St. George Village Blog
Category Archive: Independent Living Knowledge Center Lifestyle Wellness
Posted on December 23, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Many older adults have found benefit from the centuries-old Chinese martial arts tai chi and qigong. “Chi” or “qi” (chee) means “life energy.” “Qigong” (chee-goong) literally means “life energy cultivation.” Tai chi consists of a series of flowing movements while qigong focuses on the repetition of isolated movements and breathing.
For example, Robert Johnson, M.D., Kaiser Permanente Chief of Palliative Care in Walnut Creek, Calif., has practiced tai chi and qigong since the 1970s. He believes these mind-body exercises promote good health, flexibility, strength and balance, which help reduce the risk of falling among seniors.
Each year, one out of three adults, age 65 and older, falls due to lack of balance or other reasons. Consider that a record 11,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become Medicare eligible every day, and that can add up to a lot of falls and serious injuries.
“We spend most of our day in sedentary jobs. Many of us sit in front of a computer or television for hours at a time,” Dr. Johnson said. “To age well, we need to move, stretch and keep our joints lubricated and flexible. Otherwise, our muscles, joints and tendons become stiff and brittle, and that can lead to falls and disabilities.”
Dr. Johnson recommends moving the joints in a circular motion. For example, place the hands on the knees and rotate the knees together in a clockwise and then counterclockwise motion. Also, try sitting in a squat position and stand up slowly to strengthen the quadriceps.
By clicking here, you can view a short video in which Dr. Johnson demonstrates a few basic exercises and explains why they’re helpful.
Along with doing exercises that promote flexibility, seniors can also help prevent falls and serious injuries by taking a few simple precautions at home:
• Reduce tripping hazards such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, or loose carpet.
• Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
• Add grab bars where necessary—in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.
• Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
• Improve lighting throughout the house and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms.
• Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.
Posted on December 8, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Many seniors will be glad to learn that there are steps they can take to protect against vision problems—starting with an eye exam. A regular exam is important because some eye conditions and diseases do not show warning signs.
While it is commonly known that eye troubles increase rapidly with age—particularly after age 65—a lesser-known fact is that vision loss is also associated with a higher incidence of falls, injuries, depression and social isolation.
As part of an overall health-maintenance strategy, the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges seniors to have a comprehensive eye exam, especially if they have not had one in the past two years, whether or not there are symptoms.
The Academy also encourages seniors, their loved ones and caregivers to be aware of signs that indicate vision problems that require an eye exam. These problems can include:
• Bumping into or knocking over objects
• Stepping hesitantly
• Squinting or tilting the head when trying to focus
• Missing objects when reaching
• Discontinuing everyday activities such as reading and writing.
Simple, painless eye exams are crucial in detecting an eye disease or condition in its early stages, to help preserve your sight. During the exam, an ophthalmologist—a medical doctor who specializes in eye care—will provide a diagnosis and treatment of all eye diseases and conditions.
Despite medical evidence that healthy vision plays a critical role in overall health and happiness, many older adults in the United States do not seek regular eye care or face difficulty accessing and paying for health care services.
To ensure that all seniors throughout the country have access to eye care services, nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists are available to provide eye care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualifying seniors 65 and older through EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which matches patients to volunteer ophthalmologists.
“Sight problems should not be ignored at any age, but particularly in seniors, as problems are more common in this group of patients,” said Richard P. Mills, M.D., MPH, chairman for EyeCare America. “The earlier a patient seeks medical diagnosis and treatment, the greater the chances for saving and recovering one’s vision, which contributes to overall health and happiness.”
The program is sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation with additional support from Alcon. To learn more and to see if you qualify, visit EyeCare America.
Posted on November 15, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
BlueHair Technology Group is on a mission! Their goal is to educate seniors about current technology and how to connect and communicate with family and friends through email, games, video chat, Facebook, etc., on devices like iPads and smartphones.
St. George Village is pleased to offer a variety of classes taught by BlueHair Technology founder Jane Ratliff and her staff as a service to its residents and members of the community.
Meet Jane and learn more about BlueHair Technology in this video presentation.
Posted on November 10, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
During Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, which ends December 7, millions of Medicare beneficiaries must decide on their Medicare Advantage (MA) health plan for the coming year. While many factors go into deciding about a plan—cost, choice of doctors, benefits—there’s one important question Medicare beneficiaries should ask: What is the quality rating of the plans I’m considering?
A high rating means better health care and the best value for your money. Medicare uses a system called Star Ratings. Plans receive a rating of up to five stars. These ratings are based on things like how well the plan does at keeping people healthy by making sure they get the treatments, tests and vaccines they need to prevent illness, how quickly you can get an appointment and see specialists, and how the plan responds to your complaints and concerns.
For 2014, over a third of MA plans will receive four or more stars, which is an increase from 28 percent in 2013. Seven of the 11 MA plans earning five stars this year are members of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, an organization representing the nation’s leading health plans.
You can learn more about MA plans—and their quality ratings—using the Medicare Plan Finder. MA plans are called “Medicare Health Plans” in the Plan Finder.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance also evaluates quality in MA plans; those rankings can be found at www.ncqa.org.
— Patricia Smith, president and CEO, Alliance of Community Health Plans.
Posted on November 1, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Several St. George Village residents put on their travelin’ shoes last month and enjoyed a two-day trip to historic Charleston, S.C.
Their busy itinerary included a visit to Drayton Hall — an 18th century unrestored plantation house — as well as a tour of Charleston Harbor, a carriage ride around the city, shopping at famous Charleston Market and dining at some of the city’s well-known restaurants.
As you can see, everyone had a LOT of fun!
Posted on October 25, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
The CDC urges the millions of Americans with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, stroke, or heart or lung disease to get a flu vaccine. A chronic health condition, even if it’s well managed, increases a person’s risk of serious illness from the flu. This could result in a sudden and costly trip to the hospital—or even death.
“We have known for years that the flu is a serious disease, especially for people with certain chronic health conditions,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Last season, nearly 92 percent of adults hospitalized with flu had a long-term health condition, as did about 53 percent of children sent to the hospital.
Health conditions that increase the risk of flu-related problems include:
• Asthma and chronic lung disease
• Brain and central nervous system conditions
• Heart disease
• Blood disorders
• Diabetes, kidney and other endocrine and metabolic disorders
• Liver disorders
• Weakened immune system
• People under 19 years old and on long-term aspirin therapy
The chronic conditions most reported for adults sent to the hospital with flu include heart disease (37 percent), metabolic disorders such as diabetes (36 percent), chronic lung diseases (26 percent) and asthma (21 percent). For children, the most frequent conditions (obesity not included) include asthma (20 percent), brain and nervous system disorders (13 percent) and chronic lung diseases other than asthma (6.3 percent).
The flu can also make chronic health conditions worse. For example, people with asthma may be more likely to experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and if people with congestive heart failure get sick with the flu, their condition could become even worse.
The message is clear: People with chronic health conditions should get a flu shot every season as soon as vaccine is available in their community. This season’s flu vaccine protects against the viruses most likely to cause the flu this year. Flu vaccines have been given for decades. They’re safe and can’t give you the flu. Close family members and caregivers also need to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading the flu to those at high risk. People with chronic conditions should not get the nasal spray.
Flu vaccine is offered in many locations. Use the vaccine finder to find flu vaccine near you. You may also find more information about flu and the vaccine by visiting the CDC online or calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
Posted on October 20, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
On October 9, St. George Village residents and family members dined and danced the night away at a Hawaiian Luau. Guests were welcomed with leis and a warm “Aloha!” before enjoying Mai Tais during Hawaiian Happy Hour. The Hawaiian dinner buffet was followed by a performance of traditional hula dancing by representatives from the Kele’s Pacific Paradise troupe.
Afterward, guests were invited to participate in hula dancing. The men even rolled up their pants legs, donned hula skirts and danced to the beat! It was a memorable evening of food, friendship and fun.
Posted on October 11, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Fifteen St. George Village care partners and two of the community’s residents attended the 6th Annual Culture Change Summit on Sept. 26. The purpose of the Summit is to bring together interested parties for a discussion of how to effectively change the way people think about seniors and the aging process.
Keynote speaker and a “Regulator turned Educator” Carmen Bowman spoke to conference attendees about her experience as a nursing home surveyor and discussed how to make senior care communities feel less institutional and more like home for residents.
St. George Village was well represented, with care partners from Culinary, Dietary, Skilled Nursing (Treasures of Lakeview), Personal Care (The Springs), and Independent Living attending. SGV Social Worker Meredith Swinford participated in a Speakers Panel, where she shared the progress St. George Village has made on its Person-Centered Care journey.
One of the highlights of the day was celebrating a declaration from Gov. Nathan Deal, designating September 26, 2013 as “Culture Change Day in Georgia.”
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
The St. George Village Crusaders participated in the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Atlantic Station on September 28, 2013. Together, St. George Village residents, their families, and SGV care partners raised over $6,300 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
During the year, SGV holds two additional major fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association. Residents, their families and friends, and SGV staff can “Sponsor a Flag” in the annual Flag Display on Memorial Day weekend, in honor of or in memory of a loved one. And on Casual Fridays, care partners can make a $5 donation in exchange for the casual comfort of wearing jeans to work.
To learn more about the mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association online.
Posted on September 27, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you or someone you know is on blood thinners and tired of traveling to a clinic for a clotting time test, you may be relieved to learn about a much more convenient option: testing yourself at home, on your fingertip.
Many people with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat, known as “AFib”) or other conditions that can lead to blood clots have to be on lifelong treatment with anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin (warfarin) to help “thin” their blood. Since diet, stress and other factors make patients react differently to warfarin, they need to have their clotting time tested regularly. That can involve a lot of time and hassle to travel to a lab, clinic or doctor’s office.
The easy alternative—testing less often than your doctor recommends—is not a good or safe option. Checking your clotting time at regular intervals allows your doctor to make sure you are on the right dose of warfarin: Too low and it might not effectively prevent clots; too high and your blood could get too thin. Both can lead to serious complications, such as a stroke or uncontrolled bleeding.
So it’s essential to have a regularly scheduled test that measures the time it takes for your blood to clot (Prothrombin Time, often reported as an International Normalized Ratio; hence the moniker “PT/INR test”).
The real question is: where?
The traditional way to get a PT/INR test is to have your blood drawn at a clinic or doctor’s office and sent to a lab, which may take several days. Now, however, there’s Patient Self-Testing (PST). You can test at home, at work or wherever you happen to be, right on your fingertip. You simply prick your finger, place a drop of blood on a test strip and wait about a minute for a small handheld meter to give you the result.
Your health care team will still be closely involved with your care and anticoagulation treatment. You call in your results or enter them online right after you test, and you make office visits as directed by your doctor to monitor your testing and make therapy adjustments.
But PST offers so much more flexibility and convenience that it can make a world of difference in how you feel about testing. In one study, 77 percent of the warfarin patients preferred the convenience of self-testing over testing at a clinic.
Studies also show that patients who self-test tend to test more often, so they stay in the proper therapeutic range longer than patients who are monitored less often by a doctor. The longer you stay in range, the lower your chances of having an adverse event, like a stroke or even death.
If you’re considering PST for yourself or someone you care for, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your lifestyle. You should be motivated to test, physically able to perform the test (after training), and responsible to follow your doctor’s orders for how often to test and how to report your results.
The next step will be for your doctor to write a prescription and connect you with a PST service provider that can supply the meter and the necessary face-to-face training from a certified professional. The provider can also help you with ordering supplies, reporting results and filing insurance paperwork, and can even send you gentle reminders to help you stay on your testing schedule and keep your therapy on track.
The costs associated with self-testing may be reimbursable through Medicare or a private insurer, depending on your diagnosis and medical coverage.
Research shows that nearly two out of three AFib patients who are not testing at home don’t even know it’s an option. So friends and family can be a big help by sharing this information. To request a PST patient information kit or to learn more about potential coverage for PST through Medicare or private insurance, call (888) 601-0229 or visit www.TestWithCoaguChek.com.