Have You Heard of Weighted Blanket Therapy?

Have You Heard of Weighted Blanket Therapy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drug-free therapeutic blanket known as weighted blankets have become the at-home treatment for insomnia, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactive disorders (ADHD), Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), Asperger’s and sensory disorders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many seniors, adults, teenagers and children face psychiatric issues that cause insomnia and severe anxiety. Patients with autism and other psychiatric disorders also face extreme anxiousness and the inability to induce calmness within themselves without the use of sedatives or drugs.

 

The combination of behavioral aberrations, and the lack of sleep among these people, have been known to lead to loss of productivity in their daily lives, irrational emotional behavior and out – of – character actions. It isn’t just the problem of not being able to keep their emotions under control, but the issue of lashing out aggressively due to psychological dysfunctions.

 

The root causes of such behavioral issues are anxiety and insomnia, which is usually treated with pharmacological (drugs) and psychological (therapy) methods. However, now with a breakthrough in the study of sleep medicine and psychiatric disorders, we know that the trick to soothing consternation and inducing sleep is much simpler than once thought.

 

The drug-free therapeutic blanket known as weighted blankets have become the at-home treatment for insomnia, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactive disorders (ADHD), Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), Asperger’s and sensory disorders.

 

 

Weighted blankets use deep pressure touch simulation (DPTS) to relax the body and make the patient feel safe, guarded and secure, which calms their unease and helps their body go to sleep. The sensory compression methodology facilitates a positive change with the comfort the blanket brings to its user. The weight of the blanket stimulates the receptors on your body which then activates the neurotransmitters in your brain to bring a sense of happiness to the person.

 

 

 

The Poly plastic (Polypropylene) pellets that have been used to fill the compartments of the blanket provide the weightage of the blanket. A quality weighted blanket is quilted, made of either cotton or fleece and weighs about 10% of the user’s body. Using the proper blanket according to the size and the weight of the user will give the optimum calming results.

 

This blanket has shown to be very effective in calming hyperactive children during bedtime, anxious patients in therapy and even adults undergoing chemotherapy. It has also proven to be efficacious in calming people down during anxiety inducing situations.

 

 

Studies Prove the Benefits of Weighted Blankets

 

– A 2008 study showed that weighted blankets are beneficial for anxiety. The study used a 30 lb. blankets on adults. In total, 63% reported a decrease in anxiety, and 78% found it calming.

– A 2015 study used 30 pound blanket on adults during an inpatient mental health hospitalization. 60% of them reported significant decrease in anxiety after use.

– Research on DPTS started as early as the 1950s. One article from 1992 found great benefits of this therapy for patients with autism. It reduces self-harming behaviors in autistic children, as well as produced better sleep. It also relaxes the muscles.

One adult autistic patient has stated, “I need heavy blankets on me to sleep well, or else my muscles won’t calm down.” 

– Weighted blanket were also found to be very calming for babies.

 

 

Therapeutic Benefits of Weighted Blankets

 

 

 

 

1. Weighted Blankets Promote Sleep

 

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes habitual sleeplessness. The lack of sleep leads to the over exhaustion of the human body and hampers the psychological well-being of the person. When a person is not able to function well, both physically and mentally, their social well being is affected and they begin to lose productivity in their lives. This leads to depression and other behavioral problems.

An easy solution to this problem is the weighted blanket. The pressure of the weighted blanket reaches deep within the body of the user to provide a comfortable environment for a person to fall asleep in. The sense of being swaddled and the physical connection that the user feels with the blanket makes them feel warm and safe. This helps their mind be at ease and they can be able to relax their body. The state of tranquility will help clear their mind and ensure a good night’s sleep.

According to the ‘Positive effects of a weighted blanket on insomnia’ by the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders 2015 of the SciMed Central, the weighted blankets had improved the sleep quality of people with severe insomnia.

 

 

2. Weighted Blankets Imitate a Warm Hug

 

Research shows that hugs can actually make a person feel at ease. Hugging a person releases the hormone Oxytocin into the blood stream. This chemical reduces your blood pressure, calms your heart rate and provides and overall feeling of relaxation.

Although the blanket does not provide a human connection, your body may perceive the warmth and security the imitation that a hug provides. Both the hug and the blanket use a gentle yet firm pressure that goes deep within the person’s body tissues. This gives the user a sense of repose and allows your body to relax.

 

 

3. Weighted Blankets Provide a Sense of Security

 

Being covered by a weighted and warm blanket will ensure the feeling of calmness in the user. The ‘blanket therapy’ stimulates the receptors present throughout our body, which lessens a person’s discomfort. Once the user feels more comfortable in the blanket, they begin to feel secure as their body begins to relax. The body can only relax when your mind is soothed and your heart rate is calmed. This change in the body will ensure that both your body and mind believes that you are secure and safe.

 

 

4. Weighted Blankets Increase the Production of Serotonin

 

Serotonin is a chemical messenger, also known as a neurotransmitter that your brain and intestines produce for the smooth functioning of your nervous system, which includes the brain and the nerves. This hormone is secreted to promote happiness and the mood of the people. Known as the ‘happy hormone’, this chemical does not only affect a person’s mood but it affects their behavior. The lack of serotonin in the body leads to depression, insomnia and anxiety. That is why the sensory stimulating weighted blankets increase the production of serotonin in the body. The hormone relaxes your body and makes you feel calmer. That sense of calmness leads to pacifying one’s anxiety, which results to inducing sleep in the user.

 

 

5. Weighted Blankets Increase the Production of Melatonin

 

Melatonin, also known as the ‘sleep hormone’ is a chemical that affects a person’s sleep. The hormone is produced with the production of serotonin, as well as the pineal gland in the brain. This chemical is known to ease insomnia and induce sleep, which is possible through the therapeutic benefits of the weighted blankets that provide a gentle yet firm pressure on your body by stimulating your receptors.

 

 

 

6. Weighted Blankets Calm Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

Autism spectrum disorder includes Asperger’s, Autism, Rhett Syndrome and other unspecified Pervasive Development Disorders. Such disorders include behavioral problems that do not necessarily bode well with the norms of society. The patients suffering from such disorders feel aggression and irritation due to the inability to express or convey their thoughts clearly. Such slow cognitive development makes the patient unable to process information quickly and the change in their surroundings.

 

Patients with such disorders are not able to communicate properly, so they use erratic speech, repetitive actions and turbulent behaviors. During a frustrated outburst, the patient’s heart rate increases, their breath becomes shallow and their blood pressure rises – which further increases their irritability.

 

When the patient is going through such tempestuous emotions and tantrums, it is best to drape the weighted blanket around them or have them lay down with the blanket covering them. This will make them feel more relaxed and comfortable. Once they are no longer acting in a hysterical manner, they will be able to think with a clearer mind and a calmer body. Although communicating with their caretakers might still be difficult, there will at least be an opportunity for the patient to gather more patience and attempt to convey their thoughts in a more serene manner.

 

 

7. Weighted Blankets Help Overcome the Oversensitivity to Touch

 

Some psychiatric disorders make people oversensitive to touch. Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders usually face such discomfort with the touch of other people but this can be overcome by introducing the weight of the blanket regularly to the affected patient.

 

The pressure of the blanket provides a similar feeling of human touch at a larger scale without actual connection – which can be a stepping stone in helping patients overcome their fear of touch.

 

During the 1990s, a squeeze machine was used to help patients overcome their oversensitivity to touch. Today, with the inception of the ‘therapy blankets’, patients can use the more accessible and less controversial mechanism to help people become more at ease with touch.

 

 

8. Weighted Blankets Pacify Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD drives a person to think repetitively about a certain incident or an object. Such thoughts constantly play across a person’s mind and lead them to neglect their duties and their personal lives. The patient becomes anxious about a particular event and conducts a certain action over and over again. Their thoughts are occupied and their bodies refuse to break out of an obsessive reverie.

A very effective way to ease an OCD patient’s anxiety, and to treat the inability to calm them down from a mind consuming thought is to use a weighted blanket. This blanket allows the patient to feel safe and secure without worrying about the numerous issues that may be present in their lives. The blanket provides a warm environment for the user by helping to relive stress and allow their mind to release the captivating thoughts.

 

 

9. Weighted Blankets Mimic a Massage

 

Draping the weighted blanket over the user’s body distributes pressure evenly throughout their body. This has similar effects of a deep tissue massage. The pressure of the blanket goes deep within your tissues while you use it to fall asleep. A massage is supposed to help our body and mind relax – which can be easily done at home by using a weighted blanket. The physical factor of a massage might provide it’s own intimate yet soothing aspect, but the weighted blanket is proven to give you similar results to an actual massage in the long run.

 

 

10. Weighted Blankets Improve Cognitive Function

 

Taking a look at the overall therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets, we can see that it relieves stress, reduces tension, induces sleep, calms your mind and relaxes your body. These components are very important if you want to live a healthy and happy life.

 

Raised blood pressure, anxiety and lack of sleep are truly killers of productivity and normal behavior. Sleeping with the weighted blanket promotes the users overall well-being by ensuring that they tackle their daily issues with a clear head and a well-rested body.

 

With a clear mind, a person’s cognitive functions are improved. They are able to perform efficiently and effectively without being burdened by psychological issues and behavioral changes.

 

 

 

Weighted blankets can potentially solve sleep issues, panic attacks, anxiety related disorders, lack of concentration and even aggressive behavioral problems that affect the smooth proceedings of one’s daily life.

Successful results of the weighted blanket  can be had without the high costs of therapy sessions, drugs and sedatives that are traditionally used to pacify more tremulous patients. I recommend giving this effective and inexpensive blanket a try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Use a Weighted Blanket

 

The blanket can be used at night, during naps, or used casually quick calming effect. Studies have used it for as little as 10 minutes and up to 2 hours, but it can stay on as long as you would like. It is the most beneficial to have your whole body covered, but do do not place the blanket on top of the head or face as it can create a suffocating sensation.

 

 

Choosing Your Weighted Blanket’s Weight

 

Use the formula 10% of your weight plus one pound. For example, a 160 lb person should  choose a 16 or 18 lb weighted blanket.

 

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

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Mattresses and Pads for Pressure Relief

Mattresses and Pads for Pressure Relief

 

 

 

 

 

Pressure relief mattress and bed pad systems prevent pressure ulcers, commonly called bed sores or pressure sores, by dispersing pressure away from bone protrusions via alternating pressure.
Most systems utilize air chambers in their mattresses or pads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing The Right Pressure Relief Mattresses & Pads

 

 

One of the many side effects of prolonged bed rest is developing pressure ulcers or, as they’re commonly known, bed sores—areas of skin that first redden and then can turn into open sores that, if untreated, become infected.

 

 

Pressure ulcers are identified by their stage of development, from Stage I to Stage IV, increasing in severity. Typical areas of skin affected are those over bony parts of the body.  It might be hard to imagine that simply laying in bed can produce such a reaction, but all it takes is the pressure of bone against skin against the flat surface of a typical mattress to alter the natural flow of blood that nourishes skin.

 

 

 

Studies have shown that in hospital and long-term care facilities alike, up to a third of patients develop bed sores. In addition to changing position frequently, lying on a pressure relief mattress can help enormously.

 

Pressure points can be protected by either pressure-reducing surfaces, such as a static air pressure mattress, or pressure-relieving surfaces, such as an alternating air pressure mattress. A pressure reduction device reduces pressure, though not as much as a pressure relief mattress.

 

Once ulcers have developed, in most cases only a pressure relief mattress combined with skin protection and wound-healing measures will help.

 

Prevention Is Best

 

The best approach is to prevent ulcers from happening in the first place. If bed rest is part of recuperation from illness or if your nightly sleep position creates uncomfortable pressure points, a bed sore mattress like the Geneva Healthcare Egg Crate Convoluted Foam Mattress Pad can help prevent pressure sores.

 

 

I like the Geneva Healthcare Egg Crate Pad because it is therapeutically designed for maximum comfort and offers a cool, dry surface for restful sleep. 

 

When lying on this pad, your body weight is distributed evenly from head to to, which improves circulation, and the cushion peaks increase comfort while offering support. 

 

 

The Geneva Healthcare mattress pad is made of high-quality, medical-grade urethane, and is ideal for prevention of pressure sores, bed sored, pressure point stress and decubitus ulcers.

 

 

 

Gel Mattress Pad

 

Another choice gel mattress pad to reduce interface pressure while providing a cooler, more comfortable sleeping surface. Look for an internal baffle design that balances your body in the center of the mattress while eliminating the traditional water mattress rocking effect; good designs are often made from anti-microbial, medical grade vinyl.

 

 

I like the Gel Memory Foam Topper from Advanced Sleep Solutions because reviewers find it extremely comfortable, and is made in the USA with eco-friendly materials. 

 

The Advanced Sleep Solutions Gel Memory Foam Topper uses innovative gel technology, featuring an open cell structure design that minimizes stiffness, improves air flow and dissipates unnecessary heat. 

 

Perhaps most importantly, users find that it offers just the right amount of support to relieve pressure points.

 

 

The Advanced Sleep Systems Gel Memory Foam Topper is backed by a a 60 Day Money Back Comfortably Perfect Guarantee & a 3 Year Manufacturers Warranty.

 

 

Pressure Relief Mattress

 

If you want more than pressure reduction, investigate a pressure relief mattress system. An alternating pressure relief mattress is often is divided into several compartments that are alternately inflated and deflated by an electrical pump.

 

 

 

The Alternating Pressure Relief Bubble Pad System from Invacare is a 2.5″ thick mattress with a pump specifically designed for therapy treatment and prevention of Stage l pressure sores.

 

The control knob turns the unit on and off and adjusts the comfort range in 8 levels.

 

 

 

 

 

Full Mattress Replacement

 

Another option is a full mattress replacement.  The Alternating Pressure Mattress by Vive.  It is a 3″ thick mattress that aids in the treatment of pressure sores in Stages I and II.

 

 

 

The Vive alternating pressure mattress was designed to provide relief from bed sores and ulcers caused from prolonged bed rest.

 

Equipped with 130 individually heat sealed air bubbles for even weight disbursement and superior support.

 

The ultra-quiet pump is equipped with a variable pressure dial to ensure a full, undisturbed night’s sleep. It is also protected by a one-year warranty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Therapeutic Foam 5 Zone Pressure Reduction Support Mattress by Drive Medical is a deluxe, deep foam mattress also designed to prevent pressure related bed sores and ulcers.

 

 

The Drive Medical mattress features an egg crate top layer to reduce painful pressure points and increases comfort and support.

 

The removable nylon cover reduces friction and minimizes resistance to ensure optimal skin integrity.  

 

It’s also breathable, waterproof, machine washable and anti-microbial.

 

 

 

Air Pressure Mattress System

 

Once bed sores develop, a more sophisticated air pressure mattress system may be needed.

 

The Roho Dry Floatation Mattress has rows of soft, interconnected, air-filled cells that conforms precisely to the contours of the body, providing “passive compression therapy” against the skin. This allows for enhanced blood flow to the wound site, maximizing the healing process.

 

 

Don’t let its simplicity fool you.  The performance, efficiency and quality of this overlay system are unequaled in the industry.

 

Comprised of soft, interconnected air cells, the DRY FLOATATION mattress overlay conforms precisely to the body’s contours, helping soft tissue to maintain its shape in order to maximize the healing process as well as prevention.

 

 

 

 

  • With 720 air cells, this mattress overlay allows for greater conformity and better pressure distribution. Each cell is specially treated to minimize friction and resulting shear.
  • The four sections of the mattress overlay are independently adjusted, providing a low-pressure environment over the entire contact area of the body.
  • The DRY FLOATATION system provides prevention and therapeutic coverage for all pressure injuries including deep tissue injuries. The ability to “float” in the mattress overlay promotes healing and reduces soft tissue deformation.
  • Using laser Doppler velocimetry in a year long study*, it was proven that blood flow increased at least four times the base line value when a individual was immersed in the DRY FLOATATION mattress overlay. (* Jacobs, Mary Ann, MSN RN. “Compression of Capillary Blood Flow Using a Regular Hospital Bed Mattress, ROHO Mattress, and Mediscus.” Rehabilitation Nursing 14.5 (September/October 1989).)
  • Drainage holes in the base of the mattress overlay allows for moisture to drain away from the body.
  • Adjustable. 3.5″ (8 cm) high air cells can be adjusted to the individual’s body shape and size and to their position over time.
  • Non-powered. Requires no external power source.
  • Easy to clean. May be cleaned and disinfected. See operations manual for instructions.
  • Repairable. Extends overall life of the mattress overlay.

 

 

Be sure to ask your doctor for guidance on the right pressure mattress to prevent and/or manage bed sores if you will be in bed for a prolonged period of time.

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do Prescription Discount Cards Actually Save You Money?

Do Prescription Discount Cards Actually Save You Money?

 

 

 

 

Imagine if your grocery store acted like a pharmacy. Milk can only be found behind a counter, and you have no idea how much it costs until checkout. At checkout, you find that this particular brand of milk is $105, which has no relationship to the quality of the milk, but you can’t really price check it against the other brands. The weirdest part? There’s another company you’ve probably never heard of that can get you the milk for $5, but who they are and what they do is a mystery.

 

A drug discount card will show you how much you’ll pay for your prescription, and whether switching pharmacies or using a specific discount or savings tip will help you save money.

 

 

How Prescription Prices & Discounts Work

 

 

When you go to a pharmacy in America to pick up a prescription, you’ll pay one of the following:

 

1) A “cash price.” Think of a cash price like a car’s sticker price—this is what you pay if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance company won’t cover that drug (it’s not on their “formulary,” which happens more often than you’d think).

 

2) A “club price.” A discounted price that you get if you join that pharmacy’s club (sometimes free, sometimes requiring a paid membership). No insurance is required—you just have to join the club.

 

3) A “negotiated (or coupon) price.” A discounted price based on a contract between the pharmacy and an insurance company (technically, it’s called a Pharmacy Benefit Manager). If you have insurance, your co-pay is generally a percentage of that price or a flat fee ($10, etc).

 

The cash prices at pharmacies are usually very high, but if you know where to look, there are great discounts that can be found. Some pharmacies (usually grocery stores or big-box stores) offer very cheap cash prices for certain generic drugs. Many pharmacies publish a list of popular generic drugs with cheap cash prices. Some pharmacies even offer certain drugs for free! The problem is knowing which drugs are on which pharmacies’ lists—it’s somewhat random and drugs are added and removed frequently.

 

Club prices can be lower than cash prices, and pharmacies don’t always tell you when a lower club price is available. Keep in mind that club prices a) may require a membership fee and b) require you to provide some personal information to the club.

 

Negotiated prices are probably the most confusing part of what a drug discount organization does, but they’re also a great, easy way for you to save on your prescriptions.

 

Virtually all pharmacies enter into contracts with companies called Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to provide discounted prices for the hundreds of millions of Americans who have insurance. These same contracts also allow people not using insurance to receive a smaller discount when they use a free discount coupon or card. It’s worth noting that some pharmacies will not honor coupons for controlled substances ( Adderall, oxycodone, etc.).

 

Most reputable drug discount organizations also provides savings tips, suggestions for alternative less-expensive drugs, information on manufacturer coupons, drug shortage and recall info, pill identification tools and much more. The goal is to make you an informed consumer by providing as much information as possible in an organized, easy-to-read way.

 

 

Will a Prescription Drug Discount Card Save You Money?

 

You can decide whether a discount drug card will be helpful to you by getting answers to the following questions:

  • How much does it cost you to obtain the card? Some are free, but not all of them are. What are the fees, or what is the purchase price? If there are fees, are they one-time only? Or do they recur?
  • Is the card honored at your pharmacy? If the card is not honored at your pharmacy of choice, are you willing to change pharmacies to be able to use their discount? If the drugs you need are available only through a mail-order pharmacy, do you have to pay additional shipping and handling costs?
  • Does the card cover the drugs you take? Not every card will help pay for every drug. The more common the drug you take, the better chance you can get a discount. Some cards cover generic drugs and some do not.

 

 

 

Once you know the drug is covered, and that you can obtain the drugs through a pharmacy that is acceptable to you, you’ll want to check the price of the drug using the card.

 

Then you’ll want to ask:

 

  • Have I compared the cost of my drug through my pharmacy with other pharmacies in my area, too?
  • Can I get a lower price using this drug card than any other price I have found, even when I take into account the cost of obtaining the card, or shipping costs (if applicable)?

 

Once you have made the assessment for each card you are eligible for, you’ll be able to determine your best option for saving money.

 

Recommended Prescription Discount Company (Free)

 

 

 

I recommend SearchRx

SearchRx is free, and accepted at 68,196 pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target, and many others.

 

 

 

 

How to Use SearchRx

 

Search the SearchRx database and pharmacy price checker for the lowest discounted prices on over 50,000 prescription drugs. Their relationship with a leading pharmacy benefit manager gives SearchRx access to the best discounted prescription prices, which are passed on to you for excellent savings.

 

 

The price of prescription medications can vary greatly – even between pharmacies in the same chain.

SearchRx gives you access to their pricing, so you can find and compare the best pharmacy prices near you.

SearchRx works with nearly every pharmacy in America, so you’ll always know you’re getting the best deal in your area.

 

 

 

Once you’ve found your best local pharmacy price, saving is easy. Simply print out, email, or receive your prescription coupon by text message, then present this coupon to your pharmacist when you check out. The codes on your drug coupon will be entered by the pharmacist to access SearchRx group rate prices.

 

 

It’s a very simple process:   Bring your discount coupon with your prescription ​to the pharmacy of your choice and save on all FDA-approved prescription medications.

These discounts are available to all U.S. residents, no exceptions.

 

There are no deductibles.  Regardless of your insurance status, (whether insured, underinsured or uninsured) you will never be charged for the use of your searchRx drug coupons.

 

There are no limitations or maximums.  Use your searchRx discount coupon once, or a million times. There is no limit to your savings.

 

There are no pre-existing condition exclusions.  There is no coverage refusal based on any pre-existing medical conditions. searchRx coupons are available for use for all Americans.

 

SearchRx is free.  There are no hidden fees, or any fees for that matter. You will absolutely NEVER be charged for using the SearchRx service or affiliated coupons. 

 

 

Use SearchRx even if you already have insurance: The SearchRx card is not insurance; they simply provide discounts on prescriptions.

When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, just bring both your insurance card and the SearchRx coupon with you, and ask the pharmacist to see which provides the more cost-effective option for you. 

 

 

Here is a video demonstrating how SearchRx works:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

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An OverBed Table System Improves Quality of Life

 

An OverBed Table System Improves Quality of Life

 

NEW atHand Overbed Table System, All Your Needs Within Reach. LED Lighting, USB and Power Outlets, Adjustable Height and Storage (Brown - Left Hand Orientation) FREE ACCESSORY KIT THROUGH 8/31/2017

So many times after our loved ones return home from the hospital, it becomes obvious how inconvenient and dangerous our homes can be when we care for them. 

An overbed table is a terrific convenience both for people who must or who simply like to spend long amounts of time in bed.

 

 

   

 

An overbed table provides more support, stability and surface room than a bed tray and can be adjusted to accommodate the height of your bed’s mattress with a base that slides under your bed along the floor for a close fit.

 

 

 

A hospital overbed table is made specifically for use with a hospital style bed, but it’s important to measure the model you’re considering and your bed, checking clearance under the frame—many overbed table styles may fit even a hospital bed.

The features most important to you depend on the types of activities you want to accomplish in bed. An overbed desk tray table with a flat surface is great for writing, eating or playing cards, to name just a few activities. Reading is often easier with a tilt table—the tilt top overbed table surface enables you to angle your newspaper or book at the best level for your comfort. Some overbed tables offer part fixed and part tilting surfaces.

The finishes, colors and textures now available in overbed table designs means your choice of overbed table can have more of the look of a piece of furniture than a medical accessory.

 

 

Choosing an Overbed Table

 

These are some of the most popular features available to help you narrow down your selection:

 

  • An easy to clean top that’s roomy enough for the activities you’d like to engage in.
  • Adjustable table height to accommodate the height of your mattress. Some overbed tables can be adjusted for use while you’re sitting in a chair, including a wheelchair, as well as in bed.
  • The adjustment mechanism should be easily to use and lock into place.
  • An adjustable pivot and tilt arm allows you to position the work surface to the height, angle and tilt best for your task, providing you with more versatility.
  • With overbed tables that offer tilt positions, you might want to look for a style with a lip along the lower edge for holding your book, newspaper or a pad and pen.
  • Take note of the weight limit that the tabletop surface can handle—usually between 40 and 50 pounds. Standard overbed tables are not meant to provide support when getting up and down.
  • Standard C-shaped or U-shaped bases have about 24″ of space between the legs to slide under chairs as well as your bed. Wheel casters offer for easy maneuverability over all floor surfaces. Locking casters on the base of the overbed table mean that the table will stay put once you position it.

 

 

Recommended Overbed Table

 

There are many choices of overbed tables, and I found one in particular that I really like:

 

 

 

 

The atHand Overbed Table System is a very modern and feature-rich version of an overbed table.

Usually in a hospital or a nursing home you’ll see these, but they’re very basic. They’re meant just as a place for the food tray or maybe some personal items. But they very easily get cluttered and you’re still left needing other things that the table doesn’t help with.

So the atHand Overbed Table System was designed to incorporate all of the things that people feel they need and would like close-by if they have limited mobility.

 

 

 

 

 

They did a lot of focus groups to find out what those items were, and that is why the table includes power and USB ports.

 

 

 

 

It also has integrated lighting that is adjustable in brightness as well as where you place it on the table.

 

 

 

 

The  atHand Table is height-adjustable, but it also angles in toward the user, so you can really get it up close to you if you’re writing or working on a laptop.

 

 

http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2017/05/25/14371101/hospital-over-bed-table.jpg

 

 

 

 

In addition to all of those features, there are storage compartments, because that way you can still have all of your things, but they’re neatly organized and they’re not on the tray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also some great optional accessories for the atHand Table, like a special cup holder that keeps the drink close by, but off the table. There is also a bin for tissues, which is something everybody has near their bedside, but the box takes up a lot of room on the tray table. You can also purchase  a trashcan because it helps with infection control to have the trash in a separate place, but, close by.

 

 

 

 

The other thing is it’s a very nice looking overbed table system. I have to tell you, it’s a lovely piece of work. I wouldn’t mind having this in my bedroom.

According to the company’s focus groups, something that came out loud and clear was, if I’m out of the hospital, I don’t want to be reminded of when I was in the hospital

That’s why they chose darker, richer colors because those are something that you’re not going to see in a facility. It does have a homier look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For caregivers, the atHand Overbed Table System makes their life a lot easier; the power outlets in particular because older homes have fewer outlets and most of the time they’re going to be lower to the floor or behind furniture. There is one power cord that attaches to the wall, which then powers the table with four, 120-volt outlets, and four USB ports. 

 

 

I’ve heard stories of caregivers that have kind of pieced things like this together. They have a power strip looped over the headboard and a TV tray table next to the bed.

 Peace of mind is everything for family caregivers. I think that the biggest challenge, when you’re at work or away from your loved one, is they could fall out of bed reaching for something, or just have to make moves that aren’t appropriate for them.

Caregivers often feel bad that they can’t always be there for their loved one because they’re probably managing a career and children of their own, and don’t have as much time as they would like to be with their loved one.

So, if this product can help give the caregiver peace of mind, knowing that their loved one has everything they need to last them through the day, then that goes directly to the purpose that an overbed system should have.

And of course, for those in bed, it’s a terrific aid to independence, allowing them to do simple things without having to rely on a caregiver.

 

You can see this manufacturer really researched to try to come up with a way to fit everything within reach.

And you don’t have to actually be in a bed to use it, because the tray table angles toward the user.

You can use it next to a recliner, even if it’s one of the larger ones where the tray table may not fit underneath the chair.

 

 

 

 

If you have it alongside the chair and the tray table angled in, it still fits nice and close so you can use the tray table as a desk or for whatever you need.

 

 

 

Video: Demonstrating the AtHand Overbed System

 

 

 

The atHand Table is manufactured in the Cleveland area, but sells nationally on Amazon.

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Should You Consider a Hospital Bed for Home Use?

Adjustable Beds – Benefits and Reviews

Should You Install Bed Rails?

Prevent and Treat Bed Sores

Top Pillows to Relieve Neck Pain

How to Buy Adult Diapers

For Caregivers: Coping With Incontinence

How to Give a Sponge Bath in Bed

How to Wash Your Senior’s Hair in Bed – Step by Step Instructions

Shower Chair and Bath Bench Guide

All About Grab Bars and Hand Rails for Safety

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

 

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Gifts for Nursing Home Residents

 

 

Gifts for Nursing Home Residents

 

 

 

 

“What do I get for someone who lives in a nursing home?”

It’s a good question — sometimes it’s tricky to work around constraints like limited space and health issues.

While your recipient’s health and abilities should always be kept in mind, here are some ideas to inspire your thinking.

 

 

 

 

Great Gift Ideas For A Senior in a Care Home

 

 

Guest book. Let visitors leave their warm wishes in writing. In cases where memory problems or dementia are involved, guest books can help family members keep track of who has come to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo board. A padded, fabric covered board with ribbons in which to slip photos encourages guests to bring in new pictures, and they’re easy to swap in and out. (You can find them at craft or photography stores, or make your own.)

 

 

 

 

A throw blanket can add a personal touch to the room and make it feel more homey. A throw blanket or small quilt can keep legs warm.

Silk or satin pillowcases are a nice luxury because they’re easier on delicate skin and create less fuss for hair styling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spruce up their décor. Dress up the walls with “wallies or cut your own shapes out of a roll of wallpaper border to stick up as decals — they’ll be easy to remove later on. Help them choose a fresh set of curtains to brighten up the space.

 

 

Examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suncatchers or decals for the window add some colorful decoration without getting in the way.

 

For example, this  Regal Hummingbird Suncatcher is gorgeous, and a cat lover would appreciate the “Cat Curiosity” Suncatcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magazine subscriptions make great gifts, and give your loved one something to look forward to.

 

Some ideas are National GeographicReader’s Digest, and People.

 

 

 

 

Audio books are wonderful, especially if your loved one’s eyesight makes reading difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

Audio Book Ideas:

 

The literature buff would certainly enjoy BBC Radio’s Jane Austen CD Collection, which includes all six of her classic novels.

 

 

 

 

 

In Mansfield Park, on a quest to find a position in society, Fanny Price goes to live with her rich aunt and uncle.

In Northanger Abbey, young, naïve Catherine Morland receives an invitation to stay at the isolated Gothic mansion Northanger Abbey.

In Sense and Sensibility, forced to leave their family home after their father’s death, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood try to forge a new life at Barton Cottage.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet is determined to get her five daughters married well, so when the wealthy Mr. Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy move into the neighborhood, her hopes are raised.

In Emma, Emma Woodhouse declares she will never marry, but she is determined to find a match for her friend Harriet.

Finally, in Persuasion, Eight years ago, Anne Elliot rejected a marriage proposal from a handsome but poor naval officer—but now her former love has returned.  With an all-star cast including David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julia McKenzie, Jenny Agutter, Toby Jones, Eve Best, and Juliet Stevenson, these BBC radio adaptations are full of humor, romance, love lost, and love regained. Duration: approx. 15 hours 30 minutes.

 

 

 

The New Adventures of Sherlock Homes Collection will be a sure hit with mystery fans who miss the old-time radio plays.

 

From 1939 to 1946, Americans gathered around the radio to listen to The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, featuring Basil Rathbone as the high-strung crime-solver, and Nigel Bruce as his phlegmatic assistant, Dr. Watson. Witty, fast-paced, and always surprising, these great radio plays are as fresh as when they first premiered and feature perfect sound. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Ideas

 

“Outside food” — like a cup of coffee and cookie from their favorite chain or a favorite take-out meal to enjoy with them.

 

Specialty food items. A nice tin of non-perishable candies, confections and cookies also give residents something to offer guests when they come to visit. Also, some fresh fruit, jams and jellies to enjoy with their meals offer some welcome variety.

 

 

Some Food Ideas:

 

For the snack lover, this Care Package Party Mix will be a lot of fun to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These wonderful Fairytale Brownies are sugar-free and perfect for the sweet tooth who’s watching their sugars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Meat and Cheese Collection from Wine Country will be a real treat for the fan of gourmet savories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top up their account. Many residents appreciate a little cash for in-house services like the general store and hairdresser, and it can cover optional activities and outings.

 

 

 

 

Fresh flowers can brighten up the room. Choose a bouquet of cut flowers instead potted plants, unless you know someone can take care of them on a regular basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “coupon book” for running errands, shopping trips and other outings.

 

 

 

 

Some Clothing Ideas:

 

A nice pair of pajamas or a bed jacket. A  cardigan can also keep people cozy, and a pair of slippers will keep feet toasty. (Just be sure to avoid slippery fabrics.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This adaptive cardigan completely opens up, allowing the arms to be slid into the armholes without having to raise the individuals arms or struggle with a neck opening. The back overlap is then folded over and domed/snapped into place. I think this is a great product for home care, retirement and nursing home settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Music Ideas:

 

Music.  A CD of your loved one’s favorite songs can be enjoyed any time. Music can also help people suffering from dementia remember happy times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit. Ultimately, the best thing you can offer is your company. Bring in a movie or watch a TV special or sports event with them. Plate up some homemade goodies and sliced fresh fruit for a mini Christmas party. Give your favorite lady a manicure or pedicure.

 

 

At holiday time, pick up a Christmas Wreath or  other seasonal decoration for their door. If there’s enough space, consider a mini Christmas tree with built-in lights.

 

 

 

Tips For Smarter Shopping

 

– Steer clear of strongly scented perfumes, lotions or flowers. Many people have allergies — including staff and other visitors.

 

– Breakable items can pose a safety hazard — especially if they can’t be cleaned up right away.

 

– Pack modest sized portions of perishable foods. It’s better to bring less goodies than to have them go to waste.

 

– Check with the family or with staff to find out if gifts of food are appropriate. Your recipient may have certain dietary needs, and Christmas goodies can cause stomach upsets and diarrhea.

 

– Leave animal prints in the store. People with dementia can find them frightening. Likewise, avoid the color black if you can because it can be hard to see.

 

– If you’re giving blankets or clothing, make sure someone can sew in a label with the recipient’s name on it. Items can get lost in the laundry or go wandering with other residents.

 

– Unfortunately, theft is possibility so avoid valuable and one-of-a-kind items you would hate to see go missing.

 

 

And a final word of advice: be aware that whatever you buy will have to be stored somewhere and someone will have to take care of it if you’re not around. If you’re able, offer to store items like holiday décor yourself.

 

When in doubt, ask ahead of time if your gift idea is appropriate. The nurses, personal support workers and volunteers who spend a lot of time with your loved one can offer great advice. If you aren’t close by and don’t visit often, check in with the family first.

 

 

Nursing Home Holiday Celebration Tips

 

 

http://storage.mitchelladvocate.com/v1/dynamic_resize/sws_path/suns-prod-images/1297645123894_ORIGINAL.jpg?quality=80&size=650x&stmp=1419366841693

 

 

 

Celebrating with loved ones who live in a nursing home or assisted living can be a lot of fun if the family and the care center join forces.

Most facilities make a big deal about holidays and birthdays, and your presence can enhance your elders’ enjoyment.

 

 

 

 

 

Nursing homes often have for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Halloween, July 4th or any other special day.  The home will usually provide decorations, appropriate activities and jolly good cheer.

I recommended decorating your loved one’s rooms with ornaments they remember from their past, along with some new decorations to keep things fresh and interesting.

 

 

Besides decorating their rooms and showing up for celebrations, what else can you do to make a holiday festive for your loved one?

 

  • Use music. It’s great for setting the mood. It also relaxes tension or promotes a festive feel, depending on the music chosen and the direction you need to go with the elder. Keep a CD player or an iPOD (with speaker) around so you can play their favorites.

 

  • Sing. Singing can be fun for many people. Whether Christmas Carols, Happy Birthday or just old favorites, getting a few people together to sing can often help everyone have a good time, even if they can’t physically join in.

 

  • Use photos. Photos are wonderful for stirring memories. If you print copies of old photos, you won’t have to worry about loss or damage. If some can be enlarged without undue distortion, so much the better. Hang them on walls or put them in an album.

 

  • Cook your elders’ favorite foods. Bring favorite foods for the occasion, even if the facility is loaded with treats. Each elder has favorite treats from home. Try to provide some for the elder and some for her to give as snacks to residents, staff and visitors. Many elders enjoy a chance to be a host or hostess.

 

  • Avoid over stimulation. Be careful to not over stimulate someone with dementia. Keep an eye on the elders’ moods so you know when to stop the party or when you should help a particular elder back to his room if he needs a break. Too much commotion can get confusing and stressful for anyone in ill health, but particularly for someone confused by dementia. Celebrating should preferably end before stress is evident, but be alert in case you need to assist someone to a quieter area.

 

  • Connect with others. Hopefully, you already have made friends with staff, other residents and their families. That connectedness helps your loved one feel a part of a whole rather than left out of life. If your loved one is new to the center, this is a good time to get to know other families.

 

  • Be sure to participate. Join in the fun as much as your loved one can handle, but remember your own needs as well. If you have family members at home that need some of your time, then you have to balance both worlds. Give your loved ones in the care center your attention and contribute to their good time, then leave them in the good hands of staff and go back home to finish celebrating with the rest of your family.

 

  • Get some rest. All of this celebrating doesn’t only wear down your elders. It can also be exhausting for the caregiver. You found help by choosing a good care center because your elders need more help than you, alone, can give. When party time is over, give yourself time to regenerate. You should be a better caregiver if you do.

 

Celebrations should be fun and encouraging for all involved. These tips can help reduce stress, anxiety, and fears–and, in the end, help you have a good time with those around you.

 

Please share your nursing home gift-giving and holiday celebration advice in the comment section below!

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Ideas For Keeping Your Dementia Patient Busy and Happy

Coloring For Adults is a Healthy Hobby

Are Therapy Dolls and Fidget Blankets Good for Dementia Patients?

Practical Shoes for the Elderly

Shoes and Slippers for Swollen Feet

Convincing Your Parents to Transition to Assisted Living

Assisted Living Questions and Answers

Preparing For Your Elderly Parent to Move In With You

Help for Anxiety in the Elderly

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

 

 

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Washing Your Senior’s Hair in Bed: Step-by-Step Instructions

 

How to Wash Your Senior’s Hair in Bed

Step-by-Step Instructions

 

 

 

 

 

 

When they’re not able to get into the shower or bath, it can seem impossible to keep their hair and scalp clean. No-rinse shampoos, dry shampoo, or wiping with wet cloths are helpful, but aren’t quite as good as a thorough hair washing.

 

A real wash with water and regular shampoo will make your senior feel more comfortable and keeps their scalp healthier.

 

Most of us have experienced (at least second-hand) the issues that arise when someone is sick and in bed for an extended period of time. The hair gets limp and often oily, matted with sweat and will tend to begin to smell after a few days.

 

 

Short Term Solutions

 

The short-term solution is the use of a “dry shampoo” or a “no-rinse” shampoo. These are typically similar in purpose, but are intended for differing hair types.

 

 
Dry shampoo is typically packaged as an aerosol spray that contains an oil-absorbing ingredient that can be brushed out of the hair once it has done its job.

It’s typically used with those who have oily hair or straight-to-wavy hair types.

You simply spray the powdery spray onto the hair at the scalp, let it dry (meaning allow the fast-drying propellant to evaporate) and use a natural-bristle brush to brush out the residue.

Before the creation of specific products for this purpose, many people would use talcum powder or corn starch in small amounts to produce the same effects.

 

 

 

 

 

No-rinse shampoos are liquid based, and usually come in a foaming formulation that is applied liberally to the hair and allowed to dry on their own without rinsing.

They often contain alcohol or other quick-drying ingredients as well as including leave-in conditioners to soften the hair and make it more manageable. These are used more with individuals with wavy-to-curly hair types and those whose hair tends to be dry or fly-away.

When my mom was in the hospital, the nurse used a No Rinse Shampoo Cap to wash Mom’s hair.  She just warmed the cap briefly in the microwave, put it on, and massaged Mom’s hair through the cap. Then she towel dried Mom’s hair a little, and let it air dry.  I was surprised to see what a good job it did at getting her hair and scalp clean.  This is a great option for a fast, no mess wash. 

 

 

Long Term Solution – A Thorough Cleansing

 

While dry and no-rinse shampoos are great for the short-term, after a while, they seem less effective as the hair begins to develop build-up. When this happens, you want to be able to give the hair a thorough cleansing. To do this, you need to look at the process a little differently than you might normally consider it.

 

 

What You’ll Need

 

Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Calming Lavender, 20 Ounce

 

  • Garbage bags and/or a few towels to line the bed and keep it dry
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Bucket of warm water
  • Cup for scooping water
  • Empty bucket to drain dirty water

 

 

Follow These 12 Steps

 

1.   Lay out all your supplies so you know you have everything you’ll need

2.   Line the bed to keep it from getting wet

3.   Fill one bucket with warm water

4.   Gently place your senior’s head into the inflatable basin

5.   Make sure the basin is set up to drain into the empty bucket

6.   Scoop warm water from the full bucket to wet their hair

7.   Use a small amount of shampoo; using too much will make it difficult to rinse out

8.   Scoop warm water to rinse hair completely

9.   If hair is very dirty, shampoo and rinse again

10. When hair is clean, gently remove your senior’s head from the basin

11.  Wrap their head in a dry towel to keep them warm and comfortable

12.  Make sure the basin is fully drained – you might need to tip it over into the bathtub

 

 

This video shows how to wash a bed bound person’s hair using an inflatable shampoo basin:

 

 

 

 

The DMI Basin is easy to inflate and stores easily and compactly when not in use. It has a convenient tube attached so you can drain the water into a large basin or the sink if it’s nearby. The bed shampooer is constructed of heavy duty vinyl for durability and is easy to clean. It even has a little built-in pillow for the head.

 

 

 

DMI Deluxe Inflatable Bed Shampooer Basin, White

 

 

 

The basin is extra deep and constructed of easy-to-clean heavy duty vinyl, and includes a 40″ drain tube.  It measures 24 x 20 x 8 inches.  Read the reviews.

 

 

 

 

Some Nice Extras for Comfort

 

  • Plugging ears with cotton balls to keep water from getting in
  • Lining the neck opening with a small towel to protect from scratchy plastic seams
  • Giving them a washcloth to hold on their face if they’re concerned that you might get water in their eyes
  • Using a soothing lavender-scented shampoo for a relaxing experience

 

 

It can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable.  The most important things to remember are to have everything you need in easy reach before you begin, and to do what you can to make the experience both relaxing and pleasant for both of you.

 

Please share your tips with washing a bed-bound person’s hair in bed.

 

You may also be interested in:

How to Give a Sponge Bath in Bed

Shower Chair and Bath Bench Guide

All About Grab Bars and Hand Rails for Safety

Prevent Bed Sores

Coping With Incontinence

Incontinence Protection Products for Home, Car and Bed

Should You Install Bed Rails?

Caregivers – How to Reduce the Risks from Heavy Lifting

Caring for Diabetic Feet

Caregivers Need Sleep!

Cure Toenail Fungus Naturally in 4 Weeks

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

 

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

Dental Care in the Elderly Helps Prevent Heart Attacks and Stroke

 

Dental Care in the Elderly Helps Prevent Heart Attacks and Stroke

 

 

 

 

Due to advances in medicine and an increase in prolonged life expectancy, the number of older people will continue to increase worldwide. It is essential that all older adults practice and maintain good oral hygiene due to the high correlation between oral health and general health.

 

 

In fact, a report from The Netherlands adds to the evidence tying chronic gum disease to heart disease and stroke.

In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, of more than 60,000 dental patients, those with periodontitis were twice as likely to have had a heart attack, stroke or severe chest pain.

 

Previous studies have linked periodontitis and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, but this is the first to investigate the link in a group of people this large, the researchers say.

 

At the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, investigators reviewed the medical records of 60,174 patients age 35 and older.

 

About 4 percent of patients with periodontitis had atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, compared to 2 percent without periodontitis, the researchers found.

 

Even after taking other risk factors for cardiovascular disease into account, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking, those with periodontal disease were still 59 percent more likely to have a history of heart problems, according to a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, August 8.

 

“It’s clear that periodontitis is associated with chronic inflammation, so it makes sense biologically that if you have a heavy infection in your mouth, you also have a level of inflammation that will contribute to heart conditions,” said Panos Papapanou of Columbia University in New York, who has studied the association between gum disease and heart disease but wasn’t involved in the current study.

 

The research team suggests that gum disease develops first and may promote heart disease through chronic infection and bacteria in the circulatory system.

 

Dr. Bruno Loos, the senior author of the new report, said by email that “plausible mechanisms to explain the relationship” may include a common genetic background for the way the body handles inflammation, oral bacteria and immune responses.

 

Still, this kind of observational study can’t prove that gum disease causes heart problems.

 

“The association . . . does not provide proof (of causation), even when the results from our study corroborate findings from previous similar research,” study coauthor Geert van der Heijden said by email.

 

Papapanou said that while the new findings are from patients with a relatively high socioeconomic status, “we’re repeatedly seeing the same conclusion.”

 

“It seems all over the globe we have to consider this relationship,” Loos said.

 

Dr. Frank Scannapieco, chairman of the Department of Oral Biology at the University at Buffalo in New York, who wasn’t involved with the study, told Reuters Health that while the association of periodontitis and coronary disease is “robust,” the strength of the link is “moderate compared to traditional risk factors such as hypertension.”

 

Papapanou advises: “Take care of your oral health for oral health itself. If you know there’s a positive association between oral health and other diseases, would you ignore it? I wouldn’t.”

 

 

What You Can Do

 

Maintaining good oral health is not only vital to your systemic health—it can keep you smiling well into retirement. Brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush is as important as ever. Flossing is very important, too—it helps to remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline that your toothbrush cannot reach.

 

As you age, you may be more likely to develop gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attack the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and bleeding when you brush. If you have these symptoms, see a dentist.

 

Gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease if problems persist. In the worst cases, bacteria form in pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone and causing the gums to recede, pulling back from teeth. This can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

 

As you age, changes in salivary flow and content may further lead to gingivitis, as well as cavities. Because approximately 80 percent of all American adults suffer from some form of gingivitis, it’s important to see your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups. If regular oral care is too difficult for you (see below), your dentist can provide alternatives to aid in brushing and flossing.

 

 

 

Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for people who have arthritis. It is sometimes recommended that people with arthritis try securing their toothbrush to a wider object, such as a ruler, to ease arthritic hand pain while brushing. Electric toothbrushes also can help by doing some of the work for you. Ask your dentist for other suggestions.

Try these Radius brushes – their ergonomic handles are great for arthritis and other muscular disabilities, as well as for aid in home care.

 

 

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with roughly 35,000 new cases reported annually in the United States. Oral cancer most often occurs in people who are older than age 40. Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth or throat. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even death. Oral cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates of all cancers; this is primarily due to late diagnosis.

 

See a dentist immediately if you notice any of the following: red or white patches on your gums or tongue, a sore that fails to heal within two weeks, bleeding in your mouth, loose teeth, problems or pain swallowing, or a lump in your neck. Your dentist should perform a head and neck exam to screen for oral cancer during routine checkups.

 

 

As you age, you may develop dry mouth. Dry mouth (xerostomia) happens when salivary glands fail to work due to disease, certain medications, or cancer treatment. The condition can make it hard to eat, swallow, taste, and speak. Drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine are some ways to fight dry mouth. Your dentist also can prescribe medications to ease the symptoms of severe dry mouth.

Try Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse

Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy mouth may keep your body healthier and help you to avoid diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Older patients who are planning to enter a nursing home should inquire about on-site dental care. People who do not have teeth still need to visit the dentist regularly, since many aspects of oral health, such as adjusting dentures and oral cancer screenings, can be handled during routine dental visits. The best way to achieve good oral health is to visit your dentist at least twice a year.

 

 

Advice for Caregivers

 

Today, many older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer than in the past. This is a good thing, but medical conditions can create a risk of serious dental problems. Also, elderly people may be dealing with serious illnesses, mobility issues or mental health conditions that make it even harder for them to take care of their teeth. If our parents are in assisted living or nursing homes, oral hygiene may get overlooked.

 

Potential Dental Problems

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), as our parents age, they are increasingly at risk for periodontal (gum) disease, especially if they are not able to keep up with good oral hygiene practices. This disease is often painless; but when left untreated, teeth can become loose and eventually lost. Also, diabetes increases the risk of infection and can worsen gum problems. In fact, a recent study by the ADA concluded that diabetes was connected with one in five cases of total tooth loss.

Older adults are often taking many medications that have dry mouth as a side effect, or they may have a medical condition that has dry mouth as a symptom. Without saliva to balance acids in the mouth, tooth decay becomes a potential problem along with painful mouth infections, such as oral thrush.

It’s not just our parents who are aging; their dental work is as well. Fillings, crowns, dentures and partial dentures sometimes become worn out and need to be replaced just when it becomes hard for them to get to a dentist.

Another serious risk for older adults is oral cancer, especially if they are or were smokers. According to the ADA, the average age when oral cancer is diagnosed is 62. Dentists always do cancer screenings during routine examinations because early detection saves lives.

 

How Caregivers Can Help

Just as our parents did for us, we can remind our parents to brush and floss daily. If they wear dentures, they also need them to be cleaned every day. With all the risks to their oral health, get them to a dentist regularly, and take a list of their medications along. If your Mom or Dad has arthritis or another disability that makes it difficult for them to brush or floss, ask their dentist to recommend some modifications to make the task easier.

If dry mouth is an issue for your parents, you can discuss the side effects of their medications with their physician. You want to help them get relief. Over-the-counter oral moisturizers, alcohol-free mouthwashes and sugar-free gum and lozenges can help. Make sure they are using fluoride toothpaste. Encourage them to drink plenty of water and to avoid drinking acidic fruit juices and carbonated sodas.

Keeping on top of your parents dental care is challenging when they are in a nursing facility. Having to deal with so many other health care needs, caregivers often don’t rank dental hygiene as a top concern. You may have to communicate specific oral hygiene needs to the staff. Also, be mindful of your parents’ eating habits. If necessary, get input from the nursing staff. If they are not eating as much as usual, they could be experiencing dental pain or dealing with an ill-fitting denture.

It may feel like a strange role reversal, but now it’s our turn to do for our parents what they did for us. Their quality of life depends on good dental health, and we must ensure that their dental needs are met for as long as they are with us.

 

Here are some suggestions to help you help your elderly parent maintain
their dental health

 

1.  Be proactive:  if your parent is dependent on you to  take them to dental appointments there is no better time than now to do it than now to get things back into good health and set a dental checkup instead of waiting for something to hurt.

  

2.    If you have a parent at home with you or in a long term care facility brushing 2 to 3 times a day would go a long way to reducing cavities and promoting better gum health.

 

3.    Use of a daily fluoride mouthwash or high fluoride content toothpaste can also help reduce cavities.  Speak to your dentist about these products.

Try ACT Sensitive for an alcohol-free, non-burning flouride mouthwash option.

 

 

 

4.    A chlorhexidine mouthwash can help reduce cavities and gum disease in patients that are not able to brush effectively.

 

5.  You could also be trained to brush for your parent if they are unable to do so themselves.

 

6.   An electric toothbrush can also be helpful in getting the teeth cleaner.

 

7.   If they are okay with gum chewing, chewing a piece of sugarless, xylitol containing gum for five to twenty minutes after a meal or snack out can help reduce cavities.

 

Good dental health is something that many take for granted.  Being able to eat whatever we want, to speak without fear of a loose denture falling out or being too self conscious to smile due to cavities or missing teeth is a hardship faced by many older adults. 

Poor dental health can result in health problems.  For example, if you have missing teeth or loose teeth you may out of necessity choose softer foods to eat ,  which tend to be more more processed, with little or no fiber;  a  diet low in fiber  can lead to a greater incidence of colon cancer.

I hope this article has shed a little light on a common issue of dental health in the aging adult.  Remember that by being proactive, you can help prevent not only dental issues, but other, potentially life-threatening complications.

 

You may also be interested in:

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Easy Home Improvements for Mobility Issues

Caregivers Must Prepare for Emergencies

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Cold Sores – Prevention and Treatment

 

Cold Sores – Prevention and Treatment

 

 

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by a virus. They usually appear around the mouth and on the lips. They are highly contagious but not dangerous.

About 60% of the population have suffered cold sores at some point in their lives. On average, people who get cold sores have 2 or 3 episodes a year, but this figure can vary significantly from person to person.

 

 

 

Causes

 

The virus that most commonly causes cold sores is herpes simplex 1, a cousin of herpes simplex 2. However, in a minority of cases, herpes simplex 2 can also cause cold sores. About 80% of the people in North America have dormant (inactive) herpes 1 virus living permanently in their body.

The virus typically resides in a dormant state within the body’s nerve cells. The body’s immune system is normally able to keep the virus in its inactive state. When an infected person is exposed to a “trigger,” or if the immune system is weakened, then the virus quickly multiplies and spreads down the nerve cell and out onto the skin, usually on the lips. This produces the characteristic tingling sensation and subsequent clusters of blisters.

 

Specific triggers include:

 

  • cold weather
  • fatigue
  • fever, such as from stomach flu or other infections
  • menstrual periods
  • mental or physical stress
  • physical irritation of the lips (e.g., following a visit to the dentist)
  • sunlight or sunburn

 

 

You can catch the virus if you come into direct contact with the cold sore blisters or the fluid inside them, which contains a high number of the viruses. This can easily happen through touching the hands of someone who has touched their blisters. It can also occur through sharing toothbrushes, cups, cutlery, face cloths, towels, lipstick, or other personal items that have been contaminated with fluid from the blisters. Once the blisters have stopped oozing or have crusted over, the person is no longer contagious.

 

 

 

 

Symptoms and Complications

 

People who get cold sores may feel some unusual sensations around the lips in the 24 hours before the blisters appear, including tingling, burning, pain, or numbness. This is called a prodrome or warning sign that cold sores will appear at these spots. The skin turns red and blisters form. They ooze a clear liquid for a few days that dries to a yellow crust over a period of about 3 to 5 days. There is usually some pain in the first few days after the cold sores break out, but this often disappears as the cold sore crusts over. Complete healing takes from 10 to 14 days.

The condition typically causes a cluster of lesions or blisters at a site around the lips. Areas other than the lips such as the inside of the mouth, around the nostrils, or even the surface of the eyes, can also be affected. It is possible to spread the virus to other parts of your body if you touch the blisters and then touch yourself elsewhere. Cold sores inside the mouth can be problematic, interfering with talking and eating. If the virus infects the eye, it can damage the surface leading to vision loss. Very rarely, it can get into the brain, causing viral meningitis or encephalitis. The virus that causes cold sores, herpes simplex 1, can also be spread to the genitals during oral sex, leading to genital herpes.

Herpes simplex 1 never goes away completely, so cold sores can return later on if they are triggered again. Most cold sores don’t leave scars; however, if an open blister becomes infected with bacteria or the lesions tend to return at the same site, scarring may result. People with weakened immune systems tend to get more cold sores and heal slower.

 

 

Making the Diagnosis

 

Cold sores have clear and obvious symptoms, so there’s no need for a battery of tests. In any case, they’re rarely a matter for the doctor. However, you should see a doctor about any redness and pain in the eye, any fever over 38°C (100°F), or if there is thick yellow-white fluid coming from the blisters. This may be a sign of bacteria in the wound. Your doctor can check the fluid from the blisters for the presence of bacteria.

A doctor should also be seen if lesions are present for more than 14 days, if the lesions occur more than 6 times a year, or if you have a cold sore in addition to a condition that weakens your immune system.

 

 

 

Your doctor can help you take control back from your cold sores. You can do something about your cold sores that actually works!

 

Cold sores go away on their own, but some medications may be helpful for preventing the progression of cold sores or for treating cold sore pain.

 

 

Recommended: Cold Sore Free Forever™ 

Cold Sore Free Forever™

 

 

Medications for Treating Cold Sores:

 

Acyclovir*, a topical (applied on the skin) antiviral medication, can be applied in an ointment form to the cold sore 4 to 5 times daily.

Your doctor may prescribe a combination of topical acyclovir and hydrocortisone cream. This medication may stop the progression (ulceration) of the disease if used at the prodrome stage (at the first sign of symptoms, before the actual sores have appeared). It can reduce the ulceration of lesions, speed up healing by 1.4 days and reduce the duration of pain by 1 day.

Acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir medications can be taken by mouth to prevent the development of a cold sore. These antiviral medications can be helpful when you start taking them within one hour of when your symptoms start, or if you take them when you are exposed to known cold sore triggers (e.g., sunlight). In these cases, these medications can shorten the amount of time it takes for a cold sore to heal by 1 to 2 days.

Some cold sore remedies are available without a prescription. These products are usually liquids, ointments, gels, or balms. They can contain lip moisturizers and protectants to prevent cracking and excessive drying of the lips, or anesthetics that help to reduce the pain of cold sores. These products may help in relieving some symptoms, but will not stop the progression of the sores nor stop the virus replication.

Docosanol is an antiviral blocking agent which, if applied when prodrome symptoms arise, may help prevent the cold sore virus from spreading into healthy tissue, limiting the growth of the cold sore. It shortens healing time and the duration of cold sore symptoms including pain, burning, tingling, and itching.

If possible, try to limit exposure to the triggers described in “Causes.” For example, if sunlight tends to give you cold sores, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your lips and face 30 minutes before going out into the sun. You should also avoid tanning beds. Reducing stress by eating properly and getting enough sleep, exercise, and relaxation may also help prevent cold sores.

If you experience frequent, severe cold sores or have a weak immune system, medication may be prescribed by your doctor on a continuous basis to suppress the virus.

To keep from getting infected with the cold sore virus, it’s important to avoid contact with it. Never touch active lesions in other people (through kissing or oral sex).

When cold sores are active, wash your hands frequently to avoid passing the virus on to others. Try to keep away from newborns or people who have weakened immune systems, since they are more likely to develop severe cold sores.

 

 

Cold Sore Free Forever™

 

 

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Best Hearing Amplifiers Reviewed

 

Best Hearing Amplifiers Reviewed

Affordable Hearing Aid Alternatives for Seniors: Hearing Amplifiers

 

 

NewEarTM High Quality Digital Ear Hearing Amplifier "FDA Approved"

 

At age 65, one in three people has hearing loss. It’s the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. However, only 20% of people who could benefit from hearing treatment actually seek help.

Without treatment, hearing loss is associated with a 30 – 40% faster decline in cognitive abilities like memory and concentration. But the high cost of hearing aids doesn’t always fit in an older adult’s budget.

 

 

Personal Hearing Amplifiers (PSAPs)

 

 

When just one hearing aid can cost $2,500 or more, it’s no wonder that seniors are turning to more affordable hearing aid options. These alternative devices are called personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).

 

 

 

 

Hearing amplifiers are much less expensive because they aren’t regulated by the FDA. That means they aren’t required to meet specific technical or performance standards. That also means that some may work better than traditional hearing aids, but others are just a waste of money (like some found in drugstores).

Another benefit of PSAPs is they can be purchased by anyone and don’t require referrals, custom molds, or expert fittings like traditional hearing aids would.

 

 

What Exactly is a Hearing Amplifier?

 

As the name indicates a hearing amplifier enhances sound. It literally magnifies sound. When wearing one, you will find that your hearing experience is greatly enhanced as you can now hear sounds from all frequencies that were previously inaudible. Personal hearing amplifiers are also known as sound amplifiers and you will often find the two terms used interchangeably on the web.

They are easy to use, easy to remove, maintain and keep clean. The best ones are completely invisible, so no one need know that you are wearing one.

 

 

How do Sound Amplifiers Work?

 

The way they work is very similar to a microphone – picking up on surrounding noise and feeding it through to a tiny speaker. However, they have much greater range and are small enough to sit comfortably behind and in the ear. 

An amplifier does not work in the same way as a medical grade haring aid. It amplifiers all sound and has less calibration options than a hearing aid. 

Medical grade hearing aids amplify specific frequencies of sound. If you have lost the ability to hear high frequency sounds a medical grade hearing aid can be calibrated to pick up those sounds. An amplifier will enhance sound across the entire spectrum. This means that you will end up hearing background noise as well as what you are trying to listen to. 

 

 

 

 

 

This short YouTube video sums up the key differences between a sound amplifier and a hearing aid.

 

 

 

 

Who are Hearing Amplifiers Suitable for?

 

The fact that they pick up the full spectrum of sound means that this kind of hearing aid is not suitable for everyone. They are usually not as powerful as full-blown hearing aids. This means that if you have lost virtually all of your hearing a simple amplifier is not going to help you much.

For this reason, we recommend to all of our readers that they speak to their doctor about their hearing loss. It is important to understand what is behind your hearing loss and we recommend getting an audiometric test done. This will help you to determine whether an audio or sound amplifier can help you. Hearing amplifiers are not the same as hearing aids. It is very important to understand that they are not medical devices, and you should never buy one from someone who tries to tell you that a hearing amplifier is the same as a hearing aid. 

However, that said they are helpful devices provided you use them for the right reason and in the right way. People with mild hearing loss can really benefit from using them.

 

 

 

Limitations of Sound Amplifiers

 

Most people use hearing amplifiers for occasional use. Popular uses include going to church or the theater. In this situation there is not a huge amount of background noise, so the fact amplifiers enhance background noise is not an issue. You can hear the sermon or the people on the stage.

Many people also use them for watching TV or listening to music. It means that you can turn the TV down to a normal level. This means that you do not have to disturb everyone else in the house when you watch the TV.

Using them outdoors can be problematic. For example, you would not want to use one while at a sporting event or on a windy day. The sound of the crowd or the wind is likely to be too intrusive. 

Some people say they get used to the fact background noises are enhanced and learn to tune this out. It takes a few weeks to learn how to do this, but if you can do so, it may be possible for you to use your amplifier in more places and social situations.

People report mixed results when making phone calls. Some experience feedback and cannot hear well, whilst others get on fine when using a landline or mobile phone.

If you have any questions at all, we would be glad to answer them. Just drop them in the comments below and a member of the team will get back to you with an answer.

 

 

What to Consider When Buying an Audio Amplifier

 

  • Whether the hearing device is suitable for the situations you plan to use it in
  • What the reviews say
  • Whether you can program and adjust the amplifier
  • Your budget is a factor, but always buy the best you can afford
  • Ease of use. If the buttons are small and fiddley it will be a problem

 

 

Recommended Personal Hearing Amplifiers


An audiologist designed the LifeEar personal audio amplifier.

 

LifeEar Left Ear Hearing Amplifier Doctor and Audiologist Designed All Digital Volume Control, Beige

The LifeEar has 4 volume and noise reduction programs, which helps users to get the most out of the device. It also features 12-band digital sound processing.

 

Here is an at a glance list of why I have included this amplifier in my recommendations:

  • 100% digital hearing amplifier
  • Designed by a medical professional with decades of experience
  • Several programming options with Digital noise reduction
  • lots of positive reviews from actual users
  • Significant discount for buying one for each ear (two)
  • Great customer support and after sales technical help

 

 

 

This hearing amplifier is the most expensive on my list, but the price reflects the quality of the product. It is designed by an audiologist and is one of the few truly digital hearing amplifiers on the market.  You can read the Amazon reviews here.

 

The CS10 Hearing Amplifier


Although this came in a close second behind LifeEar there’s still plenty I like about the Soundworld Solutions CS10 Hearing Amplifier, from its stylish look and feel to its advanced features and customizable app.

Quick Overview

 

 

  • Bluetooth integration and fully compatible with your iPhone or android device
  • Programmable via and easy to use App, so no tiny buttons
  • Long lasting rechargeable battery with a spare set included
  • Looks stylish and its small, lightweight and comfortable
  • built in program specifically for going to restaurants

 

The customer reviews I read about this product is what first got me interested in this amplifier. It is not particularly cheap, but you get great value for money because it is so feature rich and so well made. See the Amazon reviews here.

 

 

 

The MSA 30X Sound Amplifier

 

The MSA 30X Sound Amplifier by EasyComforts is not as as feature rich as the first two on my list, however, it is far cheaper. If you are on a tight budget and want to get a better understanding of whether hearing amplifiers are really for you this device is a great way of finding out. 

You can use it to try one out. It really is cheap enough to allow you to do this. However, don’t expect miracles with this device. The customer reviews for this device were somewhat mixed.

Some people absolutely loved the device. Around 40% of people gave the device four or five stars. Many of these people were quite content with the aid and found it met their needs and commented that it exceeded their expectation. Others found it did not help them much because of all the background noise.

It is on primarily because of the price, because if your looking for something cheap for occasional use then it may do you just fine.

 

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About Me

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Caregiver Guide to ALS

 

Caregiver Guide to ALS

 

 

 

 

What is ALS?

 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Motor Neuron Disease, is a progressive, neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.

 

Motor neurons, among the largest of all nerve cells, reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. When these motor neurons die, the brain can no longer start and control muscle movement. At this time there is no cure for the disease; however, over the past decade, we have made amazing strides in our understanding of the brain, the nervous system and genetics. Discoveries in each of these areas bring hope to people with ALS (PALS) and their families that some day a cure will be found.

 

Amyotrophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “trophic” means nourishment–“no muscle nourishment.” When a muscle receives no nourishment, it atrophies or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that nourish the muscles are located. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

 

As more and more nerves and muscles are affected, the person with ALS loses the ability to move, eventually suffering complete paralysis. The muscles used for breathing, speaking and swallowing also become affected. ALS does not affect the person’s mind, senses (feeling, tasting smelling etc.), bladder and bowel function or sexual drive and function.

 

 

Who gets ALS?

 

There are 30,000 people living with ALS in the United States and approximately 6,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with ALS each year. Symptoms usually appear in individuals between the ages of 45-65, though the disease has been reported in both younger and older persons. Survival after the confirming diagnosis is, on average, two to five years.

 

The progression of ALS varies with each individual. Ten percent of those diagnosed with ALS live for ten years or more. Family caregivers, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists/pathologists, occupational therapists and social workers all working together with the person with ALS can help ensure a high quality of life and as much independence as possible.

 

ALS occurs more frequently in men than in women. For 90-95% of all ALS cases, there is no known cause. These cases, which appear to occur at random, are referred to as sporadic ALS. Between 5-10% of ALS cases are inherited. This genetic form of ALS is known as familial ALS. Sporadic and familial ALS do not differ in symptoms or progression. ALS is not contagious.

 

 

Symptoms

 

Some patients become aware of the onset of the disease when their hands become clumsy, causing difficulty in the performance of tasks like unlocking doors or writing. Others experience weakness in the legs and may trip or stumble. Other people notice they have problems speaking or difficulty swallowing.

 

ALS may be present for some time before any symptoms are noticed. This lack of noticeable symptoms occurs because the remaining functioning nerve cells compensate for the lost or damaged nerve cells. One early symptom is generalized fatigue. As muscle cells deteriorate, patients may experience stiffness, occasional jerking of the arms or legs, or twitching (fasciculations). Often symptoms begin in the hands and feet, then travel inward toward the center of the body. One side is usually more affected than the other. Eventually paralysis may be complete, except for the muscles of the eyes.

 

 

Diagnosis

 

There is no specific clinical test that can identify ALS. Diagnosis is made by a neurologist through a physical examination, a thorough patient medical history, and neurological testing. Diagnostic testing often includes the electromyogram (EMG) to test muscle activity, CT Scan or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and extensive blood work. Sometimes muscle and/or nerve biopsies are performed.

 

The diagnostic process involves ruling out other potential causes of the symptoms the person is exhibiting. Because there is no conclusive test, people may find themselves with a diagnosis of probable or possible ALS until further identifying symptoms appear.

 

A diagnosis of ALS can be devastating to both the individual and the family. Anger, denial, fear, and a sense of loss are common reactions. For those who have been through a lengthy diagnosis process and the anguish of not having a diagnosis, finally knowing that they have ALS may actually bring a feeling of relief.

 

 

Treatment and Management of ALS

 

 

The Physician’s Role

 

The American Academy of Neurology has established guidelines for physicians treating individuals with ALS. These are based upon the following four principles:

 

Patient self-determination and autonomy are priorities; however, the way in which care and information are delivered to the person with ALS and/or his or her family should take into account the social, psychological and cultural background of the family. For example, in some instances the patient may prefer not to know the diagnosis and/or prognosis and the family may appoint someone else as medical decision-maker.

 

Physicians should provide the family with information well in advance of the time that decisions will have to be made regarding treatment options. Everyone involved should understand that decisions may change over time.

 

Caring for a person with ALS requires a coordinated effort among many people including family caregivers, therapists, nurses, and physicians. The physician should be responsible for ensuring the coordination of care from the time of diagnosis to the last stages of the disease.

 

A Living Will (Advance Directives, Power of Attorney for Healthcare) defining the treatment preferences of the person with ALS can be an excellent tool for communication among the person with ALS, the family, and the medical care team. The Living Will document should be reviewed every six months to reflect possible changes in preferences. This can often be a difficult topic and the physician should help by offering the family a chance to talk about it and to review it. In preparation, the physician should provide the family with information about the terminal phases of the disease.

 

Sample Health Care Directive

You can create, save and print out a legal Living Will/Health Care Directive simply and inexpensively online at LawDepot.  You can also log back in to make changes as necessary.  This service is available to U.S., Canadian, UK and Australian citizens.

See a Sample Health Care Directive

 

Helping people with ALS and their families requires empathy and sensitivity on the part of everyone involved.

 

 

Drug Treatment

 

In 1995, the FDA approved riluzole (Rilutek) the first and only drug for the treatment of ALS. Clinical trails of riluzole showed that the drug had a modest effect (2-3 months) on slowing the progression of ALS. Researchers continue to conduct clinical trails of potential new treatments for ALS. People with ALS (PALS) may want to discuss with their physician the option of participating in a clinical trial.

 

Approximately 50% of those affected by ALS may exhibit uncontrollable laughter or crying. This is referred to as psuedobulbar affect. Depression can also be a symptom. Some PALS experience Sialorrhea, drooling. All of these symptoms (depression, uncontrollable laughing/crying, and drooling) can be treated with medications and should be brought to the attention of the physician.

 

 

Living with ALS

 

While it is true that there is no cure for ALS, much can be done to help the person live with the disease. Treatment aimed at relieving symptoms can be very effective.

 

Generally, people with ALS should continue their usual daily activities, stopping before they become fatigued. They should be encouraged to set their own limits of exertion, and to plan how they will use their energy and strength. The physician will probably suggest exercises, including breathing exercises, to strengthen unaffected or less-affected muscles. These exercises are not vigorous or tiring, but are intended to help maintain mobility and prevent joint stiffness and muscle contracture.

 

There are a wide variety of assistive devices for enhancing the quality of life for the person with ALS:

 

 

Mobility

By working with physical and occupational therapists, PALS and their caregivers can identify appropriate devices to help maximize independence and reduce caregiver strain as changes in mobility occur. Braces, canes and walkers can help PALS maintain independent mobility for as long as possible.

As the disease progresses, wheelchairs, lifts and other special equipment can enable PALS and their caregivers to work as a team to keep the person with ALS connected to the world around them and to ensure appropriate care.

 

 

Communication

A speech therapist can help PALS maintain their speaking ability for as long as possible; however, the loss of speech does not mean the loss of the ability to communicate. Assistive communication devices, from simple boards to sophisticated electronic devices and computer applications, permit communication even into the latest stages of ALS.

 

 

For more communication help, see Caregivers Can Help With Aphasia

 

Rapid advances in technology have resulted in products that dramatically increase the independence of people with very limited mobility, allowing them to “speak,” operate lights and other controls, and remain contributing members of their families and communities. As of January 2001, Medicare policy was changed to include coverage of many of these communication devices.

 

 

 

Breathing

As muscles weaken, breathing becomes more difficult and less effective in the person with ALS. Individuals may find that they have problems sleeping, wake up feeling tired or wake up with a headache. Several options exist for individuals whose breathing becomes inadequate.

 

Several non-invasive options for helping breathing exist. One of the most frequently used is called a BiPAP (biphasic positive airway pressure). The person with ALS wears a mask over his or her nose at night connected to the BiPAP, which helps increase the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

 

When the person requires more help breathing than can be offered with any of the noninvasive methods, a permanent ventilator can be used. The ventilator then does the person’s breathing for him or her. This option can prolong the life of a person with ALS but it increases the need for care and the cost of care. The willingness and availability of caregivers can impact this decision.

 

Deciding whether or not to use the various types of assistive breathing devices will be one of the hardest decisions PALS and their families need to make. Preferences regarding breathing support should be discussed with the physician and included in the Advanced Directives.

 

 

Nutrition

It is important for people with ALS to receive proper nutrition and to maintain a normal weight. As problems with swallowing develop, food can be processed to make it easier to swallow. A nutritionist or registered dietitian and speech therapist or speech pathologist can help develop strategies to ensure that the person is receiving enough nutrients, calories and fluids.

 

If the person is not getting enough food, or if choking and food inhalation become a problem, he or she may want to consider a feeding tube. The tube, referred to as a PEG, is surgically inserted into the person’s stomach. Food goes through the tube and enters the stomach directly. This can be another very difficult decision for PALS and their families. Preferences regarding the placement of a PEG should be discussed before the need arises and included in the Advanced Directives. As with all treatment decisions, they should be reviewed periodically.

 

For more help, see End of Life Feeding and Nutrition

 

 

Gathering the appropriate resources to meet the challenges of ALS can be financially difficult for many families. Both the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) have programs through which people with ALS can borrow assistive devices and equipment that they might otherwise not be able to afford.

 

 

Reaching Out

It is important that the person with ALS and his or her primary caregiver get the information and support they need. Financial, emotional and caregiving challenges can take their toll on PALS and their caregivers. Preparing for upcoming changes, establishing good communication with the physician and other medical team members, and pulling together a supportive community of family, friends, and social service professionals will help ensure the highest possible quality of life.

 

While the care needs of PALS can be intense, caregivers must also be aware of their own needs for respite, rest and emotional support. A diagnosis of ALS does not mean an end to enjoyment. PALS and their caregivers will find that they continue to laugh, to find joy in their lives and to gain strength from the love of their families and friends.

 

 

Best Source:

 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – A Guide for Patients and Families by Hiroshi Mitsumoto, MD (Third Edition)

This extensively revised and rewritten new edition of the bestselling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Guide For Patients and Families addresses all of those needs, and brings up-to-date important information to those living with the reality of ALS.

The book is completely revised throughout and contains NEW information on:

  • Recently developed approaches to treating ALS symptoms
  • Use of non-invasive ventilators
  • Multidisciplinary team care
  • New guidelines being developed by the American Academy of Neurology for patients with ALS
  • The use of riluzole (Rilutek) to treat ALS

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis covers every aspect of the management of ALS, from clinical features of the disease, to diagnosis, to an overview of symptom management. Major sections deal with medical and rehabilitative management, living with ALS, managing advanced disease, end-of-life issues, and resources that can provide support and assistance in this time of need.

 

 

Also Recommended:

 

Don’t Buy Too Many Green Bananas – Living With ALS by Delores M. Warner

This memoir was from a journal the author kept regarding the progression of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as her husband fought this devastating disease.

She and her husband were problem solvers, and as she cared for him at home, the two of them worked out ways to compensate for his declining strength. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with ALS, they and their families will find this book provides information on resources and approaches to dealing with the physical aspects, in the story as well as the back of the book for quick reference. As well, the author writes an unflinching account providing insights into coping with such diagnosis with grace.

 

 

I Remember Running – The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted – and ALS by Darcy Wakefield

A little over a year ago, Darcy Wakefield was a single, 33-year-old, athletic, workaholic English professor, a vegetarian who had never had a serious health problem or injury.

Then she was diagnosed with ALS, and her world turned upside down.

I Remember Running is Darcy’s story of change and loss and challenges during her first year with ALS, as she struggles to make sense of her diagnosis and redefine herself in the face of this terminal illness.

With unflagging courage, wit, and eloquence, Darcy shares what she calls her “fast-forward” life, a life in which she applies for disability, leaves her job, and plans her own funeral as well as meets and moves in with her true love, buys a house, and gives birth to her first child in less time than it takes most of us to accomplish even one of these things.

Beautifully written and wholly inspiring, I Remember Running proves that it is possible to live a rich, meaningful life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. This book will move readers to see the world in a different light.

 

 

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