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At North Mississippi Medical Center, we respect our elders. That’s why we offer a variety of programs and services for older adults. For more information about available services, call the Community Health Department at (662) 377-3867 or 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).
Your primary care physician may refer you to a rheumatologist, an internal medicine physician who specializes in treating rheumatoid diseases such as arthritis. In addition, NMMC offers physical and occupational therapy programs by physician referral.
NMMC Wellness Centers offer the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program classes. The Arthritis Foundation’s Aquatic Program, a water-based exercise program for people with arthritis, is available at the Tupelo location.
The NMMC Joint Replacement Center uses a team approach to hip or knee replacement, ensuring a smooth transition from pre-op through recovery. The health care team works together for a common goal: your good health. The center offers educational seminars that help seniors replace their fears with facts about joint replacement. For more information, call 1-800-843-3375.
Risk for breast cancer increases with age. NMMC wants to help individuals understand their risk as well as the early detection and prevention programs available. The NMMC Breast Care Center offers digital mammography, breast MRI, breast ultrasound and galactography (radiography of the mammary glands). A mobile mammography unit is available in remote locations. For mammogram information, call:
*Screening mammograms available by self-referral
The NMMC Breast Care Center is staffed by breast health specialists and offers a resource center and Life After Diagnosis support group. For more information, call the NMMC Breast Care Center at (662) 377-4910 .
Colorectal cancer refers to cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum. Cancer that starts in these different areas may cause different symptoms., but colon cancer and rectal cancer have many things in common.
Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women nationwide. In most cases, colorectal cancers develop slowly over many years. Most of these cancers begin as a polyp—a growth of tissue that starts in the lining and grows into the center of the colon or rectum. This tissue may or may not be cancer. Thanks to colorectal cancer screening, polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer.
Approximately four million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for nearly two-thirds of dementia in older adults.
The two greatest risk factors are age and family history. Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 6-8 percent of people age 65 and older, and about 30 percent or more of people age 85 and older. Among those with first-degree relatives (parents, siblings) who have Alzheimer’s, nearly half contract the disease by age 90. Other possible risk factors include a previous head injury and a low level of formal education. In addition, Alzheimer’s is more common in women than in men.
People with Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty recognizing or finding objects, or drawing simple designs. The abilities to organize, plan and think abstractly are frequently lost, which usually interferes with being able to make appropriate judgments at work or in social situations. Behavioral and psychiatric symptoms are also common in Alzheimer’s disease. These include wandering, aggressive behaviors, visual hallucinations and delusions. The delusions often involve being unreasonably suspicious of other people, including caregivers, or being concerned that others are stealing personal possessions. These behaviors are extremely troubling to caregivers and often result in family distress.
Most people with Alzheimer’s disease have severe disability within eight to 12 years. Generally, these people have little insight into their own disabilities as the disease progresses. The severity of the dementia is strongly related to life expectancy; those with severe dementia live the shortest.
In general, management plans involve techniques to stimulate memory and thinking, along with making certain changes in lifestyle and environment. The objective is to provide support to make up for lost skills. Medications are primarily used to treat underlying problems (such as depression), or as a last resort to control dangerous behaviors.
Source: American Gerontological Society.
Unlike grief or passing sadness, depression does not usually respond to changes in circumstances or go away with time. Depression can last for months or years if not treated. It can disrupt relationships, affect productivity and result in disability or even death. Call the NMMC Behavioral Health Center for help at (662) 377-3161.
NMMC’s Diabetes Treatment Center is dedicated to helping people with diabetes better understand their disease and inform them of new medications and technologies. The facility is recognized by the American Diabetes Association as a Diabetes Center of Excellence.
Comprehensive Diabetes Self-Management Programs are offered at NMMC hospitals in Eupora, Tupelo and West Point. Diabetes Support Groups are sponsored by NMMC in Booneville, Iuka, Eupora, Tupelo and West Point. For more information, call (662) 377-2500 or your local NMMC hospital.
A fall is one of the most common events that threatens the independence of older adults. Approximately 33 percent of individuals over age 65 fall at least one time a year. However, that percentage approaches 50 percent for older adults living in long term care institutions.
Complications from falls are the leading cause of death from injury in adults over 65 years of age. Most falls cause some sort of injury, many times a soft tissue injury like a bruise or scrape. However, approximately 10 percent of those falls result in serious injury such as head trauma, hip or wrist fracture, and large contusions. It is one of the most common reasons that older adults go to the emergency room.
An older adult may fall for a variety of reasons. Many times it is a combination of medical problems that lead to a fall. Common risks for falls include visual impairment, muscle weakness, taking more than four medications, depression and difficulty with balance. Discovering the cause of a fall in an elderly patient requires a comprehensive evaluation.
First, it is important to find out when the fall occurred and the environment in which the fall took place. For example, many falls occur at night in dimly lit rooms. With visually impaired adults, the risk of falls may be reduced by simple measures such as providing adequate lighting and accessible grab bars.
Second, a complete physical examination may detect other underlying causes for falls. These can include findings such as a fluctuating blood pressure that may drop when standing, poor sensation of the lower extremities that is common in patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions, and gait instability. A physical exam may also detect early Parkinson’s disease or previous neurological events that may have been overlooked.
Finally, a review of medications helps identify common medications that may contribute to falls. These medications include diuretics (fluid pills), pills used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), sedatives such as Xanax or Ativan, and antipsychotics such as Haldol.
Treatment of falls is usually individualized for the specific patient and normally involves an environmental survey of the home. Removing rugs, moving furniture and placing assistance devices such as grab bars may be very helpful. A trained occupational therapist may be very useful in identifying risk factors at home.
Adjusting medications may also help eliminate risk factors. One of the common treatment options involves consultation with physical or occupational therapists to work on balance and muscle strengthening. Exercises like T'ai Chi have been shown to be beneficial in fall prevention.
A patient who has suffered a fall should also be evaluated for osteoporosis. As stated earlier, one of the most feared complications of a fall is a hip or wrist fracture. A bone density scan and evaluation of bone health, with treatment if indicated, may help prevent serious injury from future falls.
Falls are extremely common in older adults and should be discussed with a health care provider so that possible causes and treatment options may be explored. To request a home evaluation in Tupelo or a checklist of potential fall risks, call the NMMC Rehabilitation Institute at (662) 377-4058.
Ashley Harris, M.D., practices gerontology at North Mississippi Medical Center and IMA-Tupelo.
The NMMC Behavioral Health Center inpatient units serve geriatric patients with various conditions and concerns. Issues include memory disturbances, appetite disorders, medication adjustment/management, depression, anxiety and chemical dependency. In most cases, senior patients are admitted to the Geriatric Psychiatry unit where they receive care from an interdisciplinary clinical team whose specialty area is geriatrics. Family involvement and communication is vital to the treatment process on this unit.
Talk with your physician to learn more about the risk factors for heart disease, which increase with age. The NMMC Heart Institute is the region’s leader for cardiovascular services and offers free educational programs and screenings throughout the year.
As a woman ages, her body begins to slow its production of estrogen, a hormone that seems to protect women from heart disease and osteoporosis. HRT helps control hot flashes, insomnia and other symptoms and helps protect a woman from heart disease and bone loss. Ask your physician about treatment options.
Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage
Approximately three-quarters of osteoporosis is inherited from our parents and grandparents through our genes. However, there are also other risk factors.
Importance of Exercise
Exercise is an important part of osteoporosis treatment and prevention. Frequent (three times per week), moderate to vigorous exercise is associated with increased bone mass and decreased fractures.
Weight-bearing exercises such as walking are best. Strength training (weight lifting and other forms of resistance training) strengthens hip bones and improves muscle mass, strength, and balance in women after menopause. This reduces both falls and fractures. Likewise, a marked decrease in physical activity (long-term bed rest) results in a loss of bone mass. This is one reason why it is important to return to activity as soon as possible after a stroke, surgery or other debilitating event.
Calcium and vitamin D are required for bone health at all ages. To maintain good calcium balance, everyone 65 years and older, as well as younger women after menopause should have a calcium intake of at least 1,200 mg per day. The average dietary intake of calcium for postmenopausal women in the United States averages 500-700 mg per day. Therefore, most American women need calcium supplementation to ensure adequate intake.
Older adults also require between 400 and 800 IU of vitamin D per day. It is recommended that all adults take a daily supplement of at least 400 IU of vitamin D, which is the amount provided by most over-the-counter multivitamins.
Cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse are also risk factors for osteoporosis. Quitting smoking cuts down your risk and provides many other health benefits, including decreased risk of cancer, heart attack and lung disease.
Source: American Gerontological Society
Heel screenings for osteoporosis are available at health fairs throughout the year and at certain North Mississippi Medical Clinics. Board-certified rheumatologists are available at the Rheumatology and Osteoporosis Center at IMA-Tupelo , and services are available by self-referral. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to measure bone density is available at NMMC hospitals in Eupora and West Point, and at the NMMC Breast Care Center and IMA-Tupelo.
Physical and occupational therapy programs that can help with osteoporosis are available throughout the NMMC organization.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men nationwide. One in every three men who are diagnosed with cancer each year is diagnosed with prostate cancer. For many men a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be frightening, not only because of the threat to their lives, but because of the threat to their sexuality.
If prostate cancer is detected early, there is a better chance of successful treatment. Contact your physician or call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375) for information about prostate cancer screening and referral to a radiologist.
Seniors who exercise face a lower risk of health problems, including heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension and diabetes. North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Centers offer group classes for lifestyle modification and weight loss, complementary classes including T’ai Chi Chih and yoga, as well as free community health programs.
NMMC Wellness Centers offer a wide variety of exercise equipment and classes for all ages and fitness levels. Call for more information:
Life Trail at Ballard Park
Quitting reverses much of the damage caused by smoking. When you stop smoking, your body begins to repair itself and with time, your health risks will equal those of a nonsmoker. NMMC offers a free smoking cessation course that teaches skills for stress management, weight control, assertive communication and exercise to help ex-smokers succeed. Tactics include positive thinking, alternative behaviors, one-on-one help, rewards and group support. For class information, call (662) 377-5787.
A stroke is similar to a heart attack. It occurs when a blood vessel bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot or some other particle. Treat every warning sign of stroke as an emergency and get treatment immediately.
Talk with your physician about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke.
Located on 2 South, the NMMC Acute Stroke Unit is comprised of eight private rooms and a centralized nursing station which provides specialized stroke care. Treatment goals for Acute Stroke Unit patients are diagnostic evaluation of the stroke, cardiac monitoring, minimizing the risk of complications, initiating rehabilitation as soon as possible, educating the patient and family on risk factors, and preventing secondary strokes.
The NMMC Behavioral Health Center can help individuals struggling with alcohol and drug problems, as well as provide information to family members and friends on how they can help.
Flu Shots: During influenza (flu) epidemics, the hospitalization rate for older people increases two to five times. Vaccination for the flu is necessary every year because the flu virus constantly changes.
Everyone 65 years or older, or those under 65 who have other illnesses, should receive a flu shot every year between September and mid-November. Medical personnel and caregivers for high-risk patients should also be vaccinated. Side effects are usually rare, but include fever, chills, aches and pains, and general feelings of ill health.
People who are allergic to eggs or any part of the vaccine should not get a flu shot. Your health care provider can tell you about other options to prevent the flu. If you do get the flu, some oral medications are available that can reduce flu symptoms
Pneumonia Vaccine: Everyone 65 or older (and people younger than 65 who have other illnesses) should be vaccinated against pneumococcal diseases, such as pneumonia.
Side effects after revaccination are rare and mild. If it has been five or more years since you were vaccinated and if you received that vaccination when you were younger than 65, you should be vaccinated again. If you are unsure if you have ever been vaccinated against pneumonia, it is best to be vaccinated again. This vaccine cannot totally prevent pneumonia and related diseases, but it is still recommended for older adults
Diphtheria/Tetanus Vaccine: Sixty percent of tetanus infections are in people age 60 and older. So, older adults who have never been vaccinated should receive two tetanus shots, one to two months apart, followed by a third shot six to 12 months later. After that, tetanus booster shots should be given about every 10 years.
After vaccination, there may be pain or swelling where the shot was given. Rarely, someone may have an allergic reaction. People who have had an allergic or other bad reaction to a previous tetanus shot should not be vaccinated again.
Source: American Gerontology Society
Low vision can cause difficulty in seeing detailed letters and numbers when reading, recognizing the slope of a curb, steps or facial features, and distinguishing between similar colors, such as black and blue.
Small changes in vision can have an impact on one’s ability to cook safely, complete financial management, drive or complete outdoor activities. NMMC occupational therapists can help people with low vision continue to live independently at home and function in the community.
Occupational therapists can help by evaluating a person’s home to determine how it can be altered to make the most of a person’s remaining vision. An occupational therapist can also educate individuals about how to compensate for vision loss by using other senses, as well as train individuals how to use assistive devices, such as magnifiers, that can help with daily activities. Occupational therapists may be contacted through NMMC Rehabilitation Services or Home Health.
Volunteer Opportunities Volunteers 18 years and older are welcome throughout North Mississippi Medical Center's facilities in north Mississippi and north Alabama.
For more information about volunteer services, click here
Volunteer sites include:
North Mississippi Medical Center-Hamilton (Ala.)
The Appointment Desk, 1-800-843-3375, is a free physician referral service. Call between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to speak with a referral specialist who can provide timely appointments with health care providers.
Your thoughts and opinions are very important to us and we want to hear from you. You may contact us via mail at 830 S. Gloster St., Tupelo, MS 38801; by phone at (662) 377-3000; or through our interactive e-mail program.
First Friends is a non-profit daycare center for the elderly diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. First Friends provides socialization for the impaired individual and respite for the caregiver. Activities include games, stories, crafts, singing, dancing and conversations on a variety of topics. All activities are designed to meet the level of each individual. First Friends operates with a professionally trained staff of volunteers and a one-to-one model based on friendship. For more information, call: (662) 620-9062.
The Lee County Library offers book delivery to nursing homes as well as homebound patrons. The library provides a large print collection, books on tape and Internet access for the visually impaired. Each month the Lee County Library hosts a Lunching with Books program where they review a new book every fourth Friday. Meeting rooms are provided for AARP and other groups. For more information, call: (662) 841-9029.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Department wants senior citizens to feel safe and comfortable calling on law enforcement for assistance. To accomplish this they began the TRIAD program in 2005. This program allows senior citizens and law enforcement the opportunity to work together to improve the quality of life for seniors. Seniors meet at the Sheriff’s Department each quarter to discuss projects to help local seniors. For more information, call: (662) 841-9040 or visit www.leecosheriff.com
Lift Inc. Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
RSVP provides volunteer opportunities for individuals 55 years of age and older. Volunteers make lap blankets for homebound seniors, and casseroles and turbans for cancer patients. They provide transportation for seniors and disabled persons, deliver mail and greet visitors at the hospital. Volunteers also assist at Head Start Centers by reading and mentoring to the children. For more information, call: (662) 842-9511.
Meals on Wheels is a community program for disabled, handicapped and convalescing individuals who are at least 60 years of age. Meals are delivered to seniors who are unable to prepare their own meals or cannot leave their homes to receive meals elsewhere. The cost is $3 per meal or $780 per year. The program is administered by the Outreach Department of Mississippi Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo. For more information, call:(662) 844-8977 or visit www.mississippimethodist.org
The FAITH Food Pantry of Nettleton provides low income families and seniors with basic staple foods and personal hygiene items. FAITH also hosts health fairs and helps seniors complete applications for prescription assistance. For more information, call:(662) 963-2608
Nurse Link® is a free community service initiated to provide callers with health information, triage symptom-based calls and make recommendations by utilizing a physician-approved, computerized protocol system and reference materials. All calls are answered and recorded by registered nurses with combined experiences in pediatrics, home health, med-surg and physicians offices. Nurse Link® is available from 7 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week by calling 1-800-882-6274.
The Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Department offers planning programs and safety seminars to help senior citizens. They will also check on a senior individual by request. For more information, call:(662) 489-3111.
Spirit of Women offers free educational opportunities for women of all ages and interests. Members can take advantage of lunchtime, evening and weekend programs on a variety of topics, as well as member discounts from participating businesses. The Spirit of Women Hospital Network is a coalition of hospitals and health care providers nationwide that ascribe to the highest standards of excellence in women’s health, education and community outreach. NMMC is the exclusive Spirit of Women hospital in this area. For more information, call (662) 377-4099 or click here.
A Speakers Bureau featuring experts on many health topics is available to provide speakers for community and church groups. For more information, call the NMMC Community Health Department at (662) 377-3867.
Everyone needs the support of others who are in similar situations. For a list of NMMC support groups, click here .
The Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging provides a meal program, long term care alternatives program, in-home services as an alternative to premature nursing home placement, case management services and insurance counseling and assistance. The agency also provides an Ombudsman, an advocate for nursing home patients who can investigate and assist in resolving complaints and problems identified by patients and families. For more information call 1-877-489-6911.
The Tupelo Department of Parks and Recreation offers many clubs and activities for active seniors, including Young at Heart, Tupelo Duplicate Bridge Club, Tupelo Ballroom Dance Club and Lively Hearts. Senior aquatics and senior tennis programs are also available. The department’s Senior Center is open for anyone age 50 and older may come to for educational purposes, physical and mental fitness, and socialization with other citizens. For more information, call (662) 841-6440.
Volunteers with the Union County Library read to nursing home residents. The library also offers AARP tax help.