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.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Kristen Mauk has never been one to stop learning. The clinical nurse specialist has nearly 30 years of experience in rehabilitation and gerontology, a handful of degrees, and has authored or edited seven books. She now helps train the future generation as a professor of nursing at Colorado Christian University in Colorado. She also recently launched her own business, Senior Care Central/International Rehabilitation Consultants, which provides nursing and rehabilitation education throughout the world.

Question: What drew you to nursing? What do you enjoy about it?

Mauk: “I grew up in a medical family. My father was a pediatric surgeon and my mom was a nurse, so I was always around the healthcare professions. However, nursing offered so many opportunities for growth and change while doing what I loved — helping others. There are many aspects of nursing that I enjoy, but feeling like I help make peoples’ lives better has to be the best perk of the job. Nursing is a versatile profession. I started off my career as an operating room nurse, worked for a decade in med-surg, geriatrics, and rehabilitation, then eventually went back to school for additional education so that I could make a greater impact on healthcare through teaching nursing students.”

Question: You have an impressive education. Why did you continue to pursue advanced degrees in the field? How has that benefited you?

Mauk: “First, I am a life-long learner, something that was instilled by my father who was always encouraging his children to explore the world and have an inquiring mind. Dinners at my house were filled with learning activities such as, ‘How does a flashlight work?,’ ‘What is a group of lions called?,’ or ‘For $20, who can spell hors d’oeuvres?’ (By the way, I got that $20!) So, continuing my education through studying for advanced degrees seemed a natural progression when you love to learn and love your work. I felt a need to know as much as possible about my areas of interest, gerontology and rehabilitation, so that I could provide better care to patients and be a better teacher for my students. My advanced education has?opened many doors in the professional nursing world, such as the opportunity to write books, conduct research to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, or hold national positions in professional organizations.”

Question: What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had, either as a student, educator or in your practice?

Mauk: “There are many memorable experiences I’ve had both as an educator and in practice. One of the most memorable from practice was early in my career working on a skilled/rehab unit in a little country hospital in Iowa. There was an older man who couldn’t find a radio station that played his favorite hymns and one of my co-workers knew that I had a musical background and asked me to sing to him at the bedside. I timidly held his hand as he lay in his hospital bed, and with the door closed because it was late at night, I softly sang all the old hymns I could remember. He closed his eyes and smiled, clasping my hand for nearly an hour of singing. The next evening, I heard him excitedly tell his family members that ‘an angel visited me last night. She had the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard. She held my hand and sang all of my favorite hymns!’ Hearing that outside the door, I smiled, but was later surprised when I stopped in to see him that he truly didn’t seem to remember me. One day later, he died unexpectedly. I often look back and wonder on that experience. In the many years of nursing experience that followed, I have learned that there are sometimes angels where we least expect them.”

Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career?

Mauk: “Nursing is a great profession! Learn all that you can while you are in school and continue to be a lifelong learner. The need for nurses who specialize in care of older adults and rehabilitation is only going to continue to grow because of the booming aging population. There is currently, and will continue to be, a shortage of skilled professionals to meet the demand that is looming with the graying of America. Gain skills that will make you a specialist and afford you additional opportunities. Always give the best care to those you serve. Set yourself apart by building a professional reputation for excellence through advanced education, publication, scholarship, clinical practice, and community service. Then, go and change the world!”

CLINICAL NURSE SPECIALIST PROFILE FOR KRISTEN MAUK

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By |2019-10-09T11:50:32-05:00October 9th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Guest Blog: Fall-Inspired Fitness Ideas for Seniors


As the weather cools down and the leaves start to turn, take advantage of the changing seasons with some fall-inspired outdoor fitness. Check out these 10 fun ideas:

Cycling – new research has revealed the regular cycling could be one of the best things an older adult does for themselves. In addition to combating age-related muscle loss, routine cycling has been shown to improve immune health and lower risk for prevalent lifestyle diseases (high blood pressure, stroke, etc).

Hiking – score an effective cardio workout with an hour-long hike with friends or family. Not only are you going to give your heart some exercise, but the exposure to nature and sunlight has been shown to help boost mood and reduce stress levels too.

Raking – sure raking leaves seems like more of a chore than exercise, but it’s been shown to burn upwards of 100 calories per half hour! In addition to a sturdy rake with an ergonomic handle, don’t forget equipment like gloves, tarps, and a reacher grabber which helps you pick trash up off the ground and in hard-to-reach places.

Nordic pole walking – upgrade your daily walk with Nordic poles and start engaging more muscles and burning more calories with every step. Originally developed for cross-country skiers training in the summer, Nordic pole walking is trending bigtime with adults over 55.

Volunteer – opportunities to volunteer or participate in charity athletic events are plentiful during the autumn months. Check with local organizations you support or look online for volunteer jobs near you using sites like Createthegood.org.

Apple picking – head out to the orchard with your grandkids and spend a day apple picking. Not only does the walking and harvesting keep you moving, but the literal fruits of your labor will provide healthy snacks and meal additions for weeks to come.

Pumpkin carving – exercise your hand strength and dexterity with intricate pumpkin carving. In addition to honing your fine motor skills, you’ll end up with a great fall decoration to adorn your front porch for Halloween.

Gardening – it’s not too late to plant your fall garden! Cooler-weather autumn staples like acorn squash, cauliflower, and sage are perfect this time of year and don’t forget to plant your spring bulbs. You’ll want to get them in the ground 6 to 8 weeks prior to the first frost.

Badminton – whether on an indoor court at the senior center or simply outside in your backyard with friends, badminton is a great multiplayer racquet game for seniors that involves lots of movement, balance, and coordination.

Ball toss – no matter if you’re a baseball fan or crazy about football, fall is your season! Take your love of the sport out of the living room and toss a ball back and forth with a grandkid or friend. The fresh air, movement, and hand-eye coordination practice will help keep you sharp!

By |2019-10-08T08:43:13-05:00October 8th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Fall-Inspired Fitness Ideas for Seniors

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 |2019-10-04T12:31:37-05:00October 4th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Five Healthy and Fun Family Activities for Fall

Guest Blog: Common Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have a profound effect on a person and their quality of life. Hearing loss can lead to a withdrawal from social situations, signs of depression and other effects on the health of an individual. Therefore, it is imperative that any loss in hearing be treated as soon as possible. In order for hearing loss to be treated, an individual must recognize that a loss of hearing has occurred. Some hearing loss can have a gradual onset, so the person with the hearing loss may not be fully aware that treatment is needed.

According to the National Academy on an Aging Society, millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Those suffering from hearing loss range in symptoms from very mild to severe or near total hearing loss. Of these, 43 percent are those individuals aged 65 and older. However, hearing loss can affect all ages with some 5 percent of children having some form of hearing loss. The causes of specific hearing loss are varied, with some created due to occupational stress, or life choices, or those brought about because of aging.

Audiologists and hearing aid specialists at Hearinglife.com lists the types of hearing loss as:

  • Conductive Hearing Loss
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss
  • Mixed Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is a result of some form of obstruction in the ear. This type can be temporary and usually corrected via medical procedure and occasionally the application of a mechanical aid.

Sensorineural hearing loss is damage or some other issue affecting the auditory nerve or inner ear. This category encompasses hearing loss due to aging or disease. Correction usually involves the application of assisted hearing devices as this loss is usually permanent.

Mixed hearing loss is attributed to directed sound at excessive volume, such as that found in headphones and in occupational settings. Corrective measures also require the use of a mechanical or assisted hearing device. Based on statistics performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mixed hearing loss is a widespread concern affecting over 22 million Americans each year. As suggested by the professionals for Kaiser Permanente Health System, they symptoms of hearing loss appear as:

  • Muffled Hearing
  • Requiring Higher Than Normal Volumes
  • Frequently Misunderstanding Spoken Words
  • Ringing or Pain in the Ear or Fluid Leakage
  • Off Balance or Feeling of Spinning

Any of these, and potentially other symptoms, can occur with hearing loss. Even before hearing loss is suspected, it is generally accepted that hearing should be tested regularly in order to quickly diagnose and treat any hearing loss before it becomes significant to the detriment of the individual and their quality of life.

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By |2019-10-01T10:50:22-05:00October 3rd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Common Signs of Hearing Loss

Guest Blog: Hearing Loss and Dementia

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Age related hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss especially in the over 65s. While deteriorating hearing due to an aging system is an (unfortunate) natural process, factors such as family history of hearing loss, smoking, and certain medication, prolonged exposure to loud noise will have an impact on its rate of deterioration and resultant severity.

The human inner ear contains hair cells that help pick up information contained within sound waves. This information is then transmitted by way of the hearing nerve to the brain for further processing. As the body matures (or due to exposure to loud noise), hair cells can become damaged and/or die. The process can start as early as in a person’s 40s, but presents far more commonly in the over 65s and the over 70s. The body is unable to regenerate new hair cells, so there will eventually come a point when the person senses that their hearing isn’t what it used to be. (Although it is often friends and family members that notice the deterioration in hearing ability and alert the individual.)

There are common problems that the hard of hearing report; but how significant their impact on the person’s daily life will vary considerably across individuals.

Common symptoms include:

• Difficulty hearing people around you
• Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
• Frustration at not being able to hear
• Certain sounds seeming overly loud
• Problems hearing in noisy areas
• Problems telling apart certain sounds such as “s” or “th”
• More difficulty understanding people with higher-pitched voices
• Ringing in the ears

Loss of hearing and its likely cause can be established after attending a hearing test. The hearing exam or hearing test will cover a review of your medical history and a physical ear exam. If the hearing loss is age-related in nature, it is often managed through the use of hearing aids. There is no cure to undo the natural aging process that results in hair cell decline, so treatment should be viewed as a means to improve quality of life by managing the condition rather than curing it.

Those that willingly or unwillingly leave hearing loss unmanaged may face further longer term health complications, including depression, and perhaps surprisingly, cognitive and mental health decline.

There is a worrying link between hearing loss and dementia currently being explored. Recent research suggests that there is a connection between hearing loss and dementia. The hard of hearing are at a high risk of experiencing social isolation due to reduced communication with their immediate surroundings; and perhaps as a result of this, they are reportedly more likely to develop dementia.

An individual with hearing loss must concentrate harder to hear and often has to use lip reading and facial expressions to fill in the gaps as to what was said. After a while, this level of concentration can lead to fatigue and symptoms that mimic physical exhaustion. Some individuals may choose to simply avoid conversation, as it is too exhausting, thereby opening the door to social isolation.

If you have concerns about your hearing or the hearing of someone you care for, do arrange a simple and quick hearing test.

Information written by Joan McKechnie BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology. Joan works for UK based Hearing Direct. In addition to her role as one of the company’s audiologists, Joan helps maintain an information blog on hearing loss.

By |2019-10-01T10:49:31-05:00October 2nd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Hearing Loss and Dementia