March 30, 2017

My Walkers and My Falls since the Hip Replacement Operation

In my last post, I detailed why falls by the elderly are ominous. All too often, they put a once-healthy individual on an inexorable downhill slide.

I fractured my right hip on January 20, making that day (also #45's inauguration) doubly depressing. I had a hip replacement operation at Sibley Hospital here in Northwest Washington, followed by a week at Sibley's Renaissance rehab center. Since returning home, I've been working with an excellent physical therapist.

Much of my time in rehab was spent learning to use a walker. Before being released, I purchased a walker like the one I used there. I had another walker at home that I'd occasionally used during last spring's shingles attack.

I live in a split-level house. I spend almost all my time on either the ground floor (living room, dining room, kitchen, and screened-in back porch) or the upper level (master bedroom and bath, office, and guest bedroom and bath). I keep a small refrigerator and microwave in my office now, and the closet has become my  pantry, stocked with groceries, juice, and bottles of water.

The lower level and garage of my split-level house were converted into separate living quarters for my Kathmandu family -- Nimesh, Bhawana, and their daughter Nivah, who just celebrated her first birthday.

My Two Walkers
The Renaissance rehab walker is pretty basic, and not really suitable for use outdoors. It stays upstairs, where I use it to move between bedroom and office. Here it is:

We added the basket in the front and hung a tote bag from the side levers.

March 27, 2017

Falls and the Elderly and Me

My recent fall -- which fractured my hip and led to hip replacement surgery -- has become a major concern. Most of us have heard stories like this: an elderly person falls and breaks something -- a hip, a wrist, an arm. As a result, a once healthy, independent senior begins an inexorable downhill slide.

The statistics support my concern. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death, and the third leading cause of poor health among persons aged 65 and older.

Nearly a third of older people experience functional decline after a fall, and many confront psychological difficulties directly related to the fall. Among these psychological consequences are fear of falling, activity avoidance, and loss of self-confidence. Together, these consequences have been labeled "post-fall syndrome."

Not surprisingly, seniors susceptible to falls also face higher rates of hospitalization and institutionalization. Hospital stays are almost twice as long in elderly patients who were admitted because they fell. Those same patients are at greater risk for subsequent institutionalization.

One in four elderly people who sustain a hip fracture die within six months of the injury. Over 50 percent of older patients who survive hip fractures are discharged to nursing homes, and nearly half of these patients are still there one year later. Hip fracture survivors experience a 10-15 percent decrease in life expectancy and a meaningful decline in overall quality of life.

March 18, 2017

This Aged Drama Queen Becomes a Coverboy for the First Time

I've often written posts about my love for my DC neighborhood, the Palisades. But some call it Kent. The Palisades and Kent have the same geographic boundaries with one exception. The southern boundary of the Palisades is the Potomac River, but Kent's southern boundary is MacArthur Boulevard. As a result, Kent excludes the "riffraff" living in the homes between MacArthur and the river, many of which are assessed at less than $1 million.

In 2015, The Kent Connection, a fairly fancy monthly, began appearing in our mailboxes. It's funded by advertisers eager to reach potential customers in our upscale 'hood. The magazine runs stories with photos about people, places, and happenings in Palisades/Kent.

Someone suggested to the editor that she run a story about me and my long connection with the neighborhood. I've always preferred calling it the Palisades and viewed the Kent label as a somewhat elitist designation popular with realtors and others interested in making us appear upscale and affluent.

Any concerns along those lines quickly disappeared during my first meeting with Sarah Taylor, the magazine's director. Nothing elitist about her. Her background includes a seven-year stint as VP/General Manager of a classic rock radio station in Washington.

I was surprised when a photo of me with my home family appeared on the cover of the magazine's March issue. Nimesh, much more computer savvy than I am, found a way to capture some of the photos and text, below:

March 17, 2017

Oh What A Beutiful Morning!

That song title from the musical Oklahoma kept coming to mind last Tuesday morning when, after Washington's first real snowstorm of the winter, my home family (also referred to on this blog as "my Kathmandu family") had a rare and welcome opportunity to spend some quality time together.

The overnight snowfall wasn't the blizzard the weather reporters had predicted, but it was enough to close most area schools and businesses (including the World Bank, where my housemates Nimesh and Bhawana are employed). When they go to work, their daughter Nivah -- who will celebrate her first birthday this coming week -- goes to the babysitter. So, on weekdays, I'm usually leaving "home alone."

Weekends, given the significant difference in our ages and backgrounds, we tend to go our separate ways. So the opportunity for a full morning of family time was most welcome!

Our first snowstorm called for our first fire in the fireplace. The four of us spent most of the morning enjoying the family time around the fireplace.

Nivah shows the happiness we all were feeling:

March 16, 2017

I'm Still Here but with a New Right Hip and a New Microphone for my Dragon

It's been over three weeks since my last blog post. I've started getting phone calls and emails from friends concerned that I might have had a setback after my hip replacement. Others hadn't even heard about the surgery.

Actually, my silence had nothing to do with the surgery or my health. I had decided to replace the microphone I'd been using with my Dragon voice recognition software with a wireless headset microphone from Sennheiser. You could not believe how difficult the new installation was for this 87-year-old man with Parkinson's. Fortunately Sennheiser's support staff was incredibly helpful and patient. I've been using the new microphone for several days, and I'm very happy with it. But this effort most definitely should not have been a self-help project!

Here's a quick update on my recent health happenings. It's been an interesting start to the new year.

The Hip Replacement
January 20th -- Inauguration Day -- was not a good day for me or for the nation. I fell at home and fractured my right hip.

This setback was just the start of a series of problems I encountered over the next few weeks, all because of prescribed drugs.

Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?
That's the title of a 2012 bestselling book by Armon B. Neel, a fifth-generation pharmacist. In 2010, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists gave him its annual achievement award. As a consulting pharmacist, he visits hospitals and nursing homes daily and counsels patients on how their prescriptions could be interacting dangerously. Neel also suggests how people might be able to reduce the number of medications they take.

In his book, Neel describes the risks, dangers, and benefits of prescription drugs. He explains what factors must be taken into account when medical professionals prescribe meds for older patients, and he details the catastrophic consequences that can occur when those healthcare pros aren't vigilant.

Neel is a pioneer in the field of geriatric drug therapy. Enter his name in the search box above and you'll find links to several of my blog posts inspired by his book.

I thought about this book often during the events of the past couple of months.