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Friday, 21 July 2017

Rashes in Older People

Skin changes are one of the most visible and significant signs of ageing and help to determine a person's age. Features include wrinkles, sagging and paper-thin skin, vulnerable to damage.

Prevention of skin breakdown in elderly patients can be crucial in preventing skin disease and morbidity, such as irritant dermatitis or infection

Older skin is more vulnerable to a number of dermatological conditions, particularly dry skin with associated itching and eczema; irritant and contact dermatitis; and skin breakdown associated with pressure

Basic skin-care needs of older people can be neglected or dealt with only when major skin breakdown occurs.

While there are many different types, rashes can basically be divided into two types: infectious or noninfectious.

Noninfectious rashes include eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, drug eruptions, hives and allergic dermatitis to name a few.

Infection-associated rashes, such as ringworm, impetigo, staphylococcus, scabies, herpes, chicken pox and shingles, are treated by treating the underlying cause.

Infectious agents that can cause a rash include viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

A rash can be a helpful guide to the likely differential diagnosis.  Infectious disease and drug reactions give a short history whereas psoriasis and eczema may have been present for longer.

Any unusual skin lesions that appear and do not spontaneously resolve should be reported to a dermatology specialist. Cancerous skin conditions, require referral.

Other lesion changes that occur with age include cherry angiomas (small, red, benign tumours), moles, skin tags (fleshy, pedunculated warts in areas of friction) and liver spots. Bruising is related to the loss of subcutaneous tissue supporting the skin's capillaries.  These can be caused by minor trauma, especially on the extensor surface of the forearm. In some cases, this can be an indicator of elder abuse. These lesions can generally be left alone as long as they do not cause distress or present a danger to the individual.

In addition, one of the most common complaints among the elderly is Pruritus, which is a generalised itch and is usually caused by dry skin.  This is easily treated by avoiding soap products.  It is critical however, to distinguish cases of widespread itch with skin diseases (which are typically inflammatory) from those caused by trauma from chronic scratching.

To help ease dry skin an emollient will be needed, these include by are not limited to
Doublebase gel (Dermal)
Hydromol cream or ointment

Dermatologists (skin specialists) are best equipped to diagnose and treat most rashes, especially those that require biopsy or special tests.  Additionally, if you are unsure of the rash or unable to arrange an appointment, you can speak directly to your pharmacist who will be able to advise on what emollient to use or whether a Dr is required to diagnose.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

How To Be An Organised Caregiver: Tips on Being More Efficient When Caring for A Family Member

Care Giving

An increasing number of people in the UK are currently caring for their loved ones. According to a survey, there are over 5 million people who devote at least part of their week to caring for their disabled, sick, or elderly relatives. Being a caregiver takes patience, attention to detail, and being organised, and keeping things together can be a challenge whether you’re caring for your family member on a part-time or full-time basis. It’s certainly an advantage if you’ve had some training or experience in caregiving, but there are ways that you can be more efficient if your parent or relative is depending on you for his or her care.

The importance of being organised when caregiving
Apart from looking into caregiving resources to give you the support that you need in caring for your family members, you can also try being organised to make each day go a little smoother. Caregiving can be time-consuming and stressful, so you need to find ways to avoid burnout by having a system that you can depend on to help you track and finish each task. This is especially true if you’re caring for an elderly loved one who has dementia, or a relative with a cognitive disorder such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or Mild Cognitive Impairment.

It’s normal for caregivers to feel a mixture of grief, guilt, anger, embarrassment, and loneliness on certain days when caring for a family member with a cognitive disorder. Statistics show that people living with dementia prefer to be in their own homes and retain as much independence as possible, which can make caring for them to be quite a challenge. Though there’s no way to predict how each day can turn out, being prepared and organised can help you provide better care for your loved ones while also giving yourself the care that you need.

Organise your loved one’s medications
To do this, you’ll need some pill organisers, which you can get at any pharmacy. Your parent or relative may need to take several pills per day, so fill up each container with the required daily medication. It’s a good idea to organise more than one week’s worth of pills as you’ll never know if you need to be out the following week on an important errand. This way, whoever gets to stay with your parent or relative while you’re out can assist him or her to take the pills in the right way.

Keep a written journal of your family member’s needs
Your journal can be anything from a plain notebook to a three-ring binder. Use it to write down meal times, medication times, contact numbers of your elderly relatives’ doctors, and emergency contact numbers.

Create a calendar
Keep track of doctor appointments with a dedicated calendar. You can buy a plain calendar that has plenty of writing space or use a big whiteboard for this purpose. You can also write down the TV shows that your relative enjoys on the board, family functions, and other community activities that you think he or she might enjoy. Place the calendar in a spot where you and your relative can easily see it. You should also have a duplicate of the calendar on your daily planner or on a calendar app on your phone.

Take turns with other family members when caring for your loved one
Caring for a family member entails some sacrifices and adjustments, and some have even made massive changes in their lifestyles to look after their sick or elderly loved ones. In a poll, it was found that of Britain’s 6 million caregivers, one in five has left full-time employment to look after an ailing parent or relative. If you cannot commit to being a full-time caregiver, it’s imperative to ask for help from other family members to care for your loved one. Have a family meeting and work out a schedule that will work for everyone, and give them access to your caregiving journal to let them know about your ailing relative’s daily routine, medication, and other things that they need to know while caregiving.  

Make time for yourself
To become a more efficient caregiver, it’s a good idea to also take some time for yourself when caring for a loved one, especially if your relative has dementia, as caring for him or her can take a toll on your energy and emotions. You can start a new hobby such as journaling, calligraphy, or colouring in, which you can do while looking after your parent or relative. Make sure that you’re eating well and getting some exercise to keep your strength up, and communicate frequently with your friends and family members to cope with the challenges of caregiving.

Being organised will not only benefit your ailing loved one, but it will also enable you to become less stressed, happier, and healthier while you’re looking after your relative. Take the time to get organised and see how caregiving gets better each day.

The Edith Ellen Foundation would like to thank our friend Sally at SeniorAdvisor.com for guest writing this Article.  Sally is a former Manager of a care home, learned how demanding and complex caregiving can be. While it can also be rewarding, caregivers need all the help and support they can get.