Boomer’s Blog

Boomer’s Blog2018-05-18T08:58:16+00:00

Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Kristen Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

Dr. Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, FAAN

Guest Blog: Home Improvements to Benefit Senior Living

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According to the Administration on Aging (AOA), simple home repairs, improvements, and modifications can help seniors move around their home more easily and avoid accidents such as slips and falls. Some of the easier home improvement projects that seniors can undertake with the help of home care aides to improve their lifestyle include:

Replace High Pile Rugs

Unlike low pile rugs, high pile rugs have longer threads that give them a luxuriant and aesthetically appealing look. However, high pile rugs tend to impede the movement of seniors who rely on walkers or walking canes and even worse, can increase the risk of trips and falls, which in turn increases the risk of injuries. In fact, data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)( http://www.aaos.org/Research/ ) shows that 90% of hip fractures in seniors are caused by falling. Moreover, 50% of patients with hip fractures remain dependent on a walker or cane, whereas 20% die within one year of falling. With this in mind, seniors could enlist the help of their senior care aides to replace high pile rugs with low pile rugs.

Installing Handrails and Grab Bars

Seniors can easily trip and fall when using the stairs or even the bathroom. Fortunately, installing handrails and grab bars can reduce this risk significantly. Inside the bathroom, grab bars should be installed on the walls. On the other hand, appropriate handrails should be installed along walls or suitable surfaces that run parallel to staircases.

Improve Mobility inside the Bathroom

Seniors can enlist the help of home care aides to install slip-resistant rugs on slippery floors such as the bathroom floor. This is in addition to installing a curb less shower to reduce the risk of falling while attempting to get inside the shower area. Remember, the elderly may have difficulties accessing bathroom areas that are elevated even slightly.

Replace Doorknobs with Lever Handles

A common problem that seniors face, especially those suffering from diseases that affect body joints such as arthritis, is turning doorknobs. Luckily, this problem can be resolved by replacing doorknobs with lever handles. Doing so would also improve safety because an elderly person would easily be able to open doors and escape in the event of an emergency such as a fire outbreak.

Replace Traditional Light Switches with Touch or Rocker Switches

Another problem that some seniors face is turning on/off traditional light switches. Seniors generally experience vision and mobility problems, meaning it becomes increasingly difficult for them to locate and turn on/off toggle switches. Nevertheless, seniors can resolve this issue with the help of home care aides by replacing the problematic switches with touch or rocker switches.

Lighting

Poor lighting can cause accidents such as falls with injury. Additionally, elderly may also injure their arms and hands while reaching for items stored inside poorly lit kitchen cabinets and drawers. An effective way of resolving these issues is by installing recessed lighting to illuminate kitchen workspaces and cabinets. Furthermore, it is wise to install suitable lighting to illuminate corridors, verandas, and outdoor walkway. This will make it easier for the elderly to move around or access whatever they need with relative ease, especially at night.

Some of the easier home improvement projects that seniors can complete with the help of senior care aides include installing handrails and grab bars, replacing high pile rugs with low pile ones, installing recessed lighting, replacing door knobs with lever handles, as well as replacing traditional toggle switches with touch or rocker switches.  If you find yourself needing reliable in-home senior care, providers like Seniors Helping Seniors (http://www.seniorcarebrentwoodca.com/ ) are always there to help.

 

By |November 2nd, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Home Improvements to Benefit Senior Living

Be informed about Stroke

May is National Stroke Awareness month, so this is a good time to reflect on stroke prevention and treatment. Consider these facts about stroke from the American Stroke Association (2013): Be informed about stroke.

• Nearly 800,000 Americans annually suffer a new or recurrent stroke.
• A stroke occurs about once every 40 seconds. About every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
• Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 137,000 people a year.
• Risk of stroke death is higher for African American males and females than for whites. Females have a higher rate of death from stroke than males.
• In 2010, Americans paid about $73.7 billion for stroke-related medical costs and disability.

Stroke is simply defined as an interruption of the blood supply to the brain. It is most often caused by a clot that either originated in the brain or traveled from another part of the body. Warning signs of stroke include (National Stroke Association, 2013):
• Sudden weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, speaking or understanding
• Sudden changes in vision
• Sudden dizziness, incoordination, or trouble walking
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone you love experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Do not delay. New medical treatments may be able to reverse the effects of stroke, but time is critical. Note the time that the symptoms started so that you can inform the medical professionals who are providing treatment.
The effects of stroke depend on the area of the brain that is damaged. Some common results of stroke are weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, difficulty walking or dressing oneself, aphasia, trouble eating or swallowing, bowel and bladder changes, cognitive changes such as memory problems, and emotional issues such as depression and mood swings. Stroke affects the entire family, so be sure to seek out resources and support in your community if a stroke has touched your family.

For stroke survivors, treatment in an acute rehabilitation facility with an interdisciplinary team approach is highly recommended and results in more positive outcomes. The rehabilitation team works together with the survivor and family to accomplish personal goals and achieve the highest level of function possible. Although some of the effects of stroke may be long-lasting or permanent, there is hope of continued progress and good quality of life after stroke.

By |October 31st, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Be informed about Stroke

The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

Caring For Husband

 

According to the CDC, nearly 800,000 persons in the United States have a stroke each year. This is about one every 4 minutes, resulting in over 130,000 deaths annually. Stroke is simply defined as an interruption to the blood supply to the brain and is caused by a clot or hemorrhage. It can be a devastating problem for survivors, resulting in changes in mobility, cognition, speech, swallowing, bowel and bladder, self-care, and general functioning to varying degrees.  Some people recover completely after a stroke, but others experience lifelong challenges.

The good news is that there is hope and quality of life after stroke. In my research with stroke survivors, I discovered 6 phases that survivors reported as they made the journey through rehabilitation towards recovery. These steps can be used to see where a person is in the recovery process, help us understand how they may be feeling, and help guide the way we interact with them.

Agonizing:  In this first phase of the process, stroke survivors are in shock over what has happened to them. They can’t believe it, and may even deny the warning signs of stroke. The important task during this time is survival from the stroke itself.  Call 911 if you see the warning signs of facial droop, arm weakness, or speech difficulties.

Fantasizing:  In the second phase of the stroke process, the survivor may believe that the symptoms will all go away. Life will return to normal, and there is a sense of the problem being unreal. Time takes on a different meaning. The way to help is to gently help them recognize reality, and without taking away hope for recovery.

Realizing: This is the most important phase that signals a turn in the recovery process. This is when the survivor realizes that he/she may not fully recover from the effects of the stroke and that there is work to be done to rehabilitate and reclaim life. Common feelings during this phase of realizing are anger and depression. The way to help is to encourage the person to actively engage in rehabilitation. The real work of recovery is just beginning.

Blending: These last 3 phases in the process of stroke recovery may be occurring at much the same time. This is where the real work of adaptation to life after stroke begins. The survivor begins to blend his “old life” before stroke with his new life as a stroke survivor. He/she may start to engage in former activities even if it requires adaptations to be made. He/she will be actively engaged in therapy and finding new ways to do things. The way to help is to promote education. This is a time when survivors are most ready to learn how to adjust to life after stroke. Listen to your rehab nurses, therapists, and physician. Be active in the recovery process.

Framing: During this phase, the individual wants to know what caused the stroke. Whereas in the Agonizing phase they were asking “why me?”, now they need to the answer to “what was the cause?”  Stroke can be a recurring disorder, so to stop a subsequent stroke, it is important to know the cause. Interestingly, if the physician has not given the survivor a cause for the first stroke, patients often make up a cause that may not be accurate. Help the survivor to learn from the health care provider what the cause of his/her own stroke was. Then steps can be taken to control those risk factors.

Owning:  In this final phase of stroke recovery, the survivor has achieved positive adaptation to the stroke event and aftermath. The survivor has accomplished the needed grief work over the losses resulting from the stroke. He/she has realized that the effects may not go away and has made positive adjustments to his/her life in order to go on. Survivors in this phase have blended their old life with the new life after stroke and feel better about their quality of life. While they still may revisit the emotions of the prior phases at times, they have accepted life as a survivor of stroke and made good adjustments to any changes that resulted. They feel that they have a more positive outlook on life. At this point, survivors can use their experience to help others cope with life after stroke.

For more information about stroke recovery, visit www.seniorcarecentral.net and view Dr. Mauk’s model for stroke recovery.

By |October 29th, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

Five Healthy and Fun Family Activities for Fall

 

Fall is a time of beautiful colors and crisp, fresh air, especially in places like the Western slope in Colorado. There are many simple family activities you can do with children and grandchildren to take advantage of this time of year, from Halloween tricks and treats to Thanksgiving traditions. Here are some that our family enjoys.

Go apple-picking

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There’s nothing like picking apples straight off the tree. Besides the amazement that a good fruit-bearing tree could actually feed a family all year with delicious fruit (provided you do the work of canning and freezing), you have the satisfaction of knowing right where the apples came from. No processing or waiting to see them in the grocery store. That is as healthy and fresh as it can get! Have the kids and grandkids help. Use laundry baskets to collect the apples, then take them home and wash thoroughly to remove any dirt or pesticides. Shine them up with a clean kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator to make them last longer. If you live in a cooperative climate, think about planting your own fruit trees. This year, one of our apple trees bore more than a thousand apples, and we picked them by hand, put them in cute bowls with scary spider rings and ribbons, then gave them to family members and friends. We had still plenty to eat, make pies and applesauce with, and experienced the joy of sharing with others.

Organize a costume exchange

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A lovely tradition at some churches is the annual costume exchange. Throughout October, the church gathers donations of gently used costumes from willing donors. Flyers are distributed in the community to advertise free costumes on a Saturday at the church for any who needs one. The women of the church bake cookies and have special treats available for that day. People from the town who might not be able to afford costumes for their kids visit as a family and get costumes free of charge while enjoying a time of neighborly fellowship.

Decorate pumpkins

Whether you have small children, teens, or grandkids, visiting the pumpkin patch is a treat. Some local farms will offer hay rides out to the field for everyone to find their perfect pumpkin. Have apple cider and donuts afterwards. For older kids, try a challenging corn maze at night with flashlights and glow rings. At home, decorate pumpkins by carving (but be careful to supervise – those carving knives are sharp), coloring, painting, gluing with felt designs, or other age-appropriate items. Display your creations in the window or on the porch for others to enjoy.

Share homemade baked goods

Around Thanksgiving time, many communities offer a complete turkey dinner for the homeless or those in need. Other towns provide a lunch for anyone who wishes to come and be part of a larger feast on Thanksgiving day. In some cases, cookies are taken to those who are in prison to brighten their day. To make such ventures a success, the sponsors often ask community members to bake pies or other baked goods. This is an excellent opportunity for children to learn to give to others who may be less fortunate. The entire family can be involved in baking and sharing with others in the spirit of being thankful.

Visit a special place to look at the changing colors

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Chances are, there is a special place near you that has especially vibrant Fall colors. Certain parts of Colorado attract people from miles around for picture-taking of our aspen and other trees at the peak of the season. A drive through the mountains or hills can be quality family time. Stop and take early senior-pictures of your graduates or a family portrait for a Thanksgiving or Christmas card. Post your pics on FaceBook for friends and family to enjoy or make a Fall scrapbook to preserve the memories.

There are many ways to celebrate our gratefulness for all that God has given us. No matter how you participate in the wonder of the Fall season, be sure to stop and take time to breathe in the beauty of our great country.

 

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By |October 24th, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Five Healthy and Fun Family Activities for Fall

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors and Treatment

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Background

This type of cancer occurs mainly in older adults, with an average age at diagnosis of 73 years, with 9 out of 10 cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in persons over age 55. The American Cancer Society (ACS)(2012) reported that over 73,000 cases were diagnosed in 2012 and that this diagnosis rate has been relatively stable over the last 20 years. Men are three times as likely to get cancer of the bladder as women (American Foundation for Urologic Disease, 2008) and the incidence increases with age.

Risk Factors

Risk factors include chronic bladder irritation and cigarette smoking, the latter contributing to over half of cases. Male gender and age are also risk factors.

Warning signs

The classic symptom of bladder cancer is painless hematuria (blood in the urine). Older adults may attribute the bleeding to hemorrhoids or other causes and feel that because there is no pain, it must not be serious.

Diagnosis

Assessment begins with a thorough history and physical. Diagnosis may involve several tests including an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), urinalysis, and cystoscopy (in which the physician visualizes the bladder structures through a flexible fiber-optic scope). This is a highly treatable type of cancer when caught early. In fact, the ACS (2012a ) estimates that there were more than 500,000 survivors of this cancer in 2012.

Treatment

Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the invasiveness of the cancer. Treatments for bladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy (ACS, 2012). Specifically, a transurethral resection (TUR) may involve burning superficial lesions through a scope. Bladder cancer may be slow to spread, and less invasive treatments may continue for years before the cancer becomes invasive or metastatic, if ever. Certainly chemotherapy, radiation, and immune (biological) therapy are other treatment options, depending on the extent of the cancer.

Immune/biological therapy includes Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) wash, an immune stimulant that triggers the body to inhibit tumor growth. BCG treatment can also be done after TUR to inhibit cancer cells from re-growing. Treatments are administered by a physician directly into the bladder through a catheter for 2 hours once per week for 6 or more weeks (Mayo Clinic, 2012a). The patient may be asked to lay on his/her stomach, back, and or sides throughout the procedure. The patient should drink plenty of fluids after the procedure and be sure to empty the bladder frequently. In addition, because the BCG contains live bacteria, the patient should be taught that any urine passed in the first six 6 hours after treatment needs to be treated with bleach: One cup of undiluted bleach should be placed into the toilet with the urine and allowed to sit for 15 minutes before flushing (Mayo Clinic, 2012a).

If the cancer begins to invade the bladder muscle, then removal of the bladder (cystectomy) is indicated to prevent the cancer from spreading. Additional diagnostic tests will be performed if this is suspected, including CT scan or MRI. Chemotherapy and/or radiation may be used in combination with surgery. When the cancerous bladder is removed, the person will have a urostomy, a stoma from which urine drains into a collection bag on the outside of the body, much like a colostomy does. Bleeding and infection are two major complications after surgery, regardless of type, whether a TUR or cystectomy is performed. Significant education of the patient related to intake/output, ostomy care, appliances, and the like is also indicated.

For more information on Bladder Cancer, visit National Cancer Institute at:
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/bladder/

Adapted from Mauk, K. L., Hanson, P., & Hain, D. (2014). Review of the management of common illnesses, diseases, or health conditions. In K. L.
Mauk’s (Ed.) Gerontological Nursing: Competencies for Care. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Used with permission.

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By |October 21st, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Bladder Cancer Risk Factors and Treatment

Guest Blog: Four Easy Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

For many people, winter is a magical time. They get to play in the snow, celebrate holidays with family and friends, and cuddle up by the fire. But, for some, including seniors, winter can be a difficult and even potentially dangerous time.

Between the risks of slipping and falling and arthritis pain made worse by the cold weather, many seniors find themselves dreading the winter months. If you’re in this group, there’s no need to fear the cold and snow.

Read on to learn about four winter safety tips that every senior should keep in mind as the weather cools down.

1. Avoid Slips and Falls
Your chances of slipping and falling increase dramatically in the winter.

To avoid falls and potentially serious injuries, be sure to only walk on sidewalks and walkways that have been cleared and salted. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and take another route.

It’s also important to wear proper winter boots with non-skid soles. Replace the rubber tip on your cane, if you use one, too.

2. Drive Safely
You also need to take extra precautions when you drive during the winter months. Have your car checked during the fall or early winter to make sure everything is operating properly. Be sure to keep your cell phone with you whenever you drive, too.

Avoid driving on icy roads whenever you can, and stick to well-plowed, bigger roads when snow hits. They’re usually cleared more quickly than backroads.

3. Minimize Joint Pain
If you suffer from arthritis or joint pain, you mind find that it gets worse during the winter. Some things you can do to relieve your pain and stay comfortable include:

Dress warmly
Find ways to exercise indoors
Eat a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet
Use balms or creams to relieve knee pain
Soak in a warm bath or hot tub to loosen up your joints

4. Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
Finally, keep in mind that Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD or winter depression, is also common among seniors, especially seniors who live alone and don’t socialize as much during the winter.

If you find yourself feeling depressed or isolated when the weather cools down, seek out new ways to connect with loved ones. Schedule daily or weekly phone calls, or arrange for family members and friends to come and visit you.

By |October 19th, 2018|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Guest Blog: Four Easy Winter Safety Tips for Seniors