A large number of hospitalizations of people with dementia may be preventable, according to a just released study from the University of Washington.
Researchers found that elderly people with dementia had a 78% higher risk of being needlessly hospitalized due to avoidable illness than seniors not suffering from dementia.
Additionally, 86% of those stricken with dementia were admitted to the hospital at least once over the course of the study. A full two-thirds of these hospitalizations were for mostly preventable ailments such as dehydration, congestive heart failure, bacterial pneumonia, and urinary tract infections (UTI).
Hospitalization can be traumatic for any senior, regardless of whether they have dementia or not. But, research has shown that cognitive impairment can make the ordeal infinitely worse for an older person.
Avoiding unnecessary stays in the hospital has the potential to significantly enhance the quality and even the duration of life for an elder with dementia.
Dementia – Prevention
Dementia is difficult to prevent because what causes it often is not known. However, people who have vascular dementia may be able to prevent future declines by lowering their risk of heart disease and stroke. Even if you don’t have these known risks, your overall health can benefit from these strategies:
Treat or prevent high blood pressure. To do this, you may need to take medicines or you may be able to get results from lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, exercising, limiting alcohol, cutting back on salt, quitting smoking, and eating a low-fat and low-saturated-fat diet. For more information, see the topic High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).
Do not smoke.
Stay at a healthy weight. This also reduces your risk of diabetes, another risk factor for dementia.
Keep your cholesterol in the normal range. Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. For more information, see the topic High Cholesterol.
Get plenty of exercise. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It’s fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
Stay mentally alert by learning new hobbies, reading, or solving crossword puzzles.
Stay involved socially. Attend community activities, church, or support groups.
In people who already have had a stroke, treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of another stroke by 20%. Taking aspirin to prevent blood clots lowers the risk of another stroke by 17%. For more information on how to reduce your risk for stroke, see the topic Stroke.
What a caregiver can do
While not all trips to the doctor can be averted, there are a few things a caregiver can do to help prevent some of the causes of hospitalization mentioned in this research:
Medication: A senior with dementia can easily forget to take their medication, leading to a variety of health complications including infection, and congestive heart failure. Preventing medication non-adherence can be as simple as leaving a note on the fridge for an elderly person who lives by themselves, or setting up a pill box with an automatic dispenser or alarm reminding them to take their prescription.
Hydration: Older people are more prone to becoming dehydrated than younger people and their thirst impulse becomes deadened, so it’s important for a caregiver to monitor their elderly loved one in order to ensure that they are getting enough fluid. An elder who doesn’t drink enough is at an increased risk for things like urinary tract infections
Vaccination: Keeping an elder up-to-date on their shots for pneumonia and the flu is an easy way to reduce the risk that a senior will be hospitalized for one of these common diseases.
Observation: Most health problems don’t occur out of the blue. A caregiver should keep their eyes open for changes in an elderly person’s behavior as these changes might be an indication of impending health problems.
AMOXICILLIN is one of the most commonly used antibiotics in the world. It belongs to the spectrum of β-lactam antibiotics, and is the drug of choice when it comes to treating bacterial infections, as it is well absorbed even when given orally. Hence, it is used to treat a variety of infections, including infections of the ear, nose throat, skin infections, urinary tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections etc. AMOXICILLIN for sinus infection treatment is also a very well-known use of this drug. Thus, its multipurpose use makes this drug a very popular one among medical practitioners. However, amoxicillin side effects are something that doctors need to be well aware of, so as to prevent them from occurring, as they can be life-threatening at times.
One of the most serious and dangerous of all side effects is anaphylactic reaction. An anaphylactic reaction is defined as a life-threatening type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to a drug which is given internally or orally. Around 1500 patients die yearly due to an anaphylactic reaction in the United States. However, this serious allergic response of the body only occurs in those patients that have a true allergy to penicillin and its derivatives, as opposed to people who present with pseudo-anaphylaxis or an anaphylactoid reaction. An anaphylactic reaction is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
– Normally, a true anaphylactic reaction with systemic signs and symptoms begin showing within 72 hours of exposure to the allergen, without the need of further exposure. Skin involvement is one of the first signs seen. This includes generalized hives, skin rashes, itchiness, flushing. Fever is often experienced by people, along with the skin rashes.
– Swelling of lips, tongue and/or throat is also seen, as this is the body’s way of responding and fighting the inflammation.
– Respiratory distress, in the form of difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing etc. may also be seen.
– Some patients may also complain of gastrointestinal problems like severe abdominal cramps, stomach pain, diarrhea etc.
– Other serious effects that may occur if immediate action is not taken to deal with the symptoms includes coronary artery spasms, which may lead to myocardial infarction. Consequently, there may also be a sudden drop in blood pressure, which may lead to lightheadedness and fatigue, along with loss of consciousness.
By Anne-Marie Botek