Boomer’s Blog2018-05-18T08:58:16-05:00

Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

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

Dr. Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, FAAN

Guest Blog: Life Hacks for Seniors Looking for a Fresh Boost of Energy


As we age, our old habits for staying sharp and energized tend to stop working for us. Why is that? Because our bodies are always changing and that means that what used to work for us, may not work anymore. The same can be said for finding energy. If you’re in need of some life hacks to renew your energy, consider these tips you may not have used before.

Are You Working Out Too Much?
While it is great to work out throughout the week, you may be pushing yourself too much. Consider how much you work out each week, or even what type of workouts you are doing. Take it easy on yourself and opt to work out three times a week that includes light cardio and calisthenics. As you work out, take note of how you feel during each task. You should still be able to carry on a conversation as you work out. If you feel short of breath, then try and tone back your workout activity.

Hire Professionals Whenever Possible
Don’t overwork yourself in retirement by taking on home tasks that you don’t need to perform. When in doubt, hire a professional. If you aren’t in a senior living community yet, considering investing in a home protection plan to help with home maintenance. You may even want to consider hiring a housecleaner to come in once a week to take care of those bigger cleaning tasks, such as laundry or cleaning the bathroom.

Discover How Much Sleep You Need
Did you know that sleeping too little, or even too much, can affect your energy levels? Everybody is different, so try and mix up how much you’re sleeping each day to figure out what you need to have enough energy throughout the day. It may also be worth considering sleeping less at night, then taking advantage of a nice nap during the middle of the day. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon activities.

Squeeze in Raw Vegetables Whenever Possible
A tried and true way to get the nutrients you need is to eat your veggies, but that may be easier said than done. Vegetables come packed with vitamins and minerals that the body needs to stay active and healthy. Squeeze in some vibrant veggies wherever you can, or even opt to have a green drink every morning in case you are unable to meet your vegetable quota throughout the day.

Add Vitamin D Into Your Routine
Vitamin D is much more beneficial to your body than just for bone health, it is great for your skin and can help give you a ton of energy you may otherwise be missing. If you aren’t getting enough vegetables containing Vitamin D in your daily diet, such as spinach and kale, consider taking a daily vitamin. You can even invest in a liquid vitamin or powder to mix into your morning coffee or smoothie.

Breath in the Fresh Air
Take some time to take walks outside and breath in the fresh air. According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, even spending short periods of time outdoors has been directly correlated with greater vitality. Whether you take a walk, drink your morning coffee on the porch, or even just take a moment to enjoy the sunshine as you take out the trash, try and spend some time each day outdoors.

By |November 29th, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , |Comments Off on Guest Blog: Life Hacks for Seniors Looking for a Fresh Boost of Energy

Thanksgiving is Good for Your Health

Close-up of Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

This time of year, many people pause to give thanks for the good things in their life, but did you know that giving thanks is good for your health?

Having an optimistic outlook on life and using positive coping skills to manage stress has been linked in numerous studies to a longer and happier life. One of the common themes among people over age 85 who report very good to excellent health (in spite of dealing with chronic illnesses) is just that – thinking positive. Norman Vincent Peale, in his famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” said:

The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.

But what if you are not naturally a positive thinker, but more of a “the glass is half empty” kind of person? The good news is that you can begin to change your thinking to improve your health. If you are not sure where to start, consider some of these suggestions as a place to begin:

Count your blessings. There is an old hymn that was sung when I was girl. When I felt down and discouraged, I would sing this song. It went like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings every doubt will fly. Then you will be singing as the days go by. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.

Sometimes it helps to list what you are grateful for on paper. If you need a place to start, an excellent resource is the book “One Thousand Gifts: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces” by Ann VosKamp. Through a series of 60 short devotionals, the author walks you through a journey to greater appreciation and thankfulness for all that you have.

Learn to be content with what you have.  At the holidays, especially, it is easy to get caught up in thinking about what we wish we had and those things we don’t have. Try looking at it the other way- even in relationship to your health. For example, several years ago I had a catastrophic skiing accident, breaking my leg and tearing all of my knee ligaments. A subsequent blood clot complication meant that I couldn’t have surgery to repair the knee right away. After being in a wheelchair, on crutches, and in awful pain for months, with the help of countless hours of painful therapy and surgery a year later, I was finally able to walk almost normally again. Every day since then, when I am tempted to complain that I will never ski again, cannot kneel or squat, or do not have complete range of motion in that knee, I remind myself of those months when I couldn’t walk at all without help and how it felt to be completely dependent on others for everything. Each step I take, each walk in the sunshine, each little jaunt to the car, and the ability to ride a bicycle is a blessing. Every movement without pain is a bonus I never thought I would have again. Take time to recall when your situation was worse, and express joy that things are better than they were then.

Help others.  One of the best ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself and cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to serve others, especially those who are less fortunate than you. Volunteer to help serve food at the community Thanksgiving dinner or participate in Operation Christmas Child by making a shoebox for a boy or girl in a developing country who would otherwise have no gifts. Take food to your local food pantry. Mow the lawn or shovel snow for your widowed neighbor. Invite the single and lonely person to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Buy gifts through the Angel Tree Ministry for children of those in prison. Adopt a needy family. Even if you are homebound, you can encourage others by simple but meaningful tasks such as sending birthday or holiday cards to the people in your church or community group. A simple encouraging phone call can change a person’s day. By giving to others, you focus on positive parts of life and meaningful activities that in turn promote your positive mental health.

So, this Thanksgiving, push the pause button for a little while and take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for. You may just find that Thanksgiving is good for your health.

 

By |November 25th, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Thanksgiving is Good for Your Health

How to Find Assisted Health Care Jobs

The need for health care has continued to grow over the years and will continue to grow. As a result, there is a high demand for direct care workers in many different fields of healthcare. Stem trainer also guide kids about this. In order to meet the needs of growing population, it is important that more people enter these professions. It can be difficult to find work as an assistant in the healthcare field, but there are some steps you can take to make your job search easier.

Search Your Options:

Make a list of all the places you would like to work, including hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Research each facility on the Internet, noting their hiring policies for assistants and any requirements they have for applicants. If a facility doesn’t have job openings listed on their website, call them and ask if they are accepting applications at this time.

Apply Online:

There are also a number of online websites that can help you locate a job in the health care industry, especially for work from home jobs. Take time to do thorough research before applying for a position however. Be sure that you understand all the duties and responsibilities mentioned in the job description.

Many facilities will advertise their open positions online, so it is important to create an account with the top job search engines in your area of interest. You can find websites that specialize in healthcare jobs at sites such as HealthCare Employment Network, SimplyHired and CareerBuilder.

Make a Phone Call:

While many facilities list both open positions online and in newspapers, some will only advertise job openings through direct phone calls. Call the facility’s human resources department to find out if there are any available positions that you can apply for.

Network:

Don’t underestimate the value of a good job hunter’s network! Talk with your friends and family and ask them if they know of any jobs available in this field.

If you have friends or family who are already working in the healthcare field, ask them if they know of any open positions that you can apply for. They may be able to give you information about openings before they are listed online or in the paper, giving you an advantage over other applicants. Additionally, many positions will only be available to those who have a referral, so offering a friend a small finder’s fee if they get you the job may help your chances.

Go On-Campus:

If you are currently enrolled in school, make time to visit your college’s career center. Some schools have job boards specifically for students of their programs. Your career center may also have listings for some on-campus jobs that will allow you to gain experience while earning money through a part-time or temporary position.

Asking your professors if they know of any positions available in their own network may also help you find a job. Professors and other faculty members often have many connections with businesses, so it’s likely that someone they know is looking for an assistant.

Search physician’s office:

If you are looking for a job in the medical assistant field, look to your physician’s office first. Many people have no idea that they can be employed directly by their own health care provider! The benefits of doing so are numerous to you as well as your employer. You will already know the work schedule and be familiar with the system. You won’t have weeks of orientation and training like you would with a new employer. There is also the convenience factor, no worry about relocating to another part of town. And lastly, if you do get hired by your regular doctor, he or she knows your medical history already; providing better care for his patients!

Contact Companies:

You can also check to see if there are any assisted health care jobs at a home medical equipment or supply company. If you have knowledge in this area, then these companies may have current openings for work from home opportunities within your area.

Don’t rule out temporary employment! Many people are surprised to learn that temporary jobs can be a great way to try out an employer, ease into the work environment, and test the waters with your abilities before you commit fully to a company.

Finally, don’t forget about corporate health care services! These types of companies often have a variety of available jobs that can be perfect for someone just starting out in the medical assistant field. There are even some opportunities to work from home through these companies as well!

Closing thought:

With so many jobs available in the healthcare industry, you should have no trouble finding a good job no matter what your interests are. Whether you want to work for yourself or someone else, there is something out there waiting for you!

By |November 24th, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , |Comments Off on How to Find Assisted Health Care Jobs

How to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health

 

It’s a sad fact that as we age, our bodies change. It is true for your elderly loved one as well. As their health begins to fade, they are unable to do things they have easily done before. And they feel this change deeply. And because they are worried that their family members may think of them as a burden, they would act as if nothing is wrong, which is very tricky since it can lead to more problems along the way.

As someone who looks after the welfare of your senior loved ones, it is important to take the initiative to communicate with them. However, doing that is never easy, knowing that seniors will often be argumentative or defensive when it comes to their health. Therefore, it is important to understand your seniors’ health before you discuss anything with them.

You may want to discuss some things with your older family member like a regular check-up, treatment options that the doctor suggests, and diet changes. Also, you need to discuss home modifications to improve their safety at home or whether it’s time to consider personal care, home care, or companionship support. You should approach this topic either in a calm manner or by showing concern for their well-being. But how are you going to do it?

This article will discover the best ways to communicate with your senior loved ones about their health.

8 Ways to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health

  1. Listen to Your Senior Loved One’s Concerns

When you listen and understand what your loved one is saying, you create a more fertile ground for conversation. Your senior loved one is more open to considering what you have to tell if you let your loved one speak his concerns freely without judgment. In addition, it could well be that your loved one is ambivalent and needs his time to think things thoroughly. Don’t rush to put words in their mouth. You might need to paraphrase what your loved one said to show that you understood them.

  1. Pick the Right Environment

There are several things to consider when picking the right environment. If your loved one is agitated, choose a quiet place for communication. It could be the dining table, living room, or bedroom. Another option is to choose a comfortable chair at the hospital or in their nursing homeroom. You could also schedule a visit for later in the afternoon when your loved one may be more likely to have some energy and interest in talking about their health with you.

  1. Ask a Thoughtful Question Instead of Just Giving an Advice

When you are trying to communicate with your elderly loved one about their health, the best thing you can do is ask a thoughtful and well-researched question. It will help you understand your loved ones and concerns much better. Ask them what makes them feel that way and why they feel that way. If you think your aging loved ones need to hear a hard truth like telling him, it might be time to give up the car. It could go a lot better to have a third party begin the discussion, like a physician and a family.

  1. Speak Clearly to Make Sure That You are Well Understood

You must speak clearly during the health discussion. You can either repeat what your loved ones said or paraphrase their concerns. Since they are not looking at you, they may not understand you properly. So, repeating what your loved one said would ensure that your loved ones are well understood. One thing to remember is to stick with speaking using more of an informal tone of voice.

  1. Include Other Family Members in the Discussion

Include other family members, like your siblings, in the discussion. But before you include your aging loved ones into that discussion, bring all the issues and concerns to the table and ask them what they think should be done. It will help you have a more fruitful discussion with your elderly family member. A unified consensus among family members regarding these transitions for aging loved ones is a more supportive environment than a divided family.

  1. Accept Differences of Opinions

Not all families are going to agree on what you think should be done. It means that the discussion is going to be difficult. It is okay if other family members have other ideas on how to proceed. But what you should try to do is find a middle ground agreement among the family members. If there are disagreements, don’t push your loved ones to make a decision they are uncomfortable with.

  1. Let Your Loved One be Part of the Decision-Making Process

If you want your loved one’s cooperation and keep them as active as possible, it is important that they feel like they are a part of the decision-making process. You should allow your family members to weigh in by asking their opinion and giving them all the information they need to make the right decisions. If your loved one agrees with what you plan to do, give them all the reasons for why you think it is necessary. It could be very helpful for you both if you can involve your loved ones in planning their future.

  1. Keep Notes from Your Important Discussions

You may want to take some notes and record your discussions during your discussions with your aging loved one. It will help you pick up on any key concerns you need to address later on. Also, there might be memories were shared that you may want to use later.

When situations come up in future episodes of your elderly loved one’s health, bring them up again and ask them if they remember it or if it happened before. It could help if you keep records of important conversations and events in the past regarding their health.

  1. Offer Your Loved One Choices Whenever Possible

Whether it be house cleaning, grocery shopping, or taking a walk at the park, it would be a good idea to let your loved one choose what to do. If they feel like going out to take a short walk or have a bite to eat, allow them. Be sure that the things you want them to do are things they can still safely do. If you have a senior loved one who is confined to their home and cannot leave, consider creating an environment for them that is as comfortable as possible.

  1. Pick Your Battles

Discussing every single issue at once can be embarrassing for an aging parent or loved one. Pick the issues that are the most important, let him know you are aware of the other issues, and then ask if he wants to talk about them later. For example, if your aging relative feels that he is not getting any exercise by walking to the store, ask how his doctor has suggested he should do more exercise. Perhaps there is a way for you to be his walking buddy during the next week or two.

There are a variety of effective ways you can communicate with your aging loved one. It is important that you first understand how their confusion and unclear thinking may affect their health. There are steps you can take to make the interaction more productive and beneficial for both of you. These tips will help you have a more fulfilling conversation with your loved ones regarding their health and help them feel that they have been heard.

Author Bio

I’m Andrea Gibbs, Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I’m a blog contributor at Serenity Senior care to motivate other parents about how they can enhance their elderly loved ones quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |November 23rd, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , |Comments Off on How to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health

Urinary Tract Infection

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Background

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), also called cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), are common among older adults and are more frequent in women. They are a primary cause of urinary incontinence and delirium. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are more common among older adults (Fakih et al., 2012) and is mainly attributed to the use of indwelling urinary catheters. Many indwelling catheters are thought to be unnecessary (Cochran, 2007) and one study noted that physicians were often not aware of the purpose for which their patients had a catheter inserted (Saint, Meddings, Calfee, Kowlaski, & Krein, 2009). UTIs have been show to increase morbidity and mortality, length of hospital stay, and cost of hospitalization (Kleinpell, Munro, & Giuliano, 2008). CAUTI is considered preventable and is not reimbursed by Medicare. Therefore, hospitals will largely assume the financial costs for preventable infections of this type.

Risk factors/Signs and symptoms

Several risk factors are associated with UTIs in general. These include being female, having an indwelling urinary catheter, the presence of urological diseases, and hormonal changes associated with menopause in women. Signs and symptoms of UTIs include urinary frequency and burning or stinging felt during voiding. Pain may be felt above the pubic bone, and a strong urge to void but with small amounts of urine expelled. The most significant risk factor for CAUTI is prolonged use of an indwelling catheter. In hospital-acquired UTIs, 75% are associated with the use of an indwelling catheter (CDC, 2012). In women, signs and symptoms of CAUTI may be more severe than those reported by women by patients in the community who do not have an indwelling catheter. Lethargy, malaise, onset or worsened fever, flank pain, and altered mental status have been associated with CAUTI (Hooton et al., 2010).

Diagnosis

A thorough assessment should be done of the patient’s urinary output, including amounts, color, odor, appearance, frequency of voiding, urgency, and episodes of incontinence. A urine specimen should be obtained if UTI is suspected. Laboratory results will show the type of organism causing the infection, and the sensitivity will tell what medication the organism is susceptible to. These results should be reported promptly to the physician or nurse practitioner caring for the patient and so that a diagnosis and treatment plan can be made.

Treatments

Prevention of UTIs is considered a primary nursing strategy. Elderly female patients can be instructed to make lifestyle modifications such as: increasing their fluid intake; emptying the bladder after sexual intercourse; practicing good perineal hygiene, including wiping front to back after toileting; getting enough sleep; and avoiding stress (PubMed Health, 2011). Although many of these common sense strategies are recommended by primary care providers, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support some of them. Many UTIs will clear up on their own, particularly if the person increases oral fluid intake during early symptoms. However, with many older adults, antibiotic treatment may be needed. In general, a course of three 3 days for healthy adults is thought to be sufficient, but for more resistant bacteria, a longer course more than five 5 days may be needed (PubMed Health, 2011). For those with repeated or chronic UTIs, a low dose of antibiotics taken for 6– 12 months may be indicated (Hooton et al., 2010). If the underlying cause is CAUTI, treatment will be more aggressive. Monitor the patient’s temperature at least every 24 hours (Carpenito, 2013). Encourage fluids. Evaluate the necessity of continuing an indwelling catheter if one is in place.

Alternatives to indwelling catheters should be considered for appropriate patients. Intermittent catheterization, if appropriate, is preferred over indwelling catheter use, especially for long- term maintenance of bladder management (CDC, 2009; Hooton et al., 2010). Condom catheters may be an appropriate choice for some males. If an indwelling urinary catheter is necessary, the catheter should be removed as soon as possible, per the physician or nurse practitioner’s orders, to reduce the risk of CAUTI.

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. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Used with permission.

 

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By |November 22nd, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Urinary Tract Infection

Guest Blog: Holiday Gifts for Showing Caregivers They Are Appreciated

Sometimes the holidays bring with them conundrums, and figuring out good gifts is usually one of them. Finding a present that expresses how much you value the caregiver in your life can be particularly challenging. We’ve pulled together a list of ideas that go the extra mile for that special someone who always serves above and beyond for you or your loved one.

Rest and relaxation

It’s no secret that caregivers bear a heavy burden. Selecting a gift that provides relaxation and comfort can bring meaningful restoration to those in the role of caregiver. Consider an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils in soothing scents, such as lavender, sandalwood, or vanilla. Along those same lines, you could assemble a gift basket for an indulgent bath. Choose oils, lotions, and bath salts in a favorite scent, and add a luxurious towel and some herbal teas.

If you really want to wow your caregiver, consider splurging on a new mattress. Some of the bed-in-a-box options are particularly outstanding, and it can be delivered straight to the recipient’s door. Look for a top-rated mattress that can fit any sleep style. For example, the Leesa is one great option. It’s a highly-rated foam mattress that’s optimal for all sleeping styles and is perfectly poised between soft and firm.

Connection and caring

Sometimes a break is the best gift you can give someone who is in the role of caregiving. Consider a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater, and include a handwritten note on pretty paper or a card saying you will cover care during the meal.

If your time is tight or the duties are too complex, offer to perform a task for the caregiver instead. Pick up groceries, take her car for an oil change, then get it washed and waxed, or do some yard work or housekeeping. If the caregiver can’t break away, consider reaching out with an offer to bring a meal over. You can prepare lunch and sit down together, which is a chance for companionship and conversation – a gift often beyond immeasurable value.

For an ongoing gift, a meal delivery service can be a boon to caregivers, making nutritious food easy and convenient, or consider a coffee club subscription. If you’re good friends, considering having a movie night together. Popcorn, a dvd, and a few hours of friendship can provide much needed respite, and choosing a comedy offers the bonus of allowing you both to laugh off stress.

Happiness and hobbies

Certain kinds of activities tend to fall by the wayside for caregivers. With that in mind, consider ways to help your caregiver pursue a hobby interest. You can assemble a gift tote of supplies, such as for crafting, baking, or woodworking. Add a note explaining that once a week you’ll cover care, or you could hire an aide to cover that time periodically.

If your special caregiver loves events, tickets to a tour, concert or play can be ideal. Another idea is to purchase participation in a class your caregiver would enjoy, such as in culinary arts, yoga, or music lessons.

For booklovers, a new e-reader could be just the ticket, along with a gift card to download some books. Journaling is a popular stress-reliever for caregivers, allowing them to sort through emotions and process events of the day. Consider purchasing a handmade journal and selecting an especially beautiful pen to go with it.

For caregivers who are primarily housebound, a bird feeder which mounts to the window or could hang from a nearby tree can provide hours of peaceful entertainment and stress relief. Add a pair of binoculars, seed, and a bird identification guide to make your gift complete.

Caregiving is a challenging burden, and those who take on the responsibility are worthy of special gifts. Consider options which show how much you appreciate their self-less, loving assistance. The holidays are the perfect season for demonstrating how grateful you are to the caregiver in your life.

By |November 20th, 2021|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Guest Blog: Holiday Gifts for Showing Caregivers They Are Appreciated