DiversityNursing Blog

Gender transitioning for seniors has unique challenges

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 08, 2015 @ 01:30 PM

By Carina Storrs

CNN 

150601134616 bruce caitlyn jenner vanity fair cover exlarge 169 resized 600In your Nursing experience, have you worked with patients undergoing transgender changes? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts and experience.

When Caitlyn Jenner, 65, announced herself to the world on Monday, she joined a group of high-profile transgender women that includes Laverne Cox, star of "Orange is the New Black," and Chelsea Manning. Jenner's debut was greeted with an outpouring of support on Twitter, including politicians thanking her for bringing awareness to transgender people. 

Jenner's story, and others', is indeed bringing gender transitioning, which can involve surgery, hormonal therapy and behavioral changes, into the mainstream. "There's certainly a growing acceptance of gender diversity and understanding of how important [affirming internal gender] is," said Dr. Timothy Cavanaugh, medical director of the Transgender Health Program at Fenway Health.

It is estimated that one in 10,000 people who are born male feel their true identify is female or have a strong desire to be female. There are approximately 100 to 500 genital surgeries every year in the United States as part of gender transition, according to the Encyclopedia of Surgery. But that number could be growing. 

In the older generation, the demographic to which Jenner belongs, "I think many people thought their only option was to hide their internal gender or repress it [because] there wasn't a lot of social support or acceptance," Cavanaugh said. "With growing awareness, people in their 40s, 50s and up are coming to a place where they can do something about it," he added. 

But what does it mean to have gender transition procedures, particularly hormonal therapies and invasive genital and facial surgeries, for this older group, compared with transgender people in their 20s and 30s (which Cavanaugh says is the other common demographic)? Are there health concerns, or benefits, with undergoing physical changes later in life? 

Many transgender people take lifelong hormone therapy, and for transwomen (transitioning from male to female) hormones are estrogens and anti-androgens that block their body's testosterone. Jenner reported undergoing hormone therapy, along with a 10-hour facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation. The Olympic gold medalist and former husband of Kris Kardashian said she has not had genital surgery and it's unclear whether she will.

However, as people age, their bodies become less responsive to hormones, and estrogen's effects. Primarily, breast development and weight redistribution will probably be less dramatic in older transwomen compared with younger, Cavanaugh said. At the same time, doctors tend to prescribe a lower dose of estrogen in older women because of concerns of blood clots, and consequent heart attacks and strokes. 

"It may mean that it takes a little longer, that the feminization is not as vigorous, or the effects may not be as satisfactory in older transwomen," Cavanaugh said. However, physical changes do still occur, and they have clear psychological benefits for these women. (In transmen, or people transitioning from female to male, testosterone therapy is generally viewed as safer than estrogen and more effective, Cavanaugh added.)

Facial surgery can be part of gender transitioning for transwomen who have manly features, such as sagging brows that develop with age, said Dr. David Alessi, facial plastic surgeon and owner and director of the Alessi Institute in Beverly Hills, California. (He added that transwomen who have effeminate faces may not need surgery.)

It is possible to make the face look younger and more feminine at the same time, Alessi said. For example, lifting the brow makes it less saggy and removes wrinkles. But there are limits. "I can make a 60-year-old male look like a 50-year-old woman, but not like a 20-year-old girl," he said. 

The more difficult surgery, for all ages, is genital, and older transgender people have special challenges, Alessi said. In particular, surgeons create a vagina, typically using tissue from the penis. However, that tissue may die in its new location if it does not have good circulation, as is more common in older people, and the surgery would have to be repeated to graft tissue from the colon or mouth, Alessi said. "The goal is to do the genital surgery in one surgery, but more likely it takes two or three surgeries, and that is more likely in older patients," he said. 

There are also general problems with any surgery in people in their 60s and 70s. "Often they develop chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, that makes surgery a little bit more risky" because it could exacerbate these conditions, Cavanaugh said

Gender transitioning does not always involve hormone therapy and surgery, however. Among people in their 20s and 30s, who may have more access to information online and to support groups, "we see a number of younger patients who say, 'I just need my identity affirmed,'" Cavanaugh said. They can sometimes achieve this goal through dress and social behavior and finding groups of like-minded people. 

"[Yet] there are always going to be people who really feel a disconnect between internal gender and anatomy, especially when interacting with the world, that it makes more sense and is really beneficial for them to masculinize or feminize the body," Cavanaugh said.

Topics: transgender, gender, health, seniors, LGBT, caitlyn jenner

Individualized Discharge Planning May be Best for Some Elderly Patients

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 01, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

www.healthleadersmedia.com 

315872 resized 600Hospitals have a broader responsibility to elderly trauma patients than just the time spent within their walls, and should consider updating their strategies to ensure the best outcomes for these patients, research suggests.

Elderly trauma patients are increasingly likely to be discharged to skilled nursing facilities, rather than inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF), finds a study in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery published in the April issue.

Discharge to skilled nursing facilities for trauma patients has, however, been associated with higher mortality compared with discharge to inpatient rehabilitation facilities or home.

Researchers wanted to "better characterize trends in trauma discharges and compare them with a population that is equally dependent on post-discharge rehabilitation." They not only examined trauma discharges, but also discharges of stroke patients, who have been taking up more inpatient rehabilitation facility beds.

Using data from 2003–2009 data from the National Trauma Data Bank and National Inpatient Sample, the retrospective cohort study found that elderly trauma patients were 34% more likely to be discharged to a skilled nursing facility and 36% less likely to be discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. By comparison, stroke patients were 78% more likely to be discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

This is despite the findings of a 2011  JAMA study of patients in Washington State showing that "Discharge to a skilled nursing facility at any age following trauma admission was associated with a higher risk of subsequent mortality."

The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery study notes that "elderly trauma patients are the fastest-growing trauma population," which leads to the question: Where should hospitals be investing their money and time to ensure the best outcomes for these patients?

"I think hospitals should be investing in post-acute care discharge planning," says Patricia Ayoung-Chee, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Surgery, NYU School of Medicine, and lead author of the study. "What's the best post-acute care facility for patients? And it may end up needing to be individualized."

She says reimbursement and insurance factors have "played more of a role than anybody sort of thought about" in discharges, rather than what is always necessarily best for patients.

For example, to be classified for payment under Medicare's IRF prospective payment system, at least 60% of all cases at inpatient rehab facilities must have at least one of 13 conditions that CMS has determined typically require intensive rehabilitation therapy, such as stroke and hip fracture.

"I think the unintended consequence is that we may be discharging patients to the best post-acute care setting, but we also may not be," Ayoung-Chee said by email, and that question "is only now being looked at in-depth."

She says hospitals should think about truly appropriate discharge planning upfront.

Proactive Hospitals
For instance, at admission, hospitals can find out who the patient lives with, or what their social support system is like. If they have a broken dominant hand after a fall, will they be able to get help with their groceries? Do they live alone? Will they be able to use the bathroom?

Caring for patients also doesn't end when patients leave the hospital, she adds. Hence the study's title: "Beyond the Hospital Doors: Improving Long-term Outcomes for Elderly Trauma Patients."

Ayoung-Chee says the next step in her research is to look at a more longitudinal picture, following individual patients to see what factors play into their function or lack of function.

But hospitals can do some of that work on a smaller scale, with internal audits to determine which facilities have the best post-acute care outcomes. For instance, they could spend time examining which facilities had fewer readmissions compared to others, as well as how long it took patients to get home and their how satisfied they were with their care.

Other research is also trying to determine which facilities are best for elderly trauma patients. For instance, a second study, also published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, shows that geriatric trauma patients have improved outcomes when they are treated at centers that manage a higher proportion of older patients.

One of the overarching takeaways from Ayoung-Chee's research is the idea that hospitals have a broader responsibility to patients than just the time spent within their walls.

"What we do doesn't just end upon patient discharge. If we truly want to get the biggest bang from our buck, we're going to have to think about the entire continuum," she says.

That could range from working to prevent falls that can cause elderly trauma, to seeing patients through all of the appropriate care needed to expect a good functional outcome. Good healthcare for elderly trauma patients should extend beyond the parameters of morbidity and mortality, and toward returning patients to their original functional status and, ultimately, independence, says Ayoung-Chee.

"Our long-lasting effect as healthcare providers isn't just what we do in the hospital," she says. "And we have to start thinking outside."

Topics: nursing, health, nurse, nurses, data, medical, patients, patient, elderly, seniors, trauma discharges, discharge, trauma patients, inpatient, helthcare, rehabilitation

Smart Watch That Remotely Monitors Real-Time Health Status Of Older Adults

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 09:49 AM

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The trend of wearable devices (smart accessories) like bracelets, sunglasses and watches, is rarely focused on the elderly population. However, Mexican Francisco Lopez-Lira Fennel, who lives in Spain, wants these devices to be used by older adults benefiting them with the first smart watch that remotely monitors real-time health status.

The aim of the bracelet is to constantly supervise seniors who live alone and could not get help in case of a medical emergency from a fall caused by an accident to a heart attack or an anxiety attack, explained the Mexican, who is also the founder of the company "Cualli Software".

The idea was to design a simple and practical device to offer seniors the assurance that someone is on the lookout for them 24 hours a day, even without living in the same house. Everyday situation in Spain, since according to data from the National Statistics Institute, in that country about 10 percent of Spanish households is inhabited by adults over 64 who live alone.

The smart watch, or bracelet, is a specialized health system, designed for remote monitoring of vital signs of the elderly. Using three sensors; it measures the pulse, temperature and movement, also has an audio channel, small speakers and a microphone to communicate with a call center or via smartphone with a relative who can assist them by pressing the only button on the appliance.

Thanks to wireless internet (wi-fi), or the implementation of a cellular chip to provide 3G data network, it can make an emergency call and contact a doctor. Also, it is complemented with an app for smartphones and tablets with Android and iOS systems that can be downloaded by the remote caregiver for the elderly, and thus get the data of vital signs just by checking the mobile device, because measurements are automatically uploaded to the cloud.

López -Lira Fennel, who is also a member of the Mexican Talent Network, Chapter Spain, adds other features to the bracelet, like the accelerometer and screen orientation, which serve to accommodate it to movement.

Despite the innovative device, its creator stresses that "it doesn't seek to be a smart watch, because it lacks a touchscreen, nor promotes interaction through e-mail or social networks, so it is configured for the elder adult to just put it on and not worry about knowing how to handle it, having a permanent link to the call center to check his vitals or to relatives via smartphone".

The bracelet will facilitate the work of nurses and doctors who work in nursing homes or hospitals, with its help they will be able to monitor the patient remotely, instead of requiring a person to be physically there. This is because every 30 seconds it uploads information to the cloud (blood pressure, pulse, or accidentes) for it to be seen by the doctor as well as a history of the last three months, thus giving the opportunity to prevent health complications.

In order to obtain more funds to achieve a sustainable commercial product, the employer participated in the contest, "I am an entrepreneur, I am of the Mutua", where he was among the 12 projects finalists from a total of 500 participants and also in the "passion> IE "Accenture and IE Business School, being selected among the 4 finalists in the category "Health of the future". The plan, once with a commercial product, is to promote it in Europe and migrate to the US market. (Agencia ID)

Source: www.news-medical.net

Topics: adults, gadgets, wearable, smart, monitor, smart accessories, devices, technology, health, health care, medical, patients, elderly, seniors

Toilet-Trained Therapy Horse Entertains Seniors in Retirement Homes

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 03:06 PM

therapy horse entertains seniors BBCvideo resized 600

A nine-year-old horse has become a surprise hit at care homes across England.

Do you think this type of therapy will be used in America's future?

Rupert is a regular visitor to residential homes, where he entertains and interacts with aging residents.

Equine therapy has been shown to reduce stress and improve hand-eye coordination.

 Source: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

Topics: therapy, animals, therapy horse, retirement home, nurses, medical, medicine, treatment, seniors

Health Literacy And The Use Of The Internet Lacking Among Seniors

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 12:17 PM

By  John DeGaspari

EHR Lead Art

Using the Internet to access health information may be out of reach for many older Americans, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan. According to the study, less than one-third of Americans age 65 and older use the Web. Within that age group less than 10 percent of those with low health literacy, or who lack the ability to navigate the healthcare system, go online for health-related matters.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Data was analyzed from the 2009 and 2010 Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of older adults; about 1,400 of the participants were asked about how often they use the Internet for any purpose, and, in particular, how often they search for health and medical information.

Health literacy was found to be a significant predictor or what people do once they are online. Elderly Americans with low health literacy are less likely to use the Internet at all, according to the researcher; and if members of this group do surf the Web, it is not generally to search for medical or health information.

“In recent years, we have invested many resources in Web-based interventions to help improve people’s health, including electronic health records designed to help patients become more active participants in their care,” according to lead author of the study Helen Levy, Ph.D., research associate professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, in a prepared statement. “But many older Americans, especially those with low health literacy, may not be prepared for these tools.”

Senior author Kenneth Langa, M.D., a professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, cautions that as the Internet becomes more central to health literacy, older Americans face barriers that may sideline them. He recommends that “Programs need to consider interventions that target health literacy among older adults to help narrow the gap and reduce the risk of deepening disparities in health access and outcomes.”

Source: www.healthcare-informatics.com

Topics: studies, EHR, technology, health, healthcare, patients, elderly, seniors, Internet

'Easy-to-walk Communities' Linked To Better Cognition In Older Adults

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Nov 10, 2014 @ 01:42 PM

By Marie Ellis

seniors walking resized 600

It is well known that exercise is good for the mind and body, but to what extent does the neighborhood or community in which we live affect our physical and mental health? New research from the University of Kansas suggests the walkability of a community has a great impact on cognition in older adults.

Previous studies have detailed the importance physical exercise has for executive function in older adults.

But how can the layout of a neighborhood encourage its residents to get out and walk? This is precisely what Amber Watts, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas, wanted to find out.

"Depending on which type of walking [leisure vs. walking to get somewhere] you're interested in, a neighborhood might have different characteristics," she says. "Features of a neighborhood that encourage walking for transportation require having someplace worth walking to, like neighbors' houses, stores and parks."

She adds that neighborhoods that encourage leisure walking have "pleasant things to look at," including walking trails and trees, and they should feel safe.

Her research, which she presented yesterday at the Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting in Washington, DC, suggests that neighborhoods that encourage walking can protect against cognitive decline in older adults.

To conduct her research, Watts used geographic information systems (GIS) to judge walkability. This involved maps that measure and analyze spatial data.

Better physical and mental health

Detailing how she collected her data, Watts explains:

"GIS data can tell us about roads, sidewalks, elevation, terrain, distances between locations and a variety of other pieces of information. We then use a process called space syntax to measure these features, including the number of intersections, distances between places or connections between a person's home and other possible destinations they might walk to."

She also looked at how complicated a route is from one location to another: "For example, is it a straight line from point A to point B, or does it require a lot of turns to get there?"

To conduct the study, Watts and colleagues tracked 25 people with mild Alzheimer's disease and 39 older adults without any cognitive impairment. Using the space syntax data, they created a "walkability score" for the participants' home addresses.

Then, they estimated the relationship between a person's neighborhood scores and how well they performed on cognitive tests over 2 years. The cognitive tests included three categories: attention, verbal memory and mental status. The team also factored in issues that might influence cognitive scores, including age, gender, education and wealth.

Results from the study suggest that communities that are easier to walk in are linked to better physical health outcomes - such as lower body mass and blood pressure - and cognition - including better memory.

Watts and her colleagues believe their findings could benefit older adults, health care professionals, caregivers and even architects and urban planners.

Do mentally complex neighborhoods act like a brain-training game?

Though elaborate community layouts may be expected to confuse older residents, Watts and her team found that they actually serve to keep cognition sharp.

"There seems to be a component of a person's mental representation of the spatial environment, for example, the ability to picture the streets like a mental map," Watts says.

She adds that complicated environments may demand more intricate mental processes in order to navigate them, which could keep the mind sharp. This is in line with previous studies, which have demonstrated how staying mentally active helps to preserve memory.

"Our findings suggest that people with neighborhoods that require more mental complexity actually experience less decline in their mental functioning over time," Watts adds.

She explains that a challenging environment keeps an individual's body and mind healthy:


"With regard to the complexity of neighborhood street layouts - for example, the number of turns required getting from point A to point B - our results demonstrate that more complex neighborhoods are associated with preserved cognitive performance over time.


We think this may be because mental challenges are good for us. They keep us active and working at that optimal level instead of choosing the path of least resistance."

A National Institute on Aging grant, KU Strategic Initiative Grant and Frontiers Clinical Translational Science award helped fund the study.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: health, brain, health care, medicine, community, elderly, lifestyle, seniors, walking, neighborhoods, cognition, residents

Super Food Super Guide for Super Seniors!

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 11:11 AM

By Felicity Dryer

senior foods (2)

Infographic Courtesy of PresidioHomeCare.com

Topics: mental health, physical health, foods, nutrients, health, seniors, infographic

Sensors let Alzheimer's patients stay at home, safely

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 12:36 PM


140825141047 lively pillbox sensor story top resized 600

Mary Lou doesn't know that she's being tracked.

The 77-year-old is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's and though she lives on her own, her family keeps close tabs on her. If she leaves her Washington D.C. home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., a silent sensor on her front door texts her daughter an alert.

There is a sensor on each of Mary Lou's two key chains that detects when she goes outside her condo's grounds. A motion sensor in the kitchen helps monitor her eating habits, and another in the bedroom notes when she wakes up in the morning and catches any sleeping issues. There is even a flood sensor in the laundry room.

All the sensors are made by SmartThings and relay the information back to a small wireless hub. Her two daughters, who act as her caretakers, can monitor it all on a smartphone app and set up special notifications.

"It's kept her to the point where we haven't even had to have in-home care yet. Our goal is to keep her in her home for as long as possible," said her daughter Cathy Johnson.

Caregivers like Johnson are increasingly turning to smart-home technology and wearable devices to monitor family members with Alzheimer's and dementia, helping them live independently longer. One of the first things Alzheimer's patients lose is the ability to learn new things. It makes getting their bearings and adjusting to a new residence especially difficult. But living alone can pose its own dangers, such as leaving a stove on, wandering off or forgetting to take medication.

"Often, decisions about care are made when safety becomes an issue" said said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer's Association. Tools like these sensors "can allow people to feel more comfortable" and ease the transition.

Finding the right system

SmartThings is a DIY home automation system that connects sensors and smart devices with a wireless hub. In addition to sensors like those in Mary Lou's home, the system can loop in smart thermostats, smart plugs, door locks and surveillance cameras.

SmartThings is highly customizable and works easily with third-party sensors, which makes it appealing to people like Cathy Johnson. It also doesn't require a monthly fee, unlike many other systems. (Samsung recently purchased the company for $200 million.)

The elder care tech industry is still young, but Laurie Orlov, an industry analyst, predicts it could be a $20 billion business by 2020. This means that both startups and big-name brands are getting in on the action.

Lowe's, Home Depot, Best Buy, AT&T and Staples all have their own connected home systems and sell starter kits that you can expand by purchasing sensors à la carte.

Systems Lively and BeClose offer senior-specific accessories such as bed, toilet and pillbox sensors. GrandCare offers connected blood pressure, weight and glucose monitoring devices.

Wearable devices can also track health and behaviors, and built-in accelerometers can pick up on physical changes or tell when a wearer has fallen. Tempo is a wristband for seniors that picks up on lapses in routine or changes in gait that might indicate mental or physical deterioration. The device is due out this winter.

"Pet doors, water heaters, you name it we've either got it connected right now or we're in the process of connecting it," said Kevin Meagher, the vice president and general manager of Lowe's smart-home system, IRIS.

Watching without invading privacy

With any device that collects data, privacy can become an issue.

"We want to respect people's autonomy, respect their desire for how they want their care to go. One of the reasons we think people should get diagnosed early is so they can be a part of the conversation," said Kallmyer.

Phil D'Eramo chose to tell his parents about the Lively system he set up in their senior housing. He uses sensors to make sure they take their pills and tracks how many times his father goes to the bathroom at night, information that gets passed on to his doctor. His father, who has Alzheimer's, said it makes him feel more comfortable to know his son is monitoring him.

It helps that Lively includes a social element that appeals to seniors. Caregivers can upload photos, texts and notes to the Lively app from their phones, and once a month Lively will print out and mail the messages and photos to the seniors in a bright orange envelope.

"I compare it to the analog version of Facebook for seniors," said D'Eramo. "It helps them be connected to the digital social world."

The future of memory care

Connected home and wearable technology isn't enough to replace professional care or personal attention from family members. However, it can extend the amount of time a person is able to live independently, and the technology is constantly improving.

"We're just touching the surface of the technology," said D'Eramo. "I think in the future, the Lively base unit could interact with the person, almost like an electronic caregiver."

Source: http://www.cnn.com

Topics: technology, disease, Alzheimer's, patients, seniors, sensors, smart device

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