Monthly Archives: October 2009

Ways to Prevent Falls at Home

For Americans 65 years or older, there is no greater threat to their lives than a devastating fall. Each year, nearly 40% of elderly adults fall at least once and either suffers injury, decreased independence or death as a result. Falls need not be from high locations or within dangerous environments in order to be injurious. Most falls occur at home or in the nursing home environment while the person is conducting regularly activities of daily life. Things that were once commonplace, such as showering or walking around furniture, can become hazardous for the aging population without the appropriate accommodations. The consequences of falls can range from minor to serious injury, to death. Some common fall-related injuries include: Bumps and bruises.

Fractures, especially hip fractures.

Head trauma and brain injury.

Not only can such injuries incur medical bills and a need for ongoing healthcare services, but they can also limit the patient’s ability to live and function on their own, which can also necessitate daily and ongoing monitoring. At-home caregivers and nursing home staff need to take the proper precautions for preventing falls, as do aging individuals who live alone. Luckily, there are many ways for people to prevent falls for themselves and for others. Following is a collection of some easy, inexpensive methods to try.

Drive Medical Teak Bath Shower Stool

Shower Chairs: The shower can be a dangerous environment for elderly patients due to its slippery flooring and lack of stabilizing fixtures. For this, shower chairs can be an effective way to help the elderly maintain regular hygiene. Shower chairs are simple, cushioned chairs with suction cups on the feet and rust- and mold-resistant materials. These chairs can stay in the shower, allowing the patient to sit when they become tired, to use the fixture as a method for stabilization and to help get in and out of bathtubs.

The Invacare Adjustable Transfer Bench is a basic example of such a chair, with its bench-like seating and arm-rails. Such chairs are especially good for patients who use walkers, are in wheelchairs or otherwise have restricted mobility. Patients can simply get next to the tub or shower, sit on the transfer bench, and then swivel into the bath or shower with ease.

Invacare AdjustableTransfer Bench Padded

Grab Bars: Many falls occur within the transition between seated and standing positions, as rising can cause dizziness and instability in the elderly, and weak leg muscles may not be able to fully complete the movement. Grab bars are an easy way to maintain a steady, stable motion and allow the patient to use their upper and lower body to stand and make other similar movements.

The bathtub and the toilet are two common areas where sitting and standing can become problematic and even dangerous. The Standers Curve Grab Bar is one type of specialized grab bar for the toilet area. It is affixed to a wall near the toilet and its two-tiered handle system gives patients the ability to bring themselves to a standing position one tier at a time. The large looped handles are easy to grip, and lie flush with the bar to prevent interference or injury once the assistance is complete. The Rubbermaid Bathtub rail is another example of a specialized grab bar for the bathroom. These rails affix firmly and easily to the side of the tub, and feature multi-level handles to allow patients to pull themselves up into a sitting position, and then rise into a standing one.

Rubbermaid Bathtub Rail: White

For other areas of the home, standard gripping bars can be affixed to any stable surface in any room. The Invacare Knurled Grab Bars come in multiple sizes for vertical and horizontal mounting. The texture surface makes them easy to grip, while sturdy construction makes them reliable. Bed Rails: After long periods of rest, the body can take a little bit of time to get back to full strength. For those who need help getting in or out of bed, a bed rail can be a practical solution. Bed rails can be affixed to the bed or placed between the ceiling and the floor in accordance with the environment and desired setup.

The Standers Security Pole & Curve Bar is one example of a bed rail that stands between the ceiling and the floor. It features a pivoting, multi-tiered handle that sits security at the head of the bed and allows the patient to grasp the handles or the bar and safely and securely stand up. This particular model accommodates ceilings between 8 and 9 feet in height, locks into place for extra stability and disassembles for easy transport. The Drive Medical EZ Assist Pole is similar.

Standers Security Pole & Curve Grab Bar

Walkers and Walking Canes: While maintaining independence is important to many aging adults, they are not always able to walk or stand on their own. Without the ongoing stability needed to maintain the upright position, falls and other accidents can occur. A walker or cane gives patients a simple, portable method for getting around while concurrently avoiding falls.

The Rubbermaid Fixed Wheel Adult Folding Walker is one of the more common walkers on the market because of its affordability, simplicity, versatility and portability. The light construction and folding frame keep it easy and convenient to use, back wheels make it ideal for walking and stationary front stops also make it useful for support while standing. Canes are a traditional way to help aging adults get around with extra stability and support. The Invacare Quad Cane is another popular stability item, with a four-footed support that makes it more stable to use and prevents it from falling over and becoming a tripping hazard. In addition to assisting products, aging adults can take some personal and medical precautions to help them avoid falls and maintain independence for longer periods of time. A few of these steps include: Regular, light exercise that focuses on strength and balance (such as yoga or tai chi).

Reviewing medications with doctors to find ways to limit side effects such as dizziness or weakness.

Having eyes checked once per year to ensure that prescriptions are up to date and effective.

Improving lighting in the home.

Reducing tripping hazards by minimizing clutter and rearranging furniture

For over 11 years, at Vitality Medical, we have delivered on our promise to sell top quality medical supplies at the best prices on the Web.

Resources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Injuries Among Older Adults

Patient Safety Alarms for the Elderly

An estimated 34 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for other adults, including elderly family members. As healthcare costs rise and many baby boomers find themselves sandwiched between the care of their children and their parents, it becomes more important for them to find ways to balance time and resources.

Patient alarms are one method that caregivers can use to monitor their elderly patients while simultaneously working on other tasks. These alarms emit noises or other methods of notification when activated by the elderly patient for any number of reasons, in any location. Often used in patient care homes by nurses who manage multiple patients, patient alarms have evolved significantly over the years to make them user-friendly and affordable for in-home use, as well. Patient alarms can be acquired to accommodate a number of scenarios that pose a risk for elderly patients. Alarms can be placed around the house or affixed to patients to help them alert someone when they have fallen or otherwise require assistance. Bathroom alarms can notify caregivers when accidents have occurred or help is needed to complete tasks. Wheel chair alarms can go off when problems or accidents have occurred, sometimes even without the help of the operator. There are even alarms for bed wetting to prevent patients from being exposed to uncomfortable, unsanitary bedding for prolonged periods of time.

Patient alarms aren’t just a way to keep tabs on an elderly patient. When used correctly and consistently, they are can actually be a powerful life-saving device. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified falls as the leading cause of death for Americans 65 years of age and older. In addition, they report that 35-40% of people in this age group suffer from falls each year, and that the rate of deaths caused by falls has been on an incline over the last decade. Since many falls cause bruises, fractures and head trauma, it is clear to see how these medical conditions can take their toll on the health of an elderly loved one, as well as become a costly expense.

Elderly patient alarms can also be an important measure for avoiding accusations of elderly abuse or neglect, a charge that is considered to be a misdemeanor in most states. Since many families and nursing homes have full schedules and workloads, some elderly patients may not receive prompt attention they need through routine check-in’s. Patient alarms can help family and caregivers to become aware when emergent conditions arise, and can also help them to prioritize their elderly patients within the context of their day. A variety of new conditions emerge as people age, many of which are gradual and unexpected for caregivers. As people age, they can suffer from any or all of the following: Posey Door Guard Alarm System

  • Burns or injuries due to weakness
  • Misuse of medication
  • Deterioration of personal habits and hygiene
  • Increased care accidents
  • General forgetfulness and disorientation
  • Small fires from forgotten appliances, candles, etc.
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unexplainable behavior

While a patient alarm cannot help with all of the circumstances surrounding elderly care, it can provide the following:

  • Gives elderly patients the opportunity to call for assistance when handling heavy or dangerous items.
  • Notifies caregivers when elderly patients need attention to help with hygiene or similar personal care.
  • Reminds caregivers to administer medication, removing the risk of under or over-dosing by elderly patients.
  • Notifies caregivers in the event of a fall or accident.
  • Notifies caregivers when smoke or other hazards are present.

Vitality Medical offers a variety of patient care alarms to help caregivers better monitor their elderly patients. Some of their patient alarms include:

Bathroom Alarms: Bathroom alarms are a simple, non-invasive way for caregivers to monitor elderly patients while they are using the restroom. A door alram or room alarm provides cargivers with warning when a patient is up and about in their room or attempts to leave their room. The FallGuard Alarm is a reasonably priced method for professional and at-home caregivers to monitor their elderly patient’s movements while they are busy with another task. A sensory mat is placed under the chair or bed, and when the patient gets up, the caregiver is notified of the movement so that they can check on the patient and provide assistance if needed, helping to prevent falls.

Bed Wetting Alarms: A bed wetting alarm is used to warn the patient of impending urination in bed. The Nite Train’r DVC Bedwetting Alarm, features a moisture-sensing device that alerts patients when leakage has occurred. This then gives them the opportunity to use the restroom before a more significant accident occurs, thereby saving them from embarrassment and discomfort.

Personal alarms: The most versatile of patient alarms, the personal alarm gives patients a device to carry with them throughout their day so that they can receive needed attention regardless of their location. A Wander Alarm is also useful to notify caregivers when a patient is straying from a safe areas and may be headed for danger. The Smart Caregiver Personal Alarm gives patients a paging device with a lanyard that can be worn comfortably around the neck, and features 100 feet reception and a single over-sized button.Wheelchair Alarm

Wheelchair Alarms: Wheelchair alarms can perform double duty as a fall-prevention and tip-detection mechanism. The Wheelchair Alarm System also gives added comfort to wheelchairs while its pressure sensor alerts caregivers when the patient’s weight is lifted from the chair seat. This helps to prevent falls by alerting caregivers to the need to monitor wheelchair-bound patients who are trying to stand up or exit the seat for any reason, and it also alerts caregivers if the wheelchair has tipped and the patient has fallen from the chair.

Caring for an elderly patient can be a full-time endeavor full of unique and challenging circumstances. However, a wide variety of patient alarms are available for professional and at-home caregivers to ensure that their elderly patients receive the attention they need to stay comfortable and safe. If you are in a position to provide care and attention to an elderly patient, educate yourself on the risks and symptoms associated with aging and equip your space with patient alarms to help prevent unexpected accidents from occurring.

Resources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and PreventionInjuries Among Older Adults
Lawyers.comElder Abuse

Can Bed Wedges Help with Acid Reflux?

Bed Wedges for Acid Reflux

Heartburn affects over 60 million Americans each year and causes a variety of issues ranging from minor discomfort to serious illness. If you’ve ever experienced a burning sensation in your chest or an acidic, bitter “regurgitation” following a large or heavily seasoned meal, you’ve likely been one of them. However, if you experience such symptoms twice per week or more, you may suffer from a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux.

Acid reflux doesn’t just have to involve heartburn. In fact, several other physical symptoms can indicate acid reflux disease, including:

  • Bloating
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Burping
  • Narrowing of the esophagus, or frequent difficulty swallowing

The causes of acid reflux are generally related to the upper part of the stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), two parts of the digestive system that lay within the upper torso of the body. When acid passes from the upper stomach to the LES, heartburn occurs. There are many reasons why this could occur, including:

  • Hiatal hernia: When the upper stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, the constant upward motion of breathing can push up stomach acid, causing heartburn.
  • Large meals: Eating large or heavy meals can fill the stomach and push acid up in the process.
  • Lying or bending over: After eating, stomach acid is most prevalent. Lying down or bending over at the waist can cause it to move from the upper stomach to the LES.
  • Obesity: Being overweight can put pressure on the contents of the stomach and the LES, causing movement of stomach acid between the two.
  • Snacking close to bedtime: Eating something before falling asleep will get stomach acid pumping, and prolonged lying down can enable the movement of stomach acid into the LES.
  • Eating certain foods: Some foods are more prone to causing heartburn due to their acidity or ingredients. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, and spicy or fatty foods are common culprits of heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Certain drinks: Alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee and tea can be acidic themselves, adding more acid to the stomach and encouraging heartburn.
  • Smoking: Cigarette introduces chemicals and other complications within the esophagus and can also irritate the stomach. A combination of the two can create heartburn.
  • Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, the baby in her uterus pushes up on the stomach which, in turn, can push stomach acid into the LES.
  • Medication: Aspirin, ibuprofen, blood pressure medicine, muscle relaxers and other types of medications can irritate the stomach and produce excessive acid, creating an environment for heartburn. Some vitamins and other supplements may also have this effect.

Though it is easy to shrug off heartburn as a natural occurrence, acid reflux should be taken more seriously. Left untreated, acid reflux can contribute to some serious medical conditions:

  • Esophagitis: Inflammation and irritation of the esophagus is known as esophagitis, a condition that can be painful and dangerous. Esophagitis that is not treated can lead to ulcers, esophageal bleeding and scarring.
  • Strictures: When scarring occurs in the esophagus, the skin becomes less flexible. Since the esophagus is the passage that allows us to eat and swallow, constrictions of this tube can prevent food or drink from entering our system.
  • Barrett’s Esophagus: Chronic, untreated acid reflux can lead to a serious condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. This condition results when repeated damage to the esophagus causes cells in the esophageal lining to be replaced by cells that are not typically found in that area, which can then lead to esophageal cancer.

Treatments for heartburn and acid reflux vary according to the severity of the condition. Over-the-counter and prescription medications have been used effectively to treat these conditions using different strategies including:

  • Antacids: Neutralize stomach acid.
  • Acid Blockers: Limit acid production.
  • Promotility Agents: Stimulate the stomach to keep acid from sitting in it.

Those seeking alternatives to medication can also explore natural heartburn relief by:

  • Eating small meals slowly and early in the day.
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking.
  • Losing weight.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing.
  • Using bed wedges and other props to keep the LES upright.

Bed wedges are natural, effective, temporary tools that heartburn and acid-reflux sufferers can use to treat or prevent symptoms. They can be used alone or in combination with other remedies, and do not require complicated setup or use. Using a bed wedge in the evening keeps the torso upright while allowing the lower body to relax in bed or even on the floor. This helps to ensure that the LES stays above the upper stomach so that it is more difficult for stomach acid to reach into the esophagus.

Duro Med Foam Bed Wedge

Duro Med Foam Bed Wedge

The Roloke Good N Bed Adjustable Wedge is an exceptionally constructed wedge that allows users to increase or decrease the level of incline with simple removable inserts. This is especially useful for pregnant women whose bodies are changing at a rapid rate, or for people who need bed wedges to also work with couches, chairs or other recliners.

Roloke Good N Bed Adjustable Wedge

Roloke Good N Bed Adjustable Wedge

The Hermell Dual Position Foam Bed Wedge is another great example. With its large, sloped construction and stiff foam material, it provides durable, long-lasting support for acid reflux and respiratory sufferers alike. Since these two conditions often coexist, this bed wedge becomes an especially vital part of a comfortable night’s sleep.

While heartburn is a common condition, acid reflux should not be treated as such. Left untreated, acid reflux can result in serious medical conditions and even increase a patient’s need for developing esophageal cancer. Luckily, there are a wide variety of treatments available to help patients control their acid reflux and prevent further damage to their body. While several over-the-counter and prescription medications have proven effective in treating heartburn and acid reflux, natural remedies are also available for more moderate conditions. The use of a bed wedge to keep the torso elevated while resting is an easy way to prevent acid reflux while avoiding medications that can sometimes irritate the stomach even more.

For over 9 years, at Vitality Medical, we have delivered on our promise to sell top quality medical supplies at the best prices on the Web.

Resources:

WebMD Acid Reflux, Heartburn, & GERD

Infrared Therapy & Massage Therapy – Exploring Portable Options

Infrared therapy is rather popular and often discussed on Internet blogs and other venues. Many people use massage therapies or home infrared therapies. Body Flex MassagerA significant segment of the consumer market is looking for portable infrared and massage therapy options. Consumer demand has led to the development of a few new products on the market that provide better portability for infrared or massage therapy solutions. Although these infrared devices do not rival the very popular sauna infrared therapies; they do provide an excellent infrared therapy option.

HydraGel Therapy Massager is the first portable, infrared massage therapy option. This massage device can be applied to almost any part of the body, even difficult to reach areas. The Therapy Massager is highly flexible and allows the user to apply to a localized area of the body. It comes with four attachments. The following four massage head attachments are included: Copper, Stone, Soft Gel and Infrared. The cost of this device is below $50.00.

The Body Flex Massager by Conair has 5 massage surfaces and heat. The heat function of the Body Flex Massager can operate indpendent of the massage function if desired. The Body Flex Massager works on arms, legs, back, neck, feet, shoulders and other parts of the body. This heat massager comes with a one year warranty.

The next noteworthy portable infrared massage therapy option is the Dry Foot Massager also from Conair. The Dry Foot Massager is equipped with soft gel pads for flexible control and comfort. The device radiates infrared heat and provides a deep tissue massage that includes two intensities. This infrared massager has toe-tap controls to minimize bending over to operate. It also includes Microban antimicrobial protection. This product can also be purchased for less than $50.00.

Another infrared therapy massager is the Percussion Massager Infrared also by Conair. This handheld massager provides a variable massage speed with thumping action for deep tissue massage. Equipped with infrared heat, 3 pairs of interchangeable massaging nodes and a rubberized non-slip handle, the Conair Massaging Foot Spa provides relief to wherever it is applied. This infrared device is priced below $50.00 and can apply heat as well as percussion action.

These new products give individuals who need portable infrared massage therapy more options. The low pricing helps to keep purchases within budget. Body Flex Massager

Each of these inexpensive infrared therapy devices are easy to find on the Internet. Visit Vitality Medical for discount pricing and a large selection of medical supplies. Details for Infrared Massage Devices are visible on this site to include massage products from Posture Pro, HydraGel and HoMedics. Vitality Medical offers wholesale pricing on all their massage products to consumers, clinics and hospitals.