Managing Fibromyalgia in Elderly Patients

Fibromyalgia is a disease which affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms vary from person to person, and include problems like chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems and painful tender points. There’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, but symptoms can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management.

The disease is complex for anyone suffering from it, but it can be more complex in the elderly, since they are more likely to suffer from other health issues. They are also more vulnerable to certain symptoms of fibromyalgia such as depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Multiple Health Issues

Residents of nursing facilities often have multiple health issues and it can be hard to separate them from each other and determine which ones are related to fibromyalgia and which are related to another disease. If a patient complains of fibromyalgia symptoms, he should have a full workup by his physician, to determine which symptoms are which, and to prescribe the right medication.

Exercise

Fibromyalgia can be alleviated through exercise, but most residents of nursing facilities aren’t up to anything strenuous. Depending on their general health, they may not even be able to take a slow walk. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t move at all – patients should be encouraged to be as active as they can be.

Sleep Patterns

Sleep patterns can be disturbed in fibromyalgia patients, and this problem tends to get worse as they age. They are likely to sleep better if they aren’t hungry, so feeding them protein before bed is a good idea. They may also benefit from a sleep aid like a calcium and magnesium supplement or a dose of melatonin.

Nutrition

As with any disease, nutrition plays a large part in reducing symptoms. Many elderly patients don’t eat well or eat enough, and it is doubly important that fibromyalgia sufferers are getting enough calories from healthy sources. Patients might also benefit from vitamin and calcium supplements, as recommended by the doctor.

Compassion

Because fibromyalgia symptoms are not external, those who suffer from the disease are often treated as if the problem is all in their heads. They are told that they are complaining needlessly and that they just have to change their attitude. This “well-meaning advice,” is, of course, no help at all. It’s important to show patients that you care about their pain and want to help them manage it. A little compassion goes a long way!

The Secret to a Long Life

A nursing facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, recently held a party for three women who are over the age of 100, to celebrate their long lives. The women were asked their secret to longevity, and each one had a different response. Sophia Smith says she’s lived to 101 because she eats lots of chicken soup. Lucille Price (100) says she has no secret, and doesn’t eat anything special. Grace-Marie Baker, who is 102, attributes her long life to God looking out for her. Continue reading The Secret to a Long Life

Bringing Easter Cheer to Your Nursing Facility

The December holidays tend to steal all the attention. Family members come to visit and staff at nursing facilities works hard to bring holiday cheer to the residents, especially those who don’t have visitors. Easter, on the other hand, often gets ignored. This year, you can do something about it – by bringing Easter cheer to patients and nursing staff alike. Continue reading Bringing Easter Cheer to Your Nursing Facility

High School Students Become CNAs

Here’s an interesting piece of news: high school students in Omaha, Nebraska, are learning about the healthcare field by serving as CNAs. According to Live Well Nebraska, these kids become certified as CNAs in 11th grade and get experience in a nursing home and in a hospital during their senior year. The kids do rotations in 16 departments at Bergan Mercy Medical Center, including radiation, oncology, the neonatal intensive care unit and surgery.

Stepping Stone to a Nursing Career

The students in Omaha are not all going to work as CNAs once they finish school. They are experiencing different aspects of the healthcare industry, so they can make an educated decision about whether they want to train in the field after graduation. Some of the young CNAs see it as a stepping stone to a nursing career, while others are considering physical therapy or medicine. They’re taking advantage of this unusual program to ask medical professionals all their questions and gain both experience and knowledge.

CNA in High School

Although the laws differ from state to state, the standard minimum age to become a CNA is 16. Although some employers won’t hire CNAs who are under 18 or don’t have a high school diploma/GED, there are jobs out there for kids who are still in high school.

Is it a good idea to become a CNA so young?

The advantage of becoming a CNA while still in high school is that you can work part time while studying and then start working full time as soon as you finish school. On the other hand, an eight hour shift even once a week can be a burden on a student who has homework, studying, extra-curricular activities and a social life. It can also be hard to deal with patients who are ill and possibly dying, and a person needs to be very mature to be able to handle that. It’s easy to get attached to patients and it can be very hard when they pass away.

If being a CNA is too much for you (or your teenager), there are other ways to get a taste of the healthcare field while still in high school. One option is to work in the activities department of a nursing facility, doing crafts and playing games with the residents. You’ll get to see firsthand how a nursing facility is run, but your job will be easier and more fun than CNA work. Another idea is to volunteer in a hospital or nursing facility during the summer or on weekends.

What do you think? What’s the best age to become a CNA?

Celebrating Black History Month

On February 10, 1976, President Gerald Ford encouraged Americans to celebrate Black History Month with these words:

The last quarter-century has finally witnessed significant strides in the full integration of black people into every area of national life. In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers. But, even more than this, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. Continue reading Celebrating Black History Month