Over 50s Health
Scroll down to read useful articles on over fifties health issues and wellbeing.
Create a More Accessible Bathroom with Bathing Aids for the Elderly
Growing old doesn't always mean a life of dependency and care. In fact, for many elderly people, the freedom and excitement of retirement opens up a new world of possibilities. However, in order to fully enjoy this freedom, it may sometimes be necessary to make a few alterations to the home. That's why the latest bathing aids are so important to thousands of elderly people up and down the country.
For many people, growing older means dealing with mobility issues. The daily tasks of life that was once simple suddenly become fraught with danger, and that particularly applies to using the bathroom. By its very nature, a bathroom poses slip and fall hazards that become far more prominent when people lack the strength and balance they once had. However, rather than having to rely on carers, friends or family to bathe safely, the addition of some innovative mobility aids could allow elderly people to manage their own hygiene requirements with dignity, independence and privacy.
Using the Shower
Using the Shower
Using a shower with balance and strength issues can pose a slip or fall hazard, but showers chairs are designed to reduce that risk substantially. They are available as standalone or wall-mounted units, and they allow the user to take a shower in the seated position. They're made with aluminium or stainless steel, so there is no need to worry about corrosion. And because hygienic plastics are used, keeping shower seats clean is very easy. There are height-adjustable models for a safer, more comfortable showering experience, and a combination of a lightweight design and non-slip feet means they are easy to move around and fix to one location. An ETAC Swift Shower Chair, for instance, can be put together and dismantled in seconds - without the need for tools. And padded seating and storage options for shampoo and soap deliver a showering experience that is both safe and comfortable.
Moving Around the Bathroom
Moving Around the Bathroom
The splashes and condensation that can build up on a bathroom's floor can pose an added danger to people with mobility issues, but the addition of bathroom grab rails in strategically chosen locations can make life for the elderly a lot easier. Whether they are placed by the toilet, the sink or at the side of the bath, grab rails help people to maintain balance in areas where help is needed most - greatly reducing the risk of slips and injuries. A bathtub grab bar fits quickly and easily to the side of the bath, and it can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of the user. Or if a more permanent solution is required, a non-corrosive chrome rail can be fixed to a wall to provide steadying support in various areas of the bathroom.
Using the Bath
Using the Bath
Although a refreshing shower is a great way to blow the cobwebs away, nothing beats a hot bath when it's time to relax and unwind. However, for elderly people with mobility issues, the process of simply getting in and out of the bathtub is potentially dangerous. For some people, a simple non-slip bath step is all that is required. However, for people with more profound mobility problems, a motorised bath lift can lower and lift people in and out of the tub without the risk of slips or falls. A simpler solution to the same problem is a transfer bench, which allows the user to enter the tub in stages - facilitating greater balance and a safer transfer of weight.
Nowhere is privacy more important than in the bathroom, yet far too many people are forced to unnecessarily endure the indignity of relying on a carer to perform the most intimate of personal hygiene tasks. Immobility is often an inevitable part of growing old, but with the addition of some relatively simple disability aids, it doesn't have to be a barrier to everyday independence.
The Mobility Superstore is an online store specialising in independent living products. Connect with us on Google+ and also follow up on Twitter @MobilityStoreUK for more useful tips.
Not all of the healthy lifestyle changes you make will be easy. But here's one that is: add a multivitamin or specially formulated women's vitamin to your daily routine. Geritol Complete® Multi-Vitamin is great for both men and women over the age of 50 and contains every vitamin and mineral established as essential for human health.
The sun can improve our mood and our sense of wellbeing; it also provides us with essential vitamins to help keep us healthy. However too much sun, especially when we are young, can damage the skin and this may not become apparent until later in life.
The over 50s who grew up in the ‘Coco Chanel’ era when tans were a must have, are likely to have already experienced repeated incidents of over exposure to the sun and sun burn.
Sun damage accumulates over time; it is a lifetime of sun exposure, rather than recent sunbathing that adds to your risk. However, although the damage may have already been done, it’s never too late to seek treatment and to be observant of changes in the future.
Skin cancer death rates for men have doubled in the last 30 years according to Cancer Research. Incidence rates have increased in both sexes since the 1970s.
The Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund was founded by Harry Townsend to raise awareness of and find a cure for skin cancer following the death in 1999 of his 60 year old wife, Myfanwy, from melanoma. The charity is urging people to be more vigilant to changes in their skin, their founder Harry Townsend said: “If you have a history of over-exposure to the sun or repeated incidents of sunburn you need to check your skin regularly for changes. Just as you would check other areas of your body, you should also be paying attention to the skin. It’s our body’s biggest organ but one that we pay very little attention to.”
Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund aims to reinforce the ‘safe sun’ message, but also to encourage older people to be more ‘skin aware’ and take note of changes in their skin, or the appearance of strange lesions, and seek advice before any marks develop into skin cancer.
The most common skin condition resulting from sun damage is called solar keratosis or actinic keratosis. Solar keratosis lesions are more common on the face (ears, lips, bald scalp etc), the neck, backs of hands, forearms and, in women, the lower half of the legs. Early diagnosis and treatment of solar keratosis is the best way to stop the condition developing into skin cancer.
Things to look out for include:
Changes in skin colour and texture
Itchy, prickly and tender areas
Sore areas that scab easily
Small ‘horns’ of crusty dry skin
Raised, dry, rough patches – often on the face, hands, ears or, if you are bald, the scalp
People who have a history of over-exposure to the sun, either through outdoor leisure pursuits and hobbies, or high-risk occupations such as farming, gardening or the construction industry should be particularly vigilant.
Although you cannot reverse the damage to your skin, you can take sensible precautions to stop it being damaged further.
Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, especially between 10am and 4pm when it is at its strongest.
Wear a wide brimmed hat and clothes that cover your arms and legs.
Use sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 or higher.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are outdoors, even on cloudy days.
Visit your GP if you notice changes in your skin
Examples of skin damage:
Aging Well and Staying Healthy
The OverFiftiesFriends health awareness guide, by Chiropractor Peter Sawyer
Your health is your responsibility. Your lifestyle choices DO make a difference to how you look and feel. Unfortunately, in our instant gratification-orientated society, many struggle to grasp the connection between the healthy choice and the invariably easier consumer-orientated option. Our choices today determine what happens to us in twenty or thirty years.
Recent research into human genetics is providing an impetus to take health more seriously. It turns out that our genes are not set in stone, but are in fact controlled by our environment. Whether genes are turned on or off is at least partially under your control. When we consume large amounts of the wrong food, we are changing our internal environment! Lack of exercise means we stiffen up, which means less good movement signals to the brain and the wrong types of chemicals being released into our blood. Stress or prolonged anxiety reduce our cells’ ability to reproduce new cells properly. Smoking and drinking affect our internal environment hugely. Injuries, polluted air and water are other external environmental factors.
In addition to the long term, there are short-term benefits taking health more seriously, like lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, more energy, more flexibility, being stronger, and of course looking better.
Here is a good basic start:
- Reduce the amount of grain and dairy products you consume. Whole grains are better.
- Minimise your sugar and saturated fat consumption.
- Eat lean red meat three times a week with lots of vegetables, some of which should always be raw.
- Never burn the meat.
- Eat oily fish four times a week.
- Eat a piece of raw vegetable/fruit before every meal.
- If possible, choose organically grown produce.
- Walk thirty minutes per day minimum.
- Every morning do the cat-stretch on all fours; arch your back up, and then let it sag and bring your head back and hold for five seconds. Do the cat stretch ten times.
- Have fun in life.
- A nutritional supplement of Omega 3 fish oil is a good idea.
- Take 1000mgs with close to 180/120 EPA/DHA.
- Take some form of probiotics.
- Don’t smoke. If you must, keep it below ten a day, or even better five. Or better still, none.
- Don’t drink more than thirteen units of alcohol per week. Better still none!
- Don’t sit all day. If you have a job where you are seated, at least stand up once every hour and bend and stretch in all four directions. Roll your shoulders frequently if you work on a PC.
- Don’t worry about thing you can’t change. Sun tanning is bad, we don’t need much to get our vitamin D converted. –
- Don’t let a beer belly develop.
- Don’t exceed recommendations if you are going to take vitamins.
- Don’t overeat; you should stop eating before you feel full. Most of us could do well by eating a third less.
Play a sport. It is an escape from work and family stress and stimulates the joints and the ‘pleasure centres’ in the brain. Sport is also fun, social interaction with people who are not dependant on you. Play something that gives you the most pleasure and the least injuries. If you enjoy going to the gym, great! Running or jogging are good for you and your back. Stretching is a good idea before you start. Think of the sort of movements your sport requires and reproduce them in a slow controlled manner in increasing degrees. Don’t overstretch and don’t hold a stretch for longer than three seconds. If you compete in an active sport, try to leave two days between games. Us older people need it!
Look after your joints
Your feet have the third highest number of positional sensors after your low back and neck, so the right footwear is important. Heels are fine as long as you don’t wear them too often and for too long.
If you have a problem, see a Chiropodist. Your knees are the hinges between the two longest levers in your body and have to cope with huge forces. If you are having problems, go to a physical therapist who may provide treatment or recommend exercises or supports. Your spine has the greatest number of positional receptors in the body, and provides the most stimulation to the cerebellum. Stiffness as a result of falls, too much sitting and repetitive occupations or habits, reduces this positive stimulation of the brain. If you have stiff areas in your spine, you should see a Chiropractor or an Osteopath so that that they can restore normal function. Other obvious signs of spinal dysfunction may be headaches, back pain and pain spreading from your back to your arms and shoulders and your legs.
Chiropractor Peter Sawyer