Monday, 16 December 2013

How can we Help our Seniors Survive the Holidays?

By Reaching Out: Social connectedness is especially important during holiday times. Reaching out to older relatives, friends, and or neighbors who are alone is something all of us should do. Loneliness is a difficult emotion for anyone and especially troublesome during the holiday season. While visiting with any senior stroll down memory lane with them. People whose memories are impaired may have difficulty remembering recent events, but they are often able to share stories and observations from the past. These shared memories are important for the young as well—children enjoy hearing about how it was when older people were their age. Use picture albums, videos and or music, even theme songs from old radio or TV programs, to help stimulate memories and encourage seniors to share their stories and experiences. By Creating New Memories: In addition to memories, seniors need new things to anticipate. Add something new to the holiday celebration. Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, or window-shopping at the mall or along a festive downtown street. Remember to involve all in holiday meal preparation, older adults with physical limitations can still be included in kitchen activities by asking them to do a simple, helpful task, like greasing cooking pans, peeling vegetables, folding napkins, wrapping gifts, or arranging flowers. Don’t forget to bring your pet! The benefits of playing with a very happy to see them pet is tenfold. When one person is happy, it can lift the spirits of others. So what mood do you want to create this holiday? Is it one of joy and fun? Peace and love? Giving and sharing? It's time to think about what might make a special holiday season for any senior that you visit.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

November is Osteoporosis Month

Did you know by the age of 35 you begin to lose Bone Density? The density of your bones plays the largest factor in your risk for fractures. After the first fracture, 50% of people will fracture again within the first year. Wrist, spine, pelvis and hip are the most common sites for fractures. One in Four people that experience a hip fracture will die, two will require assisted living and only one will recover and return to regular activity. 1:3 Women AND 1:5 Men will suffer from Osteoporotic Fracture PREVENTION IS KEY – START EARLY! What can you do? Mild to moderate activity daily such as walking, stretching, light weights, resistance bands, yoga and tai chi are all nice and easy ways to strengthen the muscles surrounding your bones giving them support in the prevention of fractures. Eat foods high in Calcium such as milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, kale, spinach and canned salmon with the bones! Getting your calcium from your diet first is best. Take your vitamin D! This is available in many forms including a flavourless drop that can be added to your families’ food. Advocate for yourself! Our doctors are extremely busy and sometimes treatment can be their main focus therefore prevention is up to you! Those over 50years of age, ask for a Bone Density Test. Osteoporosis Canada recommends for Adults to have 1200mg of Calcium each day. It is important you factor in your nutritional consumption before taking supplements and ensure you are taking only 500mg at one time. Try splitting up your doses with each meal. Your bones can only absorb 500mg each time therefore taking all of your calcium at once may begin to form plaques in your bloodstream with possibility of impairing your cardiac health. Osteoporosis Canada recommends taking 800IU of Vitamin D daily or more, talk to your doctor! Canadians are not exposed to the sun enough at any time of year to absorb the needed Vitamin D. Vitamin D is what helps the Calcium absorb into the bone giving your bones the nutrients they require to stay healthy. Fractures from Osteoporosis are more common than Heart Attack, Stroke and Breast Cancer COMBINED! To learn more visit or contact your Alberta Chapter at 403-237-7022

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What few easy, common sense changes in the home can help seniors stay healthy, active and independent?

Each year in Canada, one in three seniors will fall at least once. Hip fractures are the most common injuries experienced by seniors who fall.

It's no mystery why we're more likely to fall as we get older. As we age: Our balance, vision, and hearing deteriorate. We're not as strong due to lost bone density and muscle mass.

Seniors fall most often in their homes, while stairs and bathrooms are prime areas. But falls can — and do — happen in every part of the house.

Use this checklist for simple safety solutions.

• Stairs:

o Put handrails on both sides and keep them well lit

o Don't leave anything on them that you could trip over.

• Bathroom:

o Use non-skid mats and grab bars in tub, shower and beside the toilet

o Install non-slip flooring throughout

o Put one nightlight in your bathroom and hallways

• Kitchen:

o Put kitchen supplies where they're easy to reach

o Put heavy items in the lower cupboards

o Use a solid step stool with a safety rail for reaching high cupboards

o Wipe any spills immediately

• Living room and bedrooms:

o Leave lots of space to move around

o Don't use throw rugs

o Eliminate loose electrical cords

• Entranceways:

o Keep clear of clutter

o Have a chair or bench to sit on to change footwear

• Outside:

o Keep all walkways, stairs, and the driveway clear and well lit

o Use sensors for outside lighting

o Always put garden tools and snow shovels away

• General tips:

o Use a portable, cordless phone

o Avoid getting dizzy by getting up slowly from a chair or bed and don’t rush

o Remove your reading glasses when you're not reading

o Keep house well lit and use nightlights throughout

o Get help to do major chores like snow shoveling, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, painting

Friday, 19 July 2013

Why is Hot Weather a Danger for our Senior Population?

Seniors are prone to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as the ability to notice changes in our body temperature decreases with age. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat. Many medications that seniors take can also contribute to dehydration.
A few simple precautions are all that's needed to keep safe, such as:
1.               Drinking plenty of liquids - Dehydration is the root of many heat related health problems. Drink plenty of water even if you're not thirsty. But remember to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.
2.               Wearing appropriate clothes - When it's hot out, wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.
3.               Staying indoors during the hottest part of the day - During periods of extreme heat, the best time to go out and about is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.
4.               Taking it easy - Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when it's very hot.
5.               Seeking an air conditioned environment - Seniors without convenient access to any air conditioned place should consider a cool bath or shower to help cool down.
6.               Knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness - Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that medical help should be sought immediately. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month. How could your Awareness of Brain Injury Assist a Senior?

Falls are the leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for seniors and are often missed or misdiagnosed; watch for these signs and symptoms if you know or suspect a senior has fallen or has a fall-related injury, such as a hip fracture.

Symptoms of Mild TBI
·         Low-grade headache that won’t go away - Getting lost or easily confused - Sleeping much longer than before or having trouble sleeping - Loss of balance or feeling light-headed or dizzy - Blurred vision - Loss of sense of taste or smell - Ringing in the ears – Easily irritated or listless

Symptoms of Moderate or Severe TBI
·       A headache that gets worse or does not go away - Repeated vomiting or nausea - Convulsions or seizures - Inability to fully wake up from sleep - Dilation of one or both pupils - Slurred speech - Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs - Loss of coordination - Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation

If you see any of these above symptoms in a senior that you know or suspect may have fallen, you should ensure that they receive immediate medical attention. Seniors taking blood thinners should be seen immediately if they have a bump or blow to the head, even if they do not have any of the symptoms listed above.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

May is Foot Health Awareness Month; what should seniors be aware of?

Did you know that your foot contains 26 bones, which are held in position by hundreds of ligaments, tendons and muscles, making it a complex mechanism?
As a senior, you already have about 100,000 kilometres on your feet. But that doesn't mean it's too late for comfort. In fact, there are many things you can do to keep your feet in good condition. Try some of the following practices.
  • Wear good quality running shoes or shoes designed specifically for walking. Poorly fitting shoes are responsible for a number of conditions, such as spurs, corns, calluses and fungal infections.
  • Perform gentle exercises such as moving your feet in circles or up and down to help improve mobility, flexibility and circulation.
  • Do calf-stretching exercises to reduce tightness in the back of the lower leg muscles. Lean against the wall and place one foot forward and one foot back; bend the forward knee and you will feel the calf muscle of the opposite leg stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Change the position of your legs and repeat the exercise.
  • Use insoles to add cushioning to the soles of your shoes. As you get older, the fat pad under the bones at the ball of the foot tends to get displaced forward and reduces the cushioning at the ball of the foot. An insole will provide some extra cushioning.
  • Elevate your feet when you can and walk as often as you can. Compression stockings may be beneficial.
  • Get involved in a walking program. Check with your general practitioner and then start a gradual walking program. Be sure to wear appropriate and comfortable fitting shoes.
  • Treat any ingrown toenails. A podiatrist can painlessly clip away a segment of the nail to provide immediate relief or permanently remove the offending nail border. Treat any ingrown toenails. Keep the feet warm and dry to avoid fungal infections and reduced circulation.
Remember it is never too late to start taking care of your feet!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

April is Parkinson’s disease Awareness Month; what can we do to increase our awareness?

One way is to educate ourselves and others on what Parkinson’s disease is and how we can recognize it when symptoms are presented in ourselves, our family or our friends.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.

Is Parkinson’s life-threatening?
Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder that is ‘life-altering’, not ‘life-threatening’. Although people do not usually die of Parkinson’s, they may be at an increased risk for developing life-threatening complications, like pneumonia or severe swallowing difficulties, once they have progressed to a highly advanced stage.
Is Parkinson’s hereditary?
No specific clues have been discovered as yet.
What is the average age of diagnosis?
Parkinson’s usually begins between the ages of fifty and sixty-five with an average age of onset of sixty years. In fact, 5 to 10 percent of people with Parkinson’s develop symptoms before the age of forty; this is called Young Onset Parkinson’s.
How many Canadians have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s?
According to statistics, there are nearly 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Canada. This number is expected to double by the year 2016 as Baby Boomers age.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are tremors, slowness, stiffness, impaired balance, rigidity of muscles, fatigue, soft speech, problems with handwriting, stooped posture, constipation and sleep disturbances.
What can help manage the symptoms?
Medications, exercise, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help manage the symptoms.
Can brain surgery cure Parkinson’s?
Surgery can ease some of the symptoms associated with the disorder, but cannot stop its progression.
How is Parkinson’s diagnosed?
There is no single test, such as a blood test, to determine whether a person has the disease. The family doctor should make a referral to a neurologist, preferably one who specializes in movement disorders.