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Health and social care Essay

Discuss the factors that can impact on an individual’s quality of life (1000) Quality of life is a personal opinion as what one person feels is an adequate standard of living may be greatly different to another persons. As quality of life doesn’t just refer to the physical but to psychological factors affecting people this again is another reason why quality of life cannot be measured. This is due to the fact that differing emotional states of mind will allow one person to deal with issues more effectively than someone else. Physical factors affecting a person’s quality of life surround physical health, when a person is feeling well and free from pain other issues in their life are easier to deal with. The physical factors are nutrition, exercise, comfort, safety and hygiene. Nutrition and eating a balanced diet is vital to a person’s wellbeing. If someone has inadequate food they will not receive the right amounts of vitamins and minerals needed for growth, everyday activities and keeping the body’s defences against illness working. This is the same if a person has an unhealthy diet, but the added issue that could arise from this, is that the person could end up very over weight and suffering from obesity related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Exercise is the second physical factor that can affect quality of life. It is commonly known that exercise releases endorphins which can aid the feeling of wellbeing, therefore helping a person to cope with life in general. Exercising reduces the chances of getting some diseases such as Cancer and can lower your blood pressure.

Research has shown that arthritis suffers who exercise for at least two hours a week are more able to handle their pain, carry out their daily activities. Comfort, safety and hygiene are in a category together as they complement each other and come hand in hand. They refer to a variety of aspects such as being pain free, not being hungry, being too hot or cold, having a clean place to live, with kitchen and bathroom facilities fit for use without risk of food poisoning, feeling safe within their environment, for babies ensuring that their nappy is changed regularly so that they don’t become sore, ensuring noise levels are not disturbing sleep or are too loud causing agitation. Any of these things alone could greatly affect quality of life but due to socioeconomic factors it is likely that some people will experience a number of the factors above. The physiological factors affecting quality of life are the things that influence the way a person is feeling about themselves and can affect their confidence and self esteem. These include work opportunities, communication, freedom to make life choices and dignified and private care in a confidential environment. Work affects quality of life both positively and negatively depending on the circumstances. If a person feels that they are well paid, are respected within the work environment, have good working conditions and feel fulfilled, then this will enhance their quality of life as it will boost their self confidence and going to work will not be a chore.

However if a person feels that they are expected to do long hours for minimum wage, in unpleasant or stressful situations and do not feel that they are respected within their job, this can make them feel under-valued and cause depression or make the person not want to attend work and in turn lowering the persons quality of life. Having opportunities to communicate with others is very important as if a person feels isolated from their wider community this can really affect their self esteem and could cause depression. This can be particularly problematic for the elderly or infirm who tend to be house bound, sometimes the only interaction they may receive is from home carers or medical staff. As carers it is very important to remember this and ensure that during calls the client gets the chance to talk and communicate any issues or needs or just the chance to have that human contact. Autonomy is vital for every human being as it is our control about things happening to us, being able to make life choices freely and without pressure allows a person to stay in charge of their life. The use of advocacy services are an important for clients that have conditions like dementia, their ability to communicate their choices could be limited and these services help to ensure that their wishes are heard and upheld. These choices could be as simple as what the client would like to eat but this is still important and gives empowerment to the client.

Clients that are in residential care or even in their own homes need their privacy and dignity to be held in high regard, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/) so not only is this a human right but it is a responsibility of the care giver to ensure that the persons quality of life is not effected by something that they do. As a carer you could be doing very intimate personal care for a client, care must be taken to ensure that the client feels comfortable and trusts the carer as they are putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. Simple things such as knocking before entering a client’s room can help them to feel they still have some control. Within this situation the confidentiality of clients details are also paramount, again a client must be able to feel that their personal information is only being shared with the appropriate agencies and is not left open for anyone to get hold of.

This could be in the form of notes, medical records, personal care plans or hand over notes from carer to carer. Within those the professional language used must be upheld, as the client could be upset if personal thoughts about them were written in their notes, again this would not be respectful. All of the factors mentioned above will have bearing on a person’s quality of life but what must be remembered is that whether this is a positive or negative experience depends on individual’s ability to cope with situations. As what one person feels unable to cope with and has a negative effect on their quality of life someone else may not have a problem with and may in fact improve their quality of life.

Analyse why nutrition is important to maintaining a good quality of life (400) Nutrition is key to a good quality of life for a number of reasons such as avoiding malnutrition, disease prevention and helping the body to function to its full potential. Food also however provides the happy factor, the feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that can arise from eating our favourite foods and the feeling of being full and satisfied fulfils the psychological aspects of quality of life. Nutrition is important throughout all stages of life but the two most important stages are during childhood and the elderly. In childhood the development of the body and brain is at its most prominent, they are being educated in every aspect of their life, learning new life skills and cognitively learning through the education system. A balanced diet aids concentration and helps the child to receive the right calories to ensure that they do not become overweight or underweight, as both can have detrimental effects on their growth. If a child becomes overweight this can affect their self esteem and confidence, they will be less likely to become active and involved in sports due to feeling embarrassed about the way they look and this can only add to the weight problem.

On the other hand if a child becomes malnourished they may be unable to concentrate in the class room, can become ridiculed for their size as they will often be far smaller in stature than their peers and become very sickly due to their inability to fight off infection which again will impact on their education. The constant feeling of hunger and lack of satisfaction will greatly impact their quality of life and they could become introvert because of it. In the elderly diet is crucial to stave off problems like osteoporosis. An increased intake of calcium through milk, yoghurt, cheese and green leafy vegetables can help with this. The elderly can sometimes struggle with digestion or chewing and so the types of food they eat may be restricted, so it even more important that the balance of foods that they eat fulfil the bodies requirements of all the food groups and are calorific enough to sustain and satisfy them. Throughout life though a balanced diet helps all ages with the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stokes and high blood pressure. The recommended daily intake of calories varies whether you are male or female and your age and activity levels, if a person sticks to their recommended calorie intake this can prevent weight gain which will in turn improve quality of life. As when a person is feeling fit and healthy as they will have increased energy levels, feel more able to undertake everyday tasks and have self confidence in the way they look.

How would the recommended calorie intake for a female change throughout her lifetime? (400) During a woman’s lifetime her calorie intake will differ during the various stages of her life, calories are just one part of the equation however as the way those calories are made up are just as important and these change throughout her lifetime also. As a young child through to adolescence the focus of calories needs to be protein based as the body and brain are developing rapidly, calcium intake is also vital due to bone and teeth development. Vitamins and minerals are also important to aid growth but also to boost the immune system. It is recommended that the calorie intake is between 100-500 calories per Kg of body weight for an infant reducing around the age of four to approximately 1400 calories per day depending on the levels of activity. During puberty and through the menstruating years a woman must ensure that she increases the amount of iron she consumes as iron is lost through menstruation. At this stage a woman should be taking in a balanced diet consisting of around 2200 calories per day, it is important that this still contains calcium based foods as this is the time that she will build up stores in her bones to help combat the loss of bone mass through aging which can lead to osteoporosis in later life.

During pregnancy there needs to be a shift in the calorie intake ‘Based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, during pregnancy, women need to increase their intake by 300 calories per day.’ This is not a large amount extra and perhaps surprising few extra however the reasoning behind this is to provide the added nutrients without the woman gaining too much weight which often happens during pregnancy. If a woman chooses to breast feed her baby she must again make alterations to her calorie intake, now increasing it by around 500 calories. It is very important that within those calories though vitamin A is increased from 500 mg per day to 900 mg per day, this is due to its immunity boosting abilities that will pass on through the breast milk to the baby. Care must be taken however as taking too much vitamin A over a long period of time can have a detrimental effect on bone strength making them susceptible to fracture later in life. After the age of 50 calorie intake should reduce quite significantly for a woman the range is between 1600 calories per day to 2000 calories per day. The deciding factor on how many calories should be consumed is purely down to the amount of physical activities the individual does on a daily basis, the lower amount of movement, the lower the calorie intake. Regardless of the age of the female the message is the same the mix of foods within the calories consumed on a daily basis must be balanced and contain the recommended portions from each of the main food groups to ensure a healthy body.

Discuss the range of eating disorders and analyse how they impact upon an individual’s quality of life (1200) Eating disorders are very common place especially in teenagers, they affect both men and women, however it is estimated that between 19 and 30% of young women are diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to 10% of young men. Eating disorders are normally seen in three categories, these are anorexic, bulimic and binge eating. They are all equally dangerous and can all lead to death. There are many reasons why a person may have an eating disorder, this can range from people not making time to eat a balanced meal due to work commitments or social activities, picking or faddy eaters, having a distorted view of your body image, thinking that you are overweight when in fact you are not, the medias depiction of the perfect body and the desire to recreate this, the need for control, psychological problems stemming from family issues or relationship problems and finally biological links and susceptibility to such disorders. Anorexia can begin with the desire to lose weight, a person becomes obsessive with their calorie intake and controls every mouthful of food they eat, as they see the weight dropping they enjoy the success and want that feeling to continue, they will often exercise strongly using more calories than they are taking in. once the disorder has got to this point the person often then sees themselves in a distorted way, thinking they are still overweight. They can become very sneaky in the way they disguise the fact that they are not eating properly, by pretending they have eaten whilst out at school or college or eating alone so that they can dispose of the food when no one is looking. Women who become anorexic can sometimes stop menstruating due to their body weight dropping so low and can in the long term affect their fertility. People suffering from anorexia often also struggle with depression or anxiety and can seriously damage their bodies organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and digestive system.

Damage to the heart occurs due to the fact that if a person is too underweight they can have low blood pressure, in turn this causes the heart to beat too slowly putting strain on it as it tries to pump blood to the organs in your body. Most anorexics are dehydrated damaging your kidneys but also impacts on the amount of blood circulating the system, because of these factors your heartbeat can become irregular which if not treated can cause more damage still. Bone damage is caused due to the body producing less oestrogen which is the hormone that keeps your bones strong, if this continues for an extended amount of time then bones can become susceptible to breaking and the body’s ability to repair them will be greatly reduced due to poor bone density. A person suffering with anorexia will have a severely affected quality of life, not only will they feel ill due to the stresses they are putting on their body’s organs but the psychological indicators of such a disorder in terms of the obsessive, depressive and secretive behaviours displayed, mean that they very often shut themselves away from friends and family becoming very isolated which in turn makes the feeling of self doubt worse and so the cycle continues. Bulimia is another eating disorder that holds life threatening side effects. This differs from anorexia in as much as the person although obsessed by food does not always lose weight. This is due to the fact that some bulimics use laxatives to induce faeces production, what they don’t realise however is that these only remove the fluid from the body from the lower intestine yet the calories are absorbed in the upper intestine.

The most common trait of bulimia is vomiting; a person may binge on food and then force themselves to be sick to avoid the weight gain. Bulimics tend to hide this fact and become clever, disguising the noise and smell of vomit to avoid being discovered. There tends to be guilt feelings from a person suffering from bulimia as unlike anorexia the person usually recognises that there is a problem with their pattern of eating. Continuous vomiting and laxative use however do have serious repercussions for a person; medically they are putting themselves at risk of heart problems, mouth ulcers, inflammation of the oesophagus and swollen salivary glands. Psychologically they are at risk from depression, obsessive behaviours and panic attacks; suicide is also problematic due to the fact that the person has long term body conscious issues. Quality of life for a bulimic person is reduced mainly due to the psychological factors stemming from the disorder, the person will tend to retreat from society, their work could be affected because of ill health or the inability to cope with the stress and this therefore affects their financial situation. Relationships can be affected with both family and friends as the bulimic tries to distance themselves in order to keep their secret or because of the guilt they feel about what they are doing. The final eating disorder is binge eating, it is felt that this is the most common of all eating disorders suffered by around 12million people in the UK alone and according to Fairburn and Beglin statistical collation experts, suggest that ‘up to 15% of young women between 16 and 24 had binged in a period of three months at least once.’ (http://eating-disorders.org.uk/information/compulsive-overeating-binge-eating-disorder/)

This disorder is less about control than the first two disorders and in fact could be described as a lack of control, where eating is concerned, sufferers tend to eat when not hungry, eat even when feeling full, will eat in secret because they feel ashamed of what they are doing and habitually eat the ‘wrong’ types of food without the ability to stop. People who fall into this category are normally very overweight or obese and normally there is a psychological link to their eating pattern such as eating for comfort due to feeling of depression or sadness, eating when bored as they have few social links due to embarrassment about their size or the lack of energy to socialize with peers. A binge eater’s quality of life can be affected in a variety of ways but for this group it is more the physical aspects due to the weight gain causing medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. These then have the knock on effect of not being able to exercise easily, which in turn due to the lack of activity adds to the feeling of self loathing, depression and uselessness, which then leads to comfort eating and so the cycle of abuse continues and quality of life decreases further.

All of the eating disorders discussed have detrimental effects on a person’s quality of life due to the limitations on what a person can do while suffering with one of these disorders. Each of them have physical ramifications causing damage to major organs and causing the body to function abnormally, all of them can affect the fertility of a person whether male or female as the chemical balance of the body is thrown off track when the body is mistreated. The physiological impact on quality of life can also be seen in each of these disorders; people suffering from any of the disorders above tend to have feeling of self loathing and guilt and most tend to suffer from mental health issues to varying degrees, this in turn tends to alienate individuals from those around them in an attempt to protect them from discovery and leaves them isolated and depression sinks further in when lines of communication are closed and social networks cut off.


http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp 17:13, 8.3.14 http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/ 17:31, 8.3.14 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ 16:42, 9.3.14

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11730238 17:15, 9.3.14
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx 17:44. 9.3.14
http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/do-nutrition-needs-change-with-age.html 19:08, 9.3.14 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-A.aspx 19:19, 9.3.14 http://eating-disorders.org.uk/information/compulsive-overeating-binge-eating-disorder/ 20:58, 9.3.14

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