Archive for December 2015

Keys To Avoiding Injuries During Exercise For Seniors

Posted on Dec 28, 2015

Senior man at the gym

Exercise is important for individuals at any age. As we grow older, however, it becomes increasingly vital and offers more and more benefits. Exercise unfortunately also holds risks for injury for seniors who may not have the strength or balance to complete some work outs. With the new year fast approaching, many of us will be starting new workout regimens in an attempt to be healthier. Before doing so, be sure to consult a doctor to better understand what will be beneficial to you and what could be dangerous. Here are some other precautions to consider also. 

Dress properly

The proper attire for exercise will help a great deal when it comes to staying safe. That starts with choosing the proper footwear. No matter what the activity, your shoes should offer plenty of grip and support. If it's your first time wearing a new pair of shoes, try to break them in and get a feel for them before attempting any strenuous activity. This will minimize the risk of a slip or fall during your workout. Your clothes should be chosen carefully too. First, be sure no article of clothing is too loose so it doesn't get caught on anything or cause you to trip. Second, dress accordingly for the weather. When it's cold out, be sure to dress in warm layers, and when it's hot out, wear breathable clothing and be sure to protect yourself from the sun. 

Inspect equipment

If you'll be using exercise equipment, a bicycle, or any other type of equipment, don't be in a hurry to take off. Make time to carefully inspect your equipment before each workout to be sure it's in working order. You should be able to spot any obvious issues. This will also help if you share equipment with others since you'll be able to double-check the amount of weight it's currently set to, or spot wet spots that could result in slipping. This is a simple task that can make a big difference. 

Stay hydrated

This could be the most important tip on this list. Dehydration can cause dizziness, nausea, light headedness, and loss of consciousness. That risk can be exacerbated when you're around heavy objects like weights that you could hit your head on in the event of a fall. Staying hydrated starts well before your workout. Ideally, you'll begin hydrating the day before, then continue drinking plenty of water up to your workout, throughout your workout, and after your workout. As we age, we become less susceptible to thirst, which means our body isn't as good about warning us when we begin to become dehydrated. So, don't rely on thirst to tell you when to drink. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere and drink from it often. 

Warm up and cool down

Finally, a key to avoiding injury during exercise is to properly warm up and cool down your body. That means stretching thoroughly before your workout, then starting out slow and working up to more strenuous activity. Then, you'll want to ramp down the activity and stretch again afterward. Not only will this help you to avoid injury during the workout, but it also helps keep your muscles from becoming sore and cramping, which could lead to falls well after your workout. 

At Cura-HPC, we're dedicated to health for individuals of any age. We offer hospice care to those with life-limiting illnesses in order to increase comfort and improve quality of life. If you'd like to learn more about hospice services for yourself or a loved one, please contact us at 800-797-3839. 

How To Help Grieving Loved Ones This Holiday Season

Posted on Dec 21, 2015

Family at home with Christmas gifts

Grief is a powerful emotion that can be exacerbated during certain times of the year. Milestones like birthdays and anniversaries can be particularly difficult. So too can the holiday season. Because so many of our holiday memories prominently feature loved ones, spending the holidays without those familiar faces can be extremely difficult. If you know of someone who has recently lost a loved one, these tips may be helpful for helping them through a difficult time. 

  • Be flexible

Many of us think that including family members coping with grief and loss in our normal, established traditions will be best for them. That's not always the case, however. It's important not to force anything on any individual. For some, those traditions will be comforting and help them feel normal. But for others, those traditions will only call attention to the fact that someone special isn't there to share them. So, be flexible during holiday gatherings and open to changing the usual routine. 

  • Volunteer

An alternative to the normal holiday traditions is to volunteer to help those less fortunate. This can be a wonderful activity for those who have recently lost a loved one. It allows them to stay busy, while doing something truly meaningful and worthwhile. It's also a great way to strengthen the bond between the grieving individual and yourself. When you're finished volunteering, you'll likely find that both of your spirits have been lifted. 

  • Remember

Another common mistake made when attempting to help a grieving loved one is to avoid talking about or remembering the recently deceased. In actuality, it can be an integral part of the healing process. Think of it this way. When someone dies, we don't want to forget them. We can actually be strengthened by realizing that they'll never be forgotten. It can be painful at first, but if the grieving individual is ready, it can be a wonderful experience to take some time to talk about memories of the deceased, look at old pictures of them, or just let them know that you're thinking about both of them. This will often lead to the individual wanting to share their feelings with you. That's when it's important to be ready to listen. 

  • Follow-up

There's often an outpouring of support just after someone has died for their surviving relatives. After a few weeks, however, most of us have returned to our normal routines. A similar process tends to take place around the holidays. Because we recognize this season can be difficult, we place a special emphasis on helping our friend or family member with their loss. After the holidays, however, we often go back to our routine, leaving that individual alone again. Making time for a grieving loved one this holiday season is important, but so too is continuing to help them even after the holidays. Make plans to check back in after a few days to see how they're doing. Try to follow up with them periodically just to chat, or to offer to help them with chores or errands. 

At Cura-HPC, we value the opportunity we have to impact the quality of our patients' lives, and the lives of their loved ones. Our hospice services include helping the families of our patients prepare and cope with loss. To learn more or to find out if hospice care is right for you or a loved one, contact us at 800-797-3839. 

Educate Yourself On The Symptoms and Causes Of Strokes

Posted on Dec 17, 2015

Stop stroke sign

A stroke can be debilitating and life altering for both the victim and their family. Stokes occur when brain is deprived of oxygen because of a lack of blood flowing to the brain, which causes brain cells to die. It's important for an individual suffering a stroke to immediately seek medical help. That's why it's also important to learn about the warning signs and causes of strokes so you can act quickly when needed. Here's what everyone should know. 

Warning signs and symptoms

Because the brain is being deprived of oxygen, the longer you wait to get medical attention when a stroke occurs, the more brain cells die and the more severe the effects. One of the most recognizable symptoms is sudden, slurred speech. For the victims of a stroke, you may also find it difficult to understand what others are saying to you. For some victims, there will also be a pounding headache, dizziness or vomiting. Vision is also impaired by a stroke. This could include blurred vision, or the complete loss of vision in one or both eyes. Physical motor skills are often affected as the victim will have trouble standing or walking, and have difficulty with balance. Finally, watch for localized paralysis in certain areas of the body. This is commonly seen in one side of the face, an arm or a leg. 

Categories and causes

There are three primary categories of stroke that all caused by slightly different events in the body. Ischemic strokes occur when an artery in the brain is blocked or narrowed, which prevents proper blood flow and oxygen to reach the brain. Typically, this is caused by a blood clot forming in the brain's artery, or forms elsewhere in the body, but travels in the blood stream until it's lodged in the brain's artery. There are also Transient Ischemic Attacks, TIA or mini-strokes, which also are caused by a blockage of blood flow in the brain. These are only temporary, however, and typically last less than 5-minutes. In these cases, a blood clot or other debris blocks the artery, but is small enough to be moved by normal blood flow eventually. Victims of TIA strokes should seek medical attention, however, because it signals an increased risk of additional strokes. Finally, Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by burst or leaking blood vessels in the brain. This is usually brought on by head trauma, high blood pressure or can be a congenital issue. 

Risk factors

Certain factors put you at an increased risk of stroke. It's important to identify these factors and take precautions through medical care to work to lower your risk. A lack of exercise and being overweight significanlty increases your risk of having a stroke. So too do other unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. Medical factors, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep apnea can also increase your risk of having a stroke. Men over the age of 55 are typically at the highest risk, but if your family has a history of strokes or heart attacks, that can affect the likelihood that you'll be the victim of a stroke, as well. 

At Cura-HPC, we provide hospice care for a variety of patients, including those who have recently suffered a stroke. If you have a loved one in need of care, or you'd like to learn more about hospice, we'd love you to contact us at 800-797-3839. 

5 Ways To Make A Hospice Patient's Holidays Merry

Posted on Dec 10, 2015

Grandparents with granddaughter at Christmas

The holidays are typically a joyous time spent with loved ones. For some, however, holidays are a difficult time of year. Particularly those with health issues, the holidays can sometimes make them feel isolated, or leave them longing for days when they were more able to get out and do their favorite holiday activities. For individuals in hospice care, there are a number of ways to keep their spirits bright throughout the holidays. If you have a loved on in hospice care, consider some of these activities. 

Bring holiday events to them

Feelings of isolation can be accentuated when an individual is unable to attend a family get-together. Whenever possible, try to plan gatherings around a hospice patient in order to include them. For some, that may mean simply moving festivities from an out-of-state location, to one in town. For others, it may mean bringing at least part of the group into the patient's home. Be sure to talk it over with your loved one to help them prepare and to find out what they're most comfortable with. They may like you to help clean up before family arrives, or request that only a small number of guests come to visit. Going through this process, even if it only results in a few minutes together, will go a long way. 

Help them decorate

For many of us, it's just not the holidays without the festive decorations. This remains true for many hospice patients, even when they're unable to decorate their home themselves. Ask if your ill or elderly relatives would like help hanging lights, putting up a tree or putting up other decorations around their home. This effort makes them feel more comfortable and brings some normalcy to the season. 

Write their holiday cards

Annual holiday cards being sent is an honored tradition for many. If your loved one enjoys sending out holiday cards, take some time to help them this year. You may write the cards while they dictate what to say, or you may just help with addressing envelopes. You may even just volunteer to help them read through the holiday cards they've received from others. Even if you don't offer much assistance, your time spent with a hospice patient will be greatly appreciated. 

Bake them treats

Another favorite tradition might be to to prepare a favorite dessert or sweet treat. For some, you may simply offer to assist them while they bake. Others may need more help, but they'll still enjoy the smells and sounds of activity in the kitchen. Again, this can make their holidays seem more normal and familiar, which can bring great comfort. 

Reminisce with them

The holidays have a way of conjuring up memories from the past. The simple gesture of sitting and talking with your loved one about past holidays and family members will have great meaning. Bring a photo album to flip through to help remember some of those favorite holiday experiences. This can be a wonderful experience for anyone, and is particularly beneficial for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

This holiday season, think about your loved ones currently in hospice care and consider what cherished holiday traditions they may be missing out on. 

For more information about hospice care, and our philosophy at Cura-HPC, contact us at 800-797-3839. 

Could Walking Slowly Be A Sign Of Alzheimer's?

Posted on Dec 03, 2015

Elderly couple walking

There are many current studies being conducted that attempt to find a link between certain behaviors and the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The hope is that by finding these associations, we can begin to better understand what causes Alzheimer's and more accurately diagnose it in its early phases. One recently concluded study conducted the Center of Excellence in Neurodegeneration of Toulouse, France hypothesized that the walking speed of seniors could be used as an early warning signal of Alzheimer's disease. 

Specifically, researcher Dr. Natalia de Campo believed that slow walking speed could signal the build-up of amyloid plaque in the brain. In Alzheimer's patients, an excess of amyloid plaque occurs in the brain and is believed to be responsible for the damage that occurs there. These plaques are present in the brain even before any external symptoms of Alzheimer's are present. 

Amyloid plaques are clumps of short fragments of APP, or amyloid precursor protein. APP occurs throughout the body, but one hyposthesis suggests that a fault develops in the brain that causes incomplete segments to be produced. These fragments clump together and accumulate and begin to disrupt and destroy nerve cells, which is believed to cause Alzheimer's disease. 

Dr. de Campo's study began with 128 participants averaging 76-years of age. Each participant had experienced memory problems, but none had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia. After administering PET scans to each individual, nearly half of the participants were found to have amyloid plaque in the brain at a level associated with Alzheimer's disease. 

Thinking and memory tests were then administered to determine the participants current cognitive abilities. Again, nearly half showed mild cognitive impairment, which is often a signal of the start of dementia. 

Finally, walking speed tests were used to measure each individual's pace when walking about 13-feet. The average for this test is 3.48 feet per second. All but two of the participants finished with a walking pace within the normal range.

Even with most participants walking at close to an average pace, researchers still found an association between amyloid plaque levels in the brain and slight differences in walking speed. Those with significant amyloid plaque build-up were observed to walk up to 9-percent slower than those without such build-up. These findings were also independent of an individual's age, education level or current memory problems. 

Because amyloid plaque in participants with slower walking speed's was often found in the area of the brain significantly involved with motor function, it's believed to cause damage similar to the damage that leads to memory loss and dementia in other areas of the brain. 

Dr. de Campo stresses that this research found only an association between amyloid plaques and slow walking speed, and there are many other factors that can contribute to slow walking speeds in seniors. Still, the findings are significant and are likely to trigger further research. 

At Cura-HPC, we provide hospice care for patients struggling with life-limiting illnesses, including Alzheimer's and dementia. To learn more about our services and our philosophy of care, contact us at 800-797-3839.