Hearing loss is surprisingly common among older adults, with an estimated 33% of people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffering from this problem. Aging can contribute to these issues, as well as genetics, noise, and disease.

Hearing Problems Faced by Older Adults

Poor hearing in older adults isn’t only an inconvenience, but it can have a ripple effect on many aspects of life. When someone is experiencing hearing loss, they find it hard to hold conversations with family and friends. Additionally, hearing loss can increase the risk of depression, isolation, and even dementia.

Sometimes, a person suffering from poor hearing feels embarrassed or frustrated because they can’t understand what other people are saying. Friends and family might mistakenly think that the person is uncooperative, unresponsive, or confused when really the problem is with the person’s hearing.

Is it Time to Get Your Hearing Checked?

When hearing problems are ignored or left untreated, the issues will get worse with time. If you suspect that you have a hearing problem, then it is essential to visit a doctor for expert advice and treatments.

Signs of hearing loss include:

  • Difficulty hearing when talking on the telephone
  • It is hard to follow conversations when two or more people are participating
  • There is often a need to ask people to repeat their comments
  • Turning up the TV or radio to a point where other people complain about the noise
  • Unable to hear due to background noise
  • The perception that other people are mumbling

Technologies to Help with Hearing

The recommended treatment plan will vary depending on the severity and type of hearing loss that you are experiencing. Some treatments will work better than others. Available treatment options include:

  • Hearing Aids: Small, electronic devices worn behind or in your ear, helping to amplify sounds.
  • Assisted Listening Devices: Certain devices can be used to amplify the sounds coming through a cell phone or tablet. Additionally, closed circuit systems can be used in public locations, such as auditoriums, theaters, and more.
  • Cochlear Implants: These implants are placed in the inner ear and are often used when the hearing loss is severe.

Other treatment options include lip-reading training or even medications in some cases. If you need help finding the right medical support for your hearing loss, then our team is here to assist. Contact us at Windward Life Care.

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act was signed into law in 2017. This act was designed as an official recognition of March 29th each year as the “National Vietnam War Veterans Day.” Veterans of the Vietnam War are aging and many now require additional assistance to perform their everyday activities. It is important to understand their unique needs in order to care for them respectfully and effectively.

Wounds From the War

The Vietnam War was the one of the longest wars fought by the United States, and many soldiers came home with injuries that affect them to this day.  Over 153,000 soldiers were wounded, and more than 58,000 members of the US military lost their lives in this war.

Many of the disabilities affecting Vietnam vets today were caused by exposure to herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange. Other injuries occurred due to equipment and machinery, exposure to loud noise, and contact with a variety of other chemicals during service. The Veterans Administration recommends that Vietnam Veterans be tested for Hepatitis C since they are also at high risk for this infection.

Benefits for Veterans

Fortunately, there are a number of benefits available to Vietnam veterans and their children, including:

  • Training and education
  • Disability compensation
  • Monetary benefits
  • Health care, and assistance with home or facility care
  • Insurance coverage
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Home loans
  • Burial services

After Agent Orange exposure, many children were born with birth defects, such as spina bifida. Many children of women veterans of the Vietnam war were born with birth defects including congenital heart disease, hydrocephalus, and cleft lip and cleft palate.

For access to veterans’ benefits, an application needs to be submitted to a VA regional office. An online application is available, as well as local services to help veterans find the support and medical care that is needed. The VA benefits application process can be completed by veterans, current service members, families, and accredited representatives (also called Veterans Service Officers).

At Windward Life Care, we are here to help you in finding the right resources based on your needs. Whether you are seeking medical support or you are interested in VA benefits, you are welcome to contact us for information and assistance.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a growing public health issue, with an estimated 10% of the worldwide population affected by this condition. This lasting damage to the kidneys gets worse over time, especially without lifestyle changes and treatments to slow the disease. World Kidney Day is March 14th; this day is designated to spread information and knowledge about kidney health.

Your kidneys work hard to keep you alive each day. If the kidneys fail, then it is necessary to have a transplant or receive dialysis treatments several times a week. It is important to take good care of them, helping you maintain optimal health in all stages of life.

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

In the beginning, you might not recognize that your kidneys are struggling. It is common for the symptoms to start slowly and get worse with time. When the symptoms are recognized, it might be that your kidneys are already severely damaged.

If your kidneys are struggling, common symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Itching
  • Reduced hunger
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Changes in urine output
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting and nausea

The best thing you can do is contact a doctor as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms.

Risk Factors for Kidney Disease

Genetics and age play a role in the development of kidney disease. For example, if you are over the age of 60 and have a family member with kidney disease, then your risk is high. Doctors have also found that other health issues increase the risk of CKD:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

If you’ve been diagnosed with one or more of these conditions, don’t overlook the importance of managing the disease to keep your kidneys healthy. Lifestyle changes and proper treatment can improve overall health and have a positive impact on your kidney health as well.

Do you need help finding the right health resources and medical care? At Windward Life Care, we are working hard to ensure that you have the support needed to live a healthy lifestyle. Contact us to learn about the services that are available.

Windward Life Care consultant, Dr. Hossein Samadi, is a geropsychiatrist, a physician trained to work with older adults and their unique mental health needs. As part of our commitment to caring for the whole person, we have arranged for Dr. Samadi to see Windward Life Care clients who can benefit from psychiatric care at our office on a monthly basis. This allows our clients quick access to quality mental health services in a comfortable and familiar setting. We asked Dr. Samadi a few questions recently about mental health and older adults.

Dr. Hossein Samadi

Q: What mental health diagnoses do you see most commonly in your older patients?
A: This can be broken down into three categories: mood disorders, cognitive disorders, and psychotic disorders. Among the mood disorders, the most common are depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. The cognitive disorders vary by cause: Alzheimer’s disease; vascular dementia; frontal-temporal dementia; and others. Finally, though more rare in presentation, the psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, delusional disorder and dementia-related psychosis.

Q: What keeps older adults from accessing mental health treatment and services?
A: Several things, foremost being stigma, both on the part of the individual and society at large. Other factors include denial of illness, lack of access to competent providers, and direct and indirect costs of care.

Q: Are there misconceptions about older adults and mental health?
A; Yes. The most common misconception is that older adults necessarily have neurocognitive impairment or can’t make decisions independently. Other misconceptions include that older adults bounce back quickly from life stressors such as the death of loved ones or that they don’t experience financial difficulties.

Q: Is suicide a concern for older adults?
A; Unfortunately, yes. Suicide risk actually increases with age for both men and women after the age of 40. Risk factors include: prior suicide attempts, access to lethal means, male/single/non-religious demographic, feelings of hopelessness and recent interpersonal loss.

Q: What about family caregivers? What thoughts do you have about their mental health?
A: Caregiver burnout is a real problem and will only grow with the aging population. The first priority needs to be taking care of the caregiver, as their physical and mental health is often overlooked in favor of the needs of the patient.

Q: What advice do you have for older adults who want to maintain good mental health?
A: Get back to basics: maintain a balanced diet, exercise, socialize, and never stop learning. If a problem arises, seek professional help sooner rather than later.

At Windward Life Care, we are committed to helping you find the right resources to meet your needs. If you are looking for more information about healthcare for mental or physical concerns, talk to us to locate the best providers for your situation. We’re here to help!

February 4th is world cancer day: a reminder for people of all ages to minimize the risk of cancer by improving healthy habits. Even though cancer is an increasing concern around the world, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

Tips for Lowering Your Risk of Cancer

Today, we are sharing tips from the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control to help you make incremental changes that will decrease the risk of cancer:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Did you know that obesity is linked with the development of cancer? Not only does it feel good to maintain a healthy weight, but losing weight is beneficial to avoid life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Choose a healthy diet and maintain a consistent exercise routine to let go of the excess pounds.
  2. Sun Protection: The most common type of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. UV rays from the sun can damage the skin and lead to cancerous growth. Never use tanning beds and be careful when spending time outdoors. In the mid-day, look for shady areas, wear clothing that offers sun protection, and apply sunscreen every 60 – 90 minutes.
  3. Avoid Tobacco: Researchers estimate that 80 – 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking cigarettes. Additionally, the risk of many other types of cancer increases for smokers: throat, mouth, stomach, colon, bladder, cervix, kidney, liver, larynx (voice box), and more. Quit smoking to be proactive in avoiding a cancer diagnosis. Also, stay away from secondhand smoke whenever possible.
  4. Limit Alcohol: Links have been found between alcohol consumption and various types of cancers: voice box, mouth, throat, liver, and breast cancer. Minimize alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether.
  5. Vaccinations: Hepatitis C has been connected to the development of liver cancer. This disease causes inflammation in the liver, leading to cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. An easy solution to prevent liver cancer is to stay current with vaccinations to prevent Hep C.

Age is another factor that can affect the development of cancer. Everyone ages, so this factor can’t be avoided. But it is important to tap into resources that are available for assistance if you are facing cancer treatments in the later years of life. Our team at Windward Life Care is here to help you locate the best resources for your needs. Contact us to learn about the services that are available.

The story of the company now known as Windward Life Care really began over 37 years ago in 1982 when geriatric expert B.J. Curry Spitler started one of the first care management companies, Age Concerns, here in San Diego. Age Concerns had an “integrated model” of care in which geriatric care managers directly supervised in-home caregivers to create great client outcomes. Amy Abrams and I worked together at Age Concerns, along with Susan (Soest) Valoff, and were trained in the model of care that Dr. Spitler developed.

Susan Valoff, Norman Hannay, Amy Abrams

Later, when Age Concerns was sold in 2003, Amy and I felt we could continue the lessons learned from Dr. Spitler and extend the care management/home care integrated model in San Diego. We formed our company in 2004 which was first known as Elder Care Guides. Susan joined our team in 2009, later becoming a partner in the business. In 2016 we changed the name to Windward Life Care. We started our business with a handful of employees in 2004 and now employ over 150 office and caregiving staff. We are proud to have on our team so many people who are passionate about caring for older and disabled people.

Much has changed since 2004 and much remains the same. The home care and health care landscapes has gone through many changes, including the advent of Home Care Organization licensure in California in 2016. New technologies are a big factor in how we navigate out in the world and communicate with families. Geriatric care managers are now known as Aging Life Care Professionals. But, for the most part, the challenges of aging remain the same: families are still spread out over long distances; dementia still poses tremendous challenges to those who live with the symptoms as well as those caring for them; and clients and families continue to need help navigating the complex health care and long-term care systems.

Fostering the growth of Windward Life Care has meant we have been able to extend our reach to many more clients and families in San Diego County, allowing many people to reach their goal of aging in  place in their own homes. We remain dedicated to helping our clients age well, honoring their individual goals, and supporting loved ones and involved professionals in making decisions that enhance the client’s quality of life. We appreciate the chance to work with you. — Norman Hannay, MPS, CMC, President

The early years of bringing the vision of Elder Care Guides to life were so exciting. Norman and I knew we could deliver care management services in a distinctly professional and personalized way, if we could get our message in front of the right people. And I’ll never forget the first time the phone rang with our first opportunity to be of service. The client was a frail older gentleman living alone with dementia, whose only family lived thousands of miles away and was growing concerned about his safety, repeated episodes of wandering, and encounters with law enforcement. I felt a deep honor that his health system case manager had entrusted us with her referral, and that his family entrusted us with his care. We built a support system that centered around his personal habits and preferences, matched him with just the right companion, and slowly gained his trust, while ensuring that an appropriate safety net was in place. Elder Care Guides was built on the social work principles of starting where your client is and focusing on their strengths rather than their deficits, and it all came together for that client, who continued to live life on his own terms throughout the progression of his disease. Our reputation as a company that could – and would – handle the most challenging and delicate of situations grew from there, and I’m happy to see that it continues today.  ~  Amy Abrams, MSW, MPH

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A brief history of Windward Life Care:
May 12, 2004 – opened for business in La Jolla and hired the first employee, Amy Abrams, MSW/MPH
January 2008 – office moved to Liberty Station in Pt. Loma
March 2009 – Susan (Soest) Valoff joined the team as Director of Clinical Services
March 2013 – Office moved to 1st Avenue in Banker’s Hill
March 2014 – Acquired Senior Care Management
April 2016 – Changed company name to Windward Life Care
June 2016 – Obtained California Home Care Organization license
August 2017 – Acquired Lifeline Care at Home
August 2018 – Opened North County recruiting office