Tuesday, June 9, 2015
The pleasures of summer include longer, warmer and sunnier days, celebrations with family and friends, and backyard BBQs. Summer can also bring with it additional safety challenges. Summer Safety – something we should all be thinking about. Limit your exposure to the sun. Place comfortable lawn chairs in shaded areas. Stay indoors between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. During the summer heat it is especially important to drink lots of fluids. Drink a glass of water hourly, or keep a cool glass of water within arm’s reach as a reminder to drink. Provide non-alcoholic beer or lemonade for backyard BBQs. Gardening can be a pleasurable and relaxing activity but can also pose risks. Keep an eye on sharp gardening shears or tools and closely monitor their use. Use fertilizers that are not harmful if swallowed accidentally and ensure that the plants in the garden are not poisonous. As our bodies age, skin and fat tissue, the body's insulators, tend to thin. Because of that change, seniors regulate temperature less efficiently, putting them at greater risk than others from heat-related health problems. Signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion are less pronounced in seniors, who: • Tend to perspire less than younger people—so their bodies don’t shed heat as easily as they once did. • May lose some of their sense of thirst and not feel thirsty until severe dehydration has set in. • May take high blood pressure and heart disease medications that remove salt and fluids from the body. These medications, coupled with heat, can cause a senior to become dehydrated—leading to confusion, organ damage and even death. The following tips can help seniors beat the heat. • Slow down. Strenuous activity in extremely hot weather adds strain to the heart. If you must be active, choose the coolest part of the day. • Take regular breaks when engaging in physical activity on warm days. If you think that you, or someone else, show signs of heat-related illness, stop your activity, find a cool place, drink fluids and apply cool compresses. • Stay cool. If you don’t have air conditioning, spend time at an air-conditioned shopping center, senior center, library, movie theater, restaurant or place of worship. • Plan outdoor activities in the cooler early morning or evening hours • Stay in the shade. A covered porch or under a tree are good choices. • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and umbrella to protected yourself from sun overexposure • Use U/V skin protection • Stay cool in your home. If you must be at home without air conditioning: • Stay in the coolest part of the house—usually the lowest floor. • Close curtains or shades on sunny windows to keep out heat and light. • Use portable and ceiling fans, and/or battery-operated hand-held fans and misters. • Install outdoor awnings or sun screens. • Use wet washcloths or ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth to pat your wrists, face and back of the neck. • Take cool baths or showers. • Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat. Sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables are good choices. • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. Wear a hat or use an umbrella as well. • Discuss with your doctor how medications and/or chronic conditions may affect your body's ability to manage heat. • Take the heat seriously. Rapid heartbeat, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, headache, chest pain, fatigue, clammy skin, mental changes or breathing problems are warning signs that you should seek immediate medical attention. Heat related illnesses can get serious quickly. For more information, a lively discussion of important summer safety tips, and learning how to avoid common health problems associated with the warmer weather the public is invited to a free presentation on Monday, June 8th at 12:30pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Denise DiPaola, RN, BSN/ Community Outreach Worker with GuildCare will present tips and discuss: • Heat Related Illnesses • Medication Travel Tips • Avoiding Summer Related Injuries • Special Considerations for diabetes and other chronic conditions
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
As Americans live longer and technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated, older Americans can be vulnerable to scam artists and others seeking to exploit them for financial gain. They also can be vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The negative effects of abuse, neglect, and exploitation on the independence, well-being, and health of seniors are extensive. Elder abuse increases the risk of premature death and causes unnecessary illness, injury, and suffering and can threaten the economic security of older Americans. And it impacts elders across all economic, racial and ethnic lines, regardless of where they live—at home, with families, in assisted living, and nursing homes. People living with dementia are at higher risk for abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Cognitive impairment reduces financial capacity, increasing the risk of financial exploitation. Elder abuse carries both a human cost and an economic cost. It undermines our public investments in long-term services and supports. The costs of elder abuse are borne by public programs of the federal government and the states, private businesses and most importantly, by families and individuals. The Elder Justice Act, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, recognizes the nation’s need to address this issue. Since 2012, the federal Elder Justice Coordinating Council, authorized by the Elder Justice Act, has brought together federal agencies to build the federal capacity to address elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse; financial exploitation; and neglect (including self-neglect). It is found in all communities and is not limited to individuals of any particular race, ethnic or cultural background or socio-economic status. Because it often is hidden and unrecognized, and because the definition of elder abuse varies from state to state, both the incidence and prevalence of elder abuse have been difficult to articulate with great confidence on the national level. In 1995, New York State legislation established the Elder Abuse Education and Outreach Program to provide education and outreach to the general public, including older persons and their families and caregivers in order to identify and prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The program includes elder abuse education and outreach programs designed to support a statewide effort to increase awareness and prevention of elder abuse. To protect residents of skilled facilities, the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program services are provided through a network of local ombudsman programs hosted by county based profit organizations. Each local ombudsman program has a paid coordinator who recruits, trains and supervises a corps of trained volunteers that provide a regular presence in nursing homes and adult care facilities. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program serves as an advocate and resource for the more than 160,000 older adults and persons with disabilities who reside in New York’s long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen help residents and their families understand and exercise their rights to quality of care and quality of life. The program advocates for residents at both the individual and systems levels by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents, promoting the development of resident and family councils, and informing governmental agencies, providers and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long-term care facilities. As the population of older Americans grows, so does the hidden problem of elder abuse, exploitation and neglect. We should continue to develop public-private partnerships, as well as partnerships with state and local-level entities, to stem the tide of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.