Senior Health (cont.)
Siamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What are some common facts about health in seniors?
- What changes occur in the body as we age?
- What are the most common diseases and conditions seniors face as they age?
- How can social issues affect the life and health of seniors?
- What are lifestyle changes seniors can make to lead a healthy life as they age?
- What role does diet play in senior health?
- Is exercise important in health of the elderly?
- What are some of the routine medical tests for seniors?
- What are important safety measures for the elderly?
- What are some concerns regarding hospitalization of the elderly?
- What is a hospitalist, and where is my regular doctor?
What are important safety measures for the elderly?
General safety measures both at home, and away from home, are encouraged and recommended to elderly patients and their family members. Falls and injuries, confusion, adherence to medical instructions, and future health and financial planning are among the concerns pertinent to elderly care.
Simple home safety recommendations for seniors include:
- Using canes or walkers and shower seats for fall prevention if unsteady on feet
- Utilizing assist devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, scooters to promote safe mobility and independence if difficulty getting around
- Replacing hard wood floors with carpeting for injury reduction in case of a fall (avoid throw rugs on hard wood floors or potentially slick surfaces)
- Using hearing aids, wearing glasses, and installing good lighting to diminish effects of hearing and visual problems
- Managing medications by taking advantage of pill boxes when keeping track of medications become burdensome
- Hiring caregivers or accepting assistance from family members if activities of daily living become difficult
- Scheduling routine sleep and wake times to improve sleep quality and day time efficiency
- Subscribing to medical alert systems and programming emergency phone number into cell phones for easy access in cases of emergency
- Planning regular social activities to improve social interactions
- Driving with care and recognizing when it may be safer to stop driving
- Preparing a properly executed advance healthcare directive, living will, and trust to outline decisions and preferences in preparation for the time a person may become incapable of making sound decisions
Another noteworthy concern for the elderly is the subject of medications. With the rise in availability of various medications, naturally a growing list of drugs is offered to the elderly due to their high prevalence of medical conditions. As a consequence, interactions between these drugs and their individual side effects become increasingly more likely. The best approach to address these concerns is a discussion and periodic medication review with the treating physicians or the primary care doctor. If the elderly patient or their caregiver keep up-to-date records of allergies, medications, diseases, medical and surgical history, and advance directives readily available; the patient will have a better experience if they need emergent care or hospitalization. This is especially true if they arrive at a hospital where the patient's doctors do not practice, or if they have need of medical care while "on vacation" or "traveling."
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