Mental illness is hard to spot in people. This is especially true for seniors. Part of the difficulty with identifying who may be suffering from a mental illness is the social stigma associated with mental illnesses and treatment for mental illnesses. If you yourself are experiencing cognitive decline because of aging or an underlying illness like Alzheimer’s Disease, it may be up to your close friends and family members to identify a potential problem and seek appropriate medical advice from a mental health provider.

1 in 5 adults aged 55 or order have had a mental health concern

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20% of adults aged 55 years or older have had a mental health concern but only two-thirds of this group have received treatment.

Much needed attention is shined on children with autism. Recognizing signs of autism early during a child’s development to begin treatment and education relating to the disease for parents and caregivers has contributed to heightened awareness of the disease and its challenges. Less attention, however is being directed to seniors with autism.

What is autism?

A good place to start is in the beginning. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to Autism Speaks, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP) estimates that 1 in 59 children in the United States today are affected by autism.

Last month we reported that hospitals are piloting voice enabled smart speakers in patient rooms at hospitals. Our post focused on Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. But a similar program is underway at Boston Children’s Hospital. Expect a program such as these to start in New York, at any one of the leading medical care systems available in the state.

The idea behind the smart speaker program is improving patient comfort. It also would help hospital staff stay organized by routing requests from the patient to the appropriate hospital personnel to improve a patient’s stay in the hospital. For example, if the patient needs medication for pain an alert is sent to the RN; if the patient needs assistance using the bathroom, an alert would be sent to the nurse’s aide immediately rather than to the RN then the nurse’s aide as is the usual practice.

Is my medical care and information private?

Cardiovascular diseases, like heart disease, affect adults 65 and older more than any other age group. A large part of the reason why this is so is because as people age, so does their heart. Aging changes the appearance and function of the heart. In severe cases, a blood vessel can become so clogged that it will trigger a heart attack because cholesterol is blocking the flow of blood to the heart.

How doctors check your heart

Doctors perform a series of medical tests to determine the health of your heart. They include checking your blood pressure and ordering blood tests. The blood test will help them identify if your blood vessels contain cholesterol or certain proteins. Cholesterol is dangerous because if too much of it accumulates a blood vessel may be blocked causing a heart attack or stroke. Proteins reveal if there is inflammation in the body. The doctor will also order an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to look at the electric activity in your heart. A chest x-ray is part of the usual workup to determine heart health and can determine if your heart is enlarged or your lungs contain too much fluid, signs of heart failure. An echocardiogram is a test involving sound waves that can detect and monitor heart disease. Lastly, the doctor can order a stress test, which is applying stress to the heart, in order to measure how it is performing.

As we age, our hearing, like other functions diminish. When age- related hearing loss occurs, it is gradual and tends to affect both ears equally – what you cannot hear on the left side of your face is the same as what you cannot hear on the right side of your face. Doctors call this medical condition presbycusis or age-related hearing loss.

Why hearing loss occurs

Hearing loss is caused by noise aging, disease, and hereditary reasons. Hearing loss effects how people listen and then communicate with others. Because there are gaps with what is heard, the person suffering hearing loss may appear confused or misunderstand the context of the conversation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that approximately 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 75 have hearing loss. They also found that half of the people over 75 have difficulty hearing. Both groups, have the same difficulty admitting they are experiencing hearing loss or hearing difficulty.

On November 7, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Culbertson v. Berryhill, to determine if there should be a cap or limit to the amount of legal fees awarded to lawyers for representing clients before the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Majority of disability claims are denied

For the period between 2006 and 2015, SSA approved 34 percent of applications for SSDI benefits. 62 percent of all applications were denied. Of the pool of applicants issued denials, 2 percent of them were overturned at the reconsideration level and 9 percent were overturned at the hearing level.

Words have meanings. They can quickly build-up or knock-down its recipients. One word emitting a great deal of comment is elderly. My father, an 82-year-old retiree, refuses to be identified as a senior. He prefers grey panther. He tells me that he wishes to be identified by the color of his hair, not his age.

Identity in the 50 plus range is a hot potato. People are living much longer than prior generations. 50 as the fashion magazines love to exclaim is the new 40. Is age a number or a feeling?

Is calling someone elderly or senior ageist?

The Roman statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” In reality however, the eyes are the window to hidden health conditions. A dilated eye exam can detect diabetes, hypertension, auto-immune disorders, like Lupus, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, certain cancers, like skin cancer, and tumors, before these medical conditions are confirmed with blood tests or other diagnostic testing.

Individuals with “good” eyes should have their eyes examined once every two years. Other folks should consult with their eye doctor to determine how often to follow-up for chronic conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, nearsightedness, and farsightedness.

Protecting your vision

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