Elder infantilization, or treating seniors as children rather than as fully functioning adults, is a common issue in health care settings and communities across the country. Though in many cases the behavior is unconscious, it’s none the less a form of psychological mistreatment. Here’s what you should know.
Types of infantilizing behaviors
A common form of infantilization is what’s called “elderspeak.” It consists of speaking slowly, loudly and with aa simplified vocabulary. Using diminutives and first-person plural pronouns are other forms of this behavior. In addition to making seniors feel resentful, elderspeak can seriously affect their sense of self-worth and decrease their confidence.
Another common way people infantilize seniors is by ignoring their preferences and making decisions for them. In particular, needlessly opting for medications in the form of syrups and suppositories can be degrading.
In a health care setting, the use of toys, child-like decor and reprimands are all signs of infantilization. A loss of privacy, choice and adult status are also indicators.
What you should do instead
Seniors don’t regress. Overall, they retain the vocabulary and intelligence they’ve developed over the course of their lifetime and can even expand upon it. In most cases, it’s unnecessary to adapt the way you communicate with the seniors in your life.
However, if you’re talking to someone with hearing issues, it’s important to ensure they can see your lips clearly. You can also speak louder if necessary but be sure not to yell.
In the case of seniors with cognitive issues, it may be appropriate to use gestures to clarify your meaning. However, this should be done respectfully.
Most importantly, when relating to the seniors in your life, remember to treat them as autonomous beings who have intelligence, dignity and value.
If you or someone close to you is being infantilized, speak up. Confide in someone you trust.
7 foot health issues you shouldn’t ignore
April is foot health awareness month, and a great opportunity to take care of your feet. But if you’re experiencing an issue, it may be time to visit a podiatrist. Here are seven foot-related conditions you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Pain, numbness or swelling. A bit of discomfort after being on your feet all day or running a race is normal. However, sudden pain, swelling, and numbness in your feet with no apparent cause should prompt a call to the podiatrist.
2. Persistent heel pain. Heel pain that’s worse in the morning or after long periods of inactivity is a symptom of plantar fasciitis. It can also indicate other conditions, but in any case, it needs to be assessed by a podiatrist.
3. Injuries. If you think you may have broken or sprained your ankle, you’re better off seeing a podiatrist than an orthopedist. They have more expertise in treating these kinds of injuries.
4. Athlete’s foot. If over the counter products haven’t been able to rid you of this common fungal infection, consult a podiatrist. They can prescribe more effective treatments.
5. Diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing foot problems. Diabetics should see a podiatrist at least once a year to monitor the health of their feet.
6. Bunions. These growths can get extremely painful if not treated. There’s a wide range of available treatments, but only a podiatrist can recommend the best one and implement it.
7. Joint pain. If you notice persistent pain in the joints of your feet or ankles, you should consult a professional. Even if the pain goes away with over-the-counter painkillers, identifying the cause is important to ensure that the problem doesn’t get worse.
Left untreated, these issues can make it harder to stay active and lead to a decline in your overall health. If you have one or more of these conditions, visiting a podiatrist is the best way to manage it.
Seventy-five percent of Americans will experience foot issues within their lifetime.
10 healthy habits for a longer life
Did you know that lifestyle choices have significantly more influence on longevity than genetics? Often, the habits you need to implement to live a longer, more satisfying life are easy to adopt.
1. Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to numerous severe and potentially fatal health problems.
2. Stay active. Older adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. In addition, regularly stretching helps maintain mobility and prevent falls.
3. Keep learning. Challenge your mind with problem-solving activities and puzzles. This will reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognition.
4. Eat healthy. Your diet should be rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid overeating, opt for plant proteins and eliminate saturated and trans fats.
5. Get outside. Sunshine is good for your mood and your health. Being outdoors also encourages you to be more active.
6. Sleep well. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night is crucial for regulating cell function and healing your body.
7. Build friendships. A strong social network helps prevent depression, loneliness and cognitive decline.
8. Be proactive. Regular screenings and preventive care will help your doctor diagnose and manage or treat diseases early.
9. Brush and floss. Poor oral hygiene can lead to mouth cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.
10. Mitigate stress. Stress and anxiety increase the likelihood of heart disease and stroke. Counter these risks with optimism and laughter.
Many of these habits have multiple payoffs, meaning a few healthy choices allow you to reap substantial benefits and enhance the quality and length of your life.
Controlling cancer through screening
Cancer Control Month takes place every year in April, and the occasion serves as an opportunity to take note of the fact that cancer screening saves lives. To help you advocate for your health and that of your friends and family members, here’s a timeline of when various types of cancer should first be screened for.
Cervical cancer: age 21
Women aged 21 to 65 should get a Pap smear every three years. Starting when they turn 30, they should also get an HPV test every five years. Women over 65 who had normal results over the last 10 years can forgo further testing.
Cervical cancer is highly treatable when caught early, making screening for it extremely important.
Breast cancer: age 50
According to the American College of Physicians, women with no increased risk for breast cancer should get a screening mammogram every two years starting at age 50 until age 75. However, women between the ages of 40 and 49 may elect to undergo screening after discussing the pros and cons with their doctor.
Breast cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. While survival rates are improving for all stages, the earlier it’s caught, the easier it is to treat.
Colorectal cancer: age 50
While people with early-stage colorectal cancer have a survival rate of 90 percent, the prognosis isn’t as good for symptomatic cancers, which are usually quite advanced.
For people with average risk, a first colonoscopy at 50 years old is recommended, with follow-up exams depending on the results. Earlier screening is recommended for people with increased risk, such as those who are of African-American descent, those with a family history or those with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Prostate cancer: age 50
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Detected early, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent.
However, research suggests there may be more downsides than upsides to getting tested regularly. For this reason, it’s recommended that men who are about to turn 50 have a discussion about prostate cancer screening with their doctor to determine whether they’re at high risk and whether screening would be beneficial.
Lung cancer: age 55
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, it’s very treatable if caught early. The problem is that over 80 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Current smokers, as well as former heavy smokers, aged 55 to 80, should be screened with a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan.
Cancer screening saves lives, so don’t hesitate to remind friends and relatives to get tested.
People of all ages can develop skin cancer. Talk to your doctor to determine your risk factors and to schedule regular skin exams.
What are dental crowns made of?
Dental crowns are used to restore the shape, appearance and function of damaged teeth. They can be made of one of several different materials, and each has its own pros and cons. Here’s what you should know about the various options.
• Metal alloy. These dental crowns last the longest and rarely chip or break. However, because of their color, they’re not considered suitable for teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The type of metals in the alloy can include gold, platinum, chromium, nickel or others.
• Porcelain. These are ideal for front teeth because they can be tinted to precisely match the color of your existing teeth. On the other hand, they’re less durable than other types of dental crowns and are more likely to chip or crack.
• Composite. These also look very natural, and while they won’t chip as easily as porcelain, they tend to get worn down by chewing and brushing. They’re also more likely to stain.
• Porcelain fused to metal. These crowns combine the strength of metal and the look of porcelain. However, the porcelain can chip and consequently expose the metal. Additionally, if the gums are thin or recede the metal will show along the gum line.
When properly taken care of, dental crowns can last for up to 10 years. Be sure to brush twice a day, floss regularly and visit your dentist twice a year.
Sea salt vs. table salt: which is healthier?
If you think you’re making a healthier choice by sprinkling sea salt on your food instead of regular old table salt, think again.
Any type of salt, be it kosher salt, celery salt, garlic salt, table salt or pink Himalayan salt, contains the same amount of sodium, which is to blame for an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular events and kidney disease.
The only healthier choice when it comes to salt is to avoid consuming it in excess.
North Americans eat nearly 3,400 milligrams of salt a day, more than twice the recommended amount. Using more herbs and spices to season food is a good way to cut down on sodium.
4 easy ways to raise awareness about autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interactions, problems with speech and communication and issues with repetitive behaviors. However, no two people on the spectrum are the same.
In honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, here’s how you can help people in your community better understand autism.
1. Get informed
Ensuring you’re well-informed about autism is probably the most important thing you can do. This is because misunderstanding the behavior of someone with autism can lead to very difficult situations and reinforce negative perceptions. Lack of accurate information can also lead to well-meaning people causing more harm than good.
2. Use social media
Sharing accurate information and articles is a good way to raise awareness about autism. Plus, if you or someone you know is on the spectrum, sharing a personal story can help people understand what it’s like to live with autism, and may inspire others to share their own experiences. Just make sure you respect the privacy of everyone involved.
3. Attend events
Organizations that support people with ASD tend to host fundraisers and walks. Attending or volunteering at these types of events is a good way to show your support and help raise awareness in your community.
4. Include them
Simply including people with ASD in your everyday activities can make a big impact and help raise awareness. It’s a common misconception that people with autism don’t want to make friends. While some do struggle to form relationships, most of them enjoy interacting with other people.
Keep in mind that though it’s a good idea to raise awareness for World Autism Awareness Day, these are things you can do year-round.