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Marjorie P. Lee Senior Living Blog

5 Signs Mom Needs New Dentures

Dentures play a major role in senior health care today, offering a comfortable, natural-looking alternative for men and women who have lost some or all of their natural teeth. And although the materials comprising today's dentures have significantly improved compared to dentures of even just a decade ago, at some point in time, most dentures are going to need to be replaced with a new set, or at least relined to improve the way the current set fits.

If mom or dad complains of the following symptoms, it may be a sign that new dentures are in order:

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Bad Dentures Can Lead to Serious Oral Health Problems

One of the most difficult changes to become accustomed to as we age is the loss of our natural teeth. Yet even with a lifetime of proper brushing and flossing, tooth loss remains a major senior health care issue, whether it involves the loss of a few teeth or all of them. Not only does tooth loss interfere with the ability to chew and speak “normally,” but it can also take a major toll on a person's self-confidence.

Fortunately, dentures can provide a durable, long-lasting solution to missing teeth, and today's dentures are far more lightweight and natural-looking than those you may remember just a few decades ago. Plus, there are immediate or “same-day” dentures that let a person replace his or her teeth as soon as they're extracted—no more waiting around for weeks while dentures are slowly crafted in a lab. Dental implants have also made denture-wearing more comfortable, providing a stable base for dentures to attach to so slippage is prevented.

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Studies Show Over-Prescription of Medications for Seniors

Caring for an aging parent is a major responsibility; you have to make sure that mom and dad are physically safe, emotionally stable, and that their health care needs are met. One of the biggest challenges of senior care can be helping a parent manage his or her medications—especially if mom or dad is dealing with chronic health conditions. Many seniors have so many prescriptions that must be taken each day that they have to rely on pill-sorting boxes to keep them all straight. And things get even more complicated when studies are beginning to cast doubt on the effectiveness of two popularly prescribed types of medications.

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It’s the Same Old News for Medicare: Seniors are Targets for Fraud

At a recent "hunger summit" meeting in Dallas, an offhand remark about the $90 billion each year in Medicare fraud was greeted with disbelief from listeners. While that estimate may be on the high end, Medicare fraud is no small problem in senior health care, ranking right up there with the dual concerns of hunger and proper nutrition among the nation's aging population.

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the government confirms that fraud involving various Medicare systems accounts for between $60-90 billion annually. In California, according to investigators, about 20% of the fraudulent claims involve durable medical equipment such as knee and back braces, mobility aids and other supplies that may be offered "free of charge" with no professional evaluation.

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What You Need to Know about Caring for a Celiac Parent

Celiac disease is a health condition that can afflict people who are already genetically predisposed and have issues consuming foods that contain gluten found in grains such as rye, wheat, and barley. It is an autoimmune disorder that leads to small intestine damage and affects around 1 in 100 people around the world, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. People who are over 60 years old make up as much as 33 percent of all people who are diagnosed with this condition, reports the National Institutes of Health.

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A Good Relationship with Mom’s Pharmacist Could Save Her Life

When it comes to senior health care, the role of the pharmacist as a critical member of the care team is somewhat underappreciated. Although pharmacists, throughout the course of most of our lifetimes, has been relegated to the roles of simply filling and dispensing doctors' prescriptions, their role is now morphing into that of a limited care provider.

Some states now offer pharmacists the option of obtaining an Advanced Practice Pharmacy (APP) designation. This allows them to provide some services that have heretofore been the exclusive purvey of primary care providers. Pharmacists are now administering vaccines, performing basic wellness checks and coordinating medication regimens. They're providing tobacco cessation treatments and counseling, prescribing birth control and even proactively ordering lab tests to monitor drug regimen compliance.

Why? There are several reasons. Let's take a look at a few of them.

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Senior Health Care Can Be a Joke. Sometimes That's a Good Thing.

Spending time in the hospital doesn't have to be a scary experience. In some cases, it can be downright funny—or so seniors at Sibley Memorial Hospital are finding. Once a month, seniors in Washington's DC area make a trip to the hospital, but it is a visit which they all actually look forward to making. That is because Sibley Memorial plays host to the Laugh Cafe, a monthly comedy meet-up for adults over 50.

The Laugh Cafe, a program sponsored by the Sibley Senior Association, held the first hour-long meeting in August of 2012, and the popularity of the program continues to grow. Participants love the group's camaraderie, and enjoy most of the jokes, even the bad ones.

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Isolation Is One of the Greatest Health Risks Facing Seniors

As your parents age, you likely have a growing number of worries about their health, safety at home and general wellbeing. These senior health care concerns often focus on diet, memory, mobility, and independence. One issue that is often overlooked, but which can have a significant negative impact on an elderly parent’s health, is isolation.

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3 Chronic Conditions That Are Especially Dangerous for Older Men

With all of the sporting events and barbecue weather, it’s not a stretch to see why Congress selected June to observe Men’s Health Week back in 1994. In the years since, the health observance has grown from a week-long event to encompass an entire month that men, of all ages, across the nation are encouraged to celebrate by attending “screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities.”

Sounds like a real hoedown. But, any excuse for a party. On a more serious note, June is a good opportunity for men of all ages to make a thoughtful assessment of their physical condition and what they can do to get healthier, but it’s seniors who really have to get serious about health care.

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