|Posted on January 4, 2018 at 12:25 AM||comments (4)|
THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF AGING
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TRY TO SLOW DOWN THE PROCESS?
The changes that happen to our bodies as we age vary. The order of change from person to person has its similarities, but how quick the progression differs greatly. Most adults hit their peak physical condition by the time they hit their early 30s and experience physical decline from there. Sometimes, the progression of these changes can be slowed down by lifestyle changes. Light, daily exercise, such as walking, and a healthier diet can do wonders!
Bone marrow is found in the center of the larger bones in the body. It helps to produce red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. When the bone marrow starts to diminish, usually after age 30, it results in brittle bones. Some of this can be helped with diet (calcium intake) and exercise (staying active); some of it is genetic and beyond our control, such as the shape and size of the bones. In our younger days, the body does a great job filtering out calcium from the food we eat and keeping only what we have used throughout the day. As we get older, our bodies become less adept at doing that. When we don’t have enough calcium in our bodies and our diets, our kidneys start to pull from the most readily available source: the bones. The fact that we now have more brittle bones is dangerous because it could mean a simple slip, trip, or fall could now result in serious injury, disability or loss of independence. To reduce the risk of falling, take up any throw rugs on the floor that could cause a fall. Also, safety bars in the bathroom, especially the shower, would help a lot.
As people get older, we tend to lose some of their height. We usually begin shrinking in our 40s and eventually lose between 1-2 inches. This loss in height is due to the space between the vertebrae becoming smaller, and the bones becoming compressed. There are no health concerns related to getting shorter.
With a decrease in muscle mass and weight, it may seem as though we now have extra skin. We have the same amount, but the aging process tries to do a number on that as well. Age spots and wrinkles may start to appear between the ages of 40 and 50. Some of this can be prevented by using sunscreen, especially in our youth. The skin will also start to be less elastic like and more susceptible to cuts and bruising. Dry skin can be prevented by moisturizing with lotion on a daily basis.
Our teeth change the older we get, as well. We may feel an increased sensitivity to the temperature of the things we eat and drink. We may also suffer from things such as tooth decay, gum disease and discoloration. This affects your life by affecting your self-confidence and possibly making mealtime less enjoyable. Regular checkups with a dentist is a good preventative measure.
It seems to be that the best way to combat getting older is to try to take care of ourselves while we are younger! More exercise, healthier food choices and being proactive with lifestyle choices now could provide for better quality of life.
By: Amber Luce
|Posted on February 27, 2016 at 2:50 PM||comments (4)|
Summer is once again upon us in Northeast Ohio. As exciting as it most certainly is, it can also be a bit dangerous. As a caregiver, there are several things you should know in order to help your client or love on enjoy the beautiful summer weather with peace of mind.
1. Risks of Heat Exhaustion
Older adults are at a much higher risk to develop heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As we age, our body begins to lose its ability to regulate temperature. Therefore, we are much more reactive to hot and cold ambient temperatures. Additionally, illness, certain medication, as well as other factors, can exacerbate the situation. As a caregiver, it is important to evaluate your clients’ general health and medications to gain a sense of whether or not an increased risk exists.
2. Heat Exhaustion Vs. Heat Stroke
All caregivers need to know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion because it can be the difference between life and death. While both are closely related, heat stoke is the more severe of the two. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include: fatigue, nausea, headaches, confusion and even fainting. Symptoms of heat stroke can include: nausea, headaches, dry skin, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating and urination, blood in the urine and even convulsions. It is important to note that there is not necessarily a transition from one to the next. Heat stoke can have a sudden onset. Heat stroke requires medical care immediately.
3. Understanding Heat Index
Simply put, the heat index tells us how hot it will feel to us when we are outside. It is a single temperature that combines humidity and the temperature outside. This is particularly important because it gives you another indication of how the weather can make you prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Sweating is one function your body uses to disperse heat from within. In order to work properly your body’s sweat needs to evaporate from your skin. Although it may seem counter-intelligent, a higher heat index means your sweat cannot evaporate as fast due to the increased humidity. It is typically recommended that we take precautions to keep cool for ourselves at about a heat index of 91F. However, as caregivers of older adults, we should know our clients’ individual risk factors and consider taking precautions even when the heat index is below 91F
4. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Be mindful of what your client is wearing. You want to pay attention to the color, the fit and even the material. Light colored clothing is always best because dark colored clothing absorbs the light, thereby making us hotter. With regard to the fit and material, loose and light is key. It is easier to remove layers while you are out, than it is to completely change. Wear several layers of light colored clothing, and then remove as needed.
5. Drink Plenty of Liquids
This may seem like a no-brainer to some caregivers. However, you would be surprised how easy it is to forget to drink, especially if you and your client do not “feel” thirsty. ER visits peak during summer months and heat exhaustion and heat stroke is a main culprit. Secondary to those conditions is dehydration. Consider it a mean cousin. It is in the family of heat stroke and heat exhaustion and it even exacerbates those conditions. Although we have all probably heard the recommendation to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, many studies recommend to drink about 0.5 ounces of water per pound of your body weight each day to avoid dehydration. Keep in mind, you may need to increase water intake depending on the heat index and the activity.
This article is meant to be used for informational purposes only. It should not be used as medical advice. If you suspect either yourself or a client has heat stroke, dehydration or heat exhaustion you should consult a physician immediately.
|Posted on November 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM||comments (1)|
By:Robert Gundic, Co-Owner Caring Companions LLC
The temperature dropped to about 15 degrees today. Yup, it's winter in Cleveland, Ohio! Summer seems to be a thing of the past and so is the threat of heat exhaustion. However, with summer gone and winter upon us, other concerns are brought to mind.
Hypothermia and frost bite are two weather related medical issues that are of particular concern because of the difficulty older adults have maintaining their body temperature.
Most body heat is a by-product of metabolism, or the basic chemical processes that occur within our bodies. As we age, our metabolism slows down, thus we do not generate as much body heat. Additionally, the body's ability to detect changes in the internal and external environment is often decreased with age.
Hypothermia is a condition that is exacerbated by old age. It occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, thus your core body temperature will begin to drop. As it does, your body will respond with the following symptoms: shivering, confusion and disorientation. As your condition worsens you may experience slurred speech, confusion and poor decision making, low-energy, a weak pulse and slowed breathing.
Although we typically think of being outside when we think of hypothermia, that's not always the case. An older adult may develop mild hypothermia after prolonged exposure to indoor temperatures that would be otherwise OK for a younger person.
Hypothermia and frostbite often go hand in hand. With frigid temperatures in the 15-20 degree range and wind gusts up to 25mph, frostbite can occur quickly.Frostbite occurs when the skin and body tissues are exposed to cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Frostbite is most likely to occur in body parts that are farthest from the heart.
At or below freezing temperatures, blood vessels close to the skin will start to contrict in order to divert blood away from the extremities and to the organs. This constriction helps to preserve core body temps. As mentioned above, this is of increasing concern in older adults due to the body's natural aging process, which reduces metabolism. Unfortunately, this safety mechanism to protect core temp and the body's organs is actually what puts the skin at risk for necrosis, premature death of skin cells. The lack of blood flow causes the skin cells to freeze and ultimately die.
Frostbite occurs in several stages: Frostnip, the first stage, is a mild form of frostbite. Your skin turns red and feels very cold. Continued exposure to the cold will lead to a feeling of pins and needles in the affected area. This stage does not cause permanent damage. The second stage is referred to as superficial frostbite. The reddened skin may become white or very pale. Some ice crystals may begin to form in the tissue, but the skin may remain soft, as well. As the skin warms, it may turn to blue or purple. You may also notice a stinging and burning sensation followed by blistering withing 24 to 36 hours of rewarming the skin. Lastly, severe frostbite is characterized by numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort and an inability to move joints or muscles.
You should consult a doctor if signs or symptoms of superficial frostbite occur-such as prolonged numbness, blistering or pale skin.
The easiest thing you can do is to avoid the cold on days when it is particularly cold and/or wind. However, that may not always be possible. When it is not, you should limit skin exposure and be sure to wear multiple layers. If inside, be sure to keep the thermostat at or above 72 degrees, at a minimum.
This article is for informative purposes only. It is not meant to offer medical advice. If you believe you may have signs and symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite please contact an emergency physician ASAP.