Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

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

Constipation Treatment

A Prune A Day

Background

Constipation is the most common bowel problem in older adults. The definition varies by patients and health care providers, but generally it means less frequent bowel movements than usual, and those which are hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Constipation is a preventable and treatable problem. Changes that occur with normal aging, such as peristalsis in the gut slowing down or decreased physical activity, predispose older persons to constipation.

Risk Factors/Warning Signs

Constipation is often due to a combination of causes. Some of the risk factors include decreased activity, medications (such as certain pain pills, iron supplements, and calcium supplements), depression, neurological conditions (dementia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and spinal cord injury), dehydration, low dietary fiber, metabolic disturbances (such as hypothyroidism), undergoing dialysis, obstruction, and decreased access to the toilet (Halter et al., 2009). The range of “normal” for bowel movements is three times per day to three times per week. A decrease in number of stools that is “normal” for the person and the occurrence of hard, dry stools that are difficult to expel are typical signs of constipation.

Diagnosis

If constipation is severe enough for the person to seek medical care, the patient may complain of abdominal pain and even have symptoms similar to other problems such as an appendicitis or diverticulitis. These more serious ailments can be ruled out through x-rays, CT scan or MRI. The diagnosis is based on clinical presentation, history, and physical examination. It is important to determine the onset and duration of the constipation, along with functional and nutritional status.

Treatments

Before starting a bowel program to prevent constipation, the existing problem should be dealt with. A physician may prescribe laxatives, suppositories, and/or enemas to get the stool moving and eliminated. Many such products can be obtained over the counter as home remedies, but severe and recurrent problems should be referred to the primary care provider for further examination of the cause. After starting with a clean bowel, interventions should focus on lifestyle and dietary modifications. All natural means should be tried first before adding medication to the regimen. This includes regular exercise, establishment of a regular routine for toileting (assure privacy), and encouragement of a high-fiber diet with adequate fluid intake (unless contraindicated)(Joanna Briggs Institute, 2008). Medications may be considered for those who do not respond to lifestyle changes. Residents of nursing homes appear to respond to stimulant laxatives (e.g., senna, bisacodyl) or Miralax. Enemas should not be used on a regular basis because they promote lazy bowel function. Most older persons can avoid constipation if they remain active, have proper nutrition high in fiber, and drink plenty of fluids.
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.

For more information on Constipation, visit The Mayoclinic at:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/

 

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By |2018-09-30T22:42:36+00:00October 1st, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Constipation Treatment

Guest Blog: 3 Essential Tips in Senior Foot Care

Due to decades of intense usage, the inevitable process of aging can be particularly taxing on your feet. However, foot troubles are not necessarily an unavoidable part of getting older, and there are many actions one can take to maintain healthy feet beyond their years.

Here are the three main factors you need to consider:

1. Hygiene
The foot is like any part of the body, and if you neglect its cleanliness, then you are bound to end up with some undesirable effects. It’s a good idea to wash your feet every day with a mild soap while using a foot scrubber to smooth off any dead skin.

After a good soak, you may want to trim those softened nails by using clippers to cut straight across, careful to avoid sharp corners that may become ingrown toenails. It’s also important to note that you should never put socks on wet feet, as bacteria thrive in damp conditions and a fungal infection could be quick to follow.

2. Footwear
A bad shoe can not only cause an array of displeasing foot conditions (including bunions, hammer toes, and Achilles tendinitis) but can also inflict trauma on your knees and posture. Always choose comfort over fashion, get every shoe professionally fitted, and ask about the best insole for your arch shape to prevent foot pain.

If mobility has become a problem for you, then test out an assistive walking device. Whether a cane, a rollator, or a mobility scooter, there are so many options to choose from that you will easily find something to suit your exact needs.

3. Attention
Your foot cramp might be telling you something, so don’t ignore it! There is a good chance that these muscle contractions are related to your diet, hence why you should always load your plate up with fruits and vegetables. This may also be the perfect excuse to go out and get a nice relaxing foot massage.

Another essential aspect of foot care is to regularly inspect your skin for any new marks or sores, taking note of everything that wasn’t there before including ulcers, corns, and ingrown toenails. If you’re in doubt about anything you discover, it’s better to be safe than sorry and speak to a medical professional. Remember: the sooner something hazardous is caught, the easier it will be to repair.

By |2018-09-26T13:23:41+00:00September 27th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 3 Essential Tips in Senior Foot Care

How To Make Aging In Place As Easy As Possible

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Many seniors lead active lives after retirement, and while some individuals have physical or mental limitations that prevent them from doing so, most want to remain in their own home for as long as they can. When faced with the choice of moving toward assisted living or staying comfortable in the house they have lived in for years, there’s no question of which is the more appealing option. Yet for every senior, safety and comfort are two of the most important concerns when considering aging in place.

 

It can be difficult to think of all the things one must take into consideration when aging in place; not only does the home need to be assessed for hazards, it’s also important to think of how you will handle daily life should you choose to live alone. Think ahead and consider the changes you might go through in the next few years; will it be a problem to climb stairs? Take care of the garden or lawn? If so, there are things you can do to combat the issues, but it’s best to plan ahead.

Here are some of the best tips for aging in place safely.

Communication

It’s imperative to have a good communication system with friends or family members. If you have a cell phone, make sure to program the phone numbers of all the important people in your life so they will be easily accessible. Landlines should have a list of important numbers beside them, in large print. It’s also a good idea to install a phone in the bedroom and/or bathroom, in case of emergency.

Safety

If you have throw rugs in your home, consider discarding them or checking to make sure the corners don’t turn up to create trip hazards. They also need to have non-slip backs. Living areas and stairwells should be well-lit, and chairs and toilets need to be at a good height for getting up without risk of a fall. The bathtub should have a non-slip mat and a grab rail or shower seat.

It’s also a good idea to wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes or slippers; this can prevent falls or other injury. Clear all walkways of clutter or furniture that could trip you up.

The reality is that your home may just not be a good fit for aging in place safely, particularly if you have any disabilities. Don’t be afraid to consider the option of moving. You can still buy a home to live in rather than going to an assisted living facility.

Accessorize

Think about the things you might need to assist you in daily activities, such as a long-handled shoehorn, a walker, a rubber-soled cane, and medication. It’s a good idea to keep these things organized, in reach, and in good working order.

Get some help

When it comes to living alone, from time to time you may need some help. Enlist a capable family member or friend to assist you in financial planning, cleaning, lawn work, or traveling if you aren’t comfortable driving yourself. You might also consider getting a service animal; they can be extremely helpful to seniors in daily activities and can provide comfort, company, and stress relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By |2018-09-26T09:33:04+00:00September 26th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How To Make Aging In Place As Easy As Possible

The Easiest Ways Seniors Can Improve Mental And Physical Health

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As we get older, it gets harder to find ways to improve mood and mental well-being as well as maintain physical health. However, many seniors find that there are simple ways to make their daily lives better so that they can remain active and vital well into retirement, and you can too. Here are a few of the best tips on how to keep your mind and body happy and healthy.

Get creative

Many seniors find after retirement that they have a creative spark that they were never able to tap into before. Painting, sewing, woodworking, and crafting are just a few of the things you might try, and being creative is wonderful for the brain. In fact, art therapy is used for recovery in many mood and mental disorders.

Devote yourself to a hobby

Finding something you truly love to do will not only engage your mind and body, it will help you stay social and give you a goal and a feeling of satisfaction. Gardening, book clubs, and church groups are just a few of the ways you can enjoy yourself while focusing on a purpose. You might also start a walking group with friends in the neighborhood or volunteer at the local library.

Exercise daily

Getting in a daily workout can help boost your mood and improve your sleep cycle, and it’s also a way to be social. Going for a walk in the park, riding a bike, or playing in the snow with the grandkids are all great ways to stay active while enjoying yourself.

Learn something new

Ever wanted to learn a new language, or become more familiar with technology? Check out a class at the local college, library, or senior center and soak up some knowledge. Learning about computers and how to navigate new technologies will help you stay in touch with family easily and give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Be a gamer

Playing word and math games can improve brain function and help you feel more alert, so check out Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and other smart games to keep your mind in peak shape.

Improving your mental and physical health doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult. Implementing simple ideas can help you stay active and healthy for years to come.

By |2018-09-24T09:26:04+00:00September 24th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The Easiest Ways Seniors Can Improve Mental And Physical Health

Guest Blog: What Colorado Residents Need to Know About Medicare in Their State

Despite impacting millions of people across the country, not many Americans are familiar with how the Medicare system functions.

Medicare even varies within each of the fifty states, making it more difficult to completely understand. In order to ensure that each citizen is getting their maximum benefits from this program, it is important that people become educated on the topic.
The more that people know about Medicare, the more they benefit. Here are some things that residents need to know about Medicare in Colorado.

 

Colorado Medicare Options

Medicare benefits are divided into different categories in Colorado. Residents can apply for Part A, B, D and supplement plans.
Medicare Part A covers care taking place in a hospital, and Part B focuses primarily on physician care. Colorado even has some Advantage Plans that are offered by private insurance companies.

Part D provides prescription medicine coverage for those already enrolled in Parts A and B. Part D is provided through some private insurance companies previously approved by Medicare.

Applying for Medicare

The process of applying for Medicare is the same in Colorado as all other states. To be eligible, an individual must be either a citizen of the United States or have held permanent residency for at least five years.

All individuals over the age of 65 are allowed to apply for Medicare coverage. Medicare in Colorado also covers those with disabilities who are under age 65.

Medicare Deductibles

Each Medicare Plan does have deductible costs to consider. Plan A has a deductible of $1,340 for each of the benefit periods. Medicare Plan B has a lower deductible of $183.

After paying the deductible, Plan B recipients are responsible for covering 20% of any amount approved by Medicare. Colorado charges a $405 yearly deductible for the Plan D Prescription Plan.

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)

The Original Medicare plan still leaves a lot to be covered by an individual. Deductibles can quickly add up even with all the benefits provided by Medicare. This is why Colorado offers some Medicare Supplement Plans like Medigap.

Medigap works similar to Medicare, but it works to cover all of the costs that Medicare doesn’t. Out of pocket expenses such as coinsurance, copayments and deductibles are all covered by a Medigap plan.

These plans are offered through private insurance companies, similar to some Medicare Supplement Plans.

By |2018-09-13T14:32:39+00:00September 13th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What Colorado Residents Need to Know About Medicare in Their State