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Guest Blog: How Do Seniors With Alzheimer’s Handle Change?

bigstock-daughter-helping-her-senior-mo-25835828

When seniors develop diseases affecting cognition, like the various kinds of dementia, caregivers typically make an effort to make their living environment as safe and comfortable as possible.  Sometimes caregivers make lots of changes to a senior’s living space, with the best intentions of helping them.  However, this can have a two-sided effect, because seniors with mentally deteriorating illnesses can find change to be a confusing or frightening thing.  Caregivers might change the entire layout of a house, remove everything that could be a hazard, or add numerous locks to provide security.  Changes like these can actually prove to be disorienting for a senior, in addition to being helpful.  So the question becomes, how much change can seniors with Alzheimer’s handle?

 

It’s typical to find instances where seniors have lived in the same home for decades, and have a curious ability to navigate the living space with a sort of muscle memory after memory-harming diseases like Alzheimer’s set in.  Routine is very important to the delicate psyche of an elder with dementia, so finding the perfect balance of what to change for their own good can be tricky.  Making abrupt overwhelming makeovers to their home’s layout can make them flustered and end up actually making  it more difficult for them to get around, adding to their impaired cognition. So it is best to maintain an environment that is familiar as much as possible.  And make any alterations subtly and slowly over time.

 

The necessity to make changes will depend of the severity of a senior’s individual case.  If the Alzheimer’s is in the mid to late stages and a senior is wandering out of the home constantly, then immediate action to prevent hazard is surely appropriate.  Installing door alarms or adding locks can be great helps. If a senior with dementia typically kept a messy household, then the mess may add to their unease or make it easier to trip and fall.  De-cluttering their living space can be advantageous in these cases.

 

Thus, change will surely be necessary at times.  Though it is advisable to make changes as gradually and calmly as possible, to avoid overwhelming or distressing what was comfortable, normal, and assuring to the mind of a loved one with dementia.  Routine is key for security in these instances.  It may also be helpful to make sure you let them see when you move something, or set their things some place, to help then more easily adapt to the change.

 

By | 2017-07-31T13:10:24+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How Do Seniors With Alzheimer’s Handle Change?

Guest Blog: What is Psoriasis?

Guest Blog: Lindsay Munden, DNP, RN, FNP-BC

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a lifelong disease that causes scaling and inflammation of the skin. The condition starts beneath the skin’s surface and is triggered by an overactive immune system, which causes skin cells to be over-produced and accumulate on the skin’s surface faster than normal. This process is called cell turnover, and in psoriasis may take a few days instead of weeks. This causes the formation of thick, red, itchy, flaky patches with silvery scales known as plaques. While any part of your body can be affected, psoriasis most often occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms, and feet.

Risks

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (2015) about 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis. Anyone can get the disease, but it occurs more often in adults.

  • Age: Adult men and women are affected equally. The two peak ages at onset are during the late teens to early 20s and in the late 50s to early 60s.
  • Genetics: Psoriasis has a strong genetic influence, with one-third of patients with psoriasis reporting having a family member with the disease.
  • Environmental Factors: Trauma to normal skin, repeated friction, infections, stress, fatigue, warm humid climates, changes in weather that dry the skin, and certain medications may trigger psoriasis flare-ups.

Causes

The primary cause of psoriasis remains unknown. Research has indicated that psoriasis is caused by genetic influences and a dysfunction of the immune system. Although, psoriasis plaques may look contagious, you cannot get the condition from someone that has the disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often recurring. Itchy, red, inflamed and dry scaly plaques distributed symmetrically over areas of bony prominences such as the elbows and knees are characteristic of the disease. The joints, nails and scalp may also be affected. As with other chronic conditions, symptoms may flare or worsen for a few months and then subside for a period of time.

Diagnosis

Psoriasis may be hard to diagnose because it can be confused with other skin diseases. Usually your healthcare provider will make a diagnosis based on a thorough skin examination. Biopsy is seldom necessary because the clinical features of psoriasis are so distinctive. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form, but patients typically have one or more types.

Treatment

The goal of therapy is to control the symptoms and clear the plaque lesions.

For mild to moderate psoriasis, topical medications (those applied directly to the skin) and phototherapy (light therapy) are the mainstays of treatment.  For severe psoriasis, systemic treatments are recommended. Sometimes, combining topical, light and systemic treatments leads to the best results.

Topical Medication Options:

  • Topical steroids are widely used because they help reduce inflammation. Generally, a very potent topical corticosteroid preparation is applied two to three times daily for 2 weeks and then decreased to a lesser potency for maintenance therapy long term.
  • Coal tar works by causing the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of new skin cells. This effect decreases scaling and dryness. Coal tar is applied once or twice daily and is not well favored due to the potential for staining of the clothes and skin.
  • Anthralin works by slowing down the production of skin cells. This type of medication is applied to the skin for a prescribed period of time and then rinsed away, with increased increments until the skin is healed which may take a couple of weeks.
  • Topical immunomodulators are medications which work by decreasing the body’s immune system to help slow down the growth of the psoriasis plaques.
  • Vitamin D3 derivatives regulate cell growth and decrease lymphocyte (cells which play a role in the regulation of the immune system) activity. The medicine comes in a form of an ointment which is typically applied twice daily.

Phototherapy:

Phototherapy with ultraviolet-B (UVB) light is effective in the treatment of psoriasis lesions. This type of treatment reduces DNA synthesis of skin cells. Phototherapy can produce symptom-free periods of up to 2-4 months. UVB therapy units are often available at dermatologist offices and the use of commercial tanning beds (with both UVA and UVB lights) is not recommended. Dermatologists may recommend consistent light therapy 3-5 days a week for 2 to 3 months.

Systemic Medications:

Systemic therapy is reserved for patients that have severe or incapacitating disease. These medications are prescribed by expert specialists such as dermatologists or rheumatologists because they have a risk for serious side effects.

More Information:

National Psoriasis Foundation   www.psoriasis.org

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases www.niams.nih.gov

American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org/

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By | 2017-08-07T15:32:07+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What is Psoriasis?

Guest Blog:10 Signs Your Aging Loved One Needs Support at Home

Happy woman with elderly mother

It can be difficult to see your parent or relative age. At one time, he could do anything. Now, it seems as though age has gotten the best of him. If you’ve seen changes in your loved one due to age, he may need extra help at home. The following are some of the most common signs of someone who is in need of a nurse or senior caregiver.

#1: Unkempt Home
If there has been a drastic change in the way that your loved one keeps his home that may be a sign he lacks the energy or physical ability to pick up and clean. Extra support at home can ensure that your loved one lives in a healthy, safe environment.

#2: Missed Medications
Forgetfulness is common in older individuals. Missing medications can lead to withdrawal and the return of symptoms of medical problems. It can lead to more serious problems as well – stroke, heart attack, etc. Help at home can remind your loved one to take medications as prescribed.

#3: Missed or Canceled Medical Appointments
Forgetfulness and the inability to drive to appointments can lead to failing health. A senior care worker can provide transportation and encouragement to attend all medical appointments.

#4: Body Odor
Just as cleaning and picking up the home can be physically demanding, taking a shower or bath is too. With someone in the home, your loved one can get the assistance needed to get into the shower and out of it to keep him clean and feeling refreshed.

#5: Sudden Change in Weight
Medical problems can cause lost pounds, but not being able to cook healthy meals can be the reason as well. Since it can be difficult to cook when feeling tired or lacking energy, someone in the home can make sure that he has meals ready or set up a meal program that gets food delivered on a schedule.

#6: Problems with Mobility
Balance and walking can be hard as people age, and this can lead to falls causing serious injuries. Help with completing daily tasks can reduce the risk of falls.

#7: Confusion or Uncertainty
This can cause a lot of distress for your loved one. Have someone there to lend an ear or explain something that doesn’t make much sense can calm the anxiety of your loved one to improve his quality of life.

#8: Depression
Losing interests in hobbies or activities he used to enjoy could be a sign of depression that can lead to many other problems. Having a caregiver provide support and encouragement can help your loved one feel better or get the mental health he needs.

#9: Mail Piling Up or Unpaid Bills
It can be easy to forget to pay a bill from time to time, but if it becomes a habit, it might be a good idea to have someone help with going through mail and managing bills. This is one of the services that senior care workers provide in addition to helping with other daily tasks.

#10: Diagnosis of an Age-Related Medical Problem
Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause a loved one to forget or engage in risky behaviors. Having someone by your loved one’s side most of the day can help minimize the risk of him hurting himself.

Your parent or relative may have taken care of you for many years. Now, it’s your turn to care for him. Home care can help you do that. Look into the many options available if your loved one exhibits any of these symptoms.

About the Author:
Kendall Van Blarcom is a licensed marriage and family therapist providing personal consulting to seniors who need someone to talk with to improve the quality of their lives. More information can be found about personal consulting at http://www.kvanb.com.

By | 2017-07-31T13:09:42+00:00 August 5th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog:10 Signs Your Aging Loved One Needs Support at Home
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