Staying Healthy as a Senior

Older people are known to be more at risk of serious illness, especially those with pre-existing conditions and those who are immune-compromised. The majority of older adults do not live in residential facilities and instead are cared for by family members, therefore the coronavirus outbreak is especially worrisome for those who are living with elderly loved ones in a multigenerational home. Even though the vaccine is out, we can not get too complacent, as the virus can still be a serious risk to many seniors around the country.

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. 

It is also important for seniors to spend some time outside. It can feel overwhelming on top of the everyday stressors of caring for an aging parent. Limit your exposure to news reports and social media. Take a walk, step outside to breathe some fresh air, or lead your parent to the porch while you plant some spring flowers or stretch your legs in the backyard. Stay connected to family, friends, and neighbors by teaching an elder how to Skype or Facetime. Your reaction to the situation influences the reaction of those in your household. Caregivers who are confident and calm in their preparations will be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Overall, seniors can make sure they are staying healthy in a variety of ways. Making sure they spend some time outside is a great fun way to stay healthy, as well as taking the proper precautions to stay safe from different illnesses.

As scary as it sounds, a diagnosis of dementia is not always terrible news. Dementia can be caused by a variety of problems, sometimes something as simple as a vitamin deficiency, or a reaction to a new drug.

What It Is Dementia?

Some forms of dementia can be cured as easily as adjusting a medication prescription or adjusting diet, and may not have permanent effect – especially if the problem is caught in time.

Dementia doesn’t refer to one specific disease. Instead, it refers to a whole host of ailments that affect thought, communication and daily functioning. Diseases categorized under “dementia” often come with serious cognitive declines and the degradation of memory.

Diseases that cause dementia include: Parkinson’s Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Huntington’s Disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Most diseases that cause dementia present similarly, almost identically.

However, there are some differences if you know what to look for, especially in the early stages. Early Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is usually characterized by forgetfulness. Other symptoms can include repetition of the same stories and questions, often word for word; confusion; and changes in personality.

With dementia with Lewy Bodies, for instance, patients see a reduced attention span, repeating visual hallucinations, and temporary periods of confusion, as well as rigid muscle movements similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Early Alzheimer’s disease is typically characterized by a forgetfulness not always seen in dementia with Lewy Bodies, although this can vary.

Vascular dementia, which can occur after a heart attack or stroke, is characterized by a marked impairment in judgment in the early stages, although symptoms can vary depending on the part of the brain affected by damaged blood vessels.

Frontotemporal dementia, which is a degeneration of the cells in the brain’s frontal lobes caused by a variety of rarer diseases, is typically characterized by changes in personality in the early stages.

However, the difference between all of these and other causes of dementia can be subtle, even in the early stages, they tend to look more similar as the disease progresses. Usually, when a patient receives an initial diagnosis of dementia, they are getting diagnosed for a set of symptoms, such as when the doctor can see there’s a rash, but does not know whether the underlying cause is a disease, an allergy, or some other ailment.

Doctors can identify the impaired cognition, functioning, or communications that come along with dementia, but it takes more work to discover what is causing these symptoms.

In summary, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can look very similar, but they are not the same. Simply put, Alzheimer’s disease is one out of many causes of dementia. Not all types of dementia are a life sentence, but Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects patients for the rest of their lives, and is one of the worse diagnoses to get. Unfortunately, it is also the most common. Even so, knowing the differences between these two terms can help you plan for the future and understand the progression of your or your loved one’s disease.

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