5 Helpful Tools for Hearing Loss

Written by Nurse Susan

If you’re a senior coping with hearing loss, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 25% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, with that number growing to 50% of adults 75 and older. While advancements in technology have developed hearing aids that are smaller, sleeker, and more efficient, they aren’t necessarily the absolute fix many seniors are looking for and they can often be expensive and require more maintenance than you might expect. Support your hearing with additional helpful tools including:

Phone Amplifiers

Talking on the phone can pose a serious challenge for someone with hearing loss, from fuzzy connections to poor volume quality. Staying connected and maintaining regular communication with friends and family is key, however, to senior health outcomes. A phone speaker amplifier helps to solve this problem by offering an easy and portable way for seniors to ramp up the volume of the person they are speaking to on the phone. Some amplifiers also generate a digital text transcription of your ongoing conversation and let you adjust tones for even greater sound quality.

Live Video Chat

What’s even better than chatting over the phone? Chatting via live video feed with a friend or family member where you can both hear and see them (and read their lips). Free, online services like Skype and Google+ Hangout offer you the ability to call your friends and loved ones over WiFi from your computer or digital devices, as do apps for smartphones and tablets like Facetime (iOS/Apple products only).

Helpful Hearing Apps

If you need a little extra help with recognizing sounds around you, there are loads of apps you can download to your digital device to assist you. Apps like Braci Smart Ear, My Ear Droid, Tap Tap and Otosense use sound recognition software to detect sounds around you (phone call, doorbell, smoke alarm, etc) and alert you with visual and vibrating aids on your smartphone. A different app called BioAid enhances sound clarity and adjusts ambient noise volume through the microphone on your smartphone, delivering clearer sound real-time to you through headphones.

Voicemail to Text Services

Voicemails are notoriously hard to hear, especially if the person who left them was standing in a crowded or loud environment when they did. Save yourself the trouble of trying to make out their every word by using voice-to-text tools. You may have already received an offer for a voicemail-to-text subscription from your phone provider, however, there are apps like VoxSciences that facilitate this helpful service too. When someone leaves you a voicemail, these tools transcribe it into text which is either messaged to you on your smartphone or sent via email.

Sound Box

Just as you can amplify the sound from your own phone, so can you do the same thing for your TV. With a portable sound box, you can wirelessly amplify the sound from your TV wherever you are – in your bedroom, in the living room, etc. You no longer have to worry about turning up the TV volume so high that it bothers the people watching with you. Simply set your sound box down beside you and count on a louder, clearer-sounding experience.

So where can you find these assistive hearing gadgets and gizmos? Look online, at your local pharmacy, or even in big box stores like Walmart or Target. And for apps, simply visit the app store on your smartphone or tablet (iTunes App store for Apple users, Google Play store for Android users) – or ask your kids or grandkids to help you!

Five Health and Safety Mistakes Seniors Commonly Make

Written by Nurse Susan

As you age, it becomes more important than ever before to take responsibility for your overall well-being.

Unfortunately, many seniors don’t prioritize things like health and safety — some willfully and some because they don’t know any better — and put themselves at risk for serious illnesses and injuries.

In order to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible, make sure you’re not making any of these five common health and safety mistakes.

  1. Not Being Honest with Your Doctor

Many seniors are reluctant to discuss intimate health problems, such as urinary or sexual difficulties, with their doctor. They may also avoid bringing up problems that they deem trivial, such as stomach pain, jaw pain, or constipation.

By refusing to bring up concerns, or by waiting until they become unbearable, you’re setting yourself up for a more difficult healthcare journey. The longer you wait, the longer and more intense your treatment will need to be.

In addition to not addressing concerns, some seniors are hesitant to ask for clarification when their doctor gives them instructions. Often, it’s because they’re embarrassed to admit that they didn’t hear or understand the first time.

Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the clarity you need, though. When your health is on the line, a few minutes of awkwardness are absolutely worth it.

  1. Neglecting Health Aids

Whether it’s out of pride or due to forgetfulness, many seniors are guilty of neglecting health aids like walkers, canes, hearing aids, glasses, and medical alert devices.

These tools aren’t always fun to use, and nobody likes to be reminded that they’re getting older. But, these health aids can bring you and your loved ones safety and peace of mind.

If you find them uncomfortable or awkward, remember that it takes time to get used to using a new device. Use them regularly for a couple of weeks. If the discomfort continues, talk to your doctor to get an adjustment or replacement.

  1. Not Managing Medications

It’s important to take the time to put a system in place to manage your medications properly.

It’s very common for seniors to miss doses or accidentally overdose. Things get even more confusing when they’re working with more than one doctor. To avoid confusion and accidental noncompliance, seniors should make sure they have one primary care physician who oversees their whole medical plan.

When they have one person handling all their medications, they’re less likely to accidentally take two or more prescriptions that interact negatively with each other. They should also figure out a system that helps them keep track of their prescriptions. Daily alarms or pill boxes are all good options to avoid accidentally missing or doubling up on doses.

  1. Not Taking Advantage of Preventive Care

Many seniors forget to take advantage of the preventive care options available to them. Most insurance plans will offer free or low-cost health screenings that can help seniors learn about and avoid a number of common illnesses and conditions.

It can be tempting to skip these screenings, especially if you’re feeling fine when they’re scheduled. Remember, though, that you could have a condition but not be showing any symptoms. The earlier you catch something, the easier it is to treat.

  1. Disregarding Limitations

Many seniors are hesitant to acknowledge their limitations. Like it or not, though, you’re getting older and some things that used to be easy for you might be a little more challenging.

For example, you might need to start moving a little slower to avoid falls. Plan ahead and give yourself time to prepare for appointments so you don’t feel rushed. You also need to evaluate your ability to drive safely. It can be hard to give up driving and the independence that comes with it. But, you need to think about the safety of others and be willing to admit you need help getting around.

Are you guilty of any of these common mistakes? If so, it’s time to make some changes.

Small adjustments can make a big difference. Start by committing to just one change, and you’ll be living a safer, healthier lifestyle before you know it!

How to Deal With 5 Common Skin Conditions Affecting Seniors

Written by Nurse Susan

Aging causes a number of changes throughout the body, and the skin is no exception. When you get older, the skin tends to become thinner and more sensitive.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common skin conditions that affect seniors — and what you can do to prevent and treat them.

  1. Wrinkles and Movement Lines

Wrinkles are the most obvious sign of aging skin. The skin loses its flexibility after years of sun exposure. You may also notice movement lines — also known as laugh or worry lines — around the eyes and mouth.

You can’t remove wrinkles completely (at least without cosmetic surgery). But, you can reduce their appearance with products that contain tretinoin.

You can also try dry brushing, which helps smooth the skin and minimize wrinkles by exfoliating and improving blood flow.

  1. Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are the result of improperly functioning veins. When the valves of the veins don’t close all the way, blood pools and causes them to swell and twist. Varicose veins are typically not dangerous, but they can be painful.

Varicose veins are not entirely preventable — some people are genetically predisposed — but maintaining an active lifestyle and avoiding sitting with the legs crossed for long periods of time may keep them at bay.

If you’re already suffering from varicose veins, it helps to wear compression stockings to improve circulation and reduce their appearance. Dermatologists can also perform a variety of treatments for varicose veins, including sclerotherapy, endovenous thermal ablutions, and vein stripping.

  1. Dry Skin

Dry skin is another relatively harmless but still irritating condition that affects approximately 75 percent of seniors. Aging results in the loss of oil glands, which means that the skin is more likely to become dry, itchy, and cracked.

The dryness that comes with aging can’t be prevented, but there are many ways it can be treated. Some simple solutions include:

  • Using soap that is specially formulated for dry skin
  • Regularly using a high-quality body lotion
  • Avoiding high water temperatures, which dry the skin out
  • Increase water consumption
  • Avoiding caffeine (it can cause itching)
  • Using humidifiers and vaporizers for extra moisture
  1. Pressure Ulcers

For elderly people who spend many hours confined to a chair or bed, pressure ulcers — also known as bedsores — are a common, unpleasant occurrence.

Pressure ulcers occur when a limited amount of blood is sent to a particular area. This leads to cell death, then skin breakdown, and, eventually, the painful open wound that is recognized as a pressure ulcer.

Pressure ulcers are most often located on the tailbone, hips, shoulder blades, elbows, and heels.

To prevent pressure ulcers, those who care for bed or chair-limited seniors should turn them over every few hours and use barrier creams to prevent skin breakdown. They should also make sure that their mattress is not too firm. Gel and alternating air pressure mattresses help reduce the risk of pressure ulcers.

Proper wound care from a nurse or other wound specialist can help heal existing pressure ulcers, and massage may also be beneficial for improving circulation. This can help treat existing sores and prevent new ones.

  1. Skin Cancer

Finally, skin cancer is probably the most serious skin ailment that seniors face. While skin cancer can affect people of any age, seniors are particularly susceptible, in part because aging diminishes the skin’s ability to heal and protect itself.

To prevent skin cancer, seniors should take care to wear sunscreen before spending prolonged periods of time outdoors. They should also avoid going outside between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., as this is considered the most UV-intense time of day.

Seniors should also be sure to check moles twice a year for the following signs:

  • Changes in size, shape, and color
  • Moles with irregular borders
  • Moles with multiple colors
  • Asymmetrical moles
  • Moles that bleed, itch, or ooze

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a dermatologist to rule out cancer. Many skin cancers are highly treatable, but they need to be caught early.

From wrinkles to pressure ulcers, age-related skin changes aren’t fun to deal with. However, many conditions are easy to prevent and treat. Keep these tips in mind so that your skin can stay happy and healthy.