General Aches and Pains: What Seniors Should Know About Over The Counter Pain Relievers

You can be any age and experience the muscle soreness of overexertion, or even just a common headache. Older adults have more to think about before they reach for that bottle of over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever. Some can be dangerous to their health.

Seniors often have to deal with the aches and pains that come with chronic health conditions, and pain management may be a daily need. They’ve likely been advised by a physician about which OTC medications are best for them. It’s a different story for the occasional headache, though. Here are some tips on what to keep in mind before reaching for that bottle in the medicine cabinets.

Generally the Safest

Geriatricians agree that acetaminophen is the safest OTC pain reliever for older adults. The non-generic name for this pain reliever is Tylenol. There’s a strong warning, though, about the amount a senior should take. It’s recommended that older adults take no more than 3,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.

This is because high doses of this OTC pain reliever are known to cause serious liver damage. Adults of any age with a history of chronic liver disease or alcohol abuse should restrict their use of acetaminophen. Many other medications – both prescribed and OTC – also contain acetaminophen, so it’s important to consider whether taking additional doses will push over the 3,000-milligram limit.

This OTC pain reliever has few side-effects for older adults, as long as you stay within the limitations.

Avoid NSAIDs

There’s a reason people use the acronym of NSAID. It’s much easier than saying “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” NSAIDs are the most common OTC alternative to acetaminophen. (They are sold under the brand names of Advil or Aleve).

Seniors should be extremely careful when taking NSAIDS. These OTC pain relievers are known to cause harmful side-effects for older adults. These include:

  • Stomach, small bowel, or colon bleeding. Older adults already taking daily aspirin or a blood-thinner should avoid NSAIDs.
  • Stomach lining problems.
  • Interference with high blood pressure medications.
  • Fluid retention and decreased kidney function.

The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 41,000 seniors are hospitalized each year because of complications caused by taking NSAID pain relievers. Even more alarming, the organization says it’s the cause of death for more than 3,000 older adults annually.

A physician may still prescribe NSAIDs for seniors because the anti-inflammatory effects are an effective way to treat the pain caused by arthritis.

Avoid Aspirin Too

It might be the oldest and most trusted OTC pain reliever, but aspirin has many of the same negative side-effects as NSAIDS – especially in older adults.

Sometimes it’s necessary to take an OTC pain reliever to get rid of a pesky headache. For seniors and their caregivers, the safest choice is acetaminophen. Always consult a physician if more pain relief is needed.

Bathroom Helpers: Making Life Easier For Seniors

It’s a matter of pride. Even as children, we’d rather take care of going to the bathroom all by ourselves. As we age, however, it can become difficult for many of us to perform everyday bathroom tasks like using the toilet, washing hands, and even bathing.

Few of us want assistance with these things. We want to do it ourselves if we can. Here are some helpful bathroom helpers for seniors to help them keep their independence.

Making it Easier to Wash Your Hands

Let’s face it, the average bathroom faucet designer did not have seniors in mind as the target audience when they created their sleek, low-profile look. They do look beautiful, but practicality – especially for seniors – leaves a lot to be desired.

Consider replacing the bathroom faucet with one that reaches farther upward and outward. It allows seniors to wash their hands without needing to bend or reach forward. If replacing the faucet is out of the question, you can purchase a faucet extender for about $10. It attaches to the existing faucet and reduces the need for bending or leaning forward.

Liquid dispensers are much easier to deal with than bars of soap. Add one of these to the counter. Many are disposable. Or, upgrade a bit and get one that operates on batteries and automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap with a motion sensor. This can be extremely helpful for seniors who are living with arthritis.

Better Aim

Here’s the thing about most toilets. They’re white. Here’s the thing about most bathrooms. They’re white or light colored, too. So, if you’re an older gentleman who might be struggling with poor vision, there’s a higher chance that you might, well, have a bad aim.

It’s embarrassing enough to miss. It’s also not easy to clean up if you’re a senior who might also be experiencing mobility problems. There’s an easy and inexpensive way to help both the men, and their caregivers – and it’s a simple fix. A growing number of manufacturers offer toilet target aids for the home market. It’s a decal that applies to the inside of the bowl, and it helps men clearly see for a better and less embarrassing aim.

A Little Help Down There

Bending down to reach behind and wipe after going to the bathroom is often difficult for elderly people with limited mobility. It’s seldom a matter of neglect, and more a problem of just not being able to do a thorough job. And, who wants to ask for help with that?

As our general population ages, a growing number of companies are creating ingenious new aids to help seniors with daily personal tasks like this. These curved wand-like aids allow seniors to use regular toilet tissue or more convenient and hygienic moist wipes for a better job of cleaning themselves after going to the bathroom. We’re also seeing more bidet attachments that can be inexpensively put in place of the toilet seat.

We’d rather take care of bathroom matters alone, and at just about any age. These mostly inexpensive and simple upgrades can help seniors retain their independence, and dignity.

More Than Memory Care

Until recently, Grace Homes specialized in memory care. It’s a distinct form of assisted living care that specifically caters to people living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other types of memory problems. Our group of residences and staff were geared to focus on this area.

But the world of residential senior care homes is changing. The transformation comes in response to the way society views assisted living today – which is no longer only for the elderly. Today, Grace Homes is proud to be able to provide a living environment capable of caring for all types of health conditions, as well as a wider age range for residents.

Healthy Connections

There’s growing research showing the physical and emotional benefits of intergenerational living. Studies by the national Institute on Aging indicate that older adults who experience social isolation experience a variety of mental and physical disorders

Both large senior care organizations, as well as smaller residential senior care homes such as those operated by Grace Homes, are seeing the benefits of welcoming new residents who are sometimes only in their 30s to 50s. To do this, we must expand the type of care we offer.

That’s precisely what we’ve done. Today, Grace Homes is able to provide for all types of chronic illnesses and disabilities, instead of specializing only in memory care. New residents living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and other disabilities can be accommodated. As a result of this greatly expanded type of care, the existing residents are being joined by new – and sometimes younger – ones.

Residents and their visitors, as well as caretakers, have noticed a growing change. It was always comforting and welcoming. Residents developed deep bonds and friendships. The intergenerational camaraderie has created an even deeper sense of family in the homes.

A Growing Trend

Grace Homes is not alone in moving in this direction. Already there are hundreds of intergenerational day care facilities which have opened for business throughout the United States. There’s also a growing movement by retirement communities and organizations to forge ties with nearby preschools, high schools, or colleges. The connections encourage regular exchanges between people of different ages.

The trend goes beyond America. Similar programs have already been set up in the Netherlands and France.

Recognized by the State of Minnesota

Grace Homes now participates with the elderly waiver program administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is for people over the age of 65. The trio of care homes also participates with the Minnesota’s Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) program, which is for people who are under the age of 65.

It started with memory care, but the future for Grace Homes is simply care.

Why Do Older Adults Lose Their Appetites?

“I’m not hungry.” It can be a common response caregivers hear at mealtime. Nobody wants to be forced to eat, but there’s also a concern about nutrition.

Many things can cause us to lose our appetite – and it can happen at any age – but it is a common occurrence in older adults. The biggest concern – whether it happens to us or to someone we care for – is getting to the underlying cause.

Start with Ruling Out Health Issues

Serious health conditions or side effects from common prescription medications often turn out to be the cause of loss or lack of appetite in older adults. It’s important for a medical professional to rule this out first. There are certain age-related health issues that can cause changes in appetite, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases. Thyroid disorders, gum disease and even cancer may be the cause.

It’s also possible that a side effect from a prescribed medication is the reason for lack or loss of appetite. Some medications can cause dry mouth, or they can give food and drinks an unpleasant metallic taste.

Other Reasons for Appetite Loss

Once a medical condition or medication side effect is ruled out, it might be time to be a bit of a detective and try to solve the mystery.

  • Older adults tend to be more sedentary. Appetite loss might be cause by lack of exercise. It might be time for some additional activity.
  • We might not associate the two, but dehydration can cause appetite loss. Older adults are at risk of dehydration because of medications they take or age-related conditions.
  • As we age, we unfortunately lose our ability to detect flavors. Nobody wants to eat bland food. Depending on dietary restrictions, it might be time to kick up the seasoning a notch!
  • Likewise, as we age we may develop sensitivities to certain smells and aromas. The sense of smell is intricately associated with our sense of taste.
  • Dental problems or even difficulty using eating utensils can make mealtimes a dreaded occasion. An older adult may not want to eat because it’s become a difficult or unpleasant activity.
  • Loss of appetite is a common sign of depression or loneliness. It’s important to understand that disinterest in eating is different than the inability to eat.
  • Imagine that you once took great pleasure preparing meals for others and for yourself. How would you feel if that was taken away from you, and maybe because it’s just something you can no longer accomplish? Often, it’s a feeling of loss of control that contributes to loss of appetite.

It’s not always a medical condition that’s at the cause of appetite loss. The signs are easy to understand. The reason may take a bit of investigative work. Start with the easiest approach. Ask why.

What To Wear…Helping Older Adults With Clothing

Much of life goes in circles. We hated getting dressed when we were kids, and some of us end up not appreciating it all that much as seniors, either. When we were young, it just got in the way of more interesting things. As we age it sometimes becomes a challenge we’d rather just skip.

That challenge can be physical, like raising your arms up to slide into a sweater, or getting close enough to our feet to slip into a pair of socks. Or, the obstacle can be cognitive. A stroke or Alzheimer’s disease may have turned decision-making into an unpleasant chore.

The Importance of Getting Dressed

At any age, it’s often not practical – nor is it good hygiene – to lounge all day in pajamas or bedclothes. The majority of us prefer to change into daytime clothes, and that holds true for older adults, as well. It adds to our psychological wellbeing and helps to create a sense of belonging.

So, it may be something that an older adult truly wants to do, but it can be physically challenging – or even mentally exhausting. After all some of today’s most famous leaders remove what’s known as “decision fatigue” by wearing the same thing every day. Made famous by Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, more current examples range from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to former US president Barack Obama.

Remove the Rush

One of the most effective ways to sidestep any stress associated with dressing – or undressing for bed – is to slow down the process and remove any feeling as if there’s a time limit. Rushing to dress or undress is unwise if you’re an older adult or a caregiver because it increases the chances of injury. This is an especially important consideration if you are recovering from surgery or an injury.

An older adult may prefer to do it all themselves, and that’ll take more time if they’ve lost flexibility or mobility. What’s the rush? If you are a caregiver with a set schedule, you’ll want to allot more time for the process.

Streamline the Decision-Making

If it works for Zuckerberg and Obama, it can certainly work for you. Whether you’re a caregiver or an older adult, look for ways to simplify the choices you have to make. Exactly the same thing every day might not work for you. It does sound a bit boring and you’re probably not the billionaire CEO of a startup – but choosing from a smaller selection of options that you know are comfortable and easy to put on can help make dressing less stressful and easier to accomplish.

Life for everyone might be easier if we paid less attention to fashion trends. Getting dressed daily, however, is important to our self-esteem and helps us with sociability. We can keep this habit – whether we’re an older adult or a caregiver – when we adapt it to work for the limitations and challenges that can appear with age.

Stuck In the Elevator with Gail

 

Our More Interesting Version of ‘Meet the Staff.’

Grace Homes Housing manager

Grace Homes Housing Manager, Gail Hoch

Gail Hoch

Each month we are going to introduce to a member of our office staff.  Instead of the same ole ‘meet the staff’ with a picture and bio we wanted to make it more fun and personal.  Ours is called Stuck in the Elevator with ________.  This month you get to meet the employee who has been here the longest.  She knows this company like the back of her hand and thank goodness because I don’t know where I’d be if I weren’t able to call Gail. We are all a little sad that she isn’t in the office every day as she used to be. She has been made the House Manager of our Residential Care Homes for seniors, Grace Homes. Because of this, she has a new office in our Oakridge Home in Hopkins, MN.  Don’t let this make you think we don’t see her.  We still manage to come up with enough stuff for her to have to come back over to the offices and get us all in line.

She’s the “it girl” of Matrix.  She’s been with Matrix for 22 years.  Her seniority in the company is not what makes her unique, she has earned every bit of her status by being really good at and actually caring about her job and the clients we care for. If you have a question, you go to Gail. I followed Gail for several weeks when I first began, and my head was spinning at all of the things she was taking care of and keeping in order.  She remembers everything and still even to this day, thank goodness,  will remind me of something I am supposed to remember, and for this I am thankful. She doesn’t do it undesirably, it’s more of an older sister has your back kind of way.  Gail has a warmth to her that makes everyone feel comfortable, respected, and appreciated.

Gail earned an Associates in Applied Science degree in Office Administration and Medical Office Assistant degree from the Minnesota School of Business.  She has over 22 years experience working in the office setting.  Prior to accepting the position as Housing Manager at *Grace Homes in July 2018 Gail was the Operations Manager at the Matrix Home Health Care Specialists corporate office managing day to day operations including client intake and management, maintaining and auditing clinical records, maintaining and auditing policies and procedures, part-time staffing, creating and maintaining forms, billing, accounts receivable, and marketing.  In her new position, she is still doing much of the same with managing resident intake and admissions, house tours, resident records, staffing, and billing.

 

 

HOW DID YOU FIND MATRIX?

GH: Job placement program through college.

 

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?

GH: Coffee!!

 

WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT APP YOU DOWNLOADED AND WHY?

GH: Messenger – the facebook app.  I did not have it downloaded yet on my new phone and someone sent me something so I had to download the app to open it.  Nothing exciting, however, the video that was shared was of two elderly women dancing to ‘Watch Me’ (whip/nae nae)… worth the download!

 

WHAT IS SOMETHING FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

GH: I’m going to be a grandma!

 

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

GH: Depends on the day – honestly, lots of people.  My children definitely – they inspire me to be a better parent and a better person.

 

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

GH: Being alone.  Okay… and spiders, centipedes, and generally all creepy – crawly things.

 

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LEARNED LAST WEEK?

GH: I was reminded that things are not always what they seem and never judge a book by it’s cover.

 

WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE MATRIX?

GH: Compassionate, Experienced, Professional

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE  YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF?

GH: Slow down – you don’t have to grow up so fast!

 

WHAT IS SUCCESS TO YOU?

GH: Being able to find the perfect balance in life – still working on it and I will let you know when I find it.

 

AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BECOME AN ADULT?

GH: Hmmm, interesting question… 20 maybe?

 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT MATRIX?

GH: After 22 years with Matrix, there have been many things through the years that have kept me here- it is a company that has evolved and grown with the times, adapted and overcame.  One thing has not changed is the passion to provide the best care we possibly can and be a company that people want to work for.

 

IF YOU HAD TO EAT ONE MEAL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE EVERYDAY WHAT WOULD IT BE?

GH: Oh my … just one… I can’t do it!  Does salad, steak, crab legs, spaghetti, lasagna, and cheesecake count as one meal?

 

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO OR PERSONAL MANTRA?

GH: Finding Balance 🙂

 

WHAT IS AN ABILITY YOU WISH YOU HAD?

GH: Go back in time.

 

YOU ARE THE HAPPIEST WHEN

GH: Spending time with the people I love.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE SENIOR CARE INDUSTRY?

GH: I hope more people find passion in caring for the elderly – it is such an important job!

 

IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

GH: I can’t think of any one person… I can think of lots of people that would be interesting to meet but no one person in particular.  I know my daughter would really like to meet Tyler and Josh with Twenty One Pilots – so I would want to meet them so she could meet them….(you’re welcome Maddie!)

 

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIENCE THAT HAS MADE YOU A STRONGER PERSON?

GH: Losing a beloved family member has taken tremendous strength and resiliency.

 

That is our second edition of “Stuck in the elevator.”  Next month we will have the Q&A with our RN Keeley Nanry.  Thanks for reading and if you are thinking you might want to be a part of this team check out the details below?

 

To learn more about joining our team and providing compassionate care services:

 

 

  • Apply by submitting an application via fax:  952-525-0506 Attn: HR Manager

 

 

 

Please direct any specific inquiries to Elizabeth, our HR Manager,  by calling 952-525-0505

 

 

“We’re there for you”

Matrix Home Health Care Specialists & Grace Homes