Observations, Learning, and Activities for the New "Over 21s"

Posts tagged ‘Alternative Medicine’

Elder-Care

Elder-care is nothing like an eiderdown, or the care of an eiderdown.  One is about people; the other is about bed covers made of feathers.  No comparison.

How much do we know about elder care?  If you have an individual of advanced age living with you, how aware are you of certain common diseases of elder persons?  For example, do you know what the early signs are of diseases like congestive heart failure?  Do you know how to recognize the beginning signs of a stroke?   Are you watching your elderly home mate for signs of diseases of the elderly such as pneumonia?  Or of undernourishment? Or of sleep disorders that can lead to other problems?  Or do you assume that the elderly individual living in your home would tell you if he or she were ailing?

To be honest, although both my husband and I are over 65, we are still in reasonably good health.  However, we watch each other fairly closely for symptoms of health problems.  Right now, my only health concerns are cataracts which need to be removed, with the lenses replaced with appropriate lenses.  I also suffer from chronic back pain from spinal stenosis.  A few years ago, I was diagnosed with COPD, meaning that my breathing is not where it should be.  I have noticed muscle weakness in my hands, meaning I need to keep “special” appliances in the house to help me open jars, cans, and even bottle tops.  The latter is from surgery I had on my hand a few years ago that left my dominant hand weaker to perform the common tasks of twisting the caps off of bottles of water and mild, among other things.  And I can’t carry much one-handed any more.  Between arthritic spurs growing into and pressing on my spinal column, I tend to lose feeling in various pars of my body, causing little things like difficulty walking in a straight line, walking fully upright, carrying objects heavier than a few pounds, etc.  The degeneration of the disks in my spine help cause the spurs to temporarily slow down the response of my hands, arms, and legs.  But these are things I am aware of and am trying to do something about.

My husband suffers from problems of the urinary tract and–as one often hears on comedy shows–difficulty with urination.  I have noticed over the past few years that he is walking much slower than he used to.  He was never terribly coordinated, but now he has even more difficulty lifting or carrying items weighing over 20 pounds.  His energy level for physical activity has never been high, so it is difficult to tell just how much his overall movements have slowed.

These types of things are fairly normal among the elderly, and don’t necessarily suggest health problems.  Although I write about our own health concerns, I am also thinking about my mother’s recent death.  She had been living with my sister and brother-in-law for at least 15 years.  During the weeks–maybe months–before she died, she had started falling for no apparent reason.  She had worked in a hospital for 20 years, and was well aware of the symptoms of congestive heart failure.  I doubt that she ever told her daughter and son-in-law the symptoms, and maybe didn’t want to.  Before my father died of a heart-related condition about 20 years ago, I heard the difficulty in his breathing months before he died.  Because I lived 3000 miles away, I made it a point to take time off from work and fly out to see him, knowing it would probably be the last time I would see him alive, figuring the aneurism was letting him know to be prepared.  My mother knew why I flew out and was angry with me, in part because she was in denial about his condition, and in part because I supported his decision to decline a possible life-saving surgery–I didn’t encourage it, nor did I want him to die; I simply respected his decision and tried to get Mom to back off.  The problem with the potentially life-saving surgery was that (at that time) there was a huge risk that he would be left a paraplegic, a condition that he could not even begin to think about living with. He was a proud and active man. So when I heard in his breathing the signs of congestive heart failure, I needed to have closure with him.  I flew out to spend time with him–primarily him–to say goodbye in person before I could not say goodbye at all.

Although my mother did not appear to have problems with her breathing except for a cold that would not go away, and because she hid the falling from her family for quite some time, my sister did not get my mother in to see her doctor fast enough.  Instead of insisting on an immediate appointment after my mother fell and could not feel her legs to get up, they settled for an appointment the following week.  My mother was sent to the emergency room by her doctor immediately, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and a few non-specific infections, one of which was from a skin condition that would not heal under my mother’s own home remedies.  Thus, within two weeks of admission to the hospital, my mother died in hospice care in a comfortable and painless state.  Her body gave up, but more importantly, her spirit gave up. Perhaps that is why she never mentioned the frequency of her falls to the family.

My family is not at fault for not taking my mother to see a doctor earlier. They simply didn’t know any better.  My mother was a relatively private person who mostly stayed in her room and took care of her ailments with home remedies.  Also, because of extremely busy schedules, the family did not notice that she was failing as quickly as they would if they saw her more frequently as part of the regular family gathering.  But the family has scattered all over the country, and only my busy sister and brother-in-law remain.  On top of all this, my mother had kept forgetting to charge her phone, so I had been unable to reach her for well over a month.  Maybe if I had heard her–maybe–I would have known she was ailing.

This is not the time or place to talk about a weird psychic connection I had with my mother, especially since I don’t really believe in them.  But I had been frantic to get in touch with my mother during that entire time because I felt that she wasn’t doing well.  My husband had just had emergency surgery, and I also wanted her to know that he had been hospitalized and, later, that he was recovering well.  As is my sister’s habit, she sent all calls from me to voicemail and never responded in any case.  It turned out that my brother-in-law got a new phone, so the calls to him on his old number were not getting through, either.  I stopped writing emails and IMs to my sister for the same reason I stopped calling her some time ago.  So it was not until a few days before she had her doctor’s appointment that I finally spoke to her on the phone.  All she told me about was the falling; she never mentioned the other problems, although she was unusually quiet.  For the first time in years, I was doing all the talking and she just said a few words.  When I spoke to my husband about her falls later that night, he immediately suspected congestive heart failure (he teaches medical school students), and we were anxious to find out more about her condition as the days progressed.  Not until a day or two after my mother’s hospitalization did I find out how ill she had actually become.

The problem was the lack of knowledge; the family could not understand the importance of the symptoms my mother was displaying (or, perhaps, hiding).  If an elderly parent, relative, or friend is living with you, make certain that you read up to learn about signs indicating the individual is getting ill.  Knowing the signs could improve the quality of life for the individual, and might extend or even save the person’s life.

A good place to learn about symptoms of diseases of the elderly and the signs that accompany the problems is webMD.com .  There is an entire section devoted to the elderly, with many easy to understand articles on symptomology, general health, exercise and diet, and almost any other health topic you can think of related to the elderly and elder care.  Our population of senior citizens–especially those living on their own–is growing rapidly.  Even if you only visit an elderly relative or friend once or twice a month, know the signs of common diseases of the elderly, including things like what malnutrition or dehydration looks like.  And of course things like pneumonia could look or sound quite different in an elderly person than in a younger one.  Learn what you can so you can be more of a help to an elderly relative living with you or alone.  The information you learn could save a life.

Maybe there actually is a relationship between the frailty of an elderly person (even if it is not apparent) and the delicate feathers of an eiderdown… .

Submitting from the great state of Texas,

#educ_dr

Golden Milk and How it Helps People of All Ages + Natural Cleansing (Detox)

Golden-Milk-Drink

There are reasons why people mix up their own turmeric paste that they use in a beverage every day. Here is a link to a recipe–not the one I’ve been using, but very close–for directions on making Golden Milk.

(http://www.healthyfoodplace.com/golden-milk-evening-drink-can-change-life/)

To be honest, before I stumbled upon Ardyss products (click here, except for Thursday, June 4,2015, when the site will be down for maintenance), I found this to be the gentlest and best of general detoxifying and general health foods available to me, since I can no longer take NSAID products and can’t function on the pain killers containing opiates.  It relieved my joint pain, clearly helped with digestion, cleared my kidneys, and did tons of other positive things for this aging body. But if you aren’t getting enough benefits, contact me in a comment below or learn more at Ardyss Ultra Cleanse Plus pack. The Cleanse contains all natural ingredients and may be even more gentle than the Golden Milk. It works faster as well as better.

ultracleanse UltraClease

The UltraCleansePlus Pack contains 30 bags of tea as well as the 60-tablet bottle. Don’t mean to be advertising here, but I’m sold on this product and the company.

Here’s to your cleansing success, no matter whether you go the turmeric route or the UltraCleanse route.

#educ_dr

Ideas for Empowerment of the Aging

This post started as an explanation/apology for yesterday’s post.  But it ended up being a kind of call to arms for those of us facing retirement or already in it.  It calls for a new way of dealing with aging, individually and with a little help from our friends.  Collectively, we know a lot and have a lot of practical and professional information to share.  You can skip the next three paragraphs, but don’t skip the rest.  Be a part of our own solution.  Read on.

In my first post on this site, I warned that I would be writing about life as an aging person. In January, I will be officially retiring, although the truth is that I have been “retired” for years–after the university campus where I worked was closed due to high costs (not the faculty, but other reasons–none of which made sense). After three additional surgeries–back, kidney, thumb tendon–I became unemployable because of physical limitations, none of which qualified me for disability, but nevertheless limited my physical capabilities on the job.

Yesterday’s post, “Happy Mothers Day!“, ended up being a stream of consciousness piece that didn’t meet the standards of a happy Mothers Day post. I’ve learned recently that stories/posts tend to take over you and write themselves.  That’s what happened yesterday.  After reading it in its published form, I was appalled by grammar and spelling errors, part of which are due to a crappy computer, but most because I simply didn’t edit before posting.  I considered editing and reposting, but I really don’t want to return to it–at least not right away.  It is more than I can emotionally face today, and probably for a number of days hereafter.  Bottom line: I’m probably going to let it stand, warts and all.

What was interesting to me was that 6 people visited this post yesterday, but left neither comments nor “likes.” It’s hard to like a sad post, and I was grateful that a few friends either commented directly on FB where it posts automatically, or in private messages.

Part of aging is coming to terms with out past.  For those who believe in reincarnation or channeling, I have no idea how you cope with past lives that are completed as well as past events along the timeline of your current life.  I have enough trouble dealing with all the mistakes I made earlier, the corrections I’ve made–or tried to–and all the daily unexpected problems that come up on day-to-day basis.  But whether you choose to follow this blog, disconnect from it, add it to your list of blogs to watch, or whatever, there will be times that happy things are posted–things shared by others, things that have added a positive touch to my own day, articles that I come across that may have meaning to post-Boomers or those trying to understand older people.  Most of the time you will find a well-edited blog–one with all the errors fixed before publication–or a post that was edited after the fact because I simply missed something as I typed or read through the preview (where I catch more errors than through the normal writing window).  Other times, I will write a streamof-consciousness post and simply leave it unedited, as I am doing with yesterday’s post.

But know this about people over sixty: We are a force to be reckoned with. (Please don’t critique on ending a sentence with a preposition–the sentence as written says it better than if I re-write in good standard English.)  We have lived through much, starting with families that may not have been perfect because of a parent who served in World War II or the Korean War or the Viet Nam War. We saw the hey-day of television as it evolved from all-live shows in black-and-white, Million Dollar Movie which played the same ancient movie for a week at a time, The Twilight Zone, and many other shows limited to maybe 6 or 7 (if we were lucky) stations; to color TV and then hi-def renderings that touch on problems that exist in society that we never learned about as youth.  We were glued to TVs–or perhaps even present–for the peace marches for Negro (now African-American or Black) rights, the continuing movement toward equality for women, Woodstock, the first Mets World Series win, the changes that shook college campuses and changed many from single-sex places of learning to co-educational institutions.  We were there for JFK’s assassination and funeral which took over television and radio to the exclusion of everything else for days.  We witnessed the first US flights to the moon and the progress of technology from better vacuum cleaners and toasters to the microwave and the all-powerful personal computer and smart phones.  We lived through changes unanticipated in previous generations in the US and around the world.  We learned a lot. We understand a lot.  We can, therefore, understand the problems that military personnel are coming home with from recent conflicts with enemies that play by different–and often unknown–rules.  We understand the problems of our young military personnel because we have been there before, long before services were available for our returning soldiers–whether as fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers, nieces and nephews, and close friends.  We fought hard to ensure appropriate medical and psychological services for all soldiers who needed them regardless of war or mere conflict.  We are here to help assure services for today’s returnees even as the Congress cuts funds and spending for their care and rebuilding–psychologically or physiologically.

Many of us lost money during the financial crashes that left us with little to look forward to in our IRAs, 401Ks and other retirement benefits, and we rally to ensure that the poor are taken care of and that so will we as we become financially dependent on a government that cares little for us.  Because of ever-improving medical technology and techniques, we are looking forward to longer and longer lives, and are rapidly becoming a majority–ethnicity or country of birth notwithstanding.

Do not ignore us.  Do not think that when I post personal problems on this blog that I speak only for myself.  I do, but I represent many people over 60 who are experiencing similar difficulties and experiences.  Right now, I am lucky to have free time to become involved in new hobbies to both improve my current functionality, to strengthen my brain so that any future stroke does not obliterate everything I know or can do now.  I am training both sides of my brain to survive–not through games software that promises to improve our memories, but through challenges of learning to do physical tasks with my other hand, foot, leg, arm, etc.  If I have a stroke, I want the other half of my brain and body to be able to take over–much faster than current techniques allow–to help me rebuild the damage in the other side of my brain and on the other side of my body.

To all you readers of my age who are trying to do the same, let me help you. Let us become stronger and more independent together.  Let us help each other find the best help for the problems that each of us face individually.  We will be around for an average of two decades longer than our parents, and we need to remain as free as we possibly can.  I don’t care if you are a Christian who believes everything is in God’s hands, an atheist who believes that all the power lies in what you do for yourself, or all the shades of gray in between.  Let us get together and help each other beyond what AARP can publish as suggestions and “facts.”  We can use such organizations as sources of information and direction, but we need to help ourselves and each other more than what millionaire actors or business executives can do for themselves.  For many of us, we and our faith are all we have.

Leave me suggestions for what you would like to hear about.  Take part in comments and discussions.  I can always make this blog independent of my other blogging sites on WordPress–either through WP or by other means that allows us to share ideas from ancient medical practices such as Ayurveda and Chinese or Tibetan medical knowledge.  For example, I can tell you about some excellent anti-aging and all-natural products that are working for me, as well as things like Golden Milk made with a home-made turmeric paste that cleanses the system naturally and improves bodily functions as well as thinking processes by slowly and carefully getting rid of the plaque in our bloodstreams.  If we get together, we can share diets that are outstanding for helping people with Type II Diabetes or with loss of body strength or loss of thinking abilities and memory.  We can prepare for the possibility of stroke and its aftereffects.  We can become stronger, and–because we are rapidly becoming a majority in the voting pool–we can change what government does for us.  There is a big difference between socialism and social programs:  The former is a restrictive political phenomenon while the latter is an outcome of the Golden Rule of helping our neighbor and treating our neighbor as we would want ourselves treated in return.

Leave a comment. Let’s see where an idea you suggest can take us in a subsequent blog or in a continued discussion format.  Work with me to make life better for all of us.

#educ_dr

On Pain

Pain.  Physical pain.

We all experience it, as evidenced by the huge selection and marketing of pain relief products.  For the year 2013, in the United States alone, the sales value of over-the-counter (OTC) oral pain relievers–tablets and liquid–was over $1.3 billion.  External pain relief products generated another $360 million.  I have had trouble tracking down good numbers for physical therapy, pain management medical programs, prescription pain relief products, and self-help therapy with or without support from non medical personnel, although I am certain that the total cost of services dwarfs the OTC market.  One LinkedIn source estimates that the U.S. pain management market in 2011 was almost $41 billion, but that the market value is declining and expected to drop to $29.5 billion by 2018.

The projected decline in pain management comes as a surprise to me.  As new products with fewer side effects come to market, and with an aging population, it is difficult for me to imagine such a decline.  To date, no one has figured out how to wipe out arthritis as one ages.  With increased life spans and continually rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, declining costs seem less logical to me, especially since it costs pharmaceutical companies more each year to bring a product to market, especially with the increased expectations of the National Institutes of Health requiring greater and more careful clinical study of any new drug a company plans to release.  Homeopathic and “natural” methods may, perhaps, take away some pharmaceutical profits, as more sufferers shun drugs for New Age and ancient Asian and Indian natural dietary products/programs and body strengthening programs such as yoga, tai chi, stretching, water aerobics, and other proactive exercise techniques.  So far, nothing related to the pain management market is clear on how much these contribute to the value of pain management, either actively or prophylactically.

Over the past ten years or so, pain management has become a major issue for me.  Although I kept myself physically fit until I was 40, as I entered into new life changes and circumstances, I allowed my body to weaken.  Shortly after I reached the age of 50, I began to experience numbness and pain from spinal arthritic spurs that were pressing into my spinal cord, along with ruptured discs that exacerbated the problems.  I have seen some of the best pain management physicians and physical therapists in the US, and have been prescribed pharmaceutical regimens that greatly–although not completely–brought my pain to controllable levels.  But the pharmaceuticals have also contributed to other ailments, such as liver problems and bleeding ulcers.  Exercise, diet, and various forms of natural remedies have helped reduce some of the pain.  However, nothing is perfect, and the body continues to degenerate with age, thereby causing more pain.  Until I was taken off of all effective pharmaceutical products when I lost much of my blood to bleeding ulcers last month, I had almost forgotten the extent of the pain level with which I live each day.  The controlled pain was still bad enough to cause insomnia because I could not get comfortable, and limited my independence during the day.  Pain has become my constant companion.

Thankfully, because I have been careful with dietary regulation for a good portion of my life, and because I do not suffer from diabetic neuropathy, I am not as badly off as many people in the US who suffer from chronic pain.  My tolerance for pain is pretty high, and I continue to exercise through much of my pain.  But life with pain has definitely changed aspects of my personality for the worse, and I no longer smile through more excruciating episodes.  Yes, I have become Bitch of the Year.  Pain contributes to crankiness big time.  Moving to a warmer climate would have been a great idea if most of the pain I experience were muscular instead of neural.  Limited medical services here have caused a great deal more crankiness in me than I would have imagined.  Some of the less-than-professional attitudes of certain medical personnel here–and I’m thinking specifically the gastroenterologist who was taking care of me while I was in the hospital–contribute to my increasing crankiness.  My frustration that my husband took a job on this island, forcing me to move away from trusted doctors and other medical personnel, as well as alternative medicine sources, has contributed to my crankiness, while some of the less-than-state-of-the-art medical knowledge and practices have contributed to speeding up my deterioration.  Add these to the crankiness factor and the line between simple bitch and Super Bitch was quickly crossed.

The problem is that many Americans in the US are probably getting less care than I get here on a foreign island.  Red States that are denying aging citizens access to the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act and U.S. congressional representatives are attempting to curtail Medicare benefits will be leaving more and more Americans in a battle to fight pain on their own.  This appears to me to be the primary reason why costs of pain management are expected to decrease rather drastically over the next several years.  Aging Americans may be more fit and more health conscious than those of preceding generations; but even diet and exercise cannot prevent much of the deterioration that naturally affects an aging body.

Certainly, I have covered only a small part of what aging Americans do to stave off health problems that contribute to pain in later years of life.  However, even allowing “wiggle room” for factoring in remedies and techniques not mentioned here leaves me feeling that pain management cost projections will not decrease as drastically as predicted.

Sources:

http://www.statista.com/statistics/255218/market-value-of-otc-pain-relief-products-in-the-us-by-outlet-type/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140818124249-348022851-pain-management-market-is-to-be-worth-usd-29-47-billion-by-2018-transparency-market-research