A person is said to have urinary incontinence when she is unable to control the ability to urinate and there is an involuntary loss of urine. It is inevitably an embarrassing and a difficult situation to deal with. The stigma associated with it has caused it to remain a taboo in the society. Many people associate it with aging, but it in fact is a medical condition and not a normal part of aging.
As many as 30% of seniors living in the community and up to 50% of seniors living in the nursing homes experience this condition that affects more women than men. A recent survey reveals that there are 10 million seniors affected by the disease. Severity and impact on quality of life varies greatly from one individual to another. In terms of severity, it varies from several drops to complete bladder emptying. It may occur daily, or many times a day, or occasionally like once a month. It can either be fairly predictable (low-grade stress incontinence) or totally unpredictable (urge incontinence).
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Although it is not a medical disease in itself, but it is a condition that occurs due to the urinary tract infection, vaginal infection or vaginal irritation, constipation or short-term bladder control problems.
But if incontinence lasts longer, it could be due to the weak or overactive bladder muscles, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, blockage from an enlarged prostate in men or diseases like arthritis that can make it difficult to reach the bathroom in time.
There are five common types of incontinence that most of the elderly experience either separately or in a variety of combinations:
Stress incontinence is one of the most common types of bladder control problems in the younger and the middle-aged women. It occurs when there is a small amount of urine leakage due to sudden pressure on the bladder in the event of exercise, laughter, cough, sneeze, bend or lift. Childbirth, pregnancy, surgery and uterine prolapse can all cause stress incontinence that prevents normal bladder functioning. Men can also develop stress incontinence later in life as their urinary sphincter weakens or if the urethra is weakened as an after effect of the surgery.
It’s Halloween today and most of the seniors are looking forward to celebrating the day like everyone else is. Although it is often thought of as the children’s holiday, it can be fun for the elderly as well if the games and activities are designed where they can participate and enjoy. The elderly, their caregivers and their children look forward to costume-parties, trick-or-treating, and visiting the haunted houses.
The older people, especially without children or grandchildren often overlook any kind of celebration due to forgetfulness or dementia. They feel vulnerable when other unknown people knock their doors. But with little efforts their children/caregivers or neighbors can make them participate in the fun, particularly if they are in the nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Simple activities like talking about childhood Halloween memories; decorating the house or carving a Jack-o-Lantern can provide them some opportunities to relive their old memories. At the onset it may seem difficult for the elderly to participate in these activities, but once they have their friends and families get together with them, they will enjoy every bit of it. There is a plethora of activities that they can do and enjoy for Halloween:
Decorate – Decorate a room with lots of orange, black and purple streamers. A variety of Halloween posters are available in the stores that can be put on their doors. They can also stock up on construction paper of fall colors, scissors and glue sticks. Some glitter, beads and puffballs can be used to glue to the decorations. If the decor is put up on their walls, the trick-or-treats will be able to see them and visit them too.
According to a recent research, only about 5% of patients who require the CPR will survive outside the hospital and only 15% of them will survive in the hospital. To make the matters worse, the elderly who have multiple medical issues or those with advanced stage cancers are much less likely to survive. A DNR can affect any kind of treatment other than that which requires either a CPR or intubation. But most of the patients still continue to get chemotherapy, antibiotics, dialysis or any other appropriate treatments.
A DNR also called a do not resuscitate order is a medical order written by a licensed physician, with the consent of the patients themselves or their surrogate decision makers. Its purpose is to indicate whether or not the patient will receive the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a cardiac or a respiratory arrest. The first open cardiac massage was successfully performed in 1901.
In old age, many people are not able to take care of themselves, in terms of their health, safety, and well being. Therefore, they often move to facilities that provide them assistance. These facilities are referred to as assisted living facilities and provide general care delivery and management services. They are a combination of housing, personalized help, supportive services, and healthcare assistance for your elderly loved ones. They often provide personal care services like meals, housekeeping, transportation, and assistance with activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, toileting, medication, etc).
The concept of assisted living communities emerged in the late 1990s as the baby boomers began to grow old. At that time, continuous care of the elderly became a requirement, particularly for those who could not live independently but also did not need the 24-hour medical care and attention of nursing homes. Consequently, various attempts were made to provide varied services to seniors under one umbrella. The residents in these assisted living facilities remained independent, as compared to those who were living in nursing homes, though they had constant supervision.
Assisted living falls in-between home care and nursing homes. Before the concept of assisted living came into being, a person who needed professional care went to a nursing home, even though the care didn’t require the intensive supervision and control of a nursing home. The fairly new alternative of assisted living provides a more home-like environment for people needing or anticipating help with activities of daily living or incidental activities of daily living, though 24-hour nursing care is not a necessity.
Despite the advantages of living in assisted living for many seniors, there are also disadvantages. Examples of both are discussed below.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) engulfs a person mainly by the presence of sticky deposits of protein called amyloid that the human body makes naturally. But this protein tends to get accumulated in their brains in the form of a plaque in the Alzheimer’s patients. Beta-amyloid is the chief component of the plaques. As these plaques grow, they damage the nerve cells and cut off their ability to communicate with other cells. For a long time the scientists have been struggling to find ways to remove plaque either with a drug or a vaccine, but unfortunately this has not proven successful.
Currently there is no cure for the disease, but the scientific research is probably bringing us closer to the breakthroughs. The new research by the British, American and Canadian scientists has been hailed as the most important breakthrough in the disease yet. In fact the preliminary results appear to be safe with no side effects. It holds true for some patients who are relatively in the early stages of the disease, who have lost some memory but not all. For these kinds of patients there is a chance of hopefully halting the progression of the disease.