Friday, November 22, 2013

How Can Yoga Benefit Seniors?

What follows is a guest article by Carolina Sewald, staff writer for Drug DangersHope you find it to be useful!  Robert Tell, Author and Host of The Caregiver Chronicles

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

"Yoga has been known for its countless benefits for both mental and physical health for hundreds of years. This method of alternative medicine has been used by thousands of people to help alleviate stress, improve fitness and, in some cases, aid in treating chronic diseases such as depression or anxiety.

Depression is very common among seniors especially after moving into an assisted living community. They begin to feel lonely and lose sight of their happiness. With little activity in nursing facilities, seniors are seldom given the opportunity to interact with each other and socialize.

Facilities across the country have begun holding monthly yoga classes and have experienced great success in doing so. Not only do the residents have the opportunity to interact and be active, recent studies have shown that yoga can actually improve cognitive function aiding in memory for those with Alzheimer’s disease. 

A study group of 135 senior men and women were enrolled and participated in six months of yoga classes and after reported an increase in happiness, well-being, and flexibility. Flexibility is especially important for senior citizens as they often fall or injure themselves while bending over or reaching for something.

The necessary focus and concentration needed for poses and meditation can also help the seniors with remembering things in the short term. A teacher frequently asks her class, “What pose is this?” in order to work their memory throughout class and emphasizes the importance on constant engagement with all students.

Many overlook the benefits of yoga believing it only helps with physical health without understanding the mental benefits it can have. Establishing a practice in everyday life can improve overall health for anyone that decides to participate.

Authored by Carolina Sewald. Carolina is currently a student at UCF in Orlando, Florida and just recently became a part of the Drug Dangers team. She is the content writer and focuses mainly on medical news and information."


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Are the Critics of ObamaCare being fair?

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would avoid being overtly political in my posts. This is an exception.

What follows is my response to a physician friend, a very Conservative individual, who continuously bombards me with emails attacking the Affordable Health Care Act and anything having to do with Obama. I finally got fed up and replied. By the way, he and I may argue but we are always civil to each other and wish to remain friends.


I read your comments about the Affordable Care Act and, no surprise, disagree with you completely. Here's a different point of view.

I believe the media is totally distorting the reality of a marvelous (if imperfect) plan that would work quite well if people would just give it a chance. I lived through the same kind of nonsense attacks on Medicare in 1965 when it went through it's growing pains, and Bush's Rx plan was a nightmare at first that could have been subject to the same scrutiny if the democrats wanted to use it for political purposes. So did the Massachusetts plan which now works well but was a horror in the rollout. Romney should be ashamed of himself for running away from the single most important thing he did as Governor.. 

The so-called insurance that some people are now losing isn't worth the paper it was written on and one of the best benefits of the ACA will be getting rid of those phony insurance plans. In many cases where someone says they lost their coverage it turns out they are actually eligible for better coverage at subsidized rates. And they will know this as soon as the bugs are out of the website. Yes, the website rollout sucks, but it's just a website, not the plan which is loaded with benefits the public and the ratings-chasing media do not yet understand.

By the way, I have much more sympathy for 50,000,000 Americans who were totally uncovered but can now have protection against health care bankruptcy than I do for the temporarily discomforted and relatively few true hardship cases these anecdotes keep dramatizing. 

As you know, I have studied health systems all over the world and, at one point in my career, I was considered a a bit of an expert on it. I have worked my entire professional life trying to help get a universal health care program in America and am heartbroken at the lies that are successfully confusing the media and the public.  

If they succeed in destroying this market based program, I believe the next step will be a huge movement for a real government run single payer system, and I will be in the street advocating for it. I don't have that many years left in which to see this dream realized.

Your friend,

I would encourage a civil dialogue on the subject on this blog but will not approve (and may delete) comments that don't meet that standard. Feel free to disagree but, if you do, tell us what you would do instead (if it became your responsibility) to protect the 50,000,000 uninsured and underinsured fellow Americans. But don't tell me you don't care about them. If that's your opinion, please keep it to yourself.

Robert Tell, Author,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Advice for Caregivers After a Loved One Undergoes Hip Surgery

What follows is a guest article by Julian Hills, staff writer for

"Caregivers play an important role after hip replacement surgery.

They do not replace the doctor or surgeon, but in many ways they pick up where those health care professionals leave off. Caregivers become an important part of the recovery process by filling in the gaps at home. The caretaker may have to prepare the house to make it a comfortable place to recover for the patient, help administer pain medication, watch out for complications and encourage physical therapy progress.

There are a lot of post-operation issues for a caretaker to keep track of. The prospect of taking care of someone after hip replacement surgery may be an overwhelming task, but caregivers can make the process easier on the patients and themselves if they take certain steps.

Prepare for a Comfortable Recovery
When a patient arrives home after surgery they should have easy access to everything they use on a daily basis, including books, food, medication and the TV remote. Caregivers should make sure those items are in a centralized location that requires little effort for the patient to reach. 

Safety is important for a recovering patient. Caregivers should make sure that rugs are taken off the floor to reduce the risk of falling or dislocating the new joint. Furniture should be moved around so the patient can have ample room to maneuver.

Patients with a new hip have to avoid bending too far or too much and dislocating the hip. There will be other parts of daily life where the patient will need someone to step in and help them, including driving and setting up the bathroom.

·      Driving: The caregiver may be the designated driver for at least six weeks. Surgeons do not recommend that a person recovering from a hip replacement get behind the wheel for at least that long.

·      Getting Dressed: Healing patients will need help getting dressed as well. Occupational therapists can provide tools like shoe horns that can aid in the dressing process.

·      Bathroom Activities: There will definitely have to be arrangements made in the bathroom, including a raised toilet seat. Activities like baths and showers will be off limits for a few weeks. Caregivers may have to help with sponge bath duties.

Keep an Eye Out for Post-Surgery Complications
Caregivers must be aware about possible complications that can arise. Hip replacements have a good track record for success, and the risk of complications following surgery is relatively low.

Joint infection occurs in less than 2 percent of people who have the surgery. It’s important for people recovering from hip replacement to take antibiotics if they schedule a dental appointment shortly after surgery.

Blood clots are more common complications and can be deadly if they spread to the brain, heart or lungs. Caregivers need to be aware of the signs of blood clots. Some of the symptoms include:

·      Swelling that does not decrease
·      Skin that is warm to the touch
·      Shortness of breath
·      Chest pain
·      Enlargement of veins near skin surface

The surgeon may prescribe a blood thinner to prevent blood clots.

Some hip implants have been shown to cause injury and complications. Information about the ones to avoid can be found on our website:

Caretakers should know what to watch for and be aware that defective implants are a possibility.

Understand the Importance of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy begins just days after surgery and intensifies as time goes on. The purpose of therapy is to strengthen the patient’s hip joint and regain movement.

Therapy can last for months. The physical therapist will create a workout routine for the patient. As time goes on and the patient begins to regain range of motion, activities will elevate from simple walking and graduate to normal household activities. The recovery process can become painful and sometimes hard on the patient.
Caregivers can play an important role as cheerleader. 

After time passes, people with hip replacements can participate in activities such as walking, swimming, dancing and golf. Those activities are great stress relievers that people can participate in with partners. Having activities the patient and caretaker can do together can lighten up the healing process and provide both people some much-needed fun.

Caretakers Need to Take Care of Themselves
Caretakers not only have to make sure the patient is OK, but they have to take care of themselves.

There is a lot to do when caring for someone recovering from hip replacement surgery. It can become stressful and overwhelming. It is important for the caretaker to have some time off.

One thing to keep in mind is having a social network of family members, friends or church members who may be able to step in and give a ride or help with chores to take some of the responsibility off the caretaker’s shoulders.

Being prepared and knowing what to expect will alleviate some of the stresses involved in the caretaking process."

Julian Hills, staff writer for

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Discovering Alcohol Use In A Senior

The following is a guest post by Melissa, Public Relations Coordinator for St. Jude Retreats – a non 12 step alternative to conventional alcohol and drug rehab.

"If you are currently responsible for the care of a senior citizen whom you believe has a problem with alcohol, things can become tense quickly. First, it's important to know the person's history with alcohol. If you know the person has struggled with alcohol for most of their life, they may be dealing with a deep-seated sense of hopelessness. This feeling of no hope can lead to extreme depression, causing them to drink even more. Warning signs such as outbursts, avoiding social interaction, dilated pupils, and the smell of alcohol are key as well.

"You may be wondering how someone could access alcohol, especially if they do not drive anymore. Well, very simply, alcohol isn’t always needed. The drunk effect can be felt from house hold items such as vanilla extract, mouth wash, or even hand sanitizer. The best practice is to check the trash for empty bottles. 

"There are many reasons why an elderly person may struggle with an alcohol use problem. Many times after their family has grown up and left the house, the loneliness is hard to deal with. These emotions may be an excuse for a person to begin drinking. Another reason may simply be they feel as if they no longer have purpose in life. At this point, drinking brings a comfort to them and a quick sense of relief.

"Even though a senior may think they have nothing left to achieve, they can overcome alcohol use. It is never too late for a senior to seek help or change their habits. It may take some time but there are programs that can help them to find a new sense of purpose. This is something as a caregiver you can work on with them every day. There are home programs for alcohol use that can fit perfectly into a senior’s routine, in turn giving them something new to look forward to.

"Never give up on a senior with a substance use problems. It is never too late for them to change and become the person they want to be. Goals and achievements may be different than 20 years ago, but they can still feel satisfaction and happiness in the later years of life."

If the above post resonates with you and you would like further information about the St. Jude Program, I recommend going to their website: It's packed with helpful features for your review and consideration.

Robert Tell, Author

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Singing is Great Therapy For Dementia Patients

There's been a ton of stuff written lately about the positive role of music for people with dementia. If you are a caregiver, perhaps you've noticed that your loved one can sing songs from the past almost perfectly even when speaking just a few words is difficult to impossible. Why is this?

Well, I'm no expert, but Speech Pathologists tell me that singing is handled by a different part of the brain than speech. Whatever, just pay attention next time you are in a group setting at an assisted living facility or nursing home. You'll probably see a lot of smiling faces as you hear the residents singing songs from their youth.

For more information, check out the article, "The Power of Music" in the March 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin. Another great source is Robbin Rio's book, "Connecting Through Music With People With Dementia (

Then try a singalong with your loved one. You'll be glad you did.

Robert Tell, Author

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What should Seniors Know About Heart Disease?

The following is a guest post by Stephanie Warren,  a writer for Griswold Home Care .

"Griswold Home Care provides non-medical home care services to seniors and adults in over 150 locations nationwide. Their professional services are available from just a few hours a week to 24-7 care.

"As a home care provider, heart disease is a critical issue not just for the seniors we care for but for seniors everywhere.  Heart disease is the biggest mass murderer in America, killing more than 600,000 Americans each year. In fact, 84 percent of people age 65 and older die from heart disease. But according to the World Health Organization, an astounding 80 percent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. Though the risk of heart disease increases with age, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of growing older.

Know the Symptoms of Heart Disease

"Often, the warning signs of heart disease don’t appear until they cause a heart attack. Being prepared for a heart attack is essential: early treatment is essential for successful healing. Despite that, the majority of heart attack victims don’t seek help for two hours after symptoms begin. Protect yourself and your loved ones by knowing the signs of a heart attack:

* Pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes
* Pain that extends from your chest to your shoulder, arm, back or teeth and jaw
* Chest pain episodes that increase in severity
* Pain in the upper abdomen.
* Shortness of breath
* Sweating
* An impending sense of doom
* Fainting
* Nausea and vomiting

In women, additional symptoms may include:

* Heartburn or abdominal pain
* Clammy skin
* Lightheadedness or dizziness
* Unexplained fatigue

How to Prevent Heart Disease

"Don’t wait until you or a family member has a heart attack to worry about heart health. The right
 lifestyle changes will significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Get started with these top tips:

1) Eat Better. Every week, it seems like the media reports contradicting advice on what to
eat to keep your heart healthy. So stop watching the headlines and start following simple guidelines from trusted experts like the American Heart Association, which suggests eating a variety of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole grains, and fish, and cutting back on nutrient-poor foods high in fat, cholesterol and salt.

2) Exercise more. 30 minutes a day, most days of the week will help keep your heart
in prime pumping shape. If this number seems daunting, start small: two 15-minute brisk walks a day will bring you up to the correct total. Remember that walking the dog, gardening, and cleaning the house all work out your heart too. Find ways to stay active that are fun and engaging, and it will be easier to make them habits.

3) Don’t smoke. According to the CDC, smoking increases your risk of stroke and heart
disease by two to four times. Any amount of smoking can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of a heart attack. The good news is that, when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just a year. So quit now, and your heart will thank you!

4) Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds around your middle can lead to high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes -- all conditions that increase your chances of heart disease. But how do you know if your weight is putting you at risk? According to the Mayo Clinic, men are considered overweight if their waist measures more than 40 inches. Women are considered overweight if their waist measured more than 35 inches.

5) Get regular health screenings. If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure,
your heart may be accumulating damage as you read this. If you don’t know whether you have these conditions, the damage can occur without you having any idea. But if you’re aware of a risky condition, you can work with your doctor to make changes -- with medication or in your lifestyle-- to get a handle on your heart health and lower your risk. All regular heart health screening tests should begin at age 20, except blood glucose measurements, which should begin at age 40.

"Take steps now to educate yourself about heart disease and how to prevent it, and you can take
big steps toward staving off this killer. With the right diet and lifestyle, you or those you care for can truly enjoy their Golden Years."

I hope this information is useful to my readers. I welcome serious guest posts to this blog that  provide meaningful data for seniors without undue commercialization. Let me know with your comments how you feel about this.

Many Thanks,
Robert Tell, Author