The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just reported immunization data, and it shows some alarming gaps for older people.
About two-thirds of Americans age 65 and older (66 percent) have never had the shingles vaccine, and 43 percent haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years. And when it comes to pneumococcal vaccine, more than a third (36 percent) of older people haven’t had their immunizations.
Older Americans are a bit more diligent about getting flu shots. Even so, 31 percent of those between 65 and 74 haven’t had a flu shot in the past year. Compliance is better among 75 to 84-year-olds, only 28 percent of whom neglect to get the annual vaccine.
Because older adults are at increased risk of complications that can be prevented by vaccines, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends getting an annual flu shot, plus two doses of pneumococcal vaccine, one dose of the shingles vaccine and a tetanus booster every 10 years.
The most neglected inoculation, the shingles vaccine, reduces the risk of getting a viral disease that can cause a painful, blistered skin and fever, headache, fatigue and sensitivity to light, according to the Mayo Clinic website. It’s recommended for adults age 60 and older, whether or not they’ve ever had shingles.
In addition to endangering themselves, adults age 50-plus who skip immunizations drive up health care costs when they get sick to the tune of $6.9 billion a year, according to researchers’ estimates.
Instead of hiring a home-health aide for their aging parents, some people are training to become an aide themselves, reports the Arizona Republic. This can work out well, but there are some potential pitfalls to be wary of.
The Republic tells the story of one woman, Jessica Hutchison, who became a certified nursing assistant to help care for her grandmother. She felt taking the three-week course at the Arizona Medical Training Institute in Mesa would help her give better care and also help the family save money.
Hutchison learned how to recognize common diseases and their symptoms, such as the signs of low blood sugar that may signal diabetes. She also learned to recognize infection, how to record and monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and how to provide assistance with bathing, grooming and toileting.
But physical training isn’t everything, the article points out. There are a number of things family members doubling as home-health aides should watch out for—such as having compromised objectivity and not being emotionally ready.
More and more people are making the decision to start eating healthier. The problem with that is that they will continue to make the same eating mistakes within the first couple of months, and then return to bad eating habits. Listed below are 4 common diet mistakes:
1. Not enough protein eaten at breakfast
You might consider a healthy breakfast to be a bowl of cereal with non-fat milk and a banana. An hour later, though, you find yourself hungry again. The fact of the matter is that the protein in the milk is not enough to sustain you through to lunch. Healthy fats like almonds are a good cereal addition, or you may also consider adding more protein in the form of a hard-boiled egg. This will help keep hunger at bay.
2. Eating a snack
Nutritionists and diet experts recommend a mid-morning snack if there is going to be 4 or more hours between breakfast and lunch. If the snack size is too large, you end up creating an extra meal. Ideally, a snack should come in at under 200 calories. It should also be comprised of either protein, healthy fat, or a combination of both. Skip the snack completely if you are not experiencing hunger.
3. Salads for lunch
People on a diet will often think they are doing great when they have a salad for lunch, but what is included in that salad? If it is full of bacon bits, croutons, a lot of cheese, or covered in creamy dressing, it may not be that healthy. Additionally, adding too much chicken, avocado, or olive oil can mean cranking up the calorie count.
4. Skipping carbs at dinner
It is still totally possible to lose weight when you enjoy carbs with your dinner. Many people will skip the carbs and choose a protein every time. This is not necessarily the best way to go. If, for example, you went with a 225 gm chicken breast, you would be looking at 375 calories. If you went with a 113 gm piece of chicken instead, and served it with a ½ cup of brown rice, you would actually save close to 80 calories. You would also be getting a serving of fiber, which will help with your weight loss, too.
Myth No. 1: Alzheimer’s happens only to older people.
Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But it can happen when you’re younger, too. About 5% of people with the disease get symptoms in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. It’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s.
People who have it often go a long time before getting an accurate diagnosis. That’s because doctors don’t usually consider it a possibility during midlife. They often think symptoms like memory loss are from stress.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s can be genetic. Scientists think it involves changes in one of three rare genes passed down from a parent.
Myth No. 2: Alzheimer’s symptoms are a normal part of aging.
Some memory loss is a normal part of aging. But Alzheimer’s symptoms — like forgetfulness that interferes with your daily life, and disorientation — are not.
It’s normal to forget where your keys are from time to time. But forgetting how to drive to a place you’ve been many times, or losing track of what season it is, points to a more serious problem.
Unlike the mild memory loss that can happen with aging, Alzheimer’s disease takes a growing toll on the brain. As the disease gradually worsens, it takes away someone’s ability to think, eat, talk, and more.
So, if your mind doesn’t seem as sharp as it used to be, that doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s symptom’s. The condition becomes more common among people as they age, but “it isn’t an inevitable part of aging,” says George Perry, MD. He’s a neuroscientist and a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Myth No. 3: Alzheimer’s doesn’t lead to death.
Sadly, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Most people live 8 to 10 years after they’re diagnosed.
They can forget to drink or eat, or they might have trouble swallowing, which can lead to a severe shortage of nutrients. They can also have breathing problems, and that can lead to pneumonia, which is often deadly, Perry says.
Also, the high-risk behaviors that sometimes stem from Alzheimer’s, like wandering into dangerous situations, can be fatal.
Myth No. 4: There are treatments that stop the disease from getting worse.
While certain treatments can help against Alzheimer’s symptoms, “there’s no current way to stop or slow” the disease itself, says Heather M. Snyder, PhD, of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Snyder warns against supplement’s, diets, or regimens that claim to cure it. No evidence shows they’re useful treatments for the disease.
Five medications are FDA-approved to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms: donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne), memantine (Namenda), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine (Cognex).
These medications might help with thinking, memory, language skills, and some behavioral problems. But they don’t work for everyone. If they do work, the relief is usually temporary. Someone with the condition “may do better for a year or so at best,” Perry says.
Myth No. 5: Alzheimer’s is caused by aluminum, flu shots, silver fillings, or aspartame.
You may have heard that cooking with aluminum pans or drinking from aluminum cans causes Alzheimer’s. But there’s no scientific evidence to back that claim.
Some people think the artificial sweetener aspartame causes it. No evidence supports that theory either.
Others think silver dental fillings raise your risk. Again, there’s not much to go on.
Another false belief is that flu shots cause Alzheimer’s. Research suggests the opposite is true: Vaccinations can lower your risk and boost your overall health.
Experts don’t know what causes the disease. It might be a mix of factors tied to genes, environment, and lifestyle. Some research suggests it might be related to health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. There’s a lot of research under way, but the results aren’t yet clear.
Scientists are becoming more interested in the possible role of lifestyle factors. Snyder says a healthy diet, exercise, being social, and doing things that challenge your mind might lower your risk. Since the research is still early on, the exact “lifestyle recipe” is unknown, though.