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Medical Matters

Medical Matters
There is no doubt that as we age we are faced with more and more medical issues. These can be chronic conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis that affect mobility, or life-threatening diseases like cancer. Understanding how to help your parents cope with their illnesses will bring you both better peace of mind and quality of life.

Osteoporosis, Arthritis, and Other Chronic Conditions

  • Dr. Shah’s Five Steps for Weight Loss
  • October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What That Means For You

    About 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the US. Know the general guidelines for breast cancer screening to protect your health.

  • Yoga For Parkinson’s Disease

    A new book details the ways in which yoga can make life easier when you’re living with Parkinson’s disease.

  • COPD: Signs You Should Get Tested

    COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s an umbrella term that includes the respiratory conditions chronic (long-term)  bronchitis and emphysema, and it’s now the third leading killer in this country.

  • Solving the Puzzle of Health Insurance

    The Affordable Healthcare Act will enable many Americans to first get insurance or get better insurance than they have now. Find out the fine points of policies get the coverage you need.

  • Myth Versus Fact: Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicare

    Health care reform does benefit seniors once you understand how it works. Start by comparing health insurance coverage options under Medicare.

  • COPD Awareness: A Hidden Killer

    COPD may be the greatest health threat Americans have never heard of. Though it’s not curable, knowing when to get tested so that you can catch it early will help you control it.

  • Never Again: A 5-Part Guide to Preventing A Second Bone Fracture (Part V)

    Simple safety fixes around your home are key to avoiding a second senior bone fracture. They’re easy and inexpensive.

  • Never Again: A 5-Part Guide to Preventing A Second Bone Fracture (Part IV)

    Find out how to make exercise part of your fracture prevention plan.

  • Never Again: A 5-Part Guide to Preventing A Second Bone Fracture (Part III)

    New evidence shows that getting vitamin D may be even more vital than calcium for bone health.

  • Never Again: A 5-Part Guide to Preventing A Second Bone Fracture (Part II)

    Suffering a bone fracture means you need to take steps to avoid another.

  • Never Again: A 5-Part Guide to Preventing A Second Bone Fracture (Part I)
  • 10 Things You May Not Know About Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

    As men get older, understanding the symptoms and treatment options for BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, is crucial.

  • Special Book Excerpt From The Take-Charge Patient (Part 4 of 4)

    Learn about important steps to take before you embark on a treatment plan.

  • Special Book Excerpt From The Take-Charge Patient (Part 3 of 4)

    To find a specialist you feel very comfortable with, start by asking these key questions.

  • Special Book Excerpt From The Take-Charge Patient (Part 2 of 4)

    In the face of a serious illness or chronic medical condition, having a support system acts like a safety net for you and your loved ones.

  • Special Book Excerpt From The Take-Charge Patient (Part 1 of 4)

    Having an advocate can make a huge difference to your emo-tional health when battling a serious illness or chronic medical condition.

  • Preventing Hospital Readmissions

    The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has created a new online booklet to help families better plan for a loved one’s hospitalization.

  • Lower Blood Pressure Now To Lower Lifetime Heart Disease Issues

    New research suggests that both early elevations and changes over time in blood pressure measurements impact your future risk of heart disease. Learn why you should lower blood pressure now.

  • Your New Role As A Patient

    Get a doctor’s advice to avoid being a victim of medical malpractice.

  • Bone Health: How Aging Affects The Quality Of Your Bones

    Bone mass may not be the sole predictor of fractures. More reason to protect bone health starting today.

  • Drug Label Warnings: Consumer Beware


    There’s little consistency and not enough compliance with drug safety warnings at major drugstores. The Consumer Reports’ statistics are shocking…and could be shockingly dangerous. 

  • One Hospital’s NICHE Journey

    See how the NICHE nursing protocol aimed at helping older patients have a better hospital outcome has empowered nurses at Hartford Hospital to take a more pro-active role. 

  • The Healing Power of Relationship-Based Care for the Elderly

    Learn about best nursing practices that allow and encourage nurses and patients to connect in a therapeutic relationship that facilitates healing.  

  • Easy Treadmill Workouts Improve Walking In People With Parkinson’s

    New research shows that walking at a comfortable speed on a treadmill helped people with Parkinson’s disease improve their mobility and independence.

  • Safeguarding Your Health: The Patient Safety Checklist
  • What’s The Connection: Heart Disease Risk Factors & Brain Function

    Research is uncovering connections between heart disease-stroke risks and brain function. Learn how addressing your risk of stroke may protect your brain’s executive function. 

  • Understanding The Threat Of Resistant Infections

    Up to half of all antimicrobial drugs, like antibiotics, are unnecessarily or inappropriately prescribed—possibly putting you at risk for a life-threatening illness. 

  • The Risks Of Sleep Apnea And Daytime Sleepiness

    Sleep apnea is about more than snoring. It could double your risk of death if accompanied by excessive daytime sleepiness. 

  • Senior Emergency Departments Deliver The Best Care for Older Americans

    With emergency room visits escalating along with the boomer population, a new concept, the Senior ER, is becoming available to meet the health needs of old Americans and offer a better level of care. 

  • Reminiscing: A Love Story To Help Older Patients Heal

    Helping older patients reminisce helps them heal and helps nursing professionals gain valuable experience. Family members can use this powerful tool, too.

  • Making Time For Rest With Recovery

    Getting back to normal life a quickly as possible is a goal after an illness or injury. But more rest might be what you really need.

  • Anxiety & Aging: How To Meet The Challenge

    Though some people think of anxiety and fear as normal given the circumstances of aging, developing an anxiety disorder late in life is not a normal part of aging.

  • Key Medicare Changes: How to Choose the Right Medicare Plan for You

    If you are enrolled in Medicare, now is a good time to review your health and prescription drug coverage—open enrollment for joining or switching Medicare health and drug plans runs through December 31.

  • Medicare Enrollment: 5 “Must Do” Actions & 10 Costly Mistakes To Avoid

    Medicare open enrollment is underway: Get 15 tips to choose the best plan for you.

  • Hospital Transition Program Reduces Readmissions By 53 Percent

    The US has an 18 percent rate of hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge and an alarming 76 percent of these are preventable, according to the Center for Technology and Aging.

  • Could Your Parents Be At Risk For Catching MRSA?

    If your parent is in the hospital, a nursing home or other healthcare facility, he or she may be at risk for contracting MRSA. However, there is something you can do to prevent it from happening to them.

  • Understanding Lewy Body Dementia

    Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of degenerative dementia in the elderly, affecting an estimated 1.3 million people in the United States, yet it is most often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Diagnostic Errors: Understanding Misdiagnoses And How To Help Prevent Them

    A diagnostic error, or misdiagnosis, occurs when a medical professional inaccurately comes to a conclusion about what is wrong with the patient.

  • We’ll Keep a Light on for Ya

    Over my twenty-five-year medical career, the route by which people are admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay has subtly evolved in ways that most patients (and even many doctors) may not realize.

  • What To Do After Knee Replacement Surgery

    More and more people are having joint replacement surgeries these days, and enjoying increased mobility and relief from knee pain well into their later years.

  • Advances In Prostate Cancer Prevention And Treatment

    Parentgiving.com is pleased to present the forward to the second edition of Dr. Peter Scardino’s Prostate Book. The noted prostate cancer specialist has completely revised his guide to overcoming prostate cancer, prostatitis and BPH.

  • Chronic Pelvic Pain In Older Men - Pain in Pelvic Area for Senior Men

    By the time men reach the age of 80, most of them will have experienced a chronic painful condition that rarely gets diagnosed or treated properly.

  • Consumer Reports Poll: Learning More About Drug Safety & Side Effects

    A new prescription drug poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 69 percent of Americans currently taking a prescription drug say pharmaceutical companies have too much influence on doctors’ prescribing decisions, and half say that doctors are too eager to prescribe a drug when non-drug options exist.

  • Avoiding Unnecessary Emergency Room Visits

    A recent study published in the Journal of Rural Health emphasizes the importance of using health care centers to reduce the numbers of unnecessary patient visits to emergency rooms. It also confirms that using alternative medical facilities reduces health care costs significantly.

  • 5 Tips to Prevent Medical Errors When A Parent Is In The Hospital

    The "July Effect" is a very real phenomenon in teaching hospitals across the country. This is the time when graduates, fresh out of medical school, begin their residencies. It is also when there is a 10 percent increase in preventable, accidental medical errors in hospitals.

  • Understanding Mesothelioma

    Although the majority of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are told their survival rate is less than one year from the time of the cancer diagnosis, cases of patients living past their predicted survival date are continuing to surface. With each survivor story that comes to light, current mesothelioma patients are gaining a little more hope about their future.

  • Understanding The Global Extent Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Almost three quarters—72 percent—of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suffer pain daily, despite the fact that 75 percent receive pain relief medication, according to a new study presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy.

  • Understand The Serious Implications Of Nocturia

    Three new studies presented at the American Urological Association 2010 Annual Meeting are bringing attention to the condition called nocturia, defined as waking to urinate two or more times during the night, and that it may be a more serious condition than widely thought.

  • 7 Tips To Prevent C.diff

    Most people have heard of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) infections, but there’s a new deadly bacterium lurking. C.diff (Clostridium difficile) is a multi-drug resistant bacterium most commonly found in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

  • Allergic Rhinitis: Not Just a Problem for Youngsters

    Allergic rhinitis, sometimes called hay fever, is an allergic reaction to something you breathe into your nose. It can happen any time of the year and it’s not just a problem for kids. Adults and seniors also get allergic rhinitis.

  • The New Face Of Healthcare And What It Means For Our Seniors

    As the 2010 Health Care Bill passed, numerous patients of mine and the general public alike have asked, “OK, now what?” Countless unanswered questions remain, and there are many parts of the legislation that require clarification.

  • Preventing Medical Errors In and Out of the Hospital

    The seventh annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospital Study found that nearly one million patient-safety incidents occurred among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007, 2008, a figure unchanged since last year’s study by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization.

  • Medicare Disadvantage: Private Insurance Behaving Badly

    One thing most people can agree on about America’s healthcare delivery system is that it is confusing. Take the alphabet of Medicare services for example.

  • Six Things You Can Do to Prevent Stroke

    Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind only heart disease and cancer. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted by a blocked artery, a clot or a broken blood vessel.

  • What You Need to Know About Stroke

    "Stroke is an injury to the brain caused by a blockage of its blood supply. Most people are unaware that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer," says Margaret Lewin, MD, FACP, medical director of Cinergy Health.

  • 12 Tips To Ease A Parent’s Hospital Discharge

    Discharge planning from a hospital starts upon admission of the patient. This means that as your parent’s advocate, you will learn what he or she needs during the hospital stay.

  • The Mystery of Parkinson’s Disease

    In the year 175AD, the Greek physician and surgeon Galen described the "shaking palsy." The first detailed description of this disease appeared in 1817, written by the London physician James Parkinson.

  • Quenching That Dry Mouth

    My yoga students often walk into class with a candy in their mouth, and I always make them spit it out when we begin class so they don’t accidentally choke on it when we’re moving. (See http://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/avoiding-everyday-choking-hazards/ to avoid choking hazards.) However, they like the candies because it helps with dry mouth. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know just how unpleasant dry mouth can be. Over 400 commonly-prescribed medications can lead to dry mouth, including anti-depressants, sedatives and tranquilizers; antihistamines; alpha and beta blockers; diuretics; and anti-Parkinsonism and anti-seizure drugs. Radiation for the treatment of head and neck cancer cause this dryness as well.

  • The Truth About Prostate Cancer Screening

    Prostate cancer has a blood test that can be done to find the disease in its early stages. So why do the American Cancer Society, American Urological Association, American College of Physicians, National Cancer Institute and the American College of Preventive Medicine all recommend against routine screening for prostate cancer?

    According to a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer in their 50s and 60s would not die earlier or suffer in their quality of life, if their cancers are left untreated. On the other hand, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after skin cancer, and does cause over 27,000 deaths every year in Americans. So what is the truth about prostate cancer and the best advice on prostate cancer screening?

  • Peripheral Edema: What You Should Know About Swollen Legs

    The most common place to see edema, or swelling, is in your feet, ankles and lower legs. Edema is the result of fluid building up in your body. It can happen in any part of your body, but because of the effects of gravity, the fluid usually shows up as painless swelling in your lower extremities.

  • What You Need to Know About Shingles

    If you had chicken pox when you were a child, there is about a 10 to 20 percent chance that you will develop shingles and that chance increases with age. The medical term for shingles is herpes zoster, and it is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. The first time you get infected with the virus, it causes chicken pox, but the virus can then enter the root of one of your nerves and wait there to be reactivated. When the herpes zoster virus "wakes up" after many years, the result is shingles.

  • 9 Ways To Reduce The Spread of Hospital-Acquired Infectious Diseases

    We all know about the dangers of staph infection, however there are newer deadly germs in town. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii and two other microbes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae, could soon produce a toll to rival MRSA, an antiobiotic-resistant strain of the staph bacteria. Hospital infections have become all too common and infection in the elderly can be particularly hazardous.

  • No More Missed Meds

    Despite all the emphasis on the need for reform to our medical system and the fears seniors have about changes to their Medicare coverage, many Americans are unaware of one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of the elderly: missed doses of prescription drugs. According to some researchers, only one third of seniors may be taking their medications as prescribed and another third may not be taking them at all, with the final third not taking them correctly. Often called the world’s “other drug problem", non-adherence to medication directives accounts for more than 10 percent of older adult hospital admissions and one out of four nursing home admissions.

  • Getting Smarter About Medication Management

    The statistics are sobering: In the US, three-fourths of people over 45 take prescription drugs, with an average of four medications each day, making managing prescription drugs a huge concern. Containing their costs is huge, too—next year, annual per person drug costs for seniors is projected to reach $2,810, an increase of 133 percent since 2000.

  • Hearing Problems In Seniors: Tinnitus

    The first thing you need to know about tinnitus, that ringing in your ears, is that it is not a disease—it is only a symptom. The next thing you need to know is that even though it’s a very common symptom, in many ways it remains a medical mystery.

    A recent review of the causes, symptoms and treatments of tinnitus in the Journal of Clinical Neurology states that in about 40 percent of cases no cause can be found, and that of all the medications used for tinnitus, only a tranquilizer works better than a sugar pill (a placebo).

  • Vertigo and Preventing Falls Among Seniors

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of seniors over age 65 fall each year. Falling is the leading cause of injury-related death for seniors and broken bones from falling can lead to a loss of independence. A recent study published in the journal Age and Ageing reports that dizziness is a common cause of falling, that seniors with vertigo are the most likely to fall and that many of these falls among seniors can be prevented by recognizing and treating vertigo.

  • Understanding Voice Disorders in Seniors

    Some changes in a person’s voice are a normal part of aging. As we get older our voices loose strength, range and some quality, but did you know that voice disorders in seniors are quite common and can significantly impact a senior’s quality of life?

  • 9 Steps To Surviving A Hospital Stay

    All of us will at some point have to deal with our own hospitalization or the hospitalization of a loved one—a parent, spouse, relative or good friend, and cope with the realities of what is happening in hospitals today. In a nutshell, there is a nationwide, drastic nursing shortage. Insurance companies require physicians to see too many patients in too little time. Many hospitals are under financial duress because of uninsured patients, patients who don’t pay their bills and demands for new, expensive technology. Because of the baby boomer generation, there are more older patients with multiple medical issues that require hospitalization. Every physician and nurse I interviewed said this: "Hospital care is in crisis. You must have someone with a patient at all times. Loved ones are patients’ best advocates.

  • 5 Mistakes Seniors Make After Getting A Diabetes Diagnosis

    Diabetes can be a frightening diagnosis and hard to believe when you don’t have symptoms. But don’t wait until you have complications to get it under control.

  • The Primary Nurse: A Lifeline For You And Your Hospitalized Loved One

    Whether your loved one is in the ICU, Cardiac Wing, Med Surg or another section of the hospital, his or her primary nurse is their lifeline as well as your own. Most people think that the patient’s doctor is the go-to person for just about anything regarding the patient’s hospital medical care. And he or she is. But what many don’t know is just how important this other medical professional is to the wellbeing and safety of the patient. The primary nurse is the only person who knows what is going on with the patient 24/7 and the only person who can respond to the patient’s needs beside the physician.

  • 5 Sure-Fire Ways To Reach Your Loved One’s Doctor

    When a loved one is in the hospital, it’s frustrating to miss doctors on their hospital rounds. Here’s how to connect when you really need to reach him or her.

  • Summer Surgery Strategy

    Is a hospital stay in your near future? Stay out of the hospital in the summer months if you can, but if you have to go, learn how to prepare for a successful hospital stay.

  • Critical Conditions: The 8 Rules Every Caregiver Must Follow When a Loved One is Hospitalized

    Patients need an advocate at the hospital around the clock, a job none of us gets training for…until now.

  • Cataract Surgery Update

    After age 70, older adults are likely to suffer from vision problems—most likely arising from a cataract on the lens of the eye or age-related macular degeneration in the retina. But for nearly four of five people, vision problems are made worse by the presence of at least one other chronic health problem and this leads to a faster decline in their quality of life.

  • 10 Ways To Help Parents With Diabetes

    Diabetes is a challenging disease, but it can be managed by faithfully following lifestyle guidelines. People with diabetes do have a lot to balance; as they get older, following through on these guidelines may require assistance from a caregiver. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Dehydration: A Hidden Risk to the Elderly

    Dehydration is often due partly to inadequate water intake, but can happen for many other reasons as well. 

  • Dealing With Vision Loss in Seniors

    Just about everyone experiences some degree of vision loss as we age. But severe vision loss is a significant problem affecting millions of elderly Americans. In fact, according to the most recent Longitudinal Prevalence of Major Eye Diseases research, almost 7 million Americans over the age of 65 have severe visual impairment. Perhaps more stunning is that these same experts predict that given the current growth in the aging population that number is likely to double by 2030.

  • Bedwetting Alarms Can Help Improve Urinary Continence

    Nocturnal enuresis (NE), more commonly known as bedwetting, is the involuntary voiding of urine during sleep. When we think of bedwetting, we think of it as a condition mainly confined to children. It is true that that’s the group more often associated with nocturnal enuresis; but, as we age bedwetting once again can be a problem for elderly adults. According to Journal Age and Aging, 2.4% of older people 75 years of age or older living at home have nocturnal enuresis.

  • Hearing Loss in the Elderly

    Do you find the TV very loud when you go to visit your parent? Do you find him or her asking more often than before for you to repeat yourself? If so, your aging parent is likely among the millions of elderly experiencing hearing loss. According to a recent study published in Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, more than 2 million Americans over the age of 70 have experienced some degree of hearing loss, making it one of the most common chronic conditions of the elderly.

  • Eight Common Ailments We Develop as We Age

    Bette Davis said it well: "Getting old is not for sissies." No matter who we are — man, woman, rich or poor — we all grow old. But the pace and precise way it happens varies from person to person, depending on genetic and environmental factors. While someone’s genetic makeup plays a huge part in determining his life expectancy, the quality of health care received and a healthy lifestyle are significant contributors to longevity.

  • Elder Abuse

    Elder abuse exists and, unfortunately, is a growing problem. Elder abuse is defined as any act or treatment that results in the harm or loss of life of an older person. Elder abuse can be enacted by family members, friends, neighbors or professional caregivers. According to U.S. Department of Justice figures, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse every year. Elder abuse can take many forms, physical, psychological, sexual, financial or neglect. All forms of elder abuse are to be taken seriously, and most are on the rise. The toll elder abuse takes on the elderly in terms of loss of dignity, health, savings, homes, security and independence is immeasurable. Victims of elder abuse have been shown to have shorter life expectancies than nonabused seniors.

  • Common Chronic Conditions and Aging at Home

    Chronic diseases can have a profound impact on the health and quality of life of elder Americans, not to mention the financial burden that is often associated with long-term illness. But specialists in gerontology and the emerging field of anti-aging medicine are quick to point out that while the risk of disease and disability undoubtedly can increase with advancing years, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging.

  • Why It’s Important to Keep Moving in the Hospital

    The hospital is the last place someone may think of when it comes to keeping active. Yet it is one of the most important places to make sure your parents keep moving

  • Living with Neuropathies

    When an aging parent is diagnosed with a neuropathic condition, it can be a frustrating experience.  In fact, just getting to the point of obtaining the diagnosis may only come after years of tests, wrong turns, misdiagnoses, and multiple doctors.  According to the Neuropathy Foundation, neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves—the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin and internal organs. More than 20 million people suffer from neuropathies.

  • Living with Arthritis and Arthritic Conditions

    There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common forms that your aging parent may be experiencing are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system fails to properly function; it affects hands, feet, and internal organs. Osteoarthritis is associated with age – wear and tear of joints, for the most part.

  • Living with Macular Degeneration

    If you have an aging parent who has been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you may have already witnessed the fright your parent is experiencing at the thought of possibly becoming blind. Someone with macular degeneration may become angry or depressed when faced with the potential loss of independence, but there are many things that can be done to allow that person to live at home and maintain a great deal of independence.

  • Living with Congestive Heart Failure

    One of the most heartbreaking illnesses we ever have to watch our aging parents suffer through is congestive heart failure, or CHF. CHF is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to the body’s other organs.  According to the American Heart Association, most people with mild and moderate congestive heart failure can be treated. Proper medical supervision can prevent them from becoming invalids. One of the major comforts you can provide your aging parent is the ability to live at home with CHF, rather than be placed in an assisted living facility. While your parent may have to rely on home health care, living at home will allow him or her to be as comfortable and independent as possible.

  • Living with COPD

    If you are an adult child caring for an aging parent, you may have to manage your parent’s chronic illness. One of the most debilitating illnesses is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. COPD is a disease of the lungs. In COPD, the lung tissue becomes damaged, making breathing more difficult. The airways to and from the lungs become obstructed. COPD is a major cause of the death in the United States, and most cases of COPD are related to smoking, being exposed to second-hand smoke, or being exposed to toxic chemicals that damage the lungs.

  • Driving After Having a Stroke

    When someone you love has a stroke, regaining independence as quickly as possible is usually one of the main goals. When it is your aging parent suffering, you long to be able to help him or her regain that independence as quickly as possible. One of the most important forms of independence our aging parents have is their ability to drive. Luckily, most people recover from stroke well enough to be able to drive again. You can assist by making sure your aging parent completes extensive stroke rehabilitation. There are assessments that will help alleviate your concerns about whether or not your aging parent should be driving after a stroke.