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Heart Failure Warning Signs and Treatment

Background

Heart failure (HF) happens when the heart is not strong enough to pump the needed blood with oxygen to the rest of the body. The CDC estimated that 5.7 million people in the U.S. have heart failure. The incidence of congestive heart failure (CHF) varies among races and across age groups. It is the cause of 55,000 deaths each year (CDC, 2012). The lifetime risk for someone to have CHF is 1 in 5.

Risk Factors

The major risk factors for HF are diabetes and MI. African American males are at higher risk than Caucasians. The risk of CHF in older adults doubles for those with blood pressures over 160/90. Seventy-five percent of those with CHF also have hypertension (AHA, 2012). Congestive heart failure often occurs within 6 years after a heart attack.

Warning Signs

Signs and symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath (that also worsens when lying down), weight gain with swelling in the legs/ankles, and general tiredness. It is essential that older adults diagnosed with HF recognize signs of a worsening condition and report them promptly to their healthcare provider. Older adults may not have the typical symptoms but complain of other things like decreased appetite, weight gain of a few pounds, or insomnia (Amella, 2004).

Diagnosis

For in-home monitoring, daily weights at the same time of day with the same clothes on the same scale are essential. The physician or primary care provider will give guidelines for the person to call if the weight exceeds his or her threshold for weight gain. This is usually between 1 and 3 pounds. The decision regarding when to call the primary care provider is made based upon the severity of the HF and the relative stability/frailty of the person.

Treatment

Treatment for HF involves the usual lifestyle modifications discussed for promoting a healthy heart, as well as several possible types of medications. These include ACE inhibitors, diuretics, vasodilators, beta-blockers, blood thinners, angiotensin II blockers, calcium channel blockers, and potassium. Lifestyle changes, per recommendation of the primary care provider, may include (AHA, 2009):
Maintaining an appropriate weight
Limiting salt intake
Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
Managing stress
Getting adequate rest
Engaging in physical activity as prescribed
Quitting smoking
Eating a heart-healthy diet
To minimize exacerbations, patient and family counseling should include teaching about the use of medications to control symptoms and the importance of regular monitoring with a health care provider (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], 2012; Hunt et al., 2009). With the proper combination of treatments such as lifestyle changes and medications, many older persons can still live happy and productive lives with a diagnosis of heart failure and minimize their risk of complications related to this disease.

For additional information on heart failure visit the American Heart Association website at:
target=”_blank”>http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/Heart-Failure_UCM_002019_SubHomePage.jsp”

 

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.

By |2019-06-08T09:20:43-05:00June 8th, 2019|News Posts|Comments Off on Heart Failure Warning Signs and Treatment

8 Fun Activities for Seniors with Mobility Issues

Do mobility issues have your aging parent down in the dumps? Losing the ability to get around independently can definitely strike a blow to confidence and wellbeing levels. Mobility issues don’t need to stifle a senior’s sense of purpose or enjoyment of life though. Don’t miss these 8 fun activity ideas for seniors with mobility issues:

Board games – bring on the board games and give your loved one a cognitive boost. Everything from cards to Scrabble to Monopoly, Dominos, and Checkers is a great place to start. Stock up on gently used board games from local re-stores like Goodwill and invite friends and family to join in on the fun.

Puzzles – putting puzzles together stimulates critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as engages spatial awareness and concentration. Don’t reserve your fun to jigsaw puzzles either; games like Sudoku and Jenga have similar brain-boosting effects too!

Cooking – maybe standing at the stove to stir a big pot isn’t feasible, but mixing a green salad at a lower table is. Or helping scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Cooking with your aging parent not only gives them something fun to do but helps them feel like a productive contributor in the home too.

Chair exercises – routine workouts are critical for all older adults, even people who are limited to canes, walkers or wheelchairs. Physical fitness helps prevent unwanted weight gain and lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Guides to chair exercises and exercises for those recovering from injuries like fractured hips can be found online.

Art project – get the creative juices flowing and find an art project geared towards your loved one’s interests. Perhaps it is painting on a canvas, collaging, knitting, coloring, making jewelry, or even simply framing family photos – the act of creating something can is truly invigorating.

Planting – potting plants is easy and accessible when your loved one can sit in a chair at a table. Mixing soil, placing plants inside pots, and even snipping dead leaves or picking herbs are monthly activities that your loved one can do with minor assistance.

Reading – Nothing beats a good book. If your loved one is unable to hold a book or see words on a page, audiobooks are a great alternative (and can be borrowed for free at your local library).

Video chatting – for seniors with mobility limitations, social isolation is a very prevalent and dangerous reality. Technology makes it easy, however, to connect with friends and family near and far via free services like Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime. You simply need a smartphone or webcam with speakers for your computer.

By |2019-06-06T19:34:07-05:00June 7th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on 8 Fun Activities for Seniors with Mobility Issues

Seniors and Addiction Rehab: What Do You Need to Know?


There are addiction rehab programs for seniors. Many people don’t consider seniors when they think of someone having an addiction. However, that may be a mistake. There are many seniors who experience chronic pain, grief, and other issues, which is why they may abuse drugs. The schedule will be customized to meet each individual’s addiction recovery needs.

Components of Treatment

It is helpful to know what the components of treatment will be, whether you or a senior in your life, needs to get treatment. Some of these components include the following:
Group therapy
● Daily assessments
● Pain management
● Medication assessments
● On-site medical detox
● Psychological assessments
● Faith-based counseling
● Relapse prevention tips
● Family therapy

These components may vary depending on the addiction treatment center that is attended. You may also get yoga, physical therapy, exercise, and other treatments.

Symptoms and Signs of Substance Abuse

It can be even more troublesome when an addiction goes unnoticed or doesn’t get treated. This is why it is so essential to recognize the symptoms and signs of substance abuse in seniors. Some of these things include the following:
● Anemia
● Agitation
● Liver function issues
● Anxiety
● Personal cleanliness issues
● Mental ability changes
● Eating habit changes
● Depression
● Increased falls
● Drinking despite consequences
● Weakness
● Fatigue
● Incontinence
● Violence
Hostility
● Memory lapses
● Irritability
● More confusion than normal
● Losing interest in enjoyable activities
● Not keeping in touch with friends or family members
● Marital issues
● Panic attacks
● Mood swings
● Slurring of speech

If you notice these symptoms and signs in a senior, be sure to try to get them help.

When it comes to seniors and addiction rehab, it is important to know all this information. Addictions can be dangerous for anyone, especially the elderly. Their organs and body systems don’t work as well, so it is much easier to get alcohol poisoning or overdose on drugs. If you are a senior with an addiction, you can get inpatient rehab for elders today.

 

By |2019-06-05T11:56:25-05:00June 5th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Seniors and Addiction Rehab: What Do You Need to Know?

Guest Blog: 5 Smart Senior Hacks for Independent Living

Getting older doesn’t have to mean losing your independence. If you’re looking forward to spending your golden years at home, you can make the experience safer and more comfortable with these life hacks.

1. Try Meal Prep
It can become harder to lead an active lifestyle, and still, pay time and attention to cooking at eating healthy. You may choose to arrange help in the kitchen or check out some quick and easy recipes for seniors. Cooking groups are another great way to meal prep, and can also help you build a network.

2. Update Home Security
There are plenty of reasons to consider home security. In addition to a new system, get familiar with your community. Arrange for friends, family members, or neighbors to pick up any mail, or keep an eye on your home when you’re not there.

Motion activated lights can also discourage intruders. Connecting a smartphone to your home security can make life more accessible. Try wireless doorbells, which will allow you to see, hear and talk to whoever is at the door.

3. Keep Your Contacts List Updated
Any senior living alone should keep an up-to-date list of emergency contacts and medical needs. Keep it in one place and up-to-date. Set up your smartphone so it takes simple voice commands. This way you can contact someone quickly when you can’t reach your phone.

4. Keep Your Home In Good Shape
Scheduling regular maintenance means you’ll spot any tears in carpets, loose fixtures, or anything else that may cause accidents. Ensure that you have regular maintenance done on the home. Setting alerts can help you keep your home updates on a schedule.

5. Smart Apps & Wearable Technology
We’ve already mentioned setting alarms to keep your home in good shape. But what about you? There are simple assistant apps that can help you stay healthy. For instance, an app to remind you to take your medicine, to drink water, or work out.

Apart from apps you install on your phone or tablet, there are health trackers that will ensure your health stays, well, on track. Fitness trackers can measure your heart rate and activity level. Medical alert accessories contain your health information, which can be important in emergencies.

There are many changes that make living independently complicated for seniors. But complicated doesn’t have to mean difficult. Try these tips and make living alone easier on yourself.

By |2019-06-04T09:27:42-05:00June 4th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 5 Smart Senior Hacks for Independent Living

The Role of the Rehabilitation Nurse

 
You may have heard of rehabilitation nursing, but are you familiar with what rehabilitation nurses do and their essential role in health care? According to the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), there are four major domains within the new competency model for professional rehabilitation nursing (ARN, 2016) that can help us understand what rehabilitation nurses do.  In this blog, we will look at the ARN model from a layperson’s viewpoint to help explain the role of the rehabilitation nurse. Rehabilitation nurses:
kris2

Promote successful living

Rehabilitation nurses do not only care for people, but they promote health and prevent disability. This means that rehab nurses engage in activities that help patients, families and communities stay healthy. Proactively, you might see rehab nurses helping with bike safety (such as promoting the wearing of helmets), car seat fairs (to keep children safe from injury), or stroke prevention through community screenings and teaching about managing risk factors. As rehab nurses, we also help patients towards self-management of existing chronic illness or disability, teaching them how to be co-managers with their health providers so they can maintain independence and have a good quality of life. Another key activity is facilitating safe care transitions. This means that rehabilitation nurses have a special skill set to know which setting of care is best for the patient to move to next and how to make this happen smoothly. For example, if Mrs. Smith has had a stroke and finished her time in acute rehabilitation in the hospital, but she lives alone and is not quite ready to go home, what is the best care setting or services for her to receive the help she needs?  Many errors, such as those with medications, happen when patients go from one place to another in the health system. Rehabilitation nurses can help persons successfully navigate these complexities and be sure that clients get the continuity of care they need and deserve.

Give quality care

The interventions or care that rehabilitation nurses provide to patients and families is based on the best scientific evidence available. Part of being a rehab nurse is staying current on the latest technology, strategies for care, and best practices. This is to ensure that all patients receive the highest standard of care possible. We stay current in many ways, including reading journal articles, attending conferences, obtaining continuing education, and maintaining certification in rehabilitation. Research shows that having more certified rehabilitation nurses on a unit decreases length of stay in the hospital. In addition, all of rehab care focuses on the patient and family as the center of the interdisciplinary team. To this end, rehabilitation nurses teach patients and families about their chronic illness or disability across many different areas including: how to take medications; managing bowel and bladder issues; preventing skin breakdown; dealing with behavioral issues that might be present with problems such as brain injury or dementia; coping with changes from a disabling condition; sexuality; working with equipment at home; and ways to manage pain.

Collaborate with a team of experts

Rehabilitation nurses are part of an interprofessional team of physicians, therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, and many others who work together for the best patient outcomes. For persons who have experienced a catastrophic injury or illness, the work of this team of experts sharing common goals will provide the best care, and rehab nurses are the ones who are with the patient 24/7 to coordinate this process. Through effective collaboration, excellent assessment skills, and communication with the rest of the team members, rehab nurses ensure that patient and families are getting well-coordinated care throughout the rehabilitation process. Remember that rehabilitation takes place in many settings, whether on the acute rehab unit, in skilled care, long-term care, or the home. The nurse’s role is to be sure that the holistic plan of care is followed by all staff and that the physicians overseeing medical care are continually informed of patient progress for the best decision-making possible.

Act as leaders in rehabilitation

 Not only do rehabilitation nurses provide direct patient care, they are also leaders in the rehabilitation arena. You might be surprised to learn that rehabilitation nurses advocate at the highest level for legislation surrounding funding and policy for those with disabilities and chronic illness, talking with Senators and Congressmen about key issues. ARN has professional lobbyists that continually watch health policy movement in Washington and keep rehab nurses informed. Rehab nurses help patients to advocate for themselves in holding government and communities accountable for needed care services. Lastly, rehab nurses share their knowledge with others. This is done in a variety of ways through conducting and publishing research, presenting at conferences, serving on local and national committees, and serving in public office. All of the leadership activities done by nurses in rehabilitation are to promote the best quality of care for patients with chronic illness and disability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By |2019-06-03T20:37:37-05:00June 4th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The Role of the Rehabilitation Nurse