Did you know that on December 21st the FDA took steps towards approving the first-ever Genetically Engineered animal intended to end up on our dinner plates. Genetically Engineered Salmon (GE Salmon) were created by scientists to they grow twice as fast as natural salmon. Salmon are carnivorous and eat other fish. Currently farmed salmon require about 4-9 lbs. of food for every pound of salmon produced. Natural salmon also grow slowly taking about 3 years to reach normal adult size. This is one reason farm supplied salmon is costly to purchase.
Salmon have always been known to be an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA). Omega-3s help protect against heart disease, promote healthy skin and joints and are essential to proper neurological development in unborn babies and young children. Because of the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids , the American Heart Association’s (AHA) dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least two servings of fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids per week.
Since the Omega-3 content varies widely in fish, it is important to note that ocean-farmed Atlantic salmon, at 1.9 grams per serving, and species of wild salmon, provide higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than most other fish sources (tests have indicated that GE Salmon have lower levels of Omega-3s and other vitamins). Fresh yellow-fin tuna, for example, provides 0.2 gram per serving, swordfish provides 0.6 gram per serving and flounder provides 0.2 gram per serving. Mackerel, at 2.5 grams per serving, is another high-level source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
So what is so bad about GE Salmon?
The approval of GE salmon is being classified as a “new animal drug” not a food additive and is not subject to a through safety review. Although there is some concern, regulatory agencies do not require studies on human health. There are also environmental concerns. Just a few escaped GE salmon pose a serious threat of overtaking the entire wild population of Salmon in less than 40 generations. Finally, GE Salmon will not be labeled as such so consumers will be unaware of what type of salmon they are purchasing. Approval of this GE fish will open the door to new, unlabeled genetically engineered animals into our food supply.
Science — Naylor et al. 282 (5390): 883
A recent study published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that seniors who are bedridden, have little physical activity who develop bedsores (pressure ulcer) have an increased rate of mortality. Although the study primarily addressed “hospital-acquired” pressure ulcers, this also applies to elderly individuals living at home.
Bedsores are the result of continuous pressure on the skin and underlying tissue. They usually form on the hips, buttocks, legs, or ankles. They can form when a person has limited ability to turn in bed or if they sit in a wheelchair for long periods of time in the same position. When the pressure between the skin and the bone becomes too great the flow of oxygen rich blood is reduced and cells begin to die.
The risk of infections developing in bedsores is increased if they are not treated immediately and effectively. Individuals that are at risk for developing bedsores and need to have preventative steps taken are those that:
- Do not have the ability to respond to pressure-related discomfort
- Are at risk for exposing the skin to moisture such as urine
- Are not physically active
- Are not able to change and control body position
- Have poor nutrition
- Have a medical condition such as diabetes, renal failure, sepsis, malnutrition, stroke, etc
A family member or caregiver must be made aware that they are a key part to bedsore prevention. To help prevent bedsores, the individual needs to change position at least every 1-2 hours. Doing wheelchair “push-ups” that lift the hips and buttocks off the seat can be helpful. A wheelchair that can tilt at different angles will also relieve pressure and restore blood flow to the affected areas. For those that are bedridden and still have upper body strength pulling up on a “trapeze bar” mounted over the bed will relieve pressure.
Once a bedsore develops the family or facility must insure that the individual is provided with appropriate nursing care and a pressure-reducing surface such as:
- Pressure reducing wheelchair cushion
- Gel overlay for the bed
- Passive low air loss mattress replacement
- Active alternating pressure mattress replacement
- Wound vac
What is chosen depends on the severity of the bedsore. If the individual is using a pressure-reducing surface and the bedsore still persists then more aggressive measures must be taken.
Brandon O’Brien, RRT
J Am Geriatr Soc 60:1603-1608, 2012
Often overlooked, one of the primary causes of falls may be the number and types of medications taken. Falls in the elderly may result in broken hips, concussions, bruising and even death. Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again in 6 months. The majority of the lifetime cost of injury for people 65 or over is due to falls. One-fourth of those who fracture a hip die within 6 months of the injury.
Many people are quick to address hazards in the environment that need to be changed such as using non-slip rugs, hand rails in the bathroom, a raised toilet seat, a shower chair a chair lift for stairs, and ramps. The elderly person is likely to invest in a cane or walker or wheelchair to aid with their walking.
However, an issue that isn’t always immediately recognized as a factor in increased falls are the medications that have been prescribed by a doctor in whom the elderly puts their trust. The elderly person, and perhaps the doctor as well, is totally unaware of the role that medications can play in the increased number of falls. Medications such as sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs can all contribute to falls by reducing mental alertness, worsening balance and gait, and causing drops in systolic blood pressure when getting up. Elderly people who take multiple medications are at greater risk of falling. If an elderly person is on four or more prescription medications and has been falling, they need to get a medication consultation from a geriatric specialist. Doctors are not always aware of how medications interact, the proper dosage for an elderly individual, or if there are natural alternatives available. Although this is starting to be addressed in some medical schools today most of the currently licensed physicians did not have this type of training.
Back injury is one of the most common types of injury so it is important to learn how to do prevent them through proper lifting.
A common form of back injury is a muscle strain. Getting out of position during lifting can put a great deal of stress on the lower back muscles, and when the demand is too high the muscles can be injured. This injury is due to tiny tears in the muscle.
This type of back injury can be quite painful, making it difficult to move the affected and surrounding area. When a back muscle is strained, it can even be painful to breathe normally. A back strain will typically heal, although it often takes a long time (a few weeks or months).
- Plan ahead before lifting.
Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while moving something heavy. Avoid picking up heavy objects that are below your knees or above your shoulders.
- Lift close to your body.
Make sure you have a firm hold on the object you are lifting. Keep it balanced close to your body.
- Feet shoulder width apart.
A solid base of support is important while lifting. Holding your feet too close together will be unstable, too far apart will hinder movement. Keep the feet about shoulder width apart and take short steps.
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
Focus on keeping your spine straight–raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees.
- Tighten your stomach muscles.
Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent your spine from twisting.
- Lift with your legs.
Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles. Lower to the ground by bending your knees, not your back. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps to keep your back straight.
- If you’re straining, get help.
If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, use a mechanical aid or make sure you have someone around who can help.
- Wear a back support.
A back belt can help you maintain a better lifting posture. These are readily available at sporting supply stores or pharmacies.
Whether you are an individual taking care of a loved one or a hired caregiver you are most prone to sustaining an injury when moving the individual in / out of bed or a wheelchair. Your chances of injury are multiplied if you are in a hurry or working by yourself.
In 2010 and 2011 injuries in “Health Care and Social Assistance” accounted for nearly one in five (20%) of the reported injuries sustained in private industry. This number only accounts for work related incidents. An injured family member is not likely to file a workers compensation claim so this number must be lower than the actual number of injuries experienced while taking care of an individual. In 2010 individuals providing health care in the workplace had a 6% increase in workers compensation incidences. Back and shoulder disorders increased 10% for nurses aides, orderlies and attendants. Fortunately these numbers decreased in 2011 primarily to changes instituted in hospitals. In 2011 sprains, strains and tears accounted for 38% of the total cases requiring days away from work in all areas. Of these, 22% were due to lifting or lowering.
Here’s some tips to help prevent caregiver injuries:
- Let the equipment, not your back, do the lifting.
- Don’t rush. Think through what and how you’re lifting.
- Learn and educate yourself on the proper lifting techniques.
- Find a good chiropractor 🙂
If you are the sole caregiver for your loved one or just helping out it is extremely critical for you to remain healthy. If you injure your back, neck or shoulder and are no longer able to provide the care you were providing, what is going to happen to the individual you were providing care for? Will they be able to remain at home? Will their level of care be sufficient? Will they or you be able to afford extended outside care? These are all questions that need to be asked.
The cost of acquiring quality health care equipment or its rental is not inexpensive but that cost must be weighed against the cost of an injury, time away from work, and the added burden and worry placed on the one that is receiving care.
All of us at Associated Partners in Healthcare are dedicated to maintaining your quality of life. Statistics are just cold numbers until you become one of those numbers. Don’t become a statistic.