hearing loss
Senior Healthcare: Exceptional Medical Care

10 Signs You Might Need A Hearing Test

It is not uncommon for us seniors to suffer a slight hearing loss.  As we age, our hearing needs to be tested every year. 

To get the fastest and easiest tests, just go to Costco Hearing Center. They do not work off commission and will not try to sell you over-the-top the latest and greatest hearing devices either. They can test you quickly and then go to whoever you trust to get simple hearing aids. For more tips on how to select a device and the tricks audiologists use to sell you hearing aids, see my Senior Freedom Club

Here are some of the situations which stresses a hearing test: 

Difficulty Understanding Speech: One common sign of hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech, particularly in noisy environments. For example, imagine you're at a crowded restaurant trying to have a conversation with friends. Despite your best efforts, you find it challenging to follow the conversation amidst the clattering of dishes and the chatter of other diners. You frequently ask your friends to repeat themselves or nod along without fully comprehending what they're saying. 

Increasing Volume: Another sign of potential hearing loss is the need to consistently increase the volume of electronic devices. For instance, you might notice that you're regularly turning up the volume on your television or radio to levels that others find uncomfortably loud. Additionally, you find that the TV is unusually load in the morning, after your ears have rested. You may be using Closed Caption thinking you cannot understand the actors. No, you need your hearing tested. 

Social Withdrawal: Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and social withdrawal. For example, you might decline invitations to social gatherings or avoid participating in group conversations because you struggle to hear and follow along. Over time, this avoidance of social situations can impact your relationships and overall quality of life. If you find yourself thinking people talk too low, time to get that hearing checked. 

Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus): Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is another potential indicator of hearing loss. Imagine experiencing a persistent ringing or buzzing sound in your ears, similar to the sound of cicadas on a summer evening. This constant noise is distracting and disruptive, making it difficult to focus on tasks or relax. While tinnitus can have various causes, it's often associated with hearing loss. If you're experiencing this, your hearing may be impaired and it’s time for a test.

Difficulty Hearing High-Pitched Sounds: Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds is a common symptom of age-related hearing loss, but is also common for people of all ages. Young children are very hard to understand when they are upset. Their voice seems to go up two octaves. Also, you may think to yourself, the songbirds aren’t singing like to used to. Hmmm. They really are out there. Times to get your hearing checked. 

Muffled Speech and Sounds: Hearing loss can make speech and other sounds seem muffled or unclear, like a bad McDonald’s drive-through window. For instance, imagine you're having a conversation with a friend, but their words sound distorted or garbled as if they're speaking through a filter. You might find yourself constantly asking them to repeat themselves or guessing at what they're saying based on context. This perception of muffled speech, even when people are speaking directly to you, could indicate the need for a hearing evaluation.

Struggling in Group Settings: Difficulty following conversations in group settings is a common challenge for individuals with hearing loss. For example, imagine attending a family gathering where multiple conversations are happening simultaneously. Despite your efforts to focus, you cannot hear when there is background noise. This is very common in restaurants where they blast the music right over your table. Ask the service to turn the music down or find another table. If the problem persists, then get that hearing test. 

Fatigue or Stress from Listening: Straining to hear and understand conversations can be mentally and physically exhausting. For example, imagine attending a workshop where you struggle to hear what's being discussed despite your best efforts to sit up front. Worse, the speaker talks in a soft voice. As the workshop continues, you find yourself daydreaming until someone asks a question, everyone claps, and you wonder what just happened. Get that hearing test soon. You’re missing out. 

Remember, hearing loss had many causes and takes on many different shapes and sizes. The only way you’re going to know if you are one of “them” is to be tested and see if you have lost your range of frequencies. 

By addressing hearing loss early, you can improve your quality of life and prevent further damage to your hearing. Your friends and family will thank you. Show them you are a super-ager and will live the healthiest lifestyle you can. Get that hearing test. 

Our members, super-seniors and super families who care for super seniors know that hearing is just one of nine ways we stay healthy, happy, and vibrant. Come join us!

senior freedom club

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Senior Hospital Care Tips
Senior Healthcare: Exceptional Medical Care

Senior Hospital Care Tips

Are Hospitals Safe?

From my experience as a physician assistant, I have first-handed witnessed countless medical errors.  I have seen who the good doctors, nurses, and medical assistants are. I have seen those who hold back and do their job with less enthusiasm.

Therefore it is up to the seniors and their families to take notice and advocate for themselves. This means questioning every action and why it is being done. 

Avoid Hospitals in July. 

For seniors undergoing complex procedures, hospitalization during July poses heightened risks because new medical students with very little training are coming in to direct care and surgeries. 

I had one Chief of Emergency Room Services tell me he takes the whole month of July and August off.  When I asked him why, he said, “Because I can’t stop these new residents from killing patients and I prefer not to have my name on their charts.”

Sadly, he is not wrong. Medical students come out book smart, not experienced and so many of their missed diagnoses and treatment options are fatal to our patients. 

If you have to go to the ER during July and even August, demand an intern.  They have at least one year under their belts. 

Listen to Nurses About Doctors

I found my nurses and medical assistants knew more about what was going on than the doctors did. They were in the thick of patient care. Make sure you keep a journal with your patient. No medications are given to this patient unless a full explanation is given to you and the diagnosis or reason behind it is also given.  

I saw one woman ask this and told she had schizophrenia and needed the pill. She was not the right patient. Had she not asked this, she might have left the hospital with the wrongful diagnosis of schizophrenia which was never hers to begin with. 

Verify Who You're Speaking With

As I’ve said so many times before when you talk to someone, make sure it is the right person. When calling in the phone, you are usually talking to a central location call center who has never laid eyes on you or your patient.  If they are a nurse or medical assistant they may not have access to your chart. They cannot give you the needed information. Make sure you are getting answers from the doctor.

Senior Freedom Club Caregiver

I’ve seen countless patients discuss concerns with their doctor and then call in with a question.  The answer comes back totally different than what was discussed with the doctor.  Our members at the Senior Freedom Club have been trained that this is a reg flag.  Someone who is not the doctor is answering questions for them.

This is poor medicine and can rapidly lead to medical errors.  Only your doctor should be answering your questions. 

Keep a Detailed Journal

Maintaining a detailed journal during hospital stays is invaluable for tracking interactions with medical staff, documenting treatments received, and recording decisions made regarding your older adult's care. This journal serves as a comprehensive record that can aid in understanding medical bills, tracking the effectiveness of treatments, and facilitating communication with healthcare providers. Additionally, the journal can serve as a source of empowerment, enabling family members and advocates to actively participate in decision-making processes and advocate for their older adult's needs.

Engage the Social Worker Early

Social workers play a vital role in discharge planning and post-hospital care arrangements for seniors. By engaging with the social worker early in the hospitalization process, you can ensure that appropriate plans are in place for your older adult's ongoing care needs. This proactive approach helps to avoid rushed or inadequate discharge decisions and ensures that your older adult receives suitable placement and support for their recovery and rehabilitation.

Question the Necessity of Procedures

It is essential to advocate for your older adult's well-being by questioning the necessity of tests and procedures recommended by healthcare providers. Some doctors may be influenced by financial incentives, leading to unnecessary or excessive medical interventions. 

Remember, your patient rights say that you can refuse any procedure you do not want. By asking critical questions about the potential benefits and risks of procedures, you can ensure that you or your loved one get the care they need.

The reason is this so important is that many hospitals have “protocol”.  This means they have developed a template for all patients entering the hospital with let’s say, “Stomach pain.”  Now you may have other issues causing stomach pain and that is not why you’re there at all.  However once the protocol is in place, you will get a myriad of unnecessary tests and procedures if you do not ask why these tests and procedures are being done. Do not let anyone tell you because the doctor ordered it. Only the doctor can tell you why it was ordered so seek them out. 

Next Steps

If you like this information, want to age healthy and fit, and keep yur family relationships on a high note, then join the Senior Freedom Club where we give BOTH seniors and their adult children the best tips we know on aging.

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bad cholesterol, LDL
Uncategorized, Senior Healthcare: Exceptional Medical Care

Heart Matters: Understanding Cholesterol, Obesity, and Longevity

According to the CDC, the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke are:

  • high blood pressure
  • high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • smoking 
  • secondhand smoke exposure
  • obesity
  • unhealthy diet
  • physical inactivity

Several other conditions like your family history can increase your risk for heart disease. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans (47%) have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease.

Some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.

Senior Freedom Club Caregiver

For a complete guide on how to age well, you might look at our "Super-Ager's" Senior Freedom Club.  Our monthly membership allows both seniors and their family members to live happy healthy lives with great relationships. 

We address all 12 categories from medical care to self-care with legal and financial and physical wellness strategies to make living stress free. And let's include family relationships so we enjoy one another as we age. 

So let's look at these top two and what we can do about them

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Why?  Because the heart has to pump harder to get the blood to circulate around your body. When a pump, any pump has to work harder than it should, it’s going to burn out sooner. The pressure in your arteries is your blood pressure, and the higher it is, the harder the heart has to pump OVER that pressure to get the blood to flow. 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver or found in certain foods. Your liver makes enough for your body’s needs, but we often get more cholesterol from the processed foods we eat.

If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries, (oops, there goes the blood pressure again!)  including those of the heart. This leads to the narrowing of the arteries and can decrease the blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other parts of the body. All tissues have to have blood flow to get their oxygen and stay alive.

There are two main types of blood cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is considered to be “bad” cholesterol because it can cause plaque buildup in your arteries.  I told my patients to think that LDL stands for “Lousy, so we must keep it low”.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is cholesterol considered to be “good” cholesterol because higher levels provide some protection against heart disease. My patients would remember HDL as “Healthy, so we want it high”.

High blood cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked with a lab.

OK so here’s the best way to explain how this good and bad cholesterol works:

Let's say your arteries are like a road.  The blood (cars) run over it every second of every day.  So, these roads need repairing after a while.  They have cracks and potholes.  Here comes the bad cholesterol.  It’s great at fixing these potholes.  It’s like pouring concrete in these holes and cracks. But let's say your road workers don't smooth it out. What a mess.  Now you have bumps in the road instead of potholes. 

Bad cholesterol doesn’t stop there when you eat too much of it.  After all, it has to have somewhere to go.  So this bad cholesterol not only overfilled the potholes but now hangs out on the road, likes speed bumps.  Now your (arteries) roads look like a thousand speedbumps. Your poor blood is getting pushed and shoved around likes it's off-roading.

Well, good news!

Here comes the good cholesterol, HDL!  It’s similar to a roller or a putty knife.  It cleans off the excess bad cholesterol and smoothes the road back down again. Imagine a nicely paved smooth ride.  That’s what the blood vessels get with HDL, our healthy cholesterol. Woo hoo! By smoothing out the blood flow, our blood pressure may go back down and better yet, our hearts will love us!

But the problem is, our HDL tends to decrease as we age.  So how do we keep it high?  

Lifestyle changes are known to increase HDL, such as moving more, quitting smoking, or improving your diet,and have been shown to lower the risk of heart attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic.  However, medications that specifically increase HDL levels have failed to reduce the rate of heart attacks.

So, the best way is to not overload your vessels (roads) with too much bad cholesterol in the first place.  Remember, your liver makes enough and just the right amount.  Don’t add to it by eating the processed unhealthy American foods pushed on us in most ads. 

Which brings me to…

Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels. Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes as well as heart disease. 

Why is obesity so bad for us?  Well, several reasons…

  • Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Obesity is a major risk factor for various chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Why? Because the body has to repair and renew more tissues which means overloading their metabolism and mistakes can happen, engines (I mean organs) can begin to fail. 
  • Cardiovascular Health: Obesity is closely linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). We covered this but what happens when we start packing more weight?  Just like when a city expands to the suburbs, you’ve got to have the “roads” (arteries) to carry the people (blood) to those outer-lying areas.  This means the heart now has to pump harder for more coverage. Ugh!
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes. Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, can lead to insulin resistance, where the body's cells do not respond effectively to insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. Why are sugar levels so bad for us?  Have you ever eaten cotton candy?  It’s pure sugar blown through air. It’s sticky.  Now your arteries and veins are sticky and the blood doesn’t flow, it sticks like bubble gum on the bottom of your shoe.
  • Joint Problems: The added weight from excess body fat can put stress on the joints, particularly in the knees and hips. This may lead to joint pain, osteoarthritis, and reduced mobility. And then there's our backs.  If we have a large breast, well, our core strength has to work extra hard.  If we have a large belly hanging over our underwear, well there goes the lower back. Back pain is no fun. 
  • Respiratory Issues: Obesity is associated with respiratory problems, including sleep apnea, asthma, and reduced lung capacity. Sleep apnea, in particular, is more common in individuals with obesity and can lead to interrupted breathing during sleep. Let’s face it, your body needs oxygen for energy.  This energy in your cells and tissues allows them to live healthy happy lives. We all need oxygen. So, if we can’t breathe, we become tired and irritable.  Our heart, brain, and GI tract are no different. They get mad, too.
  • Liver Disease: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is more prevalent in individuals with obesity. It can progress to more severe conditions, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis. Can’t live without our liver. 
  • Psychological and Social Impact: Obesity can have psychological and social consequences, including low self-esteem, depression, and discrimination. People with obesity may face stigmatization and challenges in various aspects of life. Some people feel great in their bodies.  Others love hearing how great we look!  “What did you do to look so good?” or “Have you lost weight?”
  • Reduced Quality of Life: Here's the kicker – carrying extra weight might mean a shorter stay on this planet. People with obesity tend to have a bit of a reduced life expectancy compared to those keeping things balanced. Mobility issues, chronic pain, and the burden of managing associated health conditions can impact a person's daily life, especially our joy to get out, socialize, and be around others. 

Super-aging seniors and their families know all this.  They choose happy healthy lives no matter where they are right now.  

Come join us!

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learnng to balance
Self Care: Staying Strong and Independant, Life Balance: Time & Energy Management, Senior Healthcare: Exceptional Medical Care

“The Relentless Clock: Unraveling the Mystery of Time Perception”

As we age, does time speed up or slow down?

Do you ever look at what you once found important and maybe realize it’s just not that important anymore?

But what about our day-to-day hurry and scurry lifestyles?

"I can't ever relax. I feel like there is something undone. Is there an explanation for this?"

Many older folks grew up in our society where work was the sum total of their day.

If you lived on a farm, you were carrying the milk bucket to the house by age three.  Never mind if you slopped it right out. You were made to work.

If you grew up in a family that had a chore list, then there was no use relaxing after dinner, as Dad and Mom were calling out your name and you better get to it.

Some of us were taught to be high achievers. We should never stop, relax, and smell the roses.  After all, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop".

Maybe you were one to sit down and read, or play the piano, only to hear your mom yell, "Mary, where are you?  Come help me!"

Oh yes, and now we are victims of the list to list, task to task, and never seem to relax.

Is this normal?

Well, in the old days, or the days when "we didn't work, we didn't eat" it seemed normal.  But now, we work for other pleasures in life.  We seem to have this housing and food thing down so we've moved on to the better things in life.

No, you are not alone.  Americans are still only a generation or two away from the "Great Depression".  We slow down only because we are tired or hurt. Mentally, we know there is so much more to do.

And still, we know it drives us crazy and then we look at those who do relax and wonder, "What's up with that?"  For them, it's not only normal, it's healthy.

How do we fix this?

Some psychologists tell us we are just hard-wired to stay busy and to measure our day, our lives, and our values by how much we do.

And others will tell us we will work ourselves into poor health, troubling relationships, and early death.

Ultimately, it is up to you to change if you want. It starts with the little things.

If you love what you do, if it keeps you going and you enjoy it, then keep doing it.

If, in the back of your mind, relaxing means you feel guilty, then you might consider putting it on your "task list" -  Today at 4 PM I will relax for one hour!

Yes, this is still an accomplishment and you did it!

Do you feel things are never done, no matter how many things you do?  Put a note on your bathroom mirror saying, "What are three things I accomplished today?"  And call out those three things before you go to bed. You'll feel so much better!

Here are some suggestions from folks who have admitted to their inability to relax…

  • "Separate your work time from your playtime. You can do this by time or by place."
  • "I do not look at my phone when I'm on vacation. There is nothing so important that I have to look at.  I totally love where I'm vacationing and take in every minute of it. The person I'm with has my phone and if I'm needed for an emergency, they'll let me know."
  • I separate by place, too.  I have a pool in my backyard but I can't relax in it because there is too much to do around the house.  So, I go to our community pool and relax there.
  • "I relax by time.  I know that on Sunday afternoon my football games are going to get all my attention and I do not care about all the zillion other things I could be doing."
  • "I relax by time and place.  Every morning, I walk by myself, getting in my chance to relax.  Sure, my mind is racing, but it's not on my daily chores but on the beauty nature holds for me as I walk.
  • "I relax because my cats climb into my lap and I have to."
  • "I do tai-chi and it focuses and relaxes me."

So no, you are not alone if you find yourself always busy. Can we temper it?  Sure, if it bothers you and those you love.

If you want a FREE guide to see how you are doing in the “relaxing hub of life”, see page 9 on Self-Care in the Caregiver’s Starter Guide. You’ll really get a feel for the things you’re doing right and the things you might want to improve on. 

Caregiver Starter Guide
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medical care
Senior Healthcare: Exceptional Medical Care

Healthcare vs Medical Care: Knowing the Difference is Powerful

We seem to hear a lot in the news about "Healthcare". When I hear the news say "Healthcare for everyone", I cringe because we really don’t want Healthcare, we want Medical Care.

Let’s look at the differences between the two.

Medical Care has never been better.

Getting MEDICAL CARE means everything to you. Medical Care brings us new procedures, new remedies, new medications, and surgeries we never dreamed possible. Not to mention the vaccinations that are constantly coming out to protect us from disease and cancer in the first place. And on top of that, we also have the incredible ability to prevent diseases like cancer when we never thought we could.  It used to be that your doctor knew everything about you. We could talk to our doctors about anything for as long as we wanted. They found the solutions to what ailed us. This was the foundation of Medical Care. Medical Care is a profession, an actual service and the trust lies between patient and doctor.

Healthcare has never been worse.

Healthcare is not a profession. It is a FOR-PROFIT business. Healthcare is about administration costs, CEO salaries, insurance denials, and insurance premiums. It is a business that hires doctors, nurses, billing clerks, hospitalists, medical assistants, etc. The one person who actually brings in the revenue for this company is the doctor, PA, NP. The office visits and the orders they generate bring in the revenue. All others, from CEO salaries to nurses, maintenance, billing clerks, and ads are at the mercy of what these three people can bring in.

Let's look at these real-life examples:

Example 1: Exceptional Medical Care

Dr. A has her own practice.  She is not part of a healthcare system. This is called a "solo" practice. Her patient, Mary, sees her. She knows all of Mary's medical conditions. Mary always gets "same-day visits" or a phone call back from Dr. A. Office visits are 45-60 minutes on each visit with Mary. She knows Mary's family caregivers, too. This doctor has only a receptionist.

Here's the KEY: she runs her own practice. If Dr. A wants to spend hours with you, she can. Now she may take your insurance, which typically pays 10% of what she charges. (Don't we wish we could do this at the grocery store!) or Dr. A could take a monthly fee of $125/month from you.

Doctors who charge a monthly fee are called Direct Primary Care. This monthly fee is paid automatically, like a gym membership.  Mary can see, call, or text Dr. A as often as she wants. The fee is dependent on age, not phone calls, visits, or texts, and ranges from $18 to $150 a month. Dr. A will call in prescriptions and take phone calls because she does not need Mary to come into the office to be paid. Those are insurance rules and she does not take insurance. Mary still keeps her insurance in case she needs specialists or hospitalizations.

NOTE: Dr. A is not "concierge" medicine but a practice modeled after pre-insurance days called "direct primary care".  Concierge medicine doctors take insurance like healthcare doctors do.  The fees are typical $500 - $5000 a month. This gets you house calls or phone calls promptly returned. These fees are high in order to cover what insurance doesn't pay for his/her "regular" patients. 

Example 2: Questionable Healthcare

Dr. B works for a large healthcare company. He gets a salary (plus a "bonus" commission) for his production.  If he orders more tests, more procedures, sees more patients, he gets a bigger "bonus commission", but this is a "carrot" to get the doctor to produce more. He is required to see more patients and see them faster.  He gets "written up" if he doesn't do this. By seeing more patients, the logic is that he will generate more orders. In most healthcae systems, he is required to refer you to only those services within his own healthcare system.  

The office has a staff of 3-4 receptionists, 1-2 billing and insurance clerks, 5-6 nurses or medical assistants, one office manager, the boss who reviews everyone's evaluations, salaries and the people above the boss who make policy and profit for the company, the CEOs.

Therefore, he must work harder and longer to support all these employees in the company. Robert is a patient of Dr. B's. He waits 3-4 months to get in to see him because Dr. B must be booked to see 20-30 patients a day. Robert will see him for 6 minutes. Dr. B may order more tests, and ask Robert to come back for another visit. Robert will still pay his deductible or co-pays and his insurance premiums.

These "healthcare" doctors are burning out at an alarming rate. They didn't get into medicine to "chase the bonus carrot", but to help you.  Most of them have medical school debt, leaving them no choice.

Here are the resources: Why physicians burn out.  I find it ironic that the studies to prevent burnout are suggesting the exact thing direct primary care physicians already do.

Healthy aging seniors have personal doctors.

So you have three choices:  

  • Find a physican who is in a solo practice, takes your insurance, and runs their own practice with a focus of putting you first. 
  • Find a Direct Primary Care doctor in your area, and pay a monthly fee to get the time and responsiveness you expect. 
  • Find a physician in your healthcare system who doesn't care about bonuses and spends more time with you and not on orders and a computer. (And hope they won't quit or get fired!)
Super Ager's Starter Guide for Seniors

If you are a senior who wants exceptional medical care then pick up a FREE copy of The Senior's Starter Guide.  On page 7, you'll find 11 very smart questions you should be asking about Medicare. After all, shouldn't we get the best?

Another article you might like: Communicate Like A Pro When You Understand These Dementia Stages

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