St. George Village Blog
Category Archive: Independent Living Knowledge Center Lifestyle Wellness
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 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 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.
Posted on September 20, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
A delightful way to enjoy wholesome eating can start with your packing your plate with produce, including a dynamite little fruit—the Concord grape. Concord grapes are bold in taste and pack quite a nutritious punch. They can be enjoyed as 100% grape juice or in simple, healthy and flavor-packed recipes.
Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice can help support a healthy heart. According to Alton Brown, spokesperson for Welch’s and Food Network star, food historian and scientist, “Welch’s presses the entire Concord grape, skin, seed, pulp and all, and that releases heart-healthy plant nutrients called polyphenols.”
Many of the polyphenols in Concord grapes are the same as those found in wine. In fact, you can even use 100% grape juice instead of sweet wine in a variety of recipes.
There are many ways to get your share of the goodness of Concord grapes. 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes can be enjoyed in a glass as a nutritious beverage and can easily be incorporated into recipes for desserts, low-fat salad dressings, marinades and more. This tasty ingredient may not only enhance the flavor of your favorite dishes, it can add a boost of heart-healthy purple fruit to your day.
Here’s one easy (and delicious) way to add this one-of-a-kind fruit to your menu:
Poached Pears in Grape Juice
1-½ cups Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes
2 cinnamon sticks
2 strips of orange rind
4 pears, peeled with stems remaining
• In a medium saucepan, bring grape juice, cinnamon and orange rind to a boil.
• Place pears standing in saucepan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Turn or spoon juice over pears as they simmer. Remove pears and let cool.
• Reduce sauce by boiling down to about 1⁄3 cup.
• Spoon sauce over pears and keep chilled.
• Serve pears by themselves or with light whipped cream.
You can find more facts, tips and recipes to share the goodness of Concord grapes with your family at www.welchs.com.
(Courtesy of Welch’s)
Posted on September 13, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
In addition to significant health insurance changes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included tax law changes. Several of those changes will impact 2013 federal tax returns, due April 15, 2014.
“Online tax preparation solutions like TaxACT will cover all the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act plus hundreds of other tax law changes,” said TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. “All you have to do is answer simple questions. The program does the math and completes the tax forms for you.”
The tax law changes in the health care act, also known as “Obamacare,” for 2013 returns include:
• Reporting health insurance premiums, flexible spending beyond payroll deductions and other premiums paid by employees and their employers. “Simply enter the amount in Box 12 with Code DD on your Form W-2 when prompted by the tax program,” said Dolmage. “You’re providing information only; it won’t change your taxable income.”
• Higher threshold for deducting medical expenses. The threshold for itemizing medical expenses increases to 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The threshold for taxpayers age 65 and older remains at 7.5 percent. Tax software will calculate the deduction based on medical expenses entered.
• 3.8 percent tax on net investment income. Individuals and heads of household with an AGI of $200,000+, married couples filing separately with an AGI of $125,000+, and couples filing jointly with an AGI of $250,000+ must pay the tax. Answer a few questions about investment income and your tax program will do the rest.
• Additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages and compensation in excess of $200,000. Taxpayers in those same AGI ranges are subject to the additional Medicare tax. It’s automatically withheld from employee wages, with the total amount provided in Box 6 of Form W-2. The tax is calculated for business owners or self-employed using figures on Schedule SE.
The health insurance requirement begins to have implications on 2014 income tax returns (due April 2015). If you have health insurance, your online tax solution will guide you through the simple process of reporting it on your tax return. If you don’t have health insurance for a total of three or more months in 2014, you may pay a penalty that’s reported and calculated on your return. Tax programs will calculate the amount based on the number of uninsured individuals in your household and household income.
Uninsured individuals can shop and apply for health insurance through online “marketplaces,” also called “exchanges,” starting October 1, 2013. States will have their own marketplaces, use the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, or have a hybrid of the two. Enrollment closes March 31, 2014.
If you don’t have access to minimum required employer-provided insurance and purchase insurance through a marketplace, you may qualify for a tax credit. The money can be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. Eligibility and amounts are based on the cost of marketplace premiums and your household size and income. The credit will be paid directly to the health insurance company. If you elect to receive a lesser credit or no credit at all, you can claim the refundable credit on your 2014 tax return.
Whether you have a simple or complex situation, TaxACT makes it easy to navigate the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act anytime, anywhere. Prepare, print and e-file your federal taxes free at www.taxact.com/afford able-care-act. Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace for information about insurance options.
Posted on September 9, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Audrey Hall says that her children are to thank for her ability to hear these days.
“The kids were wonderful — they made me do it!” she laughs. But Audrey has no regrets when she talkes about the hearing devices that allow her to once again actively participate in the world around her.
Audrey found herself in a growing number of situations where she could not hear, such as being at a meal in the dining room with friends. And her children finally convinced her that she was missing out on a lot by not being able to hear.
“Being able to communicate is so important,” says Audrey’s daughter, Cindy Grey, who took her mother to be evaluated by an audiologist.
Audrey was fitted with Lyric® extended wear hearing aids. Placed deep in the ear canal where they are virtually invisible to others, the devices are worn 24 hours a day for months at a time, even during activities like showering, exercising and sleeping. This type of device works well for Audrey, who also has macular degeneration, which is responsible for her declining vision.
“The Lyric hearing aids are wonderful for someone who can’t see well and would have trouble replacing batteries in another type of hearing aid,” she explains. “I never take these out of my ears.”
Audrey has enjoyed her Lyric hearing aids for the past two years. She goes in to the audiologist’s office about every three months for replacements, but doesn’t have the daily hassle of remembering to put her hearing aids in, nor does she have to worry about replacing the batteries.
With a family that includes her two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren as well as a host of friends at St. George Village, Audrey is pleased to be able to communicate and enjoy hearing them again.
“I can’t say enough [good things] about my hearing aids,” says Audrey. “You just get to the point where you have to hear.”
If you believe you have hearing loss, consult an audiologist. Audiologists hold graduate or
doctorate degrees from accredited universities, are licensed, and are trained to detect, diagnose, manage and nonmedically treat hearing disorders.
To learn more about Lyric Extended Wear Hearing Aids, call 1.866.964.8450 or visit Lyric.