In the wake of the sad news about the suicide death of beloved actor Robin Williams, discussions about depression, its recognition and treatment seem appropriate. Depression is common in American society, with 10% of men and 18% of women over the age of 65 in the United States reporting current symptoms associated with clinically significant depression. These statistics have been relatively stable since about 1998. Severe depression is one of the major causes for suicide attempts.
Sometimes it is hard to understand why a person would become so depressed that suicide seems like the only option. There are many reasons that depression occurs. These may include losses of various types such as outliving a spouse, friends, or loved ones. There may have been loss of health, financial difficulties, loss of a job, or a drastic unwanted change in living situation. Maybe the person has experienced a trauma that was life-changing. For some people, these losses can be overwhelmingly painful and persons may lack the support or coping mechanisms to successfully deal with their extreme feelings.
Men and women may display depression differently. Men express depression in the form of irritability, anger, agitation, controlling behavior, blaming others, or expressions of despair. In contrast, women may appear anxious, scared, apathetic, and express feelings of worthlessness.
Other common signs of depression include:
• No interest or pleasure in enjoyable activities
• No interest in sexual activities
• Feeling sad or numb
• Crying easily or for no reason
• Feeling slowed down
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Change in appetite; unintended change in weight
• Trouble recalling things, concentrating, or making decisions
• Problems sleeping, or wanting to sleep all of the time
• Feeling tired all of the time
• Thoughts about death or suicide
While depression can be associated with suicide, persons with depression may not actually want to die. They simply feel they cannot live with the pain they feel and may express wanting that pain to end. This pain can be physical or emotional or both. In the United States, the highest rate of suicide is among white males over the age of 85. These men often visit their doctors within the month prior to their suicide, and give few other signs of their suicidal thoughts. They most often use lethal means to carry out suicide such as hanging or firearms. In women, suicide attempts are more often by nonlethal means such as taking pills, and should be considered a cry for help. If you have a loved who is at high risk for depression or suicide, be sure to take special note of the warning signs listed here.
The good news is that depression can be successfully managed and treated with the right help. Early recognition and treatment of depression is important and generally includes medication therapy and counseling. Talk to your doctor if you or your loved one is feeling depressed. Your primary care provider can assist you in diagnosing depression and can refer you to a reliable mental health professional to help address your symptoms and promote a better quality of life.
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!
By Jim|2022-07-30T11:47:48-05:00September 10th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What to Expect from Andropause in Your Senior Years
Fitness apps like Peloton and Nike Training Club are in vogue right now, offering live classes with personal trainers, on-demand workout videos, and access to workshops and support groups right from your phone, all for the price of a streaming subscription. It’s a workout revolution, but for many seniors it can be a bit too intense.
Some apps rely heavily on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a workout style designed for the high-energy professional with only thirty minutes to spare. Others push expensive equipment like exercise bikes, treadmills, and fitness trackers. Most notably, nearly all of them are focused on the fitness goals of the younger generation: shedding extra pounds and getting toned and sexy.
A senior, however, has much different fitness goals. Yes, losing weight and improving your physique can be a wonderful goal at any age, but many seniors approach exercise as a way to stave off the effects of aging. Low-intensity exercise can bolster your independence by improving balance and preserving mobility, preventing dangerous falls. A good fitness program can help prevent heart disease, bolster your energy, boost your confidence, and improve your quality of life. The issue is finding one. Depending on your Medicare plan, you may already be eligible for one of the most comprehensive fitness plans on the market, all at no cost to you.
SilverSneakers offers all of the allure of those chic fitness apps in a senior-focused package. Not only can you access on-demand workouts as easily as clicking a YouTube video, but you also get access to a plethora of in-person benefits, including access to gyms and fitness facilities.
How does SilverSneakers work?
SilverSneakers is a perk offered through select Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage is a private alternative to Medicare Parts A and B, also known as Original Medicare, that combines hospital and medical insurance with benefits Medicare doesn’t usually offer, like vision or dental care. In exchange for committing to a specific insurance network, you can get lower premiums, reduced cost-sharing obligations, and perks like grocery cards and meal delivery. SilverSneakers is just one of many benefits these private insurers offer seniors, and it’s undoubtedly one of the more enticing.
When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes SilverSneakers, you’ll be directed to download their app. This app, which is available on iOS and Android, includes live and on-demand classes covering various fitness topics. Their classic courses focus on improving balance, strength, and endurance, and are designed for seniors looking to improve their mobility and independence. If that’s not enough of a challenge, they also offer yoga, pilates, Zumba, tai chi, and strength training, among others. They also cover wellness-related topics like nutrition, mindfulness, and meditation.
What helps SilverSneakers stand out over the competition are their in-person offerings. Membership in SilverSneakers includes access to over 15,000 fitness locations, including national chains like Planet Fitness.
Typically, this includes access to all of that location’s amenities, including equipment, pools, hot tubs, saunas, and any nutritional counseling they may offer. SilverSneakers also coordinates in-person courses through their app, allowing you to find local classes and programs that interest you. The plan is 100 percent customizable: you can go to any participating fitness center, take any courses you like, and focus on the benefits you want. Only want to do yoga? No problem. Don’t want to leave the house? You don’t need to. Only interested in your gym’s hot tubs and saunas? You do you.
Because it’s part of your Medicare Advantage plan, you’re under no obligations or pressure to use it, and you’re not necessarily wasting money by skipping a gym visit. It’s just one part of your whole healthcare package, and it’s up to you to fit it into your lifestyle and fitness journey.
What’s the Catch?
If all of this sounds too good to be true, that’s because there are a few caveats that come with any Medicare Advantage plan, and with SilverSneakers in particular.
Private insurers offer Medicare Advantage, which means you’re bound to that insurer’s network. Unlike Original Medicare, which is accepted practically everywhere in the country, Medicare Advantage is usually only accepted by in-network providers. Some plans allow limited out-of-network services, but for the most part, you’ll need to stick with a more limited pool of doctors and specialists.
These plans are also limited to specific regions, meaning SilverSneakers may not be available in your area. Even if it is, there is also the risk of losing your benefits if you spend a significant amount of time away from your coverage area. While Medicare Advantage always offers the same benefits as Original Medicare, the limited network might be a deal breaker for some.
SilverSneakers is one of the best fitness programs available to seniors, and with no-cost access to fitness centers across the country, it has a major edge over the competition. However, it’s still important to be informed.
When caring for the elderly, it can be tempting to feel as though you’re always in charge, and this can lead to treating those in your care like children. This can make what is already a difficult time even more so, as the elderly in your care will gradually feel as though they are losing any of the agencies they once had. Rather than approach care as though you lead, and they follow, why not tries an alternative view – a strategy based on cooperation.
It can be difficult to foster cooperation whilst caring for the elderly – many people are resentful of having to rely on someone else for help, and can actively reject what little you aim to do for them. No matter where you work or where your elderly relatives may be in care – whether it’s somewhere like Forest Healthcare or a simple food run once a week – it can be difficult work. There are some strategies you can use to deal with this, however.
Take an Interest
Firstly, take an active interest in those in your care. Get to know them as people. Remembering a couple of small details – whether it’s that their son is on holiday, or that they’re writing a letter to a cousin – and making the effort to ask about them will go a long way towards creating a sense of cooperation. If you’re treating them as an equal to you, and taking an interest in their life, then you are no longer some aloof figure, but a potential confidante. It doesn’t have to be a friendship by any means – but getting to know them as more than just one of many older people you help on a daily basis can go a long way.
Never make them feel stupid, or as though something you’ve discussed is irrelevant. Whilst some things the elderly people in your care might think desire or discuss may seem strange, it’s important to remember the huge difference in life experiences you’ve had. For instance, if they bring up something that’s bothering them that you might consider minor, treat it with the respect they deserve. Allowing the people in your care to remain autonomous is a vital step towards a working partnership.
You will be resisted. This is just a fact, and the sooner you accept it, the easier it is to deal with. Rather than being surprised and allowing you to get annoyed about it, treat it as what it is – just one step in a larger process? Try to figure out the root causes of the resistance – is it coming from a place of fear, perhaps of medical intervention? Or perhaps it’s resentment at their inability to do something themselves. Each person will be different, and treating resistance on an individual basis will make it easier to deal with in the long run.
Use ‘Trial Runs’
Imposing a particular routine, or type of medical care, on an elderly person can lead to them feeling as though they have no control. Instead, try to make use of trial runs – set a length of time for them to try something, and then meet to discuss it. This way they can make active, informed decisions about their own care – and you’ll often find that, given this opportunity, they’ll be happy to go along with what you suggested in the first place!
In general, what caring for the elderly mostly comes down to is remembering how things are from their point of view. To them, a move into care – no matter how great the care! – is a move away from independence, towards a more constructive way of life. In order to work towards cooperation, the best methods involve validating these feelings, acknowledging the difficulties, and trying to work around them. Therefore, anything that increases the autonomy and agency of those in your care is a great place to start. If you’re based somewhere like Forest Healthcare, then those decisions will be in your hands most of the day, but even in smaller, less frequent contact based care, it’s worth employing. If anything, the sooner you start working towards a cooperative strategy, the easier it will be for both of you in the long run.
By Jim|2022-07-30T11:47:29-05:00September 8th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Strategies for fostering cooperation when caring for the elderly
Seniors are using technological gadgets today more than ever according to a 2012 research. However, seniors have a long way ahead before they are tech savvy. Good technology can keep your senior loved ones engaged, connected and active both mentally and physically. Again, technology enhances safety for seniors living at home. Check out these five pieces of technology.
1. Tablets, iPads and Smartphones
Your senior loved one needs to have either or all of these devices. They are simple devices really that you may not even realize are needed. Tablets are iPads can be installed with games and apps that promote the mental fitness of your older parent. Seniors can also view photos, learn languages, listen to music and stay connected with people.
2. Medical alert systems
Medical alert systems are a must-have for all seniors. They are designed as simple smartwatches or bracelets and others are like a key fob that seniors hang around their neck. These systems help you monitor the location of loved ones at all times, it gives them calendar notifications and reminders, detect falls and some even have a panic/help button. Because the systems integrate with your smartphone, you have access to your senior loved ones as long as you have your smartphone.
3. Wireless Internet
Does your senior loved on use the internet? If they do, they will need wireless internet more. Even when a senior does not use the internet, most of the smart devices you install at home do; smart sensors, smart thermostats, smart home monitoring and surveillance systems and even the smartphones use internet. Today, most nursing homes are connected to the internet.
4. Smart Assistive Devices
Assistive technology help seniors stay independent at home and also stay safe. You do not have to get them Amazon’s Alexa but you can have other smart devices to help seniors with daily tasks at home. Besides the obvious technologies like home monitoring and GPS, you can install stove shut-off systems, photo-enhanced phone dialers, smart LED lights, and medication dispensing appliances. These systems come in handy when seniors have cognitive impairment.
5. Fitness Bands
Fitness bands have advanced greatly offering more than just activity stats. Bands such as FitBit, will monitor levels of activity throughout the day, heart rate and even warn when senior vitals are not normal. This way, it is easier to detect when seniors are suffering from a disease and seek medical help. Seeing that these bands can even detect blood sugar, and they are light enough to be worn 24/7, they are great for all seniors.
Whether you enjoy the company of dogs, cats, or even iguanas, pets have been proven to benefit seniors in plenty of ways. For many, they have become an integral part of the family. In fact, assisted-living facilities have adopted a few animals from shelters to keep residents company and uplift their spirits. Pet ownership has helped so many seniors by keeping them physically active, providing emotional support, and even improving cardiovascular health.
However, keeping up with your pet’s needs may not be as easy as it was when you were younger. Elderly individuals may be at a disadvantage when matched with highly-energetic pets. The costs of pet care are also a big consideration in this situation, especially when you have your own care costs to contend with.
To keep all the hassles and stresses at bay, we have listed a few tips in living a happy life with your beloved pets.
Care providers who include pets
Many care providers include pet care in their list of services. This may consist of dog walking, pet sitting, boarding, grooming, and even training. So check with your care providers if they can also accommodate your pets.
Maintain a regular schedule for feeding and walking
Schedules and routines do not just benefit the animals; these also can help you maintain a good quality of life. Create a schedule for you and your pets to eliminate surprises and memory lapses that could possibly come with old age.
Set a spending limit and sticking to it
Though pets undeniably cost money, these expenses can be cut down to affordable amounts. Many veterinarians offer senior discounts, so check if yours provides any for special rates.
There are also various pet-care support programs, like selected Meals on Wheels, which help seniors in providing food for their pets. Low-cost clinics are also a great option for individuals on a budget.
Create an emergency plan
Individuals get affected by emergencies, which is why they plan and prepare for it. This is also true for our pets. As their caretakers, it is your duty to ensure their safety before, during, and after an unforeseen incident.
Using Ready.gov’s list of steps to take, you will be able to safeguard and care for your pets through pet and animal emergency planning. Through this, you get to rest soundly knowing that they are protected even when you are not present.
ALTCP.org provides free long term care information, resources, long term care insurance quotes and expert planning advice for seniors and adults. Our mission is to raise awareness and promote self-education on the need to plan for long term care and buy long term care insurance.