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As we age our approach to health needs to be adjusted accordingly. The medical concerns of the elderly are different and more numerous… Read More
As we age, our approach to health needs to be adjusted accordingly. The medical concerns of the elderly are different and more numerous, and remaining ignorant to those changes proves to be rather dangerous. There are some important points to remember as we face new challenges.
Falls are of particular concern for the elderly, and are a frequent problem. There are a number of ways to prevent falls for those who live independently, as well as those who are in assisted living. Being aware of the places where one is at risk for a fall: the bathroom, rooms with loose carpets, the stairs, is a good start. There are many ways to make the home safer. Consider using floor lighting so paths are clearly illuminated at all times. Some nursing homes have begun using darker colors to mark toilet seats, grab bars in the shower and bedroom, as well as white strips at the tops and bottoms of stairs. These markers help prevent falls in those who have aging or failing vision, and are an easy modification to incorporate into a living space.
Another concern that becomes more significant as we age is keeping track of medication. In a recent study, it was found that twice as many prescriptions were filled for those 65 and older than those younger than 65. Every prescription comes with its own set of side effects and best practices for dosage, all of which can vary person to person. Unfortunately, the responsibilities for keeping track of prescriptions falls upon the patient, as doctors are often busy and tend to rely on what has worked in the past, with other patients. Maintaining an honest dialogue with doctors is tantamount to ensuring that one is on a healthy and appropriate regimen. Furthermore, keeping track of how new medications are working is important to know whether dosages need to be altered, or if alternatives need to be pursued. Medications affect each patient differently, but also react with other medications, and therefore each additional prescription needs to be monitored diligently. Nurses and nurse practitioners are a valuable asset, as they regularly have more time to invest in each patient, and can have a voice in prescribing new medicines.
Those health tips that we hear throughout our lifetime are still important in old age, if not more so. Exercise can help seniors maintain independence, while also preventing injuries or illness, as well as diminishing the consequences of any injuries or illnesses. Eating well and paying attention to vitamins is helpful for the same reason. Similarly, it is often recommended that seniors engage in daily mental stimulation, this can include crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or taking lessons in new crafts or languages.