UTI: Can you feel the burn?

If you are experiencing burning while urinating it could mean one of two things: The toilet is, in fact, on fire. Or you may have a urinary tract infection.

What are some symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

Along with a burning sensation while urinating, symptoms for a UTI also include a frequent need to go to the bathroom, nausea, strong-smelling urine, itching, and muscle pains. In a nutshell, UTI’s are as unpleasant as they are common. But the burning question is what causes this infection and how can one prevent them from occurring?

What are some causes?

According to the Office on Women’s Health, some common culprits include delaying trips to the bathroom when the urge arises and improper wiping after a bowel movement. Older adults may experience a UTI due to diabetes, the reduced production of estrogen, and kidney stones.

They also estimate that about one in five women who get UTIs will get another one. It’s likely for some women to suffer from three or more UTIs in one year. If you are prone to UTIs, ask your doctor about your treatment options. Your doctor may ask you to take a small dose of medicine every day to prevent infection. Or, your doctor might give you a supply of antibiotics to take at the first sign of infection.

What are some proven forms of prevention?

In older adults, practicing good hygiene is the most reliable way to avoid getting a UTI or other undesirable infections. “Having good hygiene helps avoid urinary tract infections, said Jeremy Withers, Director of Nursing at River’s Edge Rehabilitation and Living Center. “Also, it’s important to keep your loved one as dry as possible, and the most critical aspect is hydration. Make sure your loved one is hydrated.” Women’s health recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to stave off infection.

Cranberries are berry good for you.

Despite changing trends in treatment, the go-to method for treating UTIs is antibiotics. However, some studies have found success with pure cranberry juice and supplements. “Cranberry supplements can help treat them or prevent them from happening as often,” said Jeremy. Once scrutinized as a new age trick, cranberry has emerged with a nod from some scientists as an effective method for treating and preventing urinary tract infections.

To better understand its effectiveness, it’s helpful to understand how infection settles in. “The bacteria responsible for more than 95 percent of urinary tract infections are a pathogenic strain of the same E. coli bacteria found in the lower intestine. If not for these fimbriae, the flow of urine would simply wash the bacteria away. But once they’re securely latched onto the urinary tract walls, they quickly start reproducing,” wrote livescience.com contributor Diya Chacko.

Experts admit cranberry juice is not strong enough to kill bacteria. But it does pack enough punch to prevent it from attaching to the intestinal walls. “Cranberries contain large amounts of a chemical called proanthocyanidin, or PAC. PAC functions almost like a shield as it forces the fimbriae to crumple so they can’t attach to the surface of the cells in the urinary tract,” wrote Diya.

So drink your water, and take your cranberry supplements. By taking preventative measures and seeking treatment should an infection persist, you can avoid getting burned by a urinary tract infection.

Eye specialist says proper nutrition can treat and reverse common vision problems

Dr. Robert Abel Jr, MD author of the new book, The Eye Care Revolution, will reveal which nutrients are essential for the care and feeding of your eyes

For 40 years, Dr. Robert Abel Jr. has dedicated his professional life as an ophthalmologist to preserving vision. As a founding partner in a large eye care practice in Delaware, he operates on four hundred cataract patients a year, but he treats six times that number without surgery.

“We know that specific foods and nutritional supplements have value in treating specific diseases, and we also now know there are also certain foods and supplements that specifically encourage eye health,” says Dr. Abel, author of the book, “The Eye Care Revolution.”

Dr. Abel says by using an understanding of nutritional chemistry and other means it is possible to control or eliminate many of the factors that contribute to the development of serious eye diseases:

 

  • Controlled clinical studies show that the risk of developing cataracts can be decreased by more than half by eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A, E, lutein, and glutathione boosters.
  • The risk of developing glaucoma can be lowered by consuming high levels of vitamins C, Omega 3, and B12. Also rhythmic breathing and avoiding blood pressure medications in the evenings.
  • The risk of developing macular degeneration can be reduced by maintaining high levels of vitamins A, D, E, the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein, DHA, and the amino acid taurine (found in egg whites).
  • Diabetic retinopathy can be delayed or prevented by consuming vitamin C along with alpha lipoic acid, Quercetin, and other bioflavonoids.

What is the ideal dietary regimen for someone concerned about preserving or improving eye health? In his book, “The Eye Care Revolution,” Dr. Abel lists the Top Ten Foods for Sight:

  1. Cold water fish (sardines, cod, mackerel, tuna) are an excellent source of DHA, which provides structural support to cell membranes and is recommended for dry eyes, macular degeneration, and sight preservation.
  2. Spinach, kale, and green leafy vegetables are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein protects the macula from sun damage and from blue light.
  3. Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulfur, lecithin, amino acids, and lutein. Sulfur-containing compounds protect the lens of the eye from cataract formation.
  4. Garlic, onions, shallots, and capers are also rich in sulfur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione, an important antioxidant for the lens of the eye.
  5. Non-GMO soy, low in fat and rich in protein, contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, vitamin E, and natural anti-inflammatory agents.
  6. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene. Yellow and orange vegetables, like carrots and squash, are important for daytime vision.
  7. Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which improve night vision. A cup full of blueberries, huckleberry jam, or a 100 mg bilberry supplement should improve dark adaptation within 30 minutes.
  8. Wine, known to have a cardio-protective effect, has many important nutrients, which protect the heart, vision, and blood flow.
  9. Nuts and berries are nature’s most concentrated food sources. Grains, such as flaxseed, are high in the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and stabilize cell membranes.
  10. Extra-virgin olive oil, is a healthy alternative to butter and margarine.

Dr. Abel says to maintain eye health, drink six eight-ounce glasses of filtered water every day to keep properly hydrated, as water helps create the fluid in our eyes.

New Dietary Supplement for Eye Health: Eye Complex CS (Clinical Strength)

“While we should depend primarily on whole foods to meet our nutritional needs, we should use vitamins and supplements as an insurance policy,” says Dr. Abel.

For eye health, Dr. Abel has formulated a special multivitamin, Eye Complex CS, which contains important nutrients supportive of the retina and having a protective effect on the lens:

 

Vitamin C 250 mg N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 50 mg Selenium .05 mg
L-Glutathione 2.5 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid 25 mg Vitamin E 100 IU
Lutein 10 mg Zinc 7.5 mg Bilberry 40 mg
Zeaxanthin 0.5 mg Taurine 50 mg Riboflavin B-2 15 mg
Vitamin B-6 10 mg Vitamin B-12 0.1 mg Rutin 100 mg
Grape Seed Ex 25 mg Citrus Bioflavonoids 100 mg Chromium .05 mg
Ginkgo biloba 20 mg Beta Carotene 10,000 IU Eye Bright 100 mg
CoQ10 10 mg Green Tea Ex 50 mg Green Tea Ex 50 mg

ABOUT DR. ROBERT ABEL, JR., MD (www.eyecomplexcs.com)

Dr. Abel earned his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College in 1969, completed his ophthalmology residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital and was a Cornea Fellow at the University of Florida. A board certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Abel is on the staff of the Christiana Care Health System. He is a former Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University. He founded and has been Medical Director of the Medical Eye Bank of Delaware since 1981. He teaches locally and internationally on numerous subjects, including cornea, cataract and nutrition. He instructs the Cornea Microsurgery Workshops at the Academy of Ophthalmology meetings annually and has been on the Academy’s Committee of International Ophthalmology.

Dr. Abel has done active research on corneal transplants, corneal pathology, contact lenses and drugs as they relate to the eye. He holds two patents on artificial corneas and has received the AAO Honor Award and the Senior Honor Award. Dr. Abel is the author of the popular new book, “The Eye Care Revolution,” which teaches patients how to treat and reverse common vision problems, and he has written eight other books. Other information concerning eye care can also be found on his website, EyeAdvisory.com. He was also voted “TOP DOC” by Delaware Today Magazine. In his spare time, he practices Tai-Chi, and studies alternative medicine systems.

4 reasons why thinning hair doesn’t mean the end of the world

It’s the stuff some nightmares are made of. For some, it’s being trapped in a snake den. For others, it’s standing in public in nothing but your underwear. But one fear most older adults all share is the fear of losing our hair. In a society that relishes its long locks, anyone touting a “magical cure” can name his price.

One inevitable fact of life is that thinning hair is a common byproduct of aging. Studies show that up to 50 percent of women over the age will experience hair loss. Sadly, many of us have a genetic predisposition to hair loss, called androgenetic alopecia.

“As we age, overall density changes and individual strands become finer,” explained dermatologist Doris J. Day in her article for Prevention.com.

Before you silently accept your follicle-deprived fate, here are some methods that have shown to reduce the rate of hair loss.

1.You are what you eat.
Your hair is a direct reflection of your diet, so if you don’t like what’s happening on your head, you should pay attention to what’s going in your mouth. Good nutrition has a variety of benefits for your health, but your hair stands to benefit from a diet loaded with protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.

“We know that a nutritious diet is key to healthy skin, functioning organs, an alert mind, and good strong hair. Our kitchen staff really go the extra mile in making sure the food is not only delicious, here at arroyo, but that it is just what our residents need,” said Pamela Fernandez, LPN at Arroyo Vista Nursing Center.

At any age, good nutrition is clearly evident in the condition of our hair. “A strand of hair is composed of mostly protein, which means your hair needs protein to grow,” wrote WebMD contributor, Joseph Saling. “At any given time, about 90% of your hair is in the growing phase. For each individual hair, this growing phase lasts 2 to 3 years. At the end of that time, hairs enter a resting phase that lasts about three months before they are shed and replaced by new hair. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, a disproportionate number of hairs may go into the resting phase.”

2. Get a massage.
Many people have found success in performing a daily scalp massage. According to Livestrong.com contributor, Shemiah Williams, a three-minute scalp massage not only stimulates the scalp and improves circulation it reduces stress. However, there is no medical evidence fully supporting massaging the scalp as a proven method for preventing hair loss.

3. The heat is on.
Ironically, sometimes our efforts to improve our hair’s appearance is the very thing contributing to its departure. Heated styling products are one of the biggest culprits to increased hair loss.

“Certain hair appliances that use high heat to help style your hair can lead to damaged hair and breakage, which can look like baldness,” wrote contributor Krisha McCoy. “Damaging hair appliances include blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and other devices that apply heat to your hair.”
Krisha added that these hot hair appliances cause the most damage to your hair when you use them on wet hair. Some devices get so hot they boil the water in your hair shaft, which leaves your hair brittle.

4. Avoiding certain medications.
If you need added incentive to improve your health to the point of decreasing your medications, hair loss could be a strong motivator. Many prescription medications contribute to increased hair loss in men and women.

“Among the medications that can potentially cause hair loss are blood thinners, vitamin A supplements, some arthritis medications, antidepressants, gout medications, medications for certain heart problems, blood pressure medications, and birth control pills,” wrote Krisha. The good news is that your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative medication.

According to an ABC News report, men will spend over $1 billion on hair treatment products this year. Men also will spend some $60 million on vitamins and nutritional supplements with dreams of keeping their hair on their head instead of their brush. With new products hitting the store shelves on a seemingly weekly basis, it’s important to research the effectiveness of these methods to determine which ones look promising or should get the brush off.

This article was originally published on Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.

New technologies to treat breast cancer

Women handle a variety of roles. We are managers, leaders, caregivers, team players, examples, role models, sisters, aunts, grandmas, and moms. Our interests vary as wide as the opportunities that support them. Yet one concern that unites us is the fear of breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, around 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.

Dr. Bruce McAllister, Chief Medical Officer and Radiation Oncologist with the Central Utah Clinic Cancer Center, understands this concern and offered some advice and information about early breast cancer detection and treatment.

What are the warning signs of breast cancer?

“There are a lot of warning signs for detecting breast cancer,” explained McAllister. “The most important one is a lump or mass in the breast. This is especially suspicious if it is hard, has an irregular border, and doesn’t hurt.”

In truth, a trait in the early stages of most forms of cancer is a painless lump or mass. Unfortunately, this circumstance is often tempting to ignore. Doctors encourage women to be proactive when discovering such symptoms.

“Even if it is round and soft and does hurt, you should bring it to the attention of your physician so he or she can decide whether or not it needs to be biopsied,” cautioned Dr. McAllister.

What technologies can be used to detect and treat breast cancer?

To detect the onset of breast cancer early, patients may be encouraged to discover some of the new technologies being used by cancer treatment centers. One of the newer procedures at the Central Utah Clinic is an MRI (magnetic resonance image) of the breast.

“Screenings were done with mammograms and ultrasounds,” said Dr. McAllister. “And still should be. All women over the age of 40 should get an annual mammogram as long as they remain in good health. But some women are at particularly high risk of breast cancer, so it’s good to add another test, namely an MRI of the breast, to see if we can detect the onset of cancer early.”

Candidates for this type of testing include women with genetic mutations or those who have a very strong history of breast cancer in the family.

There have also been advancements in radiation and chemotherapy. “At our facility, we have both medical oncologists and radiation oncologists,” said Dr. McAllister. “As a radiation oncologist, I only use radiation. But the medical oncologists use some of the more targeted therapies in addition to chemotherapy and in addition to hormone therapy.”

How can I minimize side effects of treatment?

One of the many desires of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer is to live a normal life amid treatments. For women using radiation therapy for treatment, some may wonder what things can be done to avoid or minimize the negative side effects of treatment.

“There are skin lotions you can use for relief, but overall there isn’t a lot you can do as a patient to prevent burning of the skin,” admitted Dr. McAllister. “But there is a lot I can do as the physician. For example, I can use the latest technologies such as 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy and Field-in-Field techniques to reduce hot spots in the dose we deliver to the breast, which in turn prevents or reduces burning of the skin.”

3-D techniques enable the physician to target beams of radiation that match the shape and dimensions of the breast and later match the radiation to the shape and dimensions of the cavity where the mass was prior to surgery. As part of the process, the radiation oncologist takes 3-D images of the breast and cavity. A computer analyzes the exact shape, height, width and depth of the breast and cavity. Then the machine targets beams directly onto the breast for a few weeks and then onto the cavity for a week or two. One of the benefits of using 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy is that the physician can direct higher levels of radiation precisely onto the cancerous tumor, thus providing a stronger and more effective treatment in trying to shrink or eliminate tumors.

“As this 3-D process targets the breast itself, it affects as little of the surrounding tissue, such as the lung and heart, as possible. In this way, I can increase the chance of cure and reduce the chance of side effects. In addition, for some women, we are beginning to use breast boards that hold the patient in the prone position vs. the supine position. Laying the woman on her stomach allows the breast to fall away from the chest wall giving more distance between the breast and the lung and heart. This extra distance allows us to spare the lung and heart from radiation even more than before.”

For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, or to make an appointment with Dr. Bruce McAllister, connect with Central Utah Clinic for information on services, locations, events and more. www.centralutahclinic.com

4 super foods that battle arthritis pain

“You are what you eat,” has been a motto from an early age. Now that you’ve aged, it’s time to put those words into action. According toEveryday Health, about 46 million adults in the United States, about one in five Americans, have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. This number continues to rise and is expected to jump dramatically in the coming years. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are certain measures you can take, namely preventive foods, to help combat the chronic sickness. Take a look at the list below, and see what you need to add to your diet to help ease some of arthritic pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids

There are so many ways to introduce these essential fatty acids into your system that will help combat arthritis and alleviate some inflammation. Charles Serhan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Harvard Medical School, found that omega-3s convert into compounds that aid in bringing the inflammatory response in the human body to an end.

There is no certainty to how much omega-3 is required, but if you’re not keen on adding some fish to your diet, be sure to get some omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Broccoli

It’s time to go a little greener. Several lab studies have found that sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, may block enzymes linked to joint destruction and inhibit inflammation. Be adventurous with this vegetable. Make it a fun kitchen project to find the most delicious ways to cook this green giant of a vegetable.

Spice it up

Seasonings go beyond that extra little flavoring. It’s been shown that ginger and turmeric possess anti-inflammatory properties. Experiment a little. You can make turmeric tea as part of your nightly routine.

Strawberries

To round off a few foods to help ease arthritis pain, here is one for that sweet tooth. Not only is this delicious fruit perfect for a summer day, it can help lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a signal of inflammation in the body, which is helpful for arthritis pain.

So the next time you find yourself at the grocery store or out to dinner, consider the long-term effects of the foods you consume. Fill your plate or basket with things that can help you overcome chronic pains, like arthritis, that are also delicious. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know how much it could help you.

7 healthiest foods for seniors — and the rest of us

According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. As you age, eating can become more of a chore than a fun part of your day. Whether you face difficulty chewing, upset stomach, low energy or dry mouth, there are ways you and your family can bring light back into the kitchen. Focusing on increasing the intake of specific nutrients and proteins is the best way to supplement the supplements you may be taking. Here is a list of the seven best foods to keep in your diet as you age.

1. Eggs

Eggs pack a powerful protein punch and are high in B12, which increases energy. They are soft if you or your loved one has difficulty chewing, and they have enough natural moisture to aid those with dry mouth. If cholesterol is a concern, try eating one regular egg and supplementing with egg whites.

2. Lean Beef

Beef is another great way to add protein to your diet, and it is also considered to be a “brain” food. To ensure nutrients are at their optimum, choose grass-fed beef, which has higher amounts of fatty acids and B complexes. Beef also contains choline, which promotes memory and immune system health. Looking for other options instead of steak? Try a beef minestrone soup, or a lean burger, instead.

3. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is rich in calcium with half the sugar and sodium content found in regular plain non-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt is another great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. Yogurt wets the pallet and goes down easy for those with dry mouth. Not loving the plain flavor? Try adding agave nectar and berries for an organic option packed with antioxidants.

4. Dark Greens

Spinach and kale are among Mother Nature’s heavy lifters when it comes to natural sources of essential vitamins. Spinach is high in iron, magnesium and potassium, which are great for carrying oxygen to the lungs, fighting chronic fatigue and keeping blood sugars low. Kale promotes bone growth with high amounts of calcium and increased immune system strength as a great source of vitamin A. More importantly, kale offers tons of vitamin K which is helpful for blood clotting. Try sauteed spinach or adding kale to a fruit smoothie. Here are some great recipes for massaged kale salads, which help the dense vegetable soak up more flavors for eating.

5. Quinoa, Brown Rice and Flax Seed

Healthy grains are a great way to add dietary fiber to your eating plan. Not only is fiber important for a healthy digestive system, but these alternatives to wheat also contain natural sources of Vitamin B-1, Manganese, and essential fatty acids. Quinoa and brown rice are great sides to a complete lunch or dinner mixed into a salad or standing alone. Flaxseed can be added to almost any recipe or blended in a smoothie.

6. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants. Fruits that are rich in color can aid in lowering blood pressure, enhance fiber intake, and promote health for those with diabetes. Berries are great added to a salad, over yogurt or steel-cut oats or blended into a smoothie.

7. Fish

Fatty fishes, including salmon, are a rich source of Omega 3s. Omega 3s contain myriad health benefits that are essential for a healthy senior diet. In addition to enhancing heart health, Omegas are known to aid in decreasing effects of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing bone density to avoid osteoporosis, and preventing the risk of memory loss with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Baked or grilled salmon is easy to make and goes great with a variety of sides, salads, and grains to make it suitable for all seasons.

While aging can bring complications with some of our favorite past-times, getting older does not have to put a damper on the way we eat. Eating a well-planned and balanced diet may reduce the risk of bone loss, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Ensuring our meal selections are rich in vitamins and come from natural and organic sources will not only appease the pallet but will also add nutrients that are essential for promoting increased energy and aiding longevity.

Demystifying menopause: Change in life doesn’t have to be life-changing

It doesn’t take many cobra poses or pickup games of basketball with your kids to realize that, as we age, we can’t do the things we were once accustomed to doing.

As a woman at the threshold of 40, it takes a little longer to catch my breath, to bend down to pick up a ball, or to recover from a particularly physical game. This week, I played a casual game of soccer with my family and was sore for three days. Even my 3-year-old was in better shape than I was.

One of the main concerns I have as I age is menopause. I have had friends enter this stage as early as 40 and as late as 55, and I have noticed many physical and emotional changes that accompany this very real condition. So, I sat down with Dr. David Young, an OBGYN and menopause specialist, to help demystify this part of the aging process.

What is menopause?

Menopause, very simply, is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation stops and she is no longer able to become pregnant. During this time our estrogen levels decrease.

“Ovaries tend to stop producing estrogen,” explained Dr. Young. “As the production of estrogen begins to decrease, it can affect our cardiovascular health and the way we feel. All of the hormones in our bodies are interrelated, so if one hormone has an issue the other hormones can be affected negatively.”

Although the average age for this gradual change is around 50 to 52 years of age, many women in their early 40s experience symptoms of peri-menopause and early signs of the menopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Experts say that technically, menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the symptoms and signs of menopause generally appear long before the one-year period ends. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, feminine dryness, weight gain and irritability, among others.

How can I manage the effects of menopause?

This is a natural process in the life of every woman. However, there are ways to control the lingering effects of menopause. Dr. Young is a big supporter of preventative care, particularly in preparing a woman for this often uncomfortable and discombobulating physical transformation.

He advocates regular checkups with your healthcare provider. “Seek regular mammograms starting at 40 or sooner if you have a history of breast cancer or other diseases in your family,” said Young. Incorporating regular exercise in your daily routine is also important.

Young suggests considering taking a supplement, as well. “When we are in our modern-day, fast-paced life, we don’t eat as well, we don’t eat healthy, and we eat out a lot. So supplementing with a brand that contains good vitamins and minerals is very important.”

Although few women openly discuss the onset of menopause with their peers, it is important to track the changes in your body. “Taking care of things before they become a problem is important. If you have something that you are concerned about, have it evaluated and don’t ignore it,” said Young.

In sum

By being proactive in eating right, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking and other harmful habits, and considering supplements, the process of menopause need not be the dreaded phase Grandma warned you about. Instead, it can be a transformative time where women say hello to a new life filled with newly defined freedoms and opportunities just waiting to be discovered.

How to Find the Best Home Health Care

You’ve spent your life knowing your parents and loved ones were there for you providing support, safety, and love. Now, as the roles reverse and the health of your loved one declines, you may be facing the reality of finding proper home care.

Mindy Hill, marketing director for iCare Home & Hospice understands this process and respects the importance of finding proper care for those who need it.

The key is knowing what you need. There is a difference between Home Care and Home Health.

 

“Home health is focused on the clinical needs of a patient,” explained Hill. “Nurses, certified nursing assistants, and occupational and physical therapists provide trained medical care. Home Care providers cater to everyday needs such as shopping, housekeeping, and general companionship services.”

Most people are not aware that Home Health services are even available. Yet, Hill explains where this type of service may need to be considered. If your current situation requires clinical care, Hill offers some suggestions in choosing the proper provider for you.

  1. Check for state certification and accreditation. Every reputable Home Health company must be licensed with the state and accredited with both Medicare/Medicaid and possibly The Joint Commission. Many online sites, including www.medicare.gov provide current information and ratings on healthcare companies in your area.
  2. Check on the company’s history. These same sites may offer information on past write-ups or complaints filed against the company for care-related issues.
  3. Ask questions. When visiting a potential Home Health company, ask about the staff. How often are staff members trained on treatment procedures? For example, Hill explained that iCare has only been servicing the Utah Valley area for 3 years, but the combined experience of its staff exceeds 40 years. “We have a great team and we really care about the older population,” she added. iCare was recently recognized for excellence by the 2014 Daily Herald Best of Utah Valley Readers’ Choice Awards. Also, be sure the services are available 24 hours a day seven days per week and have the ability to place clients in reputable rehab facilities, when necessary.
  4. What is their focus? Hill pointed out many Home Health companies specialize in different things. “Different companies cater to different types of diagnoses. Getting that overall feeling that they really do have knowledge and expertise to help you in that area is important,” said Hill. For example, iCare specializes in vestibular rehabilitation, cardiac and post-stroke treatment. The staff also specializes in matters surrounding varying stages of dementia. “We are seeing an increased need for this diagnoses in the valley,” said Hill.

Addressing the reality of the declining health of a loved one certainly has its share of emotions. But by doing some research and asking important questions, the matter of finding the right Home Care for you can be a positive experience.

Greg and Amy’s Recommendations: Make a plan for (and ideally with) your loved one, balancing what is desired with what is realistic. With a plan in mind, contact your insurance company to find out what services will be covered under what circumstances, as well as what the out-of-pocket cost will be. If you or your loved ones do not have a living will, establish one now. Also, if you will be managing the healthcare decisions for someone else, get a healthcare power of attorney.

Best exercise for older adults

Maintaining a healthy exercise routine is a fundamental part of life for all ages. Each age group stands to benefit from the advantages regular exercise can bring to one’s overall health. This is especially true for older adults who are 50 years and older.

Regular exercise combats all forms of disease by strengthening muscles, including the heart. This improves circulation which reduces the occurrence of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke.

Yet not many 60 year olds can start a rigorous exercise routine without injury. Most need to practice an exercise routine that is challenging yet doesn’t provoke stress or cause injury.

The National Institute of Health points out that there are four general types of exercise that are necessary to maintain good health, particularly in older adults.

Strength training

By working with light weights or exercises that use one’s own weight to build muscle increases metabolism which keeps blood sugar in check.

Balance

According to NIH, 300,000 older adults are admitted to the hospital for broken hips each year. Oftentimes, medications can cause side effects such as dizziness or confusion that increase the likelihood of falls with older adults. Other older adults may be suffering from problems with the inner ear which can impede one’s depth perception. Also, impaired vision caused by poor lighting or other household hazards or diseases like cataracts makes it difficult for older adults to safely navigate around the house. Once you have cleared your exercise routine with your physician, you can experiment with various balancing exercises.

Doug Schrift of Eldergym.com describes this type of exercise as an opportunity to ignite your “internal spatial orientation.” For example, if you close your eyes and start raising your arm above your head, you should have a pretty good sense of the location of your arm because of your inner sense of feedback. Balancing exercises strengthen that sensation.

Those who play tennis on a regular basis improve their sense of balance. But sometimes all it takes is placing a strip of masking tape on the floor. With a chair close by for support, you simply practice walking on that line. Dancing, high knee marching, and high above-the-head reaching moves are all beneficial forms of balancing exercises.

Stretching

Encouraging and maintaining flexibility is an important part of good health. The Asian culture, particularly the Chinese community, have been practicing the art of Tai Chi for centuries. This series of movements are ideal in all aspects of exercise. It builds strength, trains on balance and encourages stretching while not creating a negative impact on the body.

Endurance

Strengthening the skeleton and muscles is important. So is strengthening the cardiovascular system. “The most underrated form of exercise out there is walking,” said Dr. Jeremy Osmond, Director of Rehabilitation at Orchard Park Post-Acute Rehab Center in Orem, Utah. “Everybody should be doing it. It’s the simplest form of exercise but it is so healthy and so good for you.”

Also, swimming, biking, low-impact hiking, even household chores increase the heart rate for an extended period of time. Start by exercising in five-minute intervals and build from that.

Exercise is something everybody needs to incorporate into their daily routine, and older adults are no exception. By investing a small amount of time every day for exercise, you can enjoy big rewards in maintaining good health.

Is your loved one buried under clutter? Here are tidy ways to pare down the belongings

As your loved ones enter their golden years, their home becomes their sanctuary. But if they’ve kept all the tokens of love over the years, their home is probably too cluttered for them to navigate safely. This can be a health hazard, both physically (tripping and falling over things) or mentally (hoarding).

Here are some tips to help your older loved ones lessen their belongings so that they can remain safe and happy in their homes.

Put safety first: Your elderly loved ones have spent decades with their belongings – especially if they’ve remained in the same home – and they have created an emotional attachment to many of the items in the house. Although each item may have a special place in their hearts, the more items in the house, the more dangerous navigating between the clutter becomes. Help them see the safety benefits of organizing and decluttering so that they will change their attitude about the decluttering process.

Find support: Sometimes extreme clutter means that your loved one has developed a hoarding problem. Healing a hoarding issue takes time and patience, so we recommend you find a good support system for you, your loved one, and the rest of the family. Love, support, and patience are key in decluttering the house. Whether your loved one has a hoarding problem or not, groups like the IOCDF (International OCD Foundation) offer great suggestions and tips for those struggling with clutter.

Take it slow: Always remember to start small. You don’t want to overwhelm your loved ones by renting a dumpster for a weekend and completely gutting their house. Be satisfied with baby steps in the right direction. Try starting with one room – or even a cupboard – so that your loved one can work through the process of decluttering with you. Remember: Patience is always important in these situations.

Put it in a box: Persuade your loved one to handle an object only once. Allow him or her time to look at the object and make a conscious decision about whether to keep it or not. The more the object is handled, the harder it is to make a decision. Make three piles (or have three boxes) in each room: one for keeping, one for throwing away, and one for donating. If your loved one can’t decide whether to throw it away, put the item in a box for up to six months. Then, he or she can revisit the item and decide what to do with it.

Share heirlooms with those who want them: To help your loved ones in the process of decluttering, gather the family together and distribute any cherished heirlooms. Your loved ones will feel secure knowing that the item isn’t going to waste, and you will get to keep something special.

Paring down the belongings of your aged loved ones can be a long and difficult process. But if you remember to keep safety at the top of your priority list, find a good support system, go slowly and steadily, put everything in a box, and keep the heirlooms, the level of stress and hardship will be minimized.

This article was originally published in the Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.