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Category: Prevention

Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

We are blessed to live in SCCL, an Active Senior Living community.  We have the ability to preserve our health and safety by being vigilant, aware and responsible for OUR OWN Health.

Number one avoidable problem is substance abuse among individuals over 65. Abuse results from misuse of alcohol and/or over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Misuse of drugs refers to underuse, overuse, or erratic use of legally prescribed and/or over-the-counter drugs.  Mixing alcohol with most medications is contraindicated as alcohol makes many medications either more or less potent.  Your MD is counting on the accurate dispensing of medications for your success of your overall healthcare plan. Beyond the physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking also is linked with personal problems  and having relationship troubles.  If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and measure. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.)  Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents. Aging lowers the body’s tolerance for alcohol.  Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger.  Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, suicides and homicides as well as many slips and falls: 50% of severe trauma injuries ( broken hips & knees etc) and 40% of fatal motor vehicle accidents.

 Depression:  Consider asking your doctor about a depression anxiety screening questionnaire if you have any question that you or a loved one seems to becoming more depressed or anxious. Remember too  that alcohol is a depressant and muscle relaxant.

Stop Smoking.  Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. About 8.4% of adults aged 65 or older still smoke cigarettes in the last survey in 2010

Before You Use a Handyman

Before You Use a Handyman

Good Advice About Dealing with Handymen

By Nick Suhr, J.D. and Jane Gregor, RN, BSN

Living in a community like Sun City gives one a sense of security and well-being that can sometimes be risky. Nowhere is it more important to exercise caution than when it comes to hiring people to make repairs in your home. Statistics show that senior citizens are frequently targeted by hucksters and frauds. Why? Because they are easy marks, often willing to accept promises that can end up, when broken, being legally unenforceable. Fear of retaliation can also be major factor in a senior community.  Most home repair and “fix-up” jobs do not involve major sums of money, and this fact often deters homeowners from pursuing legal rights or even complaining.

There are many ways to avoid being “taken” by incompetent or unscrupulous service providers, and everything begins and ends with you, the homeowner. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get proof of licensing. This can easily be obtained from the SC Department of Labor by telephone at 803-896-4686 or online at www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/contractors/index.asp?file=laws.htm.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau at 1-803-254-2525
  • If you have any questions about or problems with any provider, call the Sheriff’s Department (Officer Bill Murphy) at 803-283-4136
  • Get two or more written estimates before the work you need to have done. This is the only way to avoid a “He said He said” situation.
  • Make sure the contractor has liability insurance
  • Ask for references and try to examine completed jobs by the service person. Better yet, ask around and speak with people who already had work done by the person or company, because this is generally the most reliable source of information, good or bad.
  • Never rely on advertising or promotional materials or deal with someone who employs high-pressure tactics or tells you “this job is so easy I’ll only charge less than $!00.00 and I don’t do written estimates for those prices.”
  • Make sure you get something in writing and signed that at least describes the work to be done, the time for completion and the payment terms. For small jobs, never pay in advance but only after the work is completed to your satisfaction. For others, hold back at least 1/3 until completed to your satisfaction.
  • If you live alone, have a friend or family member with you as a witness when you make an agreement to have someone work in your home.

We are all in this together. If you had a bad experience or were the victim of fraud, the most important thing you can do is immediately file complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Sheriff’s Department at the phone numbers shown above. That’s what being a good neighbor is all about.

Stroke Signs & Symptoms

Stroke Signs & Symptoms

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of a STROKE can be the most promising start to a quick recovery.  Lives Can Be Saved by know the following information.

SIGNS/SYMPTOMS

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a clot or rupture of an artery. Note that not ALL signs or symptoms   will occur in every event and some  may seem to go away and  reappear minutes later.

Sudden numbness, wakness or paralysis of arm, face or leg on one side of body.

Sudden onset of blurred or decreased vision.

Consuion, difficulty speaking or forming appropriate words.

Difficulty walking,  dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

Any sudden severe headache, pounding in ears, stiff neck, facial pain or nausea.

Fainting, blacking our or appearance of tremors or a seizure. 

ACTIONS 

Do not ignore any of these signs especially if more than one becomes present. DO NOT wait to see if they go away. Earliest Treatment increases the chances of better outcome and LESS permanent damage.

CALL 911 immediately

Get person into a resting position .on their side in event of vomiting.

Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink, not even asprin.

If  person becomes unconscious, notify 911 on the way and begin CPR compressions @ 100 compressions a minute.

ONLY If person regains consciousness STOP CPR

Have COMPLETE list of medication, including over the counter  & copy of Living Will ready to go to the Emergency Room with patient.

 

Signs & Symptoms of Heart Attack

Signs & Symptoms of Heart Attack

 Being aware of the signs and symptoms of a HEART ATTACK  can be the most promising start to a quick recovery.  Lives Can Be Saved by know the following information.                                              

SIGNS 

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is blocked. Heart attacks may start slowly so be aware of the signs :

Discomfort in the chest arm or shoulder with pressure, fullness or squeezing pain that may continue for more than a few minutes.

Chest pain or pressure that comes and returns with increasing intensity or frequency.

Pain may be felt in one or both shoulders, arms or in back jaw and upper abdomen.

Shortness of breath may occur on or before chest pain starts

Some sweating, light headedness and nausea  often accompany the pain.

Women may have different signs and symptoms and often have higher dead rate because of non responsiveness.

 

ACTIONS

IMMEDIATE ACTION  IS CRUCIAL

The Golden Hours  ( 1st hour) can be a really lifesaving time.

Call 911 immediately Do Not Wait more than 5 minutes.

Have patient chew on 1 regular asperin

Loosen clothing around the neck, chest and waist

Have patient stop doing anything strenuous and rest until ambulance gets there

If patient becomes unconscious  and has not pulse start CPR ( compressions only @ 100 compressions a minute or apply an AED to shock heart.

Have COMPLETE list of medication, including over the counter  & copy of Living Will ready to go to the Emergency Room with patient.

Preventing Falls

Preventing Falls

The Risk of Falling.   Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.

Talk to Your Doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any Rx or OTC meds might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
  • Concurrent infections such as urinary tract infections that sometimes and commonly are without symptoms respiratory, and blood stream infections that also can be asymptomatic in our age group.
  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D supplements with calcium.

Do Strength and Balance Exercises

Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise. It needs to include  a combination of walking and muscle strengthening. Each year, one in three adults aged 65 years or older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and increase the risk of early death. In our age group, falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions due to trauma. Many people who fall, even if not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, leading to less mobility and decreased of physical fitness. This in turn increases their actual risk of falling.

Have Your Eyes Checked

Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.

It you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.

Make Your Home Safer

  • Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

Important Facts about falling:

Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, one out of three older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls Are Serious and Costly

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.1,2
  • Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.3
  • Over 700,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.3
  • Each year at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.5
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,6 usually by falling sideways.7
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).8
  • Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually.9Hospital costs account for two-thirds of the total.

What Can Happen After a fall?

Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury.1,2 These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
  • Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.9

What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps,
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
    • no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Healthcare providers can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.

Regular Physical Activity.  Ideally this means daily. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. It can prevent or better control many of the health problems that come with age. You need to accumulate 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of brisk walking every week. Do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that works legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Jogging or running is OK but more risky at our age group.

8. Definitions that you Must Know

8. Definitions that you Must Know

Advance Care Directive – a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor.

Living Will – A written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions about medical treatment to be administered when the patient is terminally ill or permanently unconscious; also called an advance directive.

Health Care Power of Attorney – Legal authorization for one person to represent another’s wishes regarding medical treatment and care should that person become unable to do so for themselves. Health care power of attorney names the agent as a representative authorized to make decisions regarding care and procedures as stated by the individual.  Each state has their own HCPOA form and you should update your form to reflect your state of residence.  During travel, most states will honor the HCPOA from your home state

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – Do not resuscitate (DNR), or no code, is a legal order written either in the hospital or on a legal form to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), in respect of the wishes of a patient in case their heart were to stop or they were to stop breathing.  This form DOES NOT address any other form of medical care and does not affect any ongoing treatment options.  Each state has its own DNR form and they DO NOT transfer from state to state.   The form must be presented as an original, no copies.

SC – South Carolina Emergency Medical Do Not Resuscitate Order (on white paper)

NC – Goldenrod (on bright gold paper)

MOST (Medical Order for Scope of Treatment) – A NC (only) form for use by physicians and other licensed healthcare facilities to assist in providing information relating to a patient’s desire for resuscitation or life-prolonging measures. These forms are available only to physicians’ offices or other licensed hospital or healthcare facilities. The form is not transferrable to other states and must be an original (bright pink form).

Five Wishes – Five Wishes is America’s most popular living will because it’s written in everyday language and helps people express their wishes in areas that matter most — the personal and spiritual in addition to the medical and legal. It also helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not. It allows your caregiver to know exactly what you want.  Families also use Five Wishes to help start and guide family conversations about care in times of serious illness. Five Wishes is helpful for all adults – everyone over 18 years old – and anyone can start the conversation within a family. Sometimes it begins with grandparents and other times it is the younger family members who bring up the topic. Regardless of your age, you can bring this gift to your family.

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