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5 Simple Steps to Help Seniors and Caregivers Manage Medications

medications-helping-seniors-take-themModern medicine can work wonders. However, in order to be effective, medicine needs to be taken safely, according to prescribing guidelines; and patients and health care providers need to be vigilant about the dangers of drug interactions. When it comes to medication use, seniors take more prescription and over-the-counter drugs than any other age group, and they are most likely to experience problems because of their medications.

The average American senior takes five or more prescription medications daily, and many of them can't read the prescription label or understand the prescribing instructions, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

"Unless they reside in a senior living community or have another form of assistance, it can be very difficult for seniors to manage their own medications," says Kim Estes, senior vice president of clinical services for Brookdale Senior Living. "A lot of factors make medication management a challenge for seniors, including the sheer number of prescriptions many of them take in a day."

Management challenges

While doctors prescribe medication to treat a range of chronic conditions from arthritis to diabetes and high blood pressure, seniors may find managing their medications difficult for multiple reasons:

  • Many meds and many prescribers - Seniors who are on multiple medications are often prescribed to them by multiple doctors, who may or may not be aware of other medications the senior is already taking. Taking a large number of medications can increase the risk of a drug interaction that harms seniors' health, rather than helps them.
  • Adverse side effects - If a medication makes a senior feel ill, he or she may stop taking it.
  • Lack of knowledge - If they don't understand exactly what the medicine is supposed to do for them, seniors may feel they don't need it and discontinue use.
  • Physical challenges - Age-related physical challenges such as hearing or vision loss, dexterity issues or trouble swallowing can make it difficult for seniors to take their medications as prescribed.
  • Cognitive challenges - Seniors with memory loss or dementia may forget to take their medications as prescribed.
  • Cost - Even with Medicare and supplemental health insurance, many medications can come with a hefty price tag. Seniors may not be able to afford a medication their doctor prescribed.

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First Aid Tips for Caregivers

Nearly 10 million adults over the age of 50 are caring for their aging parents - a number that has tripled over the first-aid-kitpast 15 years. With careers, children and grandchildren added to the mix, many baby boomers are feeling the mounting stress of caring for young, old and themselves! One way to reduce stress is to have peace of mind in knowing you're prepared for emergency first-aid situations, such as cuts, scrapes and burns.  some basic first-aid tips that can prepare you in case an emergency strikes, whether at home or on the go.

Basic supplies 

A properly stocked first-aid kit can ensure fast and appropriate treatment for loved ones' minor injuries. It is important to have a first-aid kit for your home, car and a suitcase with which you regularly travel so you're prepared no matter when or where an injury occurs. First-aid kits should be kept out-of-reach from younger children, as well as children and adults with cognitive disorders, to prevent poisoning or misuse of contents.

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Your Risk for Shingles Increases after 50

man-playing-guitarA few years ago, a Harris Interactive-sponsored poll* found that Americans consider 50 to be the “perfect age” to live forever in good health. For many, the half­-century mark can be a time when experience and opportunity balance perfectly — as told by the saying “50 is the new 30.” At 50 there may be more time to spend on your hobbies or other activities that interest you.

At 50, the last thing anyone would want is to be blindsided by illness. Yet risks of certain medical conditions increase with age. For example, shingles is a condition caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — a virus that 98 percent of adults have had according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even after recovery from chickenpox, the virus never leaves the body. At some point later in life, it can unexpectedly reactivate and emerge as shingles — a painful blistering rash that can last for 30 days.

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Managing Osteoarthritis: What You Don't Know May Be Hurting You

woman-in-painTwenty-seven million Americans suffer every day from chronic discomfort and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been limited advancements in osteoarthritis therapies, leaving patients with fewer options and worsening symptoms. Because daily activities can be such a struggle, doctors and patients have increasingly turned to synthetic pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids (narcotics).

What many people may not know is that long-term use of NSAIDs and opioids can have

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Tips for Keeping Your Pet Healthy, Happy and Active This Winter

happy-dogNo matter how hearty and fun-loving your dog is, as a pet parent you know there will come a time when it's just too cold, snowy, icy, wet or windy for your pup to comfortably exercise outdoors. When the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside delightful, it's important to find ways to help your dog stay active indoors where it's safe and warm.

PetMd recommends dogs get 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity every day, with the specific amount that's best for a dog depending on her age, size, breed and overall health. Pets who get plenty of exercise are happier, healthier and less likely to engage in

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Learn a Skill That Will Save Lives

cub-scoutsChoking is the fifth leading cause of unintentional deaths in the Unites States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While choking is more likely to occur in children 3 years of age or younger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking emergencies can happen to anyone, at anytime.

Choking is unpredictable, but preventable with the right tools. Heimlich Heroes, a Deaconess initiative based in Cincinnati, Ohio, trains young people ages 7-14 how to recognize, respond to and prevent a choking emergency.

"We have trained more than 40,000 kids to date since our inception in 2013," says Program Manager Terri Huntington. "Our specially-designed 42-inch training dolls give kids hands-on practice to help cement the steps when performing the Heimlich Maneuver."

Here are four simple steps to properly administer the maneuver from the experts at Heimlich Heroes:

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Thankful for Every Moment While Living with Lung Cancer

biomarkers-lung-cancerAs a busy mother of two sons, Ivy Elkins shrugged off her sore neck and elbow pain for months. She thought it was probably from the extra hours spent planning a bar mitzvah for her oldest son. After all, a middle-aged woman who never smoked doesn't fit the typical profile of a lung cancer patient.

"To say that I was shocked and in disbelief is an understatement," Ivy recalls. "I didn't have a cough. I didn't have any trouble breathing. I didn't have any of the symptoms that I would associate with lung cancer. I didn't know that someone like me could get lung cancer."

It's a common misconception that lung cancer is a burden borne by smokers alone. While smoking remains the major risk factor for lung cancer, never-smokers may also develop the disease. In women, up to 53% of lung cancers may not be caused by direct smoking. In these patients, the underlying cause of lung cancer is often a genetic mutation, a permanent alteration in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene. To identify mutations, patients undergo "biomarker testing" (see https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms?cdrid=45618) at the time of diagnosis. Doctors and patients then use the test results to evaluate treatment options.

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