatives

Accounting for living relatives is as easy as writing on an index card the name of the living family member, then pinning that index card to the board. Pinning a photograph to the index card on the board helps to see who is who at a glance.

Start from your immediate family first, then work your way outward. For everyone that has a maiden name or a nickname, you should write it on their index card. For now, pin older generations lower on the poster board and pin the younger generations above them.

As an example, let’s say your immediate family consists of your parents, you, your sibling, your spouse, and your two children. Your parents would each have a card, and have their index cards at the bottom. Above them should be your card, and next to your card should be your spouse.

At this point, you should work out a system for identifying the original bloodline of your family. Mark your spouse’s card to indicate that they weren’t a child of your parents, but rather a child of someone else’s parents—who you may or may not want to put on the tree. Put your sibling’s card next to your card, once again making sure that it’s clear that they’re your sibling and not your spouse.

Above you and your spouse, put a card for each of your children. Voila, you now have a simple family history chart which accounts for the founders of the family, their progeny, and then the latest generation as begat by those progenies.  This basic family history chart will look more like a shrub, but it’s a start.

If you want to get fancy, you can write stuff like the country of origin or other data onto the index cards.

Interview Living Relatives About Dead Relatives

You probably want to take the family history chart way beyond a simple bush, though. To fill out the roots and branches of the family history chart, you’ll need to start including dead relatives, including those that you may not hear about much.

Interview your living relatives about the ones who have passed is a great starting point.

You’ve probably heard your parents or grandparents mention their lost siblings or parents in passing, but now it’s time to pin down those relationships. Ask questions until you have an index card for all of the siblings, parents, great-aunts, cousins, and others that you may have never heard of before.

A great question to start with is “who did Grandma like to tell stories about that you never met?” questions like these build the basis for the harder-to-reach roots of the family history chart. You may not necessarily have enough information to place the new entries correctly—sometimes it won’t be clear who was on what side of the family.

The important thing during this step is to assemble names, ranges of years, and geographical areas. If your dead relatives were particularly talkative, you might have a huge extension of your family history chart just by interviewing some of their caretakers. It’s much more likely that you’ll have a lot of clues and only a few completed cards to add to the board after interviewing, though.

It’s worth interpreting “living relatives” very loosely during this step of the process. If you think you might be distantly related to someone with the same surname as you, call them up and ask them a few questions to see if you might be related. Reaching out to a stranger is a bit scary, but you can add a huge amount of depth and breadth to your tree if you’re willing to take a chance or two along the way.

Surviving friends of dead relatives are also good sources of information. They’ll likely know more details about the person’s relations in periods of time before their children were born.

After interviewing comes the hardest step: following the clues from interviews to finish those incomplete index cards so that you can place them in the correct spot on the tree.

Request Official Documents on Dead Relatives

Thankfully there are many resources designed to help genealogists hunt down people to understand their lineage. Scour these resources with the partial pieces of information that you scrounged from interviewing your living relatives.

Remember to check nicknames, maiden names, and potentially misspelled surnames if your relatives immigrated at any point. If you have a common family name, your task will be considerably more difficult. Try to zero in in dates, locations, professions, and relations as much as possible given the information that you have.

Often, this round of research can create a lot of hunches that are not-quite-confirmed. If you can track enough information about a particular node on the family history chart, you can probably request a public record document that will put your hunch to the test. Birth and death records are retained for long periods of time at municipal places like town halls, so requesting the document (and showing that you have reason to believe you are related to this person) can put your questions to rest.

This process can get difficult for families whose family history chart spans multiple countries, as many do. The single biggest dead ends in family history chart record hunting are the barriers between countries, especially in the era of World War 2. Many records from that era were lost or intentionally destroyed, but if you’re lucky, the immigration bodies will have some record which will be of use for you—though not all will be forthcoming.

If you hit a dead end in your research quest, don’t feel too bad. Some families live in the same geographical area for many generations, which makes genealogical tree research very easy, and other families are more dynamic, making them much harder to pin down.

Should I Get Genetic Testing?

In this day and age, you can get genetic testing which can give you additional clues regarding your family’s geographical ancestry if the trail has gone cold. If you don’t have an active lead to a specific geographical area after reaching a certain node, it might be worth getting your genome sequenced via one of the popular services to see what you can learn.

Genetic testing can typically clean up areas of ambiguity in your family history chart, provided that you have samples that you’re willing to part with and pay for processing. The more living members of your family that you can get tested, the more information you’ll learn. You might learn, for instance, that your first cousin is your second cousin, or that your grandmother isn’t related to you by blood.

Testing of this sort can unearth family secrets that some people would prefer to remain buried, so tread carefully.

For most people, this is a bit too much work for too little chance of reward, though.

family tree chart

Assemble the Information

Once you’ve assembled all of the possible records on everyone that you can really find information on, it’s time to clean up and fill out the giant poster board. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch, just be sure to have the oldest generation at the bottom of the tree and the latest generation at the top.

Each generation accounts for roughly 20 or 30 years of life, so it may be a useful unit of organization to break up the tiers of your tree. Don’t get too hung up on having specific generations, though. People don’t always reproduce exactly in phase with the period that they “should,” and your tree doesn’t necessarily need to account for when people were born, merely their relationship to each other.

Seeing your entire family’s bloodline in one giant chart can be very interesting, and it can give your entire family a new sense of their place in history. The more information on each node that you can add, the more you can understand how your ancestors lived.

It’s acceptable to have gaps and uncertain connections in your family history chart; almost everyone does. It’s often very difficult to create much of anything of certainty in your family history chart beyond the “great-grandparent” level. At that point, you’re reaching back about a century in time, which is a feat.

Tips for Creating Your Genealogical Tree

Now that you know the basic process for making a family history chart let’s tie everything together.

Here are a few good tips that will set your family history chart on the right growth trajectory:

  • Keep track of maiden names and be sure to search for them instead of newer names
  • Use common sense when following the paper trail; don’t search randomly, search near where other relatives were or came from
  • Churches sometimes have a different set of documents than municipal sources
  • Sometimes finding a living friend of a dead relative is just as useful as finding the relative
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out
  • Immigration officials often have the best sets of documents
  • Sometimes names get misspelled during migration paperwork

It’s also easy to get off on the wrong track while making your family history chart. Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for while making your family’s tree:

  • Starting to chart from the branches rather than from the roots
  • Assuming that nobody was adopted
  • Assuming that a lack of official information on a person is a dead end
  • Assuming that nobody had any illegitimate children
  • Not reaching out to people who share the same surname as someone of interest
  • Not including yourself in the family history chart
  • Getting discouraged when you find a dead end

That wraps up our guide on how to make a family history chart. Get ready to start digging through records and interviewing your relatives! Once you view building a family tree like building an investigation, you’ll be well on your way to being a master genealogist.

Understanding Diogenes Syndrome and Elderly Hoarding

View Original Article Here: Understanding Diogenes Syndrome and Elderly Hoarding

Did you know that up to 1 in 20 of the elderly have tendencies that are consistent with hoarding? Scientists call the combination of self-neglect, extreme hoarding, squalor, and a lack of shame “Diogenes syndrome,” though it’s often a complete mystery to caregivers and others. At the end of the article, we’ll explain why “Diogenes” is a bit of a misnomer, but for now, let’s dive into the uncomfortable world of hoarding.

It’s understandable for older relatives to be a bit eccentric or reclusive, but at what point do their behaviors become pathological? Patterns of excessive hoarding and self-neglect in the elderly can be painful to witness, and even harder to remedy when you’re dealing with a stubborn person.diogenes syndrome

The many symptoms of elderly hoarding and squalor aren’t pretty to think about, and they’re even less pretty to deal with first hand. Often, elderly hoarders only reach out for help when they’re at the end of their wits– and unfortunately, the end of their lives. Hoarding and living in squalor are both broadly dangerous and detrimental to anyone’s health, never mind the weakened health of a mentally ill senior.

In this article, we’ll teach you about the syndrome, senile squalor syndrome, hoarding, and what to watch out for in the senior citizens that you love. At the end of the article, we’ll offer a few potential solutions and treatments to the syndrome and squalor syndrome.

What is Senile Squalor Syndrome?

Senile squalor syndrome is a pathological condition in which seniors can no longer take care of themselves or their homes, resulting in the buildup of messes, objects, and decay. It’s common for the homes of seniors with the syndrome to be laden with piles of rotting food, peeling wallpaper, and even dead pets trapped beneath hills of debris that a well-functioning person would have never let accumulate.

Squalor gets mentioned in the same breath as hoarding disorders very frequently. Squalor syndrome occurs for several similar reasons which may surprise you. First, frontal lobe damage or degeneration from dementia are core to senile squalor.

The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for executive functioning, which includes long-term planning, motivation, task saliency, and also short-term planning of action. In senile people, connections between the frontal lobes executive functions and the rest of the brain have likely weakened after a lifetime of use. Weakened communication between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain means that certain norms aren’t worth following in the eye of the senior.

Impacts to the senior’s physical mobility often play a role in the development of senior squalor syndrome. The more physical work a senior believes the task of cleaning up or picking up will require, the larger of a motivational barrier they build in their minds. Once this imagined task of cleaning or picking up becomes too big to deal with, the thought is suppressed, or action of picking up is procrastinated to a later time.

Planning to perform actions, like cleaning up or picking up, is extremely difficult with a degraded frontal lobe. The seat of working memory is also in the frontal lobe, which means that even tenuously created plans to clean up are at high risk of being forgotten and falling by the wayside. Thus, squalor develops via a combination of reduced physical ability, accumulated brain damage, and lack of a sufficient support network to assist with everyday tasks.

So long as a senior citizen is living in a context where they still have the ability and the agency to maintain their environment, they should be safe from squalor. As they age, the probability becomes more and more likely because of weakening physical ability and also weakening mental prowess.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for squalor may surprise you. In the previous section, we mentioned frontal lobe degeneration or damage. Prior brain damage during earlier in a senior’s life makes them have a higher risk of developing a hoarding syndrome. Likewise, if a senior was diagnosed with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder earlier in life, they have a much higher chance of developing a hoarding disorder in their twilight years.

There is an abundance of natural aging processes which result in frontal lobe degeneration, but for senile people prone to hoarding and living in squalor, there are other factors at play, too. It takes more than old age to turn someone into a full-blown hoarder, willing to live in total squalor.

Seniors suffering from hoarding or squalor typically live alone and are at increased risk of depression, which causes further damage to the frontal lobe’s ability to regulate the rest of the brain. In short, being reclusive and lonely causes brain damage.

This fact means that the seniors that are at the highest risk of developing a hoarding disorder are those who are isolated and vulnerable. On top of the negative health effects of isolation, isolation also enables many of the behaviors that characterize senior hoarders. Housemates and relatives are seldom okay with living in filth, and in their presence act as a barrier against the development of full-blown hoarding.

Prior emotional trauma involving loss also puts seniors at a higher risk for hoarding and squalor, as does a history of generosity. This can lead to heartbreaking interactions between hoarders and their relatives in which the hoarders attempt to offer their seemingly precious items to the relatives, who are revolted.

The hoarders simply don’t see squalor due to deficits in their working memory or other frontal lobe features. It’s critical to stay compassionate, even when the elderly lash out as a result of their confusion—they simply can’t control themselves.

Signs and Symptoms of Elderly Hoarding

signs of hoardingHoarders syndrome starts off in a way that may seem innocent: retaining objects for sentimental reasons. Everyone is entitled to have personal possessions, and keeping things around for their sentimental value is also something that everyone has a right to do.

The difference is that hoarders attach sentimental meaning to every object, and can never stand to part with something that could, in some fantastical situation, come in handy.

Seniors can likely articulate these fantastical reasons for any given object if prompted. The key to understanding the rationale behind each object is that the senile individual’s perspective of what items are worth keeping and which are not is severely skewed. There will be a rationale for every object, no matter how trivial disposal may seem.

To a normal person, these rationales will be overtly false, but to an elderly hoarder, they ring true. The very perception of reality of an elderly hoarder is extremely compromised. Even coming to terms about what behaviors are damaging to their health can be hard when it comes to talking about cleanliness and object retainment.

The biggest single test for elderly hoarding is to prompt the hoarder to discard an object that has no sentimental or utilitarian value. In many cases, it could be rotting food, wrapping paper, or broken dishes. The hoarder will reject the call to discard the useless objects, inventing a rationale. The rationale will seem completely off-base to a rational observer, indicating that the senior is in deep trouble.

Diogenes Syndrome Prognosis and Treatment Options

There are a few tactics for treating senior hoarding and squalor. The most effective tactic is to remove the senior from the conditions of squalor and place them into a supervised living facility. Though the senior will likely resist this separation from their objects, squalor and hoarding are always accompanied by a general inability to take care of oneself.

This means that the senior belongs in a place where others can help them to maintain a decent standard of living which they couldn’t on their own. It is not recommended to move a relative with hoarder syndrome into your home for care.

senior squalor treatmentSeniors who hoard and live in squalor are beyond the level of care that most people can provide at home, and will likely experience a big drop in their quality of life as a result.

There are also several combined pharmacological and psychological interventions, formulated from protocols for obsessive-compulsive disorder. These interventions are unlikely to work because they depend on the senior to take the medication that they are prescribed consistently while also implementing lifestyle changes with the help of a therapist.

The medications required for this approach may also have adverse drug interactions with other medications that the senior is taking or should be taking, which can cause medical problems. If hoarding a habit in a senior, the most common treatment regimen as outlined above is likely to be ineffective.

Critically, any attempts to generate change within the hoarder will resist. Resistance gets stronger for senile persons with dementia, who may become confused and more agitated. Sneaky techniques are ethically questionable, and so are not attempted.

Tips for Dealing with Parents Who Hoard

Living with a hoarder is extremely difficult because hoarders tend to allow their squalor to spill out of their areas and into common areas. If possible, draw very clear boundaries about which areas the hoarders are allowed to pollute, and which are strictly forbidden.

These boundaries are unlikely to work long term, will probably cause familial strife, and may result in unsafe living conditions inside of your parents’ quarters. As the clear-minded adult, you must do your best to enforce the boundaries, however.

You may also want to enforce boundaries on what can be kept in your parents’ living spaces. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop your relative from hoarding entirely, but you can at least impose rules such as “no piles blocking access in and out of the room” or “no piles taller than two feet high.” It may break your heart to be strict, but remember that every pile can grow larger, so long as your senile relative can procure new objects. Keeping piles small in the first place will save you a big headache later on.

Insisting on weekly inspections and deep cleanings will also be helpful in maintaining the condition of your hoarding parent if you are forced to keep them in your home. Grime builds up just as quickly as piles, and it’s important to catch and reprimand hoarding of disgusting things like used toilet paper, which the hoarder may consider to be still useful.

Compassion will be in short supply, but try to remember that hoarders suffer from a neurological condition which prevents them from remembering, planning, assessing, and executing actions effectively. They aren’t playing with a full deck.

Unfortunately, disputing the rationales provided by elderly hoarders is where things can start to get ugly. Elderly hoarders tend to react to the questioning of their rationale with hostility or outright aggression. In the mind of the senile hoarder, attempts to clean up or throw out hoarded objects are direct affronts to their personal space. The hoarder views the person trying to help them as a bully, and often ignorant.

To conclude our article, it’s time for an explanation about why the syndrome has its name as such. Diogenes disease is perhaps incorrectly named. Diogenes, according to Greek legend, was a beggar who lived in a barrel in ancient Athens.

Diogenes had one possession: his cup, which he used to drink water. Diogenes was well known for his curmudgeonly behavior to anyone who approached him, and according to legend, even snubbed Alexander the Great by asking him to move out of the way of the sun as he was basking in it while laying outside of his barrel.

Diogenes never bathed, often comparing himself to a dog– no shame, no cleanliness, no possessions, and no acknowledgment of any worldly status or even worldly existence outside of his immediate surroundings.

In short, the mythical figure of Diogenes has little in common with the hoarding and squalor of Diogenes syndrome seniors today, but the name has stuck nonetheless.

How To Organize Your Care Calendar with Lotsa Helping Hands

View Original Article Here: How To Organize Your Care Calendar with Lotsa Helping Hands

Seniors need help, but they’re often left to fend for themselves. Over 8 million seniors get support from long term care services yearly. Support agencies aren’t always going to be around when seniors need their help, though. That’s why caregivers are teaming up to create a care community where their efforts can be shared to help seniors: Lotsa Helping Hands (LHH).

Lotsa Helping Hands to The Rescue

LHH is a care organization system that lets caregivers form care communities to help out the people they love. With LHH, you’ll be able to have easy communication with your loved ones, your helpers, the other people in your community, and plan around obstacles to solve them as painlessly as possible.

How is this possible? Lotsa Helping Hands has a website, app, and, most importantly, a great community that’s ready for you to join. You’ll be able to deliver great care to your loved ones without having to pay a dime.

Features

Where is LHH adding value to your care routine, though? In short, everywhere. Using Lotsa’s tools, you’ll be powerfully hooked into the cutting edge of providing care. You won’t need to worry about people you love being in need for lack of help.

Care Calendar

The biggest feature that you’ll make the most use out of with Lotsa is the Calendar. With the Calendar, you’ll have very granular control over who is taking care of which aspect of your relative’s care on what day and for how long.

The potential of the care calendar is nearly limitless. You can easily put important events like:

  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Scheduled visits
  • House cleanings
  • Birthdays
  • Recurring appointments
  • Lunch dates

The calendar lets you assign who gets to do what when it comes to your relative’s care. If you think that one person on your care team would be a better fit for a given task than another, you can assign them based on their ability on the calendar.

Easy Communication and Relative Support

Communicating with your relatives and the rest of their care team can often be a quagmire of emails, text messages, and other forms of communication that requires playing telephone. Lotsa removes the disorganization by locating all of the caregiving information into one single place. Seniors can view the information on Lotsa, too, allowing them to be an active participant in their care if they feel like they’re up to the task.

lotsa helping hands

With the help of Lotsa’s communication and support systems, everyone will be on the same page about what they should be doing to support your loved ones. If someone in your care community is struggling, it’s also very easy to reach out and offer your support.

Small signals of support can uplift people more than you might think, and you’ll be perfectly enabled to offer your goodwill with Lotsa. After a fall or an illness, these small signals of support could uplift you, too. With Lotsa, there’s no limitation on who can provide support of this sort, so there’s no chance for anyone to start feeling isolated after they experience a loss of mobility or something similar.

Caregiver Support

Helpers have a lot to teach each other, but rarely do they have a place to exchange tips. Lotsa offers that place in the Helper forums, where helpers everywhere can speak with each other about what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

By enabling helper to helper communication, Lotsa lets everyone on your care team up their game and provide a higher quality of care to your relatives and loved ones. Learning from other helpers is also a great way of kindling relationships with others and forming broader caregiving communities that may help each other out in the future.

Track Your Progress

Via Lotsa’s photo gallery and other progress tracking features, you can chronicle your care team’s successes and your relatives’ happiness over time. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, it might be worth taking a few pictures before using Lotsa so that your team can compare the night and day difference.

Tracking your progress is important because it’ll give you an undeniable record of how powerful well-organized care can be. Especially if you’re skeptical about having a central hub for caregiving, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the photo album’s chronicling of your increasing ability to organize care.

A Care Calendar Makes Life Easier

care calendarThe calendar is one of the core features of Lotsa that you’ll use to make your loved ones have a more comfortable life. Via the calendar, you can integrate concepts like meal calendars, medical calendars, social calendars, and other events so that your senior has a comprehensively attended to lifestyle.

Especially for core life functions like eating and getting medical attention, Lotsa enables your care team to make sure that the ball never gets dropped to the detriment of your relative. For seniors, Lotsa provides peace of mind—everything is scheduled and accounted for in an easy to understand way, so they won’t need to worry about gaps in coverage.

Often lifting the burden of anxiety about their care can massively improve the happiness and contentedness of seniors, which results in them needing less care and being more cheerful to their helpers.

Not Just for Seniors

Seniors can become an empowered member of their care team and their community using Lotsa, but it’s also an extremely powerful tool for helpers, friends and family, and community volunteers looking to pitch in.

Caregivers

Helpers using Lotsa get the advantage of having all their care duties located under one hood and with easy communications between members of the team. Likewise, helpers can directly communicate to seniors as frequently as they’d like to make sure that they don’t get lonely.

Horizontal communication from distinct caregiving groups is also possible with Lotsa. If the caregiving group responsible for providing meals is running late, they can drop a line to the helpers or family members that are currently with the senior to let them know. Likewise, seniors can communicate to their helpers that they’re in a spot of trouble and might need assistance sooner than scheduled.

Friends and Family

Friends and family are also some of the primary users of Lotsa because it gives them the ability to have a clear line of communications with their caregiving team, their senior, and other members of the caregiving community that may be able to offer them emotional support or technical tips on senior care.

Friends and family are core to using Lotsa effectively, as they’ll be the ones making the most use of the calendar and progress tracking photo albums—who wouldn’t want a lot of pictures with their smiling senior?

Volunteers

Community volunteers can also get their hands dirty using Lotsa. If anyone in the community is looking for a chance to pitch in, they’ll find plenty on the calendar or in the forums. Volunteers can fill gaps in helper coverage, help friends and family understand their senior’s challenges a bit more, and elevate themselves with the joy of community service.

Often, volunteers can give a new face for your senior to befriend and interact with. Integrating more volunteers into your family’s caregiving strategy is a great way to keep your senior’s life a bit more dynamic, which is good for their health.

If your family is looking for a volunteer opportunity, Lotsa will provide you with a limitless number within your broader care community. You’ll be able to join with other members of the website to volunteer to make seniors’ lives easier, happier, and healthier. Volunteers can organize their efforts just like helpers, meaning that everyone is fully up to date about who will be providing what service on what day.

How to Get Started

create a community

With all these features and people that are involved in Lotsa, you might be getting the impression that it’s a complicated system to get rolling. Lotsa is incredibly simple to use, and to prove it, here are the steps you’ll need to take to get your community up and running within ten minutes:

  • Sign up on LotsaHelpingHands.com
  • Create a community or join a community
  • Start adding items to the calendar
  • Introduce yourself on the message boards
  • Start tracking your progress with the photo gallery
  • Start using LHH to coordinate care
  • Coordinate with other members as needed

Never Go Without Help

Lotsa Helping Hands is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a way to coordinate your senior’s care. With Lotsa, you’ll get a central platform that you, your friends and family, seniors, and helpers can collaborate on to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in care. Given that Lotsa is free, what do you have to lose by signing up and making a community today?

How Does Low Acid Coffee Help Seniors With Digestive Disorders?

View Original Article Here: How Does Low Acid Coffee Help Seniors With Digestive Disorders?

Seniors are prone to many different digestive disorders, but even in spite of these disorders, are probably reluctant to give up their daily coffee habit. Thankfully, there’s a solution which will allow seniors to retain their coffee habit and its proven benefits while avoiding the downsides: low acid coffee.

Reduced acid coffee or acid-free coffee is a modern chemical marvel which removes one of the least desirable flavor and health elements from coffee: acid. Acid ruins the flavor of many different coffees and also is the source of most (but not all) of the potential health issues caused by coffee consumption. In this article, we’ll talk about how low acid or no acid coffee might be a healthier choice for your senior.

At least 60% of the adult population suffer from acid reflux each year. For seniors, this percentage is even higher thanks to a reduced ability of the body to effectively process acids. The acid in coffee also causes the infamous coffee heartburn, tooth decay, and general stomach perturbations.

Coffee acidity typically makes the coffee itself taste worse and varies extensively from bean to bean. If your senior is having issues with coffee acidity, avoiding espresso beans is a must—espresso beans are typically much more acidic than other coffee beans. Dark roasts are the way to go, and we’ll suggest a few later on. First, let’s discuss how digestive disorders in seniors can be exacerbated by the acid in coffee.

Seniors & Food-Related Digestive Disorders

reduced acid coffee

Because they’re not as capable of digestion as younger people, seniors are prone to several food-related digestive disorders. These disorders include acid reflux (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, or GERD, is common, even in people who aren’t seniors. Coffee is a notorious cause of acid reflux, however. We’ve all been there: the extremely unpleasant burning sensation in the throat, nausea, chest pain, and other painful and uncomfortable symptoms which occur after consumption of acid rich foods.

Acid reflux is a hassle for most people, but in seniors, it can be dangerous. Acid reflux damages the lining of internal membranes which food passes through, meaning that after reflux episodes it can be painful to eat normal and nonacidic foods. This can cause seniors to lose precious weight, which is a critical indicator of their general health.

Acid reflux can massively reduce a senior’s standard of living, often invisibly. Be on the lookout for seniors who seem to be losing weight for no discernible reason, or making gagging motions with their lower throat. Quick remedies include drinking a lot of water or over the counter acid-nullifying products.

Try not to use the over the counter acid nullifying products unless your senior is having a bad acid reflux episode. The flip side of using the over the counter products for acid reflux like Tums or Pepto Bismol is that they can cause other gastrointestinal disturbances which can hurt your senior later on, once the acid reflux episode has passed.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, all of which are unpleasant syndromes which cause extreme gastrointestinal discomfort. These syndromes aren’t linked directly to acidity or coffee consumption, though in some cases acidity can aggravate pre-existing symptoms and there’s some evidence that coffee can provide a protective effect against developing these diseases.

The main point here is to avoid aggravating your senior’s IBD or other bowel issues by consuming coffee with a high level of acidity. The acidity will cause the fragile state of the compromised gastrointestinal tract to react badly, and likely cause irritation which extends from the bowels up through the stomach and into the esophagus.

This cluster of diseases have an extremely negative impact on the senior’s quality of life and are often episodic. If acids in coffee are one of your senior’s triggers for an inflammatory episode, that means that any acid in coffee must not be drank. Days or weeks of discomfort simply aren’t worth a cup of coffee.

In rare instances, IBD and its associated diseases can be lethal. Like with acid reflux, one of the signs that your senior may be silently suffering from IBD is unexplained weight loss. Often, it’s too embarrassing to complain about the symptoms of IBD or too difficult to describe exactly where the discomfort is, so be sure to be on the lookout. Finally, flare-ups of IBD aren’t necessarily easy to correlate with drinking coffee containing acid, so be sure to get a physician to make a diagnosis to be sure.

Ulcers

Ulcers are more common in people that consume lots of highly acidic foods and drinks. In seniors, ulcers are areas of irritation within the stomach lining that can be caused by excess coffee intake. Ulcers may or may not be a chronic condition, and they don’t form overnight.

Like many other issues plaguing seniors as a result of excess acid consumption, ulcers can be silently harming your senior and cause them to lose weight via lowered appetite due to nausea after eating or drinking. It can also be hard to diagnose an ulcer without a medical imaging scan, so it’s best to try to avoid them in the first place.

If your senior has a history of getting ulcers and is complaining of abdominal pain, nausea, excess gas, or insomnia because of their stomach issues, you should get them to a doctor and see whether their coffee consumption is the cause of their ulcers.

Constipation

Seniors are extra prone to constipation because of the reduced efficiency of their gut motility cells. Coffee or prune juice are traditionally excellent treatments for constipation, but in rare instances, coffee can cause or worsen constipation via its acidity.

The cause and effect should be easy to figure out here: your senior will drink coffee, then soon complain about being blocked. There’s no guarantee that a switch to acid-free coffee will solve this issue if it’s a chronic one, but it’s worth a shot.

Diarrhea

Seniors who drink too much coffee or who drink coffee too quickly are likely to encounter bouts of diarrhea, causing them to be uncomfortable and potentially lose weight or become dehydrated. If it’s the acidity of the coffee that the senior is drinking that is causing diarrhea, the solution is to switch to a lower-acid coffee.

If your senior is simply drinking too much coffee, advise them to cool down for a while—or at least drink a cup of water and eat a snack with each unit of coffee to avoid becoming depleted.

How the Elderly Benefit from Low Acid Coffee

The elderly can derive some benefits from low acid or acid-free coffee:

These benefits are substantial and warrant finding a tasty low or no acid coffee bean for your senior’s enjoyment. The biggest benefit is that a low acidity coffee will avoid triggering your senior’s acid related health issues, which can massively impact their standard of living and enjoyment of life. It’s no fun to have an irritated gastrointestinal tract, and it tends to prevent seniors from enjoying their favorite activities and eventually becomes medically dangerous as a result of weight loss, dehydration, isolation, and tissue damage.

Don’t let your senior suffer because of the wrong coffee bean—picking a bean that can give the satisfaction of coffee without the risk of triggering a health problem is relatively easy, and we’ll help you in the sections below.

How to Identify Coffee with Low Acidity Levels

The acidity of coffee will vary from bean to bean, but there are a few general tips which will help you locate the better coffee for your senior. First, avoid all espresso beans. Espresso beans tend to be much higher in acid content than other coffee beans and cannot be non-acidic coffee.

This means that you should avoid buying arabica cultivar coffee beans unless they’re specifically marketed as having highly reduced acid content or no acid content whatsoever. You can usually determine the cultivar by reading the vessel of the coffee beans. Robusta cultivar beans are typically less acidic, but there’s no ironclad guarantee, just rules of thumb.

As far as the taste goes, coffee that tastes acidic is known for the way that it invigorates the tongue, with what some describe as an electric sensation. If you sample a cup of coffee and immediately detect this—or a churning of your gut—there’s a good chance that the coffee has a high acidity and isn’t suitable for senior consumption.

Though human experimentation isn’t ethical, it goes without saying that you should probably sample the coffee that you’re going to offer to your senior as a low acid alternative to ensure that the taste agrees with the marketing. Even if you’re not an experienced coffee drinker, you can easily discern the high acidity of an espresso from the low acidity of a dark French roast. Lower acidity coffees will taste more like the dark French roast than the espresso as a rule.

If you’re science inclined, it’s easy enough to perform litmus tests to get measurements of how acidic different types of coffee are. While certainly a fun learning opportunity for younger relatives, your senior relatives may not appreciate the turning of their kitchen into a laboratory.

If squinting at coffee boxes or doing chemistry isn’t for you, opt for one of the established low or no acid coffee beans that are on the market. These beans come with the guarantee of low or no acidity as their primary feature and make up for their weaknesses in flavor with their guaranteed healthiness for your senior.

Best Low Acid Coffee Brands

Thankfully, some different companies produce low or no acid coffees which your senior will love. We stand by these companies and their products, and we can promise that your senior will love a steaming hot cup from any one of them.

You can find your senior’s favorite roast and type of bean in any of the offerings from the companies below, just make sure that the low acid promise extends to the bean that you end up buying.

Trucup

trucup

Trucup offers reduced acid coffees in six different roasts. You can purchase Trucup’s offerings as whole bean, ground up, or as single-serving K-cups, which is a nice extra touch if your senior has the right machine at home. Trucup coffees are palatable and will give your senior the benefits of coffee without having to suffer from the penalties associated with acid unless they drink too much.

For seniors that are extremely sensitive to acid and enjoy drinking large volumes of coffee, Trucup may be a bit of a gamble.

Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic

don pablo subtle earth organic

Don Pablo’s Subtle Earth Organic Coffee isn’t specifically advertised as a low-acid coffee, and it is an arabica cultivar bean. While it does have a great flavor profile, its acid content is higher than the other offerings that we’ll discuss today.

This bean is perfect for seniors who only have a small problem with acid, and who are sticklers for a good taste. Don Pablo’s coffee is very smooth, has a great array of chocolatey earthy flavors, and has an excellent dark roast—which you should buy for your senior if you’re concerned about acid content in the coffee.

As an added benefit, the Don Pablo line of coffees are all organically harvested and procured via fair trade. While these likely aren’t huge concerns for your senior and their coffee consumption habits, it’s important to buy from sustainable sources so that the seniors of the future have a chance to taste low acidity coffee, too.

Puroast Coffee

puroast-coffee

Puroast Coffee offers what it claims is a 70% reduction in the amount of acid contained in the coffee bean. It also claims to have seven times as many antioxidants as other coffee beans, making them a coffee that should be healthier than its counterparts even if acid isn’t a concern. It’s far from certain that your senior will benefit from the increased antioxidants inside Puroast’s coffee, but they can’t hurt.

Puroast does still have some acid remaining, but your senior will probably love their beans and have no health issues unless they’re particularly sensitive to the small amounts of acid that remain.

Healthwise

healthwise coffee

Healthwise Coffee offers TechnoRoasted™ coffee beans which reduces their acidity to within the range of mineral water. While this reduction doesn’t make Healthwise’ coffee beans acid-free, it does make them the winners of the lowest acid quantity on this list.

Healthwise Coffee is suitable for the seniors that are the most vulnerable to acidity within their coffee bean. You’d have to drink quite a large amount of Healthwise Coffee to have to suffer from any negative effects resulting from its acidity as a senior.

Tieman’s Fusion

tiemans fusion coffee

Tieman’s Fusion Coffee offers low acidity coffee, which should be appropriate for most seniors who struggle with the acid content of their coffee. Concerningly, Tieman’s lists the pH of their coffee beans as percentages, which indicates a lack of understanding of the metric.

If we give them the benefit of the doubt and interpret their percentages as absolute pH values (which is the correct way of expressing the metric), we can see that their coffee beans are indeed quite low in acidity, though they’re a few hairs more acidic than Healthwise’s offerings.

If your senior struggles with acid in their coffee, Tieman’s beans offer a large selection which will probably allow them to avoid acid related issues when they have their coffee.

Say Goodbye to Acid

Thankfully, if your senior slips up and has coffee with a higher acid content once in a while, it probably isn’t a big deal. Most of the damages caused by higher acidity in coffee reside after a day or two, and if your senior has managed themselves well, they’ll likely be back to tip top shape in no time flat after a brief encounter with acid.

It’s a lot easier to avoid slip-ups if you provide your senior with a few different acid-free coffee options, though. Having multiple different acid free coffees on hand will let your senior enjoy the feeling of making choices and ferreting out favorites among the different beans we’ve suggested.

Finding a low acid coffee for your senior is a major health issue that you shouldn’t take lightly if your senior loves coffee. The coffee itself is a great mood lifter and is broadly healthy, and your senior deserves to enjoy a warm cup of earthy liquid if they have their entire lives. Just opt for one of the brands which we’ve suggested here, and your senior will be ready to enjoy the tasty and healthier coffee that won’t exacerbate their symptoms or start new problems.

Seniors Can Now Lower the Potential of Identity Theft with MySSA

View Original Article Here: Seniors Can Now Lower the Potential of Identity Theft with MySSA

Signing up for MySSA and using it regularly can now help reduce identity theft risks that have plagued senior citizens for years. 

Metlife Mature Market Institute estimates that senior citizens lose a minimum of $2.9 billion a year to identity thieves. There are several ways a criminal can steal someone’s identity, and elders were particularly susceptible to a few tactics.

One of the more common ways in which seniors’ identities become compromised is through the mail. For instance, any criminal can easily access an elderly victim’s mail which may contain sensitive information such as social security checks or credit card statements.

Introducing the My Social Security Account

Creating a My Social Security Account is one of the first steps everyone should take in preventing future identity theft.

myssa

Even if you’re a few years from collecting social security, the account will allow you to access your Social Security Statement, obtain estimates of your future benefits, and verify your earnings. You can even request a replacement social security card from the comfort of your own home.

Those who already receive benefits can use their MySSA account to get proof of their benefits, change contact information, change direct deposit information, and replace a lost or stolen Medicare Card. A My Social Security Account provides more than just security. It provides an easy way to access necessary information without tedious steps.

Senior Citizens & Identity Theft Risk

Identity theft occurs when a criminal accesses someone’s personal information and uses it to steal money from their victim. Thieves can clean out bank accounts and ruin credit with only a few pieces of identifying information.

Seniors are at the greatest risk of having their identity stolen. People were more trustworthy when they were growing up. Seniors are more likely to think that the stranger on the phone has their best interest in mind, and are less liable to be suspicious.

Seniors often have a considerable amount of savings compared to the rest of us, which means they are one of the more lucrative targets for identity thieves. Adults over 50 control at least 70% of the national household net worth. Seniors are especially vulnerable and offer a large sum of money to those who want to take advantage of them, which makes them a perfect target for identity criminals.

Online Phishing

Identity theft has been a concern for a long time, and the methods criminals use are developing. Online identity theft is becoming an increasing worry, especially among elderly users who aren’t as computer literate.

Online thieves often send spam emails to their victims asking for personal information. These emails may appear to come from a reputable source, such as Amazon or eBay, but they’re a criminal impersonating a company.

Online Exposure

Sometimes criminals can gain access to information through insecure websites. Seniors may not be as confident on the computer as the rest of the population. They are more likely to click on suspicious links and visit unsafe websites. When this is the case, the victim may not be aware that they put their identifying information at risk before it’s too late.

Fraudulent Phone Calls

Another way criminals get hold of personal information is through phone calls. Criminals specifically target seniors over the phone due to their trusting nature and lack of online presence.

There are several ways a criminal can extract information over the phone. Sometimes they pretend to be the IRS, other times they’ll pretend to represent a charity. Seniors are trusting, so it’s far more likely that they’ll divulge some of their personal information for a chance to help a worthy cause.

The phone calls seniors receive make it clear that they are the ones who criminals target at a larger rate. After the age of 60, people are more likely to receive scam phone calls. They could be offering assistance on a computer, telling you they can reduce your pain, or extorting money out of you by telling you you’re in debt to the IRS. Remember, no legitimate organization will require that you offer any personal information over the phone.

Credit Card Theft

Physical theft has never changed, and the prospect of thieves stealing seniors’ credit cards and wallets are always a concern. A person may not even notice that someone stole their credit card if it was a card they barely use. Theft has always been a slight fear for those who are older, but criminals are making it, so they don’t even have to steal your wallet anymore.

Lately, criminals have made it even easier to take their victim’s information. They no longer have to steal the physical card to take the information. Identity thieves place small scanning devices on credit card machines, allowing them to take the number and run up a tab before anyone notices.

Mail Scams

Just because a senior isn’t active online doesn’t mean identity thieves can’t target them by the “phishing” method. Criminals use regular mail to accomplish the same results as they do online.

The thieves send their victims letters that appear to be from a reputable source – somewhere like a bank or doctor’s office. These letters will request some personal information, and anyone who sends something back to these thieves will usually end up losing a considerable amount of information

Mail Theft

Thieves stealing information from the mail has been a problem for as long as identity theft has been around. This method is one of the oldest, and criminals still use it. Seniors are especially susceptible to mail theft because they frequently receive checks and statements that contain sensitive information.

mail theft

There are several ways in which criminals will steal mail. They can steal it right out of a mailbox, or they can go dumpster-diving to look for documents containing social security numbers and account information. Since seniors usually have a lot more money saved-up, they are one of the best victims for identity thieves who use this method.

Thieves who steal mail can victimize the elderly in a few ways. They can cash checks on the victim’s behalf, but one of the more common methods thieves use is to take the personal information off of the documents they find in the trash. Social Security checks and statements are of specific concern, as these offer multiple forms of identifying information.

Using the information gathered off of a Social Security Statement, thieves can make a profit in various ways. They can bill insurance companies for services, file taxes under the victim’s name, and many other means of making money. These thieves can even target a person after they have died, using the deceased’s information to collect checks and benefits.

A MySSA Account Can Prevent Senior ID Theft

As a whole, seniors are the most vulnerable to mail theft. Computers may not come as second-nature to senior citizens who prefer to receive information in paper form. Unfortunately, receiving paper copies of your Social Security Statement puts you at extreme risk of having your identity compromised by criminals.

Creating a MySSA account is one of the best ways to ensure your identity is well protected. In your account, you can access your Social Security Statement without receiving any mail. This feature eliminates the threat of criminals stealing the mail and using it for their own gain.

For additional security, the My Social Security Account now requires a two-step verification process, where the user is sent a one-time security code when they log in.

On top of the security, the My Social Security Account provides, there are also several features that will make future interactions much simpler. You won’t have to call or send a letter to change any of your preferences. Just log on and make the changes yourself.

The best form of protection from identity theft is to remove the tools that criminals use. Viewing your Social Security online instead of on-paper gives thieves one less way to steal your identity.

How to Create an Online Social Security Account

Creating a MySSA account couldn’t be simpler than it already is. It’s a secure way to ensure that your information is safe and out of the hands of criminals who want to steal from you.

You will provide some of your information to ensure that more of your information isn’t compromised. Follow these simple Social Security account setup steps to protect yourself against people with malicious intent.

  • Make sure you have a valid Email address: If you don’t use your computer much, you may be lacking a valid Email address. You need an Email address create a Social Security Account. There are several free options available online, including Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and many others. Choose which site you like best and make an account.
  • Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount
  • Select “Sign In or Create an Account.”
  • Select “Create an Account.”
  • Read the Terms of Service and check the box “I agree to the Terms of Service.” Then select “Next.”
  • On the next page, enter your first name, last name, and middle initial as it appears on your social security card.
  • Enter your Social Security Number
  • Enter your Date of Birth, Home Address, and Phone Number
  • Adding Extra Security: At this stage, the site will ask you if you want to add additional security to your account. If you select “Yes, let’s start now,” then you will be given three options that will offer your account further verification and extra security. Select “Next” once you are finished adding your information to this page.
  • Answer the Personal Questions: These questions are designed in a way that only the user will know the answers. Make sure that you keep this information secure as well. Select “Next” after you have finished answering.
  • Create a Username and Password: Your username must contain between 8 and 20 letters and/or numbers. These letters and numbers cannot be part of your name or your Social Security Number. Your password must also contain a minimum of 8 characters, and has to have at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one symbol (such as !,@,#,$,%, etc.)
  • Add your Email address.
  • Select Password Reset Questions: These questions offer further security in the case that you forgot your password. Make sure to select questions that provide memorable answers but won’t be too obvious to anyone who may try to be fraudulently accessing your account. Select “Next” when you are finished.
  • Choose How You Want Your Security Code Sent: In this section, you will be asked to provide a means of communication for your one-time security code. If you have a cell phone, you can have the number texted to you. If you don’t have a phone capable of receiving texts or don’t want to receive your code this way, you can have the code sent via email. You can change your registered email at this time.
  • Enter Your Security Code: If you entered your email or phone number correctly. You will receive a one-time security code to enter into this box. Take note that this code only lasts for ten minutes, so if you miss the window you’ll have to receive a new code.
  • Account Created: If you have completed these steps correctly, you will get a message telling you that you have successfully created your account.
  • Signing In: Each time you sign in, you will be required to enter your Email address and password, along with a security code that My Social Security Account will text to your phone or send to you via Email.
  • Visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 for more information. TTY number is 1-800-325-0778 for those who are hard of hearing.

About 15 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to these threats due to their trusting nature and larger savings. One of the easiest ways to stop criminals from accessing your mail is to eliminate the identity theft risks. Use MySSA to prevent identity thieves from stealing your Social Security Statements and putting you and your family at risk.

Enjoy Your Newfound Freedom with These Unique Ideas for Retirement

View Original Article Here: Enjoy Your Newfound Freedom with These Unique Ideas for Retirement

retirement ideas

Americans aged 65 and older are among a vast and dynamic part of the population. However, they also face a unique and very particular set of problems. According to reports, roughly two-thirds of Americans exit the workforce by the time they reach age 66. There are some who retire even earlier than that.

Some aging Americans can ease into retirement without batting an eye. On the other hand, researchers suggest that there are some who suffer from boredom and depression after retirement. If you are among the aging population of Americans, you should develop retirement ideas before retiring. Developing plans and goals for your retirement years can help you enjoy the time more sufficiently.

Before Retirement

Before you retire, there are certain plans you should make. For instance, you should consider your financial plans. To make the most of your retirement, you should develop hobbies and goals. While there are many activities you can do, some are going to cost money.

You should work to have your finances in order before retirement. You should also work on retirement ideas before exiting the workforce. In fact, some of the things you should do the following before you retire:

  • Meet with a financial advisor to plan your retirement investments
  • Talk to your spouse or partner about your retirement ideas
  • Take into consideration that the IRS will continue to tax your income after retirement
  • Create a bucket list of interests, hobbies, and places you would like to visit
  • Assess your personal budget
  • Review the process you will face through Social Security
  • Determine the financial standing of your estate
  • Evaluate your bank account to ensure coverage of any drafts

Each of the ideas given above can help you kickstart your retirement with a measure of ease and success. You can focus less on financial worries and more on activities and adventures that you would like to accomplish.

As an added suggestion, make sure you also participate in a retirement plan. Experts suggest that participation in retirement plans has declined over the years, even among individuals nearing retirement age. Involvement in a retirement plan can help you better plan financially for your exit from the workforce.

After Retirement

After retirement, you have several options. To make use of all those options, you must be willing to try out new things. Your best bet is to set goals and use your imagination. Set goals to do things that you have been wanting to do and have not been able to do while working. You should also set goals to do things that you have never done before. Learning new things keeps the brain active and allows the mind to stay sharp.

Perhaps you have children and grandchildren who live in another state. If it has been awhile since you visited them, make it a point to take the time to do so. Grandchildren benefit mentally and emotionally from their relationship with you. Maybe you have friends that you would like to catch up with, or perhaps you would just rather enjoy some time to yourself or with your spouse.

No matter what goals you want to set for yourself now that you are retired, make sure you follow through with them. If you are stuck trying to develop some retirement ideas, try the ideas listed below:

  • Enjoy the fresh air by taking up gardening
  • Exercise more by going for walks or bicycling
  • Start a collection (coins, stamps, etc.)
  • Join a club, such as chess, and compete against like-minded individuals
  • Find activities near you, such as bingo, where you can likely meet new people and make friends
  • Schedule a vacation for you or you and your spouse
  • Take some time to yourself and go fishing
  • Learn a new skill, such as boating
  • Plan gatherings at your house where you can host card games
  • If your living situation allows, purchase a pet to have as a companion
  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter so you can stay active
  • Take the time to visit with your neighbors more often
  • Enjoy a new craft activity, such as crochet
  • Be more active with activities like golf
  • Pamper yourself by visiting a spa and receiving a well-deserved massage

There is absolutely no limit to the things you can do after you retire. All it takes is the willingness to try new things, meet new people, and fulfill the goals you set. There are plenty of retirement activities you can find to do if you take the time to look for them.

Help with Ideas

When trying to figure out what to do in retirement, it is sometimes best to ask for help from people you know. Friends and family members can offer some great ideas for retirement. In fact, there might be some friends or family members who would like to participate in retirement hobbies with you. The stronger your relationship with your family, the more likely it is that you can seek them out for help.

Participating in activities and hobbies after you retire is a terrific way to get back in touch with the people you love. You should take the time to visit friends and members of your family as much as you invest in time for yourself.

Taking time for yourself is great, of course, but it is also an excellent idea to enjoy the company of others. In fact, enjoying the company of others can help combat any feelings of depression, loneliness, and boredom.

Have your friends and family help you in creating a bucket list. Do your best to fulfill that bucket list as best you can. You can accomplish goals you have always wanted to achieve while also trying new things. Retirement gives you a chance to release your adventurous side.

Of course, you can always relax within the quiet confines of your home and enjoy a delightful book, but it is just as good to get out and mingle. In fact, you should find the right balance between quiet solo activities and fun group activities.

Asking for help with retirement activities from friends and family gives you an excuse to visit the people you care about and love. Perhaps you can even find common interests that you share with others by asking them for ideas and suggestions.

Stay in Touch After Retirement

Part of what makes retirement so difficult for some is because it marks the end of something so familiar. If you think about it, people often spend 40 hours a week working. Some people retire from their careers after 20 years or more.

In other words, that is 20 years that a person spent getting up, going to work, performing the same routines and seeing the same faces. Retirement disrupts that process, which is difficult for at least some individuals.

One of the best retirement ideas is to celebrate this new chapter in your life by staying in touch with people. You can celebrate by meeting up with your former co-workers outside of the workspace. Ask your buddies to join you for a BBQ, card game, or a drink at the bar.

Plan a retirement party so you can invite friends, family, and co-workers to help you celebrate. Throughout the party, make it a point to talk to your guests and find activities that you might share. There might be someone else attending the party who is either nearing retirement or recently retired.

Finding ways to maintain contact with others can make accepting this new chapter of your life easier and far more shocking. Even planned retirement can have an impact on a person. For the first few days or weeks, you may feel happy and excited, but as it sets in that your daily routine is now different, you may start to feel dumbfounded and depressed. Men are especially vulnerable to these feelings.

Rather than focusing on any of the negatives of retirement, focus on all the positives by making it a constant celebration. Your relationship with former co-workers does not have to end. In fact, you now have more opportunities interact with them at your disposal.

Search Your Local Options

There are likely many local retirement opportunities for you. There are often plenty of organizations that offer activities and clubs for retired groups of individuals. Finding out who hosts activities and clubs for retirees is perhaps the best retirement idea there is.

Many organized activities cater to retired individuals from all walks of life. Joining a group of people for weekly events allows you to discover new interests and hobbies. It also gives you the chance to meet someone who shares the same likes and dislikes as you.

Your ability to make new friends doesn’t stop because you retire. In fact, you should make every effort possible to meet someone new and befriend them. Going out to local activities or attending organized events catered toward retirees is an ideal way to do just that.

You can often find local options by searching online, asking around among your local community, or even checking the news. Your local newspaper often posts events throughout your area so that you never miss the opportunity to get out and enjoy something new.

Once you find a group or organization that hosts activities you enjoy, make sure you stick with it. Attending events like that can also provide you with new retirement ideas you might not have thought of before. In fact, you should ask other retirees for some ideas to see what hobbies or interests they enjoy.

Another local option would be a part-time job. Many retirees who hold a part-time job report feeling much happier compared to those who do not have a part-time job to occupy their time. Typically, you would want to stick with something you know, so try finding something that is like what you did throughout your career.

No matter what you choose to do, the key is to just enjoy your retirement to the best of your ability. Have fun, relax, revel in the peace and quiet of solitude or welcome the fact that you can visit with friends and family more often. That is the best way to make your retirement the best it can be.

Nursing Home Signs You May Not Be Noticing

View Original Article Here: Nursing Home Signs You May Not Be Noticing

when is it time for assisted living

As the population ages, more family members find themselves taking care of elderly parents, grandparents or other loved ones. It can be difficult to care for loved ones while working, caring for your children, and keeping up with social commitments. You will likely arrive at a crossroads where you’re forced to ask “when is it time for assisted living?”

While many family members do not want to consider committing their loved ones to an institution like an assisted living facility or a nursing home, it isn’t always possible to move them into your house. As loved ones’ medical conditions worsen, they may need around the clock care, which you may not be able to provide.

Decreased Mobility

Approximately 19 million people in the United States have mild to severe mobility issues, with the median age being between 59 to 67 years old. Disease and trauma can cause changes in gait and balance. The primary concern for people with mobility problems is the increasing likelihood of falls.

Having poor balance or changes in the ability to walk is a common cause of falls for older adults. Falling can lead to serious injuries which can further limit mobility, result in a loss of independence and reduce their quality of life. Some senior citizens do not recover well after falling. Broken bones and hip injuries can become fatal.

If a loved one shows increasing signs of not being able to get around without assistance, then they will need continuous care. You may need to consider asking, “when is it time for assisted living?”

Even if they use a walker, cane or wheelchair, there can be obstacles in a house which can increase their risk of falls. Toys left out on the floor, attempting to go up or down stairs or even a pet can accidentally trip them and further limit their mobility.

Poor Hygiene

If you notice a loved who used to be fastidious often wears the same clothes or their clothes appear dirty, they are unshaven, or their hair hasn’t been washed, this can indicate they are no longer able to care for themselves. While forgetfulness can lead to poor hygiene, so can depression, dementia and physical problems which limit their ability to take care of themselves.

Poor hygiene habits make people look dirty and cause body odor. They may eat without washing their hands, garbage may not be disposed of properly, and they may have poor bathroom habits. These problems may result in illness. Pests, which can carry diseases, may also enter a messy home where they can find food.

Poor hygiene can result in parasitic infections of the hair and skin, the skin can become infected due to bacteria or fungi and food poisoning, or gastrointestinal problems can result from poor toileting habits or not washing hands before eating. Further complications can arise from these issues, such as dehydration, which in some elderly patients can be fatal.

If your loved one shows signs of poor hygiene habits, putting them in an assisted care facility will ensure they get the assistance in staying clean. There will be people to help them bathe, use the toilet, do their laundry and keep their room neat. Some of these problems can help answer the question, when is it time for assisted living? The following video sheds more light on the issue:

Cognitive Declines

While the memory sometimes isn’t as sharp when you’re older, severe cognitive declines are usually due to health issues. Caregivers may start noticing both short- and long-term memory problems, confusion, coordination problems and impaired judgment. Cognitive problems are the result of damage to the brain, either by trauma, genetics, or by abusing drugs and alcohol. Certain medical conditions, such as dementia, can also result in cognitive disorders.

Dementia and Cognitive Dysfunction

Since all forms of dementia affect the brain, it usually results in some form of cognitive problems. Mild Cognitive Impairment, MCI, is common in many older people and is often the first stage of dementia. Its symptoms may include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequently misplacing or losing objects.
  • Trouble remembering words.
  • Become more impulsive.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.

Although some people who have MCI can get better, others will usually experience steady declines if they are diagnosed with some form of dementia.

As cognitive abilities diminish, many seniors may become more irritable, apathetic and depressed. This degradation of cognition may result in family members questioning when is it time for assisted living care for their loved ones?

However, it’s unclear whether depression develops because of declines in mobility and cognitive functioning or if it contributes to the development and progression of reduced cognitive abilities.

Poor Eating Habits

Further evidence of someone’s inability to care for themselves is poor nutrition and eating habits. Many older people will lose weight, their clothes will start looking baggy, and poor nutrition can cause tiredness.

Sometimes people with dementia will forget to eat. Poor dental hygiene may affect their ability to chew food; decreased mobility functions will make it difficult for them to feed themselves or, if they’ve developed depression, they may not feel like eating.

Poor nutrition can further complicate many of the conditions a senior may have, and it can weaken the immune system. A weakened immune system can lead to developing infections, their wounds may not heal well, and the risk of falling can increase because of weaker muscles. A person who has a poor diet may not get enough liquids. Especially a lack of water, which can result in dehydration.

Dehydration presents problems because in some cases, it causes an older adult to become very ill. Severe dehydration can be fatal. During the summer, someone who is dehydrated may not be able to perspire to cool their bodies. As a result, they can become overheated and may succumb to the heat. There are several factors for older people that lead to dehydration, such as:

  • Inability to retain water.
  • Stress
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes.
  • Medications
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating too few carbohydrates.

When is it time for nursing home care? Poor nutrition may be a major hint. Professional caretakers can help seniors to remain in better health through a balanced diet. When a loved one isn’t getting the proper nutrition, an assigned living facility might be necessary.

Changes in Personality

As their physical or mental health declines, some older people may develop changes in their personalities. Where they were once outgoing and friendly, they may become withdrawn and quiet. Especially if they are grieving or undergoing changes in their health that they don’t understand.

They can also become abusive or aggressive seemingly without cause, but certain forms of dementia, infections, strokes, depression, and traumatic brain injuries are the common causes for such personality changes.

Personality changes with Alzheimer’s patients are common as the disease progresses. Another type of dementia, called frontotemporal dementia, affects the parts of the brain responsible for behavior and emotions. These parts are the frontal and temporal lobe.

As you can see from the image, the frontal and temporal lobes are located behind the forehead and around the ears. Behavioral, personality, and changes in relationships are some of the prominent, early signs of this form of dementia. It most often develops among 50 and 60-year-olds, but people in their 20’s or as late as their 80’s can develop it as well.

As the disease progresses, a patient’s ability to form words and understand them may be affected, their muscles may weaken, and some patients develop ALS, or their muscles in their body, including the eye muscles, may stiffen. Someone with this type of dementia may need more help than a sole caretaker.

Links to Depression

Depression also links to the other problems listed above. While depression can be situational and result from losing cognitive abilities, reduced mobility and changes in personality, it can cause some of these conditions. Depression can lead to:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of interest in taking care of oneself
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide

Although depression affects nearly 6 million people 65 and older, only about 10% get help for it. If you notice signs of depression in an elderly loved one, notify their doctor.

With the population getting older, families often take on the responsibility of caring for loved ones at home. Certain conditions can make things complicated. If you find that you continually wonder “when is it time for assisted living care?”, the time may be now.

Have you had any experience with needing to place loved ones in assisted living? If so, tell us your story below.

Erasing the Stigma of Geriatric Anxiety and Learning to Help

View Original Article Here: Erasing the Stigma of Geriatric Anxiety and Learning to Help

anxiety in the elderly

The effects of anxiety disorders are becoming ever more prevalent in our society. Even with new research shining a light on how many Americans suffer from these varying disorders, we have only begun to scratch the surface. This is especially true when it comes to understanding anxiety in the elderly.

Higher rates of loss, increased pain, chronic conditions, and multiple medications can all increase the levels of anxiety in senior citizens. This makes having the discussion about geriatric anxiety a crucial factor in aiding our loved ones who are suffering.

Understanding Anxiety

We all experience anxiety to a certain degree, and it can even help us to be more productive in our daily lives. However, higher levels become disruptive and unhealthy. The effects leave thousands feeling crippled by pain and fear.

It is important to understand that these disorders are genuine biochemical disturbances, often the aftermath of a traumatic event or a genetic predisposition. They are not sign of weakness or a lack of character, and in no way make someone “crazy”. In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health states that tens of millions of people are experiencing the effects of anxiety every year.

Signs of anxiety in the elderly come in a broad range of forms and signals. The most common of these appear when an elderly person is excessively worrying. Sounding outlandish, or even bizarre, many find themselves dismissing these fears as all in the person’s head.

Active listening is an important part of care for the elderly. Taking their concerns into consideration not only helps to ease their anxiety, but can also reveal immediate dangers to their wellbeing such as criminals. In some cases, hearing what they have to say reveals that they may need therapy to help cope with a traumatic event.

While it is certainly challenging to imagine what those with these conditions are experiencing, it is important to be sympathetic when the signs arise in any demographic. The more empathy we display towards mental disorders, the closer we become to properly diagnosing and treating those who suffer.

The Major Forms of Anxiety

There are seven major types of anxiety existing in today’s known psychological realm that have a prevalent impact on the elderly. Learning to identify the signs and symptoms makes all the difference in getting an elderly individual the help that they need. These disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias

Each is defined according to its own characteristics, and require different forms of treatment. While research is being done on the effects these conditions have on the elderly, we still know very little on how these conditions vary with age. There are, however, signs that you can be aware of.

This video does an excellent job of illustrating the experiences of a person with these conditions. Understanding any form of anxiety without experiencing it ourselves is a challenging task. However, there are professionals out there who are working hard to shed some light on the subject.

In the video, Marie-Ann Schull is speaking about both anxiety and depression. The symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression may overlap. Depression and anxiety combined can be even more difficult to cope with. Identifying the symptoms and seeking the proper treatment can help save a life.

Below are general descriptions that outline the symptoms associated with each of the major anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Pessimism or reacting in an exaggeratedly depressed manner over minor setbacks may indicate Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is a chronic condition accompanied by insomnia, aches and pains, exhaustion, and restlessness.

These symptoms must last at least 6 months to be considered signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Excessively worrying about finances, health, and relationships are the most common displays of GAD.  However, showing severe distress over something as simple as a television remote ceasing to work can be a sign as well.

Social Anxiety

Those who are terrified by social interaction for fear of judgment have Social Anxiety. Having a harder time hearing, suddenly needing to use a walker, and incontinence can all cause an elderly person to develop this form of anxiety. It inhibits their desire to be around other people, and if left untreated victims tend to isolate themselves often.

Social Anxiety begins as a very simply matter of embarrassment, slowly increasing into a more crippling disorder. It is important to talk with your loved one when major changes are occurring in their lives. Speaking with them is a great way to help them through these difficult times.

Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD

A sudden onset of anger, insomnia, agitation, or violent outbursts are all symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event. Something related to that event triggers these reactions, and causes the victim to relive the trauma they witnessed or experienced. Identifying the trigger is the first step in helping them cope with what caused this disorder in the first place.

Many veterans suffer from PTSD, as do victims of sexual assault and physical battery. Those suffering from Acute Stress have recently witnessed or were subject to a traumatic event, usually within one month, while those with PTSD are experiencing this pain long after the event has taken place. Even though their symptoms are overlapping, each requires extensive therapy to truly heal the person suffering.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

If you are noticing sudden repetitive behavior or obsessive thoughts that interfere with a loved one’s daily life, they more than likely have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These impulses are uncontrollable, and often harmless aside from the person feeling that they need to do them. However, they can extend into repeated thoughts of harm to one’s self or others.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes in the form of thoughts, actions, or both. Motor tics accompanying OCD are not uncommon, including repeated vocal and motor functions. If these symptoms are sounding familiar to you, there are methods of screening to identify this condition.

Phobias

It is highly common to develop phobias later in one’s life. Experiencing or witnessing a frightening situation often causes a phobia to develop. While a fear of snakes or traveling on an airplane is typical, developing an irrational phobia can severely inhibit the quality of anyone’s life.

A sudden and intense fear of treatment can cause undue stress and anxiety in the elderly. Fearing hypodermic needles, cramped spaces, or even caretakers makes it terrifying for these individuals to receive the care they need. Therapists are working wonders in the treatment of phobias, and can help you or someone you know to overcome them.

Panic Attacks

This type of attack is a sudden onset of overwhelming fear and anxiety without a terrifying event. A pounding heart and inability to breathe often accompany these attacks. An experience like this is extremely frightening for people of any age. Any of the above disorders are known for causing panic attacks in the elderly.

Growing older causes the body to become frailer over time. Panic attacks wreak havoc on heart conditions, trouble breathing, and other symptoms. While it less common for an elderly person to experience the symptoms of a panic disorder, those who suffer from them are at an increased risk.

Aid and Treatment for the Elderly

If you are noticing any of the above symptoms in an elderly friend or family member, it is important to notify their current caretakers or doctor. Letting these symptoms go can result in worsening of the condition or even harm to the person in question. Thankfully, there are a variety of treatments proving effective in helping with anxiety in the elderly.

One of the most effective treatments is seeking the help of a professional. A licensed therapist, skilled counselor, or social worker can all provide aid.

Medications including Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft display a great effectiveness in helping those with anxiety disorders cope with the associated symptoms. It is important to exercise caution when prescribing an elderly person with a new treatment. Talking with a physician helps you to better understand what is being prescribed, and any necessary safety measures.

Anxiety in the elderly is just as prevalent as any other demographic. Addressing their symptoms and disorders is extremely important for their overall wellbeing. Identifying the signs, actively listening to their fears, and understanding their need for treatment are the best ways to help.

Do you know someone suffering from any of these anxiety disorders? We encourage you to share your story with us in the comments section below!

Offering Comfort Through the Stages of Death and Dying

View Original Article Here: Offering Comfort Through the Stages of Death and Dying

stages of death

Death is not a subject that is easy to discuss. Yet, it’s something we all must face someday. If you have a loved one who is nearing this time, it can be helpful to know what to expect throughout the stages of death. While the timeline of death may vary, there are three stages of death that most people will experience. Knowing these stages can help you to be helpful and supportive during this difficult time.

The Physical Stage

The first stage that a person will experience is the physical stage. This stage involves a wide variety physical signs and symptoms that manifest themselves as the body prepares for death. While not everyone will experience these symptoms, it’s likely they will experience some combination of several of them.

Loss of Appetite

As a person approaches the end of their life, their need for energy declines. Foods that were once a source of enjoyment are now difficult to consume and digest. They will prefer foods that are easier to eat and blander in flavor. When this occurs, it’s best to cater to their requests and help them to slowly consume small amounts of food.

Excessive Fatigue and Sleeping

The person may begin to sleep for many hours throughout the day and night. If a person has lost their appetite, it will cause their metabolism to slow down. As the metabolism slows, the body feels an increasing need to sleep. If your loved one is manifesting these symptoms, it’s best to allow them to rest. Try to avoid the desire to wake them as they need this sleep.

Coolness

As the metabolism slows, you may notice your loved one’s extremities are cool to the touch. This is due to a decrease in blood circulation. When this occurs, the body is attempting to conserve its energy and direct the blood flow to the vital organs.

This decrease in circulation will cause a person’s extremities to be cool to the touch. You may also notice their skin looks paler or even has a slight blue tint.

If your loved one’s skin feels cool to the touch, add an extra blanket to help keep them from getting too chilled.

Urine Decrease

When less food and drink is being consumed, the need to urinate will lessen. A significant drop in blood pressure will also affect this, as the kidneys will be forced to shut down. The urine that is produced will be a dark brown or reddish color due to the lack of hydration. This can be alarming but is a common part of the stages of death.

Change in Breathing Pattern

Breathing patterns change from slow and even to choppy and irregular. This can sound alarming to others, but typically the dying person is completely unaware of this change in their breathing pattern. You may identify their breathing pattern as Cheyne-Stokes respiration. This is characterized by a loud, deep inhalation followed by a pause.

Focusing on the person’s overall comfort during this time is key. Keeping their head slightly elevated and well supported will help.

Increased Weakness

The decline in food consumption and energy levels will cause a person to find even basic activities to be extremely difficult. Things that were once simple like changing their head position or moving an extremity may be impossible. The person may find this to be very frustrating, especially if they are still very mentally alert.

It’s best when this occurs to help in every way possible. This may mean helping them to find a more comfortable position in bed or offering to feed a bit of food or sip of water.

Swelling of the Feet and Ankles

The kidney’s job is to process bodily fluids. When the kidneys can no longer do this, the body pushes fluids as far from the heart as possible. This causes a swelling of the feet and ankles. In some cases, you may notice a person’s face or hands appear to be puffy as well. Swelling of the extremities is one of the primary signs that death is near.

When you identify this symptom, seek to make your loved one as comfortable as possible. Slightly elevating their feet can help reduce this swelling. However, it’s important to consult a doctor before doing so.

Knowing how to properly care for your loved one is important in preserving their quality of life for as long as possible. The following video is helpful in further describing these symptoms and how to help.

The Mental and Emotional Stage

A second stage a person experiences in preparation for death is the mental and emotional stage. This stage of changes can occur simultaneously with the physical changes. As a person processes the reality of facing death, they can experience a wide range of mental and emotional symptoms. It can be difficult for friends and family members to witness this stage. Seek to offer support and acceptance as they work through these mental and emotional changes.

Confusion or Disorientation

When a person’s organs begin to fail, they can experience a change in higher-order consciousness. When this happens, they will experience feelings of confusion and disorientation. They may be unable to keep track of time or remember where they are. Family and friends who they know and love may seem like strangers at times.

It’s best when this occurs for friends and family to continue speaking to the person just as they normally would.

Withdrawal

As a person prepares to face the reality of death, you may notice they seem to detach from the people and places around them. This is their attempt to begin letting go. They may appear to be withdrawn or unresponsive to activity around them. However, these symptoms do not indicate that they cannot hear what is going on in the room.

Continue to speak to your loved one as you normally would, as this can be of great comfort to them. The ability to hear is often the last sense for people to lose. This means your loved one is likely to hear you speak even up until a moment or two before they pass away. Your words of love and comfort can be heard even if they are unresponsive.

Mental Restlessness

When the brain experiences a decrease in oxygen, it can manifest itself in mental and physical distress. You may observe your loved one to be repeating the same phrase over and over, or tossing and turning in bed. This can indicate mental discomfort. Something may be bothering the person, causing them to be unable to experience peace in letting go.

Anti-Social Behavior

As a person prepares to be released, they may not want to be around many people. They might stop responding to questions or simply turn their head away when spoken to. This can be difficult for the friends and family who seek to interact with their loved one for as long as possible. However, this is a natural part of the stages of death.

The Spiritual Stage

This stage is the most varied of the three stages of death. Spirituality is something that each person experiences in a unique way. This stage is not defined by a large list of symptoms. However, many people do have several specific spiritual experiences as they move throughout the stages of death and dying.

Visions and Hallucinations

The person may tell you they have visited places that cannot be seen or spoken to someone who has passed away. These experiences of visions and hallucinations are one of the latest signs of death. The person is beginning the process of detaching from life. These visions help lessen their fear in the transition. Support your loved one by listening to what they say.

Desire to Make Peace

As a person nears the end of their life, they may experience a desire to find meaning in the life they have lived. This can manifest itself in through a need to right any wrongs or resolve disagreements with family or friends.

If your loved one is experiencing these feelings, it’s best to be open to these conversations. This will help them move into the final stages of death and give them peace in letting go.

Finding Spirituality

Many people seek comfort in their faith or religion as they approach death. They may request a visit from someone they trust in their religious community. These people will often provide answers to questions and offer a sense of peace as your loved one seeks comfort in the unknown. Praying or reading religious texts may offer a great deal of comfort as well.

Observing your loved one move through the stages of death can be a very difficult experience. It’s natural for you to desire to relieve their pain and discomfort in any way possible. Knowing the stages of death and how to respond to them can be the best way of offering support.

Did you find this information helpful as you offer support and encouragement to your loved one? We’d love to hear any feedback on what you found to be helpful during your experience.