Category

Elderly and aging

Listening Out for Hearing Loss: Hearing Awareness Week

By | Elderly and aging, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle

Listening Out for Hearing Loss

 

 

Did you know that it is estimated that 1 in 4 Australians could have some form of hearing damage by 2050? It takes the average Australian 7 years to seek help for hearing loss after they begin to suspect it might be a problem. Awareness of challenges faced by people with hearing loss is important, as is protecting hearing in people who do not yet have severe hearing loss.

Causes of Hearing Loss

There are many factors that could contribute to loss of hearing – genetics, diabetes and smoking can speed up its effects. However, a shocking one third of all cases of hearing loss are as a result of exposure to excessive noise.

Damage to hearing builds up over time. The louder the noise and the longer you are exposed to it, the greater the risk is to your hearing.

What is Excessive Noise?

As a general guide, noise is excessive when someone has to raise their voice to communicate to someone who is an arm’s length away. Workplace noise used to be the most common cause of hearing loss, but a major rising concern is personal listening devices, especially worn by young people. They really can cause permanent damage. The general rule is that if someone else can hear the music while ear buds are in, it’s too loud.

Just because someone already has hearing damage doesn’t mean they don’t have to worry about excessive noise – on the contrary, it’s even more important that they protect the hearing they have left. If you struggle to hear properly at a normal volume, don’t turn it louder – seek help.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Because losing your hearing is often a gradual process, it is easy to miss. People who know you well might notice the first signs of your hearing loss before you do. If you’re wondering if you might have some hearing loss, ask yourself:

  • Do other people complain about how loudly you turn up the TV or radio?
  • Are you uncomfortable in situations with a lot of background noise?
  • Do you strain to hear at places like the cinema?
  • Do you often have to ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Can you hear clearly when using your telephone?
  • Do you always hear the doorbell and your phone?
  • Do you hear that people are talking but struggle to make out all of the words?

The sooner someone addresses hearing loss, the better chance they have of slowing down its progression. If you have any suspicions, or even just want to reassure yourself, tests are very simple and cheap (or even free).

Take Action

If you have any concerns about your hearing, get checked. The treatments for hearing loss have come a long way since the days of big, clunky hearing aids, and new products are in development all the time, so the fear of hearing aids shouldn’t stop you from seeing someone about your hearing. Don’t wait for years, just to become another statistic. Ask your GP to refer you to a hearing specialist, and start taking control of your hearing – because once it’s gone, it won’t come back.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss hearing loss –>

Focus on Healthy Bones for World Osteoporosis Day

By | Elderly and aging, General Wellbeing, Men's Health, Women's Health

Focus on Healthy Bones for World Osteoporosis Day

 

 

In 2017, more than 160,000 Australians will be treated for broken bones due to osteoporosis. Around 80% of patients with broken bones leave hospital without being checked for osteoporosis, so that number could be significantly higher. The 20th of October is a day set apart around the world for focusing on bone health. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects Australians from all walks of life, and you can start taking steps at almost any stage of life to decrease the risk of breaking or fracturing a bone as a result of this condition.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis refers to a condition where bones lose essential minerals (like calcium) quicker than the body can replace them. That leads to the bones becoming less thick and strong. The bones then become more porous and less dense, which weakens them – sometimes to the point where even a small bump or fall can lead to fractures. Over 1 million people in Australia, both men and women, have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is a related condition that occurs before osteoporosis. A diagnosis of osteopenia means that your bone density falls between the normal range and diagnosed osteoporosis, so you need to take action to increase the health of your bones to avoid developing osteoporosis.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

A simple scan can diagnose osteoporosis, called a “bone mineral density test”. The scan usually focuses on the hip and spine to see how much mineral loss may have occurred. The scan is a simple process – it requires that you lie flat on a padded table (while fully clothed), and a machine passes a scanning arm over your body. The scan does not usually take more than 10 – 15 minutes.

What risk factors can lead to osteoporosis?

Avoiding osteoporosis starts from a young age – calcium is extremely important for children and adolescents to build strong bones, and many are not getting enough. Some medications can affect bone health, and these side effects need to be discussed with your doctor. During menopause, rapidly declining levels of oestrogen make women more at risk of osteoporosis. Men’s hormone levels decline more slowly, so their increased risk often occurs later in life.

Some medications, health conditions and your family history can indicate an increased risk of osteoporosis. Being under- or overweight, low levels of physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition can also lead to the condition.

How is osteoporosis treated?

It is very important that osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Resistance, muscle-strengthening, and weight-bearing exercises are the best for increasing bone health. Weight-bearing exercises include any activity where you support your own body weight, like jogging or dancing. In addition, you will need to eliminate negative lifestyle factors – that includes avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and keeping your body weight in a healthy range.

Calcium is extremely important for building strong bones. If you cannot get enough calcium from your diet, a supplement might be prescribed. Vitamin D levels also need to be adequate for good bone health. Your body can make vitamin D with just a few minutes of direct sunlight, but supplements are available if you are struggling to keep your levels high enough. Protein is also important for building bones.

 

Your GP can help you assess your risk factors, and arrange for bone testing if necessary. Talk to your doctor about any medications or health conditions that might affect your bone health. Early diagnosis will give you the best possible chance of avoiding fractures and keeping your bones healthy and strong.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss bone health and screening –>

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

By | Elderly and aging, Mental Health

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

 

 

Caring for someone with dementia is a life-changing responsibility. Whether you choose to be the primary carer or part of a wider team, dementia is a condition that will require a lot of love, compassion and patience. Planning ahead can help your family be prepared for the challenges and rewards that are in the future. Here are some practical areas to keep in mind.

Nutrition

Eating and drinking needs to be carefully monitored, even if they are in an aged care home, because people with dementia can forget to eat and can also have problems with swallowing. If you have checked with a doctor that there isn’t a treatable reason behind a lack of appetite (such as dental pain or depression), try offering smaller meals regularly, preferably made of familiar foods. In later stages you may need to demonstrate chewing and consider nutritional supplements. Don’t forget to offer lots of liquids, especially in hot weather.

Hygiene

People with dementia often lose interest in caring for themselves, especially in the area of basic hygiene. Choose a time when they are calm and create a relaxing, soothing environment with everything laid out and simple instructions. People with dementia might have fears that you can help provide a solution to; for example, a fear of falling might need a sturdy shower seat with a handheld shower head.

Continence

Losing control of the bladder/bowel commonly occurs in dementia, and it’s important to maintain as much privacy and dignity as possible. Make going to the toilet as easy as possible, with clear lighting at night and bathroom installations to help them get on and off, and clothing that is easy to fasten and unfasten. People often fall into patterns of when they use the toilet and give non-verbal cues for when they need to go, so you can use those patterns to help suggest they go to the toilet. Continence pads and aids are available if necessary.

Support

As a carer of someone with dementia, it is more important than ever that you look after your own basic needs, as well as theirs. You don’t have to do it alone. Get financial, emotional and physical assistance wherever possible. A National Dementia Helpline is available on 1800 100 500 if you need information. Other groups include Alzheimer’s Australia, Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Your GP can provide further information about support networks available to provide care for your loved one. When caring for someone with dementia, and especially when looking after their practical needs, it’s a good idea to establish an ongoing relationship with a GP so that you can work together to address health concerns as they come up. A good support network and lots of information goes a log way to ease the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia.

Click here if you would like to book in to see a GP to discuss dementia –>

 

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

By | Elderly and aging, Family Planning & Parenting, Men's Health, Women's Health

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

Continence issues are not a popular topic, but if there is no serious discussion, people who suffer in this area often feel alone and helpless.  The theme of this year’s Continence Week is “No laughing matter” – focusing on people’s tendency to laugh off continence issues as a joke, or to treat it as an inevitable part of ageing or childbirth. The truth is, continence is a specialist health issue with a range of treatments and management strategies. Let’s look at bladder and bowel control issues, and why we should be discussing them.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the word used for problems with bladder or bowel control. This could mean that a person accidentally loses urine from their bladder, or has accidental loss from their bowels – including faeces or passing wind. Problems can range from small, infrequent leakages to complete loss of control over the bladder or bowel. Over 4.8 million Australians have some loss of control over their bladder or bowel.

Who is at risk?

Bladder and bowel control problems affect one in four people. It is more common as people age, but these problems are not only limited to older people – many young people also have bladder or bowel control issues. Childbirth can also cause complications that lead to bladder and bowel control problems. Many people with poor bowel control also have poor bladder control.

Isn’t it just something that happens sometimes?

People like to make light-hearted jokes about incontinence, but the truth is that bladder and bowel control problems are a health issue.  It’s not a natural part of getting older or giving birth, and it will not get better on its own. Incontinence is an issue that needs medical help to manage, control or fix symptoms.

How can you treat or manage your continence issues?

People with bowel or bladder control issues can feel embarrassed to bring them up, but it is important to discuss them with someone who can help. Bladder and bowel control problems can be treated, managed or cured – you won’t know how much improvement you can make until you ask.

You can work on creating healthy habits to improve your bowel and bladder health by eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, toning and exercising your pelvic floor, and by reviewing and improving your toileting habits.

Where can you go for help?

Your GP can help you manage and treat your bladder or bowel control issues, and can advise you on what steps you can take to improve your condition.

If you are uncomfortable talking about your bladder or bowel control issues in person, you can phone 1800 33 00 66 for confidential advice, or you can go to www.continence.org.au to find information, connect and share your experience.

Don’t live with incontinence issues – click here for an appointment today.

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