Arthritis: Symptoms and Care

Arthritis: Symptoms and Care

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the US. Millions of adults and half of all people age 65 and older are troubled by this disease.

Arthritis is best known as a condition of painful, stiff joints. In fact, there are a variety of symptoms. Most arthritis is chronic, with symptoms lasting years. Arthritis can attack joints in almost any part of the body. The primary forms of arthritis cause changes you can see and feel such as pain, swelling, warmth and redness in your joints.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts when cartilage, the tissue that pads bones in the joint, begins to wear away. You are most likely to have OA in your hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips. OA symptoms can range from stiffness and mild intermittent pain with activities like walking, bending, or stooping to severe joint pain that persists even when you are at rest. In time OA can cause disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected. OA is primarily an age-related condition and may be hereditary. OA in the knees may be aggravated by weight. Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or hands.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. In RA, your body attacks the lining of a joint just as it would if it were trying to protect you from injury or disease. For example, if you had a splinter in your finger, the finger would become inflamed-painful, red, and swollen. RA leads to inflammation in your joints and can attack almost any joint in the body. This inflammation causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. This can happen in many different joints at the same time. People of any age can develop RA, and it is more common in women.

Arthritis Treatment

Each kind of arthritis is handled a little differently, but there are some common treatment choices. Rest, exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are key to living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking.

There are medications that can help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen can safely ease arthritis pain. Some NSAIDs (nonsteroidalanti-inflammatorydrugs), like ibuprofen and naproxen, are effective for inflammation paid, however there are side effects to be aware of, such as stomach bleeding and they may raise blood pressure. You should read the warnings on the package that comes with the drug. Talk to your doctor about if and how you should use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for your arthritis pain.

Osteoarthritis

Medicines can help you control OA pain. Rest and exercise will make it easier for you to move your joints. Keeping your weight down is a good idea. If pain from OA is very bad, your doctor may provide a corticosteroids shot in the joint. When effective, relief can last for up to a month, but there are long-term health concerns with continued use of steroids. Some people have surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

With treatment, the pain and swelling from RA will get better, and joint damage might slow down or stop. In addition to pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, your doctor might suggest anti-rheumatic drugs, called DMARDs (disease-modifyingantirheumatic drugs). These can slow damage from the disease. Another type of drug, biologic response modifiers, blocks the damage done by the immune system. They sometimes help people with mild-to-moderate RA when other treatments have not worked.

Exercise Can Help

Along with taking the right medications and properly resting your joints, exercise is a good way to stay fit, keep muscles strong, and control arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, decreases pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Range-of-motion Exercises: Dancing and yoga both relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.

Strengthening Exercises: Weight training will keep or build muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.

Aerobic and Endurance Exercises: Bicycle riding and running or brisk walking make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and improve the overall working of your body. Aerobic exercise also may decrease swelling in some joints.

Alternative Treatments

A helpful short-term treatment is the application of heat, such as applying a heated compress, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool. Massage devices in conjunction with heat have been reported to provide temporary relief for OA pain.

Recent studies suggest that Chinese acupuncture may ease OA pain for some people. Research now shows that the dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin may help lessen your OA pain. These are both considered “alternative” therapies.

5 Natural Ways to Improve Oxygen Levels

5 Natural Ways to Improve Oxygen Levels

The feeling of being out of breath (dyspnea) is a sensation that is well known to those who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Although it is common for those experiencing shortness of breath to use oxygen therapy (oxygen tanks) to cope, the downsides can include fatigue, headaches, and dry or bloody noses. Further, when depending on oxygen tanks as a primary oxygen supplement, there exists a severe risk: the body can learn to actively suppress its natural respiratory system. Following is a list of 5 natural ways to improve your oxygen levels that should help in reducing your dependence on tanks.

Change Your Diet: Antioxidants allow the body to use oxygen more efficiently, increasing oxygen intake in digestion. When looking to boost antioxidant intake, the foods to focus on are blueberries, cranberries, red kidney beans, artichoke hearts, strawberries, plums and blackberries, most of which can be consumed in various juices and smoothies. Another critical protein to consider are essential fatty acids like Vitamin F, which work to increase the amount of oxygen the hemoglobin in the bloodstream can carry. These acids can be found in soybeans, walnuts and flaxseeds.  If you are on your own, and do not have easy access to these foods, or struggle with meal preparation, consider hiring a private caregiver for a few hours to help with meal preparation and shopping.

Get Active: Exercise is key to a healthy life. Through aerobic exercise, such as simple walking, the body is able to better utilize oxygen while removing waste through the lymphatic system. As recommended by the American Heart Association, 30 minutes a day of regular walking has greater effects on the circulatory system than spending an hour or more in the gym 2 to 3 times a week. Aside from the physical health benefits, walking has been shown to improve mood, confidence, and reduce stress.  As with the previous tip, if walking is difficult look for ways to hire a caregiver to help with get you out walking each day.

Change Your Breathing: Exercising your lungs regularly is crucial to maintaining ones respiratory health. However, what is often an impediment to one’s breathing is the method in which they breathe. It’s recently been discovered that sick people breathe using the upper chest and inhale more air, which causes reduced oxygen levels in the body. In contrast, the correct method to proper breathing, is slow, from the diaphragm, and through the nose, rather than the mouth.

Cleanse the Air: Often the triggers of flare-ups in those with COPD is poor air quality. Because of this, it is imperative to maintain the purest quality of air possible within the home and workplace. There are a number of air purifiers on the market that can filter the worst of our environmental pollutants. Another helpful “low-tech” tool in reducing pollution in the air and purifying oxygen is a beeswax candle. Unlike traditional candles, beeswax candles do not emit smoke. Instead they produce negative ions that help in the removal of air pollution.

Hydrate: The human body is roughly 60 percent water, so it cannot be understated how critical water is to how the body functions: allowing body cells to grow, lubricating our joints and regulating body temperature. When looking to get the full benefits of oxygenation, drink filtered water. Restructured or ionized water is micro-clustered with smaller groupings of water molecules. This provides high levels of hydration and oxygenation at the cellular level. Keep in mind that caffeinated beverages, alcohol and high sodium foods all dehydrate the body, so keep water with you during the day and get in the habit of drinking it throughout the day. Health professionals recommend 8 8-oz. glasses of water a day.

If you are independent and physically capable of implementing each of the above tips for increasing oxygen levels, take action today!  If you need help to implement any of the above, reach out to us to schedule the care you need.  When it comes to good health, there is very little that is more important than getting the right amount of oxygen.

 

Arthritis: Symptoms and Care

Arthritis: Symptoms and Care

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the US. Millions of adults and half of all people age 65 and older are troubled by this disease.

Arthritis is best known as a condition of painful, stiff joints. In fact, there are a variety of symptoms. Most arthritis is chronic, with symptoms lasting years. Arthritis can attack joints in almost any part of the body. The primary forms of arthritis cause changes you can see and feel such as pain, swelling, warmth and redness in your joints.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts when cartilage, the tissue that pads bones in the joint, begins to wear away. You are most likely to have OA in your hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips. OA symptoms can range from stiffness and mild intermittent pain with activities like walking, bending, or stooping to severe joint pain that persists even when you are at rest. In time OA can cause disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected. OA is primarily an age-related condition and may be hereditary. OA in the knees may be aggravated by weight. Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or hands.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. In RA, your body attacks the lining of a joint just as it would if it were trying to protect you from injury or disease. For example, if you had a splinter in your finger, the finger would become inflamed-painful, red, and swollen. RA leads to inflammation in your joints and can attack almost any joint in the body. This inflammation causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. This can happen in many different joints at the same time. People of any age can develop RA, and it is more common in women.

Arthritis Treatment

Each kind of arthritis is handled a little differently, but there are some common treatment choices. Rest, exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are key to living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking.

There are medications that can help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen can safely ease arthritis pain. Some NSAIDs (nonsteroidalanti-inflammatorydrugs), like ibuprofen and naproxen, are effective for inflammation paid, however there are side effects to be aware of, such as stomach bleeding and they may raise blood pressure. You should read the warnings on the package that comes with the drug. Talk to your doctor about if and how you should use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for your arthritis pain.

Osteoarthritis

Medicines can help you control OA pain. Rest and exercise will make it easier for you to move your joints. Keeping your weight down is a good idea. If pain from OA is very bad, your doctor may provide a corticosteroids shot in the joint. When effective, relief can last for up to a month, but there are long-term health concerns with continued use of steroids. Some people have surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

With treatment, the pain and swelling from RA will get better, and joint damage might slow down or stop. In addition to pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, your doctor might suggest anti-rheumatic drugs, called DMARDs (disease-modifyingantirheumatic drugs). These can slow damage from the disease. Another type of drug, biologic response modifiers, blocks the damage done by the immune system. They sometimes help people with mild-to-moderate RA when other treatments have not worked.

Exercise Can Help

Along with taking the right medications and properly resting your joints, exercise is a good way to stay fit, keep muscles strong, and control arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, decreases pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Range-of-motion Exercises: Dancing and yoga both relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.

Strengthening Exercises: Weight training will keep or build muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.

Aerobic and Endurance Exercises: Bicycle riding and running or brisk walking make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and improve the overall working of your body. Aerobic exercise also may decrease swelling in some joints.

Alternative Treatments

A helpful short-term treatment is the application of heat, such as applying a heated compress, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool. Massage devices in conjunction with heat have been reported to provide temporary relief for OA pain.

Recent studies suggest that Chinese acupuncture may ease OA pain for some people. Research now shows that the dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin may help lessen your OA pain. These are both considered “alternative” therapies.

FOR MORE ARTHRITIS INFORMATION:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
NCCAM Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 7923
Gaithersburg, MD 20898
888-644-6226 (toll-free)
866-464-3615 (TTY/toll-free)
www.nccam.nih.gov

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
NIAMS Information Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
877-22-NIAMS (877-226-4267, toll-free)
301-565-2966 (TTY)
www.niams.nih.gov

American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
1800 Century Place
Suite 250
Atlanta, GA 30345-4300
404-633-3777
www.rheumatology.org

Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357-0669
800-568-4045 (toll-free)
or check the telephone directory for your local chapter
www.arthritis.org

Tips for Managing Seasonal Allergies

Tips for Managing Seasonal Allergies

Spring is here, with flowers, grass, and for a lot of us, allergies. If you suspect your allergies are getting worse over time, returning after a long break, or starting for the first time, you may be right. One of the ironies of living a long time is that our immune systems have more chances to develop adverse reactions to seasonal allergies.

Here are some tips to help you survive the season:

  1. Use an air conditioner, fan, or humidifier to keep your home cool. Minimize time spent with your windows open.
  2. Check pollen levels. The National Pollen site publishes allergy forecasts just like the weather station. Check areas that you are travelling and try to pick places where the forecast is low.  Avoid outdoor activity in the morning when pollen counts are highest.
  3. Make sure your doctor knows.  Prescription allergy medicine may be more effective for you, and your doctor can make sure that it doesn’t interfere with any other medications you may take.  If pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  4. Avoid mowing and gardening as much as possible and delegate this job to someone else. If you must, take your medication and prescribed and wear a pollen mask to minimize your exposure.
  5. Wearing sunglasses is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent allergens from getting in the eyes. Once someone who has allergies begins rubbing their eyes, they unwittingly spread pollen around.
  6. Shower and change after spending time outside to get rid of any allergens that might be in your hair, on your skin, and attached to your clothing.

With some effort, you can decrease your allergy symptoms and enjoy the warmer temps.

Combating Osteoporosis

Combating Osteoporosis

Bones feel solid, but the inside of a bone is actually filled with holes like a honeycomb. Bone tissues are broken down and rebuilt all the time. While some cells build new bone tissue, others dissolve bone. As we get older, we begin to lose more bone than we build. The tiny holes within bones get bigger. In other words, our bones get less dense. If this loss of bone density goes too far, it’s called osteoporosis. Over 10 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have osteoporosis.

It’s normal for bones to break in bad accidents, but they should be able to stand up to most falls. Bones weakened by osteoporosis, though, are more likely to break. “It’s just like any other engineering material,” says Dr. Joan McGowan, an NIH expert on osteoporosis. If you fall and slam your weight onto a fragile bone, “the structures aren’t adequate to support the weight you’re putting on them.” If the bone breaks, it’s a major hint that an older person has osteoporosis.

Broken bones can lead to serious problems for seniors. The hip is a common site for osteoporosis, and hip fractures can lead to a downward spiral of disability and loss of independence. Osteoporosis is also common in the wrist and the spine.

The hormone estrogen helps to make and rebuild bones. A woman’s estrogen levels drop after menopause, and bone loss speeds up. That’s why osteoporosis is most common among older women. But men get osteoporosis, too. “A third of all hip fractures occur in men, yet the problem of osteoporosis in men is frequently downplayed or ignored,” says Dr. Eric Orwoll, a physician-researcher who studies osteoporosis at Oregon Health and Science University. Men tend to do worse than women after a hip fracture, Orwoll says.

Experts suggest that women start getting screened for osteoporosis at age 65. Women younger than age 65 who are at high risk for fractures should also be screened. Men should discuss screening recommendations with their health care providers. Screening is done with a bone mineral density test at the hip and spine. The most common test is an test similar to an X-ray, known as DXA, which compares your bone density to that of a healthy young woman. A T-score of −2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis.

There’s a lot you can do to lower your risk of osteoporosis. Getting plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and exercise is a good start, Orwoll says.

Calcium is a mineral that helps bones stay strong. It can come from foods such as milk and milk products, dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens—or from dietary supplements. Women over age 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Men need 1,000 mg a day from ages 51 to 70 and 1,200 mg a day after that.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. As you grow older, your body needs more vitamin D, which is made by your skin when you’re in the sun. You can also get vitamin D from dietary supplements and from certain foods, such as milk, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified cereals. Talk with your health care provider to make sure you’re getting a healthy amount of vitamin D.

Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, helps bones, too. Weight-bearing exercises include jogging, walking, tennis, and dancing. The pull of muscles is a reminder to the cells in your bones that they need to keep the tissue dense.

Smoking, in contrast, weakens bones. Heavy drinking does too—and makes people more likely to fall. Certain drugs may also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Having family members with osteoporosis can raise your risk for the condition as well. The good news is, since your bones are rebuilding themselves all the time, you can help push the balance toward more bone growth by giving them exercise, calcium, and vitamin D.

Several medications can also help fight bone loss. The most widely used are bisphosphonates. These drugs are generally prescribed to people diagnosed with osteoporosis after a DXA test, or to those who’ve had a fracture that suggests their bones are too weak. Bisphosphonates have been tested more thoroughly in women, but are approved for men too.

NIH-funded researchers are looking for better ways to tell how strong your bones are, and how high your chances are of breaking a bone. For now, though, the DXA test is the best measure. If you’re concerned about your bone health, ask your health care provider about the possibility of a bone density test.

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/01/osteoporosis-aging

Some Ways “Wearables” are Helping Seniors

Some Ways “Wearables” are Helping Seniors

Most of us think of wearables in terms of smartwatches and fitness trackers, gadgets that can help us be fitter and more efficient. But for some people, they’re far more important than that—these wearables are the difference between dependency and freedom. Wearables for seniors are fast becoming an essential way to keep them safe and healthy. There is some impressive technologically available—or on the horizon—to improve the lives of those later in life, and they are easy enough for even the most averse of technophobes to use safely and happily.

1. Keeping them safe
One of the best-known uses for wearables for seniors safely connects them to relatives or emergency services in the event of an accident, even if they’re unable to call for help themselves. UnaliWear’s KanegaWatch can detect falls and long periods of non-movement and raise the alarm. Working through voice control, the watch notices if the wearer has been immobile for a while and asks if they’re OK. If there’s no response, the device can contact designated people or the emergency services. It also records some location information so it can guide the wearer home if they get lost. The wearable even offers medication reminders at appropriate times, reading out dosage instructions if the user asks for them. Similarly, the CarePredict wearable monitors sleep, personal care and daily patterns, alerting caregivers if something seems out of the ordinary: If the wearer used the bathroom more than usual last night, for instance, or got up later than they normally do. Lively’s Safety Watch system goes a step further, using a home hub connected to a series of sensors around the home to check that medication’s been taken, meals haven’t been missed and the user is moving around as normal.

2. Keeping them nearby
To monitor seniors with conditions like dementia, a critical need can now be met through technology. The upcoming Proximity Button, invented by the daughter of a dementia caregiver, is designed to be an effective and affordable way to keep loved ones safe without intrusive tracking. Connecting to the caregiver’s phone with Bluetooth, the button simply sends an alert when the patient goes out of bounds. The Proximity Button will begin crowdfunding this summer through Indiegogo.

3. Saving them from falls
One of the biggest concerns for older people is the risk of falls. One of the more radical ways tech firms are addressing this is by developing wearable airbags that automatically deploy when a fall is detected. Products by companies like ActiveProtective and the Wolk Company are worn as belts, making them less intrusive and noticeable. Packed inside the ActiveProtective belt is a folded airbag, a fall-detection system and a gas inflation mechanism to quickly open the airbag when the wearer is falling.

4. Giving them freedom
Some of the health problems that can affect older people aren’t so easy to talk about. The Japanese manufacturer Triple W opens their Dfree website with the memorable words: “Two years ago I got sudden diarrhea and pooped my pants on the street.” While most of us would never speak of this again, in this case it led to the development of a device that claims to predict bowel movements, allowing users to plan ahead and get to a bathroom in time. Using an ultrasound wearable belted around your stomach, Dfree sends a notification to the accompanying app on your phone to let you know how much time you have. This could avoid the kind of incident that decimates older people’s confidence and makes them less willing to leave the house.

This is just a sampling of the variety of tech solutions for senior care that are now coming available—and we should expect more innovations in the years to come.

https://www.techradar.com/news/wearables/5-ways-wearables-will-transform-the-lives-of-the-elderly-1321898