Maintaining Healthy Hearing: Prevention and Treatment Options

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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.

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Chronic Kidney Disease – What Is Your Risk?

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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.

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World Cancer Day: 5 Tips for Early Detection and Prevention

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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.

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Summer Heat Safety for Older Adults

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The heat can be uncomfortable for people of all ages, but older adults are prone to heat stress, which can be a dangerous situation if left untreated. As a result, seniors can experience several heat-related health problems when the weather warms up outside.

Whether you are caring for your own health or you are a caregiver for another adult, it is important that you are proactive to stay safe in the heat.

Why Older Adults are at Risk

Why is the risk higher for older adults? Often, seniors have medical conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Some chronic conditions can change the body’s response to heat.

Certain medications might have an impact on how the body sweats. For example, diuretics can increase the risk of dehydration due to water loss. Heart disease impacts the blood circulation, which makes it harder for the body to dissipate the heat.

Older adults’ sense of thirst also diminishes with the aging process. Feeling less thirsty, combined with some seniors’ difficulties with incontinence, can lead many people to avoid drinking water and other fluids. This increases their chances of becoming dehydrated which can lead to hospitalization.

Prevention is Important

Don’t wait for symptoms to occur before taking action against the heat. Being proactive is the best solution to prevent health complications:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible during the day.
  • Increase water consumption. Drink consistently throughout the day instead of waiting until you are thirsty.
  • Wear clothing that is loose-fitting and light in color.
  • If you are feeling warm, take a cool bath or shower to lower your body temperature.
  • Minimize physical activities, especially when you are spending time outside.
  • Use window coverings to keep the heat of the sun out of the room.
  • Turn on the air conditioner, even if it increases the utility bills; or, go to a public library, indoor mall or San Diego County-sponsored “Cool Zone.”
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can increase the risk of dehydration.

If you have an aging neighbor or family member, then it is smart to check in regularly to make sure they are staying cool. In the situation where the power is lost, it is essential to offer assistance to help the person get to a cooler place.

When to See a Doctor

Certain symptoms might indicate that it is necessary to see a doctor: strong or rapid pulse, feeling faint, confusion, increase in body temperature, or dry, flushed skin.

Whether you have questions about heat-related symptoms or you need assistance with other medical concerns, Windward Life Care is here to assist. We can help you find the right resources to match your needs. Call to learn about the services that we provide.

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Care Services for Individuals in San Diego with Multiple Sclerosis

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Windward Life Care is proud to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to provide care management services for individuals in San Diego living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The National MS Society provides telephone case management for the majority of individuals needing assistance via their MS Navigator program, but some clients who require in-person help are referred to the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program of the National MS Society. Through this generous program, care management services are provided at no cost to the client to help him or her achieve specific goals geared toward maximum independence.

Multiple Sclerosis: The Benefits of Care Management

How can a person living with Multiple Sclerosis benefit from care management? Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a progressive, degenerative disease that affects people of many ages and backgrounds with symptoms that can vary from person to person.  The symptoms range in both severity and onset, and can vary from week to week — even from day to day — making it difficult to predict the trajectory of the disease in a person’s life. People with MS frequently experience fatigue, as well as symptoms like vision difficulties, sensitivity to heat and cold, muscle pain and spasms, and cognitive changes. These symptoms can get in the way of a person with MS being able to organize their own affairs and advocate for themselves.

For these reasons, a Care Manager (CM) can be a valuable partner and advocate for a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. Care Managers can help by first listening to the client’s goals for their care and then creating a care plan to match the wishes and needs of the client. Care plan goals can address symptom management; social support; mental and emotional health; caregiving assistance; and government benefits and entitlements, among other goals. Although the client is the expert in their own lives, the CM is knowledgeable in community services which can support the client in achieving his or her goals with dignity and the utmost quality of life.

The Role of a Care Manager

One role a Care Manager can play in helping a person with Multiple Sclerosis it to be a healthcare advocate. A person with MS may find herself receiving health care in multiple settings including the hospital (acute care), rehabilitation center or nursing facility, and at home. When the person with MS is in a facility setting, the Care Manager can provide immediate support and advocacy, including confirming medical history, relaying medical treatment wishes to healthcare providers, as well as providing emotional support to the client and their family.

The Care Manager can also assist the person living with MS to evaluate different options for symptom management, as well as different healthcare providers, so he or she can make informed decisions about care.

As the care needs of a person with Multiple Sclerosis can increase over time, he or she may require additional in-home care, housing resources, or alternative placement options.  The Care Manager helps the client with MS navigate the sometimes overwhelming number of options available and  guides the client through the selection process, taking into account the available resources and support.

In addition to the “practical” supports offered by care management, people with MS benefit from the ongoing emotional support that Care Managers can provide. The unrelenting physiological changes caused by the disease, the hardships related to daily care, and the fear of the unknown can weigh heavily on the mind of the person living with Multiple Sclerosis.  A Care Manager provides support to the client and family and normalize their experience of coping with MS. If the client would benefit from more intensive support, the Care Manager can refer to a community mental health provider as needed for psychological and/or psychiatric services.

Should you or someone you know have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, or for further information, you can contact Windward Life Care, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Navigators at 1-800-344-4867 or https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Helpful-Links/Contact-Us

Written by

Penelope Pongun, BSW

Aging Life Care Manager

Windward Life Care

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How to Reduce Medication Risks by Working With Senior Care Pharmacists

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Advances in the healthcare industry have uncovered treatments that can be used for most health concerns. As people grow old, it is common to use regular medications to help with the management of chronic conditions. Do you use prescriptions on a daily basis? Do you have a family member that uses medications regularly?

Older Adults and Medication Use

While the medications can be helpful, they aren’t effective if the patient doesn’t take the right pills. Aging adults often find it difficult to keep track of the dosages and frequency. Medications are more difficult to manage when a person is working with multiple doctors. The taking of multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, could result in serious side effects and drug interactions. The best solution is to talk to a Senior Care Pharmacist who can offer personalized recommendations.

What is a Senior Care Pharmacist?

A Senior Care Pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the management of medications and lifestyle for seniors. The interest of the patient is the highest priority, and the pharmacist works in concert with the prescribing physician to find the best solutions for the patient.

Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is an evaluation that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the medications. A Senior Care Pharmacist will put together a plan that outlines the most appropriate, safe, and effective use of prescribed medications. The goal is to ensure that the patient is using the drugs correctly, avoiding as many side effects and interactions as possible.

Working with a Senior Care Pharmacist

Why should you consider working with a Senior Care Pharmacist?

Sarah Lorentz, PharmD, APh, Director of MTM Services at UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, explains. “Studies have shown that although people over 65 years old make up 15% of the population, they account for over 49% of hospital readmissions due to medication side effects.  Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who can help prevent hospital readmissions, especially in the senior citizen population, by reducing polypharmacy and ensuring that older adults are taking the safest, most effective medication therapy,” says Dr. Lorentz.

At Windward Life Care, our team is focused on the health resources that can improve your lifestyle. We are proud to partner with UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy, giving our clients access to the services that are available from a Senior Care Pharmacist. Contact us to learn more about the services that are offered.

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