Are You Having painful leg cramps?

Some studies suggest that more than two-thirds of older persons have experienced painful night-time leg cramps.  These cramps typically affect the calf muscles, but you may also get them in the feet or thighs.  This article, written by Dr. Armon B. Neel, Jr, and published in AARP’s “Ask the Pharmacist” lists 8 types of drugs that can cause leg cramps:

  1. Short-acting loop diuretics (water pills) help the body get rid of excess fluid by moving it into the urine.  These diuretics also known as Bumex or Lasix may also increase the body’s excretion of some electrolytes including sodium, chloride, and potassium through the urine.  Alternative:  A low dose of a long-acting loop diuretic, such as Demadex or Torsemide may reduce the risk of electrolyte loss.  You might consider cutting back on salt, exercise more, and watch your fluid intake.  And be sure to consult a health care professional before beginning a new exercise regimen.
  2. Thiazide diuretics are mostly used to treat high blood pressure, CHF, edema, and other conditions.  Otherwise known as chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide, indapamide, and metolazone they can deplete key electrolytes, causing leg cramps and other muscle problems.  Alternative: Speak with your health care provider about switching to a low dose or a long-acting loop diuretic such as Torsemide (Demadex), which can significantly reduce the risk of electrolyte loss, or to another hypertension medication.  It may be helpful to cut back on salt, exercise more, and control your fluid intake but be careful with salt substitutes because they may contain potassium chloride which can also cause electrolyte imbalances.  Consult a healthcare professional before beginning a new exercise regimen.
  3. Beta-Blockers are typically prescribed to treat high blood pressure and arrhythmias.  They may slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure by blocking the effect of adrenaline.  Beta-blockers are also used to treat angina, migranes, tremors, and some kinds of glaucoma (in eye drop form). Examples of these beta-blockers are also known as: Atenolol, carvedilol, Metroprolol, Propranolol, Sotalol, Timolol and some other drugs whose chemical names end with “olol.”  Alternatives: benothiazepine or calcium channel blockers are often safer and more effective than beta-blockers.
  4. Statins and fibrates are used to treat high cholesterol.  Also known as Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, or Tricor.  Statins may inhibit the production of satellite cells in the muscle, interfering with muscle growth.  Alternatives:  If you’re among the many of older Americans who don’t have known heart disease but are taking these drugs to lower a slightly elevated cholesterol, ask your doctor or other heart care provider about trying to lower your cholesterol by changing your diet.  Taking a combination of sublingual (under-the-tongue) vitamin B12 (1,000 mcg daily), folic acid (800 mcg daily) and vitamin B6 (200 mg daily) may help lower your blood levels of hemocystene which is linked to high cholesterol.
  5. Beta2-agonists are brochodilator drugs that relax the smooth muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes, making it easier to breathe.  They are frequently prescribed to relieve the symptoms of COPD and are typically given through an inhaler, delivering a measured dose of the drug as a fine mist.  Sometimes they are given in pill or injectable form to patients who can’t use inhalers and include albuterol, Symbicort, Xopenex, Maxair, or Advair.  It is not well known why these beta2-agonists cause leg cramps.  Alternatives:  If using these drugs for a condition other than pulmonary disease talk with your doctor about possibly switching medications or types of treatment.  Studies have found that these drug types do not provide significant relief to non-COPD patients with acute bronchitis or cough.  If you do have pulmonary disease speak with your physician about switching to Spiriva, a different type of long acting bronchodilator, used once daily.
  6. ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and other conditions.  They help relax blood vessels.  Examples include: Lotensin, Capoten, enalapril (Vasotec), Lisinopril, Accuprilm, and Altace – among others.  These ACE inhibitors can cause potassium to build up in the body which can lead to leg cramps and achy joints, bones and muscles.  Alternatives:  If you are taking ACE inhibitors for a cardiovascular problem, talk with your doctor about switching to a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker, another blood pressure medication that is often better tolerated by older adults.  If your condition is accompanied by fluid retention, your doctor may consider adding a low dose long-acting loop diuretic such as torsemide.
  7. Angiotensin II-receptor blockers (ARBs) are often prescribed to treat coronary artery disease or heart failure in patients who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors or who have type 2 diabetes or kidney disease from diabetes.  Examples are Atacand, Avapro, Cozaar, Micardis, and Diovan.  Like ACE inhibitors, ARBs may lead to potassium overload in the body which can cause leg cramps and achy joints, bones and muscles.  Alternatives:  Consult with your health care provider about the advisability of switching to a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker, which is often better tolerated by older adults.  A low dose of a long-acting loop diuretic such as torsemide may also be desirable.

Any advice or information provided should not be followed in lieu of a personal consultation with a trained medical consultation.  

Why Your Elderly Parents May Be Falling

If your elder parents are having repeated falls and you are apprehensive about what to do to help mom or dad stop falling, you might look into some of these reasons to look a little closer and hopefully find a solution:

  • Body Changes:  Changes in vision, lack of flexibility, less muscle strength, especially in our legs, and changes in sleep patterns.  It is important to have an eye exam every year and wear glasses as prescribed.  Exercise on a regular basis can increase muscle strength and flexibility and improve balance.  Regular exercise will help you sleep better as well.  You might want to check your parent’s glasses to see if they are broken due to a past fall.  Might be time to have them repaired or replaced.
  • Chronic Health:  High blood pressure and heart problems can cause dizziness that can lead to falls.  Remember to get up from a laying down position slowly if you have heart problems or hypertension.  Many elders fall while trying to make a run for the restroom because of difficulty controlling bladder.  Speak with your M.D. about what can be done for this condition.  It may help reduce your risk of falling.  Check to see if your parents have had recent lab work.  Perhaps they have low or high blood sugar.  Check on their eating habits.  Often the elderly will only eat when hungry and seldom get hungry.  
  • Medications:  Both prescription medications and over the counter meds can cause side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness.  Speak with the nurse, physician, or pharmacist about your medication’s side effects.  If the side effects continue, speak with your physician about changing the medication.  Make sure to inform all of your doctors about what meds you are taking so that each one knows ALL of your medications.  Take all of your medications, including over the counter ones with you each time you visit the doctor.  This way they will be able to see exactly what you’re taking and how much.  Speak with the doctor about prescribed medications your parents are not taking.  Often more than one medication is prescribed and the elder parent might think, “I don’t really need to take both of the blood pressure medications”.  Speak with the doctor if you’ve noticed certain medications are not being taken or if they are NOT taking medications on time.  Maintaining that medications are given in a way to maintain healthy blood levels may be necessary.  Tell the doctor if they are being taken sporadically.  Today, there are automatic medication dispensers that will give your parent audible prompts to remind them it is time to take their medications.  But if you feel it is time to have someone supervise medications in your elder parent’s home, please give us a call and I will personally go and assess the situation.  Thank you.

Visiting Mom or Dad From Out of Town?

If preparing to visit our seniors here in South Florida for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, I’d like to remind family members to take extra notice of obvious physical or mental changes since your last visit.  Is there evidence of excessive spending, unpaid bills, unkempt household or personal hygiene?  Is there an unusual volume of mail and solicitations for charities that you are not familiar with?  Are there new “best friends” that you have not met?  Eventually, most of our elder parents will need a caregiver.  Few family members plan to handle caregiving responsibilities until an emergency arises.  If you have questions about long-term care planning for your loved one, consult  with a professional who can help you do what is best.  At One-On-One Caregiver I will assess and plan ahead for your family member’s needs.  What’s best you will have my cell phone number – a very worthwhile service for faraway family members.  We provide appropriate care with heart and soul.  If interested, feel free to stop at our Delray Beach office or we can meet at your parent’s home.  See us on the web at or call our office: 561-865-5488.  Long Term Care Insurance Accepted.  

Practical Information for Family Members

If you’ve ever agonized over care decisions for a loved one, below are some practical tips that might help you get started.  As this blog is new we plan to use our expertise in elder care to present more tips.  Here are some beginning thoughts on preparations that may be needed right now :

  • Organize Your Parent’s Personal Health Record
  • It is never too late for End of Life Planning
  • Managing Medications
  • Finding Professionals who can help
  • Advocating for the Older Adult
  • Do you know how to Prevent falls in the home?
  • Finding independence through technology
  • Keeping the Older Adult in Their Home which is where they want to be
  • Mobility Equipment and other Assistive Equipment
  • To drive or Not to Drive?
  • Family Communications and Responsibilities
  • Encouraging the Older Adult’s Well-Being
  • Dealing With Dementia
  • When is Hospice needed?
  • Choosing a Residential Facility if there is no other alternative
  • Taking Care of the Caregiver
  • Providing Personal Care to Your Loved One

Please feel free to add your comments below if there is another topic you’d like for us to feature in the near future.  Thank you.  

Mothers Day and Gifting for a Loved One in a Senior Community

It’s time to start thinking about mother’s day and what family members can share with a parent at this time.  For hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living, nothing should ever be brought on to the unit without the unit manager’s approval and this includes everything!  For example, small decorations, candy and nuts may pose a choking hazard.  Some plants may be toxic.  Another thing to remember, is the person receiving the gift subject to potential harmful issues related to the gift?  Are there residents who may wander into another resident’s room and will those items pose a threat?  All food items family members bring on to the unit must be in a tin can and labeled with the names of the food item and date.  Try to abide by the facility rules for storing of food.  Family members and visitors should take all food items to the nurse’s station for approval before bringing to a resident or leaving in a resident’s room.  Why not try decorating a room with family photos, a religious book, or photos that remind the person of the past?  Decorating a room also gives staff members glimpses as to the senior’s former life and how they lived, what they looked like, whom they loved.  Why not organize your favorite non-profit or networking group to provide gifts for seniors?  Clear it with the unit manager at the facility you wish to donate to, or call the Activities Director at the facility.  He/she will be very happy to accept bingo prizes, puzzles, and with a small budget every gift would make the resident very happy as they are being passed.  You might even consider donating the food from a nearby restaurant for the annual holiday party.  There is no end to the amount of creativity and ideas that both you and the Activity Director can come up with for mother’s day gifts.   

Hello world!

My name is Charlee Brown.  I welcome you to our site and would like for you to know that as owner and CEO of One-On-One Caregiver services we treat everyone of our patients with compassionate caring and responsibility. As owner I am personally very involved when It comes to staffing, making sure that each patient is assessed as to their needs.  Once assessed, we provide a caregiver to care for you or a family member who will be the best possible fit. This experience comes as a Registered Nurse with a specialty in Gerontology and Mental Health, and also because as a daughter to a 90 year old mother I also want to make sure that a caregiver meets my mother’s needs with compassionate caregiving as well.  We are located in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties through the Treasure Coast.  We are available 24 hours a day.  Feel free to give us a call at 561-865-5488 from 9 to 5 and feel free to contact us after hours as well.  Thank you for your comments below.