Most Americans have been and will be informal caregivers at some point during their lives. A recent survey pointed out that about 36% of the population had provided unpaid care to another adult with an illness or disability in the past year. That percentage is expected to go up as the number of elderly in the United States rises. Caregivers are usually related to the person who needs care. Caring for a loved one can be rewarding on one hand but stressful on the other because of changes in the family dynamics, financial pressure and added workload.
Women provide the majority of care. There are many that work on an informal basis that the accurate numbers are hard to come by, still caregivers are thought to be anywhere from 59-75% female. The average caregiver is about 46 years old, married, and works outside the home. They may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. The caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion often accompanied by a change in attitude — positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. It can occur when the caregivers do not get the help that they need, or if they try to do more than they are able to – either physically or financially. Many of them feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. This guilt not only endangers their own health but can also place the person they care for. They often suffer from debilitating stress that can endanger their own health and place the person they care for at risk.
Iatrogenic Diseases are the ones that are caused by the medical treatment and are generally the result of the diagnostic and the therapeutic procedures conducted on a patient. It is “any illness resulting from a diagnostic procedure or from any form of therapy or a harmful event that is not a natural consequence of the patient’s disease”.
“Iatrogenic disability” is related to a cascade of events or procedures set off by the acute illness and hospitalization, and that has damaging effects on the patient’s functional status. With the multitude of drugs prescribed to a single patient, the chances of adverse drug reactions are bound to skyrocket. An iatrogenic pathology in the elderly population has a far bigger impact, partly due to an increased elderly population percentage and also because of an increased prevalence of iatrogenic pathology with age. The greater the number of chronic diseases, the higher the chances of risks that treatment of one disease can exacerbate others. For example, treatment of arthritis with an NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may lead to a heart failure, coronary artery disease, or chronic gastritis. As such, the projected statistic of 7.8 million iatrogenic deaths is more than all the casualties from all the wars that the US has fought in its entire history.
Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AF is one of the most common types of arrhythmia that disrupts the body’s regular heartbeat. The AF occurs when rapid, disorganized electrical signals have the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart) to fibrillate causing them to contract very fast and irregularly. The incidence of AF is about 70% in elderly people at least 65 years of age, while its overall prevalence is about 1% i.e. 1.5 million Americans. Patients with heart failure are at an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
As a result this impairs the cardiac function and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. It does not always cause symptoms but most of the patients can feel the palpitations in the heart, chest pain, shortness of breath and weakness.
Types of Atrial Fibrillation – The signs of atrial fibrillation begin intermittently, when they come and go without any warning. In fact, in its early stages, the patients do not even realize that they have it unless they go to the hospital and are diagnosed with the disease. AF falls into three different categories, which also describes the progression of the disease.
Paget’s disease, also known as osteitis deformans, is an uncommon, chronic bone disorder that occurs in about 1% of the elderly population, in the US and other countries like India, China and Scandinavian nations. It is rather more common in certain geographical locations like England and Western Europe.
The disease causes the bones to grow larger and weaker than normal. After osteoporosis, it is the second type of bone disease that is fairly common in the elderly population. It may affect one or more bones, but does not spread from affected bones to the other bones in the body. It hits the elderly individuals who experience rapid isolated bone repair that cause a variety of symptoms from having softer bones to enlarged bone growth. The bones that are typically hit are those of the pelvis, spine (low back), hips, thighs, skull and arms.
Symptoms – In most cases, Paget’s disease is so mild that it does not cause any other complications. In fact, about 80% patients have no symptoms and are diagnosed with the disease after getting an x-ray performed for an unrelated reason. Most of the times, the symptoms are confused with those of arthritis.
According to a study published online in JAMA in September 2015, nearly 50% of the adults living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes, that reflects the lack of production of insulin to lower blood sugar (known as Type 1 diabetes) or insulin resistance (known as Type 2 diabetes), where the body is either not producing enough insulin or not being able to effectively use the insulin produced.
It generally occurs in people who are obese, have a poor diet and/or do not follow a regular exercise regime that eventually leads to this metabolic syndrome.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that afflicts nearly 25.8 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the country that costs around $245 billion annually. It can also cause damage to blood vessels, the eyes and the kidneys, poor wound healing and devastating soft tissue infections.The American Diabetes Association estimates that the condition claims 70,000 lives annually.