Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

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Seniors

Healthy living can help you age well and maintain your mental agility, physical strength, and overall vitality. It's never too late to begin taking better care of yourself. We offer resources and information especially for older adults.

Overview

While not all seniors are in ill health – many are vibrant and healthy into old age – at some point in the aging process, certain common conditions tend to occur. If you are living with conditions such as urinary incontinence or vision or hearing changes that get in the way of daily activities, there may be better ways to manage them. It can be frustrating if you feel that you have lost control of your body. However, there are still many aspects of your health and well-being that you can control. 

You can make daily choices that can positively affect your health, from knowing the right type of sunglasses to wear to being prepared with enough medication in an emergency. By becoming more aware of your body and what is best for you, you can take important steps to keep your body and mind healthy and strong. 

Hearing Loss

Although you can experience hearing loss at any time during your life, hearing loss becomes more common as people age. Age-related hearing loss eventually affects one-third of people by the time they reach age 60 and more than half of those over age 85.

Your friends and family members may notice first that you're losing your hearing. Sounds may seem muffled or distant, especially when there is background noise. 

Limiting your exposure to loud noise is one thing you can do to prevent hearing loss. It is important to contact us if you suspect a problem so we can arrange a hearing test.

Living with hearing loss

Hearing loss can seem challenging and frustrating, but there are many technologies available that can help you hear more clearly or receive messages in alternate ways. Here are a few examples of tools you can use to make living with hearing loss easier:

  • Hearing aids can help you manage your hearing loss. These devices amplify all sounds, including background noise.
  • Assistive listening devices make certain sounds louder by bringing the sound directly to your ear and reducing background noise.
  • Alerting devices call attention to a particular sound such as  a doorbell or ringing telephone by transmitting louder sounds, lights, or vibrations to get your attention.
  • Speech reading works by paying close attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice.
  • Television closed-captioning displays the words at the bottom of your screen so that you can read them. Most TVs have a built-in closed-captions option.
  • TTY/TTD is a newer technology that includes TTY (text telephone) and TDD (telecommunication). This device allows you to type messages back and forth on the telephone instead of talking or listening.
Additional References:

Vision Loss

Good vision is important for safe driving, reading, meal preparation, fall prevention, and proper medication use, as well as many other aspects of daily life. It is important to be aware of changes in your vision for your health and for your safety.

Keep your eyes healthy

There are things you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible:

  • Wear sunglasses that block UV-A and UV-B radiation.
  • Maintain an active, healthy lifestyle with a vitamin-rich diet, including dark leafy greens and fish high in omega 3s.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Get regular eye exams.
  • Let your doctor know right away if you have any changes in vision or pain or redness in your eyes.
Common age-related eye conditions

There are certain vision problems that may develop as you age. The most common age-related conditions include glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

  • Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause loss of vision or blindness.
  • Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. A cataract can scatter or block light coming into your eye and impair your eye's ability to focus images clearly, resulting in blurry vision and glare. 
  • Age-related macular degeneration is a disease of the retina that can lead to the loss of central vision (the center of your visual field). Early detection and treatment can help you keep your central vision. 
  • Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. Changes to your vision occur as blood sugar damages the tiny vessels that supply blood to the retina. Maintaining good blood sugar control can help prevent this complication of diabetes.
Managing with less-than-perfect vision

If you or your loved one is living with vision impairment, there are things that can make life more manageable:

  • We can provide a low-vision evaluation to help make use of remaining vision if you or your loved one's visual acuity is 20/70 or worse with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Use Sharpie markers to label medicines or other supplies.
  • Acquire vision aids if vision is severely damaged. We have resources in our Health Education Department, and the organization Prevent Blindness Northern California can help you as well.
  • Some of our Kaiser Permanente Optical shops offer low-vision aids such as magnifiers designed to assist you in performing specific visual tasks. Ask us to schedule a low-vision evaluation for you or your loved one if you would like assistance in selecting low-vision aids.
  • Position lighting so that it is not aimed at anyone's eyes. Add extra table lamps and floor lamps where more lighting is needed.
  • Make sure entry areas and stairs are well lit to avoid falls. Mark these areas with contrasting paint or tape so they can easily be seen.

Managing Your Medications

There are several steps you can take to better manage your medications, including:

Keep your medications organized

Keeping track of your medications is an important part of staying healthy. Keep prescriptions organized to help you remember to take them and to follow the correct dosage instructions. 

  • Plan ahead and use a pillbox to divide your pills by the day or even by the time of day. 
  • Keep your medications in a safe, dry place out of the reach of children and pets. Read the pharmacy insert to see if your medications need to be kept in a certain environment or temperature.
  • Be aware of the names of your medications, what they look like, and what condition you take them for.
Remember to take medications on schedule

Take your medications as part of your daily routine. It can help to keep them by your toothbrush, so you remember to take them after you brush your teeth, or near the table where you eat dinner. Use an alarm system to alert you when to take your pills or time your usual dose with a favorite TV show so you know when to take it. 

Refill medications before they run out

Make sure you refill your medications before you run out. Check your medication label for the phone number to call to order your prescriptions or refill them online. You can have your prescriptions mailed to you for no extra fee, or you can pick them up at your local Kaiser Permanente pharmacy. You can also use Kaiser Permanente's prescription reminder program, which will send you an e-mail reminder when it is time to refill your prescriptions. 

Understand dosages and side effects

It is important to take your medications exactly as prescribed to you by your doctor. Do not stop taking medications unless instructed to by a clinician. Make sure you read all instructions carefully and are aware of possible side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any instructions you are unsure about.

Plan for emergencies
  • Have at least 2 weeks' worth of current prescription medications in their packaging with all instruction leaflets, as well as all needed medical devices.
  • Obtain copies of your medical records for your disaster supplies kit and your support network. Consider visiting the Medical Records department at your medical center to obtain a portable electronic medical record, a small device you can plug in to any computer.
When to call

If you are experiencing an emergency or severe reaction to a medication, call 911 right away or go to the nearest Emergency Room. 

If anything is unclear to you concerning your medications, or you have questions about dosage instructions or side effects, please talk to us so that we can help you.

Additional References:

Urinary Incontinence

The release of urine due to loss of bladder control is common as people age. This can happen when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or change positions. Men who have an enlarged prostate, postmenopausal women, smokers, and obese people may experience incontinence. 

Women. As women age, lower estrogen levels cause changes in the lining of the bladder and urethra. This can decrease the ability of the urethra to tightly seal, resulting in leaking urine. Bladder muscles may weaken or become hyperactive, and tissues supporting the urethra also weaken.

Men. In men, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate gland, is a normal part of aging. As changes in hormone balance and cell growth occur, the prostate may enlarge and cause narrowing or blockage of the urethra, causing problems with urination.

How to live with urinary incontinence

Loss of bladder control is common. Try not to feel embarrassed or frustrated by it. There are steps you can take to help prevent, control, or even cure the symptoms of urinary incontinence:

  • Avoid drinking fluids 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine because these beverages can stimulate the bladder.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight to reduce the pressure on the bladder.
  • Quit smoking to decrease coughing that contributes to leaking urine.
  • Wear absorbent pads or briefs to help manage the condition.
  • Try Kegel exercises to allow for better control of urine flow and to prevent leaking.

Several Kaiser Permanente facilities offer classes and information about managing urinary incontinence. Contact your facility's Health Education center or logon to kp.org to send me a secure message or request more information. If you have questions about urinary incontinence, we can discuss them during your next visit.

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If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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