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.

Guest Blog : Ways to Make In-Home Care Easier

Being responsible for another person when they’re unable to care for themselves is an emotional and physical challenge. Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or in law—it’s not easy. If there is a way to help ease the burden, it’s a good idea to do it. Here are three adjustments that will make in-home care easier.

1. Remove potential hazards
Whether you care for someone who has dementia or someone who can’t walk, it’s important to remove anything that could be dangerous to them.

Health Care Associates mention a few hazards to think about:
● Throw rugs
● Clutter
● Slippery or steep steps
● Poor lighting
● Pets
● Unstable chairs
● Extension cords
● Low toilet seats
● Sidewalk cracks
● Sloping driveway

While you may not have control of all of these hazards, it’s a good idea to eliminate the risks when possible. Being aware of the potential risks will help you to know which areas you need to keep an eye on.

2. Delegate the big tasks
As a caregiver, your priority is taking care of someone. However, it’s common for caregivers to feel like they have to take care of everything. Instead of trying to manage everything yourself, find ways to take the pressure off of yourself so that you’re able to focus on what matters most.

For example, if you’re not a professional cook or an appliance repair professional, don’t try to be—consider meal delivery or appliance services. Instead of feeling guilty for not doing everything, lighten the burden so that you’re able to do your job without unnecessary stress.

3. Practice self-care daily
Self-care is at the top of the list for caregivers. It’s important to remember that the better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of another person. Many caregivers have a hard time when caring for their own health.

According to Caregiver.org, these are all common for caregivers:
● Sleep deprivation
● Poor eating habits
● Failure to exercise
● Failure to stay in bed when ill
● Postponement of or failure to make medical appointments for themselves

If you’ve experienced any of the same issues, try to nail down the reasoning behind the problem. What makes you feel like you can’t do those things? Have you tried reaching out to others? Set goals around your health and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help.

By |2019-04-11T16:32:26-05:00April 11th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog : Ways to Make In-Home Care Easier

Guest Blog: What We Can All Do About Rising Healthcare Costs

 


Healthcare costs are skyrocketing at record rates. This is making it less affordable than ever for Americans to get the care they need. It’s particularly hard for the most vulnerable of our population, seniors and lower-income families. In 2017, U.S. healthcare costs equalled over $3.5 trillion. That’s a number we should all be worried about. Here’s what we can all do about rising healthcare costs.


Image via Pexels

Utilize Low-Cost Health Insurance
The first thing we can all do is look for low-cost health insurance options. For most, this means using a program like Medicare or Medicaid which is available to seniors or those who match certain income requirements.

Aside from federal programs, many families choose a high-deductible plan which costs less on a monthly basis but will still provide protection in emergency situations. This type of plan is known as an emergency plan, and it’s a good option for families who don’t expect to need regular treatment. Visit HealthMarkets´ list of low-cost health insurance companies for more information.

Take Advantage of Telemedicine
Another option is to stop seeing a traditional doctor for smaller problems. Today, you can reach a medical professional on your smartphone in just a few clicks. It’s faster, less expensive, and you don’t even need insurance in many cases.

Telemedicine can help with anything from therapy to the common cold. You can even get prescriptions through apps nowadays, and this saves both time and money.


Image via Pexels

Prepare for the Future
Finally, we should all be preparing for the future. Unfortunately, many seniors find themselves unable to afford the right healthcare. We should all be saving today to prepare our families for a future in which we need more funds to afford healthcare.

In the meantime, we should talk to our politicians about finding new solutions to the healthcare crisis. From electing officials who focus on healthcare solutions to calling your congress representatives, every little action matters.

What are you doing to fight the rising healthcare costs? If you’re not prepared, you could find yourself facing a bad financial situation. Take these steps above today to protect your health. It’s the most important thing you have.

By |2019-04-07T19:36:03-05:00April 7th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What We Can All Do About Rising Healthcare Costs

Guest Blog: What to Expect from Andropause in Your Senior Years

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Have you felt like your increasing age is taking a toll on you? As men increase in age, their normal hormone levels decrease and result in different types of male hormone imbalances. One of which is andropause or “male menopause” – a decline in a man’s levels of testosterone, their primary male sex hormone.

A gradual but significant decline in a man’s testosterone begins at age 30 at a rate of 1 to 2% per year. By about  age 70, a man’s testosterone levels may have declined by 50%. Because testosterone plays a huge role in a man’s overall health, low T levels may produce different adverse effects.

 

Andropause and senior health

Here are the most common symptoms and changes you can expect from andropause in your senior years:

  • Sleep disturbances: Sleeping difficulties or disturbances in andropause men include insomnia, sleep apnea, night sweats, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
  • Emotional changes: Different changes in emotions during andropause often result to a lack of motivation, depression, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
  • Sexual dysfunction: During andropause, a man’s sexual function also weakens and lays low, which may result in low sex drive, infertility, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Osteoporosis: With declining testosterone levels, men become more susceptible to osteoporosis. Low levels of testosterone lead to loss of bone tissue and mass.
  • Physical changes: Other physical manifestations of andropause in men include increased abdominal fat, decreased muscle mass, hair loss, and swollen breasts.

Dealing with andropause

Although andropause can’t be escaped, it can be managed. Men can deal with the different symptoms and risks brought about by andropause with these simple steps:

  • Weight management: Stored extra fat, especially in the belly, can convert testosterone to estradiol. Healthier lifestyle choices such as proper diet and regular exercise are greatly recommended.
  • Physical activity: Engaging in physical activities can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms of andropause, such as mood swings and sleeping difficulties, while helping manage your weight.
  • Proper nutrition: Practice eating healthier food choices including fiber-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, lean meat, and fruits and vegetables for overall health, increased energy, and strength.
  • Getting checked for depression: Depression is one of the symptoms of andropause that you should keep an eye on. Beware of signs of depression or have your primary care provider screen you for possible depression.
  • Expert consultation: The best way to deal with andropause is through an expert doctor’s help. Be honest about your symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment. For some, testosterone replacement therapy can be given as an effective treatment.

Get equipped and be ready for the andropause battle!

 

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By |2019-03-31T19:49:35-05:00April 5th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What to Expect from Andropause in Your Senior Years

The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

 

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 |2019-04-03T11:59:14-05:00April 3rd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

Simple ways to make a bathroom fall proof

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The NIH Senior Health reports that one in three people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. Because of the non-porous, easy clean surfaces, more than 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom. The proper equipment will help to keep everyone safer. Be sure to check your loved one’s for the following:

Grab Bars. One of the simplest solutions to preventing bathroom falls is to install grab bars. Choose bars that have a grip-like surface and contrast to the color of the shower, so they are easily visible. Anchor these bars to the studs behind the wall for the best support. Have your loved one step into the tub and show you where the best place to install a safety bar is located. Adding a grab bar next to the toilet is another simple way to prevent falls.

Non-Skid Surfaces. Placing a non-skid floor mat in front of the shower and sink soaks up excess water and prevents slips. Adding a non-skid shower mat to the bathtub will prevent your loved one from sliding on the slippery tub surface when bathing. For additional safety, place non-skid adhesive strips around the sink and vanity area.

Raised Toilet Seat. Adding a raised toilet seat prevents your loved one from losing her balance and falling while trying to sit on the toilet or get up. It is also helpful for those who are losing strength.

Lighting. Many seniors lose depth perception, having brighter lighting will help your senior to judge distances better, such as stepping into the bathtub. Adding motion lights on the path to the bathroom, as well as in the bathroom, will help your loved one to see where she is walking. Having plenty of lighting will help your loved one to locate toiletry items quicker and easier as well.

Declutter. Because many older people end up needing to use a walker or cane, it is important to make sure walking paths are clean and clutter-free. It is important to keep items such as towels off the floor and out of the way as much as possible. The less items your loved one can get hooked on, the safer the home will be.

Preventing a fall from happening is ideal. However, there are times when accidents happen. Consider getting your loved one a medical alert system as an additional layer of safety. The best systems offer waterproof pendants, so they can be worn while bathing. If your loved one does fall, she can press the button and get help immediately, which may save her life.

By |2019-03-31T19:49:13-05:00April 3rd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Simple ways to make a bathroom fall proof