Health Info & Resources for Seniors
Would you believe that horses can help people with Alzheimer’s? Can you imagine a horse or pony decreasing anxiety and agitation? Do you know that a visit to a horse farm -- grooming, walking or even taking selfies with a pony -- can create a calming effect in a dementia sufferer that lingers long after the patient returns home? Can you imagine doing stretching exercises by leaning against a horse’s massive body?
Participating in outdoor activities is great for one’s health and fitness but beware of creatures that lurk in the forest – biting and stinging insects. “The most treacherous insect in our area is the deer tick, which is about the size of a millet seed”, said Stephen C. Senft, MD, of St. Luke’s Dermatology. Deer ticks can cause Lyme disease, an inflammatory illness characterized at first by a rash and sometimes headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders. Last year, Pennsylvania had more than three times the number of diagnosed cases of Lyme disease than any state in the nation.
Many older adults find that simple cuts and bruises take much longer to heal than they did in the past. Even more problematic, some individuals have wounds that never heal completely. Compromised immune systems, decreased skin elasticity and less fat underlying the skin all contribute to increased wounds and slower healing time as we age, said Steven Bowers, DO, Network Medical Director, St. Luke’s Wound Management. Although it’s common for healing to take longer as we grow older, significantly slower-healing or non-healing wounds pose a serious threat to the health of the patient.
Looking for a low-cost exercise that will strengthen your muscles, improve your balance, reduce weight gain and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes? Then, lace up your sneakers and start walking. “Almost anyone of any age and fitness level can benefit from walking,” said Michael Baba, DO, St. Luke’s Family Practice, Wind Gap.
Barry R. Ettl, Jr. of Allentown has a typical case of cerebral palsy (CP) but — at age 45 — he is getting stronger every day, which is not the usual progression of things with CP. Barry was diagnosed with CP at six months old. As with many children who have CP, it was at that age that his parents noticed he was not crawling or gaining other motor skills the way he should have been. They felt something was wrong, and medical tests confirmed their fears. Barry’s CP affected the part of his brain that controls balance.
As we age, our risk of experiencing a serious fall increases. Each year, one in three adults suffer a fall, many of which result in serious injury, hospitalization, nursing home admission, or even death. Falls can happen due to changes that occur with normal aging such as stiff joints, muscle weakness, and slower reaction times. Falls can also be caused by medical conditions and/or the use of certain medications. Additionally, a high number of falls are the result of dangers found within the home.