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Better Health

Better Health
Families and caregivers have a variety of health concerns when it comes to their elders. Explore topics that can help prevent serious medical conditions from developing, including help for increasing or maintaining mobility, preventing falls that can easily result in broken bones and ensuring that the right medications are being taken in the right dosages.

General Articles on Senior Health Care

  • Heart Health & Well-Being: A 5-Point Plan

    By: Julie Davis

    As we get older and chronic conditions surface—whether it’s high blood pressure, another form of heart disease or diabetes, for instance—taking medication becomes vital.

  • Senior Fitness: Muscle Strength May Stave Off Alzheimer’s And Other Health Issues

    By: Julie Davis

    Strength training for seniors has cognitive and physical benefits—and it can be easy and fun.

  • Lifestyle Changes Reduce Stroke Risk

    By: Julie Davis

    New guidelines issued by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association say that people who make healthy lifestyle choices can significantly reduce stroke risk by 80 percent.

  • 5 Steps To Protect Against Extreme Heat’s Effects On Seniors

    By: Kathy Johnson

    Extreme heat is a leading cause of preventable death among seniors and with recent record-breaking temperatures, it is important seniors and caregivers know how to stay safe in hot weather.

  • Keeping Your Balance

    By: Chris Iliades

    About eight million Americans have balance problems and one in three Americans over age 65 will fall every year. Injuries from falls, like a fractured hip, can change a senior's life in ways senior fear most—isolation and loss of independence.

  • Is Complementary And Alternative Medicine Right For You?

    More and more people, seniors included, are turning to complementary and alternative medicine to ease various conditions.

  • Vitamin D Deficiency: A Common Risk Factor for Seniors

    By: Chris Iliades

    Years ago doctors were mainly concerned about vitamin D deficiency in children. Foods were fortified with vitamin D to prevent the bone disease called rickets. Now we know that rickets was only the tip of the iceberg and that seniors are also at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. According to a recent study in the journal Age and Ageing, vitamin D deficiency may contribute to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, hip fractures, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and poor general health in seniors.

  • Walkers for Seniors: A Better Way to Look at This Independence Device

    By: Julie Davis

    Far from being a sign of weakness, consider walkers for seniors as a way to stay active and confident. Use these strategies to choose and use the best one for you.

  • Organize Vital Health Records With The Mayo Clinic Health Manager

    Nearly one in eight American adults—12 percent of the population—provides care for an aging parent, according to the Pew Research Center. The study also found that about 7 to 10 million American adults are helping manage care for an aging parent from a long distance. The task of managing the health of an aging parent—and even your own health—is made much simpler with Mayo Clinic Health Manager.

  • Take a Long Winter’s Nap

    By: Deborah Quilter

    We all need more sleep in winter, but sleep problems can mean we end up getting even less. Learn about certain habits that may be keeping you up at night.

  • Vestibular Rehabilitation: Fixing Balance Issues

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Elderly people are often plagued with dizziness or other sensations that make them feel unsafe walking or moving and leave them worried about how to avoid falling. These problems might occur as a result of sedentary behavior—and be resolved with physical activity—or they may require the services of a vestibular rehabilitation therapist to help.

  • 10 Essential Health Tips For Seniors

    Learn about 10 easy health tips for seniors to help baby boomers live longer and thrive.

  • Skin Health for Seniors

    As we age, our skin changes. Because skin infections can become dangerous, it is essential that aging adults take care of their skin and tend to their special skin needs.
  • Good Cholesterol Levels Have Been Linked to Cancer Prevention

    By: Chris Iliades

    Almost everyone knows that high cholesterol is not good for the heart. But not all cholesterol is bad. There is one type of cholesterol we should strive to increase. Cholesterol is carried throughout the body’s cells by lipoproteins.

  • Patient Care: The Healing Power of Your Environment

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Traditionally, people bring flowers to sick people. But this type of patient care may do more than just cheer them up. According to a study in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, the physical environment has important implications for the disease process.

  • Helping Older Adults with Mobility Problems

    From simple walking canes, to sophisticated scooters and electric wheelchairs, there are affordable mobility devices available to help older adults get out and enjoy life.
  • High Blood Pressure Decreases Walking Speed in the Elderly

    By: Julie Davis

    According to a study of older adults, high blood pressure can lower their ability to walk properly. This can lead to a loss of independence and other health problems.
  • Matters of the Heart

    By: Margaret Lewin

    February is National Heart Month and not just because of Valentine’s Day. Heart health is vital, and for women as well as men.

  • Tips to Help Seniors Have a Comfortable and Healthy Flight

    By: Steve Barlam

    Make airplane travel less taxing by planning ahead. Get tips to for a healthier flight. 

  • Recognizing Depression in Your Elderly Parent

    Stress can lead to depression. While many aging Americans look forward to a happy and healthy retirement, many seniors face a disproportionate amount of stressors. Losing loved ones, feeling useless and unproductive after years on the job, loss or decline in physical senses, chronic illness, and the financial pressure of mounting medical bills can, and often do, lead to depression among seniors even if there has been no prior history of mental illenss.  Says Kathleen Buckwalter, PhD, RN, professor of gerontological nursing with the University of Iowa.

  • Brain Makeover: A Holistic Approach To Brain Health

    There is no "magic pill" for your brain. It is part of a whole ecosystem that includes your body and all your surroundings—that means the artificial flavors, dyes and additives in your favorite junk food and the chemicals in the hair spray you just inhaled.

  • Safety First: Fall Risks and Fall Prevention Tips

    There is nothing more important than slip and fall prevention when providing elderly care. Fall risk prevention means making the home or living environment as safe as possible for a parent, grandparent or any elderly person. According to the CDC, traumatic brain injuries resulting from falls caused roughly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations in the past three years. The risks of women suffering from fall fractures is alarming, with nearly 72% of seniors admitted to hospitals for hip fractures being women.

  • The Health Risks Of A High Sodium, Low Potassium Diet

    By: Julie Davis

    Health risks of too much sodium are greater than previously thought. Learn how to cut salt and, as importantly, boost potassium. 

  • 5 Considerations Before Buying A Hearing Aid

    By: Lisa Tseng

    More than 85 percent of people who could benefit from using a hearing aid do not actually use them, often because of cost or lack of access to a hearing health professional. Innovations can help you overcome these hurdles.

  • New CDC Vital Signs: CDC finds 200,000 heart disease and stroke deaths could be prevented

    More than 200,000 preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke occurred in the United States in 2010, according to a new Vital Signs report.

  • Preventing Falls: Five Dangers That Affect Seniors’ Stability

    Find out about five hidden risk factors that can lead to life-threatening falls in seniors.

  • Million Hearts Health Initiative: Make Yours One of Them

    By: Julie Davis

    Tens of millions of Americans have untreated high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Learn how to lower your risk.

  • Epigenetics: Why Your Genes Don’t Necessarily Predict Your Future

    By: Deborah Quilter

    There’s quite a bit you can do to turn around poor genetic heritage. Your genes “bathe” in your environment, so you can choose good or bad ingredients for them.

  • The Best Father’s Day Gifts

    By: Leslie Michelson

    Here are five great ways to help your dad take control of his health and improve longevity. 

  • Seniors And Stroke: How Neighborhood Support Helps Survival

    By: Julie Davis

    A closely knit neighborhood not only helps seniors avoid isolation, but it can also provide a lifeline after a stroke.

  • Health Care Reform And Getting The Care You Need

    More seniors need to take advantage of the annual preventive health visit covered by Medicare. 

  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Understanding Treatment Options

    Healthy, functioning joints are frequently taken for granted.

  • Whooping Cough Outbreak Is On the Rise Nationally: Your Parents Could Be At Risk

    By: Martine Ehrenclou

    Whooping cough (Pertussis) is not just a childhood disease. Pertussis mainly affects infants, un-immunized children and elderly adults. Complications include pneumonia, ear infection, vomiting and dehydration if left untreated.

  • 10 Surprising Things Everyone Should Know To Boost Brain Health

    By: Cynthia Green

    Brain health is today's hottest health topic. While research gives us more and more answers about what we can do to safeguard our brain health and significantly lower our risk for diseases such as Alzheimer's, the average person has little idea what exactly they can do.

  • Headache? Muscle Cramps? Grab Some Water!

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Have you ever felt headachy, nauseous or experienced muscle cramps in hot humid weather? You may be experiencing dehydration, not harboring some flu bug. And the cure is drinking a glass of water or, better yet, several glasses over the course of each day for better senior health.

  • 6 Ways To Help Keep Your Parents Cancer-Free?

    When it comes to encouraging aging parents to live a healthy lifestyle aimed at cancer prevention, experts at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center agree that it’s never too late.

  • You’re Never Too Old For Skin Cancer Awareness

    By: Julie Davis

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available, almost 54,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer—more than 8,441 people died from it.

  • 5 Ways To Stay Active & Live Better

    By: Julie Davis

    May might be Older Americans Month, but the non-profit organization, Nourish America, has developed a program that reaches out to seniors to promote senior health year-round by working with leading national and local organizations that benefit seniors.

  • Fighting Depression In Seniors With Psychotherapy

    By: Julie Davis

    Most of the psychosocial problems affecting the elderly are due to depression, and depression can be traced to any of a numbers causes, like the death of a loved one or close friend, a senior transition such as retirement or transfer to a new home, pain from chronic health conditions, insomnia, or even a violent event such as burglary or assault.

  • Protect Your Health By Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

    The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released the "State of the Air 2010" report card on air quality, ranking cities most affected by outdoor air pollution (the top six are in California—Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Bakersfield, Visalia-Porterville, Fresno-Madera, Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City and Hanford-Corcoran).

  • Benefits of Far Infrared Heat Therapy For Seniors

    For natural pain relief from everyday, chronic aches, try far infrared heat therapy—as close as a new heating pad.

  • Yoga For Heart Health

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Many people think that you need to do vigorous cardiovascular exercise to work up a sweat and get your pulse racing for heart health. Yoga offers another approach with gentle exercise and easy meditation.

  • Ayurveda for Digestive Health

    By: Deborah Quilter

    The ancient practice of Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga which uses herbs, oils and lifestyle advice to correct physical ailments.

  • Breathing Well, Part 5: Easy Breathing Exercises

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Breathing is essential to life itself, yet most people never give a thought to how they breathe unless they are having breathing problems. By learning a few important facets of breathing, however, you can dramatically transform your state of mind and health.

  • Ayurveda for Aging

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Though it is 5,000 years old, many people have not heard of the ancient art of Ayurveda, which can be a boon to the aging process. And unlike many modern medications, this alternative approach doesn’t have unpleasant side effects. Ayurveda utilizes herbal remedies, spices, dietary guidelines, oil therapies and lifestyle advice to achieve effects that may be subtle in the beginning, but eventually can lead to profound improvements and aging well. Once people learn a little about the principles of Ayurveda, it usually begins makes an enormous amount of sense to them, according to Beth Biegler, a Manhattan Ayurvedic practitioner who studied with famed Vasant Lad, founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico.

  • Why Seniors Don't Wear Hearing Aids

    By: Chris Iliades

    Presbycusis is the medical term for hearing loss that is due to the aging process and is the most common cause of hearing loss in the elderly. In the vast majority of cases this type of hearing loss is not curable or treatable and the best solution is a hearing aid. According to a recent article published in the ENT—Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, presbycusis occurs in 50 percent of seniors between the ages of 75 and 84 and increases to 95 percent by age 94.

  • Substance Abuse in the Elderly: A Growing Problem

    By: Chris Iliades

    Abuse of alcohol among adults over the age of 65 has been estimated to be as high as 17 percent. Although seniors make up about 14 percent of the US population, they account for about 25 percent of yearly prescription drugs. As many of these prescriptions are for chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety, this can be a dangerous cocktail for seniors. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of cases of substance abuse in the elderly is predicted to double by the year 2020.

  • Dump The (Dowager’s) Hump

    By: Deborah Quilter

    According to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by Dr. Gail Greendale of the University of California at Los Angeles, yoga can help. The study found that among a group of elderly study participants, those who did yoga for six months saw their upper spine curve lowered by about 5 percent compared to those who did no yoga.
    Reducing Dowager’s hump will improve your appearance, but it also has important health benefits as well.

  • Breathing Well, Part 4: Using a Neti Pot

    By: Deborah Quilter

    If you’ve ever had a stuffy nose, you understand how important free breathing is. Oxygen helps every part of the body function, but more than that, clear, unobstructed breathing leads to vitality and health, important for senior health. Poor breathing can lead to stress, insomnia and many other ailments.

    One excellent way to clear your nasal passages is through the ancient Yogic practice of neti. This is a warm saline bath for your nasal passages. It keeps them clean, removing dust and allergens. You can do neti any time, but most people add it to their morning routine. Once you experience how clean your nostrils are (and how clear your breathing is!) it will be like leaving the house without brushing your teeth if you forget to do it.

  • Tai Chi For Bone Health

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Lewis Paleias was once introduced to a doctor in Shanghai, China as a teacher who taught Tai Chi for bone density in the United States. With a jab to Paleias’ sternum, the doctor asked, “Don’t you people walk?”

    Paleias explained the doctor’s admonishment this way: “In China, you see old people in the park walking, dancing and doing Tai Chi. In the United States, you see old people in the park…sitting.” The Chinese penchant for walking helps keep bones healthy. And bone health has to be a top priority for everyone, even as early as age 35 when the body stops building its bone stores and certainly as we progress through all the decades that follow.

  • Breathing Well, Part 3: The Perils of Mouth-Breathing

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Think it doesn’t matter whether you breathe through your nose or mouth? According to Steven Park, MD, New York ear, nose and throat specialist and author of Sleep, Interrupted: A Physician Reveals The #1 Reason Why So Many Of Us Are Sick And Tired, which way you habitually breathe has important health implications.

  • Breathing Well, Part 2: Sleep Apnea And Snoring

    By: Deborah Quilter

    Many people think of snoring as innocuous, but according to Steven Park, MD, a Manhattan otolaryngologist who treats this problem, it can actually be a sign of a serious problem. “Most people just laugh it off. They think it’s a joke,” says Dr. Park. “But basically snorers are being suffocated through the entire night.”

  • Breathing Well: The Fundamentals

    By: Deborah Quilter

    What do weight gain, poor sleep, anxiety, fatigue, poor posture, lack of motivation, poor immunity and a host of other problems have in common?
    Answer: Poor breathing. According to Steven Park, MD, a New York City ear, nose and throat specialist and author of Sleep, Interrupted: A physician reveals the #1 reason why so many of us are sick and tired, aging well is directly proportional to how well you breathe.

  • Taking The Car Keys Away From Elderly Parents

    By: Kathy Johnson

    Many older adults are capable of driving safely, even into their 70s and 80s. But people age differently. Several factors place seniors at much greater risk for road accidents and affect seniors’ driving ability.

  • Seniors Behind The Wheel: Helping Elderly Parents Transition From Driver To Passenger

    Losing the ability to drive can be stressful for the elderly. Helping elderly parents transition from driver to passenger takes a great deal of compassion and planning.

  • Sleep Difficulties in the Elderly

    Often people think of trouble sleeping as simply a part of growing older. It is not. The body does require less sleep as we age, but severe sleeping problems or insomnia in the elderly are the cause of poor sleep habits, side effects of medications, untreated sleep disorders or other medical conditions – and not a part of the normal aging process.

  • Why Preventing a Fall Matters

    Falls are the leading cause of injuries to older people in the United States, and the resulting broken bones often set off a downward spiral in health. But despite their frequent occurrence, falls are not an inevitable outcome of aging.

  • Overmedication in the Elderly

    It is undeniable that drugs do save lives, but few prescription medications are completely free of risks or side effects. Naturally, the more drugs that are taken at the same time, the greater the risk of adverse interactions and potentially devastating side effects. This problem of “overmedication” is increasing to almost epidemic proportions among the elderly. Take for example a recent Washington Post article that described an 83-year-old grandmother who wished to remain anonymous.

  • Preventing Infections in the Elderly

    Did you know that according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), "many signs and symptoms of infection that are common in younger adults, particularly fever and high white blood cell count, present less frequently or not at all in older adults." In addition, "changes caused by infection in the elderly are subtle, and nonspecific complaints may be the only indications. Elderly patients with infections commonly present with cognitive impairment or a change in mental status. In fact, frank delirium occurs in 50 percent of older adults with infections."

  • Preventing Bedsores and Pressure Sensitive Ulcerations

    Bedsores can be a serous problem for bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound persons. Bedsores are better described as pressure sores or pressure sensitive ulcers. A pressure sore is the result of an injury to the skin and the tissue below caused by a constant pressure to the area, as can occur in an elderly person who is in bed or seated most of the time. Bedsores can occur anywhere on the body, but they are most common in boney areas such as the heel, elbow, ankle or hip – and the pressure points on the back, legs, shoulders and buttocks. Pressure sores can be serious, even life threatening. Pressure sores are typically difficult to heal, and in the elderly population made more so due to diabetes and other conditions that affect wound healing. Doctors agree that it is far better to prevent bedsores than to treat them.

  • Medication Madness

    It’s an inescapable fact that as our parents age there is an increased dependence on medication. Elderly adults in America take more medications now than ever before. The main reason is that while our aging population is living longer, they are also suffering from more chronic conditions for which drugs are prescribed. According to United States Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the safe and proper use of medications, adults in America over 65 years of age consume more than 30% of all prescription medications and buy over 40% of all over the counter (OTC) medications. A recent study by the group found the average person over 65 takes as many as two to seven prescription medications every day.

  • Strategies for Improving Balance in Seniors

    The older we get, the more difficulties we have with balance. Sometimes it’s because of changes in our eyesight; other times it can be caused by medication side effects, or the result of a loss of strength. Taking steps to help parents improve balance is essential, especially for the elderly. Not only will it help them live longer, but improved balance will also help people to live a healthier and more active life.

  • The Aging Parent Driving Dilemma

    Driving for most of us represents freedom, independence and control and allows us to go where we want to and have the experiences we would liketo have.  But driving is a sophisticated skill which required complex cognitive functioning.  It's important that your begin a dialogue with your parent about driving. However,  as long as your aging parent is capable of driving safely and has not exhibited any difficulty in driving, he or she should be able to continue driving. Currently, there are 30 million drivers over the age 65 in the United States.