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DEALING WITH CHRONIC ILLNESSES  

Program 4  

“Loved Ones Should Never Feel Alone”

Program 4

Remember the 1990’s hit “Everything is going to be Alright” by Bob Marley? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just say those words and your loved one would stop worrying! But we live in the real world where just saying something doesn’t make it so. We can’t wish away sadness, fearfulness, and confusion, despite our best intentions. What’s needed are explanations in plain English with advice about how to cope with or fix the painful feelings – that’s exactly what we offer in this program. 

 

The Scoop on Chronic Diseases 

Understanding Chronic Disease 

Any illnesses that last a long time, showing little or no change, or have a slow progression should be considered chronic. By definition, these diseases aren’t curable. We should be trying to get any disease under control by relieving the symptoms. You will be helping your loved one with taking medicine and visiting specialists. When your elder’s chronic disease is not attended to, it can affect their quality of life and in some cases hasten his /her death.  

 

Here is a list of 24 diseases to get you started: 

“Just be there for them” 

1) Alzheimer’s Disease  

 Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease 

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable degenerative illness that destroys brain cells, over 7 million people in North America (mostly those over 65). The destruction begins deep in the brain, impairing memory. As the illness spreads to other parts of the brain, it destroys language skills, affects judgment, and makes simple, everyday tasks difficult, if not imposable, to perform. 

New symptoms surface gradually or rapidly, but the overall picture is the same – increasing dependency for the elder and escalating challenges for the caregiver. 

Signs to watch for: 

  • Confused about where they put things 
  • Changes in Mood or Behavior  
  • Has Poor Judgement  
  • Has Trouble doing familiar or normal tasks  

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

2) Arthritis 

What is it? 

More than half of 65-year-olds have x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. The characteristic symptoms are stiffness and mild-to-severe joint pain in the hands, knees and hips that comes and goes. It’s been called the “wear-and-tear” disease. Osteoarthritis can run in the family and can also result from injuries and overuse. Being overweight contributes to the problem. 

The second type of arthritis, called “rheumatoid arthritis” can be even more disabling. In this case, the immune system attacks the tissue that lines and cushions the joints.    

Recommended Treatments 

  • Rest – Resting when feeling pain or fatigue is helpful 
  • Exercise – Increasing flexibility, muscle strength, and stamina can decrease joint pain and stiffness. 
  • Healthy diet – Because extra weight puts pressure on joints, weight control should be a priority. 
  • Assistive devices – Splints and braces support weakened joints. 
  • Medication – Arthritis has no cure. Pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medications can only manage or control the symptoms.  

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

3) Cancer  

Cancer Overview 

Cancer, also called malignancy, is an abnormal growth of cells. There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. Symptoms vary depending on the type. Treatment for many types of Cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.  

Leukemia 

Leukemia is usually thought of as a children’s condition, but it actually affects more adults. It’s more common in men than women and more in whites than African-Americans. 

Blood has three types of cells: white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen, and platelets that help blood to clot. 

Every day, billions of new blood cells are made in the bone marrow — most of them red cells. But when you have leukemia, your body makes more white cells than it needs. 

There are two main types of white blood cells in your body: lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. Leukemia can happen in either type. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

Bone and Muscle Cancer 

Fibro sarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma typically develop in the soft tissue around the bones, such as tendons, ligaments, fat or muscle. These types of bone cancer also tend to occur in older adults, and usually affect the arms, legs or jaw. 

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Brain and Nervous System Cancer 

The brain is a frequent site for the spread of cancer (metastasis) from other sites in the body (such as breast, lung, melanoma, and colon). When cancer has spread to the brain, the tumor is considered to be a secondary or metastatic tumor. 

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Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. 

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Overview of Prostate Cancer 

Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. 

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Endocrine System  

Is a system of glands and cells that make hormones that are released directly into the blood and travel to tissues and organs all over the body? The endocrine system controls growth, sexual development, sleep, hunger, and the way the body uses food. 

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Eye Cancer 

Eye cancer is a general term used to describe many types of tumors that can start in various parts of the eye. It occurs when healthy cells in or around the eye change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be benign or cancerous. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread. 

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Gastrointestinal Cancer 

Gastrointestinal cancer refers to malignant conditions of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and accessory organs of digestion, including the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. 

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Genitourinary and Gynecologic Cancer 

Genitourinary is a word that refers to the urinary and genital organs. Urology is the branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in both genders and the genital tract of the reproductive system in males. Nephrology is the branch of medicine concerned with the kidney. 

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Head and neck cancer 

Head and neck cancer are-a group of cancers that starts in the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, sinuses, or salivary glands. Symptoms for head and neck cancer may include a lump or sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, trouble swallowing, or a change in the voice. 

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Hematopoietic Cancer 

Hematological malignancies are cancers that affect the blood and lymph system. The cancer may begin in blood-forming tissue (e.g., bone marrow), or in the cells of the immune system. Some types of hematologic malignancies include: Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

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Skin cancer 

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. 

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Lung Cancer 

Also known as lung carcinoma is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. This growth can spread beyond the lung by the process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. 

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4) Clinical Depression   

Depression can range from mild, temporary sadness to severe. There are different names for Clinical Depression such as, major depression or major depressive disorder. Clinical Depression is not the same as depression from a loss of a loved one, or a medical condition. 

Symptoms and signs of clinical depression may include: 

  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches 
  • Attempts or frequent thoughts of death or suicide 
  • Trouble making decisions or remembering things 
  • Having feelings of guilt, or remembering past failures  
  • Their slowed thinking, speaking or body movements 
  • Showing signs of anxiety or restlessness 
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness 
  • Having angry outbursts, being frustration or irritability 
  • Loss of interest in normal activities, such as hobbies, sex or sports 
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough 
  • Lack of energy or always tiered 
  • Not eating properly (healthy) or over eating 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

    

Dealing with Depression   

  • Counselling: A mental health professional can help someone address their problems and develop coping skills. 
  • Self-help: Depression symptoms can improve by exercise, plenty of sleep and spending time with loved ones. 
  • Symptoms can be eased with a massage, acupuncture or hypnosis 
  • Medication such as antidepressants can help change brain chemistry that causes depression. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 5) Diabetes  

What is it? 

When everything is working according to design, insulin (which is manufactured in the pancreas) acts as a key to open the cells and allow sugar to enter. Once inside the cells, the sugar is available to fuel your body’s functions. 

When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to perform this job (or the cells resist the insulin) sugar builds up in the blood – exactly what the diabetic needs to avoid. 

Some ways to help your elder with his diabetes 

  • Encourage exercise 
  • Learn about the foods they should eat 
  • Eat the same foods as them 
  • Oversee when they take their blood glucose 
  • Develop a signal if your elder wants a reminder in a public place 
  • Make sure your elder has an emergency supply of candy, sugar cubes, or glucose tablets on his or her person in case of hypoglycemia 

The differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes 

  • What is type 1 diabetes? 
  • Type 1 diabetes-formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes, is a disease in which an individual’s insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas get destroyed, causing an absolute lack of insulin. 
  • What is type 2 diabetes? 
  • Type 2 diabetes-formerly referred to as adult onset diabetes mellitus, is a disease that increases in frequency with advancing age. Individuals can still produce insulin (unlike in type 1 diabetes), but do not produce enough insulin to meet their body’s needs. 

Symptoms that may indicate diabetes  

  • Abnormal thirst 
  • Increased hunger 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Decreased endurance 
  • Excessive frequent urination  
  • Recurring infections 
  • Slow healing of sores and cuts 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

6) Falls   

Senior Falls and Injuries 

About one third of the senior population over the age of 65 falls each year, but since many incidents go unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers – this estimate is most likely quite low. 

Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 

80 years, over half of seniors fall annually. 

Facts and statistics related to seniors and falling 

87 percent of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls. Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months. 

When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of older patients who are admitted for any other reason. 

Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older. 

One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury. 

Many falls do not result in injuries, yet 47 percent of non-injured seniors who fall cannot get up without assistance. 

For seniors who fall and are unable to get up on their own, the period of time spent immobile often affects their health outcomes. Muscle cell breakdown starts to occur within 30-60 minutes of compression due to falling. Dehydration, pressure sores, hypothermia, and pneumonia are other complications that may result. 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adult’s fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent living. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

20 Things You Can Do to Help Your Senior 

  • Remove obstacles inside and outside of the house that could cause tripping. 
  • Install handrails and lights on staircases, with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. You may even consider glow-in-the-dark or lighted switches. 
  • Add non-slip treads for bare wooden steps. 
  • Install shower and tub grab bars in the bathroom, around the toilet and the tub. 
  • Place non-slip mats on the shower floor and bathtub. 
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing. 
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting. 
  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach. 
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease, or food. 
  • Paint doorsills with a different, highlighting color to avoid tripping. 
  • Make home lighting brighter, but prevent glare. Place night lights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways. Place a lamp within easy reach of the bed for middle-of-the-night needs. 
  • Store working flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages. 
  • Have vision checked often and regularly. 
  • Ask the doctor to review medications regularly for side effects and interactions. 
  • If he or she is able, have the senior start exercising on a regular basis ─ tai chi or yoga can increase flexibility and strengthen muscles and joints. 
  • If the senior can’t stand comfortably, have him or her exercise in a chair. 
  • Have the senior wear sensible shoes. They should be properly fitting, sturdy shoes with non-skid soles. 
  • Note any health conditions such as dizziness, joint pain, numbness, or shortness of breath when walking. Tell the doctor, should any of these occur. He or she may evaluate muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well. 
  • Have the senior use assistive devices, if needed. The doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep him or her steady. 
  • Consider a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) unit that will alert others when help is needed. 

If necessary, ask the doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

7) Grief   

Helping older adults with grief 

 

Your loved one may have many major losses in a very short time. They may lose a partner, have a financial loss, or a best friend. All seniors will lose some independence and physical strength over time. Seniors often overreact to losses by treating a minor loss as a major loss.    

 

Ways to help your elder through grief  

 

  • Are they prolonging their grieving or getting depressed too often – seek advice from a professional 
  • Get them to talk about their loss – maybe get them to open up and share old memories of their loved one.  
  • Spend quality time with them – older adults often feel alone. Try taking them for a walk or a coffee.  
  • Give your loved one time – most seniors Giving your elder extra time shows them that you care and respect their needs. 

 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

8) Heart Disease  

What is it? 

In coronary artery disease, the coronary arteries that carry a constant supply of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart get narrowed and clogged with a buildup of fatty deposits that prevent an adequate supply of oxygen from getting to the heart. 

Heart failure is common among older people because they’re most likely to suffer from the medical conditions that cause heart failure (including coronary artery disease, infection of the heart muscle, diabetes, overactive thyroid, extreme obesity, and valve disease). 

Signs of a heart attack 

  • Chest Discomfort  
  • Pain that starts in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, neck, or jaw, or down the inner arm. 
  • Pain associated with shortness of breath 
  • A feeling of pressure or squeezing on the chest 
  • An irregular pulse 
  • Dizziness, fainting, or sudden weakness 
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness 
  • Palpitations (a forceful, rapid, or irregular heartbeat 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or heavy sweating 

What can be done about it? 

Eliminating or reducing the following risk factors for coronary heart disease may help older adults avoid a heart attack (including a second heart attack if they have already had one). 

  • High blood pressure 
  • High levels of cholesterol 
  • Cigarette smoking 
  • Obesity 
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Diabetes 
  • Stress 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

9) Healthy Ears  

Ear care for seniors 

Many aging adults experience a significant decrease in their hearing abilities over time. Seniors and those who provide them with home care should note that hearing loss is not an unavoidable part of the aging process. However, there are things your elderly loved one can do to help preserve his or her hearing and overall ear health throughout the years. 

Use Cotton Swabs Properly 

Although cotton swabs have slim tips designed for scratching a stubborn itch deep within the ear canal, these products are only meant for cleaning the outer portion of the ear. Your loved one should never place cotton swabs inside of the ear or use other slender items for inner ear cleaning. Inserting anything into the ear can cause inner ear damage and may force dirt and wax further back, leading to compaction. If itchy ears are a persistent problem, your loved one should schedule appointments with a hearing care professional for a proper ear cleaning. 

Avoid Loud Noise 

Extremely loud noises are among the most common causes of hearing loss, especially when people are exposed to the noise for an extended period of time. The volume settings on headphones and speakers should never be turned all the way up. Your loved one should always wear ear protection when excessive noise is present. 

Address Any Hearing Loss 

A sharp decrease in hearing could be indicative of a larger problem. For instance, hearing loss is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. If your loved one experiences any considerable loss of hearing, he or she should immediately consult with a doctor. 

Get Regular Ear Exams 

Having the ears checked on a routine basis is one of the most critical steps in maintaining senior ear health. Contrary to common belief, not all ear infections cause intense pain and fever. Balance problems and an increase in falls could be signs of an inner ear infection that might otherwise go overlooked. When aging adults get regular ear exams, this gives their providers the opportunity to identify and address ear health issues before these problems have a long-term impact on hearing abilities. 

Taking preventive measures to keep ears healthy may be simpler than your loved one realizes. However, if he or she needs help with this or other grooming activities, reach out to a professional. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

10) Influenza and Pneumonia   

Does influenza virus cause pneumonia? 

Viruses that can lead to pneumonia include: Influenza (flu) A and B viruses are the most common causes in adults. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is more common in infants and children than in adults. Others include corona viruses, rhinoviruses, par influenza viruses, and adenoviruses, which can also cause pinkeye. 

What is viral pneumonia? 

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation in your lungs. The main causes of pneumonia are bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses. This article is about viral pneumonia. 

Viral pneumonia is a complication of the viruses that cause colds and the flu. It accounts for about one third of pneumonia cases. The virus invades your lungs and causes them to swell, blocking your flow of oxygen. 

Many cases of viral pneumonia clear up (on their own) within a few weeks. However, severe cases can be life-threatening. 

What causes viral pneumonia?  

The virus travels through the air in many ways. Sneezing, coughing, or coming in contact with a contaminated surface. 

Early symptoms of pneumonia are similar to the flu: 

  • Weakness 
  • Blueness of the lips 
  • Sweating 
  • Fatigue 
  • Shaking or chills 
  • Fever 
  • Cough with yellow or green mucus 

  

11) Managing Anxiety   

It’s a fact that everyone experiences some anxiety from time to time, but when you experience intense or frequent anxiety it can feel like anxiety is taking over your life. 

  • Have you ever wondered why life seems simpler and easier for other people? 
  • Do you ever wish you could stop your constant worrying? 
  • Does the knot in your stomach or the tightness in your chest never go away? 
  • Do you lose sleep because your mind keeps running? 

Here are some ways that anxiety might show up 

  • You avoid social gatherings 
  • You lack confidence 
  • You miss deadlines at work  
  • You don’t want to meet new people 
  • You struggle to concentrate 
  • You forget important details 
  • You avoid going to new places 
  • You lack motivation 
  • You struggle to make decisions 
  • You always feel tired 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

12) Obesity   

Obesity in Seniors 

Nearly 70 percent of adults over age 60 are overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of diabetes and other diseases.  

Both the characteristics of obesity and the way it affects seniors can be different when compared to how obesity impacts younger adults. This is very important to know, as it may determine if and how obesity should be analyzed and treated in seniors. 

Senior Obesity Risks 

It’s commonly known and scientifically proven that obesity can contribute to many diseases. In fact, the majority of organs and body systems are negatively affected by obesity. Most commonly, obesity may help bring on hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and certain cancers. The increase in people with type 2 diabetes is of particular concern, as diabetes is a well-known risk factor in heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other serious medical conditions. Physical disability and mobility can also be a major problem due to the effect of weight on joints. 

Obesity has also been clearly linked to a lesser overall quality of life, which is of particular concern to the aging adult. Seniors can already be plagued by multiple conditions that decrease their quality of life and obesity only adds another burden. 

Planned Weight Loss for Seniors 

Some studies show that even a weight loss of 3 percent in older adults may significantly improve inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. However, the senior’s doctor should be consulted before beginning any weight loss program. Here are some typical suggestions for planned weight loss: 

Exercise and strength training can optimize overall health and quality of life. Lower impact activities such as walking, swimming, and bicycling are generally safe for many older adults, even those who have chronic conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure. But the key is to start slowly. Warming up and cooling down by walking and stretching before and after each session is important to minimize any soreness or potential injury. 

Following a sensible diet can help prevent excess weight gain. But it’s also important to note that older adults occasionally have naturally occurring loss of taste or difficulty chewing that can make adhering to certain dietary recommendations challenging. 

Drug therapy or bariatric surgery may be suggested for older obese patients. However, all benefits and risks should be taken into consideration before opting for surgery. Surprisingly enough, the outcomes, complications, and mortality rates associated with bariatric surgery have been shown to be acceptable for adults age 65 and older. 

13) Oral Health   

Dental Care for Seniors 

Canadians of all ages can enjoy good oral health and benefit from regular professional dental care. Provided you look after them, your teeth and gums will look good and stay healthy for life. 

As you age, however, you may need to make a few changes in the way you care for your teeth and gums. If you need advice on looking after your teeth and gums, or those of a dependent relative or friend, your dentist and the Canadian Dental Association can provide you with valuable information. 

You are never too old to have healthy teeth and gums. And you are never old enough to stop seeing your dentist! Your dentist wants to make sure you maintain healthy teeth and gums for your whole life. This section explains how your needs change as you get older. 

Tips for Caregivers 

You may find yourself looking after the health of someone else. This person may be family, or a close friend. There is a lot you can do to help when this person needs mouth care. 

It may feel a bit strange at first, so go slowly. If the person does not want your help, respect their wishes. Ask your dentist for advice in this case. 

Here are the procedures you should follow: 

Natural Teeth 

  • Stand behind the person to brush and floss their teeth. 
  • Let the person sit in front of the sink. That way, you can make the same motions you use when you brush and floss your own teeth. 
  • Make sure you use a soft toothbrush. Or you may find an electric toothbrush better when you brush someone else’s teeth. Ask the person to tell you if you are brushing too hard. 
  • Have the person rinse with warm water when you are done. 

Complete or Partial Dentures 

  • Let the person tell or show you how to take the complete dentures or “partial” out. (With complete dentures, put the upper set back first, and then the lower set.) 
  • Both kinds of dentures must be cleaned daily. 
  • Look for cracks in the denture. If you find any, take it to a dentist for repair. 
  • Fill the sink with water. 
  • Scrub the denture with a denture brush and soap. 
  • Rinse with water when you finish cleaning. 
  • Soak denture overnight. It can be soaked in a special cleaner for dentures (denture cleanser), in warm water or in a mix of warm water and vinegar (half and half). If the denture has metal clasps, use warm water only for soaking. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

14) Osteoporosis   

What is it? 

Osteoporosis is a condition that thins and weakens bones (making them brittle and porous). A mere misstep off of a curb, bending down to pick up the newspaper in the driveway or even sneezing can snap a bone. 

Scientists don’t fully understand how osteoporosis does its nasty work. But they do know that your bone mass is greatest at about age 30. 

If your elder had relatives who were stooped or suffered fractures late in life, she’s more likely to develop this disease than someone without this history.  

What can be done about it? 

If the disease is present, the doctor may prescribe one of several medications to manage it. 

The doctor will also encourage your elder to follow these recommendations: 

  • Get enough calcium – your elder needs to drink a quart of milk to get the calcium she needs. 
  • Take vitamin D supplements – at least 20 minutes of sunlight each day. 
  • Quit smoking – Smoking causes the body to make less bone-protecting estrogen. 
  • Drink alcohol in moderation – Alcohol interferes with the body’s absorption of calcium. 
  • Engage in regular exercise – such as walking and light exercise.  
  • Join a support group – any place that offers exercise for seniors. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

15) Poverty   

Links between poverty and poor health? 

  • The economic and political structures which sustain poverty and discrimination need to be transformed in order for poverty and poor health to be tackled. 
  • Marginalized groups and vulnerable individuals are often worst affected, deprived of the information, money or access to health services that would help them prevent and treat disease. 
  • Very poor and vulnerable people may have to make harsh choices – knowingly putting their health at risk because they cannot see their children go hungry, for example. 
  • The cultural and social barriers faced by marginalized groups – including indigenous communities – can mean they use health services less, with serious consequences for their health. This perpetuates their disproportionate levels of poverty. 
  • The cost of doctors’ fees, a course of drugs and transport to reach a health center can be devastating, both for an individual and their relatives who need to care for them or help them reach and pay for treatment. In the worst cases, the burden of illness may mean that families sell their property, take children out of school to earn a living or even start begging. 
  • The burden of caring is often taken on by a female relative, who may have to give up her education as a result, or take on waged work to help meet the household’s costs. Missing out on education has long-term implications for a woman’s opportunities later in life and for her own health. 
  • Overcrowded and poor living conditions can contribute to the spread of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Reliance on open fires or traditional stoves can lead to deadly indoor air pollution. A lack of food, clean water and sanitation can also be fatal. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

16) Respiratory    

Chronic Respiratory Diseases 

Chronic respiratory diseases are chronic diseases of the airways and other parts of the lung. Some of the most common are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea and occupational lung diseases. 

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer 

Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are: 

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse 
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm) 
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Feeling tired or weak 
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back 
  • New onset of wheezing 
  • If lung cancer spreads to distant organs, it may cause: 
  • Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips) 
  • Nervous system changes (such as headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures), from cancer spread to the brain or spinal cord 
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), from cancer spread to the liver 
  • Lumps near the surface of the body, due to cancer spreading to the skin or to lymph nodes (collections of immune system cells), such as those in the neck or above the collarbone 
  • Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than lung cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

17) Sad (The Blues) 

Everyone gets the blues now and then, feeling sad, lonely, or grief when you experience difficult times in life is part of being human. You know you’ll bounce back, it’s just a matter of time.  

Tips for Beating the Blues 

  • Eat healthy and get some exercise no matter what the situation 
  • Be honest – care for your Emotional and Spiritual health 
  • Make time to relax 
  • Minimize stress 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

18) Shingles   

What is Shingles?  

If you’ve ever had the chickenpox — and almost all adults have — there’s a good chance the virus is still at large in your body. The varicella zoster virus can lie dormant for decades without causing any symptoms. In some people, the virus wakes up and travels along nerve fibers to the skin. The result is a distinctive, painful rash called shingles. 

Shingles is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, zoster, or zona. The word shingles comes from the Latin word cingulum, which means belt. There are approximately 1 million estimated new cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles is more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems. 

The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path (called a dermatome), affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline. The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.  

Shingles Treatment 

Shingles can be treated with antiviral medication and pain medication. 

The prognosis for shingles is generally favorable, though some individuals can experience complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, which is persistent nerve pain after the rash disappears. 

There is a vaccine available to help prevent shingles for certain individuals. 

Shingles Vaccine 

Zoster Shingles Vaccine Side Effects 

The most common adverse effects are: 

  • headaches, 
  • injection site swelling, 
  • itching, 
  • swelling, 
  • pain, 
  • warmth, 
  • bleeding,  
  • bruising, 

Some individuals may experience shingles or chickenpox-like rashes within 42 days after receiving zoster vaccine. Transmission of VZV virus from vaccinated individuals to other individuals occurs rarely. 

19) Substance Abuse   

What is substance abuse?  

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome – a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state. 

Policies which influence the levels and patterns of substance use and related harm can significantly reduce the public health problems attributable to substance use, and interventions at the health care system level can work towards the restoration of health in affected individuals. 

Signs of a Substance Use Problem 

When you first start taking a substance, you may think you can control how much you use. But over time, you may need more of the drug to get the same feeling or effect. For some people, that can lead beyond abuse to addiction. Signals that you may have a problem with substance abuse include if you: 

  • Lack interest in things you used to love 
  • Change your friends a lot 
  • Stop taking care of yourself 
  • Spend more time alone than you used to 
  • Eat more or less than normal 
  • Sleep at odd hours    
  • Have problems at work or with family 
  • Switch quickly from feeling good and bad 

How to Get Help 

  • Substance abuse affects every part of your life. It can hurt you and the people around you. It can ruin relationships and your financial health. Abusing drugs can also lead to addiction and cause serious health problems and even death. 
  • To stop, you may need counseling, medicine, or both. If you have a substance abuse problem and want to quit, a doctor can help figure out the best treatment options for you. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

20) Stroke 

What is it? 

A stroke – sometimes called a brain attack – occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. If brain tissue is deprived of oxygen – even for a few minutes – it dies. 

In 80 percent of strokes, either fatty deposits build up in the arteries or a blood clot lodges in an artery, cutting off the blood flow to the brain. 

Preventing strokes 

Medical attention for the following conditions can lower the risk of getting a second stroke (or a first one) 

  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Atherosclerosis 
  • Heart disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Stress 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

21) Vision Care   

The Issue 

As people get older, it is normal for their vision to change. However, there are steps you can take to preserve your eyesight and improve your vision – an important part of staying safe and independent. 

Serious Health Effects of Vision Loss 

In addition to the above changes and symptoms, there are several diseases and conditions that can affect vision. 

Cataracts 

Cataracts are a gradual clouding of the natural lens of the eye, preventing light from reaching the retina. The clouding may prevent you from being able to read or drive unless the cataract is removed. Fortunately, this is one of the most successful surgeries done in medicine today and is quite common. 

Floaters 

Floaters are tiny spots or specks that float across your field of vision. They are often normal and sometimes moving the eye around will make the spots shift out of your central vision. However, if you notice a sudden change in the number or types of spots, or if they come with light flashes, you should see your eye doctor as soon as possible. They may be signs of a serious eye disease. 

Glaucoma 

Glaucoma develops when the pressure within the eye starts to destroy the nerve fibers within the retina. If not treated early, glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness. Because most people have no early symptoms, regular eye examinations are required to detect it. Treatment may include eye drops, medication, or surgery. 

Age-related macular degeneration 

Macular degeneration occurs when the macula (the central part of the retina responsible for sharp focus) is damaged. This damage may be the result of many factors, including aging, and it causes permanent loss of central vision. Regular eye exams can detect the disease early on and laser treatments can slow down the central vision loss. 

Diabetic retinopathy  

As the name suggests, this is an eye problem linked to diabetes. Changes to the blood vessels caused by diabetes can starve the retina of oxygen. This condition can go through many stages and can result in blindness. Symptoms include cloudy vision and seeing spots. If you have diabetes, be sure to have regular eye examinations and tell your eye specialist that you are diabetic. Treatment can slow down vision loss. Laser treatment in the early stages is often successful. 

Minimizing Your Risk 

There are many steps you can take to protect your vision. 

  • If you are over the age of 45, have your eyes examined on a regular basis. 
  • If you suffer from dry eyes (gritty, itchy, or burning), a home humidifier and eye drops may help. In a few serious cases, surgery may be needed to correct the problem. 
  • If your eyes water, it may be that you are more sensitive to light, wind, or temperature change. Simply shielding your eyes or wearing sunglasses may solve the problem. However, this condition may be the result of an eye infection, eye irritation, or a blocked tear duct, all of which can be treated. See your doctor to find out the exact cause and treatment. 
  • Turn on the lights. Seeing better can sometimes be as easy as changing a light bulb to one with a higher wattage. Putting 100 or 150 watt bulbs in your lamps can reduce eye strain. Just make sure the fixture is designed for that wattage. Bright light is important in stairways to help prevent falls. 
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor in the early onset of age-related macular degeneration. 
  • Reduce glare as much as possible by using good lampshades, glare shields on computer monitors, and sunglasses. Sunglasses should provide 99 to 100% UV-A and UV-B protection. UV rays can harm your eyes even on a cloudy day. 
  • Protect your eyes from accidents in your home. 
  • Put a grease shield over frying foods. 
  • Make sure spray cans and nozzles are pointed away from you when spraying. 
  • Wear safety glasses in the workshop and when using chemical products such as ammonia. 
  • Be careful of recoil when using bungee cords. 
  • Eat your carrots. A daily dose of the vitamins and minerals found in melons, citrus fruit, carrots, spinach, and kale may help slow the progress of age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. 
  • Don’t drive at night if you have problems with depth perception, glare, or other vision difficulties. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

22) High Blood Pressure 

Also called Hypertension is the most common chronic illness around today. Because it has no real symptoms, most people don’t even know they have it. 

Common causes of high blood pressure are: 

  • Obesity 
  • Being a couch-potato 
  • Stress 
  • High intake of alcohol and salt 

A list of ways to help your elder deal with high blood pressure 

  • Use less salt 
  • Eat healthy 
  • Lose weight  
  • Stop Smoking 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Exercise daily 

What are the new blood pressure guidelines for seniors  

These guidelines don’t apply to anyone under 60. Over 60 your goal should be 150/90 or lower. If you have kidney disease or diabetes, your target needs to be 130/80. 

How can high blood pressure be reduced? 

  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • At least 30 minutes of exercise each day 
  • Eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins 
  • Limit salt intake 

The following symptoms require immediate medical attention: 

  • Chest Pains 
  • A Pain That Starts in the Chest and then Spreads to the Jaw and down the Inner Arm  
  • A Shortness of Breath 
  • Pressure or Squeezing in the Chest 
  • An irregular Pulse 
  • Dizziness, Fainting, or Sudden Weakness 
  • Confusion or Loss of Consciousness 
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat 
  • Nausea, Vomiting, or Sever Sweating 

Attention: The sooner your loved one gets medical attention, the better the chances for survival. 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

23) Stroke 

It’s reported that 75 percent of all stroke victims are over 65. This makes it the leading cause of adult disability. Some people call a stroke a brain attack, because it occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen.  

Attention: Get emergency help if your elder has any of these signs. 

  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding what is said 
  • Sudden numbness in their face, arm or leg 
  • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes 
  • Loss of balance, dizziness or loss of coordination 
  • Sudden trouble walking 
  • Sudden server headache 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

24) Atherosclerosis  

Is sometimes referred to as hardening of the arteries. The disease itself is not curable. Atherosclerosis is a general term for several diseases that share a common and deadly characteristic – an artery wall becomes thicker, harder, and less elastic.  

Some causes are: 

  • High Cholesterol 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking 
  • Obesity 
  • Lack of exercise 

“Click here for Professional Help and support” 

 

 

A doctor may recommend the following treatments: 

  • Lots of rest 
  • Daily exercise 
  • A change of diet 
  • Assistive devices 
  • Medication 

Don’t wait for your elder to tell you that something is wrong. You need to use your own senses to detect trouble signs and also ask friends, family and close neighbors to report any changes to you.  

 

WITH RESPECT 

THESOSOPWORLD TEAM