A loose railing. A dusty table. Expired milk in the refrigerator. These can all seem like simple problems, but may actually be signs of bigger issues for seniors. That loose railing can mean difficulty making it up stairs. Ignored dust can hint at eye sight trouble or that house work has become too strenuous. Expired food can mean a senior is not getting the right nutrition or simply needs help getting to the store more often.
Aging can be associated with limitations and a loss of independence. That’s why I’m thrilled to witness an empowering movement in senior health care in which patients play more active roles to improve medical conditions and truly take control of their own destinies.
Senior health care doesn’t have to be a matter of strictly following doctor’s orders. In fact, when patients set specific goals, overcome obstacles and meet objectives, it can be a powerful experience, beneficial to both their confidence and health.
By taking ownership of one’s health care, whether it’s learning to cope with a medical condition or trying new strategies to improve one, patients become the CEO of their care, invested and committed to the most important business – their health.
This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care," a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions. We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times. We're also adding new Q&As throughout the series that address topics not originally included in our eBook.
Let’s face it – winters can be tough. Months of frigid temperatures and heavy snow fall can make daily life difficult and isolation at home even more common for seniors. You can, however, safely maneuver through winter weather by realizing the high risk for falls during icy and snowy conditions and taking proper precautions.
As a staff geriatrician for Hebrew SeniorLife, I regularly see injuries from falls during winter months and urge patients to be extra vigilant when outdoors during the winter season. Fractured ankles and broken hips (especially for those over 50) are two of the most common injuries and can mean lengthy, frustrating recovery periods for seniors.
One in ten seniors in America is at risk for hunger. And the senior hunger problem is only getting worse – the number of adults over age 50 who are at risk has increased 79% since 2001. Hunger at any age is a serious concern, but for seniors, a lack of nutritious food can have considerable impacts on health and independence.
As an optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife, many of the eye problems that I treat in my patients are age-related. It is not uncommon for eyes to weaken as we age. One of those ways in which age can impact eyesight is through the onset of cataracts. Cataracts are one of the most commonly diagnosed eye disorders among older adults. In fact, by age 75—about 70 percent of people will have had cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract occurs when the normally transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque, limiting vision. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, making it difficult to detect a change. In some cases, a cataract doesn’t impair vision or affect daily life enough to warrant surgical intervention.
If you’ve been following the blog, you may recall that last week I shared the story of Alvin Nigrosh, who underwent physical rehabilitation at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC) after receiving surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to remove blood clots in his legs. Alvin stayed at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center until he was able to get back on his feet again.
I’m sure you’ve heard the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Unfortunately, this rhyme is not entirely truthful. Apples are healthy and good for you in many ways, but the reality is, eating an apple can’t keep you from getting sick. There is something that can do that though—vaccination (although we have yet to invent a rhyme reminding us of that).
Vaccinations are arguably the most important contribution to medicine. They are the reason polio no longer exists in the United States and why children no longer even need inoculation from small pox.
Following emergency surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to remove blood clots in his legs, Alvin Nigrosh came to Hebrew Rehabilitation Center to regain his strength and get back on his feet again with physical rehabilitation. He worked closely with our doctors and physical therapists to get moving. Before his surgery, Alvin was very physically active so getting up and moving again was a goal he took seriously! With the encouragement of our specialists, Alvin was able to recover from his surgery and walk blood-clot (and pain) free.