Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guitarist Randy Pepper, 50, plays some licks recently at his shop The Guitar Attic in Holly Hill. Pepper has paid a price for his love of rock music: his hearing has declined and he suffers from tinnitus. (N-J | Peter Bauer) 
Randy Pepper, owner of The Guitar Attic, caught some memorable concerts in his younger days such as the Ramones, the Who and Ozzy Osbourne -- to name a few.
But the 50-year-old musician has paid a price for his love of rock. His hearing has gradually declined, and he has a permanent ringing in his ears after a particularly loud gig with his band three years ago in DeLand.
"I took my ears over the limit," the shoulder-length, black- and blond-haired guitarist admitted from behind the counter of his shop in Holly Hill.
Pepper is just one of the estimated 77 million baby boomers -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- who came of age during the rock 'n' roll eras of the 1960s and '70s. But baby boomers aren't the only ones who likely cranked up the volume. Twenty-six million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises such as music or those found on the job, according to the National Institute and Deafness and Communication Disorders.
Pepper went to a hearing specialist who diagnosed him with tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears caused by exposure to extremely loud noise. There are few treatment options for his condition, Pepper said. In order to fall asleep at night, he keeps the TV on to drown out the ringing. But despite his hearing loss, Pepper isn't ready for hearing aids yet, he said. He also can't bring himself to wear earplugs when he performs because he said it prevents him from fully hearing his music.
"If it progresses to a point where I can't hear at all, then I'll get hearing aids," he said.
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration says habitual exposure to noise above 85 decibels causes gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals. Louder noises will accelerate the damage. A person may risk permanent damage to their hearing if they experience noise levels of 140 decibels or higher, even from short-term exposure and with hearing protection. According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, rock concerts can exceed 120 decibels, motorcycles can reach 100 decibels and a jet engine can hit 140.
"If you went to a rock concert and walked away with ringing in your ears, you did permanent damage to your ears," said Larry Smith, owner of the Advance Hearing Center of Florida's Ormond Beach and Palm Coast branches. "The ringing may subside but later in life you will have problems with your ears."
While technological improvements have made hearing aids more discreet and better at picking up sound, for boomers, wearing them often evokes images of old age. Smith said that's one of the most common reasons that people delay getting a hearing test.
"There is a very unfortunate stigma that a hearing aid makes you an old person," Smith said.

"But let me tell you what makes you old: Walking around saying: 'huh, what?' "
Even if someone isn't ready for a hearing aid, a hearing test showing even the slightest impairment can help the patient take steps to remedy the condition, said Dr. Michael Branch, an ears, nose and throat specialist with Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City.
Branch experiences the same symptoms that many of his patients suffer from. The 58-year-old doctor has been a musician since he was a teenager, and exposure to loud concerts resulted in him not being able to hear higher frequencies in one ear.
Early symptoms of hearing loss include the feeling of one's ears being clogged or stopped up, Branch said. The first thing people can do is accept the fact that they are losing their hearing and get tested. The longer people wait the more inclined they are to feel disengaged and have personal relationships suffer, he said.
As to whether baby boomers will suffer increased hearing loss due to increased exposure to loud music, Branch pointed to a 2010 study by the University of Wisconsin showing that hearing impairment rates were 31 percent lower in baby boomers than their parents. The study tracked 5,275 adults born between 1902 and 1962. One reason for the lower impairment rates could be stricter OSHA regulations that have lowered noise levels in the workplace.
But more studies are needed to determine whether baby boomers will have higher rates of hearing loss as they get older, Branch cautioned.
"We need more time to see how things will play out," he said. "The number of people experiencing hearing loss is going to be quite high over the next 10 years."
It's never too late, however, to take steps to prevent hearing loss, Branch said. He recommends wearing earplugs at concerts and turning the volume down when using headphones.
"Once your hearing is gone, it's gone," he said. "There is no way to really recover it."
Come Again?
Signs you might need your hearing tested:
You frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
- You have a hard time understanding softer voices such as women or children.
- Family members complain the volume is too loud when you watch TV or listen to music.
- You have trouble hearing on the phone.
- Family members are often annoyed when you misunderstand what they say.

Original Article from News Journal

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More senior living centers in U.S. allow more pets

 Joyce Kavanagh and cat at the Silverado Senior Living 
Center in Encinitas, San Diego County. Residents are encouraged to have pets.

Los Angeles --
Shirlee and Nathan "Nick" Horowitz faced one serious health crisis after another before their doctor said they had to move into an assisted living center. They had only one condition - they weren't going anywhere without their dog.
Hundreds of retirement communities across the country now allow seniors to live with their pets and more and more keep house pets that provide the benefits without the responsibility.
As many as 40 percent of people ask about pets when calling A Place for Mom, the nation's largest senior living referral service, said Tami Cumings, its senior vice president.
When the service was founded 12 years ago, pets were seldom considered when it came time for older people to enter rest homes or skilled nursing homes, Cumings said.
Then came the boom in independent living centers, assisted living complexes and memory centers for Alzheimer's patients. At the same time, some people have latched on to studies that show pets can help their owners' health physically and psychologically, said Lori Kogan, a professor of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University.

Animals adjust

Shirlee Horowitz and her husband chose the Regency Grand in West Covina, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Meals are provided, as is housekeeping and transportation. Medication management and help with dressing and bathing can be arranged. But most of all, their collie Barney was welcome.
"I worried more about him because he had a big yard before," said Shirlee Horowitz, 77. "But he has adjusted to this better than we have."
Barney's friendliness has made it easier for the couple to meet their neighbors, and his walks have helped them get to know the complex.
Living centers usually prefer smaller pets and put the limit at two. Not all pets are dogs and cats either, Cumings said. They get a lot of calls about birds and fish, too.
As much as 30 percent of the residents at the Regency Grand have pets at any one time, said Leah Hynes, Regency Grand's marketing associate. Seldom do the elderly move in with puppies or kittens, she said. Most of the time, their animals are older, too.
One of the residents lost her husband of many decades. She wanted a pet, so Hynes helped her choose a cat. They named it Annie and had the cat spayed, vaccinated and microchipped.
"It was like bringing a new baby home. She had the apartment set up and couldn't wait to have the companionship and someone to care for again," she said.

Pets to share

Residents who don't have pets of their own are encouraged to share Alley, the office cat. At the center's memory care center, a dog, a cat and two bunnies live with a couple of parakeets and a lot of fish.
Pet-friendly living centers are still in the minority, so people who don't like animals will easily find centers that say "No Pets Allowed."
But some living centers are cultivating small menageries.
At the Silverado Senior Living center in Encinitas, 25 miles north of San Diego, residents have miniature horses and for several months every year, a very young kangaroo, said Steve Winner, co-founder and chief of culture for the company's 23 centers in six states, including Illinois and Texas.
They've had a pot-bellied pig, chinchillas, guinea pigs and even a llama until he got too big, said Winner, who estimated that 20 percent of their new residents move in with pets.

Something to care for

When it's time to walk the dogs, a staff member might play the song "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men as a signal that it's time to put leashes on the dogs.
Kogan founded a prototype program called Pets Forever, a Colorado State class where students earn credits while helping elderly and disabled pet owners care for their animals.
As people age. they lose relatives and friends, maybe some of their mobility, their jobs and homes. "So pets become increasingly important," Kogan said. The relationship between a person and a pet may be the only thing an older person has left, she said.
"Clients will often say their pets are the reason they try to continue living," she said. "These pets really give them meaning and value in life, a purpose for getting up in the morning."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Substance abuse on the rise among boomers
Age compounds toxic addictions
Monday, May 7, 2012

‘Three Scotches a night: What’s the harm?’

WORCESTER —  Think of a stereotypical drug addict and a vision of a young, tattooed high school dropout might come to mind. Drug addiction is typically associated with young adults, not with retirees.

But as the baby-boom generation, now ages 48 to 66, expands the ranks of an already-sizeable older population, substance abuse is on the rise among elders.

Tobacco addiction continues to be the leading addiction among older adults, according to Dr. Douglas M. Ziedonis, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at University of Massachusetts Medical School, but abuse of prescription drugs, alcohol and even marijuana and other illegal drugs is an often hidden, but serious, issue.

“We think the numbers we have (on substance abuse) just reflect the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Gary S. Moak, clinical associate professor at the medical school and a geriatric psychiatrist who practices in Westboro.

“We are seeing the leading edge of what will be a tsunami.”

A report released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration projected that the need for substance abuse treatment among Americans over age 50 would double by 2020.

The report found that based on a survey done between 2006 and 2008, an estimated 4.3 million adults, or 4.7 percent of adults age 50 or older had used an illicit drug in the past year. Marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription drugs for adults age 50 to 59, while nonmedical use of prescription drugs was more common among those 65 and older.

The survey didn’t look at alcohol or tobacco use.

Another study, by the same agency, found that illicit drug use among adults 50 to 59 increased to 5.8 percent of the population in 2010 from 2.7 percent in 2002. Among those 55 to 59, the rate increased to 4.1 percent from 1.9 percent.

Substance abuse can cause health problems at any age, and among older adults, the effects of chemicals on the body are compounded.

“You take a couple that used to have a couple of martinis a night and now their bodies don’t metabolize as well. The ability to process the alcohol decreases with age and the volume of distribution: There’s more fat and less muscle,” said Dr. David A. Wilner, a geriatrician and medical director at Summit ElderCare in Worcester, an adult-day health program for nursing home-eligible elders. “Plus, the alcohol interacts with prescription drugs.”

“The other issue that’s different (among the elderly) is people who don’t see ongoing drug abuse as a problem,” Dr. Moak said.

Dr. Wilner said drinking and other substance abuse are often hidden by the isolation that can accompany old age. “I am frequently surprised to find someone having an alcohol problem that I wasn’t aware of,” he said.

Older adults who are retired don’t have to show up for work; they might not drive; they might not have family members around who could express concern about the drinking or drug abuse.

“ ‘Three Scotches a night: What’s the harm?’ ” Dr. Moak said was a common attitude among the elderly and their caregivers alike.

The harm, he said, is that alcohol makes people more depressed, already a problem among many older adults; it increases cognitive impairment; it interacts with prescription drugs; and it makes frail elders more prone to fall and end up in a nursing home.

“Those three Scotches are more like eight (to a frail elder),” Dr. Moak said. “It’s much more toxic now and it compounds the risk.”

When it comes to the surface, Dr. Wilner said, it’s like an “Aha!” moment, in which the cause for the person’s erratic behavior, which mimics cognitive impairment and other age-related problems, suddenly becomes clear.

Sometimes physicians aren’t aware of an alcohol problem until the person is hospitalized for another reason, and goes through withdrawal, with severe symptoms of delirium tremens and risk of seizure, which are worse than among younger adults.

Dr. Wilner said the extensive intake process at Summit ElderCare, which includes a medical evaluation and assessment with a social worker, home health nurse, and physical and recreational therapists, sometimes brings substance abuse issues to light, and helps the team coordinate a care plan with the caregiver at home.

For alcohol treatment, in particular, Dr. Wilner said the socialization and structure of coming to the day health program can help focus on the the problem. “If there’s a willingness to alter that, we can do quite a bit here,” he said.

Prescription drug abuse is also often hidden by age-related health problems and isolated living conditions.

Patrice M. Muchowski, who has a doctorate in psychology and is vice president of clinical services at Adcare Hospital in Worcester, said a person might start out with a prescription for a medical problem, such as pain killers or tranquilizers, and then become addicted to it. If the prescription drug use is combined with alcohol use, the problem is compounded.

But as with drinking, older people don’t always see taking their medication as a potential problem.

“There’s often a mind-set that if a prescription is written by a physician, then it must not be harmful,” Ms. Muchowski said.

She attributed part of the problem to the growing number of prescriptions being written for everything, and the number of doctors an elderly person might see, who don’t always communicate well with one another.

“Of the elderly folks that come through, we see them with a lot of prescriptions,” she said. “They’re often astounded that they can get physically dependent over time.”

Conventional drug or alcohol rehabilitation such as 12-step programs or Antabuse to treat alcoholism may not work for the elderly who have some cognitive impairment, Dr. Moak said. And even those without underlying impairment might not connect with a group of 20- and 30-year-olds who face a different set of life issues.

But gradually weaning an elderly person off a substance seems to work pretty well, he said.

Ms. Muchowski said Adcare offers specialty age-related groups as an option, although many older adults enjoy the energy of mixed-age groups.

You’re never too old to kick an addiction, including tobacco, and improve your health and quality of life, according to Dr. Ziedonis. “The important message for elderly is it still makes a difference.”

Original Article from the Worcester Telegram

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Exercise Plus Computer Time May Boost Seniors' Brains

Combination seems to help reduce odds of age-related memory loss, study finds

TUESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of moderate exercise and mental stimulation through computer use may help reduce the risk of age-related memory loss more than computer use or exercise alone, according to new research.
The study, published in the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, included more than 920 people in Olmsted County, Minn., aged 70 to 93, who completed questionnaires about their computer use and physical activity over the previous year.
The Mayo Clinic researchers found signs of mild cognitive impairment in nearly 38 percent of participants who did not exercise and did not use a computer, compared with just over 18 percent of those who did moderate exercise and also used a computer. Mild cognitive impairment is the stage between normal age-related memory loss and early Alzheimer's disease.
The investigators also found that 36 percent of participants who did moderate exercise and used a computer had normal memory function, compared with about 20 percent of those who did not exercise or use a computer.
Moderate exercise included brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, weightlifting and using exercise machines, the authors explained in a Mayo Clinic news release.
"The aging of baby boomers is projected to lead to dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia," study author Dr. Yonas Geda, a physician scientist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in the news release. "As frequent computer use has become increasingly common among all age groups, it is important to examine how it relates to aging and dementia. Our study further adds to this discussion."
Although the study uncovered an association between combined exercise and computer use and better memory function, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

original article from Health Day