Category Archives: Health

Don’t Let Allergies Ruin Your Spring

Spring is here! Flowers are blooming, the sun is out, and the snow is gone. People are spending more time outside and enjoying nature. However, the change in seasons also brings along the boogie man of spring: allergies.

Dealing with allergies can be frustrating, but you can take steps to make sure they don’t ruin your spring.

No matter if you’ve been dealing with allergies your whole life or you’re feeling the symptoms for the first time, doing the following can help you get through the season with as little sneezing as possible!

  • Wash your hands frequently, and especially after being outdoors. If you’ve been outside for a long time, taking a shower will help wash any allergens away and prevent you from spreading them around your home.
  • Wear sunglasses when you’re enjoying everything nature has to offer. Sunglasses provide protection against irritants.
  • Make sure you’re checking the pollen levels in your area daily. You should try to plan your outdoor activities for when the pollen count is lowest.
  • It’s not the most fun way to experience the season; but you should avoid opening your windows as much as possible, as it will increase the amount of allergens entering your home or vehicle.
  • Make sure you eat foods that are known to fight inflammation. Foods that can help combat allergy symptoms include apples, flax seed, ginger, leafy greens, walnuts and anything high in vitamin C.
  • Talk to your doctor. There are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that could help bring you some much-needed relief.

At all ISL communities, we emphasize an adventurous lifestyle that gets residents outdoors and enjoying all that life has to offer. Itchy eyes and sore throats shouldn’t stand in the way of a beautiful hike or day at the park!

National Caffeine Awareness Month

Who doesn’t like a nice cup of coffee to start the day or a soda with their lunch? While caffeine can provide an often necessary boost of energy, it’s important to remember that it is a stimulant, not a nutrient, and that too much caffeine is unhealthy.

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month and serves as good reminder to always be careful of how much caffeine you are consuming per day. If you’re on a first-name basis with your local barista, it may be time to rethink your daily intake!

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for America, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, tea and soda.

About 400 milligrams of caffeine a day – or about four cups of coffee – is considered safe for most healthy adults, though you should always keep in mind that caffeine content in beverages varies widely and that caffeine affects each of us differently.

Mixing caffeine with alcohol should always be avoided. Mixing the two may lead to drinking more alcohol and becoming more intoxicated than you realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-related adverse events.

In general, a good rule of thumb is, if you feel jittery or overly restless after drinking a caffeinated beverage, you should stop. Too much caffeine may lead to sleep problems, migraines and other health issues – not to mention coffee breath!

 

Senior Citizens and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is a serious health crisis for our country, and senior citizens are not immune to what’s happening. Every day, more than 90 Americans die of an opioid overdose. This includes overdoses on illegal heroin as well as the abuse of prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl and others.

A recent analysis from Stanford University found that seniors covered by Medicare have “among the highest and most rapidly growing prevalence of opioid use disorder.” The report found that more than six out of every 1,000 Medicare patients are diagnosed with an opioid disorder, compared to one of every 1,000 patients covered by commercial insurance plans.

Unfortunately, abuse of opioids isn’t the only way seniors are contributing to the crisis. Many have become what is known as an “accidental drug dealer.” These are seniors whose prescribed medication is stolen or periodically taken from their homes. Sadly, many times this is done by friends and family members who have access to their medicine cabinets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of people who abuse opioids get them from a friend or relative.

So what can you do about it?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, getting immediate professional help is crucial to not falling victim to further abuse or even to an overdose. Treatment options that are available include:

In order to safeguard any prescription pain reliever you use from theft, we advise you to follow these rules:

  • Store your medications in a secure location like a home lock box.
  • Count your pills regularly so you’ll know if a pill is missing.
  • Never share your medications with anyone.
  • Dispose of unused medications.

There are many drop off locations around the country to securely get rid of unused or expired medications. Visit the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Controlled Substance Public Disposal locator to find the one nearest you.

April Is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

Groups raise awareness of the disease and its treatments 

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease, says the National Parkinson Foundation, and as many as 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60. Parkinson’s strikes 50 percent more men than women. The average age at onset is 60, but some are diagnosed at 40 or younger.

Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. The job of some of these dying neurons is to produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As the disease progresses, these brain neurons produce less and less dopamine, and the person loses movement control.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms vary from person to person, but primary motor signs include the following:

  • Tremor or the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Instability of posture or impaired balance and coordination

Medications and Treatments

Many medications and treatments are available to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but none yet reverse the effects of the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may also suggest lifestyle changes, especially ongoing aerobic exercise. Physical therapy that focuses on balance and stretching may also be effective. Speech-language pathologists may help improve speech difficulties. In later cases, surgical procedures such as deep brain stimulation may be recommended.

What’s New in Parkinson’s Treatments?

Deep brain stimulation. For two decades, deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for Parkinson’s patients has been successful, says the National Parkinson Foundation. Evidence shows that DBS has meaningfully helped tens of thousands of patients worldwide, improving tremor, dyskinesia (involuntary movements), on-off fluctuations (reduced effectiveness of levodopa medication), and other Parkinson’s symptoms. DBS has fallen short in slowing disease progression, including walking, talking, and thinking. Some scientists advocate using guide tubes (straws that DBS leads are fed through to precisely place them into the brain) to deliver growth factors to improve brain function. There is also interest in developing DBS leads connected to pumps that could continuously supply factors to the brain while maintaining the electrical current derived from the DBS device.

The relationship between the gastrointestinal system and Parkinson’s disease. Evidence has been mounting in support of a relationship between the gastrointestinal (GI) system and Parkinson’s disease. Many pathologists and neurologists believe that Parkinson’s may start in the gut. Studies have found that many GI symptoms, such as constipation, occur as prominent and disabling Parkinson’s symptoms. People with Parkinson’s who are experiencing motor fluctuations that cannot be controlled by medication adjustment are advised to ask their doctor to test for H. Pylori (a common type of gut bacteria) infection.

Good News! Recent Study Shows Fewer Seniors Are Developing Dementia

Dementia sufferers are also developing the disease at older ages

For years we’ve heard dire predictions that dementia rates would skyrocket as the population ages, grows increasingly overweight, and develops more diabetes and high blood pressure. But a recent data analysis published in the January 2017 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine has found that the prevalence of dementia is actually decreasing.

The nationally representative report showed that adults 65 and older with dementia dropped from 11.6 percent in the year 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. Those results support another, smaller-scale study released in 2016, which found that dementia rates dropped by 44 percent since the late 1970s through 2008.28

The New York Times reported that the downward trend is “statistically significant and impressive,” according to Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania who was not associated with the study.

Further, in 2000, people received a diagnosis of dementia at an average age of 80.7; in 2012, the average age was 82.4—indicating that the disease is starting at older ages.

Researchers are analyzing the data to determine the causes for the lower dementia rates. Currently, medical experts are looking at two factors: education and heart health. Researchers have found that seniors with more education are less likely to develop dementia than seniors who didn’t finish high school.

Scientists theorize that further education enhances brain development and gives people “cognitive reserve” that allows them to lose cognitive function to aging without developing full-blown dementia, or delays the onset of impairment.

Many doctors believe that the biggest reason for the decline is improved heart and circulatory health. Vascular dementias decreased the most in the study, likely because of better treatments for stroke, heart disease, and blood-vessel disorders. Regular exercise can bolster cardiovascular health at any age, which may help stave off or lessen age-related cognitive decline. Doctors advise people who already have heart health issues or chronic conditions like diabetes to carefully follow their treatment plans to reduce risk of dementia and other disorders.

 

March Is National Nutrition Month

This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign held every March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating practices, and committing to physical activity habits.

The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” which reminds us that each bite counts. Small shifts in our food choices can reap benefits over time. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with gradual changes—one forkful at a time—to create healthier, lasting habits for years to come. Whether you are preparing meals at home or making selections when dining out, Put Your Best Fork Forward helps develop the healthy eating style that’s best for you and your family.

“How much we eat is as important as what we eat, which is why this year’s National Nutrition Month theme inspires us to start with small changes in our eating habits,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristi King.

Key Messages of this Year’s Campaign

  • Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  • Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  • How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences, and health-related needs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.

February Is American Heart Month

This month is also marks the “Go Red for Women” campaign

Ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first American Heart Month in 1964, the month of February has been dedicated to cardiovascular health awareness. Cardiovascular disease is the nation’s No. 1 cause of death for both men and women, killing an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. At our communities we make sure that a healthy diet and exercise are part of everyday living.

In the U.S., the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Men and women can greatly reduce their risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. The American Heart Association conducts research and raises awareness to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans. Throughout February awareness about heart health is evident everywhere- from grocery stores to sporting events.

Since 2004, February also has been the signature month for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign to spread the message that heart disease is not only a man’s problem.

National Wear Red Day

On Friday, February 3, the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women celebrate American Heart Month and raise heart disease awareness by encouraging participating in National Wear Red Day. Every 80 seconds, one woman is killed by heart disease and stroke. That’s 1 in 3 deaths among women each year. Eighty percent of these deaths can be prevented with education and action. By wearing red and using the social-media hashtag #GoRedWearRed, you can help raise women’s awareness and support education on cardiovascular health.

The Surprising Benefits of Senior Living Communities

Growing numbers of seniors are enjoying their housing options

A large segment of the older population in the Unites States—individuals between the ages of 65 and 84—will increase by nearly 40 percent between 2010 and 2020, says the U.S. Census Bureau. The population over age 85 will rise by nearly 19 percent. By 2060, says the Administration on Aging (AOA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there will be about 98 million older persons, more than twice the number in 2014.

These statistics confirm the trend toward ever-growing numbers of older Americans whose need for senior-focused living situations has spurred one of the nation’s most powerful growth industries: living facilities that specialize in catering to older Americans.

By all accounts, the nearly 1 million older adults who currently live in senior communities are happy in their environments. A recent poll by Argentum (formerly Assisted Living Federation of America) found that 93 percent of residents in senior living facilities feel satisfied with the communities they live in. The survey also reported that nearly all residents—99 percent—say they feel safe in their living communities.

More communities are now being designed and updated to appeal to active seniors with a variety of abilities, interests, and preferences. As a leader in senior living management, ISL knows well what appeals to today’s seniors.  Here are a few of the most often cited reasons that older adults are choosing to move to senior living communities.

Safety. Good facilities have 24-hour staffing, state-of-the-art security systems, easy-access and handicap features, and emergency-medical services.

Social connections. Studies show that participating in social activities helps maintain cognitive health. Residents make friends, eat meals together, and celebrate holidays as a community. Senior facilities offer a wide variety of activities for residents, both on site and off. Classes, workshops, fitness options, dancing, reading groups, outdoor excursions, field trips—there is something for everyone!

No home maintenance and repair. Keeping up a home, inside and outside, is labor intensive, physically demanding, and expensive. Most senior-living residents are glad to say good-bye to these burdensome chores so they can spend time on other interests, hobbies, and activities.

Prepared meals. No more grocery shopping, meal planning, and food preparation. Residents can enjoy fine dining on a daily basis—without all the work. Many facilities offer alternative meals and can accommodate special diet needs. New residents commonly experience improvements in health and well being simply from everyday access to healthful, regular mealtimes.

If any of these reasons are appealing, maybe now is the time to look into a senior living community as a viable option in 2017!  Contact ISL to learn more.

January Is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

More than 3 million Americans have glaucoma—but half are un-diagnosed

 “Speed the cure. Spread the word,” says the Glaucoma Research Foundation. The first month of the new year is a good time to learn about and spread awareness of this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma may affect as many as 4.2 million Americans by 2030, a 58 percent increase, says the National Eye Institute.

Glaucoma is known as “the sneak thief of sight” because there may be no symptoms and as much as 40 percent of vision can be slowly lost without a person noticing. And once vision is lost, it’s permanent.

The good news is that glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. While there is no cure for glaucoma—yet—medication or surgery can slow or prevent vision loss. Early detection is key to stopping the progress of the disease.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is characterized by increased intraocular pressure, or pressure due to buildup of fluid within the eye. This pressure can damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. In the U.S., approximately 120,000 people are blind from glaucoma, accounting for up to 12 percent of all cases of blindness.

Who is at risk?

People of any age or race can get glaucoma, but these groups are at higher risk:

  • African Americans or Hispanics (especially over age 40)
  • People over age 60
  • People with a family history of the condition
  • Those diagnosed (during an eye exam) with high internal eye pressure
  • Those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have had an eye injury or eye surgery
  • Those with certain eye conditions, such as severe nearsightedness
  • Women with early estrogen deficiency
  • Those taking corticosteroid medication, specially eyedrops, for a long time

How can you protect your vision?

Early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes vision loss, is the best way to control the disease. If you fall into one or more of the high-risk groups, is to get a comprehensive eye exam. The Mayo Clinic advises scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams beginning at age 40. Ask your doctor to recommend the right screening schedule for you.

Medicare Sign Ups October 15 – December 7, 2016

It’s that time of year again

For 2017 Medicare coverage, Open Enrollment begins for Medicare  in the fall of 2016, from October 15 to December 7.

People with Medicare can change their choice of health coverage (whether they receive that coverage through a private Medicare Advantage plan or traditional Medicare), and add, drop or change Medicare Part D drug coverage.

During this annual enrollment period (AEP) you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantageplan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

It’s very important that Medicare beneficiaries review their drug plan annually. Why? Because Medicare private drug plans can make changes each year; changes can include which pharmacies are in their networks as well as which drugs are covered and the costs.  Most people can only change their plans during the Fall Open Enrollment Period.

Find out whether medications you are taking will be covered on your plan next year. If your physician had to submit a prior authorization exception request and you need the same medication next year, call your plan to find out what you need to do to make sure that your plan continues covering your medication. Your physician may need to submit a new request and he may be able to do so before the end of the year to ensure that your coverage continues without interruption.

Now is the time to be asking questions! For more information visit

http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/the-medicare-annual-coordinated-election-period-has-begun/