Boomer’s Blog

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: Dentures & Denture Care: Instructions and Tips for Seniors

Dentures are a way to restore a senior’s self-confidence and allows them to eat food
normally again. For seniors and loved ones caring for seniors, proper cleaning and
care of dentures is an important part of a senior’s daily routine. With good oral
hygiene practices, storage, and regular check-ups with your dentist, you can ensure
your dentures and healthy smile last you many years.

Introduction to Dentures
Missing teeth can lead to a variety of health conditions, including accelerated tooth
decay of neighbouring teeth, and bone loss in the jaw. For seniors, missing teeth can
also interfere with speech, eating, and nearby teeth can shift out of alignment. In
some cases, all of the teeth need to be extracted and replaced.
Complete dentures replace the entire upper or bottom arches of teeth, while partial
dentures replace one or a few missing teeth.
Dentures are acrylic, metal, or nylon replacements for missing teeth. Partial dentures
clip to your natural teeth, while full dentures fit over your gums to stay in place.

When Are Dentures Necessary?
Full and partial dentures may not be the ideal solution for everyone. For those with
one or more missing teeth, dental bridges may be a viable option. However, fixed
dental bridges are permanently cemented in place, so you must maintain impeccable
dental hygiene to make them last. This is one of several reasons to consider
removable full or partial dentures. At St Albans Dental Practice, we design a custom-
fit solution to restore your smile.

Denture Care Tips
Proper care for dentures and your personal oral hygiene is vital. This keeps your
dentures functional, visibly appealing, and free from stains. If taken care of properly,
dentures can last for many years. Here are some useful tips to keep your dentures in
great condition:
● Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
It is important to take good care of your natural teeth as well as your dentures. When
you remove your dentures, clean your tongue, cheeks, remaining teeth and gums
with a soft-bristled brush. This can keep your mouth healthy and guard against
odour.
● How to Clean Your Dentures
Each time you eat, it is a good idea to remove your dentures and rinse them with
water. Remember to be extremely careful when handling your dentures. According to
the Mayo Clinic, you may use a towel or some water in the sink to ensure the
dentures won’t break if they are accidentally dropped during cleaning. Gently clean
your dentures with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least once daily to remove food
particles and debris. Soak dentures overnight in water and a denture-soaking
solution. This keeps them bacteria-free and prevents them from drying out,
maintaining their shape.

● Eating with Dentures
The ability to enjoy a greater variety of foods is one of the greatest benefits of getting
dentures. However, learning to eat with them usually takes time and practice. If your
dentures are new, it is common to feel discomfort while eating. Many patients find it
easier to keep a softer diet such as mashed potatoes, gelatin, pudding, yoghurt and
smoothies during the first few weeks. As your diet becomes more solid, it helps to
cut your food into smaller pieces. Over time and with practice, you will be able to
enjoy your favourite foods again.
● How to Remove Dentures
Denture removal should be done with great care, using a gentle rocking motion. This
process will also take a bit of time to perfect. Never use anything other than your
fingers to remove your dentures. Place your finger between the upper denture and
your cheek and press down gently where the denture meets the gums. Always try to
use even pressure to loosen your denture.

When to Visit Your Dentist
Book regular appointments with your dentist to have your dentures examined and
cleaned professionally. Your dentures should feel secure. Schedule an appointment
if they feel loose or click when you speak. Often discomfort is also a sign that
something is wrong. Natural changes to your bone structure will eventually make it
necessary to make adjustments. If your dentures are visibly worn, it may be time to
get them replaced.

Author Bio:
High Oaks Dental Practice is a Private and NHS Dentist in St Albans. Using
the latest technologies, High Oaks Dental provides wide range of dental treatments
with all the comfort and caring manner. To achieve a confident smile, visit our
website or call us on 01727 893 430.

By |July 22nd, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Guest Blog: Dentures & Denture Care: Instructions and Tips for Seniors

Seizures

Doctor - Taking Notes

Background

Once thought to be mainly a disorder of children, recurrent seizures or epilepsy is thought to be present in about 7% of older adults (Spitz, 2005) and is usually related to one of the common comorbidities found in older adults (Bergey, 2004; Rowan & Tuchman, 2003). Epilepsy affects up to 3 million Americans of all ages (Velez & Selwa, 2003). Davidson & Davidson (2012) summarized findings of most studies on epilepsy in older adults with these main points:
Seizures can be caused by a variety of conditions in older persons, but “the most common cause of new-onset epilepsy in an elderly person is arteriosclerosis and the associated cerebrovascular disease” (Spitz, 2005, p. 1), accounting for 40–50% of seizures in this age group (Rowan & Tuchman, 2003). Seizures are associated with stroke in 5–14% of survivors (Spitz, 2005; Velez & Selwa, 2003). Other common causes of epilepsy in the elderly include Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumor.
There are three major classifications of epilepsies, although there are many additional types. Generalized types are more common in young people and associated with grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures. A number of cases have an un¬determined origin and may be associated with certain situations such as high fever, exposure to toxins, or rare metabolic events. In older adults, localized (partial or focal) epilepsies are more common, particularly complex partial seizures (Luggen, 2009). In contrast to young adults, Rowan and Tuchman (2003) cite other differences in seizures in the elderly: low frequency of seizure activity, easier to control, high potential for injury, a prolonged postictal period, and better tolerance with newer antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Additionally, older adults may have coexisting medical problems and take many medications to treat these problems.

Risk Factors/Warning Signs

Risk factors for seizures in older adults include cerebrovascular disease (especially stroke), age, and head trauma. The most obvious signs and symptoms of epilepsy are seizures, although changes in behavior, cognition, and level of consciousness may be other signs. Also, note that exposure to toxins can cause seizures that are not epilepsy. Complex partial seizures in older adults may include symptoms such as “confusion, memory loss, dizziness, and shortness of breath” (Davidson & Davidson, 2012, p. 16). Automatism (repetitive movements), facial twitching with following confusion, and coughing are also signs of the more-common complex partial seizure (Luggen, 2009).

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by careful description of the seizure event, a thorough history, and physical. Eyewitness accounts of the seizure incident can be quite helpful, although many community-dwelling older adults go undiagnosed because their seizures are never witnessed. In addition, complete blood work, neuroimaging, chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG), and electroencephalogram (EEG) help determine the cause and type of seizure (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence {NICE}, 2012).

Treatment

Treatment for epilepsy is aimed at the causal factor. The standard treatment for recurrent seizures is antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs). The rule of thumb, “start low and go slow,” for medication dosing in older adults particularly applies to AEDs. The elderly tend to have more side effects, adverse drug interactions, and problems with toxicity levels than younger people.
Research has suggested that older adults may have better results with fewer side effects with the newer AEDs than the traditional ones, though about 10% of nursing home residents are still medicated with the first-generation AEDs (Mauk, 2004). The most common older medications used to treat seizures include barbiturates (such as phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (such as diazepam/Valium), hydantoins (such as phenytoin/Dilantin), and valproates (such as valproic acid/Depakene) (Deglin & Vallerand, 2005; Resnick, 2008).
Several newer drugs are also used, depending on the type of seizure. Second-generation AEDs, including gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), levetiracetam (Keppra), pregabalin (Lyrica), tiagabine (Gabitril), and topiramate (Topamax), are generally recommended over the older AEDs; however, older AEDS such as phenytoin (Dilantin), valproate (Depakote), and carbamazepine (Tegretol) are the most commonly prescribed treatment options (Resnick, 2008). Each of these medications has specific precautions for use in patients with certain types of medical problems or for those taking certain other medications. Regarding side effects in older patients, watch for potential stomach, kidney, neurological (especially poor balance or incoordination), and liver problems. Additionally, some newer extended-release AEDs are thought to be better tolerated and have a lower incidence of systemic side effects (such as tremors) (Uthman, 2004).

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.

 

By |July 18th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Seizures

4 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Workout


While senior fitness offerings continue to explode in gyms around the country, the age-old tradition of simply ‘going for a walk’ still touts loads of health benefits, especially for older adults.

Brisk walking a offers low-impact activity that is relatively simple, can be done most anywhere, is fun to do with friends, and is easily modifiable to increase calorie burn. In addition to strengthening your bones and muscles, routine walking can also help prevent lifestyle conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve your balance, coordination, and even your mood.

If you are looking for quick ways to take your daily walk to the next level, don’t miss these expert tips:

Speed Up
The best exercise is that which gets your heart rate up to at least 55 to 85% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). The formula for MHR = 220 – your age. So if you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is around 155. Speeding up your walk so your heart rate climbs over 109 (70% of 155) for at least 10 minutes is going to count as good aerobic exercise that is helping strengthen your heart muscle.

Climb Hills
Walking up an incline naturally requires the body to work harder and use up more energy. This can help you build endurance over time and tone muscle groups in your legs you weren’t previously engaging. If you are concerned about a weak knee, reduce lateral knee movement and prevent discomfort with a knee brace specifically designed for walking.

Change Terrain
Instead of doing your usual walk around the roads in your neighborhood, head to a local trail and take a hike. Hiking up and downhill will burn more calories as well as pose a greater challenge to your balance and coordination skills. Exercising like this in nature has also been shown to boost feelings of attentiveness and positivity.

Add Intervals
Incorporate more intervals of high-intensity activity into your walk and you can both improve your endurance and aerobic capacity as well as give your metabolism a boost. 5 minutes of brisk walking punctuated with 30 seconds of squats, lunges, or crunches, followed by another 5 minutes of walking and then 1 minute of jogging and so on and so forth also spices up your walking routine and makes it a little more fun.

By |July 16th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on 4 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Workout

Guest Blog: How to Find the Most Engaging Senior Living for Your Loved One

Making the decision to place your loved one in an assisted living community is never easy. Whether this option was carefully considered over a period of time or a sudden change in health has culminated in this necessary change, it’s important to take the time to find the right community for your loved one. Fortunately, there are ways you can increase your chances of finding a wonderful senior living facility that will tend to your aging loved one’s needs.

●    Talk to Your Loved One’s Health Care Provider

Usually, the best people to give recommendations on senior living facilities are physicians and nurses who specialize in providing geriatric care. Because their clients are of advanced age, they will be familiar with the local senior living homes. They can also provide you with information on which facilities tend to provide more engagement and enrichment activities, as well as which ones might only provide basic care. Others in your local community or church group might also have the information you need to get started on your search for the perfect assisted living community.

●    Consider Ratio of Providers to Residents

While it’s not impossible to provide an enriching environment within larger assisted living facilities it can be quite difficult, especially if they are understaffed or staffed with underqualified employees. If the ratio of staff to providers is too large for your liking you may want to consider placing your loved one elsewhere. If there are too many residents and not enough caregivers your loved one may not receive the amount of personal attention they need to truly thrive in their new community. You should always go with your intuition when choosing the proper assisted living facility to take care of your loved ones.

●    Check Out Their Events Calendar

A good sign of an enriching senior living facility is a full events calendar. Regardless of age, many seniors enjoy having a robust social life. A sense of community and a lively atmosphere can even help loved ones who are living with dementia cope better with their prognosis and disease management. Other countries emphasize the importance of community and inclusion within their care homes. For example, Japan is known for its thriving older population. A Japanese retirement community usually offers a wide range of activities for their residents to participate in, which promotes wellness and a better quality of life. If the facility you are considering offers social outings, group exercise classes, pet therapy, and other opportunities then that is a good sign of a caring and compassionate place for your loved one.

●    Take a Tour and Talk With Other Residents and Families

One of the most effective ways to decide if a senior living home may be a good fit for your loved one is to take a tour and observe a typical day at the facility. You will get a pretty good idea of what their sense of community is like, as well as whether most residents are happy and socializing with others throughout the day. Another sign to look for is if the caregivers seem to be engaged with their residents or whether they seem to simply perform their duties as needed. Enriching senior living facilities will usually feature brightly decorated spaces, common areas, games, and other amenities for residents to enjoy.

●    Assess Facility for Proper Security Measures

As your loved one ages you want to ensure that the facility you choose for them meets safety standards. Age-related issues like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss can all lead to unfortunate accidents and tragedies that are usually preventable. Before selecting a senior living community for your loved one be sure to run down a safety standards checklist. You’ll want to see that the facility has brightly lit hallways, multiple fire detectors throughout the premises, secured entrance and exit points, as well as handrails and CCTV. While it’s important to provide residents with enriching and stimulating activities, your loved one’s safety is tantamount.

Finding the right senior living facility for your aging loved one can be challenging, both figuratively and emotionally. Fortunately, with a bit of time and patience, you can find a wonderfully engaging senior living facility to meet your loved one’s health needs and provide them with a wonderful quality of life.

 

By |July 13th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: , |Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Find the Most Engaging Senior Living for Your Loved One

Starting the Conversation: How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Care

Contributing Author: Christopher Norman, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

An inevitable process has begun: Your parents are growing older. Maybe they are struggling to keep up with their personal needs, or they have worsening physical limitations. Whatever the reason, you realize it’s time to talk with them about senior care. If you are nervous about initiating this conversation, you are certainly not alone.

Seniors often resist this conversation for a variety of reasons. Transitioning from giving care as a parent to receiving care from others can be a difficult adjustment. Additionally, many seniors resist accepting help because it means acknowledging the passage of time and the loss of independence.

Regardless of why your parents are hesitant to acknowledge their need for help, the way you approach this conversation can make a huge difference in the way they respond. Below are a few tips you can use in navigating this difficult topic together.

Start By Listening
Not sure where to begin? The secret ingredients for a constructive conversation on the topic of senior care are empathy and active listening. Before you begin to share your point of view, ask open-ended questions to uncover what they think, feel, and believe about aging and senior care.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
As you transition to a discussion about specific senior care options, your parents will likely be much more receptive to your input if you take the role of a knowledgeable advisor. If you research ahead of time, you can be prepared to lay out their options and work through any barriers, whether real or perceived. Two of the most important topics to read up on are:

Finances. One of the older generation’s chief concerns is finances – how to pay for the care they need will most almost definitely be a point of concern. Prior to broaching the topic of senior care, learn about the different payment options and financial assistance available for the various levels of senior care, such as in-home care and assisted living.

Aging in place. Many seniors prefer to live in their own homes for as long as possible – also referred to as “aging in place.” Be ready to discuss the need for in-home care and the need to find or adapt a home with “Universal Design” principles, such as no-step entryways, walk-in bathtubs, and wide hallways. Another key component of safely aging in place is assistive technology such as a medical alert system, which provides access to immediate help in an emergency. Research the costs and options available from different companies, and consider adding a home security and automation system as well.

Keep Your Final Goal in Mind
It is difficult to predict exactly how the conversation about senior care will be received by your parents, but as long as you listen, empathize, and are prepared to answer questions, you can make this difficult transition easier on everyone. You can then move forward together to find a senior care option that gives peace of mind to both you and your parents, with the ultimate goal being their safety, health, and happiness.

By |July 12th, 2022|Categories: Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Tags: |Comments Off on Starting the Conversation: How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Care