Family Staffing Blog

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Is AI (Artificial Intelligence) revolutionizing the future for those who don’t hear well?

 

5 Questions With: Starkey’s Sara Burdak

Masking and social distancing have made it possible for many to venture out into the world during the pandemic—but they can be hard on people who don’t hear well. Hearing aid users, in particular, may find themselves struggling to comprehend masked speakers. Hearing aid company Starkey says the new release of its Livio Edge AI hearing aids, which uses artificial intelligence to enhance speech and adds a host of wearable technology features, including find my phone option and fall alerts, is designed to help mitigate those problems. HomeCare chatted with Dr. Sara Burdak, chief audiology officer at Starkey, to learn more.

  • HomeCare: When did you realize widespread mask usage might create issues for people with hearing loss? How does this new line help make up for mask usage?
    Sara Burdak: The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that, without a doubt, hearing is essential. People with hearing loss use lip-reading cues and facial expressions to help determine what a person is saying. Masks take that valuable communication skill away. At Starkey, we heard people’s concerns and are innovating our technology to help. Not only can Edge Mode compensate for people wearing masks, it’s also helping people with hearing loss overcome the reduction in speech comprehension due to social distancing.

 

  • HomeCare: Tell me what’s new about this hearing aid line? What was the primary goal in developing it?
    Sara Burdak: During the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are making it particularly difficult for people with hearing loss to communicate. Of course, we want people to be safe and prevent the spread of the virus, and we are very proud to share that our newest technology is helping to mitigate those communication challenges. Using edge artificial intelligence, Livio Edge AI hearing aids can instantly optimize for speech understanding when the wearer is communicating with another person wearing a mask. Edge Mode for masks optimizes for mask type, social distance and background noise to deliver greatly enhanced speech understanding and clarity.

 

  • HC: Do you have a target user in mind?
    Burdak: One of the most common causes of hearing loss is aging, but there are numerous factors that may lead to noise-induced hearing loss at a much younger age than expected. There’s a stereotype that hearing aids are only for the elderly. It’s Starkey’s mission to break that stigma and empower anyone with hearing loss to take full control of their hearing health, no matter their age. By adding a rechargeable BTE with a telecoil, we now offer a full suite of products that provides more convenience and improved ease of use to fit the lifestyle needs of everyone.

For individuals who spend a lot of time alone or have social barriers because of COVID-19, this new technology can help connect them to loved ones and their hearing healthcare professionals remotely. Through the Thrive Care app, users can share useful information like step count and social engagement levels with designated contacts. With Hearing Care Anywhere, Starkey’s new remote programming feature, hearing aid users can reach their hearing health professional for real-time adjustments to their devices.

  • HC: What do you think might be the future potential for AI and hearing aids?
    Burdak: At Starkey, we’ve made the most advanced artificial intelligence technology available to more patients than ever before. The culmination of technological innovation arriving on the market today will not only help patients hear better but help hearing health care professionals operate more effectively and efficiently across the board. We believe telehealth services are going to play a vital role in the future of the hearing industry.

 

  • HC: How about for the additional data-tracking and health applications; are there more things you can see users being able to do with their hearing aids down the road?
    Burdak: These new features of Livio Edge AI offer patients the ability to achieve near on-demand hearing adjustments, as well as increased opportunities for remote care, further reducing the need for an in-office visit. This not only benefits the user, but the hearing health care professional who can trust their patient is equipped with the best technology possible.

Starkey is revolutionizing the hearing aid, but it’s just the beginning. Artificial intelligence and integrated sensors make it possible to push the hearing industry even further. Starkey is using technology to improve patients’ lives. Our president and CEO, Brandon Sawalich, has made this a company that prioritizes big ideas and pushes the hearing industry forward. We are using technology to help people hear better and live better. There have been more developments in hearing aids in the past seven years than in the past 70.

Source: Home Care Magaizine

Creating and Maintaining a Healthy Home

How to stop germs at your doorstep. Keep your household healthy by incorporating these tips and best practices at home.

 

Sanitize “Touchy” Surfaces

Viruses can live for two to eight hours on hard surfaces. So it’s no surprise that many people get infected by touching a germy household doorknob, light switch, or remote control. Disinfect these surfaces frequently, using sanitizing antiviral wipes. If you don’t have wipes on hand, spray those germ-catchers with white vinegar, and then dry with paper towels.

 

 

 

Wipe Your Feet

Viruses and bacteria can hang out in mud, dirt, and debris, and once that muck gets stuck to your shoes, those germs can thrive in the treads. Keep a clean doormat outside every entrance to your home, and take off your shoes as soon as you enter the house. Go the extra mile and wash the soles of your shoes regularly with hot, soapy water.

 

 

 

Freshen the Phone

Another hidden hotbed of germ activity is one you frequently hold to your face—the phone. If someone has touched, sneezed, or coughed on your phone, the next person to pick up the receiver could become infected. That’s just one reason why it is important to clean your phones frequently with antiviral wipes or sprays. Make it a habit to wipe off the phone every time you answer or hang up.

 

 

 

Detox Surfaces

Everyday surfaces like countertops, desks, and tabletops are hubs of activity, and as a result they are commonly contaminated with bacteria and viruses. Indeed, some health experts say that your home desk can contain up to 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat! To prevent those bad bugs from getting transferred to your hands, wipe down household surfaces often and be particularly conscientious about disinfecting any surfaces where food is prepped or served.

 

 

Decontaminate the Kitchen

Stovetops, cutting boards, sinks, faucets, dishcloths, and sponges are all breeding grounds for germs. Wipe down kitchen surfaces daily, and run cutting boards and sponges through a sanitizing cycle on the dishwasher to eliminate contamination. Alternatively, you can clean sponges in the microwave—one minute on high should do the trick. Replace used kitchen towels and dishcloths with fresh ones daily.

 

 

 

Stop Dragging Germs Around

Dust rags, mops and other cleaning tools may just be spreading germs around your house instead of eliminating them. If you don’t sanitize and disinfect your mops and other cleaning tools between uses, you may be giving germs and viruses a free ride throughout your home. Wash all cleaning gear in hot, soapy water after use; a drop or two of bleach will do for disinfecting. You may also want to switch to disposable cleaning cloths.

 

 

 

Launder Your Linens

Your washer and dryer can be powerful allies in the war on germs. Wash bed linens, towels, and rugs frequently in hot water to keep bacteria at bay. If you’re in the market for new appliances, maximize the cleaning power of your laundry room arsenal by looking for models whose ability to sanitize clothing has been certified by NSF International.

 

 

 

Consider Copper

If you are looking to invest in a sink or countertop that is both beautiful and antibacterial, consider copper. Not only does copper create a warm ambience, but it also kills bacteria. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that copper and copper alloys, including brass and bronze, are proven bacteria busters, and research suggests that copper may be effective against viruses as well.

 

 

 

Set a Trap

Whole-home air filtration can help reduce the spread of bacteria, pollen, mold spores, and any viruses that may be attached to a larger host. Modern air purifiers are designed to remove up to 99 percent of airborne particles and can help the whole family breathe easier. For an added punch of purification, consider installing an ultraviolet (UV) component to your system.

 

 

 

Humidify Your Home

The moisture that a cold- or warm-mist humidifier adds to the air can help deter the spread of  viruses. Air that is in a healthy humidity range—that is, 40 to 50 percent relative humidity year-round (slightly lower in colder months)—also creates a more comfortable home environment and helps prevent your nasal passages from drying out.

 

 

 

Grab a Tissue

Place tissue boxes  strategically throughout the home so that you always have one close at hand. A single sneeze can spray germs up to six feet, so it is important to “achoo” into a tissue, and then throw it away. If a tissue isn’t readily available, sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

 

 

 

 

 

Take every necessary precaution you can to

Stay Healthy!

 

 

*adapted from BobVila Tried True and Trustworthy Home Advice article by Donna Boyle Schwartz

Ways To Stay Young – 50 Years Ago

50 Years ago, in October 1969, The Tennessee Magazine had a “Salute to Senior Citizens” that included a 12 point list from AARP detailing “Ways to Stay Young”.  Aside from “wearing a new bonnet” these ways to stay young can still apply today- 2019!

Ways To Stay Young

  • Walk at least a mile every day.
  • Take up some outdoor activity such as gardening (it is wonderful to see things grow day by day). Become good at it.
  • If you can’t dance, learn how to sing.
  • Once a month, look over your address book and either call on, or phone, or write to an old friend you haven’t heard from during the year.
  • Develop the gift of making new friends and acquire two new ones (on younger person, and one older than yourself) each year.
  • Dress up in your “best” suite at least once a week (other than Church) and go to the office, to a meeting, or on a visit. Wear that “new bonnet” – appearance counts like mad.
  • Call everyday folks you meet by his or her first name.
  • Practice the three “C’s” of Adult Education:  Curiosity, Comprehension, Creativeness- start a hobby, learn a new language, write a poem.
  • As you grow older, take an active part in the community and give service to others less fortunate. Give a little of yourself away each day – it’s good mental health.
  • Begin a long-range project such as painting in oils, braid a rug, knit a dress. Whatever it is finish it.
  • Watch your health but don’t be a hypochondriac or faddist about it. Follow good hygiene.  Seek professional service when needed.
  • Love someone very much and show it every day both in small and important ways. Love God and by His Grace a few will love you too.

Copied – Tennessee Magazine, American Association of Retired Persons

View the original copy of the Tennessee Magazine 50 Years ago – October 1969

 

SAVVY LIVING – Getting Around When You No Longer Drive

                                                   

Where can I find out about alternative transportation options for my elderly mother? She needs to give up driving, but before she does, we need to figure out how she will get around.

Alternative transportation services vary widely by community. The services available to your mom will depend on where she lives.

 

Transportation Options

While most urban areas offer seniors a variety of transportation services, the options may be few for those living in the suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Alternative transportation is an essential link helping seniors who no longer drive get to their doctor’s appointments, stores, social activities and more.

Here is a rundown of possible solutions that can help your mom get around, along with some resources to help you locate them. These solutions will vary depending on where she lives.

  • Family and friends: This is by far the most often used and favorite option among seniors. Make a list of all possible candidates your mom can call on, along with their availability and contact information.

 

  • Local transportation programs: These are usually sponsored by nonprofit organizations that serve seniors. These services may charge a nominal fee or accept donations. They often operate with the help of volunteer drivers.  Also check out the Independent Transportation Network, which is a national nonprofit that has 27 affiliate transportation programs in 23 states. With this program, seniors pay membership dues and fees based on mileage. Most programs will let your mom donate her car in return for credits toward future rides.

 

  • Demand response services: Often referred to as “dial-a-ride” or “elderly and disabled transportation service,” these are typically government-funded programs that provide door-to-door transportation services by appointment and usually charge a small fee or donation on a per ride basis. Many use vans and offer accessible services for riders with special needs.

 

  • Taxi or car service: These private services offer flexible scheduling, but they can be expensive. However, they may be cheaper than owning a car. Some taxi or car services may be willing to set up accounts that allow other family members to pay for services and some may offer senior discounts. Be sure to ask.  Another option to look into is a ride-sharing service. Ride-sharing connects people with cars to people who need rides. The larger ride-sharing companies offer services in dozens of cities across the U.S. and must be accessed via an application on a smart phone.

 

  • Private program services: Some hospitals, health clinics, senior centers, adult day centers, malls or other businesses may offer transportation for program participants or customers. Additionally, some nonmedical home-care agencies that bill themselves as providing companionship and running errands or doing chores may also provide transportation.

Family Staffing Solutions specializes in providing the best in-home assistance services.  Our services include transportation to Doctors visits, trips to the mall, to visit family and friends, church, and other interests and errands.  (Added by Family Staffing Solutions)

 

  • Mass transit: Public transportation, (buses, trains, subways, etc.) where available, can also be an affordable option and may offer seniors reduced rates.

 

  • Hire someone: If your mom lives in an area where there are limited options or no transportation services available, another alternative may be to pay someone in the community to drive her. Consider hiring a neighbor, retiree or student that has a flexible schedule and would not mind making a few extra bucks.

 

Where to Look

To find out what transportation services are available in your mom’s community, contact the Rides in Sight national toll-free call center at 855-607-4337 and the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116), which will direct you to her area agency.

You can contact local senior centers, places of worship and retirement communities for other possible options. Additionally, you may want to check with the state department of transportation at www.fhwa.dot.gov/webstate.htm and the American Public Transportation Association at publictransportation.org.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published August 30, 2019

SAAVY LIVING

How to Help a Parent Declutter

My 70-year-old mother has become somewhat of a hoarder. Since my father died a few years ago, her house is so disorganized and messy with stuff that it is becoming a hazard. What should I do to help her?

Clutter addiction is a problem that affects up to 5% of Americans, many of whom are seniors. The problems can range anywhere from moderate messiness to severe hoarding, which may be related to a mental health condition such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here are some things you should know along with some tips and resources that can help your mom.

Why People Hoard

Many people hoard because they have an extreme sentimental attachment to their possessions, or they believe they might need their items at a later date. Hoarding can also be a sign that an older person is depressed or showing early signs of dementia.

Common problems for seniors who live amongst excessive clutter include tripping, falling and breaking a bone; overlooking bills; missing medications that are hidden in the clutter; suffering from the environmental effects of mold, mildew and dust; and even living among insects and rodents.

What to Do

If you find that your mom has a moderate clutter problem, there are a number of things you can do to help. Start by having a talk with her, respectfully expressing your concern for her health and safety, and offering your assistance to help declutter. 

Most professional organizers recommend decluttering in small steps. If your mom accepts your offer to help, start by taking one room at a time or even a portion of a room at a time. This will help prevent your mom from getting overwhelmed. 

Before you start, designate three piles or boxes for your mom’s things – one pile is for items she wants to keep and put away, another is the donate pile and the last is the throw away pile.

You and your mom will need to determine which pile each item belongs in as you work. If your mom struggles with sentimental items that she never uses, like her husband’s old tools or her mother’s china for example, suggest she keep only one item for memory sake and donate the rest or give to family members who will use them. You will also need to help her set up a system for organizing the kept items. 

Find Help

If you need some help with the decluttering and organizing, consider hiring a professional organizer who can come to your mom’s home to help you prioritize, organize and remove the clutter. The nonprofit National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals has a directory on its website to help you locate a professional in your area. 

*Aging In Place Transition Services is a local team of professional organizers that Family Staffing Solutions is familiar with. 

If your mom has a more serious hoarding problem (if her daily functioning is impaired or if she is having financial difficulties, health problems, or other issues because of her hoarding) you should seek professional help. A doctor may prescribe antidepressants or therapy to help address control issues, anxiety, depression and other feelings that may underlie the hoarding tendencies to make it easier for her to confront her disorder. 

To learn more and find professional help see the International OCD Foundation which provides a hoarding center on their website, which offers information, resources, treatments, self-help groups and more. 

*(text added by Family Staffing Solutions, Inc.)

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Tips for Traveling with Seniors This Summer

Travel offers a host of benefits to people of every age, including mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health improvements.

The Power of Travel

Numerous studies have demonstrated the real impact of travel on adults. Men who take vacations once a year are over 30% less likely to die from heart disease. Women who take vacations twice a year are less likely to experience depression and more likely to have lower stress levels. Travel also provides people with the opportunity to expand their horizons and become more open-minded and emotionally stable. For elders, travel also offers numerous low-impact and high-impact ways to get moving and explore a new place.

Avoiding the Challenges that Can Occur

Unfortunately, some of the potential challenges to senior travel often prevent retirees and elders from exploring the world around them. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, but planning ahead can offset many of them. To prepare for a trip this summer with your loved one:

  • Don’t choose a complicated, lengthy or stressful trip. Select a destination that is easy to navigate, or explore your options for booking a group trip or cruise that simplifies travel.
  • Instead of going for the cheapest route, always choose the shortest, most direct route for travel, even if it means that you need to pay a little bit more. If you do incorporate layovers into your itinerary, make sure that you allow for adequate time to stretch out and grab a meal in between flights.
  • Showing up at the airport and expecting a wheelchair can get you mixed results. Take the time to request any special accommodations or services in advance. Any airport can help by providing a free wheelchair if staffed by an airport employee, and other accommodations are often available. If you don’t see anything listed, don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Prepare medical contact information in advance and make a list of phone numbers for any medical providers. Count prescriptions in advance and arrange for a refill ahead of time if the medication will run out while your loved one is on vacation.
  • It’s also smart to carry medication with you on the plane and set alarms on your watch or phone to remind your loved one to take them. This is especially important on vacation, when abrupt changes to the schedule could make prescriptions sit forgotten.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. These policies allow for seniors to receive money back for their trip reservations if a medical emergency occurs or something goes wrong, and they require medical treatment abroad.
  • Never encourage your loved one to push themselves too hard. Travel is hard on the body, and too much physical activity and stress can lead to health problems or exacerbate existing ones.
  • Travel with family, especially if your loved one is going abroad. Travel can be disorienting and stressful, and having another family member there to assist with navigation, filling out forms, communicating and getting to the destination is helpful.

 

Source:  Ellen Platt, Options in Geriatric Care

 

 

The Holidays and Alzheimer’s

The holidays are a time when family and friends often come together. But for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.

Check in with the person with dementia

In the early stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may experience minor changes. Some may withdraw and be less comfortable socializing while others may relish seeing family and friends as before. The key is to check in with each other and discuss options. A simple “How are you doing” or “How are you coping with everything?” may be appreciated. Plan the holidays together, focusing on the things that bring happiness and letting go of activities that seem overwhelming or stressful.

For people in the middle or late stages, consider rethinking holiday plans. Everyone is unique and finding a plan that works can involve trial and error.

Familiarize others with the situation

The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him- or herself. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited. These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.

  • You may find this easier to share changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients. Here are some examples:

>> “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.

>> “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes you may notice are ___.

>> “I’ve enclosed a picture so you know how ___ looks now. Because ___ sometimes has problems remembering and thinking clearly, his/her behavior is a little unpredictable.

>> “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do we.”

>> “Please treat ___ as you would any person. A warm smile and a gentle touch on ___’s shoulder or hand will be appreciated more than you know.”

>> “We would ask that you call when you’re nearby so we can prepare for your arrival. With your help and support, we can create a holiday memory that we’ll all treasure.”

For more ideas on how to let others know about changes in your loved one, join ALZConnected, our online support community where caregivers like you share tips on what has worked for them.

Adjust expectations

  • The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a group discussion via telephone, video chat or email for family and friends to discuss holiday celebrations. Make sure that everyone understands your caregiving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. No one should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event.
  • Be good to yourself. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If you’ve always invited 15 to 20 people to your home, consider paring it down to a few guests for a simple meal. Let others contribute. Have a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. You also may want to consider breaking large gatherings up into smaller visits of two or three people at a time to keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Do a variation on a theme. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch. If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.

Involve the person with dementia

  • Build on past traditions and memories. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs, watching favorite holiday movies, or looking through old photo albums.
  • Involve the person in holiday preparation. As the person’s abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up. (Be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.)
  • Maintain a normal routine. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest.

Adapt gift giving

  • Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with dementia. Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert®+ Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, favorite foods and photo albums.
  • Put respite care on your wish list. If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved one. This could be a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.

When the person lives in a care facility

A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:

  • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring a favorite holiday food to share
  • Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
  • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud

 

Source:  Alzheimer’s Association  alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel

At Family Staffing Solutions, Inc. we proudly care for our Veterans, their spouses and surviving spouses every day. Our commitment to their care is just one of the ways we demonstrate appreciation for their service to our country.

These heroes – our fathers, mothers, spouses, and friends, – may be eligible for benefits through the VA.  To find out if these funds may be available to help you pay for long-term care, we encourage you to call:

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel

   Toll Free:  888-388-1401

 

Contact Carroll Dale for a free pre-filing consultation to check eligibility to understand how or if these funds can help pay for long-term care. A married couple can access over $2100/month, single veteran over $1800/month and a surviving spouse over $1200/month. You must have a medical need requiring assistance and a limited net worth.

Visit their website www.veteransbenefitsaidcounsel.com for a chat feature or private online inquiry.

Qualifying dates of service for Pension plus Aid and Attendance:

WWII: 12/7/1941-12/31/1946                                Korea:  6/27/1950-1/31/1955

Vietnam:  12/28/1961-8/4/1964 (in country)  Vietnam II:  8/5/1964-5/7/1975

90 days consecutive active duty days with 1 day falling in the listed time frames

Mideast Conflicts:  8/02/1990 to date

Two years active duty with 1 day falling in the listed time frame

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel, PC

305 E Spring St. , Cookeville, TN  38501

Henry Fincher, Esq.

VA Accredited * TN Licensed

Direct:  931-739-3053 * Paralegals:  931-650-3858/888-388-1404

Fax:  931-650-3862

Hours:  Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

We also invite you to visit the Family Staffing Solutions’ Veterans Corner

OSTEOPOROSIS DEFINED: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENTS

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 44 million Americans aged 50 and older either have or face the threat of developing osteoporosis due to low bone density levels. Projections put this number at more than 60 million by 2020. Across the world, a fracture due to osteoporosis happens about once every three seconds, causing nearly 9 million fractures—just from stress being put on weak bones.

Osteoporosis is treatable, reversible, and can be prevented for longer periods of time with the knowledge of what it is and how to attack it. So let’s dig into osteoporosis to find out what it is, how to notice it, its causes, and what to do once you or a loved one have it.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that causes the loss of bone mass and bone tissue. Over the course of your life, old bone is removed from your body through a process called resorption, and new bone replaces it through formation, according to the National Resource Center for Osteoporosis and Other Bone Diseases.

However, there comes a time when your body can no longer keep up with the amount of bone you are losing. Most humans reach their peak bone mass” in their early 20s, and then your body slowly (very slowly) starts lose more bone than it creates. This process takes a long time, though, especially when it comes to impacting the strength of your bones. The resource center also says that the process of resorption usually starts to outpace the process of formation by the time you hit 30, whether you’re a man or a woman. In most cases, men develop more bone over the course of their lives than women do, which leaves women more susceptible to suffering from osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis has onset once your bones get to a point where they are brittle, weaker, and easily broken. There are little to no symptoms of the disease, so easily breaking a bone may be the first sign that you have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a large reason why seniors falling is such a big deal. If bones become easier to break, they also become a lot harder to heal, because not as much bone is being created to heal the fracture. The longer bones take to heal—especially hips and legs—the longer the elderly have to stay in the hospital. Longer hospital stays have been proven to show increased rates of mortality. They’re are related to increased complications while you’re in the hospital, because you’re more likely to develop more issues the longer you stay. You can even reach a point where your bones are no longer able to completely heal themselves, which causes issues with normal daily routines for the rest of your life.

 

How Does Osteoporosis Develop?

Osteoporosis can develop from a wide range of reasons, some of them medical (like autoimmune diseases, cancer and mental illness), and some of them from medications you take that can have bone loss as a side effect. This is why more than 10 million people have been officially diagnosed with osteoporosis. Let’s take a look at what exactly causes it to develop.  Continue reading….

 

New Shingles Vaccine Provides Better Protection – Savvy Living

A good friend of mine developed a bad case of shingles last year and has been urging me to get vaccinated.  Should I?

Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults age 50 or older be vaccinated. There is a new shingles vaccine on the market that is far superior to the older vaccine, so now is a great time to get vaccinated. Here is what you should know.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a burning, blistering, often excruciating skin rash that affects around one million Americans each year. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. The chickenpox virus that most people get as kids never leaves the body. It hides in the nerve cells near the spinal cord and, for some people, emerges later in the form of shingles.

In the U.S., nearly one out of every three people will develop shingles during their lifetime. While anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, it most commonly occurs in people over age 50 and people who have weakened immune systems. Note that you cannot catch shingles from someone else.

Early signs of the disease include pain, itching or tingling before a blistering rash appears several days later. The rash and symptoms can last up to four weeks. The rash typically occurs on one side of the body, often as a band of blisters that extends from the middle of your back around to the breastbone. It can also appear above an eye or on the side of the face or neck.

In addition to the rash, about 20% to 25% of those who develops shingles go on to develop severe nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN) that can last for months or even years. In rare cases, shingles can also cause strokes, encephalitis, spinal cord damage and vision loss.

New Shingles Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new vaccine for shingles called Shingrix, which provides much better protection than the older vaccine, Zostavax. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Shingrix is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people 50 to 69 years old, and 91% effective in those 70 and older.

By comparison, Zostavax is 70% effective for people in their 50s; 64% effective for those in their 60s; 41% effective for people in their 70s; and 18% effective for those in their 80s.

Shingrix is also better than Zostavax in preventing nerve pain that continues after a shingles rash has cleared — about 90% effective versus 65% effective.

Because of this enhanced protection, the CDC recommends that everyone age 50 and older receive the Shingrix vaccine, which is given in two doses, two to six months apart.

Even if you have already had shingles, you still need these vaccinations because reoccurring cases are possible. The CDC also recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax be revaccinated with Shingrix.

You should also know that Shingrix can cause some adverse side effects for some people, including muscle pain, fatigue, headache, fever and upset stomach.

Shingrix — which costs around $280 for both doses — is (or will soon be) covered by insurance, including Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Be aware, however, that the shingles vaccines are not always well covered. So before getting vaccinated, call your provider to find out if it is covered and, if so, which pharmacies and doctors in your area you should use to ensure the best coverage.

If you do not have health insurance or are experiencing medical or financial hardship, you might qualify for GlaxoSmithKline’s Patient Assistance Program, which provides free vaccinations to those who are eligible.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published May 11, 2018

 

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