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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hand Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

In addition to maintaining mobility and being able to age in place, retaining hand and grip strength can make a huge difference in the independence and longevity of aging seniors. Being able to use your hands can mean the difference between feeding yourself and having to be feed, or between using your phone or having to have someone make calls for you, for example.

Some natural deterioration in hand health accompanies aging including loss of skin elasticity, reduced bone density, nerve degeneration, decreased dexterity, weakness in grip and pinch strength, as well as reduced blood flow and fingernail changes. Obstructive medical conditions can exacerbate hand weakness and loss of use - these may include:
  • Arthritis - painful joint inflammation in one or more hands can make gripping, flexing, and using your hands and fingers much more difficult.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome - numbness, tingling, or pain in the wrist, hand, and fingers can result from pressure being put on the median nerve from the narrowing of the carpal tunnel in the wrist.
  • Tendonitis - inflammation of tendons, typically in or around the thumb, can bring on this type of painful tendonitis localized to the hand.  
  • Trigger finger - tendon irritation that causes a locking or painful popping can limit finger movement and cause painful inflammation.
While some conditions like rheumatoid arthritis cannot necessarily be prevented by exercise and lifestyle changes, symptoms can be mitigated by them, and it only benefits seniors to focus some exercise and strength training on the hands. Don’t miss these important hand health-boosting activities:

Forearm Exercises
Did you know that you don’t actually have any muscles in your hands, only tendons, ligaments, and bones? The muscles which control your finger movement and grip are actually located in your arm, so exercising and strengthening them is key. A forearm workout tool should be lightweight, portable, and effective at helping seniors stretch and reinforce key arm muscles that control grip and pinch strength. Some forearm workout tools are spring-loaded and look the handles of common household tools like pliers or shears, while others are ring-shaped and squeezable like stress balls. You can find forearm workout tools online or in some big box stores and sporting goods stores.

Yoga for the Hands
Can a mindfulness low-impact exercise like yoga, with its deep breathing and meditation, truly help improve your hand health and strength? Absolutely. Yoga practice helps fortify the connection between the body and mind which pairs well with hand exercises that rely so greatly on brain and eye coordination. Yoga exercises for the hand may include simple reflex stimulation, targeted stretching, and applying pressure between fingers as you touch them to each other in what are known as “Mudras.” Yoga is also known for helping to boost blood flow and loosen joints, which can additionally aid arthritis sufferers.

Hand Movements
Routinely practicing basic movements and exercising with items you find around the home can bolster arm/hand strength and help you maintain range of motion. These types of movements include exercises like wrist rolls - holding a small canned good with elbows bent at your sides, forearms out, and palms facing up, bend your wrists to curl your hands forwards towards your body and back. You may also use a rubber band wrapped around your thumb and fingers to practice mini resistance stretches, or simply squeeze a stress ball or tennis ball at regular intervals throughout the day.

Final Considerations
Using functional fitness to maintain your dexterity and a strong grip and pinch strength will largely benefit day to day tasks that are critical but which you may barely think twice about - brushing your teeth, picking up grocery bags, using the TV remote, or typing a text message on your phone. It’s critical to not wait until your hand strength starts to give out, but rather to start exercising now while you still have muscles and tendons to tone and flexibility in your fingers and wrist.

Practicing fine motor skills requires the routine use of the hands and fingers and bears its own health benefits including reducing risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive decline. Hand strength and functionality play a key role in helping seniors recover from debilitating conditions too like stroke or mobility impairment which requires them to grip a walker or cane.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

3 Must-Have Home Appliances to Improve Air Quality and Reduce Allergies

Almost everything can cause allergies. In the United States alone, an estimated 35% of the whole population suffers from allergies, and the number keeps rising.  Studies have shown that if adults suffer from allergies then there is a 33% increased chance their kids will develop allergies as well.

According to Accuweather, indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold are the main causes of allergies rising very highly across the entire United States. In most of the cases, even with actions like regular vacuum cleaning and keeping pets away from home (of course, not always possible), we can't completely control those allergens. But there are several home appliances that can help us control the allergens. These are the three must-have appliances (highly recommended) which improve the air quality in your home and can keep the allergens away from your home.
 
1. Air Purifier

If you are an allergy sufferer, the first question you have to ask yourself is: "Is the quality of air in my home good for me?" And without any delay, you will get an answer. NO. Because you're already an allergy sufferer...Actually, you are surrounded by a lot of pollutants every day. And especially in these "technology is driven and health is forgotten" days, how can you improve the air quality in your home to protect your family from various allergens? Here comes the Air purifier which is an ultimate indoor choice that lets you and your family enjoy a healthy breath of air you've never experienced before. And like so many things, these air purifiers work with multiple technologies. Out of these, the HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air purifier is the one which is most popular and the best one if you are allergic to pollens. Also, there will be others like the UV air purifier which kills germs and bacteria and supports the immune system. There is also the Electrostatic, which removes smoke and odors. There is also the Ozone air purifier which kills mold and odors and is inexpensive as well. But considering all important factors like healthy air, maintenance, price, and performance, no other purifier beats the HEPA one.  
 
2. Robot Vacuum


Why a Robot vacuum and not a regular vacuum cleaner? A study found that most of the regular vacuum cleaners don't trap the dust. In fact, they throw the dust and germs back in the air which makes your indoor setting more allergy-inducing. Also, keep in mind that most people are highly sensitive to dust, so cleaning with a normal vacuum cleaner will make that situation worse. And this is where a necessity of automatic vacuum cleaner arises. A Robot vacuum is an automatic cleaning machine which doesn't require human effort and time as well. All you have to do initially is plug it in to charge it. Whenever the battery power gets low, the robot itself reaches the dock station and self-recharges. As people have shifted more towards these robot vacuums, huge competition has emerged between the robot vacuum manufacturers. This has resulted in a lot of models. In every field, it is always the brand that matters. The same applied here. Irobot is the veteran robot vacuum company existing today. It has released so many Roomba (robot vacuum) models in the form of (6-9) number series. But for many, there is always a confusion which Roomba model to buy?  This is why you should do your research to compare online and invest in the best Roomba model that is best for you and never forget to choose a Roomba model with HEPA filter (highly useful to trap the allergens inside the robot vacuum itself). 
 
3. Dehumidifier 

Needless to say, a dehumidifier is essential to obtaining a lower moisture level. While dehumidifiers can differ from model to model, they all work on similar principles. Dehumidification is the process of extracting moisture from the air, which is useful for many health and comfort reasons. A dehumidifier can help solve many air quality issues in your home that are due to high humidity. It is always recommended to keep indoor humidity below 50% and over 30%. If the humidity is below 30%, it can cause dry, itchy skin, and nosebleeds. And if the humidity level is over 50% this makes the air feel damp, which can worsen asthma, allergies and promote the growth of airborne allergens such as mold spores and dust mites. Not only does optimizing the air humidity reduce allergens but there are also so many other benefits (i.e. reduces: - dust, odors and irritation to skin and respiratory system) to using a dehumidifier.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mattresses – how is quality affected by the price?


Sleep is important for your ongoing physical and mental well-being. Getting the optimum amount of sleep can help with everything from memory skills, to attention levels and the health of hair and skin. Having the right mattress is important if you want to ensure that you get the sleep you need.

Another important reason for making sure that you choose the right mattress, is that a lack of support can lead to problems with aches and pains in your neck, back and shoulders. So, how does the amount you pay for a mattress affect the quality of the product you choose?

Do you have to buy an expensive mattress?

Many people do not have a huge amount of money to spend on a mattress. The good news is that there are affordable mattresses on the market that provide you with a reasonable amount of support. They may not provide you with the perfect amount of comfort and support that you can get from more expensive memory foam mattresses, but they are still beneficial when compared to the old mattress you have. This is because an old mattress normally starts to lose its firmness and shape. Once this happens, your sleep starts to be adversely affected, and you will probably find that you start to suffer from aches and pains. Even a reasonably priced mattress can help to improve the situation.

Why you may want to pay more for a mattress

If you have a significant amount of money saved, it's worth investing it in a high quality mattress. You may want to choose a memory foam mattress which is specifically designed to mold to your shape, and provide you with the optimum level of support. Although, it's a good idea to check out the pros and cons of this material, before you buy.

It does not just have to be about support when you are buying a new mattress. There are mattresses which are made from organic products. These eco-friendly options  make it less likely that you will be exposed to off gassing while you sleep. They are also a lot better for the environment.

Buying an expensive mattress can be worthwhile if you want a high level of support and comfort or to be eco-friendly. But you can get a good quality mattress which offers an acceptable level of support at a lower cost.

Why you should not buy second hand 

One thing you should never do is buy a mattress second hand. This is because you cannot tell how well it's been cared for. It may lose any firmness it has very quickly. It's also possible that the mattress could be full of bacteria if it has not been properly cleaned on a regular basis.

Never continue sleeping on a mattress that is worn out because it is bad for your health. When you replace the mattress, always buy new and spend as much as you can afford to get the best level of support you can. Remember to shop around before you buy as this can help you to get the best possible deal on the product you want to purchase.

This is a blog post by James Andrews.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How To Detox Your Body From Alcohol And Drugs


Whether you are a recreation drinker or have admitted that you have a more serious problem, a prolonged use of drugs and alcohol can cause toxins to build up in the body.  This build-up will be bad for your health as the toxins such as ethanol from alcohol are known to harm the body tissue, organs and other systems.  This can result in a range of different health problems and diseases.  Fortunately, there is some good news which is that the body is able to heal itself if you provide the correct treatment.

What Is The Proper Treatment?

The best treatment for your body is to detox which is essentially giving your body an internal makeover.  When you detox, you will clean out the toxins which are harmful to your health.  To detox, you will have to have a proper diet, complete exercise and add other healthy habits to your lifestyle while bringing your drug and alcohol use to an end.  When you do this, you will remove the impurities in the blood that causes problems and give your body the chance to heal.

Of course, depending on the level of your addiction, you will need to consult with a doctor before you try detoxing on your own.  If you have a severe addiction, you need to have medical help from a dual diagnosis rehab center. Within a process you will need professional support as you will experience vomiting, nausea, sweats, headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.  It is important to note that these are expected as your body tries to get rid of the unhealthy toxins.  Of course, if the symptoms worsen, you need to get medical attention as something could be wrong.

Cutting It Off At The Source

The obvious start to detoxing is to stop taking drugs and drinking.  In order to completely rid your body of the toxins associated with this, you need to stop the habit.  This provides the body with the opportunity to expel the toxins which have accumulated without worrying the new toxins entering the body.  The sooner you are able to quit, the faster you will be able to detox.

Keep Your Body Hydrated

Alcohol and drugs are known to dehydrate the body and this can cause a range of unpleasant side effects including fatigue, headaches and muscle pain.  You can eliminate these issues by drinking a lot of water.  Water will also help your body detox as it is used to flush out the system and bring balance to the body.  The more water you are drinking, the more toxins are being flushed out.  The minimum amount of water you should drink per day is 64 oz, but when detoxing you should increase this to 80 oz or 100 oz. 

Get The Good Nutrients

The most common way for toxins to enter the body is by being ingested.  This is why it makes sense to replace unhealthy foods with healthy ones.  The best way to do this is to completely change your diet.

The first step in this change would be to cut back on bad fats and sugars which hinder the healing process.  You should also avoid any refined or processed foods as they generally are unnatural and will not provide much in terms of nutrients.  They are also harder for the body to digest.  This means that you have to limit food which comes in jars, cans and boxes. 

One of the best ways to give your body a nutrient jump-start is by juicing.  This is when you drink natural juiced fruits and vegetables as they will provide you with all the minerals and nutrients that your body needs to be healthy.  It is possible to drink 5 times the amount of fruits and vegetables compared to eating because your body is filled up with juice and not the meat of the plant.  This is important because you are able to get more of the nutrients you need as you are able to consume larger amounts. 

If you do not have your own juicer or cannot afford to get one, you need to make sure that you are eating a diet which is high in fruits and vegetables.  You should also take a multivitamin to ensure that you are getting every nutrient that your body needs.  When you are eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, you need to ensure that they are organically produced as they will be grown without any harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  These can be as harmful to your body as not getting enough nutrients.

All The Foods That Are Great For Detoxification

If you want to leech the impurities in your intestines and dispose of them you need to eat chia seeds, parsley, cilantro and lemon.  If you need more fiber and antioxidants to boost the immune system you should eat green leafy vegetables such as romaine, kale, seaweed and wheatgrass.  Another source of antioxidants which help your body fight disease is berries including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  To get the Omega-3 fatty acids that you need which will help limit your cravings and depression, you need to eat wild caught fish, almonds and avocado. Here are some good foods for detox.

Getting The Toxins Out

While you are putting good foods into your body, you need to also focus on getting the bed out.  While it is possible to eliminate toxins through waste, you should also look at exercise which is one of the best ways of getting rid of bad toxins.  Exercise will increase your heart rate and cause the body to sweat which allows you to get rid of the bad toxins which have built up in your body.  You can do this through hot yoga, running, cycling or other exercise.  Not only will the exercise help you detox, it will also increase your endorphin levels which makes your mood better.

Other Habits To Incorporate

There are other habits which will help you detox such as lowering your stress levels.  We live in a fast-paced world where it can be hard to remember to take time for yourself, but you need to ensure that you do this.  Too much stress can be detrimental to your health and will decrease the effectiveness of detoxification.

You should also stay away from cigarettes and coffee while detoxing.  These items also have harmful toxins and they can trigger addiction.  This could cause you to relapse and this is something that you will want to avoid. 

You should also look at getting a massage which is a great stress-reliever.  Massages can also help to release the toxins in your body. 

When you detox, you also need to get more sleep.  Most people are actually sleep-deprived without realizing it and this will impact your health.  It is important that you get 8 to 9 hours of undisturbed sleep each night to ensure that your body is healthy.

It is also recommended that you get your friends and family involved in your detox.  This will provide you with the support that you need to overcome your addiction and help you stay on track.

This is a guest blog entry.

Why Your Foot Arch Type Matters

When it comes to foot care, there are a handful of routine practices which can help keep your feet in fighting shape. Daily cleaning, drying, and moisturizing can help remove impurities from the bottom of your feet as well as exfoliate off dead and dry skin cells and keep them hydrated.

Regular stretching exercises for your feet can also bolster the strength of the many muscles and tendons in them to help prevent injury. One of the best things you can do for your feet, however, is to know your arch type and how to properly support it when you are physically active (i.e. when working out, playing sports, etc). Why is knowing your arch type so important?

•    Helps you choose the type of running shoe/sneaker for exercising in
•    Gives you an idea of what type of insoles you might need for better arch support
•    Can help you address pain points of high arches or flat feet

The Wet Test
Are you asking yourself, “How do I know what type of arch I have”? One of the easiest ways to gauge your arch type is with a wet test. Find a paper shopping bag or another piece of heavy paper and set it on the floor. Fill a shallow pan with a layer of water, and then one by one, step in the water and then out onto the heavy paper. Bear all your weight on that leg momentarily, and then cleanly step off.

If you see an average-looking half-moon (crescent) footprint, then you have the most common arch (medium) which sufficiently supports your body weight and causes you to pronate normally when walking and running. Pronation is simply the slight natural inward rolling of the ankle when your foot makes impact with the ground. As you strike with your heel, the ankle rolls slightly inward, and weight is distributed to the forefoot.

If you see a footprint almost entirely filled in, on the other hand, with no significant arch space, this indicates you have a low arch, also referred to as flat feet. The potential dangers of a low arch derive from the fact that overpronation, or an exaggerated inward rolling of the foot when walking and running, actually stresses the feet and knees.

And if you leave but a sliver of a crescent-moon footprint on the paper, this indicates your arch is higher than normal, likely resulting from an under-pronation (or outward rolling known as supination) of the foot when walking or running. Similar to flat feet, high arches can increase the risk for injury by unnecessarily straining the foot and leg muscles, and ankle and knee joints.

Common Foot Problems for Low and High Arches
Low and high arches reflect problems with pronation so understanding the cascading effects on the feet and knees is critical. As foot tendons like the plantar fascia and lower leg muscles like the Achilles tendon compensate for the extra load, they can become strained and lead to:

Plantar fasciitis - the plantar fascia is a tough band of tissue which supports your arch and runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. When it has to stretch more and more to bear the weight of over or under-pronation, it can become inflamed and even incur microscopic tears. This can result in burning and stinging pain in the bottom of your heel and up through your arch.

Achilles tendonitis - in the same way, when the tendon running down the back of your calf which connects to you heel starts to feel the tug and pull from under or over-pronation, it can become inflamed as well. More serious tears and ruptures of the tendon may occur from even greater overuse and poor body mechanics.

Heel spurs - heel spurs develop when calcium deposits build up on the bottom of the heel bone. Often associated with damage to the plantar fascia, heel spurs also manifest when the membrane wrapped around the heel bone routinely becomes torn. Low arches are more susceptible to heel spurs.

Metatarsalgia - the ball of the foot where the metatarsal bones connect the foot to the toes can become inflamed from constant pounding, this injury is also known as stone bruise and results commonly from high arches that place undue stress on the ball and heel of the foot. Additional markers of high arched feet include hammertoes, claw toes, and calluses on the ball, heel, or side of the foot.

The good news is that low and high arches don’t have to be permanent detriments to your pronation or foot and leg health. With proper footwear and useful orthotics (like arch supports or plantar fasciitis insoles), you can equip your feet with the strength and flexibility they need to properly support your weight at any time.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Diabetes Foot Care Tips


There are different foot care rituals listed by the American Diabetes Association that diabetics should follow:

1.  Check Your Feet On A Daily Basis

Check for infected toenails, red spots, swelling, sores or cuts.  At times diabetics might not be able to feel any pain in their feet.  That is why they need to thoroughly check their feet every day.  Individuals who are unable to bend down to be able to see their feet can either have someone else check them or use a mirror.

2.  Thoroughly Wash Your Feet

Diabetics need to wash their feet in warm water every day.  After washing your feet, wipe them dry and then apply talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes to make sure the skin is dry.  Keep in mind that it isn't recommended that you soak your feet since that has a tendency to dry the skin out.

3. Moisturize After Cleaning

Be sure to apply cream or lotion or petroleum jelly even to your feet in order to keep them smooth, soft and moisturized.

Aloe vera gel frequently is recommended since it makes an effective moisturizer.  However, be sure to only moisturize the bottom and top of your feet but not in between your toes, since some infections could result.

4.  Trim Your Nails

Right after bathing is the best time for you to trim your toenails since that is when nails are soft and soaked.   Cutting your nails straight across is the best way for you to trim them. Avoid cutting into your toenails corners.  The corners can be smoothed afterward using an emery board or nail file.

5.  Always Use The Right Footwear 

Wear footwear at all times to keep your feet protected - both outdoors and indoors.  Wear stockings, nylons or socks with your footwear to avoid getting blisters or sores.  Wear shoes that fit you well and properly protect your feet.  It is also important to select the right kind of footwear.  Your feet should be supported and allowed to breathe by your shoes.  Walking shoes or athletic shoes are perfect for this, it’s also possible to get diabetic shoes.  Don't wear shoes with high heels or pointed toes since they tend to put a lot of pressure on your toes.  Make sure your shoes provide enough space for your toes.  Avoid vinyl or plastic shoes since they don't breathe or stretch.

6.  Keep Your Flood Flowing        

It is important for diabetics to make sure that blood flowing to their feet isn't hindered in any way.  Don't wear elastic, rubber bands or tight socks around your legs.  When you are sitting put your feet up.  Another way of ensuring blood flow is moving your ankle in and out and up and down.  You can wriggle your toes also for around five minutes two or three times per day.  However the main thing is to stop smoking, since it can lead to a reduced amount of blood flowing to your feet.

This is a guest blog entry.

How to Choose the Best Portable Wheelchair Ramp

Despite laws and regulations that have increased the number of businesses that are wheelchair accessible, there is a still a significant disparity when it comes to wheelchair accessible homes. In fact, less than one percent of all U.S. homes can easily accommodate wheelchairs.

The ideal situation is for all homes and businesses to be accessible to all. In the meantime, though, a portable wheelchair ramp can give you independence and help you easily access any building.

There are lots of factors to consider when choosing portable ramps for wheelchairs to make sure you find one that is both safe and easy to use. Read on to learn some of the most important things to keep in mind during your search.

Types of Ramps


First of all, let’s go over the options that are available to you when it comes to choosing a portable wheelchair ramp.

Threshold Ramps

Threshold ramps are wedge-shaped and usually made of either rubber or metal. While they are portable, they’re often kept in one place for a longer period of time since they don’t fold up as easily as other styles.

Telescoping Ramps

Telescoping ramps are adjustable in length, like a telescope. They can be lengthened or shortened easily and can be used for several different obstacles and types of rises.

Suitcase Ramps

Suitcase ramps, as their name suggests, fold up and can be stored easily, like a suitcase. They’re ideal for helping wheelchair users get over steps, curbs, and raised landings.

Roll-up Ramps

Roll-up ramps feature a track attached to side rails. They can be stored by removing the rails and rolling up the tread like a sleeping bag.

Size and Slope

No matter what type of ramp you buy, you’ll need to take its size and slope into account.

Your ramp should ideally be a bit narrower than the openings where it’ll be placed. It should, at the same time, be wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair. A good rule of thumb from the American Disability Association (ADA) is to look for a ramp with a minimum width of 36 inches.

The ADA also recommends a ramp with a slope no higher than 1:12. This means that there is at least 1 foot (12 inches) of ramp length for every 1 inch of vertical rise. For example, a 24 inch rise would require a ramp length that is at least 24 feet.

Remember, the 1:12 ratio is the absolute minimum. The steeper a ramp’s incline, the more likely you are to experience the following problems:
  • Difficulty maneuvering a manual chair up it
  • Increased likelihood that power chairs and scooters will stall or bottom out
  • Increased likelihood that transport wheelchairs will bottom out because of low ground clearance
Height Limitations 

Height threshold also needs to be taken into account when shopping for a portable wheelchair ramp. If it’s too high or too low, you’ll face additional difficulty getting into buildings.

Think about the steps leading into your home, doors with raised thresholds, and vehicle entrances and make sure the ramp you’re considering purchasing can accommodate all of them.

Weight and Portability

When shopping for a portable ramp, you’ll also need to think about how you’re going to use it. Do you need a truly portable solution, or do you need a more semi-permanent solution?

If you’re looking for a semi-permanent ramp (like the threshold ramps discussed above) weight and portability won’t be as important. However, if you’re going to be carrying your ramp with you everywhere you go, you’re going to want to find the lightest and most portable option possible.

Ramps made of aluminum or fiberglass are usually the most lightweight and are easy to carry.
Weather Considerations

Your ramp should be made with durable yet lightweight materials, but it should also include slip-resistant elements for rainy and snowy days.

Portable ramps can get extremely slippery, opening you up to a whole new range of safety risks. Make sure you find one that can withstand all weather conditions and help you get where you need to go without risk of slipping and sliding.

Weight Capacity

Finally, you’ll need to think about your ramp’s ability to hold your weight and the weight of your wheelchair. Think about times when additional weight will be included as well, such as when you’re carrying groceries or packages. Putting too much weight on your ramp can cause a serious safety risk, so be sure to buy one that is highly durable.

Wrapping Up

There are lots of options out there when it comes to portable wheelchair ramps.

There’s no one ramp that is perfect for everyone, so it’s important to take into consideration things like weight, height threshold, and portability to make sure you get the right ramp for your needs. Shopping for ramps can be overwhelming at first. But, if you keep these tips mind, you’ll be able to find the perfect option in no time! 

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dementia and Risk of Falling

A 2017 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed encouraging data regarding rates of dementia in the U.S. Over 21,000 adults 65+ were tracked in a longitudinal study called the “Health and Retirement Study” sponsored by the Social Security Administration and the National Institute on Aging.

The findings reflected sweeping improvements in population brain health as the prevalence of dementia dropped from 11.6% to 8.8% between the years 2000 and 2012.

Rates of Dementia
While that is exciting news for older adults, the truth is that the cases of dementia will only rise as the second largest generation in the U.S., Baby Boomers, all age into the 65 and over age group in the next 15 years. While dementia is not a guaranteed part of aging, it does largely affect older adults.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are debilitating diseases that rob many seniors of the basic faculties with which they need to function. Over 5.5 million people in the U.S. currently live with some form of dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for roughly 60 to 70% of dementia cases according to the World Health Organization.

Damaged and dying neurons and synapses in the brain contribute to dementia symptoms including a deterioration in thinking, learning ability, memory, judgment, language, comprehension, and orientation. In addition to difficulty completing daily tasks, dementia can negatively impact a person’s behavior and emotional control. Dementia is typically a progressive and chronic degeneration of the brain, and in some forms of dementia, can actually result from conditions which prevent enough oxygen from reaching the brain.

Vascular dementia as it is called, or vascular cognitive impairment, is on the rise according to some researchers, in part due to the higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions which affect blood vessels. When widespread small vessel damage reduces the amount of or blocks blood flowing to the brain, it deprives brain cells of the oxygen and nutrients they desperately need.

Dementia and Falling
  • Medical providers and home health networks need to educate the caregivers of someone with dementia about increased fall risk and how to manage it in order to prevent life-threatening injuries. While falling is the leading cause of fatal injuries for older adults, when it comes to seniors with dementia, their chances of experiencing a harmful fall are even higher due to:  
  • Poor judgment - as cognitive decline progresses, poor decision-making can put an elderly person at risk of not just getting scammed on the internet, but in falling too. Mistakenly deciding to descend a steep staircase or head outside when it is icy, for example, can quickly lead to falls.
  • Impaired memory - when a senior with dementia is a “fall risk,” precautions are taken in their home or hospital room to prevent them from falling. This might include putting fall rails on the bed, setting up fall monitors, and making sure a patient is always accompanied out of bed and into the bathroom. Memory issues can lead a senior to forget that they have been asked to call for assistance if they need to get out of bed, or they may forget where they are and become disorientated and fall.
  • Vision problems - difficulties with vision and spatial awareness often accompany cognitive decline and can make safe mobility impossible. Oftentimes, people with vascular dementia will specifically have vision impairment due to blood vessel damage in the brain. Regular vision checks with a doctor, as well as mobility aids, home lighting audits, and home accessibility upgrades can help.
  • Clutter - some dementia patients will exhibit habits of hoarding and filling their living environment with unnecessary items and furniture. This clutter is a huge risk factor for falling, as the more “stuff” you have to move around or walk over to successfully navigate the home environment, the more likely you are to trip or lose your balance.
  • Physical weakness - being unable to exercise regularly or stay physically active, dementia patients will experience muscle loss and weakness as well as a reduction in bone density compounded with deterioration in balance, coordination, agility skills, and the risk of falling increases. 
  • Medication side effects - some medicines which are used to treat forms of dementia as well as other age-related diseases like Parkinson’s, can actually cause hypotensive side effects. A sudden drop in blood pressure when standing can lead to dizziness and loss of balance, increasing the potential to fall.

What Can Caregivers Do
In addition to learning as much as possible about dementia’s side effects and increased risk for falling, family members and caregivers of seniors with dementia should fall-proof the home. Grab bars, toilet seat risers, and a non slip bath mat in the bathroom are a must. Ramps up to outside doorways and porch railings help secure outside walking areas, and clearing clutter and trip hazards inside may include removing area rugs and large pieces of furniture too.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beware of These Common Home Health Hazards

Your home is where you and your family come together for shelter, security, and safety. As comfortable and safe as your home may feel, there could be dangers lurking that you weren’t aware of.

What many homeowners may not realize is that a lot of the illnesses they experience come from the things they do and have in the home. In order to improve your health and keep your loved ones safe, you’ll need to identify the health hazards in the home and remove them. Below, are some of the most common health hazards in the home.

1.  Lead Paint

Those who live in a home that was built before the 1970’s could have an issue on their hands with lead paint. Though not hazardous just to sit on the walls, when lead paint starts to chip, it can present a hazard for pets and young children. When chips of paint are ingested it can cause led poisoning.

If you believe you have led paint in your home, purchase a kit from the store. While you can remove the paint yourself, it would require you to remove your kids and pets from the home and strip all the paint. Therefore, it is best to hire professionals to remove the paint for you.

2.  Pests

You may have thought that pests like mice or cockroaches were nothing more than gross looking and embarrassing to have in the home, but it’s actually a lot worse. Both mice and roaches leave behind bodily fluids and feces that if touched or ingested can cause you to get sick.

Some people try to remove infestations of mice and cockroaches on their own with no such luck. DIY pest control isn’t always advised as it can result in more harm. The harsh chemicals found in store sprays and the hazards of traps and devices to catch pests can really harm you and your family. Companies like Moxie Pest Control are skilled in safely removing pests like mice and cockroaches from the home safely.

3.  Mold

Mold is one of those hazards that you are likely aware is bad for your health, but can be tricky to find. Most often people can smell mold and mildew before they ever see it. Exposure to certain molds can result in upper respiratory problems. This can include difficulty breathing, sore throat, stuffiness, runny nose, eye irritation, and in some cases, skin rashes.

If you believe there is mold in your home, you need to have it removed. Identifying it can be hard but you should check places like the basement or attic where there is dampness and moisture. While you can remove small amounts of mold on your own with a bleach solution, it is best to hire a mold remediation expert for larger amounts.

4.  Asbestos

Asbestos was a building material used to build homes more than 30 years ago. Asbestos was determined to be unhealthy and could lead to serious medical conditions including shortness of breath, lung damage, and other illnesses and diseases.

Asbestos is harmless unless disturbed. This often happens during renovations and home improvement projects. If you have an older home and believe there could be asbestos present it is best to contact the experts to safely remove it.

5.  Dust and Allergens

Dusting might be a chore that you hadn’t gotten around to doing but too much dust and allergens in the home can wreak havoc on your health. Dust and allergens tend to accumulate on everything from the carpets to the floors. Too much dust in the home can lead to upper respiratory issues that include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy throat, and more.

Dust enters the home from all over. The best way to get rid of dust is to go beyond dusting certain surfaces. You need to clean the carpets, clean the vents, and even consider an air purifier to get rid of allergens and improve the indoor air quality.

To the untrained eye, the above-mentioned hazards might not seem like anything to worry about. However, when ignored, these hazards could ruin your health. Checking the home periodically for these hazards and hiring an expert to remedy the problem is the best course of action to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Low Back Pain: Are You at Risk?

Have you ever experienced a sudden, sharp sensation in your lower back? How about a dull, constant ache just below your waist? If yes, then you belong to the 80% of adults who experience low back pain.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a major contributor to absences from work. The severity of the pain could range from a mild ache to an intense pain which could limit your mobility.

The onset of low back pain could be sudden or gradual, depending on the cause. Some diseases could present with low back pain. Among these are sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve), scoliosis (lateral curvature of the thoracic spine) and a herniated disc (compression or bulging of the intervertebral discs).

The anatomy of the lower back
The lower back is composed of the lumbar region of the spine. This region has 5 vertebrae (lumbar 1 to lumbar 5) that bear and support the weight of the upper body. Intervertebral discs are located between each vertebrae. They function as shock absorbers and cushions. They also protect the spinal cord in the middle of the spine.

There are 31-pairs of spinal nerves attached to the spinal cord and they are responsible for the transmission of signals to the brain as well as body movement. Lumbar ligaments keep the vertebrae in place and lumbar tendons connect the muscles to the spinal column.

Are you at risk?
There are certain factors that can put you at risk of having low back pain, including:

•    Age. Pain in the lower back becomes a common concern as you age. The symptom usually occurs between ages 30 and 50. As you age, your muscle mass, tone, and elasticity gradually decrease. This could make you prone to having tears in your tendons and muscles. Osteoporosis could also predispose you to brittle bones. Your intervertebral discs also lose flexibility and fluid, compromising their function as shock absorbers.

•    Fitness level. Low fitness activity could make you prone to having back pain. Having weak abdominal and back muscles might not support your spine properly, especially if you are someone who tends to do exercises and intense outdoor activities in the weekends after being inactive for the rest of the week.

•    Pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called ‘relaxin’ that serves to relax your pelvic ligaments in preparation for labor. This could make the ligaments that support your back unstable. The growing baby also adds additional weight to your upper body. These could lead to low back pain, a complaint which is common in pregnant women. The symptom usually resolves after childbirth.

•    Weight gain. Your lumbar spine supports the weight of your upper body. Being overweight or obese can put too much weight and stress on your back, leading to low back pain.

•    Occupational risk factors. Doing jobs that require pushing, pulling, lifting heavy objects, especially those that involve twisting of the spine, can lead to back injury and low back pain.

•    Poor posture. Poor posture can put undue stress on your spine as well as constrict your blood vessels and nerves. It can lead to low back pain, especially if you sit all day in a chair that has inadequate back support.

    Back pain in children. Low back pain is not common in children. However, carrying a heavy backpack loaded with school supplies can lead to muscle strain and muscle fatigue. It is recommended that a child’s backpack should weigh 10–15% of his or her body weight. Obese children, however, are recommended to carry a bag that is one-third lighter in weight than the other children’s.

How to deal with low back pain?
Low back pain can restrict your movements and make daily activities difficult to do. If you are experiencing low back pain, even the simple act of bending over to put your shoes on could be hard. A dressing aid like a long shoe horn makes it easier to slip on your shoes without the need to bend over and tug at the heel tab, no matter how high-cut your shoes are. These benefits of using a long shoe horn could prevent your back pain from being aggravated by bending movements.

Applying cold packs could ease pain and inflammation in your lower back, as can heat therapy and massage, improving your mobility. You should limit your bed rest and resume daily activity as soon as you can. Prolonged bed rest could further diminish your muscle tone and might do you more harm than good. Just be careful to avoid movements that exacerbate the pain.

If the pain persists despite these home remedies, you should consult your doctor for further diagnosis.

This is a guest blog entry.

Five Products Everyone Can Use to Treat Knee Pain


Knee pain is extremely common, especially among active individuals and those with arthritis. If you are looking for a way to relieve your pain without giving up your favorite activities, keep reading.

Listed below are five highly effective pain relief products that everyone with knee pain should have at the ready.

Knee Braces

Knee braces are helpful for people who suffer from both acute and chronic knee pain. A quality knee brace will provide extra support, prevent injury, and make sure the knee moves in a controlled way.

It can be difficult to find the best knee brace for working out. If you’re having a hard time making a decision, make sure you understand the different types of braces and what kind of pain and injuries they work best with.

•    Hinged braces are best for people who need extra protection and stabilization after an ACL, MCL, or PCL injury or surgery.
•    Compression sleeves can minimize mild or moderate chronic knee pain or arthritis-related pain.
•    Wraparound braces are good for mild or moderate pain, as well as those who often experience patellar instabilities or dislocation.
•    A band or strap can be used for those who have runner’s knee, patellar tendonitis, or acute knee pain.

Topical Painkillers

Topical painkillers, also known as analgesics, are products that can be rubbed or sprayed on the skin to help treat sore muscles or painful joints. Whether they come in spray, cream, or gel form, topical painkillers often feature a combination of the following ingredients:

•    Counterirritants like menthol, methylsalicylate, and camphor, which create a burning or tingling sensation.
•    Salicylates, which are also used in products like aspirin to relieve pain.
•    Capsaicin, which causes a burning or tingling sensation to relax tension and relieve pain.

Knee Pillows

Many people, especially those with arthritis, are kept awake at night by pain in their knees and hips. A knee pillow will help relieve your pain by allowing you to keep your legs, hips, knees, and spine properly aligned while you sleep on your side.

They also reduce stress on the knees since they keep the legs farther apart to avoid uneven pressure. This lack of pressure allows for better blood circulation, which prevents muscle tension and soreness in the knees and legs.

When you’re shopping for a knee pillow, look for a memory foam pillow for the most comfort. Some pillows also come with a strap that helps keep your knees in place throughout the night, which can be especially helpful for people who toss and turn a lot.

Electrical Stimulator

If you’ve ever visited a chiropractor or physical therapist, you’ve probably experienced electrical stimulation for your knee pain. There are lots of portable machines available so that you can continue to treat your pain at home.

Many people like the near-instant relief that these machines bring, as well as the fact that they don’t have to rely on any painkillers.

Electrical stimulators are easy to use and can be adjusted for your specific tolerance level.

Before using one at home to help your knee pain, make sure you get clearance and instructions on how frequently to use it from your doctor or physical therapist.

Supplements

There are a number of nutritional supplements out there that are actually very beneficial for those who suffer from knee pain. Supplements like collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin are especially useful, as they aid in repairing tissue damage and reducing pain and inflammation.

Krill oil and fish oil are also good to supplement with to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, which is especially important for those whose knee pain is related to arthritis.

Vitamin C is another good supplement to take for those who suffer from arthritis-related pain. Meeting your recommended daily dose also helps prevent the development of osteoarthritis. When your body gets an adequate amount of vitamin C, cartilage loss and joint inflammation are reduced and bone density improves.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from knee pain and feel like you’re running out of treatment options, give one (or more) of these products a try today. Whether you need a more aggressive remedy like electrical stimulation or just a better night’s sleep, one of them might provide the relief you’re looking for.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Expert Tips for Preventing Bedsores

When it comes to managing the care of bed and chair-limited patients or loved ones, a primary concern for any care team will be preventing bedsores (or pressure ulcers). Not only does a prolonged amount of time spent lying or sitting in a bed increase the risk of developing a bedsore, but so do the debilitating chronic diseases which often confine people to beds in the first place.

Bedsores form on the body where bony protrusions poke into vulnerable tissues - like on the tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, elbows, and heels. In constant contact with the surface of the bed, a patient’s body feels added pressure from these bony points, especially when the patient cannot move very much or stimulate blood flow and muscle contraction.

Over time, a reddish discoloration will appear on the skin where a bedsore is developing. If the skin opens due to maceration or tearing, an ulcer will form that breaks down layers of skin and then subdermal tissue, potentially all the way down to the bone. These types of pressure ulcers can become infected if not treated, blood circulation can become cut off, and the internal tissues can actually start to die.

Because bedsores can quickly progress to life-threatening stages, preventing their development in the first place is key to longevity and overall health for people limited to beds, recliners, or wheelchairs. Don’t miss these expert tips for preventing bedsores:

Specialty Mattresses
The typical bed mattress is often composed of foam, springs, and cotton batting. Specialty mattresses, on the other hand, are engineered with better weight disbursement in mind and incorporate materials like memory foam, gel, and even air. Often used in hospitals and long-term care facilities, specialty mattresses help prevent bed sores by better disbursing a patient’s weight to relieve critical pressure points, as well as by increasing a patient’s blood circulation.

An air mattress for hospital bed use, for example, might feature pockets or cells which fill with air and deflate based on custom settings set with the mechanical controls. As different parts of the mattress expand and decompress, it helps to shift a patient’s mass to keep them from lying on one part of their body for too long and to more evenly distribute their weight over extended periods of time.

Repositioning
With similar effects of specialty mattresses, manual repositioning of a bed-limited patient can help prevent bed sores by keeping patients off susceptible pressure points when lying in bed. Studies show that repositioning a patient every 2 to 4 hours can have a positive effect in preventing pressure ulcers from developing, and it keeps that patient more comfortable.

As an integral part of a bedsore prevention strategy, repositioning is typically done simply by shifting a patient’s weight from side to side with pillows placed under specific areas of their back and bottom. Pillows should also be placed under the legs to raise the heels of the feet off of the bed. Heels are prone to rub against the bed surface and overtime can develop serious pressure ulcers.

Barrier Creams
Wound care management is its own medical field entirely, and dressing mid to late-stage bedsores requires medical training as well as specific dressings and wound supplies. When it comes to preventing bedsores, however, barrier creams are an accessible and effective tool any medical provider or caregiver can use.

Barrier creams are topical aids comprised of ingredients which span the occlusive, emollient, and humectant categories (like zinc oxide, beeswax, and lanolin). They are applied to a healed or early stage bedsore and keep the skin nourished while repelling excess moisture and contaminants which can break down or irritate skin (like urine, feces, and sweat). Examples of barrier creams include Corona Cream and Extra Protective Cream (EPC).

Nutrition
What you put inside the body can play just as important of a role as how you treat and handle the outside of the body when it comes to preventing bedsores. Proper nutrition to fuel tissue repair and reinforce skin can help fortify the body to protect itself against the development of pressure ulcers.

Nutrients like protein, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamins C and E play particularly important roles in helping the body both repair damaged tissues as well as promote better blood circulation. Care networks should help patients consume lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables (especially those with vitamin C like broccoli, bell peppers, and spinach, and those with potassium like acorn squash and avocado), as well as nuts, seeds, and calcium-rich dairy.

In addition to diet modifications, barrier creams, mattress upgrades, and repositioning, bedsore prevention is most effective with keen and vigilant monitoring. Medical providers and caregivers can best keep bedsores from developing (or progressing) by taking daily scans of patients and loved ones to make note of any skin discolorations or areas of concern.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, November 06, 2017

What is Bed Management?

Bed Management goes beyond assigning one bed to each patient showing up in the long queue of hospitals’ emergency services. Bed Management systems are computer software that assess the needs of a patient, his/her conditions, the level of care required, and matches that information with an available bed in the building.

Furthermore, recent software can identify which beds are clean and ready to receive a new patient and which beds, that might be a suitable match, need to be cleaned. A good system will even dispatch the cleaning team to ensure that the bed is ready in a reasonable amount of time to minimize waiting and crowding the emergency room.

Physicians, nurses and patients deplore the fact that too often, patients must wait, sitting in hospital chairs, for a bed to be ready. Even though these chairs can be quite comfortable in design and in cushioning, they do not replace the need to eventually find a bed for that patient. Chairs are fantastic for certain treatments, like dialysis and chemotherapy, but other conditions require a patient to be hospitalized and in that case, staff must find a bed.

Depending on the mobility of the patient, the diagnosis posed on his/her condition, or his behaviour, not all beds are suited to meet his/her needs. A good Bed Management software will be able to identify the best bed for each patient. If the perfect bed is occupied already or needs to be cleaned, the software will identify and respond accordingly. A cleaning team might be sent, or a second choice might need to be found. When the perfect bed is ready, an alert will advise the admission team and transportation will be arranged. Having a great Bed Management system means that patients’ wait time decreases, fewer calls need to be made between departments, and everyone is more satisfied with their hospital experience.    

As hospitals are accountable to governments or boards of directors, it is in their advantage to maximize the number of patients they can process in one day. Having the right Bed Management system helps hospitals admit patients more efficiently, care for them in a timely manner, and dispatch doctors and nurses more effectively to treat their conditions. Some say time is money. In the healthcare system, time is the element that might make the difference between life and death. When hospitals shift their focus from managing beds to caring for patients, everyone gains. Using a good Bed Management system can certainly help the process.

As money is an important factor in managing a hospital, directors should consider investing in the most efficient Bed Management system for their institution. Overseeing many aspects of a patient’s journey through the system, the right software will maximize the hospital’s assets and resources while minimizing time and effort. It avoids doubling on certain tasks from cleaning a bed to transporting a patient from room to room until a bed is ready. In sum, it makes sense for hospitals to have the right Bed Management software in use.

This is a guest blog entry.

How To Keep Your Underarms Healthy And Dry

Underarms are usually the last thing that anyone wants to talk about. We all have them, though, and we all have to deal with the challenges that go along with trying to eliminate sweat and odor. Although there are many different deodorants available on the market, they are not all created equal. The ingredients in certain brands can wind up doing a lot more harm than good, sometimes even putting your health at risk.

Because of that, more and more people are turning to deodorants that contain natural ingredients such as Schmidt's Deodorant. Not only are natural deodorants effective, but they often even perform better than the chemical laden deodorant brands that you can find at the store. Our goal is to change your perspective about deodorant and about underarm care, helping you to control sweat without jeopardizing your health in the process.

How To Correctly Use Deodorant

1. Underarms require a little bit of pampering.

Even though underarms often get a bad rap because they can have an unpleasant odor, they do require ongoing care if you want to keep the skin healthy. There are a lot of lymph nodes and nerves located in the underarm area. Additionally, the skin itself is quite thin on this part of the body and rarely sees the sun, making it particularly delicate. That is why it is so important to give it the proper care.

Tip: The skin under your arms should be treated with as much care and respect as the skin anywhere else on your body. That means exfoliating it to remove dead skin cells and keeping it hydrated with a moisturizer. Because the skin in this area is so sensitive, consider using moisturizers and exfoliation products that are designed for the face. If you want, you can even massage your underarms to activate the lymph nodes.

2. Don't be afraid of a little bit of sweat.

Along with controlling odor, most people want their deodorant to keep their underarms dry. This isn't always a good thing. There is a reason why the human body sweats. The sweat itself is designed to not only remove toxins but also to help control the temperature of the body. Most deodorants that you can find at the drugstore contain aluminum. This ingredient blocks the ducts that release sweat, keeping the sweat trapped inside. Avoiding these types of deodorant is usually a good idea.

Tip: Natural deodorants that are formulated to help keep you dry without the use of aluminum are a good choice. For instance, even though Schmidt's is not marketed as an antiperspirant, it does contain powders derived from plants that are designed to absorb sweat. The benefit of this is that it allows your body to release the sweat while still helping to keep you dry.

3. Prevent staining.

Have you ever had a piece of clothing ruined by stains in the underarm region? A common misconception is that these stains are caused by sweat. In fact, however, they are usually the result of your sweat interacting with your deodorant. Deodorants that contain aluminum are particularly likely to cause this problem since they can react with the urea found in human sweat, leaving behind stains in the process.

Tip: Wearing the right clothing can make it much easier to control sweat. Opt for clothing made from natural fabrics rather than synthetic fibers. Synthetic materials can cause irritation and can make sweating worse. Additionally, be sure to thoroughly dry your armpits before you put on deodorant.

4. Make your skin less sensitive.

As strange as it may seem, the skin under your arms can actually become quite dry. This is in part due to the fact that the ingredients that are found in most deodorants can dry out the skin. Dore Aesthetics advice that because of that, you need to make sure that your armpits stay hydrated through the use of a moisturizer.

Tip: After shaving, apply moisturizer to your armpits. Allow it to soak in completely, making sure that your armpits are totally dry before you put on deodorant. When you shave, always use a sharp razor and a shaving cream that has built-in moisturizers. Again, to prevent irritation, opt for loose clothing that is made from natural fibers.

5. Periodically allow your skin to rest.

Because the skin under your arms has a tendency to be sensitive, it is important to give it a chance to breathe without being covered by deodorant.

Tip: Wait as long as you can to apply deodorant after you shave. If possible, you may even want to try shaving at night and waiting to apply deodorant until the following morning. This will give your skin a chance to recuperate.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tips to Be a More Successful New Nurse

Being a nurse is rewarding. That probably sounds very cliché, but it is the truth. It is a very diverse field, so it is easy to find an area that interests you. However, when you are first starting out, you want to make sure that you begin on the right foot. There are some tips that new nurses can use to make the transition into their new career a little easier. It is all about being humble and making sure that you extend respect for the other nurses that you are going to be working with.

Plan to Increase Your Education

When you first get started, you will want to get used to the flow of the nursing world. From there, you want to give yourself a chance to become more education and knowledgeable about the field. If you are starting out with a bachelor’s degree, you might consider moving up to a master’s degree or a doctorate. You can click here to learn more about this path. When you achieve this level of education, you are opening up a lot more doors and helping to further your career.

Find a Mentor

Having someone in your corner who is willing to teach you and listen when you have had a bad day is one of the most valuable things a new nurse can have. You want to make sure that you can trust your mentor and that they have the right level of experience. This could be a former teacher or even one of your new colleagues who has been on the job for a long time. Just make sure to choose wisely.

Be Patient

You just got out of nursing school and received your license. You are not going to be the perfect nurse the day you start your first job. You need to be patient, especially with yourself. Do not beat yourself up if you are not perfect. Make sure that you ask for help when you need and do not be shy about asking questions or for clarification. The nurses you are going to be working with know what it is like to be new and they are always willing to help and answer questions. Know that it takes a good year or two to become comfortable in this field.

Reflect Every Day

Remember that being a new nurse is a learning experience and when you take your experiences each day and turn them into lessons, you will learn a lot more. After you get off work, reflect on your day while you make your way home. Focus on the positive, but take note of any mistakes you made or any negative interactions since you can learn from these. When you get home, you might consider jotting down the new things you learned or some things you want to reinforce your knowledge on.

Be Teachable

It has been said several times that when you are new, you have to be focused on learning. Nursing school certainly teaches you a lot, but it does not cover everything. When you are teachable, you can prevent mistakes that could have serious consequences on your career, so be open and never be afraid to question yourself.

You can see that it is not too hard to get started off right as a new nurse. Make sure that you take every opportunity possible to learn since this field is constantly evolving and something new is always happening. You can also chat with your fellow newer nurses and get some advice on how to approach your first job. This can help you to integrate and ensure that you are doing everything right to keep your employer, coworkers and patients happy.

This is a guest blog entry.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Common Causes of Balance Problems

Taking your sense of balance for granted? You might be surprised how much sensorimotor effort goes into keeping you upright when walking, standing, and sitting. Balance problems can often negatively impact mobility and increase your risk of injury from falling. The ability to control your center of mass and adapt to balance shifts is key to your longevity.

Key players in your mechanical balance and postural control include:
  • Vision - balance is actually a result of multiple inputs from your body, including the rods and cones in your eyes (sensory receptors) which convey to your brain visual cues regarding your position in space with those things around you (spatial orientation).
  • Inner ear - sensory hair cells and endolymph fluid in your inner ear canal constantly respond to horizontal and vertical motion, helping your brain detect changes in your position relative to the pull of gravity.
  • Muscles and joints - the feedback from your muscles and joints helps your brain stimulate limbs to evenly distribute your weight and keep you upright. Your skin also plays an important role in transmitting changes in the pressure or stretch over your tissues as you move.
Balance problems might include any of those which make you dizzy, unsteady, or physically unstable. If you experience a sense of spinning motion (vertigo), if you feel faint when standing or sitting, if you tip over when you stand or walk, or if you simply feel dizzy, you should see your healthcare provider about what might be causing your balance problems.

Oftentimes, balance problems can stem from:

  • Vestibular issues - the vestibular, or inner ear, system responsible for your equilibrium is composed of the utricle and saccule, which detect linear movement as well as gravity, and three semicircular canals which identify rotational movement. Issues with any of part of this apparatus can disrupt your sense of balance. Vertigo is one of the most commonly known vestibular conditions and is marked by a spinning sensation of motion in your head, especially when tilting your head up.
  • Vestibular neuritis is an inflammatory disorder which affects the nerves in your inner ear. Other vestibular conditions may include Ramsay Hunt syndrome where the shingles virus impairs the facial nerve near one of your ears, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), where calcium crystals become dislodged and move around the inner ear.
  • Meniere's disease - this rare condition typically affects adults between the ages of 20 and 60 and can lead to sudden dizziness, hearing loss, moderate to severe vertigo, a buzzing or ringing in the ears, or a feeling of pressure in the ear. An inner ear disease which largely affects online 1 ear, the root cause of Meniere’s is not currently known, and there is not yet a cure for it though treatments to lessen the severity of symptoms exist.
  • Medicinal side effects - disequilibrium, lightheadedness, or dizziness can be side effects of certain medications including many used to treat blood pressure problems, depression and anxiety, cancer (i.e. chemotherapy), bacterial infections, and pain.
  • Neurologic conditions - some neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis can negatively affect balance. With Parkinson’s, for example, damaged and dead neurons in the brain which are unable to produce dopamine can cause the motor cortex to malfunction as well as induce a muscle rigidity which challenges a patient’s postural stability.
  • Chronic disease - other chronic conditions which affect heart and blood vessel health can cause balance problems associated with reduced blood flow, while diseases like diabetes can damage nerves in the feet and legs (peripheral neuropathy) and make balancing to stand and walk difficult.
  • Aging process - even a healthy and normal aging process may be accompanied by joint inflexibility, loss of muscle strength, reduced reaction times, and impaired vision - all factors which contribute to balance and coordination issues. Adults over 65 have a 25% chance of experiencing a fall, often from a loss of balance.
Additional sources of balance problems include head trauma, motion sickness, low blood pressure (hypotension), and some psychiatric disorders. If balance problems, dizziness, faintness, or frequent falls are proving dangerous to your mobility and health, it’s important to talk to a doctor right away.

For older adults with balance problems, simple home upgrades can help keep you safe like a bed rail, fall mat, bath step, grab bars, and stair railings. Discussing medicine side effects, especially dizziness and faintness, can play an important role in maximizing your balance capabilities too.

In the cases where an underlying condition is causing your lack of stability, even if there isn’t a “cure,” there are often treatments available to help you stay active. These might include medicine, physical therapy, or mobility supports. Customized balance retraining (also called vestibular rehabilitation) may be helpful in educating someone with balance problems on how to compensate for lack of stability and maintain physical activity.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Kick The Back Pain This Holiday Season And Visit A Chiropractor

The holidays sometimes move at a breakneck pace, requiring you to move from one engagement to another, hauling gifts and pushing around a shopping cart – in brief, it’s no time to let back pain slow you down. Here’s a quick overview of a few things that cause back pain, as well as how you can find help during the holiday season.

Most people will face an issue of back pain in the coming months, and it’s how you deal with the issue that defines how much of a role it will play in your holiday season. Seeing a professional is of the utmost importance, as a good chiropractor will help you develop the right game plan for getting rid of that winter discomfort. 

Structural Correction
A professional chiropractor specializing in structural correction can leave a lasting impact, as they don’t only treat the symptoms, but get to the heart of underlying issues in the spine’s structure. Based on recent discoveries, this advanced method of chiropractic, which Toronto’s own Transformchiropractic.com practices, treats the body holistically, as a synchronized unit, and therefore treats fundamental issues of structure. By correcting the structure of your spinal column, professionals encourage whole body health, allowing you to enjoy the finer things the holiday season has to offer. It's true, back pain can slow you down, but it doesn’t have to – inquire about structural correction and get to the root of the problem before it negatively affects your life.

Experience
Once the holiday season winds down, a good New Year’s resolution would be to visit a chiropractor regularly and take a proactive stance toward your back pain. Your health hangs in the balance, and only a professional chiropractor can offer the experience – and accompanying know-how – to help you get back on your feet (so to speak). Try seeking out a chiropractor that balances experience with openness to new methods and techniques, that way you reap the rewards of both experiential knowledge and progressive ideas.



A Free Consultation
Make use of a chiropractor’s free consultation (provided, of course, that they provide one), as it’s a good opportunity for you to ask questions of them, and for them to get a sense of what your issues are. Don’t be afraid to let them know where and when you normally experience discomfort, as well as what your daily routine looks like, because the more information you give them during this initial consultation, the better care they’ll be able to provide. The value alone, of speaking with an experienced chiropractor, will provide some much needed clarity and direction.

Holidays are a tough time, as the weight of stress can compound with the very real physical demands of working, spending time with family and attending events. It would be a shame to “stiff upper lip” the kind of back pain that can ruin a perfectly good holiday season. It’s far better to book a consultation with a chiropractor, one who specializes in the holistic structural correction of you spine, and start taking steps towards looking and feeling your best this year. 

This is a guest blog entry.

Fall-Related Injuries in Elderlies and How to Prevent Them

Fall-related injuries are the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the reported rate of fall-related injuries and death increase rapidly with age. This is attributed to the fact that as you age, your general body functions also decline.

Since aging is true to all people regardless of gender, nationality and socio-economic status, fall-related injuries have become a global concern. Findings of a research study conducted in September 2011 proved that these injuries have great societal impact not only because they reduce the quality of life of the elderlies but also due to their high hospitalization cost.

These consequences lead to the emergence of advocacies aimed at preventing fall-related injuries in the older population. A 2013 study claims that fall-preventive programs have been shown to reduce the incidence of falls, most especially in the high-risk population.

Fall Injuries in Elderlies

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2015 report shows that unintentional falls account to a total of 3 million cases, or 63.8% of nonfatal injuries, for ages 65 and older. Reported death secondary to falls totaled to 28,000 in the same year alone.

Those are alarmingly high numbers. What could be the reason why elderlies are prone to falls?

As you age, your body’s central nervous system experiences a progressive decline. This could lead to loss of coordination, hearing and visual impairment, diminished proprioception, and reduced hand-eye coordination. Body tissues also lose mass (a process called atrophy) and may decrease in size and tone. Connective tissues become rigid and stiff.

Aside from these physiologic changes, the majority of older people tend to take maintenance medications, making them at risk of suffering from the side effects of these drugs. Warfarin, for example, increases the risk of bleeding following an injury because it serves to diminish blood clotting.

Some fall-related injuries are mild and promise full recovery. These include minor abrasions and bruises. However, severe cases like fractures, dislocations, and brain injuries could also happen. Ground level falls (GLF), although less traumatic to younger people, has been shown to result in death of elderlies according to a 2010 research.

Fall-Preventive Measures

Now that you know the facts, it’s time for you to apply certain measures to prevent falls:

1.Raising awareness - Talk to your elderly loved ones about their fear of falling. Discuss with them the factors that contribute to that fear. Doing so could give you a clue on certain areas that you might need to change such as routines and equipment.

2. Health conditions - Ask them about how they are feeling. You could start with their senses. Are they having trouble with vision or hearing? Then you can go to their medication and its side effects. Help them manage their well-being by raising these concerns to their doctor.

3. Balance exercises - Poor body coordination related to aging makes it harder for older people to do daily activities. Regular balance exercises like Tai Chi address this problem while promoting a fun and engaging activity for elderlies.

4. Hazard modification - The primary mechanisms of fall injuries in older patients are stumbling, tripping and slipping These 3 causes contribute to 30% of geriatric fall cases. Hazard modification efforts could reduce the risk of fall injuries. Some practices include:

  • Providing adequate lighting especially in hallways, stairs, bathroom and bedroom. Some elderlies might have trouble seeing the dark.
  • Installing handlebars in the bathtub and grab bars on the walls of the bathroom so that they can hold onto them for support.
  • Making sure that the stairs and balconies are secured with rails.
  • Removing clutters on the floor to prevent tripping accidents.
  • Orienting them when changes have been made in the house like rearranged and added furniture.
  • Immediately drying any spilled drink or water on the floor to prevent slipping accidents.
  • Placing fall safety mats beside the bed so that you’d be alerted when your elderly loved ones have fallen from their bed. These mats also provide some cushion to reduce the impact of the fall. Click here for more information.
  • Opting for non-slip mats all over the house. Wearing non-slip shoes and socks are also great options.
  • Choosing clothes that fit well. Clothes that have long hems and are too loose could make movement difficult for them.
Various efforts to raise public awareness regarding falls have also been initiated. In fact, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is being celebrated every September for this very purpose.

It is unwise to dismiss the risk of falling, especially in older adults. You could work with your family members and family caregiver to provide them with comfortable life. Taking these necessary measures to prevent fall incidence could ensure that your elderly loved ones are safe and as healthy as they could be.

Do you know any other measures to avoid fall injuries? Share your comments in the comment section below.

This is a guest blog posting.