9 Different Types of Wound Care Dressings

Caring for your wound is just as important as allowing time for it to heal. And knowing the appropriate wound care dressings that you will need can ensure you stay free from infection, protects from more damage, and increases wound healing time. Perhaps you have sustained an injury and have nothing in your medicine cabinets besides a pile of Band-Aids. Or perhaps you are a caretaker whose client is healing a wound. Let’s explore wound dressings and some things we should keep in mind for the proper care of an injury.

What exactly is a wound dressing? A wound dressing is any material that comes in contact with the wound to prevent any further damage. They help stop bleeding and allow the blood to start clotting. They absorb blood and other fluids. They help in the debridement of the wound, or removal of dead tissue. There are several factors you should consider when evaluating the type of dressing you will need. 

  • Age
  • Skin type
  • Wound type and size
  • Location
  • Severity

With nearly 3,000 types of dressings on the market today, it can be difficult knowing that your options are. This article will help you get more familiar with the most common types of wound care dressings and when each one is most appropriate. But if your injury is serious, stop right there! We urge you to see your health care provider or go to urgent care for wound treatment to avoid any complications. Now, let’s discuss the main types of wound dressings and their best uses. 

The gauze is one of the most common wound dressings.

1. Gauze 

Gauze, or cloth dressings, are the most commonly used and readily available wound dressings out there today. They can be made from woven or nonwoven silk, linen, polyester, rayon, or cotton causing them to be highly permeable. This type of material is non-occlusive meaning it does not seal on the skin, allowing blood, water, and air to easily pass through. This dressing easily helps the wound dry out, minimizing exudate, the fluid leaking from the wound. 

Gauze can come in many different shapes and sizes that can be easily adapted to fit the wound. There are sterile and non-sterile varieties. There are also those with or without an adhesive border. You can use it on anything from a small finger injury to a wound that extends across the body. There are pre-cut varieties in the form of squares, sheets, or packing strips, as well as long wraps that can be wound around a limb or cut to size. 

  • Gauze sponge: This type of gauze is typically made from 100% cotton, and is commonly used to absorb blood or other fluids. They are usually cheap, and are great for all-purpose use in the cleaning, dressing, packing, and prepping all types of wounds. 
  • Gauze bandage roll: Also used for all types of wounds, the gauze roll can be used as a first layer or added layer on a wound. The 100% cotton roll can be wrapped around limbs on the head and is especially useful for those wounds that are in an area that is not easy to dress.

Best Uses: We recommend gauze dressing for the protection of open wounds or broken skin which occurred from a minor injury. This could include a scraped elbow, a slightly uncomfortable cut, or injuries in delicate areas. The gauze is used as the first layer of protection, and sometimes the second layer to seal in the dressing. This is especially helpful in an area that is difficult to dress due to the material’s ability to conform to your body. Another use would be to cleanse the wound, as well as keep it free from infection. Due to the inexpensive nature of this material, it can be used for one-time or short-term use and then discarded.

2. Transparent Films

Transparent film dressings are clear polyurethane thin sheets that have an adhesive coating on one side that sticks to the skin. The coating sticks to the skin around the injury which is dry but does not adhere to the wound itself due to its reaction with the wound exudate. 

Due to its thin nature, it is said to be one of the more comfortable kinds of dressings. Also contributing to its comfortability is its flexibility. Its high elasticity allows it to flex, making it possible to conform to a range of body contours. And because the film is clear, this allows you to easily see the area and to gauge the progress of its healing without removing it. Transparent films allow your wound to stay clean from bacteria, which means less infection and speeding up the healing process. 

Best Uses: Transparent dressings can be used as either a first or second securement layer on the injury. This is a commonly used dressing that a doctor will apply when they want to keep track of a wound. This often includes larger, more complicated injuries like burns, ulcers, surgical incisions sites, skin graft donor sites, and IV sites. Being able to see the site allows the doctor to easily identify any potential complications earlier, like infections.

3. Hydrogels

Hydrogels are meant to soothe wounds, reduce pain, help heal, and fight infection. This wound dressing is made of 80 to 99% water or glycerin, adding moisture to dry wounds. By adding moisture to the area, Hydrogels enable faster healing by breaking down tissue that is dry and dead and promoting cell growth. Hydrogel dressings can’t absorb much fluid and therefore aren’t effective for a lot of injuries. Coming in the form of gels, sheets, or impregnated gauzes (gauzes saturated with the solution), the dressing when applied will feel cool and can even decrease the pain. Compared to some other options, hydrogels are not as effective at warding off bacteria due to their permeability of gas and water. Additionally, they can quickly dehydrate, especially the water-based ones. Hydrogels are often non-adhesive and will need another dressing on top to secure it. 

Best Uses: Hydrogels are best used for dry wounds that need to heal, as well as those with eschar. It is best used for those injuries which have little to no fluid excreted. It is also helpful to use hydrogels for wounds that are especially painful. Because of their ability to promote cell growth brought on the added moisture, hydrogels are ideal for second-degree burns, pressure ulcers, donor sites from skin grafts, as well as wounds that have become infected.

4. Foams

Another common type of dressing is foam dressings. Foams are made of foamed polymer, usually polyurethane, and made into sheets or other shapes. They have open cells which can hold fluids, enabling absorbency. But the extent of absorbency is based on the thickness and composition of the foams. Foams absorb the excess fluids as well as keep the area moist at the same time, allowing for faster healing as well. The ultra-soft nature of the material also helps cushion the injury, protecting it from further harm. 

These dressings can sometimes come pre-soaked in solutions, or combined with other materials. Foams come in many shapes and sizes. They can easily be removed because the contact with the wound is non-adhesive. Foams can come with an adhesive border, often with a coating of a protective transparent film that helps prevent bacteria from entering but allows water vapor to enter. This aids in maintaining adequate moisture for the wound’s healing.

Best Uses: Foams help prevent bad odors, as well as moderate to heavy discharge. They are ideal for both partially-thick and full-thickness wounds, and both serious and unserious wounds. You can also use foams for pressure injuries. 

Hydrogels and foams are great for some wound dressings.

5. Hydrocolloids

Hydrocolloid dressings are made up of hydrophilic colloidal particles. These can include gelatin, pectin, and cellulose. These materials allow for flexibility, which means greater comfort for all skin types. The wound dressings have secure backings made up of a film or foam self-adhesive, making them non-breathable, not to mention easy to apply. By creating a sealed, moist wound environment, hydrocolloids can keep the wound clean, prevent infection, and speed up the healing process.

There are different types of hydrocolloids, which means they also have different levels of absorption. Coated with polysaccharides and other polymers, the dressing absorbs slough and exudate, and then slowly swells into a heap of gel-like matter. Once you remove the heap (which is biodegradable), there will be some residue left on the wound bed which may have a bad smell to it. Oftentimes this smell is thought to be the indication of an infected injury. 

You can find hydrocolloid dressings in varying shapes and sizes. There are some which include beveled edges, which add grip to the skin to keep it from rolling up. Using this type of dressing will insulate the area and keep it from water, oxygen, or bacteria from coming through. People using hydrocolloids as their wound dressing have much lower rates of infections than many other dressings out there. This includes gauze, semi-permeable films, semi-permeable foams, and sheet hydrogels. Not only do they have a good track record in preventing infections, but hydrocolloids also are one of the longest-lasting kinds of dressings.

Best Uses: You can use hydrocolloids for burns, necrotic injuries, with compression wraps, wounds with light to moderate drainage, and on venous or pressure ulcers. They are effective for autolytic debridement. 

6. Calcium Alginates

This type of dressing is made of brown seaweed fibers and sodium, making them biodegradable. Calcium alginates can absorb up to twenty times its weight. This high absorbency makes it ideal for sucking out the moisture from a deeply tunneled wound. Like hydrocolloids, alginates react with the exudate, creating a gel-like substance which enables the injury to heal quicker. 

This gel seals a moist environment that traps some bacteria. The smell of this reactive bacteria may be a foul odor once you remove the gel, but can be easily washed away. This odor can sometimes be mistaken for an infection. These permeable, nonocclusive dressings often require the assistance of another dressing to cover it, being gauze. You can find alginates in three varieties:

  • Sheets: These may be put on the wound bed to absorb the draining fluids.
  • Ropes: This variety tightly fills tunnels or areas under the skin which have become eroded, i.e. areas of undermining.
  • Applicators: With tips of alginate, applicators are used to probe the lesion, occupy cavities and tunnels, to obtain swab cultures, and to measure the depth of the wound.

Sometimes used interchangeably with alginates are hydrofibers. These are dressings made of sodium carboxymethylcellulose and are extremely similar in its appearance and effects. 

Best Uses: These macroalgae can be very absorbent, which makes it perfect for those wet injuries which have a lot of drainages. This means extreme or deep wounds, including burns, packing wounds, venous ulcers, or higher-state pressure ulcers. Alginate dressings need to be changed often due to the amount of fluid they will absorb. This could mean at least every two days. We recommend consulting your doctor if you think they may need to be changed more or less frequently, depending on the severity of your injury. If the dressing is changed too much, it could lead to too much dryness, which equates to a bigger possibility for harmful bacteria to enter. 

Alginates do not work well for wounds that are dry because they would create an even drier environment, making the time to heal even longer. 

7. Composites

Composite dressings, also known as combination dressings, are multi-layered. They can be used as either the primary dressing or secondary dressing. Typically the composite dressing consists of three layers:

  1. Inner layer: The contact layer is non-adherent, which keeps the injury safe during dressing changes. 
  2. Middle layer: This layer is absorptive, taking away moisture from the wound to avoid maceration, but still keeping the environment hydrated. This layer can be made of alginate, hydrogel, semi-permeable foam, or hydrocolloid. 
  3. Outer layer: A barrier for bacteria, this protective outer layer is imperative for the prevention of infection. It is often made of a semi-permeable film. 

Best Uses: These dressings don’t have as many uses as many other types, due to their prepackaged nature. However, they can be used on light to heavy wounds. Be extra careful if you have dry or sensitive skin. Check with the manufacturer to be sure the composite dressing can be used on an infected wound site. 

Making sure the wound is cleaned properly will keep it from getting infected.

8. Collagen

Collagen dressings are a bit different than most other dressings because they act as a temporary second skin. Having this second skin enables new cells to accumulate, grow, and become sustainable. Without such a dressing, the amount of time that the wound would heal would take much more time. Not only that, but collagen helps with the removal of dead tissue, the formation of new blood vessels, and the tightening of the edges of the site. 

Best Uses: Collagen dressings are mostly used for chronic wounds that have a very slow or completely stalled rate of healing. You can use them on transplant sites, pressure sores, burns, ulcers, surgical sites, or large surface area injuries. 

9. Silicone

Silicone is a common synthetic polymer that has a lot of applications in this day and age. In dressing form, soft silicone is tacky, allowing it to form a tight seal that repels water. The tackiness of the silicone allows it to be reapplied several times without losing its adhesion. It will not stick to the wound though, and will not create further damage. Additionally, silicone has anti-bacterial properties and is adhesive to even fragile or dry skin. 

Silicone dressings are comfortable, and reduce pain and trauma in injuries during the changing of dressings. It doesn’t leave a residue, making it easy to work with. Though they can be helpful in wound dressing, they can be expensive.

Best Uses: Topical silicone gel sheets are said to prevent keloids or excessive scar tissue. This happens through the prevention of moisture penetrating the wound. With less moisture, there is less blood flow and therefore less collagen in the area. Since collagen is the material scars are made of, the absences of it will cause the skin to be paler, making the scar less apparent. 

Better Healing

We hope that this information we’ve provided has given you an idea of what types of wound care dressings are right for you. Wound management is imperative to ensure the proper healing of your injury. Here is a quick summary of our 9 types of dressings:

Gauze can be used on any part of the body and is the most permeable. Transparent films are helpful in the monitoring of a wound. Hydrogels help with pain and work best on dry sites. Foams work with bad odors and lots of discharge. Hydrocolloids help prevent infections and last the longest. Calcium alginates are highly absorbent and are critical in the care of deep wounds. Composites are multi-layered and can be used on cases ranging in severity. Collagen dressings work as a second skin for those slow-healing wounds. Silicone can help in the prevention of scarring. 

Now that you know a wider variety of products that can be used for wounds besides Band-Aids, you can utilize this knowledge for better healing. If you sustained your injury due to a fall, take a look at some balance exercises that can help you avoid falls in the future. We here at CareAsOne wish you, your client, or loved one a speedy recovery. 

What Does Arthritis Actually Feel Like?

According to the CDC, nearly 25% of American adults have some type of arthritis diagnosis. It’s one of the leading causes of chronic joint pain throughout the country. Although it mostly affects adults and seniors, it can occur in people of any age. 

There are different types of arthritis, which can be confusing to differentiate and understand. Pain affects everybody differently, too, so if you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with arthritis, you might be wondering: what does arthritis feel like? What can you expect? And what are the treatment options available?

What is Arthritis? 

In a general blanket statement, “arthritis” means pain or inflammation in the joints. Yes, this is an extremely broad definition, as there are over 100 types of arthritis that exist! No wonder this medical ailment is so misunderstood among the population and health workers alike. 

People of any age can get arthritis. It can be a chronic condition or come and go for short, temporary periods of life. There is no single known cause of arthritis, and the severity of symptoms varies from person to person. 

Although there are so many kinds of arthritis, the overall fact that can be seen in all of them is this: arthritis dramatically affects the mobility and movement of those who have been diagnosed. 

Elderly female patient suffering from arthritis pain in her hand
According to the CDC, an estimated 78.4 million adults will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2040.

Two Main Categories of Arthritis

When we’re talking about joint pain, many people jump to assume it has to be some type of arthritis. This might be true, but what does it mean? And how can you know for sure? 

Firstly, never try to diagnose yourself or others based on a few symptoms. If a doctor officially finds that you have some type of arthritis, it’s important to learn all you can about it to manage and treat it. The first step to understanding is knowing which category your diagnosis belongs to.

There are two distinctive “families” of arthritis that can clear up some confusion from the start. These two categories are:

Mechanical: This means the arthritis is a result of the normal breaking down of joints over time. It’s caused by lifelong wear-and-tear where the body, in its aging process, starts experiencing pain in weight-bearing joints or bones. Osteoarthritis is the most common example.

Inflammatory: A type of arthritis that results from chronic inflammation in the body. This can be caused by a temporary or permanent injury or some type of autoimmune disorder. The most common type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. 

Symptoms of Arthritis

Remember, different types of arthritis will have different symptoms. But some of the major warning signs of this joint disorder. 

Joint Pain 

The joints in one or various parts of the body feel pain. This pain can be ongoing or temporary, mild or unbearable, constant or only felt while moving. 

Limited Mobility

It might be difficult to move as easily or limberly as you once used to. Limited mobility and a decrease in range of motion is a sign that is seen in many arthritis patients. Sometimes they can no longer lift their hands over their head, or have trouble bending over to pick up objects. Other times they cannot even move their neck, grasp silverware, or sit and stand without feeling pain.

Joint Swelling

Inflammation of the joints causes swelling. Affected joints can become swollen, red, and hot. This type of swelling can be slightly uncomfortable or cause severe pain. 

Stiffness

Along with joint issues there comes joint stiffness throughout the body. It’s not always easy to feel relaxed or flexible with arthritis. It can become difficult to move normally if the joints are debilitated.

Joint Damage

With mechanical arthritis most of all, the joints start becoming damaged with more and more wear and tear. Damage can be caused by simple daily activities or excess use. 

Other signs of arthritis can include: 

  • Deep aches and pains in the body
  • Pain that worsens posture or proper form
  • Changes to your gait (the way you walk)
  • Clicking, cracking or popping of the joints
  • Pain felt after using a specific body part normally 
  • Feeling the bones or joints rubbing against each other; “grating”
  • Radiating pain with normal movement 
  • Stiffness in the joints, even after proper use

What Causes Arthritis?

There aren’t any official known causes of arthritis. Additionally, the different forms of arthritis can have varying factors that lead to its development over time. 

Even though there is no sure answer, modern science is starting to research how individual lifestyle, genetics, and adverse experiences contribute to the development of all kinds of arthritis. 

What Does Arthritis Feel Like?

There is no way to answer this question with full clarity. Ask ten different arthritic people to explain to you what their arthritis feels like, and you’ll likely get ten different answers. The bottom line is what arthritis feels like depends on what type of arthritis someone has. 

Most Common Types of Arthritis 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is perhaps the most common type of arthritis. It’s what most people are likely to automatically think about when they hear the term arthritis. Harvard Health estimates there is a 50/50 chance that someone will experience Osteoarthritis in life

“Osteo” means related to the bones. Therefore, this type of arthritis affects the joints, cartilage, and bones. This “wear-and-tear” is most often seen in people over the age of 50. But it can also affect younger people with preexisting conditions or major injuries. It starts mild but then gradually gets more and more serious over time. 

It causes cartilage– the padding material between our bones– to break down. As you can imagine, this can be super painful. It mostly affects the knees, elbows, hands, and hips, which are joints we all use most often. But it can affect any joint in the body– even small joints like the fingers, spine, and toes.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing 
  • Tenderness 
  • Discomfort when moving
  • Grinding or popping sounds in the affected joints 

 Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the types of inflammatory arthritis disorders. It’s an autoimmune disorder; “rheumatic” meaning of the soft tissue. This means the body thinks the healthy cells are a threat to the immune system, and therefore attacks them as an unwanted virus or foreign substance. As a result, the immune system gets depleted and the body suffers in physical ways. 

In this case, the joint cells get attacked. This is then what causes RA. Along with physical joint pain and swelling, it can cause fatigue, mood swings, chest pain, and organ problems.

People who have rheumatoid arthritis often feel like they lack energy for daily priorities. Some say that it feels like they have cold or fever symptoms that won’t ever go away. Achy, sore muscles and joints are common with RA. 

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:

  • Swollen joints
  • Chronic joint pain 
  • Tightness and stiffness that gets worse throughout the day
  • Fatigues
  • Change in appetite
  • Fever symptoms
  • Cycles of change in all RA symptoms (sometimes joint pain goes away then comes back)

Not everyone who has RA feels joint pain. Other side effects can show up in unrelated parts of the body, like:

  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Bone marrow
  • Nerves and blood vessels
  • Lungs
  • Brain

Fibromyalgia 

According to the CDC, about 4 million people in the United States live with a chronic disease called Fibromyalgia. It is a musculoskeletal disorder that causes hypersensitivity to pain receptors in the body, as well as cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and arthritis. 

Fibromyalgia is most often seen in women rather than men. There’s no known cause for it, and although medication can help, treatment is complex. Mainly, lifestyle improvements such as rest, a healthy diet, and gentle exercise can help manage and relieve ongoing flare-ups.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia:

  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue (so tired it hurts)
  • Muscle aches, body aches, joint pain
  • Cramps and stiffness
  • Sensitivity to pain; also to heat, cold, and touch
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle twitching and tension
  • Brain fog, difficulty concentrating (AKA “fibro fog”
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased stress levels or extreme mood swings

Psoriatic Arthritis

Many people know of the skin autoimmune disease called psoriasis. It’s a type of ongoing skin condition that causes flaky, silvery skin atop red bumps and swelling. It’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy skin cells, thinking they’re a threat to the body. 

Psoriatic arthritis is a similar immune disorder. It affects the joints, ligaments, and tendons. Just as people can have topical psoriasis without showing signs of psoriatic arthritis, so can people become diagnosed with the arthritis form of psoriasis without showing any signs of the skin disorder. 

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis:

  • Redness or swelling of the joints
  • Puffy fingers or toes
  • Spinal pain
  • Deformities in the joints that can be seen over time
  • Scaly skin with flare-ups
  • Red eyes or dry eyes
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Weakness 
  • Pain in the tips of fingers or toes 

Ankylosing Spondylitis 

A more rare type of arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the spine and mental condition of the individual. It can sometimes begin at birth and be a lifelong disorder, or it can develop at any age. It causes frequent flare-ups of intense pain throughout the spine.

The bones in the spine of someone with AS can become fused. The effects can radiate up into the neck, head, and other parts of the body. It can cause nerve and joint damage, but still most often pains the lower back.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Change in spinal shape (most often curves forward)
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
  • Radial pain throughout the butt, chest, thighs, shoulders, neck, rib cage, and more
  • Difficulty breathing during flare-ups
  • Tenderness in the tailbone or pelvis
  • IBD or IBS (bowel issues)
  • Eye inflammation and dry eyes
  • Soreness in the feet or hands
Physiotherapist working with elderly patient in clinic
Physical therapy can help clients cope with chronic arthritis pain.

Types of Treatment for Arthritis 

Fortunately, there is a lengthy list of treatments that are available in treating all different forms of arthritis. Although treatment will need to be determined by a professional medical provider, there are treatments you can take charge of in daily life to prevent and manage arthritis. Here are some of the most effective treatments for arthritis today. 

Physical Therapy

Some types of physical therapy can help arthritis symptoms improve. Working with a physical therapist who specializes in joint and inflammatory disorders can be helpful. They can guide you through safe and effective exercises to target specific areas of your body that are affected by your type of arthritis. 

With physical therapy, you’ll likely also need another form of treatment alongside it. Treatments like medication, living healthier, and hot or cold therapy can help.

Medications 

Certain medications can relieve arthritis symptoms. Some prescriptions can work at controlling the immune system, in the case of rheumatic arthritis that is caused by an inflammatory disease. 

NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) are easy to access and help relieve inflammation and pain in the body. Some of them are strong and need to be prescribed by a doctor. But most of us are familiar with over-the-counter forms of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and cold medicine. 

Medications are not a cure for arthritis. Always follow the guidelines of your health care providers. They can offer relief, but should not be depended on for an expected cure.

Holistic Treatment Plan

Holistic meaning “whole”, when it comes to arthritis, focusing on the body, mind, and lifestyle connection as a way to cope with arthritis is useful to many. There is no magic solution to fix chronic arthritis pain, so taking those small steps every day to help manage symptoms can make a big difference. 

Eating healthy foods, making exercise a routine, and weight loss are great places to start. Learn how to protect your joints and muscles so you can avoid further damage and pain. 

Seek out a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, if you can. Chronic pain can take a toll on one’s physical, mental, and family health. Having the medical support you need which addresses all aspects of life and how arthritis affects it is often beneficial. 

Pain Management

Sometimes, the pain is prominent and it can be hard to know what to do for any relief. Seeking a pain management specialist can help you find the tools you need to at least get through the day-to-day without suffering too much pain. Usually, pain relief treatments include multiple types of treatment on a personalized schedule and research-based foundation. 

Helping a Loved One Who Has Arthritis

If you have a family member or loved one with arthritis, it’s important to be sensitive to their needs. As their condition could worsen over time, learning all you can about their specific arthritis helps both you as a caretaker and your loved one as a patient. 

Learn Their Symptoms

Reading about what arthritis feels like can give you a perspective about what they need daily. Along with pain comes mental health changes and threats to the individuals’ well-being. Knowing what their symptoms are and what to expect during a flare-up can prepare you to give the best care you can. 

If You Can’t Care, Support

It isn’t always possible to offer physical or emotional care if you aren’t a professional. If you can’t extend any skills in this arena, at least know how you can support your loved ones while they receive medical care. Listen to them, help them with appointments, and show you care. 

Find a Caregiver

Life gets chaotic and arthritis can impact the family in more ways than one. Finding a caregiver can help maintain or even improve the quality of life for everyone involved. They can help with movement, daily functions, and offer relief to the arthritis patient. 

Whether you have a new arthritis diagnosis or you have a loved one who is starting to need some extra help for theirs, plenty of options are available today. Do your best to find out the details you need to know about arthritis. Set yourself and your family up for the best symptom management you possible can, so life can still be lived to the fullest. 

10 Best Back Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

A healthy spine and back are essential for almost every movement in daily life. In childhood and young adulthood, people tend to not realize the importance of back strength.

Over time it’s quite common to give in to what feels comfortable: slouching, sitting, and remaining sedentary. It’s easier to neglect the everyday habits that keep our health working for us instead of against us.

Why Is Back Pain So Common?

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) claims that 65-85% of people over the age of 60 experience musculoskeletal and/or back pain. That is a huge percentage of people suffering from pain and feeling a lesser quality of life than they desire. But why is this so common, especially now that modern medicine only keeps getting better?

Even though back pain can be caused by a long list of issues, one of the most overlooked reasons is one’s lifestyle. In a Swedish study of thousands of adult subjects from 20 to 70 years of age, back pain was reported higher in those who had a less active lifestyle.

“An object in motion stays in motion”, as the famous Newton’s First Law says. When someone stops having physical movement as a regular part of their life, the body weakens. If the muscles, tendons, and ligaments aren’t stretched and strengthened often, the tissues become stiff and weak. Eventually, this can cause mobility issues not only in back muscles but throughout the body. 

A senior person in a gym doing back exercise on Swiss balls
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy spine.

Best Back Exercises to Help Seniors

If you’re aging and you find back pain to be a persistent issue, remember it’s completely common among millions of people today. Does that mean you have to remain this way forever? Absolutely not! Although you might not be able to reverse the damage of bad posture over the decades, there is hope.

Practicing some of these 10 best back strengthening exercises for seniors can support your body, mind, and stability through the best years of your life to come.

Cat Cow Stretch

“Cat-Cow” (also known as Cat Camel) is a gentle exercise that is most popularly known through modern yoga. It helps stretch the abdominal and hip muscles while strengthening the core, lower back, and neck. It’s done in a fluid, repetitive motion that is easily synced with the breath, therefore relaxing to the nervous system. 

1. Begin in a comfortable position on all fours (weight is on your knees, shins, and hands).

2. Make sure your back and neck are straight, but not straining. Relax.

3. Taking a steady inhale breath, your neck and head gaze upward, and your hips and tailbone mirror in direction. Arch your back in the shape of a “U”. 

4. When you feel the subtle stretch and your breath is full, you’ve completed the “cat” pose. Now move onto “cow.”

5. During your exhale breath, release your head and your bottom down toward the floor. With your hands and knees, gently push into the floor as your spine arches up in the shape of a rainbow.

6. In the “cow” pose you should feel your ab muscles engaged, lower back stretching, and a slight curve in your neck.

7. On your next inhale, repeat the cycle. Continue the rhythm, “cat, cow, cat, cow”.

8. Repeat 8 times for up to 3 sets.

Man doing bridging exercise, lying on his back on black mat
Glute bridges are a great way to strengthen your spine, core, and legs.

Glute Bridge

A bridge exercise is very simple and adaptable once you learn it. A bridge stretches your hips and thighs while strengthening your core (abdominal muscles) and glutes (butt muscles). The glute bridge is great for hip flexors, which help you walk, stand, and drive. 

1. Start by laying on your back on a comfortably-padded floor, such as a carpet or yoga mat. Bring the soles of your feet to the floor with your knees pointing up to the ceiling. Your arms are on the floor, along the sides of your body, shoulders dropped away from the ears.

2. Engaging your outer hips and butt, push your hips up to raise off the floor slightly. Raise your hips and pelvis as high as you can off the floor. You may feel your core engage, too.

3. Gently lower your hips back down to the floor. Release your muscles and relax a second.

4. Repeat the exercise 10 to 12 times.

Arm Raises

Whether sitting against a wall or laying on a mat, arm raises are a good exercise for improving posture. This movement strengthens the shoulders, scapula (shoulder blades), and upper body muscles.

1. Lay on your back in a comfortable position. You may also try arm raises sitting straight up against a wall or bed frame.

2. With your arms relaxed at your sides, steadily lift your right arm until it’s pointing straight up in the air as if you’re raising your hand.

3. (If you have any pain raising your hand all the way, it’s okay. Try doing half the motion, pointing your arm straight out from your chest.)

4. Steadily lower your arm back down to its starting position.

5. Do this same motion with the other arm on your left side, raising and then lowering.

6. Repeat each side 8 times, for up to 3 sets.

Neck and Chest Stretch (Chair)

The neck and chest are two parts of the body that take a toll with poor posture and weakened muscles. The seated neck and chest stretch is an effective way to relieve tension while working the supporting muscles (scapula, neck, and obliques).

1. Start in a comfortable seated chair position with feet flat on the floor. 

2. Reach both hands behind your head, elbows pointing out like a triangle. Clasp your fingers together to support the base of your neck.

3. Gently gaze upwards, allowing your head to lift slightly and your chest open.

4. Inhale one breath.

5. On the exhale, move your abdomen to lower your right elbow down slightly toward the floor. Your left elbow will raise and your right side will feel a nice stretch.

6. Inhale as your rise back to the beginning position.

7. Exhale and move the other side: left elbow down slightly toward the floor and right elbow pointing up, feeling the stretch on the right side.

8. Repeat 5 times for up to 3 sets.

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulders play a huge role in posture which can affect upper back pain. Including shrugs as regular strengthening exercises for seniors is just as important as focusing on the lower and middle back.*

1. Begin seated or standing straight up, whichever is more comfortable for you.

2. Raise your shoulders toward your ears. You might feel slight tension in your neck.

3. Release and relax your shoulders down to your neutral position, shoulders away from your ears.

4. Repeat several times. For an extra challenge, use light dumbbells during a few of your sets.

5. Make sure to follow this routine with gentle neck stretches to relieve any extra tension after this strengthening work.

Hip Hinges

When bending over, backs are not supposed to be the only part that does the bending. This is how we strain our backs. The spine is ideally to be kept straight and supported by the hips, legs, and core muscles.

This is why hip hinges are a much-needed exercise for supporting the back during everyday movements. Learning this movement improves your range of motion and can prevent future lower back pain.

1. Start by standing straight with feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Keeping your core engaged and spine straight, bend your knees gently to lower as you point your hips back. 

3. If capable, you can reach your arms down to give the lower back a deeper stretch. Watch for balance and your flexibility, though.

4. Keeping the back straight, “hinge” your hips back up, and stand in starting position.

5. Repeat 10 times, making sure to keep your back straight and focusing on the hinging at the hips.

Reverse Leg Lifts (Standing)

Doing reverse leg lifts while standing is great for the glutes and lower back. Most large movements involve the lower back and legs so the two must go together during exercise. 

This is a more advanced movement, so it’s okay if you need to work your way up to it. When doing reverse leg lifts, make sure to move your leg mostly by the strength of your abdominal muscles to get the most benefit.

1. Begin by standing straight up, holding onto something sturdy for balance. 

2. Engage your core and lift your right foot off the ground slightly, pointing your right leg straight back behind you. Hold for 5 seconds and return your leg underneath you, placing your foot on the floor.

3. Repeat with the left leg, hold for 5 seconds, making sure to remain steady and keep your core stabilized.

4. Do the same movements 5 times on each leg for a series of 3-5 sets.

Bird Dog

Another intermediate strengthening move for seniors is a hyperextension called the “bird dog”. Hyperextension is when the lower back and upper back are working together and increasing overall muscle support. The bird dog is excellent for strengthening while improving balance and coordination.

1. Start on all fours: hands and knees on the floor. Line up your hands underneath your shoulders, and knees under your hips for good form. 

2. Lift your right leg and point it back behind you, aligned with your back. Notice the weight shift of the rest of your 3 supporting limbs.

3. Once you’re comfortable with this balance, lift your opposite arm (left) and point it straight ahead of you, arm aligned with your head.

4. Hold the balance here for 5 seconds, and release both your arm and leg back down to the floor.

5. Reverse the opposing sides and hold the balance for 5 seconds, then return to all fours again.

6. Repeat 10 times, remembering to maintain stability in your core. A little wobbling is normal. If you lose balance, keep trying until you can hold.

Standing Lumbar Extension

This straightforward extension is another full-back exercise for nearly any level. Once you can do the basic move, you can increase flexibility and bend further. This will help with strengthening the muscles supporting your spine as well as giving more flexibility to your back.

1. Start by standing up with good posture, feet facing forward, and arms at your sides.

2. Place your hands on your hips for support. 

3. Using your ab muscles for support, bend your lumbar spine backward, creating a decent stretch throughout the rest of your spine.

4. Hold for 3 seconds then return to the starting position.

5. Repeat 8-12 times. 

6. If necessary, follow with hip hinges or forward bends to stretch after these lower back exercises.

Knee-to-Chest

The knee-to-chest routine is an introductory core exercise. It also stretches the back muscles and hamstrings. This move is simple and can quickly relieve low back pain. This should be done gently and slowly– it’s more of a relaxing stretch than a strength workout, so enjoy it a little bit each day.

1. Lay face-up on a padded mat on the floor to start, with your legs extended out as if about to sleep. You can put a pillow under the small of your back for extra support if needed. 

2. Lift one of your legs slightly, then bring your knee in toward your chest. Hug the leg in closer to your chest, feeling the lengthening of your back muscles and hamstring. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Remember to breathe.

3. Release and return your leg to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg and hold for 5-10 seconds. Return to the floor.

4. You can try to do both legs at a time for a more well-rounded stretch that feels good on the back.

5. Repeat 8 times and rest.

How Often Should Seniors Do Back Exercises?

The key to strengthening the back for seniors is consistency. As with any other workout program or good habit, a little bit every single day is the best way to reap the benefits. Instead of trying to do too much all at once, do less, but more often. 

For example, you can try to practice 5 of these exercises at least 3 to 5 days per week. That way, you build up stamina and familiarity both in your body and mind. Overall, including your routine as part of your lifestyle will have the most rewarding, long-lasting effect on your overall health.

Talk to your doctor beforehand if you need help creating an exercise plan that focuses on your back or any other area of the body. A professional can advise you on best practices and how to prevent injury.

They also can guide you based on your specific physical condition and current health status. The suggestions mentioned above are simply options for any older adults who want to take charge of their fitness.

Osteoporosis
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, worldwide, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 years and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.

Common Back Ailments In Seniors

  • Spinal Fractures: Many people over the age of 70 suffer from some kind of spinal fracture at some point. This can be very painful. Sometimes people with spinal fractures don’t know the source of their pain and it can be hard to diagnose. Luckily, many spinal fractures heal on their own. But prevention is key here, which a strong body can assure.
  • Hyperkyphosis: Kyphosis, also known as Hunchback, is when the bones in the spine weaken to the point where they change shape and curve incorrectly. It affects the posture of the upper and mid-back. It can be painful and uncomfortable. Hyperkyphosis is commonly a result of spinal fractures that were left unknown or unaddressed. 
  • Osteoporosis: Osteo meaning “bone” and -porosis related to “porous”, this condition is a weakening of bone mass. Keeping the muscles and bones healthy with movement can prevent and relieve spinal Osteoporosis symptoms.
  • Sarcopenia: As we age our physical structure gradually declines. But sometimes people experience a condition called Sarcopenia. This is a loss of skeletal muscle and tissue, which can be very painful. Adding some strength to the muscles can decrease this condition from worsening.
  • Disc Degeneration: Many people over 50 experience disc issues in their spine. Discs act as cushions or “bumpers” that allow back flexibility and protect the vertebrae from injury. If these discs degenerate or slip, they can cause serious problems. Keeping the back healthy and strong allows the discs to stay agile to support your spine.
  • Spinal Stenosis: Another painful condition is spinal stenosis. This affects nerves and bony matter within the spinal canal. It can eventually compress the nerves and cause constant tingling, numbing, or throbbing pain. Sometimes surgery is required as treatment.

What To Avoid

Just because an exercise program or routine is known as a safe back exercise does not mean it’s safe for all seniors. 

Disclaimer: When seeking back strengthening exercises to help resolve pain or to maintain physical fitness, pay attention to your body. If it’s hurting too much, the exercise is too much for you. Try a modification.

Don’t attempt fitness or medical advice unless it’s approved by your health care provider or physical therapist. Pushing yourself too much can lead to worsening pain or bodily damage.

If any movement is too much to do on your own, ask a caregiver or trainer to help you workout to improve back strength.

Making Your Exercise Routine Work For You

There are many simple exercises that seniors can use to strengthen the back. You might have to try a few different ones to see what works best for you in the shape you’re in.

Even though it might seem discouraging to start exercising when aging, there are great benefits that come with healthy movement. The stronger your back, the longer you’ll have the physical support you need to enjoy life.

Neuropathy Treatment: 5 Home & Natural Remedies

If something can be treated naturally, would you try it? Sometimes going to a healthcare facility for your medical condition can send you in a downward health spiral due to negative side effects associated with treatment. Some conditions might have good results without undergoing invasive medical procedures or buying tons of pricey medications. One of these conditions is neuropathy. 

There are four kinds of neuropathy, each affecting a different set of nerves. They are autonomic, peripheral, proximal, and focal. Autonomic nerve damage is harmful to body processes such as digestion and can affect heart rate and blood pressure. Peripheral neuropathy affects the toes, fingers, hands, and feet and is the most common. 

Peripheral Neuropathy

In the US, there are more than 20 million people with peripheral nerve damage, and probably many more undiagnosed. Peripheral neuropathy, often shortened to neuropathy, happens when the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord have been damaged. These nerves, called peripheral nerves, are vital for relaying information from the brain to the rest of the body. When damaged, they elicit stabbing, burning, or tingling pain in the hands and feet. You may also feel numbness. These symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are usually mild and are rarely debilitating or deadly. However, they can harm your ability to perform daily activities, which can reduce your quality of life

This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, shingles, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. Diabetes is the predominant cause of peripheral nerve damage, resulting in what is called diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Keep in mind that not only medical conditions cause this disorder; you can also experience symptoms due to injuries or stress. 

Though the condition is not curable, there are different methods of treatment to ease the pain. To treat nerve damage, the focus is on relieving the pain, reducing discomfort, and restoring function. The chosen treatment for pain cessation will depend on what the underlying cause may be. A healthcare professional may administer corticosteroid injections, perform nerve stimulation, conduct physical therapy, or even recommend surgery. However, oftentimes doctors will prescribe nerve pain medications. Some of them may include amitriptyline, oxycodone, gabapentin, pregabalin, tricyclic antidepressants, or duloxetine. They will also prescribe topical ointments such as lidocaine, menthol, and methyl salicylate.

You must be aware, however, that these medications often come along with side effects that can be just as difficult as the problem itself. Some of these common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, and dizziness. Not only that, some medications do not react well alongside other drugs. 

What if, instead, you tried out some natural remedies for your symptoms? There are quite a few home remedies as well as natural remedies you can utilize. And the best thing? No harmful side effects. In this article, we will discuss 5 of these remedies, what they are, and how they can help. 

Essential oils can be used for therapy purposes.

1. Essential Oils

Essential oils have a variety of uses, including healing neuropathy and nerve pain. The regeneration of nerves can be a slow process, but treatments of aromatherapy can be a great alternative method to aid in this process. Some essential oils are known to have especially pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. They are said to achieve this by increasing circulation within the body. And all this is non-invasive, and found naturally in plant extracts! Some of the most effective essential oils for nerve pain relief include:

  • Chamomile: Chamomile acts as an anti-inflammatory, as well as a pain reliever that can help with neuralgia, rheumatic pain, and neuritis. Chamomile can help promote blood flow in the body. 
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil works well as an anti-inflammatory. It also suppresses muscle spasms and helps pain relief. It is said to help encourage blood circulation in several nerve conditions, including neuralgia and sciatica. 
  • Geranium: Geranium oil sedates and has analgesic properties. There have been clinical studies showing that it can help in the reduction of pain.
  • Helichrysum: This oil works fast to provide relief. It helps with inflammation and reducing pain.
  • Lavender: One of the most widely used, lavender oil has a big reputation for its pain-relieving properties. The scent is calming that helps with the reduction of anxiety, stress, and depression. It also fights inflammation and promotes blood flow in the body. This oil can help in the treatment of sciatica, muscle aches, neuralgia, and muscle spasms. 
  • Peppermint: Peppermint oil is an especially helpful essential oil for the treatment of nerve damage. It induces pain relief, as well as exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint is a stimulant and should not be used before bedtime. It works well combined with other oils, making it even more potent.
  • Rosewood: This oil aids in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It also relieves nerve pain. 
  • Ylang-Ylang: Ylang-ylang oil works as a strengthener for your nerves. It also sedates, enabling you to relax and let go of stress and anxiety.
  • Frankincense: This oil is another sedative that fights inflammation in arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that frankincense can help prevent cartilage tissue from breaking down, which is the major cause of these conditions.

Applying these oils to the area of pain can soothe the stinging and tingling caused by neuropathy. It may be helpful to speak to someone skilled in aromatherapy or natural medicine to determine which oils are the best for your condition. This could be a certified herbalist, a doctor, or an aromatherapist. Also be sure to ask if the essential oils are ok for you if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition that the use of oils may interfere with. They should guide you on the right path and where to buy the proper oils. 

Also, before you begin, make sure you read all the labels to determine that your essential oil is pure. Then, test the oil on a small area of skin before trying it on large areas. These oils work best diluted because not doing so can cause your skin to become irritated and inflamed. 

There are several ways you can administer these oils. You can mix them in with your creams and lotions. Or you can add a few drops into the water when you take a bath. Taking an essential oil bath can be doubly healing due to the warm water in the bath. Warm water is said to increase blood circulation throughout the body, which can lessen the pain. Another way to administer the oil is to add them to a diffuser. In this way, you can also share the healing properties with your loved ones in the room. Or you can even apply the diluted oil directly onto the skin. You can dilute the oil by adding a few drops of the chosen essential oil in 1 ounce of a carrier oil like olive oil. You can also use a cold-pressed nut, vegetable, seed, or fractionated oil. Some people like to blend their essential oils, combining the properties of several oils into one. Experiment and find out what works best for you.

2. Capsaicin

One FDA-approved product for the treatment of neuropathy is a high-dose capsaicin patch. Capsaicin, a naturally occurring compound derived from cayenne peppers is beneficial for some people with nerve pain. It can decrease the intensity of pain signals triggered by nerve damage. 

Capsaicin is often used as a topical ointment for those who cannot tolerate medications, or want to avoid them. The initial treatment of the ointment may burn, but eventually, you will experience a reduction in sensations.  You can also incorporate cayenne pepper into your diet, as well as take it in supplement form. Capsaicin often works well for people, with very few people experiencing systemic side effects. Some negative aspects of the chemical compound include lack of efficacy when used at low doses, high cost, as well as the need to often reapply. Talk to your doctor before you undergo this treatment method. And before using, be sure to test on a small area.

3. Supplementation

Supplements not only have many health benefits, but they can also aid in the alleviation of nerve pain. It is important, however, to not overuse them, and to take them for additional aid in your relief, not as a cure. Taking supplements depends on your comfort level, the state of your condition, and the go-ahead from your doctor. Make sure to only take the recommended amounts your doctor suggests. 

Vitamin deficiencies are one of the risk factors for peripheral neuropathy. There are many supplements you can take to help ease your symptoms, a lot of them also not listed here. Do your research on the variety of vitamins and supplements that you can also take. Here are the ones we recommend: 

  • Vitamin D: A vitamin D deficiency can worsen nerve damage. Taking a supplement can help reduce symptoms. 
  • B-complex vitamins: These are essential for the health of nerves, and can be helpful in the diminishing of pain. A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to extensive nerve damage. You can get vitamin B from food, but the supplement offers it in a much more concentrated form. Follow doctors’ orders for the recommended dose to avoid the worsening systems and to prevent toxicity. Vitamin B-12 assists in the formation of red blood cells and DNA. B-12 and B-6 both play a key role in the maintenance of the myelin sheath which encloses the nerve fibers and makes sure the messages your nerves are conveying are traveling through your body. This helps reduce the pain from nerve damage. Vitamin B-6 also assists in the formation of chemicals that implement communication between nerves. Vitamin B-7, also known as biotin, in combination with a chromium supplement can help with blood glucose levels to fight diabetes and diabetes-induced neuropathy. Biotin is said to help control the pancreas’ output of insulin, while chromium is said to improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid: This is a potent antioxidant that is made in our bodies which eliminates free radicals. You can also find it in spinach and broccoli, though only in small amounts. Taking alpha-lipoic acid has been proven to reduce numbness, tingling, and burning symptoms. It helps the leveling of blood sugar and can help maintain healthy blood vessels that are connected to the nerves.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease numbness, burning, and tingling.
  • Magnesium: It is said that magnesium may help with chemotherapy-related nerve damage, but more research is needed. However, a study published that those with high 

amounts of magnesium in their daily intake were less likely to experience nerve damage. 

  • Evening primrose oil: Has anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease numbness, burning, and tingling. 
  • Acetyl-l-carnitine: This amino acid is an antioxidant that helps burn fat and increase energy. Produced in your liver and kidneys, l-carnitine helps your heart and brain to function, as well as promotes muscle movement. Not only that, l-carnitine protects the nerve fibers, helps with nerve pain, and aids in the process of nerve cell growth. These are especially important components in healing for those with diabetic neuropathy. This amino acid can be taken in supplement form.

4. Lifestyle Changes

A healthy diet, exercising, and incorporating good habits into your life can have the most positive effect on your nerve pain. Lifestyle changes can leave you feeling healthier, calmer, more balanced, and restful. Small incremental changes implemented here and there throughout your regular daily activities can have a positive effect on your nerve health.

Diet

We have covered the positive effects vitamins and other supplements can have on reducing nerve pain. You can also find many of these supplements in the form of healthy foods. For those with diabetes, changing their diet can especially help lessen the symptoms, allowing diabetic nerve pain to lessen. To achieve this, eating foods rich in fiber is recommended. Do your best to stay away from white bread products, processed food, alcohol, and sweets. 

Exercise

Exercise helps manage pain and benefits your overall health. It can increase the blood flow to your arms and legs. It also helps reduce stress. Maintaining healthy physical condition through regular exercise, is extremely important, especially for those that have diabetic neuropathy. For diabetics, maintaining an exercise routine allows the body to better regulate blood sugar, which will in turn slow or reduce nerve damage. For those with peripheral neuropathy, exercising helps reduce the pressure of the peripheral blood vessels. 

Good Habits

Review your overall happiness and outlook. Do you feel stressed? Tired? Rundown? A few habit changes may help you revive your energy levels, as well as improve your neuropathic symptoms. 

One habit that affects your blood circulation and blood vessels is smoking. When you smoke, your blood vessels narrow, which means not as much oxygenated blood can get through. Due to this limited blood flow, you will experience more numbing and painful symptoms. If you were to quit smoking, you would see an improvement in the blood flow, as well as healthier blood vessels.

Some other great habits you can try are relaxation techniques. These habits such as deep breathing, mediation, and stretching exercises like yoga help people manage their pain by relieving stress. They can help you learn to cope with the pain, which can decrease the intensity of it. These noninvasive relaxation techniques help you gain more control of your condition through a mind-body approach. After all, the mind and the body are deeply connected. 

One of the most important good habits is sleep. Limit your caffeine in the afternoon to ensure you will get a full night’s sleep. If you keep a consistent bedtime and get at least eight hours of sleep every night, your stress level will reduce, allowing you to better cope with neuropathic pain.

Acupuncture can also be used to treat the body’s pressure points.

5. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese tradition used to treat pain by inserting needles into the body’s pressure points to stimulate the nervous system. When this occurs, endorphins are released, which are the body’s natural painkillers. 

Acupuncture is used by neuropathy-sufferers who want to alleviate their chronic pain. Not only is the ancient tradition said to relieve the pain, but it also increases blood flow, which can restore nerve damage. Many people who have undergone acupuncture treatment have had more improved symptoms than those who have gotten traditional medical treatment. And not only that, this method can balance the energy of the body, which can lead to greater emotional well-being.

Find the Right Solution For You

As a disclaimer, we want to state that this article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. However, we do believe that utilizing some of these remedies may have a positive effect on your nerve health. And not only can they help alleviate painful symptoms, but they can also help increase your overall health and well-being. Whatever treatment path you decide to go down, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider before you make any big changes. Seeking out the advice of a professional is always helpful. We here at CareAsOne hope you find the right solutions for you and wish you increasing comfort and well-being.

5 Best Clocks for People With Dementia / Alzheimer’s

Dementia is a difficult diagnosis to live with, whether it be in yourself or someone you care about. There are many unknowns, inconveniences, and challenges that come with this disease. Living in today’s fast-paced society means there’s no slowing down for people affected by dementia. But fortunately, some modern tools and technologies can relieve the difficulties. 

Some products, like dementia clocks, can bring simple solutions to daily life. Here is all you need to know about dementia, memory, and the best dementia clocks to help you through the main stages of dementia. 

What is Dementia? 

Before getting into the best types of dementia clocks on the market, we need to clarify what dementia is and how it affects people. 

Dementia is a memory loss and brain degenerative disease that affects over 50 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization updates. In the United States alone, there are about 5 million people alive today with some type of dementia diagnosis. Every year, these numbers increase significantly. 

Most of all, dementia affects how a person uses cognition, how they behave, their ability to remembers things, and what their body is physically capable of. Even though there are many kinds of dementia, the overall characteristic is memory loss and progressive brain damage.

senior man looking at wall calendar and touching head
Dementia goes through various stages depending on the area of the brain that’s affected.

Stages of Dementia 

There are three primary stages of dementia: Early, Middle, and Late. 

1. Early-stage dementia is often mild. The person can still function, although they might be forgetful, confused, and have trouble recalling facts or timelines. Moodiness, irritability, and fatigue are also associated with this first stage. 

2. Middle-stage dementia is when the person starts to show signs of serious decline. They might become a slightly different person, seemingly behaving in strange, new ways than usual. Their memory worsens and they need help functioning mental tasks. Their speech might begin to dwindle, too.

3. Late-stage dementia is when someone finally requires ongoing, around-the-clock supervision and medical care. They likely have difficulty holding their bowels, controlling their emotions, and swallowing food or water. This stage is when they are getting closer to death. They often forget who close friends and family members are, or even forget their names and identity. 

Symptoms of Dementia 

The symptoms of dementia depend on what type of dementia a person has, how long they’ve had it, and any preexisting health factors they might have. Generally speaking, there are some key red flags and warning signs of dementia. These signs include: 

  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory loss (long-term memory and short-term)
  • Changes in mood and emotional regulation
  • A decline in mental processing 
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Confusion
  • Problems with communication or personal expression
  • A progression of brain damage over time
  • Difficulty with physical motor skills

Types of Dementia

The main types of dementia that affect the global and national population include a list of about 5 different kinds. Here are the most common types, and a brief description of each. 

Alzheimer’s disease: The most common type of dementia in the world. Alzheimer’s greatly impacts memory, cognition, and emotion. This type of dementia is what most of us think about when we hear the term “dementia”. People forget things, easily become lost, lose track of time, and eventually can’t recognize their loved ones. 

Vascular dementia: This has to do with brain damage associated with blood and oxygen getting cut off from the brain. It’s usually a result of someone who had a history of strokes or serious injuries to the brain. It can rapidly cause a decline in a person’s memory, ability to process information and regulate their emotions. 

Mixed dementia: Mixed dementia is when there are active signs of more than one type of dementia present at once. It’s a general diagnosis where someone has dementia, but they show signs of more than one type. 

Lewy bodies dementia: When a type of protein in the brain (called “Lewy bodies”) builds up in excess, it can cause impairment to movement and emotion. Dementia with Lewy bodies, sometimes called LBD or Parkinson’s dementia, is a form of dementia that causes tremors, shakes, bizarre behavioral changes, and associated physical health problems. 

Frontotemporal dementia: One of the rare types of dementia, this can occur in younger middle-aged people as early as in their 30s or 40s. It affects behavior and emotion most, but also shows memory decline. 

Why Do People Use Dementia Clocks? 

All the signs and symptoms of dementia can seem overwhelming. But don’t let that make you feel hopeless about this disease. Even though it is a leading cause of death, there are plenty of ways to make the years after diagnosis comfortable, convenient, and safe. 

People use dementia clocks when they or their family member is starting to forget things during daily life. They might forget what day it is, when their appointments are, or whether or not they’ve already taken their medication at the right time. 

Dementia clocks are digital or analog tools that help dementia patients remember simple dates and tasks that might slip their memory. Some of them are fully customizable to assist with reminders and urgent priorities. 

Do These Clocks Actually Help? 

Dementia clocks can help individuals with dementia as well as their families. They can provide extra communication and reassurance when it comes to scheduling, important habits, and medical care needs. 

These types of clocks work to the extent that someone ensures they are going to be a helpful tool to their loved one’s life. There needs to be someone to teach the patient how the clock works, what it will help them with, and remind them when any issues come up.

Here are the popular types of clocks for people with Alzheimer’s:

Day Clocks

The day clock focuses on the time of day and the day of the week. They’re usually bold-lettered and indicate what time of the day it is (day or night), along with the date and day of the week. Some of them have the month as well, although these are usually seen on calendar clocks.

Digital Calendar Clocks

Calendar clocks are designs specifically for dementia patients with trouble remember the time of year or season they are currently in, as well as the date. They display the month, day of the week, current date, and exact time. This way, the patient with dementia can look at the clock and be informed about what is going on. Since many dementia patients with early or middle-stage dementia get wrapped up in memories, it’s a good reminder for them.

Talking Clocks

Talking clocks inform patients of the time with a chime or verbal notification. Today there are digital tools like Amazon’s “Alexa” and “Echo”, where a person can ask what time it is or for current updates on today’s news. 

Digital Alarm Clocks

Some alarm clocks are specifically designed for Alzheimer’s patients. Regular alarm clocks can be confusing with all their small buttons and hard-to-read displays. With digital dementia alarm clocks, the buttons are larger and labeled. This makes it easier to navigate and set specific times. 

Clocks with Medication Reminders

More modern dementia clocks can be programmed to remind a person of their medication schedule. It’ll display or voice a term like, “9:00 AM, time to take your medication.” This is extremely useful for dementia patients, as mixing up meds can be harmful! Medication reminders can make a world of a difference. 

5 Best Dementia Clocks (and the Pros and Cons of Each)

Here are some of the top-rated and medically respected clocks for people with dementia, along with some of the pros and cons of each.

1. Dementia Alarm Clock & Day Clock with Medication Reminders 

This all-in-one clock offers everything mentioned above. You can set reminders to take medication, change the display from digital clock to analog view, customize the high-resolution brightness settings, and set the alarm options. Its adapter is easily plugged in so there’s no need to change batteries. It’s a great tabletop clock to put in any room.

Pros:

  • Customizable hour view (12 or 24-hour)
  • Automatically dims when the sun sets
  • States time of day 
  • Displays month, day of week, date, and time
  • Many customizable clock features
  • Large 17.5-inch display
  • Option to connect to your WiFi
  • Radio 

Cons: 

  • Troubleshooting can take time to get used to
  • Weather forecast can be inaccurate depending on the location 

2. Alzheimer’s Day Clock with Event Reminders 

This day clock displays and tells you the time of day, as well as the week and date. It also has reminders with alarms to take medications, upcoming appointments, and more. Brightness settings are adjustable with auto dimming and other display options. Set your favorite dates and milestones to the calendar so you can remember celebrations and social events.

Pros:

  • Track and keep up with sleep schedules and reminders
  • Multiple display options
  • Wall-mountable 
  • Sleek design 
  • Select from several different frame colors
  • Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and more

Cons: 

  • No battery backup
  • A little bit pricey 

3. WiFi Smart Watch with Elderly GPS Tracker and Voice Call

There are several watches on the market that contain GPS tracking options. This is a great choice for anyone concerned about getting lost, wandering off, or forgetting their location when they are dealing with dementia. It connects to a GPS smartphone app so you can locate your loved one if they become lost. There is also an option to set up voice calls so you can talk directly through the watch. It makes a great gift for someone who needs it.

Pros:

  • GPS tracking for safety and security 
  • Water-resistant
  • Pedometer that tracks daily steps
  • Displays digital time, day of the week, and date
  • Call options 
  • Automatically changes to daylight saving time when the time changes 

Cons:

  • Limited display options and small font
  • User interface not very customizable
  • Calls don’t work unless the person’s cell phone is nearby
  • Poor customer reviews 

4. Memory Loss Digital Calendar Day Clock

A digital calendar clock can help people with dementia keep track of their lives. This calendar clock reads the clear time of day: Morning, afternoon, evening, night, and before dawn. This helps the person keep track of the time of day, even if they start forgetting how to perceive time. Because people with dementia can experience sleep issues, it’s also helpful for waking up at abnormal hours and getting familiar with what date and time of day they’re in.

Pros:

  • Large font for those with vision problems
  • 5 different time of day descriptions
  • Automatic dimmer for when it gets dark
  • No confusing abbreviations
  • Battery backup in case the clock gets unplugged or there’s a power outage 
  • A great day of the week clock

Cons:

  • Only two display scheme options
  • No options for appointment reminders or calendar schedules

5. Analog Day and Night Wall Clock

For those who prefer a simple, analog wall clock, there is a day and night dementia clock. This is a minimal clock with numbers and analog time tracking, like a regular, old-fashioned living room clock we all know and love. There is a picture that cycles as time ticks by, shifting from “night, morning, day, and afternoon”. This way, a person with memory loss can easily know whether it’s AM or PM when they look at the clock.

Pros:

  • Simple, minimal analog design
  • Easy readability 
  • Looks great on walls
  • Picture of time of day so the person doesn’t have to ask if it’s day or night

Cons:

  • No alarm or reminder options
  • Batteries only, which need to be replaced occasionally
  • Doesn’t show date, day of the week, or month
  • Can become outdated as dementia progresses
  • If the battery runs out, will not display the correct time
old man losing his memory from due to dementia
A memory loss clock helps dementia patients with maintaining a routine and staying focused.

When Should Someone Get a Memory Loss Clock?

If someone keeps losing track of time, they should get a dementia clock. Depending on the severity of their dementia, these types of clocks can save a lot of time, worry, and confusion in their daily life. 

People with early or middle-stage dementia, with mild dementia symptoms, benefit most from dementia clocks. They still have the awareness of time and can do simple tasks on their own or with the help of a caregiver

Mainly, dementia clocks help a patient be reminded of the date and time of day. When their memory is declining, they can start frequently asking loved ones, friends, and caregivers, “What time is it?” and “What is today’s date?” Which they can soon forget again. This becomes repetitive and annoying, so sometimes it’s better to just have a dementia clock for both the patient and the caregivers’ peace of mind. 

When to Find a Caregiver or Nursing Home for Dementia Patients 

If someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia, you can opt to get a caregiver or nursing home at any time. The early stages are milder and allow the person to still carry out basic functions on their own. 

However, in middle-stage dementia, things can get dangerous. The person might get lost, forget their personal belongings, or become suddenly aggressive with behavioral changes. In late-stage dementia, full-time care is often required, as the individual loses the ability to control their bowels, movements, and eating and drinking. 

The sooner you seek help for someone with dementia, the better and more comfortable they can be during the nearing end of their life. 

What Else Can I Do to Help Dementia Patients?

Aside from getting a dementia clock, finding medical support, researching the best nursing homes, or hiring at-home caregivers for your loved one, there are other ways to support people with dementia. 

Monitor and Manage Symptoms

Pay attention to the individual’s progression of symptoms. Every person with dementia goes through the process at varying rates. Some people have a life expectancy of only a few years, whereas others live on for decades after diagnosis. The more you monitor and find support for their current symptoms, the safe they’ll be.

Get a Caregiver 

Getting a caregiver for someone with dementia can relieve the patient’s and family’s stress. Caregivers are professionals who care for those in need. They assist physically, emotionally, and medically. They can help bathe, treat, feed, entertain, and socialize the patient when they need help the most. 

Offer Support

You, too, can help emotionally support your loved one. Spend time with them, go on walks outside, remind them to take their medication, and make sure they’re living in a safe and sanitary environment. 

Be Patient

It can be frustrating dealing with someone whose memory, personality, and behavior are constantly declining and changing. It’s important to stay patient and compassionate with them. Remember it’s not their fault and they are being gravely affected by a disease.

Find the help you need for your loved one with dementia today. Reach out to a local senior care facility, join a family support group, or talk to a doctor who specializes in end-of-life care for dementia patients. 

5 Brain Stimulating Activities For Older Adults

Inevitably, cognitive decline, meaning loss of cognitive function, occurs as we get older. Cognitive function is the ability of your brain to process and recall information through skills like perception, memory, learning, attention, problem solving, decision making, and language. You hear it a lot and it is true in this case: “Use it or lose it.” The good news is that the brain can be strengthened like any other muscle, no matter our age. It has a quality of plasticity, allowing it to bend and shape. This enables us to slow the mental decline, even as older adults. 

Good nutrition, as well as physical and mental exercise, contribute to brain health. All three increase blood flow to the brain, thus improving and maintaining cognition. Continued effort in these areas stimulates the growth of new brain cells. These brain cells are active and able to get easier access to the blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients. As a result, more and more interrelated neurons develop, creating a dynamic network of active and healthy synapses. 

So how do we whip the inactive brain cells into shape? We certainly can’t do so by repeating the same things we’ve always done. To train our brains, we must stimulate them with new habits, activities, and experiences. If your loved one does not live in a senior living community, it may be hard for him or her to engage in activities with similarly-aged peers. Caregivers can introduce some of the following activities to help activate their neural functioning, which will also contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It is best to view our brain activity as just as important to our overall health and wellness as what we eat and how much we exercise. 

Let’s get out of the old rut and get to training that brain! In this article, we will explore some of the best ways older adults can stimulate their brains and improve cognitive function. We here at CareAsOne recommend the following 5 brain-stimulating activities for the elderly.

Playing bingo is a classic amongst seniors and elderly people.

1. Brain Games

Whoever said games were a waste of time? Not only are they fun (and addicting), but also games enable your mental processes to become clearer and keep your mind sharp. Brain exercises are like sports for the mind. They encourage the improvement of brain functions like memory, flexible thinking, focus, and processing speed. Cognitive training stimulates our brains, thus engaging neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of neural networks to grow and reorganize. This allows the brain to always change and adapt throughout our lifetime. 

There are so many different kinds of games out there, each strengthening specific sets of our cognitive skills. Here are a few of them your loved one may want to try out for increased mental stimulation:  

Trivia 

Trivia games cater to all kinds of interests. There are general trivia games, but there are also games that have themes based on TV shows, movies, music, pop culture, and even religion. You can even find trivia relating to specific decades. 

Trivia games can be helpful for seniors to stimulate their recall skills associated with their memory. This type of game encourages them to think about events of the past or facts they have learned but would not otherwise remember. Trivia also enables the players to learn new facts.  And not only does playing these types of games enable your loved one to enhance memory and learning, but it also allows them quality time with friends and family, a vital component of old age.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are not only relaxing, but they are also great for enhancing problem-solving skills. This is because the puzzle requires you to pay attention to details and patterns, utilizing your working memory. It also encourages the use of spatial skills and concentration. The best thing about jigsaw puzzles is that they are straight-forward and can be done by anyone. You can also leave the puzzle and come back to it after a while. 

If you feel like doing a detailed 1000-piece puzzle may be difficult for your loved one’s eyesight, you can easily find jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, or you can find a puzzle online that allows you to zoom in.

Crossword Puzzles

Another great brain game is crosswords. This type of puzzle requires critical thinking as well as memory recall. The fact that only simple hints are given encourages the person to assess their spectrum of knowledge on the subject, to see what fits. This is a fun one to do with friends or family to utilize everyone’s shared knowledge to work together. 

Riddles and Other Logic Puzzles

Logic puzzles are great word games for older adults. The player must combine their ideas and background knowledge to find a plausible answer. Problem-solving ability is key when you must associate your ideas with possible solutions. It also promotes pattern-recognition and memory skills. 

Sudoku

Sudoku is a game based on numerical patterns and is great for improving problem-solving and pattern-recognition skills. The puzzle comes in varying levels of difficulty, allowing you to work your way up from an easy to advanced level. Seeing your improvement will make you want to keep getting better and better. 

Card Games

Card games are another popular way for seniors to keep their brains active. Not only are they good for cognition, but they also encourage social interaction, and can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Some popular card games amongst older adults include:

  • Pinochle
  • Rummy
  • Bridge
  • Canasta
  • Cribbage
  • Chinese poker
  • Solitaire 
  • Big two

2. Learn a New Skill

As we age, the brain develops neural pathways between common thoughts. These pathways enable us to perform familiar tasks, solve recurring problems, and help us recall and process data at a quick pace. Because these neural pathways are well worn, they allow us to do these things without expending a lot of mental energy. However, if you always stick to these paths, it will be extremely difficult to develop new neural pathways. This also means you aren’t growing and shifting with the world around you. 

It is imperative to constantly be developing new pathways to keep your brain running smoothly as well as stimulated. The more you challenge your brain, the better the ability you will have to process and recall information. However, not all activities equally stimulate your mind. The most helpful activities are the ones that break your traditional ways of thinking, enabling you to create new brain pathways. To find the best kind of activity that will suit your or your loved one’s brain growth the most would have the following elements: 

  1. New: Pick something you’ve never done before. If it is something that you have experienced, it will not stimulate new pathways. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and try to learn something completely unfamiliar to you. Think of something you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t. Now is the time to try!
  1. Challenging: What you pick out should not be easy. It needs to demand your constant attention and concentration. If it was only challenging first, it is still not good enough. The mental effort you constantly put forth will allow you to keep forging the neural path.
  1. Room for Improvement: Find something that you can start from a beginner level and work your way up. Not only does the improvement spur your motivation, but it will also cause you to stretch what you are capable of. 
  1. Rewarding: Choose an activity that will be enjoyable for you. That way you will be more likely to keep doing it! If you are truly interested and enjoy the activity you are participating in, the more benefits you will experience as times go on. 
Puzzle are great for brain stimulation and teamwork.

New Skills for Brain Stimulation

With these four elements in mind, think of something that you would love to learn. Here is a list of some possible ideas: 

  • Learn a musical instrument
  • Make pottery
  • Learn to juggle
  • Play chess
  • Dance the tango, waltz, salsa, or another type of dance
  • Learn a new language
  • Master your golf swing
  • Learn to draw
  • Take a cooking class
  • Download a new app on your phone and learn to use it
  • Learn Photoshop

3. Physical Exercise 

Although we are talking about activities for the brain, you may be surprised that physical exercise is one of them. Physical activity is not just for the body, but for the mind as well. Keeping in shape helps your brain stay sharp. This is because exercise increases oxygen to the brain, enhances chemical effects, reduces stress, promotes synapses formations, and boosts growth factors for neuroplasticity. Research shows that those who exercise can reduce risk factors of diabetes and heart disease, as well as those at risk of dementia and other cognitive impairments

Keeps You Alert

Consider pursuing an exercise routine in the morning. Doing so will cause you to avoid the normal brain fog you may usually have when you wake up. Getting your body up and moving will allow your mind no choice but to follow. And getting such a great start in the morning will get your mind ready to take on any challenges in the day. 

Implement short exercise breaks throughout the day. This is helpful when you are worn with mental fatigue, usually sometime in the afternoon. Moving your body can restart your brain to whatever task is at hand. Some examples of quick exercises can be toe touches or a brisk walk around the house. 

Aerobic Exercise

Just about any exercise that is good for your heart is good for your brain. This includes aerobic exercise which gets your blood pumping and your heart rate up. Some examples of aerobics would be brisk walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming. It is also helpful to choose activities that require hand-eye coordination for the sharpening of motor skills. 

Nature Walks

Walks are an especially great exercise targeted for the brain if you can do so comfortably. Walking in nature is especially beneficial. Not only does it allow for socialization with others as you walk, but it also promotes calm, relaxation, and independence. Older adults may feel more connected to their surroundings, as well as themselves on a nature walk. They will rely on their senses to perceive details around them, including landmarks and animals. Remembering these details later will help anchor their memory. And the best way to experience a walk in a way that all details are fully experienced is through mindfulness. 

4. Mindfulness & Meditation

Going on mindful nature walks will not only keep you physically active, but the incorporation of mindfulness will allow you to increase attention span, let go of unimportant distractions, and increase your overall cognition. You can incorporate mindfulness into your walk by feeling the sensations of your body, concentrating on your breath, as well as listening to the environment around you. Besides nature walks, yoga, stretching, or tai chi are great ways to merge your mind and body.

Incorporating mindfulness into other areas of your life is a great antidote for stress. Chronic stress can damage the hippocampus. This important part of the brain helps us form new memories and remember old ones. Therefore stress can be responsible for some loss of memory. 

You can take it a step further and try mindfulness meditation. There have been many studies done highlighting the positive effects of meditation on conditions like depression, anxiety, diabetes, chronic pain, and high blood pressure. It is also beneficial for learning, reasoning, memory, creativity, concentration, and focus. People who meditate have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part has been linked with the feelings of joy and equanimity. Meditating can thicken the cerebral cortex and help develop more neural pathways which will sharpen your mind and encourage memory. So now that we see how beneficial mindfulness and meditation can be, let’s get you started with some easy mindfulness exercises. 

  • Focus on the breath: Whether standing in line, sitting at your desk, laying in bed, or sitting on a meditation cushion, practice the following exercise. First, when you breathe in, be mindful that you are taking an in-breath. Then when you breathe out, be mindful that this is out-breath. Continue this for several moments, focusing on your in and out-breaths. If your mind gets distracted, simply return your attention to the breath. Keep your concentration on every aspect of the in and out-breath, without any observations or judgments. 
  • Become aware of your body: After you have established an awareness of the breath, next you can move onto the awareness of the body. You can say something like “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. Breathing out, I’m aware of my body.” This will bring your attention back to your body, making mind and body one. We often are not fully present in all situations during our day. Practicing and incorporating this technique into our daily lives can help us become more focused and not miss out on our lives. 
  • Release tension: As you are becoming aware of your breath and body, you may notice some tightening or tension in your body. It is possible to let this tension go by becoming aware of it and mindfully let go. Perhaps you have some unresolved stress you are holding in your body. Notice it, relax, and let it go.
  • Walking meditation: Now with the mind focused on the breath and the body, and you have released any tension, go on a walk. Practice paying attention to your breath and the sensations you feel in your body as your feet move along the earth. Do not judge these sensations, simply experience them. 

5. Socialization

Being with friends and family members has some of the biggest effects on your mental health. Humans are not meant to live isolated. Interacting with other people stimulates our minds in the best way. This is because it not only has cognitive benefits, it also benefits our emotions. Studies have found that most active social people have slower memory decline than those that are isolated. 

If your loved one is isolated, try exposing him or her to some new activities. This could be getting a volunteer job at a food bank or joining a club with like-minded individuals. Or they can visit their friends more often, participating in mutually interesting activities. If you don’t live with your loved one, try to visit them as often as you can, as well as calling them often on the phone. Another great way for them to socialize is to get them a pet. Having a constant companion around is sure to stimulate your loved one’s energy level. There is a bonus that he or she will meet other pet-owners when taking a dog out for a walk. 

Human interaction enables people to practice their communication skills, think critically, memory recall, among many other cognitive abilities needed as we age. Since elderly people tend to withdraw as they get older, make an extra effort to keep them surrounded by friends and family they love. 

Keep Brain Active for Higher Well-Being

Keeping your brain active is the surest way to extend your brain power through old age. And this type of health care will inevitably lead to a higher sense of well-being. So whether it is playing a game of rummy, enrolling them in a Spanish class, going on a nature walk, sitting mindfully together for 10 minutes, or gathering the whole family around them, you can contribute to the longer-lasting brain health of your loved one.

8 Healthy Foods That Can Interfere With Medications

Many of us like to keep to a healthy diet to and good exercise routine to keep on top of our physical well being. The benefits of a healthy diet are numerous for not just our physical health but also our mental one too. Unfortunately, some of us also need to take medication to keep either our body or our minds ticking normally.

Medication, of every kind, always comes with some certain risk attached. That is why it is firstly and foremostly important that you discuss taking medication with your doctor and a pharmacist first. Your diet should also be discussed so that they can advise you if some dietary changes are needed in order for the medication to take full effect and for potential side effects to having their harms reduced by discussing food-drug interactions.

We have written this informational blog post to help you to gain an understanding of which types of common foods, particularly healthy ones, can have a negative interference with the medication you are taking. Many of the foods discussed are rich in nutrients that are great for you and you’re even encouraged to take dietary supplements to get the kind of vitamins that these foods supply. Of course, discuss this with a medical professional after reading our guide because they know best. Also, remember that everyone’s body is different, so there may be foods that are not on the list that also may not react well with your medication. This applies to all sorts of kinds of medications from ones treating long-term chronic illnesses to over-the-counter drugs that treat a headache. 

We’ll walk you through each healthy food and discuss its health benefits so that you can understand why having them as part of your diet is beneficial. After that, we’ll mention what medications it may not interact well with and what the potential risks could be when drug interactions are involved.

Grapefruit and Grapefruit Products

First of all, we shall take a look at how grapefruit and grapefruit juice can have an impact if it is mixed with certain types of medication. The health benefits of grapefruit are numerous. They are rich in both potassium and vitamin C which is not only essential contributors to a healthy and balanced diet, but the body actually needs them to function properly. Take for example sailors of over a century ago. When you were a kid you may have read about pirates who were sick with scurvy, which caused their lips to bleed, teeth to fall out, and their skin to flake. This is because they were on long voyages of months at a time with no access to fresh fruit and vegetables. A month without vitamin C can cause the effects of scurvy and other illnesses to become transparent.

Although it is an essential nutrient to the body, the high doses brought on by grapefruit and grapefruit juice may not interact well with some medications. Many of these medications are ones provided to deal with heart problems and heart disease but there are several more:

  • Drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, like Nexterone and Pacerone.
  • A variety of antihistamine medications like Allegra.
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Zocor and Lipitor.
  • Drugs that treat high blood pressure, such as Procardia and Adalat CC.
  • Organ-transplant rejection drugs, such as Sandimmune and Neoral.
  • Anti-anxiety medication like buspirone.
  • Corticosteroids that treat Crohn’s disease or colitis, such as Entocort EC and Uceris.

Depending on your medication, having too much grapefruit or grapefruit juice can affect you in two separate ways depending on the type of medication you are taking. It can either cause too much of the medication to get into the body or it can cause too little. Statin drugs, which purpose is to lower cholesterol, are broken down by enzymes in order for them to work properly. High levels of grapefruit can cause the enzymes to be blocked which means that the drug doesn’t break down properly and too much of it can go throughout your body which can enhance negative side effects. Grapefruit can also affect allergy drugs such as Allegra. This is because allergy drugs are taken throughout the body through transporters, to take them to cells. High volumes of grapefruit can, however, block these from coming through, meaning that your medication may have little effect.

Too much grapefruit can prevent medications from breaking down properly.

Bananas

Bananas are always a practical and healthy snack to have on hand. Not only are they delicious but they are also stacked with numerous great health benefits. Bananas are great for helping you to maintain a healthy weight, boosting your nervous system, and for aiding you in avoiding type 2 diabetes. Bananas are filled with fiber, potassium, magnesium vitamin C, and B6. All of these things are great for the body and important in maintaining a strong immune system. They also often find their flavor used in nutritional drinks, which may or may not be healthy.

People who are taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors should avoid bananas, however. This medication lowers your blood pressure and helps the heart to pump more blood. Potassium does not interact with this too well though. This is because high levels of potassium can contribute to having an irregular heartbeat and cause heart palpitations which can lead to heart failure. Potassium only affects your blood levels when it is taken in high amounts but make sure that you speak to your doctor first if you are taking ACEs. 

Leafy Greens 

Foods that are rich in vitamin K are simply wonderful for the body. They include green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, and spinach. These have high levels of fiber and have a low-calorie count meaning that they are excellent for maintaining healthy body weight and diet. Vitamin K is vital to help keep your blood flow healthy as it helps to thin the blood and let it flow better. Low term absence of vitamin K can cause your bones to weaken and may cause osteoporosis in older people as well as calcification (calcium channel blockers) in arteries. 

The effect of leafy green vegetables and vitamin K can have an adverse effect if the patient is taking Warfarin (also known as Coumadin). Warfarin is an anticoagulant, which is a blood thinner and helps circulation move as normal. This medication tends to be prescribed to you if you have had a blood clot in the past or if you are at risk of one in the future. Users of Warfarin must always be cautious about the side effects as some of them can be extremely harmful, and even cause death

Vitamin K can cause your blood to clot which is why you must be cautious with leafy vegetables if you are taking Warfarin. This is not to say that eating some cabbage soup will cause you adverse side effects but rather that you shouldn’t base your diet on it. If you are prescribed Warfarin speak to your doctor first to find out if you can safely reintroduce leafy greens into your diet. 

Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice and cranberries are considered by many nutritional experts to be a ‘superfood’. This is because of their high levels of nutrients and antioxidants. They are well known to help stop urinary tract infections, lowering the risk of heart problems, and slowing the spread of some cancers. Despite all of these great benefits, cranberries can be counterproductive if you are taking heart medication such as Digoxin, Warfarin, or Lovastatin. This is because similarly to leafy greens, cranberries also thin the blood. Although this is good if you are healthy, if you are on some heart medications, drinking too much cranberry juice can have an adverse effect. 

Dairy Products

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and aged cheeses are full of health benefits for everyone, particularly children and adolescents. This is because they are full of calcium which helps to promote bone growth. As well as this there are many other healthy nutrients be found in dairy products such as phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D (in products fortified with vitamin D), riboflavin, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. As well as this many dairy products such as yogurt are great for digestive health as they help to regulate the bacteria in your gut.

The gut is where calcium can become problematic when medication is involved. Antibiotics such as the Quinolone (Cipro, Levofloxacin Ciprofloxacin, and Avelox) and tetracyclines (Vibramycin and Minocin), varieties, do not interact well with dairy products. These antibiotics need to interact with gut bacteria in order to work effectively but due to the dairy products already mixing with these bacterias in a positive manner the effectiveness is reduced. This is because the bacteria in the gut struggles to absorb the antibiotics properly because of the way the dairy products are interacting with them.

Due to the antibiotics possibly not being able to work effectively it means that the infection that you were trying to treat may rebound in an even stronger manner. This can lead to the possibility of becoming very sick or in the best-case scenario, having to retake an extended dosage of the antibiotics. That is not to say that dairy products are to be outright forbidden if you are on these types of antibiotics as most of the time it is ok to have a glass of milk or yogurt at least two hours after taking a dosage. Like always, double-check this with a doctor or pharmacist first. 

High Fiber Foods

Fiber is a very important part of any balanced diet and can mainly be found in rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, and grains. They are fantastic for overall health and particularly good at reducing the chances of diabetes and heart disease. One of the great benefits of fiber is that the body cannot digest it. The reason that this is great is that it passes through our digestive tract and feeds the bacteria that live there. 

There are ten times as many bacteria in our body than there are cells. It helps to regulate our body’s functions and is important to every aspect of our health such as blood sugar levels, the immune system, and even brain function. The majority of the bacteria in our bodies live in our digestive tract so it is vital that it is fed and kept healthy. If it is not conditions such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease can occur. Thus, a good range of fiber in the body is a great thing. 

However, due to the way that fiber interacts with the gut it may be a good idea to try and reduce your intake when you are on some types of medication. It causes the same effect that some antibiotics do when they are mixed with dairy products. You don’t want the effects of your antibiotics to be subsided when taking them so its best to reduce your intake and to speak to a doctor or pharmacist about changing the fiber in your diet when you receive a drug prescription. 

That morning coffee might be interfering with your medication more than you think.

Coffee

Some of us simply need our coffee and cannot bear the thought of rolling out of bed without the knowledge that a steaming cafe late shall soon be resting on the kitchen counter. Similarly, that commute to work can also be unbearable if you know that you won’t be able to swing by your favorite coffee shop before walking through the office door. Although it may not be considered a healthy food like our article states. For many of you, it is a vice that has positive effects on your mental health. 

This is the type of medication that coffee can affect. If you have been prescribed an antipsychotic drug such as Clozapine or MAOIs, it is best to avoid caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can contribute to increasing the number of antipsychotics in your blood and thus put you at a greater risk of adverse side effects. 

Alcohol

Again, alcohol is not a healthy food but it does have some benefits for us. If it is drunk in moderation and with good company, it can be a catalyst towards good times. Also, a smooth red wine at the end of a long, hard day can take the edge off things and bring you some relaxation. With some of the positive mental health benefits to the side, alcohol can also interfere in very bad ways if you are on some types of medication.

There is a long list of prescription drugs, and over the counter medications that alcohol simply does not go with. Alcohol does not mix with many painkillers such as paracetamol, codeine, morphine, antihistamines, antibiotics, diabetes drugs, and medication for HIV/AIDS. If you are on a larger combination of medications then you should certainly be wary of consuming alcohol.

The side effects of your medication can be multiplied if alcohol is consumed while you are taking them. Even after just one drink.  The bad side effects that you can receive include symptoms such as vomiting, stomach problems, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, brain functions, changes to blood pressure, fainting, and a heightened risk of accidents. As well as these unwanted symptoms alcohol can also increase the damage that you may be taking medication for. This is apparent with liver damage, heart issues, and many mental health problems.

Alcohol can also decrease the effectiveness of the medication that you are taking, perhaps even making it obsolete. It can even make some medications toxic for your body. If you drink alcohol always make sure to check with your doctor about the risks of drinking it alongside your new medication as you can never know what the risks may be. 

Conclusion:

It is important to have a varied and balanced diet that is filled with nutrients. By doing this you help to contribute to the overall health of your body, helping to minimize the risks of you having health issues in the future. This applies to both your physical and mental health. Nobody wants to be in a position where they need to take medication, particularly if it is long term or chronic. By eating healthy foods you can help to perhaps mitigate this risk. 

If at some point in your life, you must take medication you need to check the risks of every kind of food or substance and how that can interact with it. This even applies to healthy, common food. Many of the foods that we discussed such as leafy green vegetables, grapefruit, cranberry juice, high fiber foods, and dairy products are essential parts of having a well-rounded diet. 

However, when taking alongside many medications, there is a risk of side effects. This tends to be when you consume high amounts of these foods but every person’s body interacts differently. Even a small amount of these kinds of foods can bring out negative side effects depending on the medication. The bottom line is though like it has been throughout this article, is to always check with your doctor first about the risks that some types of food, even healthy ones, may have on your medication.

What’s the Life Expectancy for Someone With Dementia?

Dementia is a type of disease that is thoroughly misunderstood. The widely known view of dementia is that it means someone has Alzheimer’s and is going to forget their family and friends. While this is one true part of what happens in many families affected by dementia, there is a whole medical sphere dedicated to understanding and treating it. 

The fact is, dementia is a fatal disease. Whether it slowly progresses over time or seems to consume a person all too soon, all types of dementia impact the end-of-life process and eventual death. It’s important to learn about what a dementia life expectancy can mean.

How Does Dementia Affect Life Expectancy? 

Many types of dementia cause deterioration to the brain, which means a person’s life expectancy becomes significantly shortened. Other types affect the physical body and motor function, which can lead to a lower quality of life and individual autonomy at an earlier age. 

Some people receive a dementia diagnosis and can still live fairly healthy and functionally for decades to come. Others get diagnosed too late and quickly experience major cognitive decline that leads to early death. 

Dementia changes how a person’s brain functions and processes information. People with dementia develop memory problems, personality changes, impairment to their movement abilities, and a decline in their cognitive, emotional, and physical health. All these things can dramatically affect life expectancy, especially because there is no cure for dementia. 

memory loss due to dementia
Dementia goes through various stages depending on the area of the brain that’s affected.

Symptoms of Dementia 

The signs and symptoms of dementia vary greatly based on what type of dementia a person has. Remember, there are many kinds of dementia that come with their unique challenges and prognoses. 

In general, though, there are overarching symptoms that come with most types. The stages can be seen throughout almost all forms of dementia. In the medical realm, these are referred to as Early Stage Dementia, Middle Stage Dementia, and Late Stage Dementia. 

Here are some of the common symptoms that are seen in each dementia stage.

Early Stage Dementia (Mild Dementia)

  • Memory trouble
  • Forgetfulness, brain fog
  • Mild cognitive impairment 
  • Slight changes in mood or personality
  • Increased inability to focus and concentrate
  • Experiencing “senior moments”, like confusing loved ones’ name or events
  • Losing track of time
  • Decrease in spacial awareness 
  • Trouble finding the right words during conversations
  • Delay in performing basic daily activities, like paying bills, organizing the pantry, or showing up to appointments on time

Middle Stage Dementia

  • Forgetting personal information, like your phone number or a close relative’s address
  • Jumbled long-term or short-term memories (timeline of events become hard to recall)
  • Unexplainable mood swings, irritability, or aggression
  • Forgetting the date, year, or month 
  • Confusing what season one is currently in (wearing winter clothes in mid-summer, etc.)
  • Disturbed sleep (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Repetitive or compulsive actions, such as touching the face or cleaning incessantly 
  • Behavioral changes, paranoia, delusions 
  • Physical impairments like difficulty holding one’s bladder 
  • Wandering aimlessly or easily getting lost in one’s community 

Late Stage Dementia

  • Becoming unfamiliar with loved ones; forgetting family and friends
  • Inability to feed oneself or use the bathroom on their own
  • Drastic behavioral changes
  • Difficulty swallowing food or water 
  • Becoming disillusioned or disconnected from reality
  • Loss of bodily control (walking, using the bathroom, moving, self-care)
  • Communication struggles
  • Loss of personal identity 

How is Dementia Caused? 

As of now, there is no distinct known cause of dementia. Science is always working to research what factors contribute to this deadly disease. It is an extremely complex disorder to fully know. Because of this, it’s also incredibly hard to effectively treat. 

While there are no known causes of all the different types of dementia, there are some theories that it has to do with genetics and lifestyle factors. Right now, the only claim at trying to prevent dementia has to do with lifestyle.

Some of the things that can contribute to dementia development include:

  • Severe brain injury
  • Damage to brain cells
  • Preexisting medical conditions that decrease oxygen to the brain
  • Genetics and personal health
  • Unhealthy lifestyle 

Common ways to prevent dementia that are known include leading a healthy life. Eating clean, practicing regular exercise, learning how to effectively manage stress, and engaging in brain-stimulating activities and hobbies might be able to help. All these things are what help keep the brain healthy, active, and capable of repair. 

Types of Dementia: Life Expectancy for Each

Each type of dementia has its own set of symptoms, outcomes, and timeline that affects life expectancy. Additionally, every person who is diagnosed with dementia will have factors that affect their experience with dementia. No two dementia cases are perfectly identical, but they can be similar.

Alzheimer’s Disease 

The most frequent diagnosis and cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease has shown major patterns in dementia life expectancy. This is because it comes with brain damage associated with a disconnect in neurons (brain never cells). 

Some studies have shown that this disease is also associated with a buildup of abnormal fibers and proteins in the brain, which can contribute to memory loss. Eventually, the brain physically deteriorates over time. This is what leads to the eventual cause of death among late-stage dementia. 

Symptoms Specific to Alzheimer’s

  • Decline in cognition 
  • Memory loss
  • A decline in thinking, reasoning, and expression 
  • Impaired judgment when making decisions 
  • Personality and behavior changes 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Confusion 
  • Progressive decline overall 

The life expectancy of someone with Alzheimer’s disease is typically 10 years or so after they have been diagnosed. Some people with Alzheimer’s live decades after they onset dementia symptoms begin. Others only live 6-8 years past their initial mild symptoms.

Lewy Body Dementia 

Another common type of dementia is Lewy body dementia (LBD), or “dementia with Lewy bodies”. This is another type of dementia that increasingly gets worse and worse over time until inevitable death. 

“Lewy bodies” are types of proteins that grow and build up in the brain. An abnormal amount of lew bodies can begin to grow and interrupt brain nerve cells. When this happens, it can drastically affect thinking and physical motor ability. 

LBD is slightly different than Alzheimer’s because it is generally related to more severe physical symptoms and changes to how the brain processes information. There are two types of Lewy body dementia:

1. Dementia with Lewy bodies

2. Parkinson’s disease dementia 

Symptoms of LBD:

  • Muscle aches or stiffness
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Major changes to behavior 
  • Struggles with balance and movement 
  • Memory issues
  • Disorganized thoughts, speech, and emotions
  • Decline in alertness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • The body struggling to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion 
  • Damage to the automatic nervous system

Lewy body dementia life expectancies usually range from 4 – 8 years after diagnosis. However, some people have lived roughly 20 years after being diagnosed with LBD. Symptoms usually start mild and slow, then progress over a number of years. 

Vascular Dementia 

Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that is caused by issues with the vascular system (anything related to blood and oxygen transfer). This dementia is a result of changes or blockages in the body’s blood supply to the brain. 

Most often with vascular dementia, it occurs after a stroke or serious injury. When the blood supply is dangerously cut off from the brain, brain cells can die and parts of the brain can become permanently damaged. People can start to show symptoms right after a stroke (or numerous strokes), or signs can appear years later.

Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

  • Stroke-like symptoms 
  • Paralysis, weakness, or numbness either in one part or several parts of the body
  • Difficulty walking or moving
  • Gaps in reasoning or logical thinking
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • More intense emotions and mood swings than usual
  • Unable to focus or pay attention to important tasks

Typically, the life expectancy for someone with vascular dementia is short. On average, people live about 5 years after being diagnosed. They can sometimes live longer, but it’s unlikely that their lifespan will include capabilities before middle-stage dementia symptoms. They will usually require constant care and supervision. 

Frontotemporal Dementia 

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can appear in people younger than 50, which is a bit different compare to Alzheimer’s or Lewy body dementia. Most of the time, Frontotemporal dementia is diagnosed in people around their 40s. 

This is a more rare type of dementia and its main characteristics affect language and behavior. It can be a scary and confusing disorder when not diagnosed on time, or when improperly diagnosed. 

Symtps of Frontotemporal Dementia 

  • Language and speech problems 
  • Loss of social awareness (acting out or being inappropriate in groups)
  • Major personality changes 
  • Mood changes (depression, panic, aggression)
  • Obsessive or compulsive actions (drug or alcohol use, repetitive actions)
  • Loss of motivation for life 
  • Repetitive communication or incoherent expression 
  • Dangerous risk-taking behavior or outlandish ideas
  • Fragments in empathy or compassion; malicious actions
  • Becoming impulsive 
  • Signs of mental illness

The frontotemporal lobe dementia life expectancy is, on average, 6 – 8 years after being diagnosed. They can sometimes live another decade, but require 24/7 supervision and health care. 

Is There Treatment for Different Types of Dementia?

There is currently no cure or official treatment for any type of dementia. As mentioned before, it is a fatal disease that progresses over time. The only “treatment” for it is to track and manage the symptoms that come with each phase. 

Providing comfort, safety, support, and medical care throughout the three stages is often the only thing that can be done during the person’s new dementia life expectancy. 

How to Know Someone’s Dementia Life Expectancy 

Life and death are constant mysteries that no human will likely ever fully figure out. Of course, there is no way to officially know how long someone will continue to live, even if they have a sure diagnosis of something. 

But by observing scientific patterns of the various types of dementia, you can get a general range of time for how most other people with that disease have lived. 

With modern technology, there is even data prediction software that can account for relevant symptoms and predict average life expectancy. This type of technology uses dementia research and algorithms to give an estimated prediction of how long a person might live. It takes into account their lifestyle, age, history, diagnosis, and level of care available. 

You should never rely on this type of estimate, but it’s simply a guide. If you or a loved one has dementia, focus on getting the right types of care they will need moving forward. Enjoy the time you have left with them. Find the support you need as a family member during this hard diagnosis. 

retired couple holding hands and looking at each other
Dementia can be overwhelming for the families of affected people and support is needed from the healthcare system.

Caring for Someone With a Dementia Diagnosis 

Finding out someone you care about has dementia can be a piece of life-shattering news. So many questions, fears, and sorrows come with the realization that a friend or family member will soon be rapidly declining in their last years of life. 

There are ways to find peace, support, and adequate care for your loved one with dementia. It might take some time at first, but developing a care plan can make everyone’s life easier in the next phase. 

Make a Plan

The first step to caring for someone with dementia is to make a plan. Learn all you can about their type of dementia. 

As time progresses, research hospitals, nursing homes, and dementia care advocates, so you have a set plan of action when your loved one starts to reach late-stage dementia. In the later stages, dementia patients require ongoing, constant supervision and medical aid. 

Health Care Aid

Managing and monitoring someone with dementia can be expensive when it comes to health care. Look into what your insurance provider will cover, seek government aid, and any local resources available to you and your family. 

Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. It takes a community that loves and supports each other to get through the challenges that come with dementia and death.

At Home Caregivers

If your loved one is entering the middle to late stages of their disease, you must look into home caregivers. These professionals can make the patient comfortable, help them with daily life, and be there if any emergencies occur. 

Support from Loved Ones and Community

There are support groups for family and friends of individuals with dementia. It’s a life-harrowing process, and the sad fact is that dementia loses your loved one slowly. Finding a safe mental and emotional outlet to process, share, and grieve the little losses can keep you sane as you continue to care for them in their last years.

What to Do During End of Life Dementia

Once the inevitable end-of-life process begins and your loved one with dementia can no longer function on their own, there are a few steps required on behalf of family and friends. Here are the general steps that occur during the final stages of dementia.

Understanding 

If the person’s dementia has been happening for years or even decades, you’ve likely had time to reach an understanding of what will happen. If not, learn more about dementia while you can, so you can offer the support needed. 

Remember to not take any outrageous or negative behaviors personally, as it’s not the patient’s fault they are acting this way. They might say offensive things, behave aggressively, or completely forget who you are. It’s easy to become angry and hurt by witnessing this tragic loss of their personality. But it’s not the person who is doing these things… it’s an effect of their brain’s decline. 

Family Support 

Bringing the family together and helping each other out is a crucial aspect of late-stage dementia. Although you might not be able to emotionally relate to your loved one anymore as they near death, you can lean on fellow loved ones to say goodbye and find peace in the situation. 

Comfort Your Loved One

The only thing left to do is now make sure your loved one is comfortable, safe, and has the care they need during their last moments. Caregivers can make sure they live in a sanitary environment, have the nourishment they need, and ensure they won’t cause any harm to themselves or others.

Acceptance

Finally, acceptance of the person’s life and death helps bring peace to the loss. It takes a long time to grieve a loved one after slowly losing them to dementia. But starting to accept the loss for what it is can help you move forward with precious memories and time you did share with them, whether during their best or worst.

If you need guidance finding care or support for someone with dementia, reach out to a professional care facility today. Help is available and your family needs all the resources they can get. 

What Are Arthritis Nodules? (Joint Nodules)

Nearly 25% of people living with Rheumatoid arthritis experience something called arthritis nodules. Also called rheumatoid nodules or joint nodules, these fleshy, painless bumps can be seen on areas of the body where joints are most affected by arthritis. 

At first, these growths can appear unsightly, but the good news is that they’re often not as serious as they seem. They can be treated and usually go away on their own. Depending on the level of care received, they can become a persistent issue or occur several times a year.

What Are Rheumatoid Nodules?

Arthritis nodules are associated with the chronic inflammation condition called Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is a type of autoimmune disease where a person’s immune system wrongfully fights against its healthy joint and tissue cells. 

The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Stiffness in the muscles, joints, and tissues
  • Tenderness or pain in the body
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers 
  • Feeling achy or stiff throughout the day for more than 6 weeks

These main symptoms of RA can be painful and debilitating. However, the rheumatoid nodules themselves don’t typically cause pain. The main cause for concern in people who get joint nodes are unattractiveness and slight discomfort. 

a woman wth rheumatoid arthritis holding a cup of tea
Approximately 5% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop joint nodules within two years of disease onset.

What Does an Arthritis Nodule Feel Like?

Rheumatoid nodules can feel squishy or firm. They can move around freely unless attached to deeper tissues in the joint, where they can feel stuck or hardened. Many people claim they feel like little balls of dough when touched. 

When it comes to size, arthritis nodules can be as small as a mustard seed or as large as stone fruit, like a plum or peach. They’re almost always round in shape but can sometimes be linear or deformed-looking. 

Are These Nodules Painful?

More often than not, arthritis nodules are not painful. Sometimes they can become sore or tender if they are attached to underlying nerves that are already inflamed, but the nodules themselves generally don’t cause any pain. 

Where Can Arthritis Nodules Develop?

Usually, joint nodules grow in areas of the body where frequently-used joints experience friction or pressure points with everyday movement. Sometimes they can develop where an individual’s body part touches a surface, such as on the tailbone of someone bedridden. 

Most often, Rheumatoid patients notice these nodules on their:

  • Elbows
  • Hands
  • Knuckles
  • Finger joints
  • Back of the heels (Achilles tendon)
  • Tailbone

In more severe cases, they can form in more areas of the body where you might not expect. These include:

What Causes Joint Nodules?

The causes of rheumatoid arthritis nodules aren’t specifically known at the moment. It’s something that causes a bit of scientific mystery, especially because these types of arthritis nodules aren’t often seen in other forms of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other rare forms of joint-related immune system disorders don’t cause nodules. 

One thing that is known to contribute to the forming of arthritis nodules is a type of medication called methotrexate. Many people with RA are prescribed this medication to help their immune system slow down and not worsen the painful symptoms of RA.

If methotrexate is the main risk factor in rheumatoid nodules, the doctor will switch antirheumatic drugs to something like rituximab.

What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodules Made Of?

As these growths affect someone with RA on the dermis level (having to do with the skin), studies have shown that they are made of several different elements. 

Dead skin cells: Old, dead protein cells in and on the body can build up and accumulate in the nodules.

Fibrins: Associated with blood clotting and tissue repair, sometimes fibrins are found in RA nodules.

Inflammatory tissues: As stated, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease which means excess antibodies can build up and cause RA nodules. 

Who Gets Joint Nodules?

Some rheumatoid arthritis cases are diagnosed because of an observable onset of rheumatoid nodules. They can sometimes be mistaken for cysts, bursitis, tumors, or more serious skin conditions. Taking other symptoms into account can help a doctor properly diagnose the actual disorder. 

People most likely to get arthritis nodes are:

  • Those who have a severe form of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • People with RA who smoke cigarettes
  • Someone with a family history of RA
  • Women with RA (more likely to develop in females)
  • RA patients who are bedridden
  • A patient with arthritis who takes the prescription medication methotrexate
  • People who work with their hands a lot while having Rheumatoid arthritis
A needle biospy questionnaire.
A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm arthritis nodule diagnosis.

How Are They Diagnosed? 

Most of the time, people who already have a diagnosis of rheumatology can be easily diagnosed with joint nodules once they start to appear. 

Some patients have a higher rheumatoid factor, which means there are higher amounts of proteins in their body that actively attack their healthy joint cells. This means their symptoms are likely more painful and ongoing. People with a lower rheumatoid factor could have few symptoms or be asymptomatic.

If the person doesn’t know they have arthritis, a rheumatologist will be able to diagnose properly. They might do a biopsy of the nodes which can help them give medical advice.

Symptoms of Arthritis Nodules:

  • Small to large masses of growth on the skin near joint areas
  • Numerous nodes forming in one area (AKA Accelerated Nodulosis)
  • Typically round but sometimes oddly shaped or linear
  • Able to be moved around loosely under the skin
  • Rubbery, squishy, or firm lumps
  • Bumps or lesions that lack ulceration (they don’t cause open wounds or drainage)
  • Existing or co-occurring diagnosis of rheumatic diseases
  • Other skin conditions like psoriasis or vasculitis have been ruled out

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodes

In most instances, RA nodules don’t require treatment. They likely go away on their own over time. They can come and go depending on the flare-up of symptoms in patients whom arthritis affects.

Sometimes, though, these nodules can inhibit movement and comfort. If a nodule is too large, like the size of a lemon, corticosteroids can be injected to shrink the size. Surgical removal is also an option to treat some nodules, if necessary. 

If a person with RA has ongoing joint nodules that debilitate them, they often seek at-home care or assisted living. A caregiver can help improve their health and lifestyle needs while living with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. 

10 Great Hobbies for Seniors & Elderly People

Retirement can be a big shift for many older adults. For most people, it is a positive shift. You will find the opportunity to do things you never had time for before. However, for others, the shift may be more difficult. These retirees may experience more problems with mobility and daily activities, as well as increased illnesses, and decreased mental health. For some people, their job was their identity, and when it is gone, they may start to feel purposeless. However, engaging in new skills or activities can turn this way of thinking around. Elderly people can use this newfound free time to engage in fulfilling hobbies that they enjoy, allowing them to experience more meaning and purpose in life.

Some seniors may be restricted in their ability to participate in some activities. However, there are plenty of hobbies that are perfect for those confined to a sedentary lifestyle. Even though the physical body may be restricted, exercising the mind can have a major positive impact on your long-term health. 

Picking Out Your New Hobby

So let’s explore what sort of hobbies may be right for you. Think about your interests, as well as physical limitations. Let’s take a closer look to figure out what kind of hobbies would suit you best. Ask yourself:

Would you like a group activity or solo activity? Solo activities can include things like photography, bird watching, painting, or candle making. Group activities could include card games, traveling, RVing, or swing dancing. 

Was there an old hobby in the past you didn’t have time for? Think back to the past, maybe even as far back as childhood. Some things we enjoyed in our childhood can give us some of the greatest joys, even later in life. You may be able to reignite an old passion by picking up that forgotten pastime. 

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? During your working years, did you perhaps see or hear about things that interested you? Perhaps you thought you would enjoy it, but you were too busy at the time. Well now is the time to explore it!

Would you enjoy an Inside hobby or an outside one? If you are a home care patient, you will have to find an indoor activity that caregivers can assist you with. This may include computer games, bird watching, or jewelry-making. Or perhaps you would like to spend more time outside. Think about what you love to do outside and go for what interests you most. 

Would you like to challenge your physical capabilities or mental ones? If you are looking to sharpen your mental skills, perhaps you will be suited for reading, playing games, or learning a new language. If you want to do something more physical, think about taking up pickleball, golf, aerobics, or bowling. 

Would you like to engage in a new activity on the water or land? If you are near a body of water, try swimming, boating, fishing, or snorkeling. If you are on land, try hiking, ax throwing, or horseback riding.

Do you want a hobby that makes a difference around you and gives a sense of purpose? If so, consider volunteering, fundraising, or fostering an animal. You could also consider taking an online class learning something you could implement in your daily life to benefit others around you. For instance, take a cooking class and prepare fine meals for your family and friends. 

Do you want to explore a new hobby online? Get more familiar with online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. Try out a new app that may be helpful to you. Consider buying or selling products on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. You could also subscribe to podcasts that interest you. Or consider joining an online gaming community to make some friends around the world.

Hopefully, these introspective questions have gotten your motivation juices flowing. Perhaps you have already come up with a new hobby you are interested in pursuing. If you are still stumped, here is a list of some of our favorite hobby ideas for elderly people.

Reading is a great way for seniors to relax.

1. Reading

When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Not only are books a fun escape for our imaginations, but reading can also enhance seniors’ cognitive abilities. It may even help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. And having these improvements in cognition can in turn preserve one’s lifespan. Let’s explore some of the cognitive benefits of reading: 

  • Improves memory: Studies have shown that people who stimulate their brain through reading can experience a slower rate of memory decline than those who didn’t. Even if you haven’t read in years, if you start engaging in a frequent cognitive activity like reading now, you may reduce your rate of decline by 32%! When you read, you engage your short-term memory to recall earlier parts of the book. As a result, your short-term memory in everyday life can improve as well. You can also mold your brain in this way to become more receptive to learning, as well as being able to retain more things in your memory. 
  • Improves decision-making skills: Challenging your brain through reading can enhance your ability to analyze and reason to solve problems. This is an ability that declines throughout adulthood. 
  • Delays onset of memory-related diseases: When you engage in activities that challenge your brain, you build a reserve of neural connections. Having more means it will take longer for Alzheimer’s or dementia to destroy these neurons, and thus will take longer for symptoms to emerge. 
  • Reduces stress: Research has shown that getting lost in a book can reduce stress faster than many other relaxing activities. This includes listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea. For readers, it can take only 6 minutes for heart rate and muscle tension to relax once they have picked up a book. 
  • Better sleep: Turning the pages of a book at bedtime is more likely to help you fall asleep faster than changing the channels on TV. This is because turning reading into a regular bedtime activity will signal your body that it is time to sleep. Not only will TV keep you up longer, but it can also disrupt your rest. Pick up a book instead, and you may even continue the story in your dreams!

Besides the listed cognitive benefits, you may even experience social ones as well. We suggest joining a book club or hanging out at a local library. You can find someone to discuss your favorite books with, or explore new ones together. 

2. Bird Watching

You’ll be surprised by what you notice when you just stop and watch the world around you. Birds can be very fun to watch. You will notice their intelligence, humor, cleverness, craftiness, and social interaction. If you are no longer mobile, bird watching may be a great new activity to try. It can easily be done from the comfort of a home window or around the neighborhood. As you watch over time, you will get familiar with your local birds and their personalities. 

Birdwatching is quickly becoming one of the most popular hobbies around the country, and for a few good reasons. It is simple, inexpensive, and encourages us to get outdoors. Not only that, this hobby can stimulate memory, alertness, and attention to detail. Getting to know the rhythm and pattern of local birds coming and going can be stress-relieving for seniors.

Getting started doesn’t take much. Focus on creating a welcome space for birds, keeping in mind food, water, and shelter. Here are a few things you can use to create a bird-friendly environment: 

Bird feeders: Place feeders throughout the yard, hanging from trees, bushes, or any structure that can hold the weight. Fill the feeders with nutritious seeds like sunflower, safflower, shelled and cracked corn, peanuts, flaxseed, sorghum, etc. 

Birdhouses: Including a birdhouse will set you up for lots of prime bird watching. Some of the most fascinating bird activity happens during the nesting season. With the addition of a house for birds to nest in, you will be able to observe courting, nest building, laying of eggs, and hatching.

Water baths: Birdbaths and water features are not only a source of hydration, the water can help birds clean and care for their feathers. Place the birdbath in a flat part of the yard that doesn’t get too much sun.

Binoculars: If you don’t have the convenience of close-up bird watching, invest in a pair of binoculars. If you are going somewhere, you can bring the binoculars along to observe a new bird environment. 

Bird guide: Find a bird guide that features birds in your local area to help you identify and learn about your neighborhood feathered friends.

Another helpful way to create an ideal environment for birds is to include a variety of bird-friendly plants in your yard. Find out what is local to your region, preferably plants that survive in all seasons. The birds will eat the fruit, nuts, seeds, and berries of these plants, and feed unwelcome insects to their young. 

3. Gardening

Besides attracting wonderful birds to your yard, gardening has an endless amount of other benefits. It provides a hefty amount of physical activity, allowing you to burn calories and strengthen muscles. The sun’s rays will provide you essential vitamin D, and you will feel the stress melt away as you enjoy the relaxing effects of connecting with nature. Consider implementing raised beds or vertical gardening to minimize the strain on your back and joints. Also keep in mind the environment you live in, and which plants will ideally grow. Native species are always a good bet, but here are a few ideas of easy things you can plant: 

Fruits and vegetables:

  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cabbage
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic 
  • Cucumbers

Herbs:

  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Thyme 
  • Parsley

Flowers:

  • Sunflowers
  • Nigella
  • Sweet peas
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Fuschias
  • Pansy

4. Volunteering

Volunteering can enhance the overall well-being of seniors. It provides a sense of purpose and meaning, which can often be diminished after retirement. It can also contribute to improved self-esteem, knowing you are making a positive difference in the world. Seniors tend to withdraw and isolate as they age, often causing them to suffer from depression. However, the new friends that can be made and the sense of community that comes with volunteering is a lifeline for senior’s mental health. Here are some ideas of areas and places where seniors can volunteer:

  • Humane societies or animal shelters
  • Legal advocate i.e. International Seniors Lawyers Project
  • Political campaigns
  • Tour guide
  • Disaster relief i.e. Red Cross
  • Hunger relief i.e. Meals on Wheels
  • Working with children i.e. Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Helping veterans i.e. USO
  • Habitat for Humanity

5. Research Family History 

Tracing one’s genealogy is becoming an increasingly popular trend. And now being able to use the Internet as a helpful resource, older adults can find out more than they ever could have imagined. Seniors can compile family records and heirlooms, record stories, or take DNA tests. They can easily contact relatives around the world, as well as discover the family medical history that may affect them. Elderly people will enjoy sharing their stories through video recordings, scrapbooking of family photos, or write down family history for their loved ones to treasure and pass down. 

Understanding more about where they come from can help seniors feel a sense of identity, which can provide them with peace. They may gain a sense of pride by knowing and understanding everything their ancestors did to ensure the thriving of their family. Additionally, thinking back to their own life experiences will exercise their memory recall, therefore strengthening their cognition.

Learning how to play music is a great way to enjoy your day.

6. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

Have you ever wanted to play music, but never had the time to learn? In the senior years is one of the best times to take on such a hobby. Not only will it keep the brain active and stimulated, but it will also help with memory retention, hand-eye coordination, and sharpen dexterity. Depending on what level of difficulty you want, here are a variety of instruments you can learn:

Easiest:

  • Ukulele
  • Harmonica
  • Piano

More difficult:

  • Guitar
  • Recorder/Tin Whistle
  • Bongos/Drums

7. Playing Games

Games aren’t just for kids. People of all ages can enjoy them. Seniors can benefit greatly from playing a variety of games. Games can improve memory and other brain functions. Stimulating the brain through play can even help deter the progression of dementia. Not only does playing games provide cognitive benefits, but it also encourages social activity. Playing games with grandkids or a group of friends can prevent isolation and loneliness, a common problem in seniors. Get together, laugh, and try some of these games with your loved ones: 

Puzzle, Tile, and Board Games: 

  • Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Backgammon
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Checkers
  • Dominos 
  • Mahjong
  • Jenga
  • Cranium
  • Scrabble
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Card games:

  • Rummy
  • Cribbage
  • Canasta
  • Pinochle
  • UNO
  • Bridge
  • Spades
  • Crazy Eights
  • Old Main

Video/Computer/Phone Games:

  • Bejeweled
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • World of Warcraft
  • Words with Friends 2
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris

Word and Number Games:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Boggle 
  • Scattergories
  • Balderdash
  • Word Search

8. Learn a New Language

After retirement, seniors are overwhelmed with free time. Some seniors choose to spend this free time traveling and exploring the world, something they have never had the opportunity to do. A good way to prepare for traveling is to learn the language of the country you will be visiting. Not only will it enhance the enjoyment of your trip by making it less stressful, but you will also benefit from the enhanced cognition that comes along with language learning. 

Learning a new language challenges the brain to recognize words, determine meaning, and enhance overall communication. Bilingual people are said to have better problem-solving and decision-making skills. Committing yourself to the study of a new language may put you out of your comfort zone, but the new world it opens up will be so rewarding.

9. Walking

Living a sedentary lifestyle is one of the quickest ways to experience a cognitive and physical decline. Walking, as well as any other physical activity, should be implemented into our lives for the following benefits:

  • Improves heart health
  • Fresh air exposure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain by strengthening muscles
  • Low participation cost
  • Promotes social interaction

And lastly, this low-impact activity can help improve your general sense of well-being by reducing anxiety and boosting your mood. As you walk, you will find yourself feeling more positive and optimistic about life. Grab a friend and explore the neighborhood, stopping to enjoy nature sights, as well as connecting with your neighbors. 

10. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are powerful mediums of self-expression. Get in touch with your inner artist, whether you consider yourself talented or not. The experience of getting lost in creating will help you release stress while improving cognition and motor skills. Plus, whatever you create can be shared as a gift to the world. The ability to inspire others and make them smile through your art creation will spur on further projects. This will make it more and more worthwhile as your ability improves. Here are some fun arts and crafts activities that seniors love:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Ornament-making
  • Knitting
  • Pottery
  • Scrapbooking
  • Jewelry-making
  • Quilting
  • Woodworking

Ignite New Passion in Your Golden Years

The best hobbies are the ones that ignite a new passion for you. This newfound motivation will bring you more health benefits, not to mention healthy aging. We here at CareAsOne hope this article has inspired you to pursue an exciting new path in your golden years.