A 2009 study found that more than half of Americans over the age of 65 take 5 or more prescription drugs regularly and one in 4 seniors takes between 10 and 19 pills per day. And that the more medications a senior takes, the more room there is for error.
When medications are taken incorrectly, serious, life-threatening harm may result. In medical terms, this would be described as an “adverse medical event.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that older adults are twice as likely as others to visit the emergency room due to an adverse drug event – over 177,000 visits per year. Reasons for these visits may include dizziness, falls, delirium and changes in vital signs.
It seems that there has been an explosion of books, websites, and blogs related to Alzheimer’s disease. While getting as much information out there as possible seems a good idea, the question remains, what is worth reading? And how do you know if the information is legitimate. As always, consider the source. In general, government-sponsored websites end in “.gov” and nationally recognized organizations that end in “.org” are often your best bets for timely, accurate information. As for blogs, it is important to take any advice with a grain of salt, so to speak. Nonetheless, some blogs provide useful, practical information and useful for starting discussions online, which is great for caregivers who are at home.
We often associate the term “frail” with older adults, particularly the “oldest old,” defined as individuals 85 and older. Frailty has become a particularly important geriatric topic as the ranks of seniors continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. As someone who has devoted a career to aging research, I have focused a significant amount of my work on understanding frailty— how we define and treat it.
Dementia is one of the most feared health conditions, especially in older adults. Adults with early signs of dementia and their families are often reluctant to seek advice. In fact, more than half of adults with dementia go undiagnosed.
I have devoted my research career to advancing the understanding of a serious condition called delirium and the impact it has on clinical outcomes. As a medical resident, I observed symptoms of confusion and disorientation in many of the seniors I cared for during my hospital rotations. These symptoms were generally shrugged off as just something that sometimes happens to older patients. Little, if anything was done to prevent or treat it despite its devastating effects.
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.
On March 9, we marked the formal opening of Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care with a presentation by Dr. Jerome Groopman that articulated the essential Jewish values of love and hope at the core of our endeavor. We came together to express our gratitude to the generous donors who made it possible and the exceptional hospice team who care for our patients.
At our adult day health programs, older adults socialize with their peers while participating in a wide variety of activities. And if nursing care is needed, it’s readily available.
Think of the alternatives.
For many seniors it might be eight or more hours of isolation. That’s because families have work and other commitments that force them to leave their loved one at home. A phone call every now and then doesn’t allow for much interaction. And what happens if the senior forgets to take his medications? Or leaves the stove on?
The other day I sat in with a group of older adults who had recently moved into a senior housing complex. They talked about the emotional dynamic of transitioning to a new living environment. They spoke of loneliness, fear of change, and sadness at the loss of their former homes.
A similar set of emotions is present when a person faces the last stages of a terminal illness. Hospice care is dedicated to helping ease these inevitable difficulties. The hospice team becomes a community within the community to accompany the patient and family during this difficult life moment.
In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events.