Many seniors deal with several health problems related to aging. Patients managing chronic disease, complex health concerns and pain quite often are not getting enough sleep. Sleep patterns change with aging, and because of sleep disorders or sleep disturbances, older adults do not get healthy deep sleep. Common sleep disorders can include having trouble falling asleep, restlessness during the night, inability to tell night from day, and waking up too early in the morning. Some common health issues that prevent seniors from getting healthy sleep include chronic pain (e.g. arthritis), substance abuse, depression, neurological problems, diet, and nutrition.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, lack of concentration, or dry skin can look like complaints associated with aging. Other symptoms can include arthritis, intolerance to cold or rapid temperature change, fluctuations in weight, or problems in the heart's electrical system which can cause it to beat abnormally slow. Severe hypothyroidism may lead to congestive heart failure. Emotional and psychiatric well-being are major concerns for hypothyroidism. Depression, seizures, senile dementia, and slurred speech could be caused by hypothyroidism. In addition, low thyroid function is commonly associated with deteriorating cognition and Alzheimer's disease. Changes in cognitive efficacy can be related to declines in working memory, language processing, problem-solving, long-term memory, and decision-making.
Patient education is an integral part of care. Chronic Care Management (CCM) can help patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers remain mindful of symptoms for hypothyroidism. For those patients diagnosed with the disease, CCM Care Managers can coordinate follow-up care with an endocrinologist, another specialist, or home care.
In addition to specific hypothyroidism treatment recommendations and care planning, Care Managers can monthly discuss related healthcare topics with patients. For example, many older adults are interested in nutrition, sexuality and aging, exercise, and other topics related to preventing illness and promoting quality of life. Seniors may be interested in tips for removing barriers to independence and learning how to maximize their strengths. CCM Care Managers are a strong resource for encouraging patient follow-up, building an awareness of community services to lessen social isolation, and adherence to medical recommendations.
With advancing age, there is often a corresponding normal decline in touch, hearing, vision, and memory function. The effects of chronic diseases, together with the normal changes that occur with aging, may hinder patient education. Care Managers are trained to identify challenges which hamper learning. They can provide patients with the right tools to address complex disease like hypothyroidism. Caregivers and healthcare providers must remember to check for an accurate diagnosis since hypothyroidism often looks a lot like another system in the body. Older patients with hypothyroidism require special attention to gradual and careful treatment, and most likely will require lifelong follow-up. Through careful assessment of developmental factors, selection of age-appropriate and tailored strategies is important to implement effective hypothyroidism patient and provider education.
Drug and alcohol abuse among the elderly is a rapidly growing health problem in the United States. Addiction among seniors 65 and older is often underestimated and underdiagnosed, which can prevent them from getting the help they need. Drug or alcohol abuse among older adults is particularly alarming because seniors are more susceptible to the deteriorating effects of these substances.
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones to where they become fragile and easily broken. Osteoporosis is often called a "silent" disease because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Bones slowly and subtly lose density, becoming weaker over time. More than 50 million Americans either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass. Although osteoporosis may be diagnosed at any age, it is mostly a disease of aging and predominantly affects older women. Osteoporosis generally isn’t discovered until there is a sudden fall or strain that leads to a broken bone or stress fracture.
Many things can affect the risk of falling, such as a patient’s balance, weakened eyesight, uneven flooring, stairs, furniture arrangement, and home accessibility. A broken bone resulting from a fall can limit mobility and have a major impact on a patient’s quality of life. Patients may feel an emotional as well as physical weight following a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Thus, they may experience bouts of depression, anxiety, or weariness caused by effects of the disease. Those most affected by the disease may be afraid to leave their homes or participate in previously enjoyed daily activities fearing injury.