St. George Village Blog
Category Archive: Independent Living Knowledge Center Wellness
Posted on August 11, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Should you be taking the medications you’re taking? If you’re 65 or older, that’s an important question to ask yourself and your healthcare provider. Why? Because some commonly prescribed medications can actually be harmful for older adults.
As you get older, your body changes. These changes can increase the chances that you might have side effects from certain drugs. For example, your liver or kidneys may not function quite as well as when you were younger, so your body can’t process medications in the same way. This can lead to a build-up of the drug in your system, which can increase the risk of side effects such as falls, a drop in blood pressure or heart rate, drowsiness, or confusion.
Many older adults have two or more health problems that require multiple medications and treatments. Because of this, older adults are more likely to experience potentially harmful interactions between their prescriptions. In fact, every year, one in three adults 65 and older has one or more harmful reactions to medications they are taking.
“Older adults and their caregivers need to take an active role in managing their medications,” says Cathy Alessi, M.D., a physician who specializes in the care of older adults and is the president of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). “They need to ask questions of their doctor, nurse, physician assistant, or pharmacist, and read the information that comes with their medications. All medications have side effects, even those sold over-the-counter. That’s why patients should discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with their healthcare provider before deciding which ones are right for them.”
What should you do to lower your odds of having harmful medication side effects or drug interactions? Here are five tips from the American Geriatrics Society:
1. Bring a list of all the medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter drugs you’re taking to every medical appointment. The list should include the dosages you take and how often you take them. Be sure your emergency contact person or caregiver has an up-to-date copy of the list.
2. If you notice a new health problem or symptom after starting a new medication, you may be having a harmful drug reaction. Tell your healthcare provider right away. If you have a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing or swelling in your throat, call 911 and go to the emergency room immediately.
3. Fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy and get to know your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist’s job is to be aware of all the medications you’re taking. Most pharmacies use computer systems that alert the pharmacist to possible drug interactions.
4. Once or twice a year, ask your primary healthcare provider to review your list of medications, supplements, and vitamins. Ask whether you still need to take each one, and at its current dose. There may be times when your provider will decide to stop some of your medications or adjust the doses. Just remember, though, that you should never change the dose or stop taking any medication without first consulting your provider.
5. Whenever a healthcare professional prescribes a new medication, changes a dosage, or stops prescribing a drug you’ve been prescribed, ask for an explanation. It’s important that you understand these changes in your care.
To help healthcare providers care for older adults who take multiple medications, the AGS has published a list of medications that may cause harmful side effects in older people when taken alone or in combination. In the healthcare industry this list is known as the “Beers List,” or “Beers Criteria,” and is named after the late Dr. Mark Beers, a geriatric medicine specialist who originated the list in 1991.
For more information about how to safely manage your medications, visit www.healthinaging.org, the website of the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging.
Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider About Your Medications:
• Why are you prescribing this particular medication?
• Are there other medications that might be safer or more effective?
• What are the potential side effects? Which ones are serious enough to call you or 911?
• How will I know if the medication is working?
• Does this medication interact with any other drugs I’m taking?
• Are there any dietary restrictions I should follow?
Posted on July 28, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
by Gary Player
As a professional golfer, it has always been important to me to stay in shape—and you can do so, too. As a matter of fact, my commitment to health and fitness has been a big part of my success in golf, winning tournaments over the course of five decades. However, as I get older, I realize that it takes a little bit more stretching, a little more training and a little more recovery time to keep in shape.
Most older people face such struggles, no matter how athletic they have been throughout their lives.
Staying fit is extremely important at any age, and not just for athletes. It can lead to improved sleep, weight control, concentration and mood.
It’s important for you to keep active as you get older to help stave off high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as other medical conditions that seniors often face, such as osteoporosis and depression.
Keeping in shape can also reduce the likelihood of falls and help you remain independent for years to come. For instance, regular jogging increases men’s life expectancy by 6.2 years and women’s by 5.6 years, the Copenhagen City Heart Study found.
Fortunately, you can get in shape at just about any age. Consider the more than 10,000 adults over the age of 50 who participate every two years at the National Senior Games presented by Humana. They’re an excellent example of people who not only recognize the importance of fitness but excel at multiple athletic activities.
You don’t need to be a super-athlete to stay in shape, but it’s important to get out there and do something. Here are three tips to help you keep fit:
• Fitness Classes. Many health plans offer fitness classes—such as SilverSneakers through Humana Medicare Advantage—or yoga to give older individuals a fun, easy way to stay in shape. Staying fit in a group setting can be motivating and help you stay social.
• Health Screenings & Annual Physicals. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all Medicare members now have access to one free annual wellness visit. Many preventive screenings, including type 2 diabetes and various cancers, are now also covered. Meeting with your primary care physician will give you more detailed, personalized information on what you can do to get and stay in shape.
• Exercise Like a Kid. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t exercise like a kid. After all, a recent American Cancer Society survey found that women are more likely to be physically active if it feels more like play and less like work. Simply jump on a bike or play an interactive video game, such as Wii bowling or—my favorite—Wii golf. You can also find multigenerational playgrounds across the country to help stay in shape.
Posted on July 8, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you’re ever invited to a free seminar that promises to teach you about investing or managing money in retirement, and that comes with a free meal, there may be a few facts you should digest first.
Research by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that 64 percent of Americans age 40 and older have been invited to so-called “free lunch” seminars. While a free meal or prize might be enticing, in many cases the goals of these seminars are to recruit new clients and sell products.
“Even when described as purely educational, free-meal seminars typically have one aim and that’s to sell you something,” said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. “That ‘something’ might be a book, a particular product or financial services. But just because someone buys you a meal doesn’t mean you have to swallow any pitch—that day or days down the road.”
Securities regulators such as FINRA conducted more than 100 examinations of free-meal seminars. In half the cases, invitations and advertisements contained exaggerated or misleading claims, and 12 percent of them appeared to involve fraud.
If you decide to attend a free-meal seminar, be cautious and informed:
• Watch out for conflicts of interest. Even if the people who host a seminar or speak at the event are industry experts, they might not be the ones actually paying for it. At times, insurance companies or mutual funds finance these seminars, expecting the speaker to drive sales of their products.
• Do your homework before the seminar. You can verify that the salesperson is licensed and the investment is registered at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s website.
• Ask questions while you’re there. What are the risks of this investment? How much does it cost initially to purchase the investment? For what type of investor is this investment a good idea? For what type of investor is this investment a bad idea?
• Don’t buy anything or open an account on the spot. The seminar might be intended just to introduce you to the product, with a hard sell later. After the event, do some research on your own. Understand the risks. While the prospect of high rates of return might sound tempting, remember that there may be additional risks or costs associated with the product.
• Savvy investors refuse to be rushed. A good investment will be available tomorrow or next week or next month when you’re ready and understand where your money is going. Rarely, if ever, do you have to invest your money on the spot.
For resources that can help you avoid investment fraud, visit the FINRA Foundation’s website.
Posted on June 8, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Iran, Egypt, China, Africa, NATO, the future of the Euro and the threat assessment of certain countries to the United States and other countries — these are the topics St. George Village residents are learning about and discussing in the Great Decisions program.
Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. This national civic education program, administered by the Foreign Policy Association, takes place in communities all across the U.S. Discussions highlight eight of the most thought-provoking foreign policy challenges facing American each year.
Great Decisions members are provided with background material — a study guide and a short DVD presentation — to review before each lecture takes place. Then they are treated to presentations by foreign affairs experts including university professors and ambassadors, who speak on the designated topic.
The Great Decisions program requires participants to commit to attending the eight presentations, which are scheduled throughout the year. About 30 SGV residents currently are members of the class, a number that has remained stable for the six years the program has been in existence.
SGV’s Great Decisions members find the presentations intellectually stimulating and thought provoking. And they never allow their diverse political views to get in the way of their discussions.
“We try to leave politics out of this particular situation,” says Pat Tritt, who organizes the program’s schedule and lines up the guest speakers. “Everyone is respectful of each other’s opinions.”
Posted on May 20, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Once again, court reporters are making sure that the stories of America’s veterans are recorded for future generations.
2013 marks the tenth consecutive year that the Veterans History Project (VHP) has worked with the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).
The mission of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
U.S. Representative Ron Kind (WI-3) proposed the Veterans History Project after interviewing veterans in his own family at a reunion. His wife, Tawni, a court reporter, knew that transcriptions would ensure the accessibility of interview content.
To date, more than 2,800 interviews in the VHP collection have been transcribed by court reporters. Once a court reporter transcribes an interview, the transcription is sent to the Library of Congress to be added to the veteran’s collection, and in many cases, it is digitized so that the public may access the transcript online.
Not only do court reporters serve VHP by transcribing oral histories that are submitted to the Library of Congress, they also dedicate their time as volunteer interviewers.
“I can’t tell you how rewarding it’s been to me to work with such dedicated professionals at VHP, and with court reporters who unselfishly volunteer their time and talent to ensure that these stories will be preserved so that future generations of Americans will know of the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom,” said Beth Kilker, NCRF’s Oral Histories Program Coordinator.
NCRF is also an ardent ambassador for VHP, and has promoted “VHP Days on Campus” at various court-reporting schools and firms. Most recently, NCRA held a “VHP Day” during the 2012 NCRA Convention in Philadelphia, and is planning a VHP Day during the 2013 NCRA Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
In addition to recorded interviews, VHP also depends on volunteers to donate veterans’ original photographs, letters, military documents, diaries, journals, two-dimensional artwork and unpublished memoirs.
NCRF is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and the philanthropic arm of the 18,000-member professional association for stenographic court reporters, NCRA.
To learn more or participate, visit Veterans History Project
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
We’ve all heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Research shows an aspirin a day may do the same.
How often have you heard about chewing an aspirin if you feel the symptoms of a heart attack? If it’s that critical to get the medication to your system, isn’t it as important to know you are taking a safe dose?
Good news — there is a simple blood test that is available to aid your doctor in assessing response to aspirin.
For many Americans, a “baby” aspirin is prescribed — 81 mg — for ongoing preventative care post-cardiac procedure or even as a precautionary way to help prevent stroke. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) encourages aspirin intake for men aged 45-79 years to help prevent myocardial infarctions (also known as heart attacks) and women aged 55-79 years because of a potential benefit of stroke prevention. Always check with your physician before embarking on an aspirin regimen.
Since it’s known there are potential side effects with aspirin use, particularly stomach upset due to potential bleeding risks, you will want to be sure you are getting the optimal effect with the lowest dose possible. The VerifyNow System is a product that tests for aspirin-providing the physician information on platelet reactivity. Aspirin and drugs like clopidogrel (the generic form of the branded drug Plavix) are anti-platelet medications designed to prevent the blood cells from “sticking together.” The medications can help prevent a clot, which can lead to a more serious cardiovascular event. Studies show that up to one in three patients’ platelets do not respond appropriately. Only your physician can check to see how your platelets are reacting and make decisions about your care.
As with other medications, some people often wonder if their medications are having the desired effect. Stop wondering, and start asking about a chance to see how your platelets are responding. The next time you visit your doctor, and you are asked for a blood sample to measure your level of cholesterol, or the technician measures your blood pressure, you might want to ask about the VerifyNow Aspirin Test as well. Like those other routine measurements, this test is also available nationwide in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Your health care provider wants to provide the best protection possible to patients, so anyone on anti-platelet therapy should be tested. To find a physician who can offer the easy-to-administer VerifyNow Tests, including one for aspirin and one called the VerifyNow PRUTest to see how the P2Y12 inhibitors (also known as brand name Plavix or the generic name, clopidogrel) are affecting the platelets, log on to www.accumetrics.com/request or call (800) 643-1640.
Posted on March 29, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
An active lifestyle contributes to a healthy body and mind — staying active enhances the immune system and helps prevent illness, improves memory, reduces stress and increases your sense of well-being. St. George Village resident Mary Ann Hearn is the embodiment of an active lifestyle.
When Mary Ann moved to SGV, she was pleasantly surprised to find the extensive list activities offered by the community.
“I’d visited one retirement place in Florida [where I was living at the time] and knew it was not for me,” she recalls. “But my daughter and her husband had been looking at continuing care communities here in Atlanta and when they saw St. George Village, they knew this was the right place.”
Mary Ann says she’s always been physically active and attributes that activity to her continued good health and mental sharpness. The former Miss America contestant and dancer enjoys the many fitness classes offered at SGV, such as stretching, strength training, Tai Chi and yoga.
“Whenever they offer an exercise class, I take it,” she laughs. “Tai Chi is wonderful for my posture and balance. And I particularly love the yoga class!”
Mary Ann says that participating in classes or other activities such as gardening and serving on SGV’s Election Committee have not only helped her stay physically and mentally sharp, but also helped her meet people and make new friends. She encourages fellow seniors to participate in activities they enjoy and to occasionally try something unfamiliar.
“It’s always good to try something new,” she says. “Or else you’ll never know. You may really like it!”
Posted on March 22, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Investing some time and effort in researching your stockbroker — just as you would if he or she were a security — can pay dividends.
That’s the word from experts who say before working with a broker or other financial professional, make sure that person is licensed to sell you an investment. One way to do this is by using a free online tool from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) called BrokerCheck.
To use the online tool, go to FINRA BrokerCheck. You can look up a specific firm or investment professional. You can also search by zip code.
When researching individuals, the tool can be used to find:
• employment history;
• approved licenses, registrations, and qualification exams passed;
• certain misdemeanor charges and convictions; and
• disciplinary actions and sanctions imposed by FINRA, the SEC or other regulators.
When researching a firm, the tool can be used to find:
• its address, legal status and types of business it engages in;
• a 10-year history of all felony charges and convictions, and certain misdemeanor charges and convictions;
• disciplinary actions and proceedings initiated by regulators; and
• bankruptcy proceedings and arbitration award information.
Even if an individual or firm does not have a history of reported problems, the tool can help detect potential red flags. For example, you can see if an individual broker has switched firms frequently over a short period of time, or if the firm has changed its name often.
“The first step any investor should take before he or she does business is to use BrokerCheck to do a background search,” said Gerri Walsh, president of FINRA Investor Education Foundation. “Make sure the investment professional is licensed either with FINRA as a registered representative or with the SEC or a state regulator as a registered investment adviser.”
It’s also a good idea to check with your state securities regulator, local consumer groups or others who have business relationships with a particular financial professional.
FINRA is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.
For more resources, visit FINRA’s website.
Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans with a new Medicare card, you may take a healthy interest in how best to benefit from it.
One of the first and most important things to consider now that your new plan is in effect is prescription drug coverage. Perhaps the best way to save on medication costs is to utilize a pharmacy that’s within your Part D plan’s preferred network. Walgreens, for example, is a part of preferred networks with some of the nation’s largest plans, such as Coventry, Humana, SmartD Rx and UnitedHealthcare.
The benefit to beneficiaries is not only convenience, but cost savings. By using a preferred network pharmacy, you can recognize significant savings on prescription co-pays and medication expenditures.
It’s also important to understand the preventive health services you may need, what’s covered by Medicare and where you can go for these and other services. Medicare covers an annual wellness visit at your doctor’s office. In addition, immunizations, health tests and annual medication and plan reviews may also be available at your local pharmacy, so talk with your pharmacist or plan provider if you have questions on these or other services.
If you take multiple medications, many Medicare Part D plans will cover face-to-face annual checkups as well. Your pharmacist will review all your medications, vitamins and supplements, see if there are lower-cost alternatives and make sure you’re taking everything in the right way to get the best possible results. The pharmacist can then call your doctor to discuss any recommended changes, and you’ll receive a Medication Action Plan that you can share with your doctor.
Medicare Wellness benefits provide discounts on medications and services including immunizations, screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease. However, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only 6.5 percent of eligible seniors have utilized this benefit. That’s where your pharmacist can be a great resource to help understand what services are covered.
Visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about how to make the most of Medicare and your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Posted on March 10, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
St. George Village is all about building relationships — not only the relationships between staff and residents and their families, but also in the fostering of friendships among residents and in building partnerships between SGV and the community. One such partnership brings students in from neighboring Blessed Trinity Catholic High School to participate in activities with SGV residents.
The teens help out with a variety of regular activities like serving refreshments at weekly parties and as callers on Bingo night, but they’re also a wonderful resource for special events that entertain and inspire residents.
For example, students have participated in two fashion shows at St. George Village, modeling their attire for the Spring prom and then for the Homecoming dance in the fall. SGV Activities Coordinator Helen Hendricks says that the fashion shows are interesting for both students and seniors.
“The students had great fun talking to our residents,” she says. “They enjoyed answering questions about their clothes and the dances, but they also enjoyed hearing the older people’s memories of their own high school days. Some of the students actually seemed even more engaged than the residents.”
SGV Healthcare Activities Manager Renee Krosner says she has noticed several friendships springing up between the seniors and the teens because of the opportunities these activities present for intergenerational interaction.
“A lot of these students want to help seniors because they’ve seen what their own grandparents needed. They just have that calling,” she states. “So, when they’re here at St. George Village, they do build relationships.”
These friendships, many of which last even after the students graduate from high school, are beneficial for both generations.
“The interaction with the younger generation really helps keep our residents interested and thriving,” says Hendricks. “But the students also get a lot out of these events. It’s fulfilling for everyone.”