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

Skin Cancer in Older Adults

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Background

There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell, and malignant melanoma (MM). Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer, accounting for 65–85% of cases (Kennedy-Malone et al., 2000). According to the American Cancer Society (2013), more than 3.5 million cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed every year. Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in African Americans and is also less serious than malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma accounts for only 3% of all skin cancers, but it is responsible for the majority of deaths from skin cancer. Older adults are 10 times more likely to get MM than adults under age 40 (Johnson & Taylor, 2012). About 8,420 people were estimated to die from malignant melanoma in 2008. The American Cancer Society (2013) estimated that in 2013 there would be over 76,000 new cases of malignant melanoma in the United States.

Risk Factors

Older adults are more susceptible to skin cancers because of a variety of factors. These include exposure to carcinogens over time (such as through sunburn or tanning booths) and immunosenescence, or a decline in immune function. Family history of skin cancers, multiple moles (more than 100), and pale skin also put a person at higher risk. The major risk factor for all types of skin cancer is sun exposure.

Warning Signs

The ABCDE method can help people remember the warning signs of skin cancer:
A = Asymmetry (if a line is drawn down the middle of the lesion, the two sides do not match)
B = Border (the borders of the lesion tend to be irregular)
C = Color (a variety of colors is present; the lesion is not uniform in color)
D = Diameter (MM lesions are usually larger)
E = Evolving (note any changes in shape or size, or any bleeding)

Diagnosis

Annual physical examinations should include inspection of the skin for lesions. Older adults should be taught to report any suspicious areas on their skin to the physician. Persons should particularly look for changes in shape, color, and whether a lesion is raised or bleeds.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common kind of skin cancer. It is often found on the head or face, or other areas exposed to the sun. Although there are different forms of BCC, the nodular type is most common, and appears as a raised, firm, papule that is pearly or shiny with a rolled edge. (Johnson & Taylor, 2012). Patients often complain that these lesions bleed and scab easily. When treated early, it is easily removed through surgery and is not life threatening, though it is often recurring.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) also appears as lesion on areas of the body exposed to the sun, or from other trauma such as radiation. HPV is a risk factor of SCC, and metastasis is more common than with BCC. The lesions of SCC appear scaly, pink, and thicker than BCC. Their borders may be more irregular and the lesions may look more like an ulceration.

Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanoma MM has a more distinctive appearance than other types of skin cancer. The areas appear asymmetric with irregular borders, a variety of colors (including black, purplish, and pink), and size greater than 6 mm. Malignant melanoma MM is often identified with the ABCDE method and MM accounts for the vast majority of deaths from skin cancer. The good news is that MM is almost always curable when found early. A skin check should be part of an older person’s yearly physical.

Treatment

The best treatment for skin cancer in the elderly is prevention. All older persons, especially those with fair skin who are prone to sunburn, should wear sunblock and protective clothing. Most skin cancers, when treated early, have a good prognosis.

All skin lesions larger than 6 mm, or those with any of the ABCDE signs, should be referred for biopsy. There are many nonsurgical interventions. These include cryotherapy, radiotherapy (for superficial BCC or SCC), electrodessication and curettage, and topical treatments. Topical treatments are generally not as effective as more aggressive interventions, but research is ongoing in this area.

The prognosis for MM depends on the extent and staging of the tumor, but when caught very early, the cure rate is nearly 100%. Malignant melanoma MM presenting in older adults is often more advanced and aggressive. Malignant melanoma MM metastases sites are typically the lymph nodes, liver, lung, and brain (Johnson & Taylor, 2012). Surgical treatment is required in malignant melanoma, with chemotherapy and radiation. Adjuvant treatments for MM are also often used.

For more information on Skin Cancer, visit the American Cancer Society at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/

 

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By |2020-06-22T11:42:37-05:00July 5th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Skin Cancer in Older Adults

Guest Blog: How to Take Care of Elders Who Are Living Alone: 4 Important Tips

 

 

Do you feel that your elders are not safe in their house anymore? Of late, you may be noticing that their house is always in a mess, or that they are not grooming regularly. It is apparent that they are skipping meals and medications. It is all too frightening to see the people who brought you up becoming so helpless and careless in their old age. It is not their fault, but now it is your responsibility to take care of them.

We have put together some tips that will help you plan long term care for your loved ones when you feel they are getting too old to take care of themselves:

 

 

1. Confront Your Elders: Sit with them and inquire about the problems they may be facing. Is it an untreated chronic pain that has worsened over time, rendering them unable to do simple tasks that they had no problems executing previously? Is it a loss of a loved one they are mourning? Are they feeling marooned from the rest of their family? Isolation or lack of support can be a major recipe for depression.

2. Express Your Concerns: Sometimes elders feel that they have become a burden on their family. This is why they stop sharing their problems. Maybe if you express your concerns, they will honestly tell you what is troubling them.

3. Respect Their Independence: Unless your elders are not completely disabled, they have the right to make their own decisions. If you think something is right for them, let them know about it in an open-ended way. Never impose anything on them.

4. Keep External Help Handy: You might be confident about your situation-handling capabilities, but it is a good idea to keep home care providers, doctors, and geriatric care managers in the loop. Also, you might consider making your elders meet other people who have used home care services before. Hearing unbiased feedback might remove their fear of the unknown.

Old age is the onset of childhood. Even though we tend to ignore our elders as they age, we should realize that, with age, they need greater affection and care. If you are not able to take care of your elders due to responsibilities and work pressure, taking in professional help is a viable option.

 

By |2020-06-22T11:41:59-05:00July 3rd, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Take Care of Elders Who Are Living Alone: 4 Important Tips

Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

Today’s technology is not only for the young. The digital age has brought with it innovations which aim to benefit seniors. A new age of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made senior care better, more efficient and less costly. It aims to eliminate isolation, which has been a major concern for many years. It has provided caregivers in the healthcare industry a tool to allow seniors to be more independent and remain connected with friends and family.

When it comes to senior care, the IoT is revolutionizing the way seniors are living their lives. Assisted living communities are using the internet to connect and humanize senior care. Communities such as the K4Community leverage technology to make seniors’ life simpler, healthier and happier. These communities integrate IoT wearables such as watches or belt clips. They also have floor sensors that provide real-time monitoring to prevent falls and other injuries. Other types of sensors monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels to immediately alert caregivers when there’s an emergency.

To lead a healthy, active lifestyle, IoT devices go beyond the standard activity trackers. Devices are more targeted towards the individual’s needs, alerting them when to rest, whether they’re standing up or down too fast and when to give their knees a break. Food and hydration is also considered, with wearables reminding seniors when it’s time to eat and how often to drink to maintain proper hydration. When it comes to sleep, sensors can also alert caregivers whether a senior needs help getting in and out of bed. With the internet being all about connection, keeping seniors in contact with friends and family is one of the best things the IoT can provide to improve senior health. Seniors are spending more time online, using social networks and other platforms to connect with loved ones.

This trend is only going to get more prevalent. Research shows that using the internet makes people happier and increases life satisfaction, especially for seniors. A study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior shows that life satisfaction was much higher among seniors who use the internet than those who don’t. The ability to keep in touch and prevent the cycle of loneliness and isolation in an advanced age has done more for senior health than any medication. It is no wonder then that internet use among seniors rose from 8% to 34% between 2003 and 2012, as cited by the Journalist’s Resource. The empowerment that the internet and technology have given seniors is invaluable to their health. Such developments revolutionized the way society and healthcare providers care for the elderly.

With Baby Boomers contributing to an increasingly aging population, the need for caregivers and connected assisted living communities is becoming greater than ever. In order to provide quality healthcare to seniors, healthcare is not just about technology but also about the people who provide it. Maryville University details how general healthcare workers can specialize in senior services to provide care for an aging population. Healthcare and senior care are becoming two of the fastest-growing industries. Boosted with the aid of technology and IoT devices, they provide a way to create a better quality of life for seniors, while reducing the costs of healthcare at the same time.

Article submitted by Tanya Olivers

By |2020-06-22T11:41:42-05:00July 2nd, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

Guest Blog: What We Can All Do About Rising Healthcare Costs

 


Healthcare costs are skyrocketing at record rates. This is making it less affordable than ever for Americans to get the care they need. It’s particularly hard for the most vulnerable of our population, seniors and lower-income families. In 2017, U.S. healthcare costs equalled over $3.5 trillion. That’s a number we should all be worried about. Here’s what we can all do about rising healthcare costs.


Image via Pexels

Utilize Low-Cost Health Insurance
The first thing we can all do is look for low-cost health insurance options. For most, this means using a program like Medicare or Medicaid which is available to seniors or those who match certain income requirements.

Aside from federal programs, many families choose a high-deductible plan which costs less on a monthly basis but will still provide protection in emergency situations. This type of plan is known as an emergency plan, and it’s a good option for families who don’t expect to need regular treatment. Visit HealthMarkets´ list of low-cost health insurance companies for more information.

Take Advantage of Telemedicine
Another option is to stop seeing a traditional doctor for smaller problems. Today, you can reach a medical professional on your smartphone in just a few clicks. It’s faster, less expensive, and you don’t even need insurance in many cases.

Telemedicine can help with anything from therapy to the common cold. You can even get prescriptions through apps nowadays, and this saves both time and money.


Image via Pexels

Prepare for the Future
Finally, we should all be preparing for the future. Unfortunately, many seniors find themselves unable to afford the right healthcare. We should all be saving today to prepare our families for a future in which we need more funds to afford healthcare.

In the meantime, we should talk to our politicians about finding new solutions to the healthcare crisis. From electing officials who focus on healthcare solutions to calling your congress representatives, every little action matters.

What are you doing to fight the rising healthcare costs? If you’re not prepared, you could find yourself facing a bad financial situation. Take these steps above today to protect your health. It’s the most important thing you have.

By |2020-06-22T11:41:00-05:00June 30th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: What We Can All Do About Rising Healthcare Costs

Guest Blog: Tips for Making a Home Safer for Seniors

With growing age, keeping up with daily activities can become difficult. Aging seniors cannot do basic chores like cooking and cleaning and even moving around in their homes can sometimes become difficult. Taking care of your aging parents is a noble task, but due to current lifestyles, it has become challenging for children to take care of parents. Since you cannot be with them 24/7, you can change at home to make their lives easier and to avoid accidents. The good news is, now you can get help with your senior care in Dallas or any other city across cities across the nation. There are great options for senior care to simplify and improve your life, putting everyone’s mind at ease.

Here are five of the top things you can do to make life easier for seniors living in their own homes.

  1. Create a fall free zone.

Older people have increased risks of falling or slipping even from the smallest things. The following simple changes can reduce the chances of tripping:

  • Install a cordless or cell phone instead of using a traditional telephone.
  • Remove throw rugs from the home, as they can be hazardous for people using walkers.
  • Place electrical cords for the TV, modem, and telephone should correctly to avoid tripping.
  • Obtain an alarm bracelet or necklace that sends alert to emergency services with a push-button.
  • Encourage the use of a cane or a walker at all times instead of holding onto walls and furniture.
  • Purchase non-slippery footwear or flat, thin-soled shoes that fit well.
  • Change floorings from tiles to wooden.
  • Create a secure place for pets, so that they do not clutter things in the hallway or the living room.
  1. Teach older adults fire safety tips

The kitchen is a potential area where seniors are at risk of getting burnt. Here are things you can do to prevent danger from fire:

  • Set up the kitchen so that everything is easily accessible.
  • Install a smoke detector and check its battery regularly.
  • Replace faulty appliances.
  • Avoid putting too many electrical wires in one socket.
  • Instruct them to call 911 to put out a fire.
  • Instruct them to avoid smoking in bed.

In case you feel that getting a caregiver is a better resource for your aging parents, you may contact a trusted provider for senior care in Dallas or your local area.

  1. Reduce the risk of bathroom slips and falls. 

A risk assessment of the bathroom identifies the potential dangers of slips and falls and highlights any further controls needed to ensure seniors’ safety.

  • Set the water heater at no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.
  • Add support and grab bars in the bathing area and near the toilet to assist more natural movement.
  • Place a rubber mat in tubs to avoid slips due to water.
  • Install chairs and bars in the tubs to reduce the risk of falling in the bathroom.
  • Install better lighting or sensory lights in hallways and bathroom areas.
  1. Protect them from strangers.

Older adults are an easy target for scams and crime. You can protect them from these risks by teaching them a few tips:

  • Don’t welcome strangers in the house for any reason.
  • Don’t be fooled by strangers in uniform or with an identification badge. Call 911 immediately.
  • Install security cameras and an alert system so they as well as you can check who is at the door.
  • Teach your loved ones the emergency contact information.
  • Tell them not to give personal information on the phone.
  1. Arrange for in-home caregiver services.

 Most cities and towns across the United States (New York, D.C., Seattle, Phoenix, etc.) now offer in-home caregiver services through agencies like Ultimate Home Health Care in Dallas, Texas. This is a convenient service, because you can simply call to arrange 24/7 caregiver support, just when you need it. That means your aging parents or grandparents can maintain their independence and stay in thir home longer, getting expert care with all of the comforts they enjoy.

Senior care in Dallas is only a phone call away and is always available for your aging parents or grandparents. Ultimate Home Health Care is a great agency to consider for seniors in the Dallas area. Ultimate provides the best 24/7 caregiver services sent directly to the homes of seniors in need of help throughout the DFW area in North Texas. From cooking meals to providing transportation to social events, you can trust Ultimate Home Health Care’s caregivers to assist your parents with love and care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2020-06-29T19:10:59-05:00June 29th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Tips for Making a Home Safer for Seniors