Assisted Living Care Homes in Gilbert, AZ.
The COVID 19 Pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all of our lives, but even more so for the elderly population many of which live in Assisted Living. I have witnessed this first hand in our own residents which have felt more isolated, fearful and depressed. The only saving grace for our residents during these unprecedented times, has been our house dogs Abby and Dude. I cannot tell you how many times the residents have let us know how grateful they are to have Abby and Dude around. Abby was adopted from previous resident who have since passed on. Dude joined the family when his owner unfortunately could no longer care for him.
As a nurse, I can tell you I have noticed a big impact on our resident’s mood, cognitive stimulation and overall quality of life, especially since the pandemic started. Residents are more willing to engage in activities, take less naps, there is an increase in their cognitive awareness, and they sleep and eat better. Residents also take great pride in making sure the dogs are well cared for. This includes taking the dogs out for walks when able. What is really amazing is the empathy the dogs can display when a resident is not feeling good. Often one of the dogs will go lie with them which gives the resident added comfort and relief.
We all know the effects stress can cause both mentally and physically, such as changes in appetite, sleep deprivation, depression, increased anxiety, stomach issues, and even increased physical pain. Of course COVID has only increased the stress for the residents living in assisted living. They notice the changes in routine, the changes in appearance, (people wearing masks), and most of all the decrease in visitations from both their loved ones and outside visitors.
It is during these extremely stressful and depressing times that pets truly come to the rescue. According to an article published by Pub med.gov a study on pet therapy revealed that geriatric depression symptoms decreased by 50%. It also showed that MMSE (Mini-mental state exam) revealed that pets increase a person’s perception of quality of life. The study concluded that pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms, cognitive function of residents in long term care facilities. But of course none of these scientific studies say it better than the smiles that our pets have brought to our resident’s face in spite of a pandemic going on all around us.
Did you know our stomach and intestines are the largest component of our immune system? It represents approximately 70% of our entire immune system. Your gut contains both good and bad bacteria. Ideally, the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. The good news is that our gastrointestinal system is relatively stable throughout adulthood for the majority of us. Unfortunately over time many factors can affect your gastrointestinal system. Factors include aging, overuse of antibiotics, nutrition, disease and even cellular stress. Those considered high risk for battling digestive issues are the very young and the elderly population. Research has shown that probiotics can help prevent and even treat some conditions of the gut and help provide a higher quality of life.
Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in many foods and supplements and can help provide a healthier gut. Although the body already contains good bacteria in your immune system, there are many factors that can affect the amount of good bacteria that you have. Bad bacteria is also present in your gut. Bad bacteria causes inflammation and interferes with the homeostasis of your gut.
Probiotics work by adding good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can help increase good bacteria that helps fight inflammation in the gut. Inflammation increases the risk for gut related illnesses such stomach ulcers, Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, colitis and other gastrointestinal disorders and even some cancers. Probiotics can also help to regulate your enzymes, hormones, digestion, mood, and even your quality of sleep! Most health experts agree that the gut is the first place to focus on if you want to optimize your health.
Probiotics have been shown to be effective against side effects caused by the use of antibiotics. How? Antibiotics destroy all bacteria-the bad and the good. This disrupts the gut flora balance causing symptoms such as diarrhea and yeast infections. Probiotics help introduce the good bacteria into your gut and restores balance. Certain probiotics have even helped with treating the bacterial infection C.diff when used in conjunction with antibiotics.
Why are probiotics beneficial to the elderly?
As the body ages, our immune system is less efficient. The intestinal motility and digestion slows down. Some common ailments among the elderly are digestive issues such as difficulty with their bowels (constipation and diarrhea), decrease appetite, bloating, indigestion and other abdominal discomforts. Probiotics can increase good bacteria into the gut and can therefore help fight many of the discomforts associated with the gut.
Ask your health care provider about probiotics if you or your loved one are suffering from digestive issues. Also, to ensure best quality, make sure the manufacturer is cGMP certified as this means they’re using General Manufacturing Practices, the highest quality standards in the industry. Most cGMP products proudly display this certification on their label and/or website.
Pneumonia and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are the two of the most common infections seen in our elderly population today. Infections account for 33% of all mortalities. In the majority of the cases the infections are found at a late stage (when the infection has reached the bloodstream) and the risk of complications and mortality increases. This is due to the absence or subtle signs and symptoms commonly seen among the young population. In fact, sometimes the only sign present is a change in mental status or decline in their daily functions (eat, weakness, difficulty completing tasks, etc).
UTI’s are the most common bacterial infection among the elderly. Early detection becomes more difficult among the elderly because the typical signs and symptoms such as fever is often absent. Changes caused by an infection in the elderly are often subtle and nonspecific complaints. According to an article published in the American Family Physician on D-Mannose and UTI infections “frank delirium occurs in 50% of the older adults with infections…anorexia, functional decline, falls and weight loss may be the only signs indicating an infection in older adults”.
So how do we prevent or help reduce the reoccurrences of urinary tract infections? I am here to tell you that I have witnessed the wonderful benefits of D-mannose with some of my residents in our assisted living facilities. D-Mannose is a supplement that helps improve bladder health and has been found to decrease the occurrences of UTI’s among the elderly. It works by attaching itself to the E.coli bacteria and flushing it out through the urinary tract preventing from an overabundance of bacteria aligning itself to the bladder wall.
Many may ask how do you know when you should consider starting D-mannose? The answer is anyone who has had 3 or more urinary tract infections in a year. Of course consulting with your primary care physician before starting any supplement or medication regimen is always advised.
The “Bundle” health care system is in effect now in many states across the U.S and is affecting the lives of millions of the elderly. This program is now in Arizona and will effect everyone’s care going forward. So what is it? It is known as the BPCI (Bundled Payments for Care Improvement) initiative. It’s goal? To reduce Medicare expenditures while preserving and possibly enhancing the quality of care for the beneficiary. In the past Medicare made separate payments to providers for individual services provided for a single illness or course of treatment. This meant every provider was paid based on the quantity (days) versus quality of care they provided for the Medicare beneficiary. Read More
We know our loved ones better than anyone else but often illness comes in a blink of an eye. Our loved ones may have subtle changes that occur and most often go unnoticed. Unfortunately, our loved ones may not complain of any discomfort or make us aware that there is something going on. And in the majority of the cases the elderly will not have the signs and symptoms commonly seen in the adult and younger population. So what are the silent killers I’m talking about? Pneumonia and Urinary Tract Infections. Read More
Falls is such a big problem among our elderly population. Falls can lead to severe injuries such as hip fractures and head injuries and can even increase the risk of early death. Most fractures among the elderly are caused by falls. The most common are fractures of the hip, upper arm, forearm, hand, leg, ankle, and pelvis. Fortunately, falls is a health problem that is largely preventable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 3 adults 65 and older will experience a fall. Among those adults who are 65 years and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. In 2007, over 18,000 older adults died from unintentional falls and traumatic brain injuries accounted for 46% of these fatalities. In 2006, there were 316,000 hospital admissions for hip fractures in people age 65 and older and over 90% of the hip fractures were caused by falling. Read More