Blood pressure tends to increase with age due to a variety of factors including structural changes to blood vessels. While this is “normal,” the guidelines about what is not a normal blood pressure by age no longer adjusts for those over 65 years old.

This comes from a change in recommendations in 2015 by the American Heart Association following an extensive trial over a three year period. As you can see in the chart below, hypertension (elevated blood pressure) starts at 120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic, no matter the age of the individual.

Click here to learn about low blood pressure in the elderly. 

Normal Blood Pressure by Age

Normal blood pressure by age from AHA

WHAT CAUSES NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE TO INCREASE WITH AGE?

The main cause of increased blood pressure with age is decreased ability of blood vessels to expand. This is caused by decreased elastic tissue which makes your arteries stiffer. With each beat of the heart, the pulse of blood pushed through the arteries increases pressure on the vessels. The more flexible and elastic your arteries are, the less your systolic blood pressure will spike with each pulse. Diastolic blood pressure measures the amount of force placed on the arteries between pulses. 

Factors which can lead to increased blood pressure with age include:

10 STEPS TO DECREASE BLOOD PRESSURE AS WE AGE

Doctor with stethoscope to check for normal blood pressure by age

Those 10 tips will help you achieve a normal blood pressure by age and reduce risk of serious side effects related to stress and elevated blood pressure. 

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If you are interested in more information related to helping your loved one stay happy and healthy at home for as long as possible, sign up for the newsletter. I will send you ideas and best practices for helping your senior stay safe and out of the healthcare system. And in the unfortunate event that they do need healthcare, there is information to help navigate that process as smoothly as possible. 

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Navigating the healthcare system can be challenging, especially as the patient. If you or a loved one is seeing the difficulties, you may be asking what is a patient advocate and do I need one? 

Man in hospital bed talking to doctor. Wondering "What is a patient advocate?"

WHAT IS A PATIENT ADVOCATE?

A patient advocate is any person or organization that helps the patient navigate the healthcare system. They communicate with the providers to ensure the patient has the most information to make the best decision about their healthcare. Scheduling appointments for MD visits or tests is another way patient advocates can assist the patients they are working with. They can also help set up necessary financial, legal and social support. Some patient advocates are doctors and lawyers who are able to review medical bills and have in depth knowledge of medical procedures to help you choose the best course of action.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PATIENT ADVOCATES?

There are 2 types of paid patient advocates, clinical and private. A clinical patient advocate is someone who is paid for by the hospital, insurance company or organization. Their role will be mostly focused on making sure the patient has their questions answered, next appointments and setting up medical tests to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible for the patient.

Private patient advocates are hired and paid for by the patient as an independent third party to assist with the healthcare journey. They often review medical records and go to bat for the patient if they are being billed by a provider for unnecessary services, or negotiate with insurance companies when necessary medical expenses are not covered. They can seem expensive, but can be worth the money if these services are necessary. This article goes into detail about how to find this type of patient advocate if needed.

What is a patient advocate discussed with Doctor

CAN I BE A PATIENT ADVOCATE FOR MY LOVED ONE?

If you are reading this thinking about the help your loved one needs navigating the healthcare journey, you can assist them and advocate for them, assuming you have their permission. Below are 6 steps to help at this time. 

WHY IS PATIENT ADVOCACY IMPORTANT?

 There are times when due to medical conditions or stress, our loved ones are not able to absorb complex medical information given in the hospital or clinic setting. Fear or embarrassment can take over and they may freeze and forget to ask a very important question. Or shock can occur and very little or no understanding of the information provided by the medical team can sink in. These situations lead to increased anxiety and depression which lead to worse health outcomes. Being there as an advocate for a loved one can make all the difference and allow them to work through, process and understand the direction of their medical care so that they can make the most informed decision that is best for them.

If you are a caregiver for an aging parent and would like more information related to this topic subscribe to my newsletter below. You will receive a free balance program and common fall hazards around the home and how to fix them, just for signing up!

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Winn

Symptoms of dehydration in the elderly to look for include: dry mouth, fatigue, muscle cramps, sunken eyes, reduced urine output, dark urine, low blood pressure, elevated heart rate, confusion and difficulty walking.

medication and medical equipment to reduce symptoms of dehydration in the elderly

The human body is up to 60% water in healthy adults. According to hydration for health, over the course of a normal lifespan, we lose approximately 15% of our body’s water. This can lead to symptoms of dehydration in the elderly and serious complications including: decreased cognitive function, changes in mood, decreased alertness and energy and increased risk of falls, increased constipation, and hospitalizations. 

10 SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION IN THE ELDERLY

low blood pressure being checked as one of the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly

CAUSES OF DEHYDRATION IN THE ELDERLY

Dehydration is caused by a negative fluid inflow/outflow balance. This is the result of loss of fluid from urination, bowel movements, sweating, vomiting, or bleeding without adequate water intake to replace this lost fluid. There are many reasons seniors are especially at risk for dehydration including: decreased sense of thirst, medication side effects, reduced mobility, reduced cognition, medical conditions. 

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When you notice any of the above causes or symptoms of dehydration in the elderly, it is best to encourage fluid intake even when they are not thirsty. Water is the best option for hydration and tea, coffee and alcohol are diuretics which will reduce water retention. Encourage water consumption throughout the day by keeping a water bottle close by and reminding them to drink a bit with each meal, between meals and after any type of activity. Fruits, vegetables and soups can also be good for additional fluid intake at meal times. With increased preparedness and consistency you can help your loved one decrease their risk of complications related to dehydration.

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Aging in place definition: The ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.

This is from the CDC’s Healthy Places Terminology. Also, you can take a look at the Complete Guide to Aging in Place.

The aging in place definition can be broken down into 4 parts: Home, Community, Age and Ability level.

smiling woman sitting front of table considering aging in place definition

AGING IN PLACE DEFINITION PART 1

Your home: The size of your home, layout and setup may be the most important features  to consider when looking to age in place. Ranch style homes between 1200 and 1600 square feet are usually a good starting point, because stairs are the single most challenging part for many people as they age. Although other sizes and styles of homes can work, everyone is different and should be addressed as such. Kitchen safety and bathroom safety are two areas to focus on as most injuries within the home happen in one of these areas. Remodeling is something to consider if your home, bathroom or kitchen is not currently set up for safety and convenience as one ages. Universal design is a concept to look into to create a senior friendly home. Check out Aging Care for a more in depth look at universal design. 

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AGING IN PLACE DEFINITION PART 2

Your Community: This is your support network of friends and family as well as access to medical care. “No one is an island” is true and becomes even more true as we age. It is a natural part of life to need increased assistance at times and more frequent trips to a healthcare provider as the years go on. Do you live near friends and family members? If so, and they are willing and able to provide some assistance at times, it can greatly increase one’s ability to age in place. Everything from occasionally providing meals, driving to appointments, company for shopping trips or community activities,  light house work or just checking in, hanging out and talking for a while can increase quality of life and help one remain safely in their home for as long as possible.

Drawing of community of people living the aging in place definition

AGING IN PLACE DEFINITION PART 3

Age: This is the third part of the aging in place definition. This may seem the most obvious, but it is still an important factor, and one that can’t be avoided. With increased age, comes wisdom and experience. These can be helpful for navigating the changes we will be going through. Decreased vision, decreased balance, decreased strength, greater risk of falls, decreased bone density, decreased cognition and decreased fine motor control are all natural results of increasing age. The good news is there are ways to reduce the effects of these changes associated with aging. Being aware of what to expect and how to slow the decline can increase one’s ability to safely live at home.

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AGING IN PLACE DEFINITION PART 4

Ability level: This can also be thought of as functional independence. Can you get through your day safely with the skills, and assistive devices you have? For the last however many years, this was no trouble, but now there are more challenges everyday it seems. This is normal and can be overcome. For example: With young healthy knees, ascending/descending a flight of stairs was not something to avoid. With age and arthritis, the two steps to get into the home seem like a mountain that must be conquered for every trip to the grocery store. Knowing what to do to improve strength and use assistive devices to make this task less of a burden will help you age in place. 

As you can see from the aging in place definition, this is a concept about staying out of the healthcare system for as long as possible to enjoy the greatest quality of life in your own home. Check out this post for an in depth look at aging in place vs. step up in care model.