Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Pressure Ulcers in Elderly 

Pressure ulcers in elderly are more common than you think. It is the most common type of wound observed by home care providers. It is also one of the conditions that limit a person’s mobility. In fact, an estimate of 1 to 3 million Americans is affected by pressure ulcers in a year.

These ulcers should not be taken lightly. For one, they are painful and worrisome. Here’s a more cause for concern: when left untreated, pressure ulcers can lead to complications which may lead to death.

A key to preventing and treating pressure ulcers is developing a deeper understanding of it. Identifying and recognizing pressure ulcers as early as possible can be a life-saver. With this in mind, we have made a list of the important things you need to know about pressure ulcers in seniors.

What is pressure ulcer: Recognizing and identifying it

Pressure ulcer, which is also medically known as decubitus ulcer, is an injury to the skin which affects the underlying tissue as well due to prolonged pressure. It is mostly common, and especially troublesome, in the bony areas.

Seniors who use wheelchairs can develop ulcers on the areas that come in contact with the wheelchair. These areas include the buttocks, spine, shoulder blades, and the back of the legs and arms. Bedsores in the elderly are also common. This is especially true for seniors who are already bedridden. The sores often affect the hips, lower back, shoulder blades, sides of the head, back of the head, ankles, and heels.

Elderly patients with limited mobility are prone to pressure sores, which when left untreated, can become chronic and long-lasting. Hence, before pressure sores become life-threatening, it is important that family members, caregivers, and the patient themselves develop a plan of identifying, preventing, and treating sores.

Signs, Symptoms, and Stages of Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcer symptoms are easy to spot. Before the sores appear, here are the early warning signs you should watch out for: swelling, tenderness, pus-like drainage, and change in skin color. The skin also feels cooler or warmer to the touch.

To better understand pressure ulcer, here are the four stages or grades that you must be aware of:

 Stage 1 Pressure Ulcer

During the stage, the skin starts to get inflamed but remains unbroken. Inflammation is usually associated with redness, hardness, oedema, induration, and discoloration. 

Stage 2 Pressure Ulcer

Here, the first two layers of the skin, epidermis and dermis, are broken. These are easy to spot, as they give an appearance of blister or abrasion.

Stage 3 Pressure Ulcer

In this stage, there is already full-thickness skin loss. The subcutaneous tissue is damaged and the underlying fascia may even be affected.

Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer

This is the most serious stage. The sore now extends below the subcutaneous fat, affecting deep tissues such as ligaments, muscles, and tendons, and down to the cartilage or bone in more severe cases. There is high risk for infection.

Understanding pressure ulcers causes and risk factors are important in its prevention. These include the following:

  • Peripheral vascular disease and diabetes
  • Lack of mobility
  • Poor hydration and poor nutrition
  • Lack of sensory perception

Pressure Ulcer Prevention: 7 ways

Now that you know the signs and causes of pressure ulcers, here are some tips on how you can prevent it.

  1. Shift position at least once every two hours. If the elderly is bedridden, move him or her from one sleeping position to another. It helps to put pillows and other support to help the patient stay in the best position to prevent pressure ulcers. For those who are often sitting on a chair, it helps to switch positions and take breaks.
  2. Encourage exercise. Even those who have limited mobility can do this. Exercising does not have to involve moving about or walking. Simply moving the legs and arms can already encourage blood flow and alleviate or even prevent pressure sores.
  3. Keep the skin moisturized, clean, and dry. When cleaning the skin, it is encouraged that you use mild soap, cloth, or soft sponge. Don’t rub the skin to prevent irritation. Just pat the skin dry. It also helps to apply skin moisturizers.
  4. Proper hydration and nutrition. Keep the skin healthy by making sure that the senior is eating healthy foods and drinking enough water.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing. Comfort is the key. Avoid wearing too tight clothing or clothing with buttons and zippers.
  6. Use pillows as support when sleeping. Pillows serve as a comfortable barrier between areas of the body that may touch with each other, like heels, ankles, and knees
  7. Use pressure-relieving support. These include mattresses and cushions that are made with a special gel or foam, and mattresses or overlays with alternating pressure systems.

Conclusion

Pressure ulcers can be prevented and managed. Just make sure that you watch out for any warning signs and risk factors. Take measures to prevent it as well in order to improve the quality of life of the elderly.

 

 

 

Tips on Maintaining Elderly Health: Living and Eating Healthy

As we age, we undergo a lot of changes. It is not only our  body that changes, so do the circumstances surrounding us—children leaving and off to start a family of their own, loss of friends and loved ones, retirement, and declining health, among others. However, aging does not mean that we should no longer take care of ourselves. There are secrets to keeping a great elderly health.

Eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle are important especially in old age. Knowing its importance, we decided to share with you some essential health tips for seniors.

The importance of balanced diet for the elderly

Part of aging is a change in the body. As we age, our diet also changes. Our metabolism decreases, the taste and smell are altered, and the digestive process becomes slower. These affect how the body will process the food we intake. Thus, these healthy eating tips for seniors can be a life-saver.

As a rule, seniors must avoid saturated fat, refined carbs and sugary foods. They need to eat more foods that are loaded with essential nutrients. These foods include vegetables, whole grains, and high-fiber fruits.

The following are essential nutrients that seniors need the most: proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, water, minerals, and vitamins. Aside from eating nutritious foods, seniors must also take plenty of water and other fluids. All these are important in maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

Seniors are more at risk for various health conditions, including heart diseases, memory problems, strokes, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, vascular disease, visual problems, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. All these conditions are caused or impacted by unhealthy diet. Thus, the elderly need to take care of their health more seriously.

Proper diet is only about what to eat and what not to eat. It is also about how much to eat. Here’s a rule of thumb: everything must be taken in moderation. Eating large portions, even of healthy foods, can still be bad for you due to high caloric intake. Speaking of calories, avoid “empty calories,” which are foods that are high in calories but don’t have nutritious benefits. These include donuts, cookies, sodas, and chips.

For certain health conditions, there are special dietary restrictions imposed. For instance, those who have kidney disease or heart problems are not allowed to eat salty foods. Seniors with diabetes are also required to limit their carbohydrate and sugar intake.

Exercise for seniors: Why is it important

Living healthy is not only about eating healthy. Another important component is exercise. Studies show that exercise is an important factor to a healthier and longer life. There are lots of benefits of exercise, especially to seniors. It improves sleep, maintains and improves agility and strength, boosts mental health, and increases vitality. It helps prevent cognitive decline, memory loss, and dementia as well.

If you pair a balanced diet with regular exercise and physical activity, you prevent or manage certain health problems. These health issues include heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, muscle weakness, diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and even depression.

Here a summary of health benefits of exercising for seniors:

  • Keeping the bones and muscles healthy.
  • Optimizing respiratory and cardiovascular health.
  • Improving physical endurance.
  • Burning excess calories and bad cholesterol.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Enhancing overall mood.
  • Improving sleep duration and quality.
  • Reducing risks for fall.
  • Efficiently delivering nutrients and oxygen to the tissues.

However, not all exercises are recommended for the elderly. The key is effective exercising. Some of the safe exercises for seniors are walking, balance exercises, resistance exercises, flexibility exercises, and exercise machines. Recommended exercise for seniors is 3-5 times a week, for around 30 minutes each session.

Stop exercising if you are not feeling well, especially if you experience any of these symptoms: fainting, dizziness, shortness of breath, tightness or chest pain. Raise these concerns to your physician.

Sleep in the elderly: What is normal

Sleep quality is important for the seniors. The problem is, many older adults develop sleep problems and require senior care specialist assistance to manage them. These problems include daytime sleepiness, insomnia, and frequent night-time waking.

If you have sleep problems, it is important that you develop a healthy sleep habit and make your room as sleep-inducing as possible. Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable. Avoid artificial light and don’t use a gadget at least an hour before sleeping. It also helps if you stay active during the day. Since we all have different sleeping habits, develop a bedtime ritual of your own, like playing music or taking a bath before bed.

Conclusion

Old age affects the physical, mental, social, sexual, and emotional aspects of our lives. We naturally “decline” with age. However, we can take proactive steps to stay as healthy as we can. Sleep well, regularly exercise, eat healthy, and live life to the fullest.

 

 

 

 

 

Causes, Effects, and Symptoms of Dehydration in Elderly

Everybody needs water. We are often told to drink plenty of water a day to prevent dehydration and its effects. While dehydration can affect anyone, its risk is higher in older adults. This is why it is important to know the tell-tale signs and symptoms of dehydration in elderly. Spotting the signs at the onset is crucial in preventing the adverse effects of dehydration, especially among seniors.

Why is drinking enough fluids important? Aside from the fact that no one can survive without water, drinking sufficient amounts of water and fluids help eliminate waste and toxins, digest food better, regulate temperature, maintain one’s blood pressure, and other healthy functions.

Elderly and dehydration

The elderly are more susceptible to various health conditions compared to younger individuals. They have higher risks for dehydration as well. This is due to several factors associated with aging:

  • Decreased total body fluid.When people age, the amount of water reserves in their body also begin to decline With less body fluid, they are more prone to dehydration.
  • Weaker thirst response. We drink water because we are thirsty. Thirst is our body’s way of reminding us to drink water. The problem is, one’s thirst response weakens with age. Hence, older adults don’t often feel thirsty as they should be.
  • Decreased kidney function. As with other parts of the body, the kidney doesn’t function as healthy as when we were younger. It declines as we age. This results in loss of water during urination.
  • Health conditions and taking certain medications. Water loss may be a side effect of certain medications. Dehydration may also be triggered by other underlying health conditions affecting the elderly.

 Causes of dehydration in elderly

Understanding what causes and triggers dehydration in older adults is important. Knowing these causes can help you prevent dehydration. The common causes include the following:

  • Exposure to humid conditions and hot temperature can lead to excessive sweating, which can result in increased fluid and water loss in the body.
  • Fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and other illness may also cause dehydration.
  • Mobility problem, which is common among seniors, can also result in decreased water intake. This happens when seniors have difficulty getting water by themselves.
  • Underlying health conditions like kidney disease and diabetes can also cause dehydration.
  • Certain medications can cause increased urination as a side effect. This leads to increased fluid loss, which when not prevented, can result in dehydration.

Side Effects and Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors

Dehydration in the elderly should not be taken lightly. It can lead to serious consequences, which can result in frequent hospitalization and health complications. Even in cases of mild dehydration, the senior can still be seriously affected. Mild dehydration is associated with lack of concentration and attention, reduced reaction response, and memory impairment.

Dehydration can cause fatigue and exhaustion as well, which increases the senior’s risk of falls. Additionally, dehydration can cause itchy skin, dry skin, pressure sores, and other skin problems. It has been linked to the increased mortality rate among seniors with stroke. It affects kidney functioning, which when left untreated, can result in serious kidney problems.

Other effects, symptoms, and signs of dehydration in elderly include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Darker urine
  • Less urination
  • Sunken eyes

In severe and more serious causes, dehydration can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty moving and walking
  • Rapid heart rate

Preventing dehydration

Now that you know the symptoms and effects of dehydration, it is easier for you to prevent it. The key is to stay hydrated. These are some tips you can follow in order to prevent dehydration:

  • Drink as much water as you can throughout the day. Take small sips if you find it hard to gulp down too much water. Don’t wait for you to get thirsty. Other fluids like fruit juices, flavored water, and low-sugar milk are also great for hydration. Don’t drink too much tea and coffee. 
  • Eat foods with high water content. These include watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and celery.
  • Put lime or lemon on your water if you are not fond of drinking pure water.
  • Drink more water than usual when you go exercising or you go out in hot weather or humid conditions.
  • Hire a caregiver that will provide personal care services for the person you love.

If you are taking care of a senior, see to it that they drink plenty of water in a day. Here are what you can do:

  •  Place water within easy reach from the senior.
  • Constantly remind the senior to hydrate.

 

Knowing and understanding the dehydration effects, signs, symptoms, and causes are essential in its prevention and treatment. The key is to replace the lost fluids. Keep hydrated throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and other nutritious liquids, and incorporate foods with higher water content in your daily diet.  

Mental Health and the Elderly: Understanding and Dealing with the Issue

Mental health is a common concern among older adults. In fact, it is more common than you think. The problem is, people tend to dismiss the problem. Understanding the correlation between mental health and the elderly is important in order to deal with the issue.

It shouldn’t be merely dismissed since mental health issues can also affect the overall well-being of the person, which can result in the deterioration of physical health, especially when compounded with chronic diseases common to the elderly.

Mental illnesses in the elderly: Why are they not often addressed?

While mental health is common among older adults, it is often not addressed. This is partly because the signs may appear subtle, or that the symptoms are often just attributed to other non-mental health conditions associated with aging.

Older adults also have the tendency to keep the symptoms to themselves. They don’t go complaining about their mental issues. This may be due to the stigma often attached to mental illness.

That is why, if you are taking care of an elderly, it is important that you have a basic understanding of mental health among seniors and older adults.

 Health issues common to the elderly

The elderly are more inclined to report physical health problems than mental or psychological ones. This makes diagnosing and, more so, treating the senior’s health problem quite challenging. Since mental illness may be triggered by physical stress and certain conditions, it is important to know what these are.

These possible triggers include:

  • Chronic illness
  • Chronic pain
  •  Physical disability
  • Physical impairment affecting memory, thought, and emotion
  • Solitude and loneliness
  •  Major life changes

Signs of Mental Illness in the Elderly: What to watch out for

We often associate forgetfulness with aging. However, forgetfulness is not the same as memory loss, anxiety, depression, and other cognitive problems. Often, these are signs of a far serious mental issue.

Since most elderly won’t likely tell you if they experience the early signs and symptoms, it is important that you keep an eye on them yourself, whether you have an elderly family member or you are a caregiver. The warning signs that you should watch out for in mental health of older adults are:

  • Persistent depressive and suicidal thoughts, feeling of immense sadness and hopelessness.
  • Trouble sleeping or staying asleep, or the opposite, which is too much sleeping.
  • Change in mood, energy level, or appetite.
  • Having difficulty feeling positive emotions.

Common mental health illnesses among seniors

To have a better understanding and to efficiently deal with the issue, here are the mental health illnesses common in older adults and seniors:

  1. Depression

The most common mental health concern among the elderly is depression. This type of mood disorder affects older women more than older men. If left untreated, it can impede social functioning and can lead to other mental and physical impairments. Depression can even interfere with and worsen the senior’s chronic health problems.

The common symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Distancing from things you previously normally enjoy
  • General feeling of “slowing down”

It’s also important to know the risk factors as well for late-onset depression. These are:

  • Widowhood
  •  Physical illness
  • Drinking problems
  • Diminished “functional” status
  • Lack of education

Hence, if you noticed any of the signs and symptoms of depression in your loved one or client, immediately seek professional help.

  1. Anxiety Disorders

Another common illness is anxiety disorder. Statistics tell us that anxiety disorders are associated with depression. These are the risk factors to watch out for:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Poor health
  • Stressful or traumatic event
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Physical impairments
  • Alcoholic and drug abuse
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and thyroid problems
  1. Bipolar disorders

Bipolar disorders are marked by sudden and irregular mood shifts. The problem is that these are often misdiagnosed among older adults because some of its symptoms are also common in aging.

Here are symptoms of late-onset bipolar disorder you should watch out for:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  1. Eating disorder

Eating disorders are now becoming prevalent among seniors. These disorders may include anorexia nervosa or bulimia, which are often undetected among older adults. This is why it’s important to know what signs to watch for, which are:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness and anemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow healing
  • Chronic dizziness
  • Memory deficits and cognitive decline
  • Decreased food intake

 

With all these mental concerns and psychological problems in old age, it is important to watch out for any signs that may be crucial in the early detection and treatment of the illness. Keep an eye on your client or loved one, and be ready to seek the necessary professional home care help when needed.

Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help: Identifying Them and Taking Action

Your parents have taken care of you all your life, and now you’re thinking, “I need help with my aging parent.” They’ve probably even helped you during your young adult years. As they age, the tables begin to turn, and it may be time to start caring for elderly parents.

 

In the beginning, the field of senior care services is unknown territory. With no one to guide you, it can be difficult to know where to look for help. Many adult children quickly feel like they’re out of their leagues.

 

It’s common for concerned family members to have trouble navigating senior care services. When it affects your parents, you need insight and guidance when you see signs that your aging parent needs help.

 

How to Identify That My Older Parents Need Help

 

Aging slows people down, and often, it becomes more difficult to care for themselves and their homes. You may notice warning signs over time or all at once. If the lightbulbs are burned out and they’re not being replaced, the lawn is unkempt, and the exterior paint is peeling, it’s time to think about the fact that your older parents need help.

 

Any number of signs could show that things aren’t going well at home for your parents. They may not be willing or even able, to tell you that they’re no longer able to keep up with things. The important things are to keep a keen eye, communicate about your observations, and seek help when you need to.

 

Caring for Elderly Parents

 

You’re better acquainted with your parents’ habits and lifestyles than anyone else. What’s commonplace for someone else, may be an area of concern for your parents. Checking up on your parents is more important than ever since the onset of COVID-19. Quarantining and isolation in the name of health separates seniors from society even more than normal.

 

How to Spot That You Mom or Dad Needs Home Care

 

When you spend time with your parents, if something seems off, it probably is. If the issues on the following list sound familiar, your parents probably need home care:

 

  •   Late or collection notices in the mail or utilities being shut off
  •   Appliances that don’t work and they’re not cooking or eating.
  •   Mood changes—mild or extreme
  •   Home is cluttered and garbage is building up
  •   Not keeping up with laundry and cleaning
  •   Signs of fatigue or depression
  •   Clothing is torn, worn, dirty, or ill-fitting
  •   Moldy or unsanitary food in the refrigerator
  •   Misplacing keys or wallets
  •   Forgetting to take medications
  •   Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  •   Missing doctor appointments or other activities
  •   Noticeable weight loss without reason
  •   Poor hygiene or body odor
  •   Difficulty walking or frequent falling
  •   Frequent injuries or bruising
  •   Dents or damage to their car or car accidents

 

What do you do when you notice some of these issues with your loved ones? To begin with, open up a conversation about it, as tough as that may be. After getting the issues out in the open, the next conversation should center around their needs.

 

Assess Your Parent’s Needs

 

Seniors’ needs fall under several different categories. That makes it very challenging to make a list of the issues they need help with.  

 

Get out a notebook and write these headings down.

 

  •   Safety at home
  •   Medical or medication needs
  •   Cognitive impairment
  •   Mobility
  •   Hygiene and personal care-bathing, dressing, etc.
  •   Shopping, cooking, and meal preparation
  •   Transportation
  •   Companionship

 

Try to have an honest conversation about specific tasks that they need help with. Don’t forget that family members need support as well.

 

Finding Help for My Loved One

 

Taking the first steps toward getting help can be extremely overwhelming. Learning what services are available will help to relieve you of much of your fear and anxiety.

 

This partial list of senior services should give you some encouragement.

 

  •   Senior care managers-They have vast experience in the senior care industry. They’re typically well acquainted with senior care services. Their experience could save you a lot of anxiety and frustration.
  •   In-home care-Hiring a caregiver to come in and provide some type of senior care help.
  •   Assisted living-Senior living communities often offer varying levels of care from minimal care to advanced care and everything in between.
  •   Geriatric physicians-Doctors that care for seniors with age-related conditions.
  •   Area Agency on Aging-This is an agency that’s funded by federal, state, and local governments that provides senior care services at the county level. It’s a good place to start to learn more about the senior care services and how to access them.

 

Watch for signs that your parents need help and take a few steps to put the right help in place. The right care may be more available than you think.

 

 

 

 

What Resources Are Available to Pay for Home Care in California?

How do you pay for home care in California? While no one looks forward to the effects of aging, it’s a reality. If you’re like most people, you’d prefer to live out your final years in the comfort of your own home. In-home care can help you realize that vision.

 

The chances of remaining in your home, even when it’s difficult to take care of yourself, may depend on whether you can access funding to pay for in-home care in California.

 

It’s common for people to assume that Medicare, Medi-Cal, or private insurance will pay for in-home care.  That’s not the case—most clients pay for in-home care using their personal funds. Medicare will cover a limited number of services for home health care, but only if it’s medically necessary. Medicare doesn’t cover homemaker services and neither doo Medicare supplemental plans.

 

People are starting to live longer and they’re realizing that paying for home care in California is something they need to explore sooner rather than later.

 

Options to Pay for Home Care in California

 

If you’ve built senior care services into your financial planning, you have a few options for exploring home care payment options in California.  

 

Patient/Private Pay

Most seniors have some amount of assets and money and private pay it’s the first and most common source of funding for in-home senior care.  

 

Long-Term Care Insurance

If you’ve planned ahead and bought long-term care insurance, it may cover various types of senior care services like skilled nursing, assisted living, in-home care, respite, etc. depending on the policy coverage.

 

Even if you have it, there are different rules about what insurance companies will cover and when coverage starts. Social workers in your community or in-home care agencies will help you learn how a long-term care policy can help you.

 

Private Health Insurance

In better understanding how to pay for senior care services, you have to remember that health insurance is intended to cover medical needs. It doesn’t cover non-medical care services that are necessary to help with functional needs. You need to find other financial sources for that.

 

Medicare

You can’t count on Medicare to cover in-home care either. It won’t cover bills for private caregivers or services from a home care agency. Medicare won’t cover bills for personal caregiving needs like bathing, dressing, mobility, or other activities of daily living (ASLs). It also doesn’t cover transportation to appointments, companionship, or housekeeping.

 

Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California)

Medi-Cal is California’s state Medicaid program for people that don’t have private health insurance. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does cover some types of senior care that aren’t considered skilled services. Medicare and Medicaid make it possible for many seniors to afford the services they need.

 

Medicaid and Medicare benefits can make the average in-home cost for senior care services within reach for many people.

 

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance also provides some coverage for senior services if you get injured at work. Your employer will review the plan’s coverage with you.

 

Other Ways of Paying for Home Care

 

If you’re still wondering, “How can I pay for home care in California?” there are a few other resources you can check into.

 

  •   Veteran assistance through the Veteran’s Association (VA)
  •   Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
  •   A reverse mortgage
  •   Senior nonprofit organizations like Alzheimer’s Association, the ALS Association, Easter Seals
  •   Community organizations like the local Area on Aging, United Way, and area senior centers

 

California Home Care Cost

 

As you consider how to pay for home care in California, the average hourly rate for home care services in California was $26 per hour in 2019. The average assisted living care costs are also quite expensive.

 

The cost of senior care services in California differs significantly depending on where you live. The most affordable locations to access care are Chico, Visalia, Riverside, and Vallejo. You can expect to pay caregivers in these areas to charge between $22.50 and $24 per hour. You can expect to pay $7-$10 more per hour in Napa, San Jose, and El Centro.

 

In summary, there are many resources for getting appropriate funding for in-home senior care services if you know where to look.

 

One of the best ways home care agencies can help you is to supply expertise in finding all the resources for senior care services that might be available to you. They can also help to forecast the cost of a senior care services plan.

 

If you don’t have private insurance, the next places to look for senior care service funding are government benefits, community programs, long-term care insurance policies, veterans’ aid, and reverse mortgage programs.