Digestive health and the elderly: Diarrhea – Part 1

Diarrhea, frequent  loose and watery stool, is a common problem in elderly people and can become  dangerous. It can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, weakness, and can even cause death.

Are the elderly more prone to getting diarrhea?

The elderly are more prone to getting viral and bacterial infections, which cause diarrhea, than people under 40. This is especially true of elderly patients in nursing homes or group homes. As we age, many commonly experience a weakening of the immune system.

What are some of the most common causes for diarrhea in the elderly?

Gastrointestinal viral infections are the most common causes of diarrhea; however, these viruses may also cause nausea, vomiting, fever, cramping, and headaches. The onset of symptoms usually occur one to two days following contact with the virus and may last as short as one day or as many as ten days.  The most common gastrointestinal viruses are norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus. Rotavirus which is most commonly found in children may also infect older adults and the elderly. Rotavirus, like all gastrointestinal viruses, is highly contagious.

Diarrhea may have dietary causes. As people age, many develop lactose intolerance, the inability to digest lactase, the sugar in milk. This causes gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Lactase is found in all dairy products (including whipped cream, cream cheese, cream, milk, sour cream, and cheese).

Many prescription medications affect the digestive system. Several of these cause diarrhea. These medications include medicines used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers, NSAIDs used to treat pain and arthritis, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, antacids, antibiotics and others medications. Herbal teas, some vitamins, and other supplements may also cause diarrhea.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and crohn’s may cause chronic diarrhea. Diabetics are may develop autonomic neuropathy, which damages the nerves. Diabetic diarrhea usually occurs at night and is associated with fecal incontinence. Crohn’s disease causes a person’s immune system to attack their intestinal track.

Bacterial infections cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. E. coli and salmonella are the two most well know gastrointestinal bacterial infections. All of these infections cause diarrhea but they may also cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody stool, and loss of appetite.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is diagnosed primarily by its symptoms, which include recurring diarrhea or constipation. The cause of IBS is still unknown.

Parasitic infections cause a wide range of symptoms; however, diarrhea is a common symptom. If a doctor suspects parasites a stool sample is often used to confirm the suspicion.

Determining the cause of diarrhea is often the key to finding relief from and treating diarrhea.

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Exercise & Fitness: Tips for working out at home

active-senior-adults-outdoors-enjoying-cardio-benefits-of-stretching-and-tai-chi_medium-748x310_3Exercise is important as you grow older; possibly more so than when you’re young. Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain.   The activities you participate in don’t need to be strenuous, nor require trips to the gym, just enough to keep you fitter and healthier. Exercise has proven to reverse symptoms of aging while boosting your mood, mind and memory.  There are many ways to keep your body moving and improve your health.

Balance exercises

People lose a lot of the natural grace and balance they had as they grow older.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for people over sixty-five, falls are the most common cause of injury and the number one reason for admission to the hospital. Building up strength in your muscles using Pilates small exercises can teach you the ropes and help you build the core strength in your stomach needed to remain balanced and prevent falls.  Poor balance can cause a lower quality of life.  You can train your body to be more balanced by utilizing activities of your daily life to help keep your balance in shape.  Just performing little leg balances and shifting your body’s weight here and there while you’re doing housework will help maintain it.

Balance is also more than just a physical trait – it’s also a mental and emotional one. It pays to address any worries that pop up more often you are comfortable with, like any needs you might have when it comes to retirement. By discussing and addressing them as efficiently and early as they can, UK readers can also keep their retirement in balance and feel better about their future by reviewing your retirement needs at Aviva Retirement.


You need to maintain your flexibility to enable freedom of movement.  As we age muscles become shorter and lose their elasticity.  It becomes very important for seniors to maintain range of motion and your ability to move all joints normally with activities during the day. Obviously this is not an easy task as you get older, because your hamstrings shorten etc.  If you sit on the floor during your favorite television programs and perform light stretches for your arms, legs and even your back, you’ll find it easier to bend and pick things up.  Take it easy and pace yourself.  You don’t want to over-exert your muscles.  Stretching is an excellent way to relax and relieve tension if you incorporate breathing exercises and good posture in your stretching program.  The great thing about stretching is that it can be fun and done almost anytime and any place. Stretching to increase your flexibility and freedom of movement will help you do more of the activities you enjoy.

Mild endurance training

Whether you’re going for a light jog around the block, walking, going for regular swims, riding a bicycle or even gardening, you need to keep performing exercises which will elevate your heart rate and breathing for extended periods of time.  The more you do it, the more capable you’ll be.  11529792-nordic-walking--happy-mature-or-senior-couple-doing-sports-in-summer-outdoorsStart small and slowly build up.  Not only will you have more energy, you’ll also feel happier because exercise releases endorphins.  Even a few controlled trips up and down the stairs can be beneficial.  The benefits of endurance training in a senior exercise program can increase endurance, energy level, increased fat metabolism, and prevention of heart disease.  Think of how much easier it will be to walk, grocery shop and play with friends and even your grandchildren!

We’ve all heard about the many benefits of exercise — a healthier heart, stronger bones, improved appearance and flexibility — but exercise has many additional benefits, especially for seniors.  Reminding yourself of the exercise goals you’ve achieved will keep you motivated to continue on the path to great health!

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What seniors need to know about blogging

Blogs are catching on with seniors and with good reason: Most blogs are, in the end, simply a new way to tell stories. Blogs are also mentally stimulating, can be a great way to preserve family memories, and provide a way to stay in touch with individuals and the world.

MP900442545[1]Blogs can also be a great way to share family memories. Since blogs usually allow readers to leave comments about each entry, blogs dedicated to documenting, collecting, and preserving family memories (also known as “legacy blogs”) can allow other family members to chime in with their own memories or questions for the senior blogger to read and answer. These blogs can lead to vibrant family exchanges that each family member can read, process, and comment on at their own convenience.

Starting a blog is easy and free. Blogging software has become so easy to use in recent years that no special knowledge beyond typing and extremely basic computer skills are needed. Several companies offer free software designed to make blogging as simple as possible. Blogger.com, typepad.com, and wordpress.com are all excellent, reputable services through which to blog. It is easy to sign up for an account, chose a design, and start blogging.

Seniors who are ready to blog need to know several things:

  1. “Blog” is an abbreviation for “Web log.” It’s like a note or newsletter online that anyone can read. Blogs can, however, be password protected if you want to allow only certain people – family, former classmates, military friends – to read a blog.
  2. People who write blogs are called bloggers, and they usually write about things that interest them or about which they have some level of expertise.
  3. Blogs can be about professional subjects, follow news events, chronicle hobbies or projects, or simply be a sort of public journal. Blogs are most rewarding for the bloggers/writers when they have a clear focus. Knowing what a blog is about helps the blogger come up with thing to write about. Being consistent also lets readers know what to expect when they go to a blog and makes it more likely that they will return regularly to read what’s been written.
  4. Most blogs allow readers to leave comments, which can lead to interesting, engaging exchanges between the blogger, readers, and other bloggers. Not all blogs allow this, however, and it is up to the blogger if their blog will accept comments from readers.
  5. Blogs need an audience. Who is your audience? A blog aimed at family members is very different from one designed to appeal to other bridge enthusiasts.
  6. How often are you going to blog? There is no need to post everyday, but have a schedule for yourself – 2 times a week, weekly, every other week – for when you’re going to write on your blog. Regular posting makes the blog more useful for a senior looking for mental stimulation. Regular posts also lets readers know when to expect to find something new on a blog and make it more likely that they will return regularly to read what’s been written.
  7. Keep learning. Once you master writing blog posts, try adding a photo or a link to other blogs or articles or pictures online. Blogs are mentally stimulating both because you’re writing on them and because they challenge you to develop new skills and synthesize new information.
  8. Be honest, be yourself. The best writing – the kind that people return to read – is honest and reflects the author. You don’t need to pretend to be more interesting, better technically skilled or anything else to have a blog.
  9. Engage your online audience. Ask for comments or opinions. If you’re having trouble with the blog or some technical aspect of it, your online audience may be able to help. The best blogs are often like conversations between the bloggers and their readers.
  10. Remember that blogs are public. Unless you set your blog to be able to be read by only certain people, anyone can read your blog. In any case, do not post financial information or other personal details you wouldn’t want the general public to know.

Thank you for the article written by Home Care Assistance founder Dr. Kathy Johnson 

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Avoiding falls among the elderly

The thoughts of an elderly loved one suffering from injuries from a fall are both scary and sad. Fall injuries are one of the most common and often the most devastating injuries among the elderly. Many falls result in fractures of the hip, limbs, spine, or in head injuries. Also many falls result in the elder needing to be admitted to a long-term care facility.

What can be done to reduce the risk of falls?

Eliminate Environmental Hazards

The house and surrounding areas should be checked for trip hazards regularly. The following is a list of some of the issues that should be addressed:

  • Declutter all walkways
  • Remove throw rugs
  • Make sure carpet is secure
  • Remove cords from walk areas (telephone, appliance, and extension)
  • Put non-skid rugs in bathrooms
  • Put non-skid mats in bathtubs
  • Put grab bars in bathroom around tub toilet, and bedding
  • Keep night lights or motion sensing lights around house
  • Use a raised toilet seat if necessary
  • Use a padded shower chair

It is also possible to have an occupational therapist conduct a walkthrough of a home to identify risk factors for falls and advise solutions to problems that are identified.

Have eye sight checked annually

It is vital that the elderly have their eyes checked and eye glasses updated. Proper lighting and good vision help ensure a person can see and avoid trip hazards.

Discuss medications with a doctor or pharmacist

Many medications cause drowsiness or dizziness. It is also possible that medications, both prescription and over the counter, may negatively interact with each other. If necessary medication cause dizziness and drowsiness, it may be necessary to utilize a walking aid to help maintain balance.

Regular exercise can reduce fall risk

Regular physical activity is both fun and healthy. Walking, jogging, or aerobics are excellent for the cardiovascular system, strength training (weight bearing exercise) helps to strengthen muscles, maintain bone integrity, and improve balance.

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Staying Active and Connected

Staying active is crucial in staying healthy.

One of the most important tips for a senior to maintain the best health possible is to stay active and connected. While both of these issues could be discussed individually, they are often directly related. Exercise and activities are frequently done in group settings.

Staying active is vital for a senior’s physical, emotional, and mental health. The physical benefits for seniors who stay active are extraordinary. Regular exercise and activity actually increases the level of energy for individuals and promotes a more positive outlook on life.

Staying active may include social settings, volunteering, developing interests, or exercising. Many people fear or dread the word exercise; however, for our purpose, we will define exercise as any movement or activity that promotes staying healthy. Regular exercise has been proven beneficial to people with arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and much more. As always, before starting any new exercise, a doctor should be consulted.

Despite physical limitations, it is important for a person to stay active and connected to family, friends, and their community. Many seniors start to withdraw and avoid outings for several reasons. For example, some may be experiencing pain or illness which they do not want to admit or deal with, or they may be dealing with fear or embarrassment due to incontinence. Whether dealing with mobility issues, pain from arthritis, fear and embarrassment from incontinence, or another issue, it is important to deal with these issues and not allow them to become barriers that lead to isolation and limited activity.

Depending on the senior’s interests and fitness level, there are a variety of possible activities that may be added to a routine. The following is a list of activities or exercises many seniors enjoy:

It is important for friends and family, or a caregiver to remember to encourage seniors to get active without being demanding or irritating. Educating your loved one about the benefits of adding a new activity into their routine and inform them about opportunities in their area is also helpful.

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Depression and the Senior Citizen

There is no need to suffer with depression. There are many options available for help.

What is depression? Why is it difficult to identify in seniors? How is the treatment of depression different in seniors? Depression is much more complex than sadness. Depression effects a person’s mood, health, mental function, and lifestyle. The signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Insomnia – the inability to sleep
  • Hypersomnia – excessive sleeping
  • Withdrawal
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate

These symptoms are often overlooked in a senior citizen. This is due to the fact that many of the symptoms of depression are thought to simply occur naturally in the aging process. For example, retired individuals may consider it natural to deal with feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. However, depression is not considered normal at any age. Furthermore, medical illness, isolation, and certain commonly used medications may cause depression, including some high-blood pressure and high-cholesterol medications. If depression is suspected, it should be discussed with a doctor.

After depression has been identified, there are several options for treating depression. Anti-depressants may be prescribed, but these often carry additional risks for older adults. Anti-depressants may interact with other medications and some anti-depressants cause rapid bone loss in the elderly. However, some anti-depressants may be used safely under the supervision of a doctor. Many herbal remedies and natural supplements, including St. John’s Wort and Omega-3 fatty acids, are an inexpensive and effective treatment for depression and carry fewer side effects. However, some of these can interact with other medication, so be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an herb or supplement routine. Counseling or therapy may also be extremely effective. These are used to address the root cause of the depression, instead of just treating the symptoms.

Depression should not be accepted as a normal occurrence for seniors. It is not a condition to be ashamed of or ignored. Depression, or Major Depression symptoms should be discussed with a doctor and treated. Relief from the symptoms of depression is possible.

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How to Plan a Senior Citizen Prom

A fun activity to put on for senior citizens is a prom night. This allows everyone an opportunity to dress up, gives them a chance to dance, and everyone gets to feel special. The prom planning and the overall event is not that much different than a prom for teenagers. The overall goal is the same. To organize an event that is fun, engaging, and that gets everyone involved. There are some things that need to be different however to make sure that everyone has a good time.

  • Theme

When choosing senior citizen prom themes, try to pick something that will resonate with most of the audience. Some ideas may be Hollywood movies. In decorating for this event get some blown up images of movie stars from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Order a few life size cut outs of actors from these eras. Hang movie posters around the banquet hall. Show an old movie on the wall or a screen. Mardi Gras themes are also timeless and can be enjoyed by all who attend the event. These themes are easy to decorate for and the party favors are readily available. If choosing a masquerade ball theme, be sure to give the guests feathered masks that they can enjoy with their evening wear, pass the appetizers out on silver trays. Do not forget to put up a mirrored ball to add some excitement and atmosphere to the event.

  • Music

Be sure to play some old favorites at a senior citizen prom event. Hire a DJ that has a versatile portfolio that can play a variety of music from different eras. It may even be possible to hire a live band, which would provide a more festive atmosphere. Encourage the guests to request the music they would like to be played. This can be done in advance and at the event.

  • Attendance

Be sure to make the invitation open to all ages. Allow the seniors to invite their families. Open the event up to a local youth group. By giving the youth an opportunity to earn community service credits it will repay them for their time and energy. The majority of seniors will welcome an opportunity to dance with a handsome young man or a beautiful young lady. By keeping the event open to all ages, it allows for more interaction and keeps the event fun for everyone involved.

  • Snacks

Offering the traditional cookies and punch is still a must. A fin twist however would be to have a station that has some candies from different eras as well. Candies like, bubblegun cigarettes, saltwater taffy, bazooka gum, boston baked beans, bit o honeys, bottle caps, and many others like this can be served for a fun change of pace. Cracker Barrel usually has these items in stock. There are other online retailers that carry these goods as well.

  • Activities

To give the event a little more flavor, it is always a good idea to include some activities other than dancing at these senior parties. Some of the patrons may be physically unable to dance. In advance of the event get some pictures of the seniors from when they were younger. Make up a yearbook with their names in with the pictures. Give the yearbooks out at the event and have them do a signature exchange. Seeing the pictures should start up some interesting conversations about their youth, maybe their senior prom, etc. Have a trivia contest. Or simply set up a photo album station where seniors can look through the albums and possibly relate some stories with one another.

The most important thing to remember with your senior citizen prom ideas, is to have fun with the event. Another fun way to get some funds for the event is to seek sponsorship. There are some online retailers that may be willing to donate some goods or services to the event for an opportunity to get their name out there. Medical Suppliers, Formal Wear shops, or even your local car dealers may take the opportunity to serve the community, and raise awareness for their brand. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Be creative and have fun with the preparation!

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Serenity Ultra Tablet is a Tablet for Senior Citizens

There is a French electronics producer that is already producing tablets, netbooks and other devices that are specialized for children. Lexibook is trying to grow their niche market by putting out a tablet that is designed for senior citizens. With their new Serenity Ultra Tablet, they may have finally put out a product that is easier to navigate, and simpler to use.

The table does use an Android based operating system, but the big difference is that the user interface has been simplified. The settings are simpler and easier to follow. Probably one of the nicer features is that the icons are much bigger and easier to read. This means that using apps will be easier.

Many tablet users use the devices to do their shopping. Whether ordering something from Amazon, buying birthday gifts for the grandkids from Lego, ordering Medical Supplies, or ordering a pizza, the whole process will be simpler, and faster.

The Serenity Ultra tablet is sold in France right now for around 300 Euros. But indications show that Lexibook hopes to sell the product in the US in the coming months.

The Serenity Ultra has a screen that is roughly the same size as the iPad mini (7.9 inch), a 1024 x 768 pixel display. Utilizing a 1 GHz dual core processor, and 8GB of storage, with a microSD card slot, HDMI and USB ports, and to finish it has front and rear cameras. With the front and rear cameras it makes it easier to keep in touch with the grandkids via skype or other software that allow face to face chatting.

Serenity is powered  by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and comes with some pretty great software from Lexibook. In tests the battery life was able to deliver about 5 hours of heavy usage on a single charge, delivered from the 3800mAh battery. The total weight puts the tablet at around 1.1 pounds.

It will be exciting to see if Lexibook can successfully integrate the tablet into the Fiercely competitive US market.

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FBI Computer Virus Scam Targeting Senior Citizens

FBI Computer virus? Don’t think so.

There is a new version of an old scam going around right now, and they are targeting senior citizens. This scam starts off with a phone call from a “Microsoft Technician”. The “Technician” then has you go to a website called teamviewer.com, they ask you to type in a few commands and very soon they have control of your computer.

They will ask you to put in your credit card information, and with that they will have access to every account the user has ever accessed. Whether you have shopped online for golf clubs, medical supplies, dresses, or shoes, the crooks will have access to all of that account information. Once they have control of your computer they will install a computer virus. This is a multibillion dollar computer scam that is going on right now.

It is not that people are stupid; the people that are running the scam are very good at what they do. Once they get you on the phone, they start to ask some questions and get you engaged in the conversation. They will tell you that they have noticed how much slower your computer is going or that during their investigation your IP address was a victim of a Brute Force assault that was infected in your region. They may tell you this was part of the FBI computer virus attack.

They will ask you to log on to teamviewer.com (Which in itself is not malicious). Team Viewer is a software that allows remote access to your computer from anywhere on the web. In the right hands it is a powerful and helpful tool. In the wrong hands, they will infect your operating systems with computer viruses, and take everything you have.

When dealing with these situations it is always best to use some common sense. If you think about it logically, do you really think Microsoft has enough time to have their technicians call people up to tell them they think they have a computer virus? They have no vested interest in helping you keep your computer running.

The best thing you can do if your computer does get infected is to remove the malicious software, then contact the FTC. For more information on how to remove a computer virus, Click here.

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Bait and Switch Scams are Everywhere

One of the most common types of scams that online, and brick and mortar retailers employ is the classic bait and switch.

While this technique is not technically legal Retailers frequently side step the legal obstacles by offering limited quantities of the advertised product. Below I have listed some of the most common Bait and Switch scams that have been with us for decades.

  1. Car Dealerships – You may see a car that you want, at a price you can afford being advertised in a circular or on television. The price may be well below the High Blue Book value! Amazing! After heading to the said dealership you are told that the advertised price was for a vehicle that they had in stock, and they have sold out of that product. At this point the salesman will offer a similar product at a much higher price. The Bait and Switch is on!                                                                                                     *How they get away with it – It is legal to promise a very low price to a customer, who promises to pick the vehicle up at a future date (The day the Ad runs). Therefore technically on the running of the Ad the dealership had the vehicle on site and sold it for the price listed.
  2. Limited Supplies – While flipping through an Ad for Laptops, you notice that with the purchase of any printer you qualify for free ink cartridges! After getting to the store, and placing the Printer in your shopping cart, the salesman lets you know that the special was only while supplies last. He shows you that they do in fact have the cartridges you are looking for and they are available for purchase.                               *How they get away with it – By starting the special out with a VERY low supply of the free ink cartridges, the retailer is able to capture more sales than they ever dreamed out of the wallets of disgruntled customers.
  3. Financing – Many large items such as Home appliances or Automobiles require some financing in order to complete the transaction. The tactic here is to offer very low interest rates as low as 0% interest! This is amazing I need a new car! Once again you head down to the car dealership excited to get the new car. You pick it out, fall in love with the color, laugh with the salesman and look at some pictures of his smiling teenager daughter, agree on a price you are happy with, enjoy an ice cold soda while he prepares the paperwork and runs your credit. As you are preparing to make the final pen strokes you realize 9% is not 0%! What happened!                                                   *How they get away with it– The 0% interest is for those that qualify (ie have PERFECT credit) even very good credit does not qualify. The dealership is counting on the fact that you already fell in love with the paint, and the price. They gamble that you will shrug your shoulders and pay up. Most do.
  4. Actual Item not Pictured – While looking through the Sunday paper for car deals, you notice that one of the dealerships you were thinking about going to is giving away a free TV with vehicle purchase! You think “I’m getting a car anyway, why not get an awesome flat screen to go along with it for free!” After signing the paperwork and going through the whole process the salesman brings out a 9 inch flat screen TV? What the? You go for the picture in the Sunday Ad and show him there is some mistake because the picture shows a 50 inch TV with surround sound.                                                    *How they get away with it – After the Bait and Switch has transpired the salesman lets you know that in the tiny print of the Ad the words “actual item not pictured” He smiles, you put your tiny TV in your shirt pocket and walk out. Enjoy your 9%.


So what then can be done to avoid falling prey to these scams? ANY time a deal seems too good to be true, read every word of the fine print. The fine print will reveal the deceptions every time. Retailers know if they don’t reveal the secrets in the fine print they are wide up for false advertisement law suits. Ironically these lawsuits rarely work. All the retailer is required to do is sell the item at the advertised price to the one battle axe that took them to court.

If you read the fine print, you won’t be surprised by the bait and switch, in fact the fact that you recognize that a store employs this technique may be a marker to you to shop somewhere else.

Thanks to JRSmedical for their continuing effort to provide top level customer service to its seniors.

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