Cholesterol Conundrum: Good vs. Bad and What It Means for Your Diet

Cholesterol is described as a wax-like substance that is found in our bodies. Unlike other negative connotations about cholesterol, this substance is necessary for the production of hormones, cells, and vitamins. However, too much of it will cause major health problems such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and other heart diseases.

This substance is naturally produced by our liver and can also be acquired through the food that we eat like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Though cholesterol may not be that bad for the body, cholesterol levels should still be monitored and controlled.

Types of Cholesterol Found In Your Body

Before we jump on how to monitor your cholesterol levels first let’s discuss the different types of cholesterol flowing through your bloodstream. These include:

What are the Levels?

Knowing your cholesterol levels helps you keep track of how your health is doing and how likely you are to get heart disease.

How To Monitor Cholesterol Levels?

You may go through a specific type of blood test called, a “lipid panel” or “lipid profile”. Your doctor will schedule your blood test a day or 2 earlier as it usually requires 12-hour fasting before being tested.

On the day of the test,  your doctor will get a blood sample from the vein in your arm and afterward, will run a series of tests in the laboratory. After the test, your doctor will show you the results in the:

What is The Normal Cholesterol Level?

In measuring cholesterol levels, doctors usually provide 4 measurements which are the total cholesterol level, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides. Below is the categorization of normal, borderline high, and excessively high cholesterol levels in adults (20 and above).

For total cholesterol levels

For LDL levels

For HDL levels (In Women)

For HDL Levels (In Men)

For triglyceride levels

Note: Talk to your healthcare provider about your results so that s/he will give the right treatment and advice necessary to achieve normal cholesterol levels.

What Happens if You Have Too Much Cholesterol?

Too much cholesterol level may cause cholesterol build-up in your arteries which will negatively affect blood flow. In some cases, the arteries where cholesterol deposits are accumulated may completely block the blood flow and then eventually break causing blot clots. These blood clots may cause a heart attack or stroke. In some cases, high cholesterol can also trigger hypertension and other heart-related conditions.

Causes and Risk Factors of High Cholesterol

According to Mayo Clinic, some medical conditions may worsen high cholesterol such as:

Aside from medical conditions, there are other risk factors of high cholesterol such as:

  1. Age - Though high cholesterol can affect people of all ages, it is still more common in older adults usually at the age of 40 and above.
  2. Poor diet - This refers to eating foods with high amounts of unhealthy fats found in red meats, junk foods, and dairy products.
  3. Physical inactivity - Exercising helps burn excessive cholesterol from your body and boosts the function of HDL. However, physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.
  4. Obesity - Also caused by poor diet, being obese may increase your risk of cholesterol build-up.
  5. Vices - This includes excessive alcohol drinking and smoking. Most alcoholic drinks contain high levels of unhealthy fats that may increase LDL in your body, while smoking will negatively affect normal levels of HDL in your body.
Tips to Control Cholesterol Levels

If you found out that you have high or excessively high total cholesterol levels, it’s time to make changes in your lifestyle. To help you with that, here are several healthy tips from Cleveland Clinic to keep your cholesterol levels at their normal state:

Aside from lifestyle changes, there are also drug therapies you might want to try in treating high cholesterol:

Takeaway

Cholesterol is not an entirely bad substance in our body as long as we know how to keep its levels normal, because too much of it may cause serious health issues, particularly in cardiovascular health. To achieve healthy levels of cholesterol in your body, it’s crucial to follow the tips mentioned above.

Cataract Surgery: A Patient's Journey from Clouded Vision to Crystal Clarity

Cataract surgery is a safe and easy procedure to remove the lenses in your eyes affected by cataracts and replace them with safe, artificial lenses called the Intraocular lens (IOL). Some people with Cataracts don’t usually need surgery as they can see and read just fine, however, as the disease progresses, the person affected will eventually experience its symptoms causing vision loss. Read this article to learn more.

What is a Cataract?

Our eyes, just like a camera, has lenses, which are located behind our irises. For us to see, light passes through these lenses and with the help of the brain, lets you see and process the image or objects in front of you.

If these lenses are blocked by a cataract, there will be a disruption of light passing through the lenses making your vision foggy or blurry. The effect of a cataract on your vision depends on the location and severity of the Cataract. If you have Cataracts that are starting to affect your vision, then you might need cataract surgery.

Types of Cataracts

Various types of Cataracts include:

Common Causes of Cataracts

The most common causes why cataracts form is because of:

  1. Old age - Cataracts usually develop during the senior years. According to Cleveland Clinic, about 50% of seniors at the age of 80 and older have cataracts.
  2. Heredity/Genetics - Genetics also play a role in the possibility of having Cataracts. If people from your family tree have Cataracts when they were older, it’s more likely that you’ll have it too when you get older.

Other than these 2, there are also risk factors for having cataracts such as:

Symptoms of Cataracts

Symptoms of Cataracts include:

Note: At the beginning stages, cataracts don’t usually affect your vision, but if it’s starting to affect your eyesight and brings you inconvenience, Cataract surgery is the solution.

Types of Cataract Surgery

There are mainly 2 types of Cataract surgery performed depending on their severity. The 2 types include:

Before, During, and After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery only takes about an hour or less, and you are usually allowed to leave the hospital the same day. Though it’s a minor operation, preparing for the day of surgery should be taken seriously, in this part, I will share some of the things you should expect before, during, and after surgery.

Before Surgery

Preparation before surgery usually takes a week. And during this phase, your ophthalmologist will conduct tests and ultrasound on your eyes to determine the proper size and focusing power of the IOL that will be used to replace your lens. Different types of IOL Include:

Your doctor might also prescribe some eye drop medications prior to surgery to reduce the possibility of swelling and infection. You should expect some medicine or food restrictions as well.

During Surgery

During the surgery, expect your surgeon will:

After Surgery

Your recovery period will take about weeks before your eyes are fully healed. You might also feel several side effects a few days after the surgery such as:

You also need to regularly use the eye drops prescribed by your doctor and have weekly follow-up checkups. You should also avoid:

Note: If you experience persistent swelling, pain, or vision loss after surgery, tell your ophthalmologist immediately.

Where Can I Inquire for Cataract Surgery

You can inquire and plan for a cataract surgery first by finding the nearest Ophthalmologist or hospital.

Takeaways

A cataract is a common disease in the eyes among seniors. Though it might not be a life-threatening condition, it still brings about inconvenience and discomfort. If you feel that your Cataract is starting to hinder your daily activities, then it might be height time to get cataract surgery.

Endorphins and Their Impact on Health and Happiness - The Science of Happiness

Endorphins are neurotransmitters or hormones responsible for relieving pain and providing the “feel good” feeling you experience whenever you’re engaged in pleasurable activities such as exercise, sex, massage, or laughing. Endorphins can relieve stress and anxiety as well.

There are a lot of benefits Endorphins have to offer, and it’s a necessity for our body to function well. A deficiency of these hormones can trigger symptoms and health conditions that you surely don’t want to experience. Want to learn more about what Endorphins can do and how to avoid deficiency of such? Read further to know more.

How Endorphins Work

Endorphins are produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, both of which are located in our brains. Every time we experience pain or pleasure, these parts of the brain will release endorphins.

Why does this happen? It’s because Endorphins work as neurotransmitters that attach themselves to the reward centers of the brain called the opioid receptors. These receptors act similarly to opioid drugs (e.g., morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.).

For a better understanding, Endorphins are coined by blending two words which are “endogenous” meaning “from the body” and “morphine” which refers to a common pain reliever drug. With these two meanings combined, it means something close to a “natural pain reliever produced by our body”.

What’s The Difference Between Endorphin and Dopamine

To better understand the difference between Endorphins and Dopamine, first, let’s know the definitions of the two.

Endorphins are like natural pain relievers produced by our pituitary glands and hypothalamus and are usually released immediately during exercise, massage sessions, and other physical activities.

Dopamine acts the same as Endorphins, however, compared to Endorphins, Dopamine is released slower and we usually feel its effects after pleasurable activities like sex, laughing out loud, or eating chocolates and spicy foods.

Benefits of Endorphins

If you think Endorphins are just mere compounds in our body, think again, in fact, you can get a lot of benefits from them such as:

What Happens When Our Body Has Low Endorphin Levels

Endorphins are necessary hormones that help alleviate pain and provide a “feel-good feeling” whenever you do pleasurable activities, without them, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

Aside from the aforementioned symptoms, low endorphin levels can also trigger health conditions such as:

  1. Fibromyalgia - This is a chronic condition wherein the patient experiences pain throughout the body. Though it’s still not clear as to how it happens, several studies concluded that Fibromyalgia is caused by a lack of Endorphins. Additionally, this condition is also believed to be one triggering factor of troubled sleeping.
  2. Addiction to exercise - Exercise is a major example of an activity that activates Endorphins, people with Endorphin deficiency might get addicted to exercise as they struggle to achieve that “feel-good” effect of these hormones.
  3. Self-harm - Due to low levels of Endorphins, your body cannot deal with stress and depression, thus, may lead to self-harm. This is only the time when they feel the effect of endorphins, known as the “Endorphin rush”.
  4. Chronic Headaches - Chronic headaches are also believed to be one cause of low endorphin levels. According to recent research published in the National Library of Medicine, People who have episodic and chronic migraines have significantly lower Endorphin levels than those who rarely experience migraine. This implies how important it is to regulate Endorphine levels and treat deficiencies of such.
How To Increase Endorphin Levels

If you experience symptoms of low endorphin levels, here are some things you should do:

Takeaway

Endorphins play a vital role in our well-being. Not only does it relieve pain, depression, and anxiety, but it also helps us become more energized and enthusiastic. If you want to boost your body’s release of Endorphins, now’s the time to do the activities mentioned above.

Physical Therapy and Chronic Pain Management: A Winning Approach

Physical therapy is a type of care or treatment that is administered by licensed physical therapists. It involves physical treatments to help a patient recover from a certain injury, immobility, or surgery. You can access physical therapy services in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

For example, stroke patients usually have mobility problems, though brain damage caused by a stroke can be immediately treated, regaining mobility can be hard. But with the help of stroke rehabilitation, a type of neurological physical therapy, the patient can regain his/her strength faster and earlier than expected.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

If you still don’t know what good physical therapy can do to your physical health, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital offers a list of benefits you can reap from it including:

Who Needs Therapy?

Physical therapy helps patients recover from a wide variety of illnesses. Doctors sometimes refer their patients to physical therapists to assist them throughout their recovery period especially if it involves injuries. However, some standalone physical therapists can cater to people’s physical health needs such as people with:

  1. Cardiopulmonary conditions - This refers to health conditions involving the heart and lungs. Examples of these conditions are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Bronchitis, Heart Failure, and Emphysema.
  2. Immobility - This refers to conditions that affect mobility in the hands, joints, and feet. Examples of conditions that involve mobility problems include Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, and Spinal Cord Injury.
  3. Musculoskeletal dysfunction - These refer to disorders that affect movements and bodily functions specifically in the nerves, tendons, ligaments, or blood vessels. Examples of musculoskeletal dysfunction are Arthritis, Tendon Strain, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.
  4. Neurological conditions - Diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Injuries, and other spinal conditions fall under neurological conditions.
  5. Pediatric conditions - These refer to conditions that affect infants, children, and adolescents. Several examples of pediatric conditions that can be treated by physical therapy include Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spina Bifida.
  6. Skin conditions - Skin burns and other skin conditions can also affect one’s mobility and senses.
  7. Pelvic floor dysfunction - This refers to the difficulty to excrete feces and urinate due to problems in the pelvic floor muscles.

What to Expect in a Physical Therapy

Before undergoing physical therapy, you first need to go through a thorough examination. This will help ensure that you are going to receive the right physical therapy depending on your condition. In this phase, expect that your physical therapist will:

After going through these tests, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist specializing in your condition. Generally, physical therapy involves:

Note: Learn more about the specific types of physical therapy in the next part of the article.

Types of Physical Therapy

There are different types of physical therapy and each is specialized for specific conditions. According to Medical News Today, these types include:

Orthopedic physical therapy - This type of physical therapy is intended to treat and improve your musculoskeletal systems such as your bones, joints, tissues, muscles, and tendons.

You may undergo passive modalities which refer to treatments that involve medications. Another is active modalities wherein you will engage in specialized physical exercises. Specifically, it involves:

Neurological physical therapy - Patients with mobility problems due to illness and injury in the brain may be referred to a neurological physical therapist. In this physical therapy, patients may undergo:

Cardiovascular physical therapy - This type of therapy helps patients with cardiopulmonary diseases so that they can learn breathing techniques and improve their heart function. Treatments may include:

Vestibular therapy - This type of therapy is intended for patients suffering from vestibular injuries caused by an ear infection, neck injury, or head trauma. Treatments may include specialized movements and exercise therapy to regain one’s balance, coordination, and senses.

Decongestive therapy - This type of therapy is used to treat patients with Lymphedema, or the abnormal accumulation of fluid in different parts of the body. Treatments may include:

Wound care therapy - From the term itself, wound care therapy is specifically used to ensure that a wound is healing properly. Wound care therapy treats necrotic wounds, arterial wounds, and unstageable pressure ulcers. Treatments may include:

Pelvic floor rehabilitation - This type of therapy is for the treatment of pelvic floor disorders (e.g., constipation, frequent peeing, etc) due to previous injury or surgery. It is useful to relieve pelvic pain as well. Pelvic floor rehabilitation may include treatments like:

Pediatric physical therapy - This kind of therapy is specifically for infants, children, and adolescents who are suffering from various conditions like Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Developmental Delays, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Various activities that a Physical Therapist will administer to these young patients include:

Where Can I Find a Physical Therapist?

You might be asking yourself where you can find a physical therapist. Fortunately, finding is an easy task for you because there are a lot of sources you can try. To begin your journey, start by visiting places that offer services:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Clinics
  3. Nursing homes
  4. Rehab centers
  5. Sports medicine offices
  6. Assisted living homes

You can also follow the tips below for more convenience on your lookout.

Takeaway

Physical Therapy offers many benefits to patients with mobility and sensory issues. There are different types of physical therapies depending on the patient’s condition. If you are suffering from mobility and balance problems, you might need to consult a physical therapist.

Gum Disease: Effective Strategies for Restoring Oral Health

Gum disease treatments may include surgical or non-surgical procedures depending on the severity of the disease. Also in treating gum disease, it is necessary to take the prescribed medicines and maintain good oral hygiene to prevent its recurrence.

Gum diseases like Gingivitis and Periodontitis are common, it affects 20 - 50 percent of the global population. Though the early stages of gum disease may not cause pain or inconvenience, it’s still advisable to get your teeth checked at least once or twice a year so that early stages of gum disease can be treated.

What is Gum Disease?

Before we jump on to the main part of this article, let us first have an overview of the definition, causes, and symptoms of gum disease.

There are 2 types of gum disease namely:

  1. Gingivitis - This condition is considered the early stage of Periodontitis which is less serious and can be treated with professional cleaning and good oral hygiene. Though symptoms are manageable, it’s still important to get it checked and treated before it progresses into Periodontitis.
  2. Periodontitis - This condition is more severe than Gingivitis and might need both non-surgical and surgical treatments. Also, compared to Gingivitis, symptoms of Periodontitis may cause discomfort and difficulty in chewing. This type of gum disease affects about 70 percent of Americans aged 65 years or older and about 47 percent of Americans aged 30 and above.

The Causes

Gum disease is due to plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque consists of bacteria, and without proper oral hygiene, it may cause swelling and inflammation in the gums.

Over time, this plaque build-up will harden becoming tartar, which is a stubborn substance that can only be removed with a professional’s help. If tartar build-up is not treated immediately, it will later progress into severe gum disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

It’s crucial to get your teeth checked by a professional if you experience the following signs of gum disease:

Note: If you think you have gum disease, it’s important to get your mouth checked as soon as possible.

Treatments Available for Gum Disease

Before receiving treatment, your dentist may first do a thorough examination that includes:

After a thorough examination, your dentist will determine what type of treatment is needed based on the severity of the disease. Generally, it may include non-surgical and surgical treatments.

Non-surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments include:

Surgical Treatments

For severe cases of gum disease (Periodontitis), your dentist may also perform surgical treatments such as:

Preventing Gum Disease

Preventing your mouth from any type of gum disease can help you save a lot of dollars and even avoid inconvenience. That’s why even if you are not diagnosed with gum disease, it’s crucial to get your mouth checked regularly and follow the gum disease prevention tips below.

Takeaway

All of us want to have strong, healthy teeth and gums. Not only does it improve one’s self-esteem, but it also prevents the occurrence of other diseases in the mouth. That’s why it’s important to practice good oral hygiene and treat gum disease while it’s still early. There are various gum disease treatments available nowadays. It may be non-surgical or surgical depending on the severity of the condition.

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe For Senior Citizens? Debunking Myths Surrounding COVID-19 Vaccines for Older Adults

With the rapid spread and mutation of the COVID-19 virus, many experts in the medical field devoted their time to developing a vaccine against the virus. Fortunately, many companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, with the help and support of the government, have been able to develop the said vaccine.

However, because of the very short duration of the development of the vaccine, many speculations arose about its effectiveness, and most people, especially seniors begin to demand the answer to the question, “Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for seniors?”.

How COVID-19 Vaccines Are Developed

Due to how quickly COVID-19 vaccines are made compared to other types of vaccines, many people doubt their effectiveness and safety. For your enlightenment, here are some facts about the fast development of the vaccine according to experts in the medical field.

Note: Vaccine manufacturers ensure that they’ve gone through the important steps in ensuring the safety of the vaccine. This includes:

  1. Careful testing.
  2. Authorization from the higher-ups.
  3. Careful monitoring of side effects.

Do I Need To Get Vaccinated?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), senior citizens are one of the categories of the population that have a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Additionally, since seniors are known to have a weaker immune system, unvaccinated seniors may experience more severe symptoms of the virus that requires hospitalization and intensive care. Thus, getting vaccinated is one major step against the COVID-19 virus.

Note: Seniors who have Anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions to certain medications and vaccine ingredients should not get vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC).

On the other hand, people who are allergic to common allergens, foods, insects, or latex can safely get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure if getting vaccinated is safe for you.

Possible Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine

All COVID-19 vaccines have gone through careful testing and safety review before being approved by WHO. Thus, you don’t have to worry about life-threatening side effects. However, you may experience common and mild side effects including:

So far, there are rare cases of severe side effects like Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS). However, if you experience any of the following symptoms after 2-3 weeks of getting vaccinated, report to your doctor immediately.

What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available in the US?

Listed below are the COVID-19 vaccines that are recommended by CDC and approved by the FDA.

Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna

Both of these are the most recommended vaccines against COVID-19. Part of why they are manufactured quickly is because it is made of the latest mRNA technology, an easier way to develop vaccines for infectious diseases.

This is a type of cell that is dispersed throughout the body to trigger the immune system to respond against the virus.

In terms of side effects, reports said that there are rare cases of myocarditis, or the inflammation of a muscle in the heart but usually clears up on its own after a few days. Other than that, there are no other side effects that might jeopardize one’s health.

Janssen

Also known as the Jhonson and Jhonson COVID-19 vaccine. Though it showed positive results against the COVID-19 virus, many reports stated that there is a higher risk of developing blood clots or thrombosis in patients.

Fortunately, Janssen can still be used so long as medical aides make people aware of the benefits and risks of the vaccine.

Note: If you prefer the safest way to get vaccinated, the best options would be the mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna, but if you prefer Jenssen, ask your doctor if it is suitable for you.

Where Can I Get Vaccinated?

Since December of 2021, the US government has been distributing vaccines throughout the country. If you want to get vaccinated today, here are several sources you can consider:

Other Safety Precautions Against COVID-19 That You Should Know

Even if you are vaccinated, you should still practice precautions to avoid spreading the virus. Here are several important protocols you should practice at all times.

Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 pandemic had drastically affected our lives both mentally and physically. But with the collaboration and support between countries and nations, manufacturers were been able to create vaccines against the virus in a short amount of time.

Despite many speculations, experts assure the public that these vaccines go through thorough tests to ensure that they’re safe. They also stated that getting vaccinated now is the best way to finally get back on track with the life we had before the pandemic.

Flu Prevention Tips: Effective Strategies for Preventing Infections

Influenza or flu is a common respiratory illness among people of any age. It is caused by viruses that attack the respiratory system specifically in the throat, nose, and mouth. Flu is common and occurs seasonally, but it usually goes away on its own after a week or 2. However, seniors may be at risk of serious complications caused by the flu due to a weakened immune system caused by old age.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent getting the flu including yearly vaccinations and a healthy lifestyle. In this article, I will share some crucial information you should know about the flu as well as valuable tips for you to consider.

Importance of Preventing Flu

People may think that the flu is just an ordinary sickness that goes away on its own. This may be true but not for seniors. Healthy individuals may have a lower risk of getting the flu virus, and even if they do get the virus, the symptoms may only be mild.

However, seniors specifically at the age of 65 and above, have weaker immune systems and they tend to be more at risk of the illness. In some cases, it can even trigger other chronic illnesses like pneumonia. That’s the reason why following the measures to prevent the flu is more crucial than your know.

Symptoms of the Flu Virus

The flu virus may have similar symptoms to colds and the COVID-19 virus. To help you better understand and distinguish the symptoms of flu from colds and COVID-19, below is a list of symptoms of each:

Symptoms of colds:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Cough
  3. Sneezing
  4. Runny nose

Symptoms of COVID-19:

Symptoms of flu virus:

Note: COVID-19 and flu virus symptoms are very similar, and their only difference is that COVID-19 includes the loss of your sense of smell and taste which is not present in the flu. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience the symptoms of the flu to get treatment right away and avoid further complications.

Tips to Prevent Flu in Seniors

To prevent yourself from getting and spreading the flu, follow the tips and safety measures listed below. 

Take your medicine

After getting tested and diagnosed with influenza, your doctor will most likely prescribe you specific drugs such as Bolaxavir and Zanamivir. Make sure to take your medications on time and within the said duration to take the full effects of the medicine and treat the flu as early as possible.

Consider flu shots

Opting for a high-dose flu shot is one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent you from getting the flu. It’s important to take this vaccination every year though, and during peak seasons for better protection from the flu.

Wash your hands

Our hands are considered one of the dirtiest parts of our body. It’s because it’s our hands that we use for holding, grasping, and lending objects that might be contaminated with millions of germs and bacteria.

Additionally, the influenza virus can be acquired through skin contact like a handshake and placing your hand on an object or surface that has the flu virus. This is the reason why washing your hands and using sanitizer is very crucial to avoid infection.

Get enough rest and sleep

Sleep is essential in keeping the immune system strong so that it can fight off infections that attack our body. Getting enough rest and sleep will keep your immune system properly functioning, thus reducing your risk of infections caused by the flu.

Drink plenty of water

Doctors recommend keeping yourself hydrated especially if you’re experiencing symptoms of coughing and sneezing. This is because water helps your mouth and throat loosen mucus membranes and wash it away preventing further congestion in the nasal cavities.

Cover your mouth

If you’re having influenza, it’s crucial to cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading the flu to other people. Preferably, use a facemask when you go out or interact with a person.

Stay at home as much as possible

If there are no important errands to do, it would be better if you stay at home until you’re fully recovered. Not only this will help you heal faster, but you’ll also be able to avoid infecting others.

Avoid close contact

If you still haven’t caught the flu, then do your best to avoid physical or close contact with people who have it. Make sure to sanitize your hands at all times as well especially when you’re outdoors.

Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth

This is another way to prevent being infected with the flu. As mentioned earlier, our hands are dirtier than you imagine. According to a recent article, it stated that our hands are responsible for spreading about 80% of illness-causing germs and bacteria.

In this case, you may have already put a hand on an object or surface that has a flu virus. Thus, touching your nose, eyes, or mouth can increase your risk of getting the flu. This is also the reason why washing your hands is very important.

Always disinfect

Just like COVID-19, the flu virus can be prevented through frequent disinfecting. Make sure to disinfect various surfaces and objects in your home or workplace to avoid the spread of the flu.

Treating Flu Virus

If you notice the symptoms of the flu mentioned above, talk to your doctor to get the right treatment. Doctors usually recommend flu treatment medications such as:

  1. Oseltamivir
  2. Peramivir
  3. Zanamivir
  4. Baloxavir
Importance of Yearly Flu Shots in Seniors

One of the most recommended options for seniors to reduce the risk of getting the flu is to get regular flu vaccinations, or what they call, “flu shots”.

Flu is a seasonal sickness, which means that it has a specific peak season every year. The virus usually spreads easily during the start of the fall and winter season usually between October and February the following year.

Since the effects of a flu shot will lessen as time passes, the best time for getting vaccinated is before or during the peak seasons each year.

Moreover, experts say that the effect and strength of the influenza virus change each year that’s why hospitals ensure that seniors always get the latest version of the flu shot every year.

Where to Get Flu Shots for Seniors

If you’re planning on getting a flu vaccination next fall, you can get one from your doctor, at the hospital, health clinic, or at the nearest health department. For easier access to flu vaccine sources, visit vaccines.gov and type your location. The website will automatically provide a list of available sources near you.

Final Thoughts

Flu is common not just in the US, but also in different countries around the globe, and the most at risk of getting it are seniors since they have a weaker immune system. Fortunately, this is a treatable and preventable disease, and you don’t have to spend a lot of dollars on it. Medicare and other insurance companies may even cover your yearly flu shot expenses.

Walkers for Seniors: Where to Find Them and What to Look For

Walkers for seniors help people in their golden years to walk and reach longer distances despite mobility and balance issues. It is in fact one of the most beneficial inventions for disabled individuals and seniors. Aside from their physical benefits, walkers also provide more opportunities for the elderly to engage in social activities. This will reduce their risk of falling into feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

With the growing demand for walkers nowadays, there are a lot of styles and designs being produced. The myriad of options has given seniors the difficulty of choosing the one that best fits their needs. In this article, we will share essential facts about walkers for seniors, their types, benefits, and the top choices seniors should consider.

What is a Walker?

A walker is a tool used by people who struggle to walk due to injury or disability in their lower extremities. Also, as people age, it is pretty common among seniors to have balance and mobility issues, and this is where walkers become helpful to them.

A typical walker has four legs on the ground and a handle on top for the user to grasp while walking. Unlike a walking stick or cane, a walker has a better support base to avoid strain on the lower extremities of the user.

Benefits of a Walker for Seniors

Walkers offer a lot of benefits to seniors which are the following:

Types of Walkers for Seniors

Before deciding on buying a walker, it’s important to know its different types based on the design and the patient’s condition. This will give you a general assessment of what type of walker you should choose. Below is the list of three main types of walkers for seniors.

Four-wheeled or rollator walker

This type of walker has four legs, all with wheels on them. Rollator walkers come with push-down brakes where the user uses his foot to press the brakes or grip brakes for seniors who have osteoporosis or rheumatic conditions.

These usually come with a basket and built-in chair to give seniors somewhere to sit during space breaks. Compared to standard types of walkers, rollator walkers are a little heavier and bulkier. But when it comes to convenience and high-end comfort, a rollator walker is a good investment.

Two-wheeled or front-wheeled walker

Unlike rollators, two-wheeled or front-wheeled walkers are more lightweight. It has two legs with wheels on the front and two legs without wheels on the rear. Front-wheeled walkers are suitable for seniors who need extra support but without straining their hands and arms since all they have to do is push the walker instead of carrying it as with standard walkers.

However, front-wheeled walkers may not be suitable for seniors with poor coordination and balance. But If we talk about portability, a front-wheeled walker is an excellent option.

Standard walker or the zimmer frame

Standard walkers refer to walkers that have no wheels. This is a good choice for seniors who have balance and stability issues. Also, unlike the other types of walkers, the standard type is more affordable and lightweight, making it a good candidate for seniors on a budget.

Factors to Consider

Now that you know the different types of walkers for seniors, you should also consider the following factors before buying one.

  1. Price - Are you on a budget? Or are you willing to invest a generous sum of dollars? Walkers typically cost 50 to 300 dollars depending on the type you choose. For seniors on a budget, opting for a standard-type walker is a good choice. Wheeled and rollator walkers are more expensive and can be opted for by seniors who are willing to invest in additional features.
  2. Foldability - If you are a senior who often moves or travels, choose a walker that is lightweight and easy to fold.
  3. Weight - Standard walkers are generally more lightweight than wheeled ones. However, rollators are good options too if you always have a lot of stuff with you while walking long distances since these models usually come with baskets.
  4. Width - When it comes to width, it’s important to check whether the model you are planning to buy can fit your door and passageways. Most models are 22-27 inches wide, if you have narrow doors, opt for narrower models. The width should also be proportionate to your body stature.
  5. Handle height - The handle height of the walker should also be proportionate to your overall height.
  6. Capacity - Walkers have their capacity limit, so when buying one, make sure that the walker should be durable enough to carry your weight.
  7. Type of brakes - Walker brakes are only applicable to rollator type of walkers. There are generally two types of brakes: One which is controlled by the feet; and one that is controlled by the hands. Seniors with arthritis should opt for hand grip brakes so as not to strain their lower extremities.
Top Walker Choices for Seniors

Final Word

Walkers are a helpful tool for the disabled and also for seniors who have problems with balance and mobility. Walkers help seniors not just by walking, but also by providing them with more opportunities to socialize and travel. Though it may turn out to be a bit expensive to some, it is still an excellent investment for seniors.

Low Blood Pressure: Understanding the Risks and Treatment Options for Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure or hypotension is when your blood pressure drops to an abnormal level where the systolic pressure is below 90 while the diastolic pressure is below 60. There are different possible causes why a person’s blood pressure levels drop. It may be due to dehydration, allergies, blood loss, etc.

Its severity may also range from person to person. Some cases may not involve any symptoms, others may feel dizzy or lightheaded, and it can be life-threatening to other people. It’s crucial to know the root cause of hypotension to get the proper treatment for you. If left with no cure, it’ll lead to complications such as fainting and injuries from falls.

Types of Low Blood Pressure

There are different types of hypotension. Knowing these will help you and your doctor determine what treatment is best for you.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Prevalent in older adults, this happens when your blood pressure suddenly drops after standing up from a sitting position or when you lie down. The drop in blood pressure can either be due to severe dehydration, pregnancy, prolonged bed rest, health condition, or medication. Fortunately, this type of hypotension may only last for about a few seconds or minutes.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

This type of hypotension happens to both children and adults. It’s characterized by a drop in blood pressure levels after standing for long periods or being in a hot environment.

Neurally mediated hypotension is caused by the miscommunication of the heart and the brain, known as the fainting reflexes. This happens because as a person stands without moving for an extended period, gravity causes the blood to stay on the legs giving less blood flow to the brain. In this case, the heart will try to beat faster to encourage blood flow, but because of the abnormal flow of blood, the brain will signal the heart to beat slower.

Postprandial Hypotension

Unlike orthostatic and neurally mediated hypotension, this type of hypotension happens after eating. This is when an abnormality in the blood flow occurs as the heart tries to pump the blood for the digestive system to work. Postprandial hypotension is common in older adults with Parkinson’s disease or high blood pressure. Fortunately, you can alleviate its symptoms by eating small amounts of food with fewer carbs.

Multiple System Atrophy With Orthostatic Hypotension

This is a rare type of hypotension which is also known as the Shy-Drager Syndrome. It affects the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary actions in our body such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate.

Causes and Risk Factors

Possible causes of hypotension include the following:

Some factors can also increase your risk of hypotension like:

Age - The older you get, the more at risk you are of getting hypotension. According to the latest statistics, about 20% of people aged 65 and above suffer from postural hypotension.

Medications - Certain medications such as diuretics and alpha-blockers can trigger hypotension. Other medications include:

  1. Blood pressure medications (Benicar, Valsartan)
  2. Erectile dysfunction medications (Cialis, Viagra)
  3. Diuretics (Hydrochlorothiazide, Lasix)
  4. Alpha-blockers (Minipress, Tenormin)
  5. Beta-blockers (Inderal, Innopran XL)
  6. Parkinson’s disease drugs (Levodopa, Mirapex)
  7. Anti-depressants (Silenor, Trofranil, Cymbalta)

Health conditions - Underlying health conditions like diabetes and Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk of hypotension as well.

Symptoms

If you notice the symptoms listed below, it’s most likely a sign of low blood pressure.

For severe cases of hypotension, you may experience:

Report to your doctor immediately if you are experiencing the symptoms of low blood pressure as it requires immediate medical attention.

Treatments

Before getting treatment, your doctor will conduct a series of tests to confirm hypotension. These tests will also determine what type of hypotension you have. Medical tests include:

After confirming you have low blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe any of the following drugs:

Prevention Tips

Your doctor may also advise some lifestyle changes that will help prevent a drop in blood pressure levels. Some practices include:

Drinking Plenty of Water

People taking diuretics and other medications that trigger low blood pressure can also cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water to replenish lost fluids and maintain normal amounts of body fluids.

Eat Smaller Meals

After we eat, our heart puts in the effort to pump blood into our digestive system, but as we age, this process becomes weaker. Eating large meals will exhaust the blood flow and might result in low blood pressure. The best way to address this is to eat smaller amounts of food, especially for people aged 65 and above.

Avoid Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol drinking can also cause low blood pressure, that’s why it’s crucial to take it in moderation or better yet break the habit.

Increase Salt Intake

Sodium can contribute to increased blood pressure levels. Increasing salt in your diet is good if you have low blood pressure, but it should still be taken in moderation as too much sodium also causes high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about the ideal amount of sodium intake for you.

Get Regular Blood Sugar and Thyroid Checkups

High blood sugar and existing thyroid conditions can also contribute to hypotension. Try monitoring your blood sugar levels throughout the day so that you can control your sugar intake. Doctors also advise patients to get regular checkups to get the right treatments for these conditions and prevent hypotension.

Wear Compression Socks

Compression socks or stockings are helpful in preventing blood from pooling in your legs and triggering low blood pressure. This is most appropriate for people with orthostatic and neurally mediated hypotension.

Treat Infections

Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections involving blood must be treated as they can trigger hypotension.

In conclusion, Low blood pressure or hypotension can happen to people of any age but is more prevalent among elderly people. Though some cases of hypotension don’t require urgent medical attention, it’s still important to be aware of the practices that can prevent hypotension from happening. I hope this article gave you a better understanding of hypotension in elderly people.

Dementia: Lifestyle Changes and Risk Reduction Strategies

Dementia generally is a condition where the person gradually loses his/her ability to think, remember, and reason. Some types of Dementia also trigger uncontrolled emotions and completely change the person’s personality. It worsens over time until it reaches a point when it affects one’s quality of living. At this time, the person with Dementia can no longer do tasks and activities without the guidance of a caretaker or family.

People over the age of 65 commonly get Dementia. In 2014, an estimated 5.0 million people at the age of 65 had Dementia. Another survey stated that ⅓ of the population over the age of 85 suffer from different types of Dementia.

How is Dementia Different From Alzheimer’s Disease?

Some people confuse Dementia with being the same as Alzheimer’s, but that is not the case. Dementia is more of a general term for conditions related to brain deterioration, while Alzheimer’s is a more specific term and falls under the types of Dementia. Other than Alzheimer’s Disease, there are other types of Dementia that I will be discussing in the latter part.

Is Having Dementia Normal?

Having Dementia is certainly not normal. People without Dementia get to live a normal independent life, though they might still experience signs of old age such as weakened muscles and unalarming memory changes like occasionally forgetting the name of an acquaintance or forgetting where you placed your stuff.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of Dementia may affect one's memory, communication, attention, and reasoning. Signs and symptoms include:

Symptoms of Dementia may vary from person to person, meaning some people may not experience all the symptoms listed below. It goes the same with the severity of symptoms one might experience.

Causes

There’s still no clear explanation as to the cause of Dementia. Some experts say that Dementia is caused by occurring changes in the brain, while others say that it may be caused by genetic mutations in the brain. Despite these theories, the underlying cause of Dementia is still unknown.

Risk Factors

Below are some of the factors that increase your risk of Dementia.

Types of Dementia

Here is the list of the most common types of Dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is the most common type of Dementia affecting 60 - 80 percent of people with Dementia. The primary sign of Alzheimer’s includes forgetting conversations that happened only minutes or a few hours ago. As the disease worsens, remembering distant memories becomes more difficult as well. Mild to severe symptoms also include personality changes and difficulty performing basic tasks such as walking or talking.

Lewy Body Dementia

The most evident sign of Lewy Body Dementia is memory loss accompanied by problems in movement and balance. This means that people with this type of Dementia may experience constant trembling and stiffness. Other signs include daytime sleepiness, staring spells, confusion, trouble sleeping, and hallucinations.

Fronto-Temporal Dementia

People with Frontotemporal Dementia tend to experience personality and behavioral changes. This may also lead to inappropriate actions such as embarrassing oneself, neglecting responsibilities, and talking offensive comments impulsively. People with this type of Dementia may also experience difficulty in speaking and comprehending.

Vascular Dementia

This type of Dementia is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the brain affecting blood flow. Some experts say that Vascular Dementia can be linked to stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Over time, the symptoms of this Dementia will get worse as the patient gets more strokes.

Mixed Dementia

This form of Dementia means that the patient has more than one type of Dementia present in his/her brain. Say, for example, a patient may experience symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease and at the same time have Vascular Dementia due to the damaged vessels in the brain.

Mixed Dementia is more prevalent in people in their 80s. However, this is more difficult to determine as symptoms of one type of Dementia may overlap with the other type of Dementia.

How Dementia is Diagnosed

Before your doctor could diagnose you with Dementia, you will first undergo various cognitive and physical tests. This is to see if the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by other underlying medical conditions. These tests may include:

Cognitive Tests / Neurological Tests

These forms of tests are used to assess your thinking, comprehension, problem-solving skills, language skills, mathematical skills, as well as physical balance, reflexes, and senses.

Brains Scan

Brain scans will help doctors check your brain for any existing tumors, and strokes that cause the symptoms of Dementia. There are different kinds of brain scans such as:

Psychiatric Evaluation

This will determine existing psychiatric conditions that contribute to the symptoms you are experiencing.

Blood Tests

These are performed to determine the levels of a certain component called beta-amyloid in your blood. Abnormal accumulation of this component is one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Generic Test

These form of tests will determine if your family have a history of Dementia. In this way, you will be able to know if you have a higher risk of getting the illness.

Prevention Tips

Though treatment of Dementia is still under investigation, there are still ways you can do to reduce the risk of getting Dementia.

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet.
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Limit alcohol intake.
  5. Quit smoking.
  6. Monitor and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Final Thoughts

Dementia is one of the most undesired illnesses among senior citizens, and that forgetting one’s memories is very unpleasant. Though the treatment for Dementia is still underway, you can practice prevention tips to reduce your risk of Dementia. I hope this article helped you have a deeper understanding of Dementia.