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

Guest Blog: How to Ensure the Safety of the Elderly in Rehab Centers

Rehab centers have proven to be a breath of fresh air for individuals who have fallen prey to alcohol or drug addiction. They help people cope with their life-endangering habits and transform themselves to become a better person, thus, enabling them to live a happy and healthy life all over again. Rehabs are designed carefully to deal with people with various addictions, particularly elders. From installing a quiet hand dryer  to creating the room door, everything is customized to ensure the safety and wellbeing of inhabitants.

Letting go of any sort of addiction is never easy. When dealing with older adults, we need to be extra cautious owing to the fact that the ageing process makes them prone to other health issues as well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while trying to maintain the safety of elders intact in a rehab center:

Higher a Highly Trained Staff:

The staff has a significant impact on adults’ safety and rehabilitation process. The more trained they are for the tasks, the better results will be yielded. A nurse who has experience working with younger people in a rehab center might not be fit for the task when treating older patients.

You need to ensure that your staff is professionally trained to work with ageing adults battling with addiction. Since they have different needs, their mind and body will react differently to medication. They will respond differently to therapy techniques. The behavioral changes might be hard to handle at times, but having trained staff will help deal with patients more appropriately and will ensure their health is monitored carefully.

Focus on the Environment:

When dealing with addiction among older adults, we need to pay special attention to our surroundings. Bringing comfort within the physical environment is crucial for the healing process to begin. Staying away from the problematic environment and living in a structurally designed environment accelerates the rehab process.

Inpatient rehab is the safest option for adults. The constant surveillance and support from the professionals make the detox and treatment process productive. Besides, being able to interact with someone battling the same issue as you, gives you the strength to pass the hurdles and bring out the best in you. Focusing on the environment of the rehab center is an essential step toward giving someone a new life.

Offering Aftercare Programs:

Since the goal of rehab facilities is to eradicate the alcohol or drug addiction from the patients completely, it is recommended to lend support to them even when the treatment time period is completed. Offering the aftercare program increases the success rate of your treatment. Going back to the previous environment brings a lot of stress to the patients since they will be living with all the trigger points around them.

Keeping them engaged with therapies, alumni programs, or sober living options ensures their safety and brings them physical and mental wellbeing.

Focus on Your Patients

Getting rid of an addiction is never easy. It is a lot of hard work, consistency and committed support of professionals that make it happen. We know that ‘old habits die hard’; dealing with older adults in rehab is more difficult than dealing with the younger ones. Make sure your rehab facility is fully equipped with everything that is needed for successful treatment and therapies. Keep the safety of your patients your priority for better outcomes of your treatment processes.

 

By |2022-06-08T17:36:54-05:00June 9th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Ensure the Safety of the Elderly in Rehab Centers

Guest Blog: Hiring an In-Home Caregiver: What You Need to Know

 

When looking for an in-home caregiver for your loved one, it’s a given you would prefer someone they can get along with really well and will do a great job of taking care of them. However, finding this home care option for your senior loved one can be challenging at times.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of tips you can follow to ensure you find the perfect person for the job. The following tips should get your search off to a fantastic start:

Create a clear job description

To come up with a clear job description, identify what your elderly loved one’s needs are. A clear and specific job description can help you determine the flexibility needed, the number of hours they’ll be looking after your loved one, and how much you are likely to pay.

Be flexible when hiring independently

If you want to find great candidates, you need to be flexible about the pay. It is also recommended that you offer the going rate in your area. Otherwise, you might not find applicants with the care skills you are looking for.

Conduct multiple interviews and a trial period

To get more insights about a candidate, consider conducting three interviews:

  • A short screening interview over the phone to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.
  • An in-person interview if they pass the phone screening.
  • An in-person interview where the top 2 candidates can also meet your elderly loved one.

Ask all the important questions during the interview

Asking all the right questions can help you find someone responsible, compassionate, and trustworthy. It would also be a good idea to ask what they’ll do in a specific situation. For instance, what they would do if your elderly loved one refuses medications or does not cooperate.

Check their references

Even if you find a candidate very impressive, it is ideal that you still do a background check. You can do this by calling the work references they have provided. You can ask if they do a good job and if they’ll hire the candidate again.

Conclusion

While finding the best in-home caregiver can be challenging, it can be done. As long as you prepare accordingly and cover all the essential bases, you’ll find the right person for the job with ease.

 

 

By |2022-06-03T09:32:42-05:00June 7th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Hiring an In-Home Caregiver: What You Need to Know

Hypothyroidism Warning Signs and Treatment

 

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Background

Hypothyroidism results from lack of sufficient thyroid hormone being produced by the thyroid gland. Older adults may have subclinical hypothyroidism, in which the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is elevated and the T4 (thyroxine or thyroid hormone) is normal; 4.3–9.5% of the general population has this problem (Woolever & Beutler, 2007). In this condition, the body is trying to stimulate production of more thyroid hormone. Some older adults with this condition will progress to have primary or overt hypothyroidism. This is when the TSH is elevated and T4 is decreased. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause and represents 90% of all patients with hypothyroidism (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists [AACE], 2005; Woolever & Beutler, 2007), though certain pituitary disorders, medications, and other hormonal imbalances may be causal factors.

Warning Signs

Older adults may present an atypical picture, but the most common presenting complaints are fatigue and weakness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis should include a thorough history and physical. Bradycardia and heart failure are often associated factors. Lab tests should include thyroid and thyroid antibody levels (common to Hashimoto’s), and lipids, because hyperlipidemia is also associated with this disorder.

Treatment

Treatment centers on returning the thyroid ¬hormone level to normal. This is done through oral thyroid replacement medication, usually L-thyroxine. In older adults with coexisting cardiovascular disease, starting with the usual doses may exacerbate angina and worsen the underlying heart disease, so it is important to start low and go slow. Titration should be done cautiously, with close monitoring of the older adult’s response to the medication. The does should be adjusted on 6- week intervals until normal levels of thyroid hormone are achieved. Once the TSH is within normal limits, then checking the TSH should be done every 6 to 12 months to monitor effectiveness and blood levels, because hyperthyroidism is a side effect of this therapy and can have serious implications on the older person’s health.

Patients need to learn the importance of taking thyroid medication at the same time each day without missing doses. Sometimes older adults have other problems associated with hypothyroidism, such as bowel dysfunction and depression. Any signs of complicating factors should be reported to the physician, and doctors’ appointments for monitoring should be religiously kept. Strategies for managing fatigue and weakness should also be addressed, because some lifestyle modifications may need to be made as treatment is initiated.

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.

For more information on Hypothyroidism, visit the NIH:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000353.htm

 

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By |2022-06-03T09:32:22-05:00June 5th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Hypothyroidism Warning Signs and Treatment

How Important are Bedside Manners?

Physicians are medical experts, for sure, but there’s more to being an excellent doctor than making the correct diagnosis time after time. How physicians treat and interact with the patients they serve is just as important as the medical treatment they provide.

In fact, you can argue that having an excellent bedside manner plays a pivotal role in ensuring that patients get the best medical care possible. Take a look at how bedside manners can cement the physician-patient relationship and improve the overall experience.

Establish Trust

Bedside manner describes how a physician or medical care provider interacts with and approaches a patient. Some doctors are notorious for not having a good bedside manner. They  might wave off patient’s concerns or act like they are in a rush whenever they see patients.

Doctors with good bedside manners take the time to get to know their patients. The doctors might ask patients about their lives and show a genuine interest in the patients’ wellbeing. Taking that extra time to connect with patients allows doctors with a good bedside manner to build trust.

Patients are more likely to open up to doctors when they feel that the doctor will listen to their concerns or take them seriously. Trusting patients are also more likely to follow the medical advice they get from doctors.

Build Compassion for Your Patients

Having a good bedside manner helps you see what life is like for your patients. When you take the time to really listen to their problems and hear what they’re telling you, you’ll be better able to empathize with them.

When a doctor has empathy or compassion for their patients, they’re better able to see their patients as living, breathing humans. That’s why compassion matters for doctors. It humanizes the medical experience. It lets doctors share in some of the patient’s suffering, for sure. But it also gives doctors a chance to genuinely rejoice and feel relieved when patients do well.

Improve Patient Outcomes

Better bedside manners often leads to better patient outcomes, for several reasons. When doctors demonstrate compassion to patients, patients are more likely to share their concerns. A doctor who has a clearer picture of what’s going on with a patient can make a more accurate diagnosis.

Patients who trust their doctors are more likely to follow through on any treatment plans created. They’re more likely to take prescribed medications and to return for follow-up care.

Boost Your Career

Developing an excellent bedside manner can do wonders for a doctor’s career. When a physician treats their patients with compassion and shows genuine care and interest in their patients, they become the in-demand doctor.

Being in-demand leads to more patients and can also help you move up the career ladder, advancing to more challenging and fulfilling roles.

How to Improve Your Bedside Manner

More and more medical schools are focusing on training students to develop their bedside manner, along with medical skills. That’s a great thing. But if your school didn’t focus on bedside manner or your patients have noted that yours is lacking, all isn’t lost.

Taking a few simple steps can help you get a better bedside manner and improve your patient rapport.

 

  • Always introduce yourself. At the start of every encounter, take a few minutes to introduce yourself by telling the patient your name and what your role is in their care. Also, ask their name or how they like to be called. If other members of the care team will work with the patient, too, inform the patient of that, so that they know what’s going on.
  • Pay attention to body language. Look at the patient and how they’re sitting or lying down. Do they have their arms crossed or are they refusing to look at you? Do they seem nervous or scared? Take a few minutes to check in with them based on what you observe.
  • Keep things simple. Whenever possible, use the simplest terms to describe things to your patients or when asking questions. Ask them if pain moves, rather than radiates, for example. If you have to use a jargon-y term, take the time to explain what it means. Check in with your patient throughout the encounter to make sure they understand you.
  • Listen and repeat. Try repeating what your patients tell you. Doing so verifies that you have the details correct and shows the patient you’re listening. It also gives them the chance to correct any mistakes.

Your success as a physician, and your patients’ success, depends on the strength of your bedside manner. Practicing being compassionate and really seeing and listening to your patients can take you far in your medical career.

By |2022-05-31T09:39:31-05:00May 31st, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How Important are Bedside Manners?

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend

A Profile of Older Americans (2012) revealed that over 480,000 grandparents had primary parenting responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.  AARP cited that over 2.5 million grandparents are helping with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren, and 7.8 million children live in homes owned by their grandparents. These statistics represent a growing trend in American culture.

I have several friends who have raised or are raising their grandchildren in their own home. Some have formally adopted their grandchildren. Others share parenting responsibilities with one or both parents. All of them share the common feeling that this is a blessing, not a burden, but that raising grandchildren in later life does have its challenges.

Whatever the circumstances that brought grandchildren into the home of their grandparents to be raised, it can come as a shock to the older adults who find themselves in this situation.

Here are some beginning considerations to raising your grandchildren in your own home.

Impact of aging

Older adults who are assuming primary responsibility for children should “cut themselves some slack”. Don’t feel that you have to do everything as if you were a first-time parent in your 20’s. Remember that you may be parenting, but your body knows that you are still a grandparent. You may have to limit the children’s activities because keeping up with the driving and multiple schedules is too difficult. The good news is that many grandparents in this situation are retired, so both Grandma and Grandpa can help with the kids. This teamwork might not have been possible with your own children because one or both of you were working, but now you can share the duties such as driving kids to school or sports practices, helping with homework, and taking them to doctor appointments. If the children are school age, allow yourself extra time to rest and relax during the day so that after school you have the energy required for these new-again activities with the grandkids. If needed, enlist the help of other family members or friends to help by giving you a break on occasion.  Keep in mind that maintaining your own health is especially important if you have young ones depending on you.

Expenses and Education

Many older adults are on a fixed income and may not have planned to care for grandchildren. Your financial plan for retirement might need an overhaul with additional family members in the household. Several organizations have worked cooperatively to compile resources for grandparents in this situation. National and state fact sheets have been developed to link grandparents with key resources in their area. You can find out about resources available to help you at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts-sheets/ .These helpful fact sheets list local programs, public benefits, key state laws, and contact information for national resources. There may be funding or tax breaks to help with living or educational expenses.

Records and immunizations

It’s important to keep important documents together in one safe place. This includes birth certificates, legal papers, report cards, baptismal papers etc… Keeping a log or journal of important events is also a good strategy, especially when caring for multiple children. There are a number of immunizations for children today that were not available or required when you parented your own children. Immunizations are often free at your county health department, but can be very expensive at the doctor’s office. The health department can tell you what your child needs and when, and will help you by providing an immunization record that will need to be kept up for school. The CDC has a helpful chart of recommended immunizations for birth to 6 years that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf  A summary of vaccinations for birth to age 18 can be found at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2010.pdf

Enjoy your Grand Family

Despite the obvious challenges of raising grandchildren in your older years, most grandparents describe the many joys that come with this new adventure. Grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren, and when sharing a home together, that bond can be strengthened. Grandparents can share the wisdom of their experience with this younger generation and have the opportunity to shape their lives for the better. If you are new to this second round of parenting, AARP offers a helpful guide with tips to GrandFamilies, as they call them. These can be found at Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend

 

 

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By |2022-05-12T11:06:53-05:00May 28th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend