Senior Health

By: Dr. Jessica Peterson, Au.D CCC-A
Founder and Owner of Audiology Consults LLC — www.audiologyconsults.com

Hearing health can be difficult to understand and manage.  In today’s world, there are many venues to receive hearing health care. Technology can also differ greatly due to an increasing number of hearing aid varieties. As a clinical audiologist, I educate my patients about maintaining their hearing devices and how to maintain their overall hearing health.  Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and your ears all need routine care.  Your daily communication will be greatly improved if you take the time to understand both the technology you are using and how to manage your hearing loss.

1. Routine Hearing Test

Hearing testing should be done routinely.  The majority of hearing loss occurs gradually.  It can be difficult to perceive if a hearing loss has occurred to even the most discerning patient.  Having a baseline hearing test, followed by further testing will ensure that small changes are detected early.  Early detection of hearing loss is important. Studies show that early treatment of hearing loss will significantly improve outcomes. Hearing aids will benefit you even with a mild hearing loss.  Our ears are the gateway to our auditory cortex.  The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that makes sense of the sounds around us.  The auditory cortex is similar to a muscle, and just like your muscles would shrink if you decided to not lift weights, the function of your auditory cortex will decrease function if the sound stimulus is decreased.  Even a mild hearing loss will start to change the way the brain reacts to sound, and if you delay treatment too long regaining the same function will be more difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve.

Some signs that your hearing may have changed:

  • You are asking people to repeat themselves more than before.
  • You have been feeling like people mumble when they speak.
  • Your television has to be increased in volume for you to hear it well.
  • It is more difficult to hear in background noise than it used to be.

2. Technology Management

If you have hearing loss and are wearing technology such as hearing aids or a cochlear implant, routine maintenance is essential.  It is possible that your hearing may change over time and the devices may need to be adjusted.  In addition, Hearing aids are small electronic devices that sit in your ear where there is sweat and wax.  To ensure they are functioning properly, it is important to have them professionally cleaned from time to time and to have your ears looked at to ensure the skin inside remains healthy and that no wax blockages are occurring.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash
Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash

3. Communication Strategies

Hearing aides are one part of an effective communication plan.  Another important part of communication is relying on other visual cues like facial expressions and body language.  When tested, most people perform better when they are able to watch the speaker’s face.  Although you may not be conscious of it, seeing a speaker’s face will help you understand what they say, even when you did not clearly hear what they said.   

Background noise is troublesome for speech comprehension because the signal is difficult to detect.  Picture deer on an empty hillside.  With no other objects, it is easy to see.  Now picture the same hillside but with several trees and bushes around the deer.  The task of finding the deer in the trees is more difficult than finding the deer on the empty hillside.  Our ears have the same problem.  When background noise is present it is harder for our ears to focus on the speech we care about.  It takes more work for us to understand speech in the midst of background noise.  Because the task takes more work, it will create auditory fatigue.  Many people experience auditory fatigue but with even a mild hearing loss, the task of listening is more difficult, and auditory fatigue may happen more quickly.  

These are some rules that you can incorporate into your communication routines to give yourself every advantage for communication.  While these things may seem like common sense, they are easy to forget.

Communication Strategies:

  • The speaker should have your full attention before launching into a lengthy speech.
  • Face the speaker so that you have access to visual cues.
  • Make sure you are in the same room with the person you are talking to.
  • Try to dedicate yourself to listening, multi-tasking can make understanding more difficult
  • Reduce background noise when possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat or rephrase if you didn’t understand.

4. Hearing Health Education

Fully understanding your hearing loss, your hearing test, how to make a communication plan, hearing aid technology, and the hearing aid process is essential to making sure you are getting the most out of your hearing.  A frequent misunderstanding is that hearing aids only will fix hearing loss.  Hearing loss is complex and requires technology in conjunction with deliberate communication strategies

It is important for the patient, their family, their caregivers, friends, and others to understand how to navigate communication.  Many audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are excellent at providing patient education but are limited by appointment times. Due to the lack of easily accessible education on hearing loss I have created an online course that walks you through all of these topics in depth.  If you would like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids, communication strategies, the process for managing hearing loss and more, I would encourage you to join me in my course.  You can find the course at www.audiologyconsults.com.  You may also contact me  there if you would like to connect or have questions.

Trifocal lenses improve distant, intermediate, and nearby sight issues. You might be aware of the far and near sight issues and their relevant corrections. But the intermediate vision, too, is essential for most of our everyday tasks. To cater to all three, trifocal, as the name suggests, consists of three separate lenses that re-establish a complete vision range. 

Ideally, trifocal lenses work for people over the age of forty who are suffering from existing conditions or have developed presbyopia due to age. They are made up of an anti-reflective layer to promote the comfort of thoroughly clear eyesight. The coating provides better vision in low-light situations. 

Whether you are finding a good solution for yourself or a senior loved one, a local eye doctor will be able to help you understand if a trifocal lens is a suitable option. 

Advantages of Trifocal Lenses

These multi-purpose lenses have a range of benefits:

  • These are three-in-one correction lenses saving you from the hassle of managing multiple glasses. 
  •  Enable a broader viewing area in case of nearer vision. That makes it easier to use a screen or read with reduced strain on the eyes in case of dimmed surround lights. 
  • From the beginning, you will experience enhanced visibility and brightness in the colors around you. 
  • Trifocal glasses offer you the ability to see adequately in all kinds of lighting conditions, including dim lighting, bright lights, low light, and even daylight.
  • Another significant aspect is that you will endure fewer glares from bright lights, which will make driving at night easier for a lot of people. 

Disadvantages of Trifocal Lens

As is the usual practice, here I am presenting the other side of the story as well for better perception:

  • Since trifocal lenses correct multiple sight problems simultaneously, you might experience some visibility issues when seeing through another section of your glasses.
  • The trifocal lens within the case of cataract IOL might cause reactions such as blurred sight or intolerable glare because of the presence of the implant.
  • Unlike progressive lenses, there is no possibility of customizing these glasses. 

How to use them?

It is essential to note that the trifocal lenses are easy to use. Below are some of the measures you can take to make the transition convenient:

  • Learn the proper technique of using your new glasses from your optometrist and make sure they fit you well. 
  • They should be well adjusted on your nose to avoid slipping, and for you see through them appropriately.
  • Always ensure that you continue looking in front and not downwards when walking. That will avoid vision distortions due to the glasses.
  • When reading something, it should be held at a convenient distance for you to be able to read it properly without much strain.

Can anyone use trifocal glasses? 

Although they can overcome a variety of visibility issues, trifocal do have their limitations. In patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), advanced glaucoma, diabetes, and cataracts, the trifocal lenses are not a suitable solution.

The ideal candidates for trifocal lenses are people over forty who are suffering from presbyopia that prompts them to need to change or begin their eyeglass prescriptions. Trifocal glasses can restore enhanced visibility in all ranges and can be chosen as an alternative to avoid correction surgeries. 

If so far, you have been able to figure out that you need trifocal glasses, you can go a step further by visiting an eye doctor in your local area. They will be able to understand your prevalent eye ailments and then prescribe the most suitable lens options for you. Remember, trifocal glasses and contacts ensure a close-up, intermediate, and faraway view. 

Aaron Barriga

Author Bio:

Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, eye care center, Fresno. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK. Aaron loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response – March 24, 2020

Aspen Senior Care is taking extra precautions to keep our clients, caregivers, and office staff safe. This is our top priority at this time. We want to do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of our Aspen family. Here are the most critical steps we are taking:

1. Frequently reminding all employees to follow the important CDC guidelines. These include washing hands often for 20 seconds with warm soapy water, cleaning objects and surfaces often which are frequently touched, covering up any coughing or sneezing, not touching their faces or shaking hands with others, staying away from all sick people and practicing social distancing at all times. 

2. Proactively enforcing our Stay home if you are sick policy. This goes for all employees who might be exhibiting any symptoms of respiratory illness, flu, or cold viruses.

3. Proactively screening all caregivers. We are calling and visiting with our caregivers often and screening them with the following questions:

  • Have your recently traveled out of state or country or to any infected communities?
  • Do you have any symptoms of respiratory infection such as fever, cough, or sore throat?
  • Have you been in contact with anyone who has or is being tested for COVID-19 or are ill with respiratory illness?
  • Are you aware of coronavirus spreading in the community where you live?

4. Asking all employees working with clients exhibiting any respiratory illness symptoms to call the office immediately and ask the client to contact their primary care physician ASAP. All caregivers will wear masks and gloves when working with any at risk clients.

5. Any employees who travel will first check with our office team before working. Those traveling to high risk communities, states, and nations must take 14 days off when returning home to monitor for symptoms of respiratory infection. 

At Aspen Senior Care, we encourage the highest standard of health safety practices to ensure the health of both our clients and employees. We have a great 15-year record of doing just that. Please feel free to reach out to our office with any questions at 801-224-5910

Dear Clients and Families,

Our top priority is the health and safety of our clients and employees. With the coronavirus  (COVID-19) in the news, we want to share with you our protocol to minimize the spread of viruses, bacteria, and other serious bugs. We’ve always been careful and now we’re taking even greater measures to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones. Here’s what we are doing:

  1. Reminding our employees to wash their hands often for at least 15 seconds with warm soapy water, especially before and after helping clients with any food or personal care. We help our clients keep their hands clean as well. 
  1. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects which frequently get used by others. We like to use Clorox or Lysol wipes to wipe things down if you have any in stock. Otherwise, we’ll use warm soapy water to keep things bug-free.  
  1. Proactively enforcing our Stay at home if you are sick policy. This goes for all of our employees because we know that our clients already have enough challenges and they are more vulnerable to all viruses, bacteria, and any other serious bugs.  
  1. Asking employees and clients to always cover up any coughing or sneezing. And to stay away from sick people or others who have come in contact with people who might be sick.
  1. Strongly discouraging handshakes and the touching of mouth, eyes, and nose by employees and clients.

We remind our employees often of this protocol, especially during flu season and now even more with the coronavirus spreading. From what we’ve studied and been told, this virus is a lot like the respiratory flu virus (both in its symptoms and the way it spreads). We see no need to panic, but we want to stay alert, be smart, and keep our clients safe, healthy, and happy.

At Aspen Senior Care, we encourage the highest standard of health safety practices to ensure the health of both our employees and our clients. We have a great 15-year record of doing just that.

Please feel free to reach out to our office with any questions or additional suggestions at 801-224-5910.

Colder weather means most of us – especially seniors – will spend less time outdoors and more hours inside with windows and doors closed. That also means contending with stale air, or as experts call it, indoor air pollution.

Our cozy homes can emit potential health hazards from carpets, curtains, and all the synthetic materials found in a modern house. One way to counteract this silent pollution is with air purifiers. That can get expensive, with the commercial purifier for a single room costing $100 or more. A less expensive and more aesthetically-pleasing way is with — plants. It’s also an excellent way to bring the outdoors inside. After all, it’s the beauty of the outdoors that adds Utah’s high quality of life.

Yes, certain houseplants are natural pollution filters. NASA has discovered some houseplants are effective in controlling potentially noxious pollutants. After several tests, the space agency discovered, “Plant roots and their associated microorganisms destroy the pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and the organic chemicals, eventually converting all of these air pollutants into new plant tissue.”

NASA says plants can reduce up to 87 percent of toxins in your home within 24 hours. Aside from filtering pollutants, indoor plants can improve your health, reduce stress, help you breathe easier, and improve your mood. That’s a lot more than a $100 air purifier can do.

Here’s a sampling of plants proven to filter pollutants that can be harmful to your well-being:

1. Areca Palm

This big plant is the favorite of scientists for filtering toluene, a family of harmful substances found in glue, paint thinners, nail polish removers, and other common household products. It also acts as a natural humidifier and tolerates most indoor environments.

2. English Ivy

Pretty in a pot or hanging basket, this venerable favorite can grow with just a few hours of sun per day and can last for years. If you have a place in your bathroom, this plant is great for filtering pollutants specific to that room.

3. Chrysanthemum

This fall favorite will thrive anyplace where it can get good sun. It’s especially helpful in kitchens where it can zap toxins like benzines and ammonia, which are common in household cleaners.

 4. Aloe Vera

The darling ingredient of skin care products also doubles as a sieve for the harmful vapors of detergents and varnishes. Like mums, it prefers sunny locations.

5. Snake Plant (Mother-in-law’s Tongue)

Despite its unsavory names, this plant battles airborne chemicals and produces oxygen at night, making it a good choice for bedrooms. Don’t over-water it because it’s susceptible to root rot.

6. Spider Plant

If you’re all-thumbs-but-green, this might be the perfect choice because it grows with little care. It’s especially good at absorbing carbon monoxide and is one of the few houseplants that’s completely harmless to pets, so you can put it anywhere.

7. Peace Lily

This houseplant is as pleasing as its name implies, but wages war against carbon monoxide. Content as a pot-dweller, it requires minimal upkeep other than watering when its leaves begin to droop.

8. Rubber Plant

This has been an indoor favorite since great-grandma’s day. Because it grows tall, it’s excellent in a floor pot and can thrive in partial sunlight. The Rubber Plant bounces formaldehyde vapors, which are found in many household products.

9. Bamboo Palm

Resembling a giant palm/fern hybrid, this big beauty can filter a host of chemical vapors and does double duty as a natural humidifier.

10. Chinese Evergreen

This is a worker bee of a little plant that absorbs a number of harmful chemical vapors and gets better at it as it ages. It’s also easy to grow and is happy in low sunlight.

Most of these pollution fighters are at least mildly toxic to pets, so it’s important to choose locations with that in mind. Placed about your home, they can be a real comfort as you snuggle in for the winter!

Contributed by Eva Williams

Eva loves the outdoors. She loves it with a campfire and s’mores or après ski in a nice lodge with a glass of wine and has written about it for two decades.

If you are now living on a fixed income, you’ll probably need to start spending less. However, cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to make major lifestyle changes. You can make simple changes to your habits and still live a full and satisfying life throughout your golden years.

Declutter Your House

Over the years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff that you don’t want, need, or use. Older adults should declutter their homes and part with some of their abundance of belongings. Decluttering doesn’t just free up space and make your home safer; it can also bring in some income. Look to sell items on eBay, Craigslist, or local consignment shops, as clothing, decor, furniture, and other items that you don’t want anymore can bring in a little income. The fewer items you have in your home, the less you’ll have to clean, maintain, or store. Decluttering can be a very freeing experience for many people. Once you’ve sold everything you can, then donate the rest to charity or pass items on to friends or family members.

Concentrate on Energy Savings

One way to reduce your monthly bills is to cut back on your energy usage. Combined utilities are typically the second biggest portion of your monthly bills, after your mortgage or rent payment. There are a number of easy ways to reduce utility costs.

  • Go around the house and unplug items that you don’t regularly use. Appliances and electronics that are off but still plugged in will continue to use energy.
  • Switch out your traditional light bulbs to more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
  • Install a ceiling fan to help cool your home and circulate the air.
  • Replace filters regularly so your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work so hard. Vacuum the coils under your refrigerator as well.
  • Use a smart thermostat to adjust the temperature when you aren’t at home. Also, lower the temperature at night when you can use blankets to stay warm.
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels - 1
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Seek Out Discounts 

Restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, movie theaters, hotels, cell phone companies, and various other entities offer discounts for seniors. The Senior List has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of senior discounts, but you also need to check in your local area. You may be surprised which retailers will offer discounts and freebies to older adults. Also, consider signing up for loyalty programs or rewards credit cards to reap even more benefits.

Check Your Insurance

Do you have the best deal on your health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance? Take the payments off auto-renew and start researching better options. For example, a Medicare Advantage plan may be more cost-efficient to you in the long-run than traditional Medicare. When it comes to car insurance, you can save money in a variety of ways. On an older vehicle, you may not need full coverage, but it’s still a great financial safety net to have. Discounts are usually available if you are a safe driver, bundle your policies, have an anti-theft device, and drive under a certain number of miles a year, so find a company the provides competitive savings. Compare prices and get quotes from different companies before it’s time to renew. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars a year.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage can reduce your interest or extend your term, resulting in lower monthly payments. If you need more cash immediately, you can do a cash-out refinance. With this vehicle, you get a new mortgage that is higher than your current one, but you also get the difference in cash. Refinancing doesn’t make sense for everyone because there may be closing costs or other fees involved. So, talk to your financial institution and various lenders to comparison shop and figure out if refinancing is right for you.

When you head into retirement and you are suddenly on a fixed income, it can be an adjustment. However, just because you need to change your budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle. Small changes can bring in a little income or reduce your monthly costs so you can continue to do all the things you enjoy as you get older.

Contributed by Karen Weeks. Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. She currently resides in Sacramento, California where she enjoys her retirement by trying new things and learning new skills to keep busy and challenge herself.

Nearly 1 in 3 adults currently suffer from joint pain or immobility.
Of those afflicted, 3 in 4 are diagnosed with a chronic
condition, such as arthritis. The alternative source of joint pain is principally
tendonitis. Since these conditions are difficult to treat post-offset, the
proactive adult would be clever to take preventative measures before symptoms
present.

Both
arthritis and tendonitis differ in cause but are similar in prevention and
treatment. Therefore, the same protocol can be strictly followed for both
conditions. Smartly consult your primary care physician and establish a clean
bill of health before starting any new physical or dietary regimen.

Pursuing joint health begins with risk factor identification, such as:

  • Obesity
  • A
    family history of joint pain
  • A
    sedentary lifestyle
  • Type
    II diabetes
  • A
    diet high in refined sugars or gluten
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)

It would be
surprising if anyone reading this didn’t have at least one or two of those risk
factors. However, by simply replacing refined sugars with natural sugars, and
carb-rich foods with vegetables it becomes possible to reduce several risk
factors straight away. Second to this would be habitual exercise, especially in
water, which is without impact on the joints.

You may be
thinking now, ‘well that all sounds good, but I just don’t have the time to do
all that.’ So, take a moment to consider this: if you cannot make time for
being healthy, you will have to make time for being sick. It is easy to forget
about your health when you’re not currently with disease or illness, but when a
chronic condition presents itself, it may be too late to go back.

The easiest
lifestyle changes to make are dietary. To be specific, there are foods that
promote joint health, and others that are to the detriment of our joints.
Before listing these foods, remember to only eat in moderation—even healthy
foods can be overconsumed.

Foods to eat:

Foods to avoid:

  • Fast
    foods
  • Processed
    sugars
  • Bread
  • Alcoholic
    drinks

A good rule
of thumb is to have every meal be two-parts vegetables, one-part fruit, and one-part
meat, fish, or nuts. Ideally, nobody would ever eat unhealthy foods or drinks,
but it shouldn’t cause any noticeable harm to have these things on occasion,
say once per week.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Daily exercise is also vital to the preservation of
the kinetic apparatus, especially the joints. The most optimal exercises being
ones with little to no impact, such as walking, biking, and exercises in water.
Exercising half an hour per day is a fantastic preventative measure for joint
degradation.

The actual stretches, which should be performed twice daily, and should be held for 30 seconds each, unless otherwise specified, are as follows:

  • Place
    your right hand on your left shoulder from the front, as if you were patting
    yourself on the back, and then use your left hand to push your elbow up and
    towards your back, then switch arms.
  • Place
    both hands behind your back as if being handcuffed, then slide your hands up towards
    your mid-back to form chicken wings. Hold this position for up to a minute.
  • Push
    your palms against a wall, with arms straight, and legs in a lunging position.
    Then, flip your hands so the backs of your hands are against the wall, and hold
    the position again. This is excellent for the wrists and elbows.
  • Put
    your fingers through a thick rubber band and open your fingers, spreading the
    band apart. Perform on both hands.
  • Get
    into a lunge position and hold, then switch legs.
  • Lay
    on your back with your feet together. Now, slide your feet up towards your butt
    before spreading your legs and trying to put your knees on the floor. Do not at
    any point allow your feet to lose contact with each other. Your legs should be
    forming a triangular shape.

Repeat these stretches three times each session, with a minute rest or so between each stretch. At no point should you feel exhausted doing these stretches—and if that happens, allow yourself as much time as you need to calm your breathing and nerves. Following this protocol, joint problems should never develop or should be much less severe if already present.

Guest Contributor: Victoria Ward has always been very passionate about psychology and health. She is a recent graduate with a major in psychology and a minor in neurobiology, focusing on Alzheimer’s, learning, and memory.

Have your good health habits slowly turned into bad ones as you’ve aged? Eager to jump over that rut and start anew?

Thankfully, humans have the free-will to make of life what we can, when we can. Breathe easy, senior netizens. There are changes you can start making today to improve your overall health for the coming years.

Eat healthy

Digestion slows with age, so adding fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables can be particularly effective for seniors. However, it is important to keep in mind that anyone who eats more fiber should also drink more water, as it helps flush waste and keeps joints lubricated. Need a guide? This graphic from the AARP shows what your plate should look.

FYI: Senior centers often provide a healthy lunch, either free or at a greatly reduced price, via state or municipal programs. Check if yours does – it’s a guaranteed healthy meal during the week!

Get more sleep

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)

If you wake up tired or have insomnia or sleep apnea, it is imperative to change your sleep habits. You need 7-8 hours each night, so turn off smartphones, tablets, and TVs two hours before bedtime, as the blue light mimics daylight and tricks your body into thinking it should be awake. It is also important to keep your room temperature cool (68 degrees) and to make sure your bed is comfortable enough for a good night’s rest.

QUICK FIX: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for at least 7 years, consider looking into a new one that’s more accommodating (i.e. less harsh on joints) for seniors.

Focus on disease/illness prevention

Don’t wait until you’re sick to address your health – which is great advice for seniors and caregivers alike. It’s easier to prevent illness than to heal it. Caregivers should do this by helping elders stay on top of appointments, medications, screenings, and vaccinations.

REMINDER: Seniors are more likely to develop pneumonia or shingles. Ask for those shots the next time you are seeing your doctor.

Exercise

No one is saying to sign Grandpa up for a 5K after a hip replacement. What we are saying, however, is that there are exercises that can be extremely beneficial, at any age. Walking is a great example, and there are exercise routines (on a chair, in a pool) that will keep limbs moving and hearts pumping regardless of mobility level. The National Council on Aging recommends 30 minutes per day, five times per week, devoting two days to muscle strengthening.   

BONUS: Exercise relieves depression. Seniors can feel lonely and isolated, so it is important that we all are aware that exercise is a wonderful, free, effective antidote.

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)
Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Make new friends and stay busy

Many seniors experience losing friends due to age or illness, or because it’s harder to get around. They’re retired or unable to work. Without stimulation, their bodies and brains can atrophy. They need friends and activities: Sudoku, crossword puzzles, playing chess with children or grandchildren. Regular interaction at a senior home or center. Help them make connections in both their brain and the world.

Aging is not always going to be easy, but it is important to keep in mind that there are some helpful tips and tricks to staying healthy as we do get older.

Guest Contributor:

Elise Morgan has always loved writing and enjoys covering numerous topics. She got into writing about seniors, aging, and caregiving because she was a volunteer caregiver in Asheville, NC. She enjoyed it so much she started writing helpful tips and for seniors and caregivers alike.