Choosing Urgent Care Or Emergency Room — Tips For Caregivers

Medical emergencies are not uncommon for our senior loved ones who are aging in place. Family caregivers are always at the ready to help their older adults navigate the options for emergency care and get the help they need quickly. Our guest contributor is Traci Blake a senior digital marketing consultant for MultiCare Retail Health based in Washington state. With more than 15 years of experience running digital marketing efforts for healthcare organizations, Traci would like to share her expert tips on how to select which facility can best meet your senior’s emergency medical needs for optimum results.

When you get into a pickle as a senior, it’s essential you get the proper healthcare you deserve. After all, it’s not uncommon for a small issue to get out of hand quickly. But if an accident or other medical concern occurs outside of your primary care provider’s normal hours, you might not know what to do.

Luckily, you typically have two choices: an urgent care center or the emergency room. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are key differences that separate these healthcare facilities from each other. How to choose between the two often relies on the level of care they provide and the type of medical concern you’re experiencing. These factors often dictate which location you should visit.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that only 40% of seniors say they’re health is in very good or excellent condition. Regardless, a sudden spill or trip can be serious enough to put anyone in a hospital bed.

As a senior, it’s vital you get the care you deserve. Here’s how to identify which location is right for whatever medical malady might come your way.

When You Should Go to the Emergency Room

You should visit the emergency room if you’re experiencing a life-threatening issue or an issue you deem life-threatening. When it comes to your health, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you’re concerned an illness or accident necessitates emergency care, you should always go to the emergency room.

The staff at your local emergency room are adept at treating a range of serious issues, whether you’re a baby or a senior. This includes anything from a serious fall to a sudden heart attack. The staff here are board-certified professionals who use the most up-to-date pieces of technology and medical equipment to treat you for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Common conditions that are treated by emergency rooms include:

  • Head injuries, including concussions and other forms of trauma
  • Automobile accidents
  • Chest pains and difficulty breathing
  • Symptoms of a heart attack
  • Serious falls that have caused multiple injuries
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Strokes or stroke symptoms
  • Severe or excessive bleeding
  • Loss of vision or loss of consciousness

The CDC also notes that up to 136.9 million people visited an emergency just last year. However, only 9% of these patients were actually admitted to the hospital. This just goes to show that the vast majority of these emergency room visits can also be treated elsewhere. This is when you should visit an urgent care clinic.

When You Should Visit an Urgent Care Facility

An urgent care center should be visited when you aren’t experiencing a life-threatening issue, but you are unable to visit your primary doctor. This could be because your doctor isn’t open, or you simply need timely care that your doctor can’t provide on short notice. Because urgent care centers typically have shorter wait times, this makes them a popular option for urgent health care needs.

Urgent care centers generally treat minor injuries and illnesses. For example, you wouldn’t go to the ER if you had symptoms of strep, but you might visit your local urgent care. As such, these locations are not often open all day and all night, but they usually keep extended hours during the day. Here are some of the most common reasons seniors might visit an urgent care clinic:

  • Minor fractures, strains, sprains, or pains
  • Small burns, cuts, or bruises
  • Cold and flu symptoms, including nausea, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Any minor issue that might require a lab test or X-ray
  • Seasonal allergy issues

As you grow older, you may find that it’s difficult to maintain your health in the way that you’re used to. While a slip in your 30s might not have spurred a second thought, something seemingly as innocuous is certainly liable to cause more trouble in your 70s. You want to make sure that in case something like this does cause trouble, you’re prepared to enlist the proper care.

If you’re struggling to identify which healthcare location you should visit, this guide will help you get the medical service you need when you need it most.

As with any medical condition, consult with your healthcare team to discuss what is best for your senior loved one so that you are prepared in the case of an emergency.

Additional Resources

For many family caregivers of seniors, a trip to a medical facility or even a doctor appointment can be upsetting. You may enjoy these articles to help you prepare to spend time in the Emergency Room or Urgent Care Center and possibly prevent emergencies in the home.

 

Trying to Reach Family Caregivers? Senior Care Corner® is For Sale!

Yes, that’s right, Senior Care Corner® is for sale.

And, yes, this is a very difficult article to write.

We’ve spent ten years raising this child (it feels like part of our family), which makes Senior Care Corner a senior itself in Internet years.

We’ve realized it’s time to move on – – and for Senior Care Corner to do so as well.

It has been a very demanding labor of love, much like serving as a family caregiver to a loved one.

We want to see it grow beyond where we can take it.

The time has come to find out if someone else can take it to the next level, either because it compliments other business activities or as an independent revenue generator.

Senior Care Corner Background

Along our journey we’ve had conversations with many entrepreneurs who’ve developed products and services for seniors and family caregivers and learned most had a personal story motivating their efforts, typically a loved one with a need that was unmet or which could be better met.

The same is true with the founding of Senior Care Corner.

Information and resources for family caregivers were sparse when Kathy and I suddenly found ourselves providing care to senior loved ones a number of years ago.

We wanted so much to provide what our senior loved ones needed but found little to help us understand their needs, let alone how to meet them.

Our best is what we gave them, in hopes it was what they needed.

Our loved ones let us know our efforts and caring were appreciated, but still we wished there was somewhere to turn online for practical pointers. With an active family of our own and full time jobs, we needed a convenient and trustworthy information source but just couldn’t find one.

Once the need for our care passed (unfortunately so, as it was with the passing of our senior loved ones) we decided to provide an information source to which other family caregivers of older adults could turn, an effort we realized would also prepare us when other loved ones of our own would need care.

Thus our ten year journey that has been Senior Care Corner.

What Senior Care Corner Provides

Visitors to Senior Care Corner, of whom there have been hundreds of thousands over the years, find articles, podcasts (internet radio shows), and videos covering a broad range of topics and practical insights. These are some of popular topics.

  • Understanding what seniors are experiencing as they age, to help caregivers relate to and comprehend their needs (walk a mile in their shoes, at least through the written word)
  • Health issues of seniors, especially Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as well as other diagnoses that primarily affect older adults
  • Technology, both that available today and expected in the future, that can improve the quality of seniors’ lives and make the work of family caregivers more effective (maybe a bit less difficult and time-consuming, too); part of this focus has been our annual visit to CES and discussions with tech innovators
  • Caring for the family caregiver, an area we found was almost totally overlooked until recently but essential to giving older loved ones the best care we can
  • Interviews with a number of topic experts and solution developers who helped us pass along firsthand knowledge to our audience

Check us out to learn more. Many have told us they found the site search to be a valuable tool.

What ‘For Sale’ Means

Putting Senior Care Corner up for sale means just that.

Yes, we will entertain offers from parties who wish to purchase the name (Senior Care Corner and our logo are both trademarked in the US), and our website, including all content. Many have told us they found our articles, audio recordings, and video valuable to them in their roles as family caregivers.

For more information or if you are considering a proposal, please email us at Info(at)SeniorCareCorner.com.

Inquiries from principals only, please.

Eating Well While Growing Older – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

As we age, many older adults tend to change the way they eat. This change may be intentional for many and while for others it is done unknowingly.

Many will eat less thinking their bodies don’t need as much food because they aren’t as physically active as they once were.

This way of thinking may be true for overall number of calories but not for nutritional content.

Some older adults experience more trouble with chewing and swallowing foods when they eat, taste foods differently, don’t feel like preparing meals for one, feel lonesome during meal times, fear ‘healthier’ foods are too expensive, or overly restrict what they eat because they are trying to control a chronic disease.

One or all of these reasons may be influencing what your senior loved one is eating (or not eating) and impacting not only their health but, also unknowingly, their quality of life.

Caregivers can help by identifying potential gaps in their senior loved ones’ nutrition and then filling those gaps for their health.

Aging and Impaired Nutrition

A large percentage of older adults (those over 65) have multiple chronic diseases that can affect their nutritional status. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 80% of seniors have at least one chronic disease and 77% have two or more.

A poor diet while aging can lead to frailty which results in becoming nutritionally compromised, making it harder for older adults to fight sickness or stress. Reduced muscle mass leading to impaired functional status and even malnutrition (undernutrition) can also occur.

A loss of muscle mass and strength can lead to falls. A senior falls every 11 seconds. Unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of fractures, head trauma, hospitalization and injury deaths for older adults, per the NCOA.

Cognitive impairment can worsen nutritional health because unintentional weight loss is common in those with dementia. Lower food intake, increased physical movement (pacing, etc.), reduced resting energy expenditure (metabolism), or a combination contribute to weight loss and impaired nutrition.

Getting enough healthy food, especially foods that include protein and essential nutrients, such as calcium and B vitamins, can make independence harder to maintain as our senior loved ones age.

Caregivers Can Help

Older adults may need help staying healthy, especially when their appetites begin to wane.

Family caregivers can help older adults stay on track, eat nutrient dense foods, shop for healthy foods on a budget, and facilitate putting meals on the table when they can’t always do it for themselves.

Here are ways family caregivers can help seniors eating well everyday from the National Institute of Aging and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (association of Registered Dietitians). Get them to…

  1. Eat a variety of foods from all food groups, don’t skip important foods
  2. Choose fruits and vegetables at each meal. Use fresh, frozen, or canned to stay in budget and make preparation as easy as possible.
  3. Eat a rainbow of foods to get the maximum amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Include whole grains, protein, and dairy foods at each meal.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids, including water. As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes so we need to drink often. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages.
  6. Invite friends and families to share a meal to reduce loneliness and boredom. Most seniors will eat more when they have someone join them.
  7. Flavor food with herbs and spices instead of salt. The tastier a food is, the more they may eat.
  8. If dental problems are keeping your senior from eating a variety of foods, it is time for a dental checkup.
  9. If they aren’t eating enough, talk with the doctor about starting a nutritional/vitamin/mineral supplement.

Additional Resources

Caregivers can get creative when helping seniors eat a more nutritious diet.

Here are more ways you can help your senior avoid malnutrition that could keep them from aging in place successfully.

 

 




Cyber Attack Prevention for Personal Medical Devices and Data – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Protecting our senior’s digital footprint has been a growing concern for many family caregivers.

Lately a new menace has emerged which can be life-threatening for seniors (and caregivers) – cyber attacks of medical identity and the very medical devices that, in some instances, keep our seniors alive.

We recently discussed cyber security with a former U.S. Secret Service deputy director, who stated that identity threat should not be our primary concern anymore. He stated medical data breaches were more dangerous, cyber criminals stealing your health records. A social security number will sell on the dark web for 50 cents, but your medical record can be sold for $50, so is much more desirable by criminals.

The statistics are frightening. A medical data theft will occur at healthcare systems, though they are currently working hard to protect your data. In a recent survey, 91% of the healthcare organizations surveyed had one data breach during the past two years, 39% experienced two to five breaches, and 40% had more than five.

No Alerts for Stolen or Altered Health Data

Unlike an identity theft, no bank or credit card will alert you when your data has been stolen. Seniors will only uncover this particular theft when an emergency strikes and they need medical care, only to discover that their health data has been altered without their knowledge.

How will they know this? It could be only at the worst possible time, such as when your senior gets an emergency blood transfusion with the wrong blood type, is given a medication to which they are allergic, or are not resuscitated when they wanted everything done, because some criminal has stolen their health identity to get drugs illegally and changed your senior’s data to suit their needs.

Unfortunately, one of these or many other potential situations could be life threatening if the wrong treatment — or no treatment — is given based on bogus information in your senior’s medical record.

Blockchain technology put in place by healthcare systems may be the best way to counteract health data breaches but that is still in the future.

Another threat is hacking of their medical devices, especially those intended to keep them alive such as pacemakers or continuous delivery insulin pumps. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with manufacturers to prevent criminals from easily breaching medical devices, with the help of researchers who have already found loopholes which allowed hacking.

While no specific incident of medical device hacking injuring a person has been reported, one FDA official has said that any internet connected device is capable of being hacked and security measures must be implemented to protect consumers.

What can seniors and family caregivers do to protect them from becoming victims of this harmful type of cyber crime?

FDA’s Advice to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risk

The FDA has these warnings to consumers and tips to help us all lessen the risk of criminals hacking our medical devices.

  1. Don’t just turn on a connected medical device and use it without reading the instructions carefully. Make note of how the device looks in normal operation, such as indicator lights or readouts, and when it is not working as intended. Keep the instructions handy or bookmark them in your browser for quick reference.
  2. Be sure any medical device has been fully updated (firmware, operating system, or software) and continues to receive new updates, which can protect it from cyber attacks. Contact the physician who has prescribed or implanted devices for more information about needed updates.
  3. Be aware of firmware updates with security patches and watch for premature battery depletion, which could signal unusual activity levels and indicate malfunction/hacking.
  4. If your senior has any medical devices, don’t neglect routine care and follow-up healthcare appointments to check the effectiveness and safety of the devices to ensure proper functioning.
  5. Seek medical care immediately for any symptoms of dizziness, chest pain, or loss of consciousness.
  6. Do not ignore device alerts.
  7. If using specific types of insulin pumps, deactivate the remote bolus options which could allow hackers in close proximity to override the pump options and control insulin delivery. This was not a factory default, meaning it was added by the user. FDA warns to deactivate this option for added security.

Medical devices are life saving for many seniors but malicious activity could cause them to turn on the very people we want them to protect.

Family caregivers can protect their loved ones’ safety while using these devices. It takes a little diligence and regular updating, but shouldn’t be too difficult compared to the benefits.

 

 




 

Holiday Online Shopping Safety — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Black Friday, the once biggest shopping day in our history which falls on the day after Thanksgiving has been outpaced by Cyber Monday.

Buying online on the Monday after Thanksgiving has become the largest shopping day and it all happens with the use of technology. For some it means shopping on the computer while others will use their smartphones. As a matter of fact, 80% of adults will buy something online with 30% occurring on our mobile devices!

No matter which way you (or your senior loved one) choose to shop for the best holiday deals you can find, security when you are surfing the net should be a number one priority.

What We Do and Buy Online

Many people not only compare products looking for the best prices and features, but also read reviews before buying and even look online standing in the store to see if there is a better deal elsewhere.

This means that we are engaging online for a fair amount of time visiting many different shopping sites and apps which could set us up for security breaches.

According to a Pew Research study, not only are we using technology to buy things, we are buying more technology online too!

We are buying gaming systems, tablets, phones, laptops, appliances, cameras, and the latest Internet of Things (IoT) devices for our increasingly smarter homes online through our technology.

Protecting Online Buying

The experts remind us as we approach the holiday buying season that everything we own or buy that is connected to the internet is at risk for cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.

Older adults who are new to technology or trying a new device should be encouraged by caregivers to learn about cyber hygiene to help protect themselves from people who want to steal something from them not just when they shop but all the time.

While it is important to learn about security, however, it’s important not to throw gasoline on the fire of any existing conceptions of online safety — or lack of it.

Hackers and criminals go on the prowl during the holidays so we should all be on our guard as we shop this season.

Here are some tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to keep you and your senior safer online this holiday and all year long:

  1. Before you shop, be sure your connected device is free of malware by running a scan and updating your apps.
  2. Before you buy, update your passwords and logins to be sure they have double authentication and the strongest passwords you can make.
  3. Learn about the website before you buy. Check out other people’s experiences with reviews to be sure you will not be disappointed or scammed with a purchase.
  4. Avoid links in your social media platforms as cyber criminals can steal your information and infect your devices when you click these links.
  5. Don’t give vendors more information than they need for the transaction. Don’t give more info than the fields they request including passwords, Social Security numbers and other secure information.
  6. Don’t use free WiFi hotspots to buy products as your passwords and information is not secure there. Logging in and using passwords can be exposed. Limit access to your own device whenever using these hotspots.
  7. Don’t fall for online deals that look too good be true — because they probably aren’t. Often you won’t get the product or it will not be what you thought you were getting when you buy from a ‘dealer’ instead of a reputable online retailer.
  8. Be alert to phishing emails that warn you a package you ordered can’t be delivered unless you pay or click on a link. Don’t fall for it!
  9. If you are registering a new account, set up new and unique passwords. 68% of seniors (and many of those who are younger) use the same password for all accounts!
  10. Don’t fall victim to a giving holiday-season heart when the scammers look for donations. Charity scams will prey on your senior’s emotions so check to see if it is legitimate before you give them your savings.
  11. Be wary of emails that say your credit card or bank account has a problem that requires you to divulge personal information, passwords, click a link or pay money. We have gotten them from a bank, credit card, ‘Google Team’, Facebook friends and delivery services which were all fake emails.
  12. When shopping in a store, disable your Bluetooth and WiFi settings on your devices so the stores can’t track your movement.

Here’s a fun quiz you can do with your senior to test your skills spotting online scams. It was created by Home Instead Senior Care in partnership with NCSA.

The old adages have truth for us today: Buyer beware and better safe than sorry!

We hope you use some of these tips to enjoy safe holiday shopping!

 

 




Smartphone Safety and Security – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

More and more seniors have been sporting smartphones (who said they wouldn’t adopt this beneficial technology? Not us!).

In 2016, there were 1.5 billion smartphones sold worldwide and 70% of Americans own smartphones!

This is great news for family caregivers who are introducing their senior loved ones to a variety of apps for safety, fun, and remote health monitoring.

But what about keeping them secure when using their smartphone?

Security Tips to Avoid Scams

Is setting up strong passwords and limiting their public presence in social media enough to keep them from becoming victims of technology abuse and scams?

No. There are no guarantees in this connected world, when so much of our information is under the control of others. We can, however, make it as difficult as possible for someone who intends to do our senior loved one or us harm in the digital world.

Here are some tips for family caregivers, items for which we could be on the lookout and inform/remind our senior loved ones about potential pitfalls that could put them in the path of criminals looking to steal their identity and their nest egg.

  1. Spam text messages – people report responding to spam on their cell phones more often than they would on a computer. Examples of spam text messages include: cheap medications, free gift cards, and winning items. Once your senior clicks on the link for these ‘too good to be true’ offers, they are infected with malware that will collect sensitive information in order to steal their identity.

TIP: Experts say don’t follow links, click on items or respond with NO or STOP as directed, which only gives the scammer access. Install anti-malware on their smartphone.

  1. Bank messages – receiving a text message or email from your bank or credit card company indicating your account has a problem and please click this link and then directs you to add your account information and login – don’t do it! Your bank will usually call you if there is a problem and if they send an email, will already have your account information so won’t ask for it again.

TIP: Don’t give anyone by text, email, or phone your bank or credit account information unless you initiate the communication using a phone number, web address, or other contact information you have independent of the text message or email.

  1. Voice message – if someone your senior doesn’t know calls their smartphone letting it ring only once or disconnecting upon them answering and leaves a voice message stating they won something, don’t respond. Many people are intrigued and will call back only to be charged fees for a premium connection to an international number and other charges.

TIP: Don’t respond to any phone calls or voice messages from people your senior doesn’t know. Program the phone with names of all potential callers, no known name, no answer.

  1. IRS calling – someone identifying themselves as an IRS investigator calls and claims an arrest will be made if they don’t pay thousands of dollars in fines. Instructions for loading gift cards with increments of $500 and then giving the caller the code numbers to activate these cards.

TIP: IRS will not call your senior demanding payment information. Do not give anyone gift card codes for payment.

  1. Local government – receiving a call from the local sheriff or other law enforcement saying your senior missed jury duty and now owes a penalty of $1,000 (or some other amount) and requesting immediate payment.

TIP: Law enforcement will never call for payment for fines, including jury duty. Contact law enforcement to report this scam.

Actions for Caregivers

Caregivers can take actions to help keep their seniors’ smartphones more secure with these actions.

  • Install protection with a strong PIN or use a fingerprint to open the smartphone in order to protect it in case it is lost or stolen. The latest technology, on several phones now, allows for facial recognition or retinal scanning, which gives more protection.
  • Activate Find My Phone – if your senior’s smartphone is lost, accidentally left somewhere or where other people could take it, being able to locate it using this app will help caregivers locate their older adult’s phone. Misplacing a smartphone is not uncommon.
  • When the smartphone might be misplaced inside the home, keep the ringer on so that if the phone’s location is forgotten, another could call the number in order to uncover its hiding place with less effort.

There are so many great benefits from increased communication, safety, health, and remote monitoring for older adults that come with the use of smartphones, not to mention how they will become the hub for smart home features in the future. This is why it will be important for family caregivers to create a safe environment for seniors to accept them and use them securely.

Small precautions will help gain huge paybacks for caregivers and seniors!

 

 




10 Cancer Prevention Tips Based on Trusted Research

We used to call it the “Big C.” The word cancer put fear into our hearts!

Cancer is a group of diseases, not one particular kind. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. This unchecked growth can lead to death. The treatment is directed at removing or stopping the spread of these malignant cells.

We know a lot more about cancer prevention and see cure as expected in most cases, though not nearly all.

The cause of cancer is not always known but the risk factors are more clear. Many are modifiable through lifestyle changes.

As of January 2016, there were 15.5 million people with a history of cancer and still alive (survivors). Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the US after heart disease.

The evidence that we should put into practice the latest recommendations has been called by experts and researchers to be “compelling.” That is a pretty serious word in the scientific community and not used lightly.

The American Cancer Society estimates that at least 42% of newly diagnosed cancers are preventable with lifestyle behavior change.

Some of these recommendations we have heard for many years over and over again. But, when will we take heed and begin to actually make the necessary changes for our overall health and in particular, to prevent cancer?

Hopefully now!

These are admittedly simple steps that we can all begin taking toward health.

Family caregivers can encourage and intervene to help their senior loved ones adopt some of these guidelines for a healthier lifestyle. You are never too old for health!

Latest Cancer Research

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective report produced by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is described as the most comprehensive scientific report to date.

Here are their key findings:

  1. Being overweight or obese is a cause of 12 cancers. There appears to be an overwhelming link between body fat and cancer.
  2. Drinking alcohol is a cause of six cancers, even one glass of alcohol a day can increase your risk of getting some cancers.
  3. Physical activity can help protect you from 3 cancers and also helps you manage your weight. Activity can give powerful protection against cancer development.
  4. Healthy eating can reduce cancer risk as well as aiding weight management.
  5. Lifestyle factors can also impact survival rates after a cancer diagnosis including the effect of the cancer treatment.

Caregivers’ Tips for Cancer Prevention

Here are the latest guidelines for prevention backed by scientific evidence that we can all follow – caregivers and seniors.

AICR/WCRF Cancer Prevention Recommendations:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight – stay within the healthy range and preferably at the lower end of the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart range and avoid weight gain in adult life. Body fat triggers hormones that can produce cancer growth.
  2. Become and stay physically active – walk more, sit less every day. Exercise of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week can help keep hormone levels in check. Sitting for extended periods can increase cancer risk so get up every hour for a walk.
  3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans – plant foods rich in fiber and nutrients reduce the risk of cancer. Plant foods also contain phytochemicals which protect cells from damage.
  4. Limit fast foods and other processed foods which are high in fat, starches or sugars – also helps manage weight.
  5. Limit red and processed meat – eat only moderate amounts of red meat, pork and lamb and limit processed meat. More than 12-18 ounces of red meat (considered a moderate amount) shows convincing evidence of increasing colorectal cancer risk.
  6. Limit sugar sweetened drinks – choose water or unsweetened drinks. Helps with weight management.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption – despite potential protective effect against heart disease, evidence is clear that alcohol in any form is linked to cancer.
  8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention – a healthy diet and other lifestyle factors are more beneficial. Some high dose supplements can increase risk for cancer.
  9. Breastfeed your baby if you can – evidence that breastfeeding can protect mother against breast cancer.
  10. After a cancer diagnosis and treatment: follow these recommendations.

Fighting to Prevent Cancer

Prevention is the first step to fight cancer. These lifestyle changes are imperative for our health.

Avoiding smoking and time in the sun unprotected are also ways you can reduce your risk of cancer.

It is also vital to participate in early screening tests to detect cancer and get treatment for a cure.

We can’t prevent all cancers, but given the devastating effect they can have, both on those afflicted and their loved ones, we should do all we can for prevention and early screening to get treatment to be survivors.

Vanquishing UTIs — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) repeatedly seems to be common for many seniors. Some seem to overcome one only to get another infection quickly.

In most cases, with effective management they should be preventable.

Even older adults who are incontinent should be able to remain UTI-free, according to healthcare professionals.

What can family caregivers do to prevent UTIs from making their senior loved ones sick and at risk for falls or worse?

Prevalence and Causes of Recurrent UTIs

The number of older adults who are diagnosed with a urinary tract infection is staggering! Over 10% of women over 65 and 30% of women over 85 have reported a UTI in the past year.

Urinary tract infections, infections of the urinary system, are the most common infection in older adults. When the infection spreads to the kidneys, it can lead to sepsis and hospitalization for seniors.

Older adults with compromised immune responses, exposure to pathogens, and multiple chronic diseases have higher incidence of UTIs.

Taking greater than 6 medications can also increase the risk of developing a UTI especially certain drugs such as diuretics or sedatives.

Having a history of UTIs is a major factor in future development, as much as a four times greater risk than those without a history.

Urinary retention, high post-void residual, BPH diagnosis, and urinary stasis are also common causes for frequent UTI rates.

Urinary incontinence can lead to infections, but it is not inevitable. Bowel incontinence can lead to UTI if good pericare is not followed. Using good handwashing and cleaning techniques as well as other toileting procedures can help prevent frequent infections.

Unfortunately for seniors, when germs enter the body due to improper or infrequent handwashing or poor cleaning technique after urinating, frequent UTIs are the result.

Symptoms of a UTI

Your senior may exhibit one or more of these symptoms if they have, or are developing, a UTI. Contact their healthcare provider to discuss their symptoms because, if left untreated, it could lead to more severe illness or even hospitalization.

  • Dysuria – painful or difficulty urinating, burning sensation
  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • Nocturia – nighttime urinary urgency
  • Cloudy or foul smelling urine
  • Fever
  • Pelvic tenderness
  • Pyuria – pus in urine
  • Hematuria – blood in urine
  • Altered mental status – confusion, dizziness, disorientation
  • Falling
  • Potentially lower back pain or constipation

Treatment and Prevention Tips for Caregivers

Many seniors who have been diagnosed with UTI will be given an antibiotic, which may clear the infection. Unfortunately, it may set them up for drug resistance in the future.

There are other preventive treatments that can help lower the risk of UTIs:

  1. Closely monitor your senior for any of the symptoms listed above. If the changes come quickly, contact their healthcare provider
  2. Encourage adequate hydration – fluid intake throughout the day, 30-35 ml of fluids/kg/day

For the average 150# older adult = 2045-2385 ml = 69-80 ounces a day (8 ½ – 10 cups)

  1. Observe for signs of dehydration, such as dry tongue, dry mouth, decreased urinary output, or drier than normal skin
  2. Encourage cranberry products in the diet or ask the doctor about cranberry tablets
  3. Remove any physical limitations inhibiting seniors from getting to bathroom, especially at night; install way finding lights to help them get to bathroom at night
  4. Learn and practice proper cleaning techniques to thoroughly clean entire area with warm water and cloth, rinse, pat dry; avoid back to front wiping after having a bowel movement to prevent spread of germs, especially E. Coli.
  5. Encourage them to toilet regularly, as often as every few hours, and to take the time to empty their bladder fully
  6. Discuss concerns with the doctor to ensure all evaluations and treatments have been done to prevent recurrence
  7. Change soiled undergarments or incontinence products promptly to avoid contact with infection-causing pathogens.

Getting the proper cleaning products and incontinence supplies is one important way family caregivers can help prevent recurrence of UTI symptoms. For your convenience, we have set up a department in The Shop at Senior Care Corner with some of the supplies your senior loved one may need, with online ordering and home delivery.

Becoming a victim of a UTI should not be considered a part of normal aging but something for which to be alert and take steps to prevent.

You can help vanquish them with these tips!

 

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Defeating Falls Before They Defeat Our Seniors – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Little is scarier to a family caregiver of a senior loved one than to watch them fall and feeling helpless.

Rushing to their side and hoping they are not injured is all we can do in the moment.

The numbers of seniors who fall every day is quite astounding. Actually, 1 in 4 people over 65 fall each year.

Falls for older adults can mean injury (such as bone fractures or traumatic brain injury), hospitalization, or even death.

Shockingly, every 20 minutes a senior dies from a fall. That MUST be unacceptable to us!

A real threat to being able to age in place as our seniors age is falling.

Causes of Falls

Older adults are at risk for falling anyplace and anytime. However, there are proven ways to reduce falls.

There are several preventable causes of falls, including physical and environmental factors that are present for most all aging adults.

Physical Culprits

Changes in our seniors’ bodies as they age can lead to falls.

  • Impaired vision and hearing
  • Declining physical health and chronic disease
  • Slower reflexes
  • Loss of sensation in feet
  • Physical pain
  • Dropping blood pressure especially when getting up or changing position (hypotension)
  • Illness
  • Dehydration (leading to confusion)
  • Medication usage – taking more than four medications increases risk. Changing medication – new drugs, increasing or decreasing doses can put seniors at jeopardy.
  • Declining muscle strength and balance can increase the potential for falling

Environmental Culprits

The environment in which they live only adds to the danger when obstacles that cause falls are put in our senior’s path.

  • Inadequate lighting
  • Clutter
  • Too much furniture
  • Electric cords
  • Throw rugs
  • Slippery flooring
  • Spills or wet spots
  • Small pets and their toys
  • Steps

Quick Tips To Reduce Home Hazards to Defeat Falls

No particular action can guarantee that your senior won’t fall.

However, everything you do to overcome dangers — physical and environmental — will reduce the likelihood of falls and the injuries that can result.

  • Remove clutter and throw rugs (or tape them down securely)
  • Install adequate lighting, including motion activated lights, nightlights
  • Install grab bars
  • Put handrails on both sides of stairs in home and porches
  • Complete home repairs, especially uneven flooring, wobbly railings, or broken walkways
  • Place everyday items in their reach, especially in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Clean spills immediately, repair any leaks that result in wet floors
  • Remove ladders and step stools
  • Wear shoes, non-skid socks, or slippers in house
  • Move electrical cords out of walkways and any place they could get under foot
  • Get your senior’s vision and hearing checked and encourage use of adaptive aids
  • Encourage adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration and related confusion
  • Monitor medication administration for safety, throw away all expired and unneeded medicines
  • Help them participate in balance training exercises
  • Set up an exercise plan that incorporates activities they love, weight bearing activity, and core strength building
  • Help them eat well to maintain strong bones and muscles
  • Remind them to use any assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, and ensure they are using them correctly
  • Encourage them to get enough sleep at night
  • Reminders and, potentially, more presence by others, especially during times of the day when at greater risk

Family caregivers can be helped to keep their seniors safer in their homes by using technology. There are many devices, including home monitoring, fall mats, medication reminders, home alerts, water temperature alerts to prevent scalding, automatic shutoff devices for stoves, and other devices that can sync with your smartphone to give you more peace of mind. More are on the way, too.

Some are specifically designed to help prevent falls and others are to keep them safe when completing tasks independently at home.

All types can make every day tasks easier, reduce fatigue, and limit seniors from situations that could leave to falls.

If your senior does have a fall, be careful assisting them up so that you don’t compound any injury. Check out our video on how to properly get a senior up after a fall.

While you can’t prevent every fall, you can be proactive in reducing and hopefully defeating falls!