Growing Older Articles
The Journey of Alzheimer Disease - support for the 'long goodbye'
Alzheimer Disease is often likened to being on a journey. The comparison holds true for both caregivers and the person with the disease. Although a journey is often thought of as a pleasant trip, not all journeys are comfortable ones.
Building Strength in Aging Muscles - building strength is key to good health
For many people, the thought of aging conjures up an image of a wizened old person, stooped and slow. Growing older is feared as both undesirable and hopeless. However, more and more, today's aging population is realizing there can be an active life after 65.
Can I See Well Enough to Drive? Like your car, vision needs regular maintenance
After age 40, several eye diseases become more common. By the time you are a senior citizen, these conditions may affect your ability to drive a car. The older you are, the more essential regular eye exams become to your safety and that of others.
Coping with Agitation in Dementia - suggestions for family caregivers
In dementia, a person’s mental ability and behavior are altered by an illness affecting their brain. Different conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, may cause dementia. Over half of patients with dementia experience agitation at some point during their illness. Agitation affects the quality of life for both patients and those that care for them, even more so when primary caregivers are family members. Because this often means constant demands for care, caregivers may have high levels of stress, and thus affect their own physical and mental health. Careful management of behavior problems can improve the well-being of both the patient and caregiver.
Cataracts - new solutions to old problems
If you live a long life, you can expect to have cataracts form in both of your eyes.
Although they can develop at any time of life, cataracts are usually a natural part of
Constipation - keep your bowels moving
Constipation is a common complaint, especially for seniors. About thirty per cent of adults over the age of sixty-five suffer from constipation. It seems to be slightly more common in women. Although it is a more common concern for seniors, constipation is not part of normal aging. You might think that as you get older the digestive tract or gut slows down or wears out. Actually, the gut ages better than most body systems.
COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - a breathtaking condition
Chances are you already know about the danger of smoking and the risk of lung cancer that comes with it. However, you may not be aware of other diseases associated with smoking. One of the most common is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This lung disease includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Congestive Heart Failure - managing a serious condition
Imagine your worry when a doctor says that you have congestive heart failure (CHF). The words alone can summon fearful images. However, understanding CHF and modern treatments that manage this serious heart problem can help you c
Controlling Your Medications - do you need a structured medication review?
Research has found regular reviews of medications by a health care provider, such as a doctor, pharmacist or nurse, can help. A review can improve medication use by seniors and find possible drug related problems. The average number of medications taken by the senior may be decreased, reducing medication waste and costs. However, seniors need to stay involved. Both seniors who take the medications and their caregivers play an important role in taking control and improving medication use.
Delirium and Seniors - A medical emergency
If someone you know is suddenly confused and has trouble concentrating, this could be delirium. Delirium is confused mental functioning. Older people are at greater risk for developing the condition. It is absolutely essential that delirium be treated quickly. It is a medical emergency.
Dementia - helpful tips for coping with a loved one
Dementia describes any condition where changes in the brain have led to mental deterioration. Many families are faced with the stress of caring for a loved one with dementia.
Eating Well in the Older Years - ideas for buying and preparing food
Most seniors know that eating nutritious food is essential to good health. Many are creative in the ways they buy and prepare meals. Throughout their lives they have learned how to adapt. Some knew food rationing during war. Others lived through hard times when money was scarce. Seniors are resourceful and proud of it.
The following definitions help to identify the problem:
- Elder Abuse is any action or lack of action a person in a position of trust uses to risk the health or well being of an elderly person.
- Physical abuse is any rough treatment causing injury or physical discomfort. Use of
restraints may be included in this.
- Psychological or emotional abuse is any act that diminishes a person's identity, dignity and self-worth. A person who is confined or isolated, spoken to cruelly or harshly, humiliated, or treated like a child is abused by this definition.
Exercise Benefits for Seniors - physical activity protects against illness and frailty
For many people, a greater worry than dying is living for a long time in poor health. The two most important goals of health care for the elderly are preventing disability and preserving independence. Although keeping physically active becomes more difficult as people grow older, regular exercise remains necessary for good health.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a very common problem for men between the ages of 40 and 70. ED is the inability to achieve an adequate erection for sexual intercourse. Although it is a common condition, this is not a comfortable topic for many people. Fortunately, this attitude is changing as more research and studies are done to help treat ED.
Exercise Helps Seniors - staying physically active can help you enjoy your golden years
Staying strong and active can help you enjoy your golden years to the fullest. Improving strength will help you to walk faster and longer, and to climb stairs more easily. You will be better able to rise from a chair and less likely to fall and break bones. Arthritis pain and disability often improve. Your heart will work better. Your
blood pressure will drop while your cholesterol levels improve.
Eye Care in the Senior Years - your vision is more at risk
Eye diseases are more common after age 60. Five out of 100 patients over age 65 who believe they have "healthy eyes" do, in fact, have some form of eye disease. Many vision problems can be discovered only with office testing.
Eye Conditions that can affect Driving
Several eye diseases become more common after the age of 40. By the time we become senior citizens, these conditions may affect our ability to drive a car. For this reason, regular eye exams become increasingly important as we age. What are some of the eye diseases that can cause problems?
Your Nice Old Feet - with care, they can last a lifetime
Even under ideal conditions, good car tires wear out. A flat tire can make an otherwise good car completely useless. Most feet are used so much that they, too, wear out. Unlike car tires, feet cannot be changed for new ones. On average, our feet walk the equivalent of the distance around the world by the time we reach the age of 65. Make your feet as happy as possible. Painful feet are a serious problem.
Frailty in Seniors - teamwork helps older adults to stay independent
Only in the last half century have we begun to achieve successful aging. In the early years of the last century, few people reached old age. Communicable diseases and accidents took a heavy toll among children and young adults. Despite many health conditions and other effects of aging, most people in their late 80s and beyond enjoy lives of good quality and are fairly independent. However, their ability to be independent is at risk. An acute illness, a worsening of chronic illness, injury, surgery or a poor effect of medication or treatment may cause a hospital or nursing home admission.
Fungal Nail Infections - dealing with a common problem
Have you noticed your finger or toe nails becoming more discoloured, thickened or disfigured? Many different skin diseases can affect nails. Onychomycosis is the medical term for fungal infection of finger or toenails. Affected nails may change in appearance, thicken, discolour, and sometimes split.
Glaucoma - a preventable eye disease
Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye conditions where pressure inside the eye is higher than normal. This increased pressure can damage the delicate structures at the back of the eye, resulting in a steady loss of vision and eventual blindness. However, this damage can often be prevented if glaucoma is found and treated early.
Grief - adjusting to life after a loved one dies
Grief after the death of a loved one is a universal human emotion. A period of deep sorrow is part of a healing process that helps us let go of the past and adjust to life without a loved one. Although the pain of loss may never go away, it lessens over time.
Tips for Staying Healthy - simple actions can help you live longer
Old age is not a disease. Although we develop more health problems as we get older, we don't necessarily have to resign ourselves to years of sickness. Modern health care includes taking personal responsibility for our health no matter what our age.
Have Health, Will Travel - healthy travel from the resort to the outback
Whether you put on your backpack to travel in the ’60s or head overseas in your sixties, travelling can take many forms throughout life. Travel offers a wonderful way to experience different cultures, gain a new perspective, or simply relax. Healthy choices before and during travel help ensure a safe trip now and more in the future.
Hearing Loss - a silent disability
Some degree of hearing loss affects 60 per cent of Canadians over the age of 70. Loss of hearing due to the changesof aging is called presbycusis.
Urinary Incontinence - help and advice for men
George is 76 years old. He had a stroke two months ago. Since then he gets sudden, strong urges to urinate. This happens often – even several times a night. He often leaks urine on the way to the bathroom.
Getting a Good Night's Sleep - how seniors can overcome insomnia
Gone are the days of counting sheep. From relaxation techniques to popping pills, seniors in Canada spend many waking hours searching for better solutions for a good night’s sleep. No wonder – sleeplessness affects an estimated 12 to 25 per cent of otherwise healthy Canadian seniors. It is one of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor.
Joint Replacement - the pros and cons
Joint replacement (arthroplasty) is a surgery that removes some bone and cartilage from the joint, replacing it with metal, plastic or ceramic parts. Titanium and cobalt-chrome are the most common metals used. Although knee and hip joints are replaced most frequently, similar surgeries can be done for shoulder joints, elbows, ankles, wrists and the small joints of the hand. Each year in Canada, an estimated 45,0000 knee and hip arthroplasties are done each year. The number of surgeries will most likely rise as baby boomers age.
Lab tests - prepare properly for accurate results
Your doctor uses many tools to monitor and safeguard your health. Your medical history, risk factors, symptoms and physical exams all provide clues. Still, your doctor sometimes needs more information than these sources give. Laboratory tests are another powerful tool that may be used as part of a routine medical, or to confirm or exclude a diagnosis. Such tests can help the doctor make certain treatment is working, monitor prescription drug levels, or screen for a medical condition.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration - Are you at risk for blindness?
More Canadians than ever before are developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness in those over 55. By age 75, a third of us will have some degree of macular degeneration.
Maintaining Quality of Life as You Age - It’s never too early to begin planning
Along with the challenges of growing older there may come a time to accept help. Most older adults want to live at home for as long as possible. Some move to locations where support and care are provided. Wherever you live, support can help you to maintain quality of life as you age.
Male Menopause - is andropause the male equivalent?
During menopause (when menstruation ends), a woman experiences withdrawal of the hormone estrogen. This can have a great impact on her physical and mental health. The steady decline of the hormone testosterone can have the same global effects in aging men. This phase is called andropause, withdrawal of the androgen testosterone. Although andropause is usually a more gradual process with less obvious symptoms, replacing testosterone may produce dramatic improvement in quality of life for affected men.
Memory Loss - when is it a problem?
Seniors worry about their memories because memory loss becomes more common as one ages. By the time we reach the age of 75, there are few of us who do not know someone with Alzheimer Disease.
Memory Loss - staying sharp
As baby boomers enter their sixties, they hope to prevent the memory loss that may have affected their parents’ generation. Not surprisingly, an avalanche of research has been done in hopes of unlocking the mysteries of the brain. Both government and industry are searching for a ‘magic bullet’ that could put an end to progressive memory loss. A drug that could successfully delay such problems would be a runaway best seller. Many products sold through magazines, television and the Internet claim to preserve memory, but do they work?
The Senior Chef - nutrition for seniors
By the time you reach your senior years, you will have gained a wealth of knowledge about foods. You will have distinct food likes and dislikes and you will have shared food with others in many celebrations. As you grow older, it is important to renew your enjoyment of food through healthy eating.
Osteoarthritis - a common cause of joint pain
Almost four million Canadians suffer from some form of arthritis, a general term for inflammation of the joints. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which affects about one in 10 Canadians, primarily the elderly. It occurs in all races, cultures and both sexes.
Osteoporosis - how it's diagnosed and treated
Osteoporosis is no longer an unfamiliar word. In this condition, bone tissue has lost its normal density and is more fragile. Bones become more porous and compressible than normal bone. Think of the difference between a sponge and a brick, which is porous but dense. Many of us are now aware of osteoporosis, and are concerned about our chances of developing it. While lifestyle and diet are the main ways to treat and prevent osteoporosis, medication is also used. Recent media reports have raised questions about the safety of these medications. In this article we’ll review osteoporosis and discuss when and how medications are often used in its treatment.
When the actor Michael J. Fox announced that he had Parkinson's disease, many
people who had only heard vaguely of the disease began to take more interest. The United States Attorney General, Janet Reno, who also has the disease and has a noticeable tremor, has made the public more aware of the visible effects it can have. Many readers are likely to want answers to questions about this disease.
Planning Ahead - The reasoning behind advance care plans
Think about all the decisions you make in a day. Then, imagine that you suddenly had a stroke or a car crash. You would need help making everyday decisions. The best time to consider your future is when you are healthy and able to think clearly. Plan for a time when you need help with decisions about health care and living arrangements. You can do this with an advance care plan, also called a personal directive. To manage financial matters, you can establish an enduring power of attorney.
Problem gambling - when it's no longer a game
Many seniors have more leisure time and enjoy gambling for fun. Still, a small number of senior gamblers lose control of their behaviour. Problem gambling can lead to loss of savings, rent, mortgage payments or property. Seniors may feel desperate and hopeless. As more time becomes taken up by gambling, less and less is available for loved ones. Family members may also feel worried, upset and helpless.
Retirement - the honeymoon and beyond
Congratulations! You are about to retire, leave your job behind and begin a new phase of your life. As with any change in your life, you will probably approach retirement with mixed feelings. Some people worry about leaving a job that was predictable and familiar; others feel excitement about the future that lies ahead. Most of us feel a bit of both.
Safe Driving for Seniors - Knowing when it's time to quit
Without a doubt, driving offers seniors both mobility and independence and today’s seniors are driving more and longer than in the past. Although many older drivers are safe drivers, in the past 20 years, crash rates have increased by 50 per cent for senior drivers (and decreased 10 per cent for drivers under 65).
Screening Tests - are 'check-up' tests really necessary?
It's time for your annual physical. Your doctor looks, pokes, taps, listens, and goes over every inch of your body with a magnifying glass and a fine-tooth comb. She can't find anything wrong, and you feel great . . . but she still orders a whole battery of medical tests for you! Are all these tests really necessary? Just what are they for anyway?
Sexually Transmitted Infections - not just a problem for college students
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread through intimate sexual contact. As they mostly affect younger men and women, older adults may not think they are at risk. However, this is simply not true.As our society has changed, so have the sex lives of older Canadians. We are living longer, healthier and more sexually active lives. More than ever, we are staying interested in sex. Thanks to medications such as Viagra™, Cialis™ and Levitra™, male erectile dysfunction (ED) can be overcome. Women are also resolving effects of aging that reduce sexual enjoyment, including menopause and vaginal dryness. What’s more, many men and women are finding themselves single again.
Sexual Expression at Any Age - older people enjoy sex too!
The idea that sexuality belongs only to the young is a myth. In fact, older adults can, and do, continue to express sexuality into and even beyond their 80s and 90s. Some changes in sexual expression tend to occur with age. However, many problems in sexual function that we tend to link with aging are not actually a result of getting older. More commonly, they are due to specific illnesses or drug side effects.
Skin Structure - understanding the nature of skin helps in caring for it
The expression "beauty is skin deep" is well known. But, as we get older, we also begin to understand that charactersucceeds physical beauty in importance. Nevertheless, it is still essential for health that we continue to care for our skin.
Stroke Prevention - know the warning signs
It is likely that you are familiar with the appearance of someone who has had a stroke. You may have a friend or relative who has been afflicted in this way. Strokes are the third most common cause of death in the industrialized world.
Seniors and Medications - avoiding common problems
Medications help us live longer, prevent diseases, and make physical conditions more manageable. Unfortunately, they can also cause side effects, particularly for children and seniors.
Dizziness - all about vertigo
The incidence of dizziness increases with age and can be a very disabling condition
in an older person. Often it is a vague symptom which is very disruptive to per- forming every day activities. Difficulties may include doing household chores, shopping, walking or doing leisure activities such as golf..
Urinary Incontinence - effective treatments exist
Urinary incontinence is a medical term describing a periodic inability to control passing urine. More simply put, it is the unwanted release of urine at the wrong time, or ‘wetting your pants.’ Although this can be embarrassing, it can be effectively treated.
Prostate Health - what men should know
The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system. It sits at the bottom of the urinary bladder and wraps around the urethra. A tube called the urethra goes from the bladder to the tip of the penis. The prostate is a small organ, about the size of a walnut. In young men, it weighs only 20 grams. Although it is small, it can cause a lot of problems as men age. The most common diseases are enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH) and prostate cancer.
Skin over 50 - how aging affects your skin care
Snow on the roof doesn't mean there's no fire in the hearth." This expression
describing white hair (hair is a form of modified skin) is just one of many ways in
which we describe the effects of aging on skin. In this article, we will look at the basic structure of skin, things that affect its appearance and function, and what we can do to lessen the wear and tear it is exposed to in everyday life.
Your Cholesterol Levels
As you probably know, heart disease and stroke are the number one killers of North Americans. About half of first-time heart attacks are fatal. The large number of people who die of their first heart attack aren’t even aware they have the disease. Heart attacks occur primarily because of a gradual clogging of the coronary arteries. These are the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Many factors are involved in this process, called atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” The link between high levels of fatty substances in the blood and atherosclerosis was established nearly 80 years ago.
Wills and Personal Directives - planning for tomorrow
'I don’t need to plan for the future. My family will take care of me.' Sometimes it is difficult for even the most caring family or friends to know your wishes. You can help them now by planning for the future. In return you can feel secure, not fearful, knowing you have planned wisely.
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