In the past, hearing aid wearers had interference problems when using digital cordless telephones. A cordless phone has a wireless handset that communicates with the base station by radio waves. The base is plugged into the telephone line jack and the phone is powered by an ac adapter. Many of the cordless phones are expandable, meaning they have additional handsets that will “talk” to the base unit and they can be placed around the home or office without needing a telephone jack. Even though the best quality sound still comes from a corded telephone, cordless phones have improved greatly and have proven convenient for many people.
Interference issues cropped up with the cordless digital phones, as they can cause interference with hearing aids – creating an audible buzz. The older type analog hearing aids are even more affected by cordless phones than the newer digital hearing aids.
The TIA-1083 is a newer telephone standard that was developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and Gallaudet University, Entymotic Research and Motorola to help solve the problem of the electromagnetic fields that are created by the handset that causes cordless phone interference with hearing aids. A telephone complies with TIA-1083 if it meets the requirements of the new standard. Meeting this standard means that hearing aid users will have significantly reduced interference when using their TIA Compliant cordless phone, making their conversations higher quality with less static or buzz. TIA-1083 Compliant is a higher standard for cordless phones than just being hearing aid compatible. This standard applies to cordless phones and is especially important when purchasing cordless phones for seniors, as many seniors wear hearing aids.
Bet you’ve never heard of Dupuytren’s contracture. You might think that curving finger you have is osteoarthritis, but it could be Dupuytren’s contracture. This condition is a type of fibromatosis that causes a shortening and thickening of the fibrous tissue in the hand. In this condition, a knot of tissue forms under the skin of the palm, then a taunt cord forms which pulls the finger toward the palm. This condition can come on gradually over many years and progress to the point where the finger is pulled back all the way to the palm, or its progress may be quick and then it can also stop. This condition is usually painless, with just some sensitivity with touch.
Dupuytren’s contracture can occur in both hands, but usually one hand is affected more than the other. Men are usually more affected then women. This condition can make daily activities more difficult. Putting on gloves, putting the hands in the pockets, or putting the hands into a purse to retrieve an item can be difficult and it can affect your ability to open your hand fully and to grasp large objects, it can also make writing and shaking hands awkward, and causes difficulty with face washing and combing the hair. Typing would also be difficult.
How do you know if you have Dupuytren’s contracture? Ask your doctor. Usually tests aren’t necessary, the doctor will probably have you put your palm on a table top and see if it can lay flat, if you can’t lay your palm flat you may have Dupuytren’s contracture. Often times you will see the thick knot of tissue under the skin of your palm, and the cord in the palm may actually protrude and be easily seen and may actually go up your affected finger, but this is in more severe cases. This cord tightens and pulls the finger down.
Some studies suggest that Dupuytren’s contracture may be associated with cigarette smoking, epilepsy, diabetes and genetics. If you have this condition, it is a good idea to stretch your fingers. Place your fingers on the edge of a table, placing your palm down, and then slowly lift the palm upward while keeping your fingers flat on the table. You will feel the stretch when done correctly. For an even better stretch, warm your hands first with a microwavable heat pack and massage your palms.
There are a number of options for treatment including needling, enzyme injections, surgery , INF gamma & shockwave therapy and radiotherapy.
For some reason we just don’t see grandma and grandpa using much alcohol, but the use of alcohol can actually increase in some elderly people because of isolation, loneliness or depression.
The elderly are quite often on a number of drugs, some of which don’t mix with alcohol. Also, some of the prescription drugs they are on are hard on the stomach and even over the counter NSAIDS taken for arthritis such as ibuprofen can cause stomach and intestinal bleeding. Alcohol can just irritate the stomach making the problem worse. Alcohol can affect drug absorption, impairs liver function and enhanced drug metabolism. Alcohol is metabolized and removed from the aging body differently. Elderly people on anti-depressants like Trofanil or Prothiaden can actually increase their depression when using alcohol. The elderly who are more likely to be on Coumadin (warfarin) to prevent clotting are also more affected by alcohol, as well as those taking anti-convulsants.
Besides the drug interactions, affecting digestion and the faster affect on the brain, alcohol can lead to falls and general confusion in the elderly. It might not be a bad idea to check the pantry when visiting your elderly mom or dad to see if there are bottles of alcohol. Depending on their health and condition a little can be ok, but you need to have a conversation on just how much they consume in ALL forms, including their Irish coffee.
If you go to doctor visits with your elderly parent make sure the doctor asks them about alcohol use. Usually the way doctors phrase the question, “do you use alcohol” makes some elderly folks think this refers to being an alcoholic and then of course deny much alcohol use. Many elderly people don’t view the whiskey in their cappuccino or that Long Island Ice Tea as alcohol use. I know of an instance of a lady in her mid eighties who was having stomach problems and after testing found out she had a bleeding stomach. Her doctor asked her about alcohol use and she said just an occasional glass of wine when out for dinner. She neglected to mention the whiskey in the cappuccinos she and her elderly husband were making almost every evening.
Also, alcohol use does not lend itself well to driving and the elderly. Older drinkers age 50 or more are more impaired by moderate alcohol consumption. As few as 2 drinks can slow the reaction rate of the older driver. Alcohol tolerance also drops off as we age and alcohol has a faster affect on the aging brain making driving more dangerous for the elderly person after consuming alcohol. The elderly should be encouraged to eat more and wait longer after consuming alcohol before driving.
Family caregivers may be a spouse taking care of their husband or wife, or adult children caring for their parent(s). Often times there is a debilitating illness such as Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, disability due to stroke, cancer, multiple sclerosis, physical handicaps and many other conditions.
The family caregiver may feel overwhelmed at times due to physical and mental stress, sleep deprivation, depression and even physical injury may result such as back injury. The family caregiver needs to remember to take care of themselves too, for the sake of their own health and if they get sick, who will take care of their loved one. The following tips are good advice for caregivers.
1. Take care of YOUR back. Transfers from bed or wheelchair can require lifting, giving the caregiver an aching back at the least, and the possibility of a back injury. Checkout transfer boards and gait belts for safer transfers
2. Sleep deprivation. This is a big one. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, there may be frequent night awakenings causing the caregiver to be sleep deprived. When sleep deprived you are harming your own health, also possibly causing you to be more irritable and even to be more likely to make mistakes with medications, or have an accident while driving a vehicle. Consider getting them out in the sunlight during the day, weather permitting, for a walk, or even just sitting on the porch or in the yard, this helps reset their Circadian clock and helps them feel more tired for a better night’s sleep, which will help you get a better night’s sleep.
3. Getting Ready for Bed. If getting your loved one ready for bed is difficult, then start earlier in the evening or even in the afternoon with the bathing and getting into the night clothes. This way you will be less tired and more able to handle difficult situations.
4. Assistive Clothing. If getting your family member dressed and undressed is difficult consider assistive clothing – this is clothing designed to be easy-on-easy-off.
5. Difficulty Getting To Sleep. Getting to sleep can be difficult if there hasn’t been much activity during the day or if an Alzheimer’s patient. Play a soothing and restful CD or tape of rain, ocean waves or a brook to help lull your loved one to sleep, or help quiet them if agitated.
6. Have a routine. This keeps the day running more smoothly and everyone knows what to expect
7. Ask family and friends for help. Ask if they could occasionally take over for night duty once in awhile, bring over a meal, take over for a couple of hours once in a while so you can run a personal errand or just come over for a visit to socialize and give you a mental break. Tell them, they probably don’t know what you need – don’t be afraid to ask.
8. Join a support group if only on-line. This way you will have people sharing their experiences as caregivers and you will have people who understand what you are going through.
9. Flu-Shots. Make sure both you and your loved one get a flu shot every fall – this will help prevent both you and them from a hospitalization. There is a new influenza shot called FluZone High Dose which is stronger and may be better for those 65+, ask your doctor.
10. Check out your local community organizations. Ask what kind of help is available locally. Also talk to a social worker – ask the doc to recommend one. See what help is available through your local senior center.
11. Take advantage of modern technology. There are inexpensive warning notification products available to let you know if your loved one with dementia has wandered into an unsecure area or left the house.
12. Feel more secure. If there is a risk of falling out of bed consider buying adult safety bed rails. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients may be at a higher risk. But, sometimes certain medications can cause “night terrors” which may cause them to fall out of bed also. Be sure there isn’t enough room for head entrapment, or too much space between the rail and bed that would allow body entrapment.
13. Control the Stress. If your loved one is hard of hearing and the tv is turned up really loud all day causing you or others in the household stress, consider getting your loved one a hearing aid, or at least a tv amplifying system with headphones that allows them to hear the tv at the volume they need, yet keeps the rest of the house or apartment quiet.
14. Medications. If there are a lot of prescribed medications, consider wearing an alarm watch or other reminder system that gives an alarm sound or vibrates to give you the reminders you need. There are also pill containers that lock and have reminder alarms, or just set an alarm clock for the time of the next medication dose.
15. Make it easy on yourself. If your loved one has early Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia or just memory issues due to age and has trouble with the television such as changing the channel, or volume control and requires your assistance frequently during the day, consider tv remotes designed specifically to be senior friendly and very easy to use. Two very easy brands are Flipper and Doro 321rc. There are probably other brands available if you look. This may keep you from having to manage the tv frequently during the day, saving you time and frustration.
There are big differences between Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplements Plans (Medigap) First of all, the Federal Government provides the coverage in Original Medicare (Parts A & B). Medicare Advantage (Part C) coverage is provided by private insurance companies, and Medicare supplements (Medigap) coverage is provided by private insurance companies.
The way they are funded is also different, Original Medicare (Parts A & B) is funded by payroll taxes. Medicare Advantage (Part C) receives “a fixed amount per enrollee per month from Medicare” plus the beneficiary’s Part B premium. It is also allowed to charge a premium to the member. In Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) the premiums are paid by the policy holder.
It is also VERY IMPORTANT to know that your coverage is GUARANTEED, and can’t be cancelled with Original Medicare through the Federal Government. However, you should know that your policy can be cancelled under Medicare Advantage which is provided by private insurance companies. Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) can’t be cancelled unless you don’t pay your premiums on time or you misrepresented something on your application.
It is also important to note that Original Medicare does NOT require pre-certification. But, Medicare Advantage (Part C) generally does require pre-certification. Also, Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) does not require pre-certification.
NOTE: Modern Senior Products does not recommend any Medicare plan. This information is only for your information. Be sure to learn about all three kinds, Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) to see which is best for you. Remember, you can start signing up for Medicare 3 months before your 65th birthday.
You’ve probably heard of traveler’s diarrhea and wonder why this is the bane of traveler’s who venture out of the U.S. There is a bacteria called E. coli which is the usual suspect in water or food contamination outside of the U.S. There are also other parasites, bacteria and viruses that can cause this too. Here are tips to prevent traveler’s diarrhea.
- Its best not to buy food from street vendors in other countries, you don’t know how the food has been handled or if any sanitation measures were used at all
- Make sure the seafood or meat is fully cooked – never eat it raw. Be especially careful not to eat undercooked pork – you can get a parasite from this too
- Don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables unless you peel them yourself – they could have been rinsed in contaminated water too, or unapproved farming chemicals
- Stay away from tap water, ice and non pasteurized dairy products
- Avoid farmer’s markets and small restaurants
- You will be the safest if you drink bottled beverages, hot tea or coffee, beer and wine. If you must drink the water make sure it is boiled or treated with iodine or chlorine
- Never brush your teeth with the tap water, use bottled water
- When taking a shower avoid getting water in your mouth
- Carry a hand sanitizer with you and use after using public restrooms and before meals
Can you take a preventive medication? Yes, ask your doctor about taking Pepto-Bismal or Kaopectate to prevent traveler’s diarrhea. He will need to tell you the correct dosage and how long to take it and if it would be appropriate for you. Also, these medications can cause your tongue to be coated with a black substance – it won’t hurt you.
The elderly are at a high risk for falling due to balance problems, loss of muscle strength, poor eyesight, lightheadedness or dizziness brought on by medications and blood pressure problems .
Common injuries are fractures of the ribs and compression fractures of the spine – often times multiple fractures.
Fractures of the ribs are quite painful and just breathing causes pain. Frequently the patient will spend a day or two in the hospital while narcotics such as morphine are given to get them over the initial high level of pain. Oftentimes a nurse is needed to help them in and out of bed, and sometimes two nurses to just help move them up higher in the bed. Years ago doctors would tape up the ribs because they thought it helped them heal better – now they don’t tape anymore because doctors have learned that taping of the ribs inhibits breathing and can actually cause pneumonia. Even without taping the ribs, fluid can accumulate in the tissues of the lung (pleural effusion) causing the potential for pneumonia.
Compression fractures of the spine can cause the vertebrae to collapse – kind of like a shelf collapsing and falling down onto another shelf – it can be very painful and take quite a while to heal, leaving the patient with persistent pain and even disability. It can also cause stooped posture, reduce the person’s height, cause blood clots and muscle weakness. It is a good idea to see a good Interventional Radiologist as soon as possible after the fracture(s) occur to see if Kyphoplasty or Vertebroplasty) might be helpful to repair the fracture if it is in the vertebrae, Interventional Radiologists are the kind of doctors that typically do this procedure. There may also be other options available, but don’t wait very long or the damage could become permanent, causing the Kyphotic spine (humped or stooped spine)
Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty are minimally invasive procedures usually performed on an out patient basis. This procedure can stabilize fractures weakened by trauma such as a bad fall, tumors, or osteoporosis. In the Kyphoplasty medical procedure a balloon is filled with a cement-like substance and inserted into the affected vertebrae. The balloon helps open the area up and then the substance is pumped in. A cement-like substance is also used in Vertebroplasty, but no balloon – it is injected in another way. Typically, patients leave the hospital only with a small bandage over the site, and the next day only need a bandaid. Many patients find that they get almost immediate relief from their back pain. No procedure is perfect, and of course is not 100% guaranteed. Many people do not know about these procedures even though they are common place today, and your primary care doctor may not be familiar with it or just forget to tell you about it.
Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty are usually short, minimally invasive procedures. Elderly persons will usually have their heart checked and a blood test to be sure their kidneys can handle the procedure. Any surgery is an assault on the body and should be taken seriously.
The best way to prevent fractured ribs and vertebrae is not to fall in the first place. Today’s senior has many more advantages than previous generations of seniors. Modern senior products include walkers that fold up and can be put in a vehicle, and there are many mobility accessories too, such as trays that attach to walkers, allowing the senior/elderly to transport not only food and beverages from room to room, but also small amounts of folded laundry, even use it to help put groceries away. Seniors who try to carry items in one hand while also trying to navigate the walker are more likely to become unbalanced and fall. There are also walker baskets, walker bags and walker totes now available to help seniors carry around their necessities and become more productive and independent.
Falling in a bathroom is especially dangerous because of the hard surfaces, porcelain, tile, etc. Today, we not only have the ordinary grab bars for the bathroom walls, but also stand assist grab bars that fold up against the wall providing extra support and assistance in standing up and sitting down, providing an additional measure of safety from falls.
Modern senior products for the bedroom have also changed. Today there are small bed rails that also provide much needed assistance in standing up, but also fold to allow today’s senior/elderly to continue to live a full life and travel, using these stand assist safety rails in hotels. This kind of assistance is important in helping to prevent falls for those with weak or shakey legs, or who become dizzy when standing up due to low blood pressure. Some of these stand up assist safety rails include a type of a bag where the senior can store the things they want to keep near, like a cordless phone, glasses, emergency heart medicines. Preventing falls is a major consideration when seniors/elderly live alone and every precaution should be taken to prevent falls, using the newer modern senior products available today. Walkers with the extra accessories will be an incentive for the senior/elderly to continue walking around their home, providing much needed exercise, staying active rather than being afraid of falling and spending most of their time sitting, which will make them more prone to blood clots and weakened muscles leading to more falls and possibly depression.
Modern Senior Products http://www.modernseniorproducts.com offers senior products for today’s senior, independent living aids and gifts for seniors. We also provide up-to-date health and medical information and help staying up to date with technology in our BLOG.
Very few people want to go to a nursing home or assisted living residence. Usually it isn’t planned, something happens like a fall that results in a fractured hip, or the children come to the conclusion that mom or dad just can’t function safely in their home anymore.
There are ways to help prevent this day from happening by using the modern senior products available today. Often times an elderly person needs just a little help to remain in their home. Perhaps getting up out of a chair by themselves has become a problem, arthritis, a stiff painful back, weak knees and legs, balance problems or Parkinson’s can make getting out of the chair difficult without help.
Today there is help for the person who lives alone. There are stand assist products that will help the elderly get up by themselves. For example, there are EasyUp Assist seats that automatically, yet gently, help them raise up to a standing position. This gives them about 70% assistance, allowing them to use some of their own muscles to keep their muscle strength. Just place the seat in a chair, they are easy to use and transportable for going out so seniors and the elderly can still enjoy restaurants, travel, movies and more. Other stand assist products called the CouchCane are used at the chair or sofa, they are larger, and some have trays that swivel, allowing the individual to eat, read or write comfortably at their seat.
The bathroom is another area of concern. Again, getting up from the commode can be difficult but there are new, modern senior products that help with this also. There are rails that can be installed on the wall next to the commode for the elderly person to hold onto for support and assistance when getting up, helping to prevent falls. Some of these rails can be raised up against the wall to be out of the way, and make cleaning the bathroom easier. They can also make the bathroom look less institutional. There are small stand assist rails that can be attached to the tub to help getting in and out of the shower/tub combination and/or help with assistance getting up from the commode. Some of these products have the traditional institutional look, but there are also the newer senior products that look more attractive in the bathroom, making the senior feel like they still live in a home, and not an institution.
In the bedroom – again, getting out of bed can be quite an ordeal for someone with arthritis, bad knees or back, balance problems or Parkinson’s. There are stand assist bed rails that are designed for those problems, and can help the senior/elderly person get out of bed themselves without help.
Hard of hearing – the amplified telephones are better than ever – not only do they make the voices louder, but also clearer and easier to understand. Often times hard of hearing elderly persons make mistakes, whether it be directions for medicines, appointment scheduling, or hearing a telephone number incorrectly because of their hearing loss. Perhaps all they need is an easy-to-use amplified phone for seniors to remedy the situation. Also give them a small pad of paper and pen to keep next to the telephone for writing things down – that is better than writing something down on the first thing that is handy like an envelope that is easily lost. It is important to know that those with hearing loss, even if they wear a hearing aid, should have an amplified phone next to the night stand because most people take their hearing aids out at night and need to be able to accurately hear a phone conversation with the 911 operator or doctor.
Easy to use phones, with or without amplification are great for those seniors/elderly people with memory problems. The new high technology phones have left a lot of elderly persons behind, understanding the new high tech phones can be daunting – making or receiving calls can become a problem and safety issue. Sometimes the combination telephone and answering machine can be too difficult for some to understand so in those instances, a simple, basic phone with a separate answering machine may be the best solution.
Mobility walkers can be a necessity in the home to prevent falls. Today there are trays that attach to the walker allowing the elderly to remain more independent. They can carry their own food and beverages on the tray from room to room, use it to transport small amounts of laundry, put groceries away, and transport many other lightweight items from room to room without having to ask for help. Some trays also fold down, allowing them to be out of the way when needed. Other modern senior products are mobility accessories like walker baskets, walker bags and walker totes that attach to walkers, scooters and wheelchairs.
Canes – some elderly persons only require a cane for additional assistance – but today we have canes that actually light up around the bottom, putting a circle of light at their feet, helping to prevent falls in dim light. These are especially good for steps where the lighting may be marginal.
Then there are the compression hose that some seniors need to wear because of swelling in the legs and feet due to heart failure or other causes. These compression hose can be very difficult for seniors/elderly to put on themselves, impossible for those that can’t bend over easily, so they either need someone to put the hose on for them, or they don’t wear them at all. Today there are compression stocking aids that help seniors/elderly put the stockings on themselves, giving greater independence.
Emergency SOS telephones and Emergency Alert Systems can help to keep the elderly safer in their own home with pendant styles worn around the neck, worn in a pocket, or wrist watch style remote transmitters. With some emergency alert devices you just push a button and you are connected with 911 operators. Or, with emergency phones you might wear a wrist watch style transmitter or pendant style transmitter around the neck – and you push a button when you need help and it cycles through pre-programmed phone numbers until someone picks up the phone. These are great safety devices with no monthly fees or contracts that can keep the elderly connected in case of an emergency.
Low vision – as we age we can have a problem with depth perception – making it hard to see where the concrete step starts and ends, especially when the concrete is all the same color. Put a red or yellow strip of tape at least 2 inches or more wide across the edge of the top of a step in the garage helping to prevent falls. These tapes can usually be found in hardware stores. Install a railing or a metal rail that can be angled next to those single or double steps going from garage to inside of house, helps prevent falls also.
Walk through the house looking for trip hazards – run the electric cords along the wall. Take up throw rugs, make sure there are no trip hazards. One common hazard is the ladies purse sitting on the floor next to a chair, or on a step.
Today there are lightweight transfer chairs which can be used instead of a wheelchair, they can be cheaper, easier to push and fold up smaller for putting in a car. The spouse or family member can easily push the elderly around a mall, doctor’s office, hospital, etc.
Hearing aid accessories – hearing aids can easily become clogged with earwax, preventing the person from hearing and misunderstanding directions from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, appointments, telephone numbers and more. There are senior products such as hearing aid dryers that are available that will not only help get rid of the wax and moisture from the hearing aid, but also sanitize and prevent itchy ears and ear infections.
Vibrating watches (simple ones – may need to be set by the family in case directions are too difficult for the elderly family member) for medication reminders.
Locked pill containers – electronic – a family member should fill pill containers for those elderly persons with memory problems so there are no mistakes which can be life threatening. There are electronic pill containers that are suitable for those elderly persons with memory issues or Alzheimer’s.
Garden tools designed for people with arthritis. Many elderly people grew up with vegetable plants and roses in their back yards and they would still like to putter around in the yard – there is nothing like feeling useful and productive. You can help! There are specially designed yard tools with the Arthritis Seal of Commendation, which take less strength and are easy on arthritic hands. In the spring time, plant a few tomato plants, strawberry or green been plants close to the house – they will enjoy tending to their plants and will feel useful and needed as well.
Low vision products may also be a necessity to continue to use the computer, phones or TV remotes. Also, many elderly persons have quite a lot of trouble with the newer high-tech TV remotes, causing themselves a lot of frustration, and calling family members to help them to get the TV to work. Today we have some simple, easy to understand and operate TV remotes that are suitable for people with memory or low vision problems, or just hate high technology things and yearn for simple.
Assistive clothing – for those that have had shoulder surgery – or those with painful arthritis in their shoulders and back there is assistive clothing available that uses velcro instead of buttons and is senior friendly.
Many modern senior products also are available foldable for travel so seniors/elderly can continue to live a full life. Canes, stand assist bed rails, walkers, transfer chairs just to name a few – all have foldable versions for travel.
Modern Senior Products LLC, at www.modernseniorproducts.com offers senior products and independent living aids to help your senior/elderly family member remain independent and productive in their own home and are great gifts for seniors that are truly useful and practical.
Arthritis can be – well a pain! Arthritis pain can be an intermittant ache or a stabbing pain. Since arthritis isn’t like having an ear infection, take an antibiotic for a week or so, and it is gone – arthritis once you have it, is here to stay. Seniors, even children with arthritis, can be miserable enough with painful arthritis that they resort to numerous kinds of pain medications, physical therapy, even surgery.
There are a number of pain medications for arthritis – they won’t cure it – just relieve some of the pain for awhile. The main type of OTC (over the counter) arthritis medications are the NSAIDS. This is a class of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Naproxen, Naprosyn, Aleve, aspirin and others. These drugs are also associated with a risk of cardiovascular complications such as high blood pressure and upper GI (gastrointestinal) stomach bleeding. More recent research now also implicates slow release and enteric coated NSAIDS when used regularly and the entire GI system, meaning the intestines. It is also now known that they can interfere with the low-dose aspirin (which is cardio protective) that you take to help prevent heart attacks. The National Institutes of Health indicates that there is a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke with long term use of the other NSAIDS, which can increase blood pressure, worsen congestive heart failure and cause cardiac events. Even though aspirin is an NSAID, it is considered protective of the heart.
The NSAIDS can cause an increase in the risk of bleeding in the stomach, and intestines and also increase the amount of bleeding in those people that take aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), or warfarin (Coumadin). NSAIDS can also cause fluid retention, something that people with heart failure need to avoid.
Frequently, especially in seniors/elderly, there will be chronic use of an NSAID for arthritis, then perhaps a fall that causes substantial pain, such as a fracture of the ribs or fracture of vertebrae. The hospitalist at the emergency room may prescribe a high dose of Ibuprofen to get over the hump of the initial pain and reduce inflammation. Be sure your prescribing doctor knows if you are already taking aspirin, Coumadin, or Plavix. Also be sure to tell the doctor if you have ever had a bleeding ulcer or gastritis with bleeding, or a pre-existing bowel disease such as diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease. If you have had or now have these conditions you will probably have to be more closely monitored for both upper and lower GI complications, and they will have to be taken into consideration when the doctor prescribes the appropriate pain reliever.
Monitor your blood pressure and if it increases, or you start with stomach pain, or pain in the intestinal area then call your primary care doctor right away, explain your symptoms and that you are taking Ibuprofen or another NSAID. Your primary care doctor may then prescribe something gentler on the gastrointestinal system and or less of a cardiac risk.
The triple threat is the use of Iboprofen, aspirin and alcohol at the same time, this increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. When taking Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs be sure to eat food when you take the medicine, it helps protect the lining of the stomach.
If you have been on chronic NSAID use or recent high dose NSAIDs and you have undiagnosed blood loss, ask your doctor to consider whether the blood loss could be related to the NSAIDs and blood loss in the intestines. There are many people who have iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss caused by the chronic use of NSAIDS for arthritis pain, back pain or sports injuries.
Another drug commonly prescribed for Osteoarthritis is Diclofenac. Brand names include Voltaren, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltarol, Zipsor. These may be available as slow release or enteric. Be aware that these drugs are also NSAIDS and that any of these NSAIDS taken long term, or at high dosages, can cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestines.
Don’t feel completely safe because the NSAID taken is a slow-release or enteric coated formulation. These may be considered safer for the stomach, but can cause problems in the lower GI (intestines). Enteric coated formulations are designed to dissolve in the intestines, and it is now known that the “small intestine is a main site of NSAID induced chronic blood loss.” (Neal M. Davies, Univ. of Sydney, Journal of Pharmaceutical Science)
Seniors/elderly may be taking multiple medications for complicated medical conditions and may not be aware of the dangers lurking in the drugs they take, so it is always a good idea for their family members to keep an up-dated listed of their current medications. Keep this list with you (I recommend in your wallet), then if you have to make a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room for your elderly parent, you will have important information needed by the doctors and staff. It is also a good idea to keep a typed list of current medications with primary care doctor’s name and phone number prominently display on the refrigerator door so emergency medical personnel will have access to it. Also put an (ICE) In Case of Emergency telephone number on this list. If your senior/elderly family member has a cell phone put an ICE contact number in there also – police and medical personnel look for this information.
Ask your doctor if you need to stop taking NSAIDS before surgery. Always ask your doctor what is right for you and your individual medical condition. Only your doctor can balance the risk with the benefits these medications may provide.
Modern Senior Products LLC, at www.modernseniorproducts.com offers senior products, and independent living aids to help your elderly family member remain independent and productive in their own home, and are great gifts for seniors that are truly useful and practical.
What is going on in that family toothbrush cup that you set your toothbrush in everyday? The toothbrush goes into your mouth where there are millions of bacteria and viruses (microorganisms) that could make you or others sick. Let’s say for example your 6 year old son has strep throat and not on antibiotics yet and you have a cup on the sink or in the medicine cabinet that you keep all the family tooth brushes in. Now lets say the toothbrush heads and bristles sometimes make contact – what happens now is what I like to call “germ creep”. The son’s toothbrush bristles with Streptococcus bacteria on it touches another sibling’s toothbrush bristles and those Streptococcus bacteria just cross over (creep) from one toothbrush to the other with the ability to make you sick. Bacteria just don’t sit there – they breed – they multiply! Now you may have two children sick with strep throat.
The solution is simple. Buy a toothbrush holder that has enough separation space between the toothbrush heads so that they won’t touch one another. Perhaps buy two, one for adults, one for children.
Now for something else that happens in the bathroom – unnoticed. There is something called “toilet spray” – yes that sounds really, really gross, but something you should think about. When a toilet is flushed there is a very fine “toilet spray” that goes into the surrounding air – so keep those toothbrushes as far away from the toilet as possible. It may also help deter some of the spray if you put the lid down before flushing. There is also toilet water evaporation – so make sure everyone flushes the toilets and you aren’t left with any surprises – young children are good at this. You might think that the solution to this problem is putting the toothbrushes in sealed containers – nope – bacteria and viruses love darkness and dampness, so enclosing the toothbrush in a sealed container just gives these nasty germs and perhaps even mold, a perfect environment to grow. A good place to keep your family toothbrushes is in a toothbrush holder – in an upright position with the toothbrush head up and with plenty of space between the heads and let it air-dry. Among the many types of bacteria found on toothbrushes are Strep, Staph and E. Coli (think toilet spray & toilet water evaporation). The flu virus and herpes simplex l (the type that cause cold sores) are just a sampling of viruses found on toothbrushes.
If you have strep or other bacterial infection that lives in the mouth, get a new toothbrush after you are no longer contagious, usually 24-48 hours after you start antibiotics and the fever is gone and BEFORE the antibiotics are gone.
Toothbrushes should always be thoroughly rinsed after use by holding them under running water. There are food particles, toothpaste, saliva, bacteria, viruses and sometimes even blood on the bristles. The water does not kill the germs. There has been long running discussions about whether or not to disinfect your toothbrush. Research in Pubmed.gov, (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health) suggests that there are ways to help disinfect your toothbrush if you wish to do so once or twice a week. You can put a toothbrush in a microwave for 1 minute, no longer or it could melt. (“microwave irradiation proved to be an effective alternate method to the disinfection of…toothbrushes”. Int J Dent Hyg, 2/20/11) or you can soak your toothbrush in a product called Periogard Oral Rinse (Colgate Palmolive) for 2 hours which is considered effective, safe and cost effective, (I would rinse the toothbrush after soaking). This is a product that contains Chlorhexidine which is an antimicrobial. Studies have shown that children’s toothbrushes can have a high concentration of Streptococcus bacteria, so make sure children never share toothbrushes. Also, if your child is in a daycare facility and they allow toothbrushes check to be sure they are stored properly so there is no cross-contamination.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY WELL:
- Wash the hands before handling the toothpaste. Everyone in the family touches the tube of toothpaste one or more times a day – if someone is coming down with an illness or is already sick those germs can be put on the tube of toothpaste and then transferred to the hands of the next person who brushes their teeth.
- Never use the toilet paper in the stalls of public restrooms to blow your nose – remember the toilet spray
- Ladies – don’t put your purse on the public restroom floor – remember the toilet spray
- Never put your purse on a kitchen counter, kitchen table or anywhere you would have food – remember the floors it has sat on – public restrooms, restaurants, doctor’s waiting room floors, etc. A microbiologist indicates 1 out of 4 purses have E.Coli on the bottom of them (we are back to those public restroom floors again)
- Wipe the bottom of your purse with a disinfectant wipe frequently
- Don’t let the kids put their shoes on the kitchen table or counters – remember where the bottom of those shoes have been i.e., public restrooms
- It would be helpful if you are a caregiver to an elderly member of your family to check out how they store their toothbrushes too – you could help them avoid a stay in the hospital. Untreated Streptococcus can spread to the sinuses, tonsils, blood and middle ear. It can damage the heart valves, cause kidney inflammation, Rheumatic Fever and Scarlet Fever.
A GOOD TO KNOW TIP for Hospitalization: Research done by Washington University at St. Louis indicates that when ICU patients brush their teeth twice a day (or their nurses do it for them) and use a mouth rinse, that the rate of ventilator associated pneumonia can drop by almost 50 per cent.
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