Everyone knows that a hospital visit can be stressful for even the healthiest person. But what you may not know, is that many patients - seniors especially - can be severely affected by the stress of a hospital visit or stay, and can often end up displaying signs of delirium. Delirium is a state of confusion that can develop following illness, infection or surgery, and is one of the most common complications in hospitalized patients over age 65.
Though delirium itself is temporary, it has serious long-term effects. The good news is, in many cases, there are relatively simple ways that hospital staff and family members can work together to prevent delirium.
The Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) is one of the few research institutions in the country translating clinical and health services research discoveries into interventions that improve the experience of aging.
“Most advances in medicine come from clinical trials,” says Susan Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., senior scientist and director of Palliative Care Research at IFAR. “But many of the interventions that we are examining can be more complex than testing a pill,” she explains.
Popeye, it seems, has been right all along. If you want to stay “strong to the finish,” you have to eat your spinach. Or at least some other types of protein-rich foods.
As we age, lean muscle mass begins to decline, but this trend can be significantly slowed with regular exercise and a generous amount of protein heavy meals. A recent study by Dr. Kelsey Mangano of Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research has shown that older adults with considerably high protein intakes have more muscle mass and greater functional strength than those who consume less protein on average.
Delirium is a state of confusion that develops suddenly, often following an acute medical illness, a surgical procedure or a hospitalization. Although delirium is estimated to complicate hospital stays for more than 2.5 million older adult patients in the U.S. each year, this common condition often goes undetected. The end result can be serious complications with sometimes devastating consequences for vulnerable hospitalized elders.
We expect a lot from our feet. They get us to all the places we need to go, while providing the anchor and balance crucial to physical activity. Our ability to stay active often depends on keeping our feet healthy.
As we age, foot problems can become common. From aches and pain to bunions and corns, our feet are prone to many conditions that can cause discomfort and impact mobility. This shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that the distance people walk in a lifetime would take them around the globe nearly six times. Yet, our feet are often neglected and foot pain is frequently written off as an insignificant risk to health.
One thing not up for debate is that nutrition is an important part of overall good health. But that’s where agreement seems to end – at least according to reports in the media. Eat more protein; but all red meat is risky. Eggs send bad cholesterol levels through the roof; no wait, now it’s OK to eat them again. And recently, news about whether supplements, including calcium and vitamin D, protect us or actually cause harm has been fodder for headlines. So how do you parse the contradictory messages?
With aging there are many diseases that may impact quality of life and lead to eventual death. The end stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or other advanced illnesses can be challenging for patients and their families. At Hebrew SeniorLife we find that family members are looking to doctors and nurses to help their loved ones in what may be the end-stage of life. Palliative care, while similar to hospice, is offered to patients earlier in the disease process and provides specialized medical treatment to manage symptoms. Often times pneumonia, delirium and eating problems accompany the terminal disease, and palliative care can help cope with those complications and improve quality of life for patients.