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 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 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.
Posted on August 23, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
What did you say? Can you repeat that, please? Hearing loss makes communication a challenge, which, unfortunately, may put relationships in peril. Feelings of anger, frustration and resentment are often experienced by those suffering from hearing loss, as well as by spouses, family members and friends who are constantly barraged with requests to repeat themselves or talk louder.
With millions of people affected by hearing loss, according to the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), there are, no doubt, a significant number of relationships suffering from a lack of communication. And while the best way to treat hearing loss is with a hearing aid, the AAA also cites that only one out of every five adults who needs a hearing aid actually wears one.
Do you or someone you know show any of the signs below? Hearing loss could be affecting your relationships:
• Your hearing is muffled and you ask your family members or friends to repeat constantly.
• Your other half is covering his or her ears because the TV is too loud and you still can’t hear it.
• You have difficulty understanding what your partner is saying in public spaces.
• When there are competing voices or background noise, you cannot distinguish the specific words.
• You have begun avoiding conversation and social interaction.
All of the above situations can cause depression and isolation. A good course of action to pursue is a hearing test and trying a hearing aid to be sure the depression is not hearing-related.
For more information on hearing loss, try these online resources:
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 August 2, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Della Westerfield enjoys being creative… and it shows in her dedication to her role as Assistant Activity Coordinator for The Springs, Treasures of Lakeview and Friendship House communities at St. George Village.
Della calls on her background in community service and dance and exercise instruction when she plans activities for residents, such as storytelling, bowling, dancing, nature walks or special programs like the monthly “Love and Kisses” show.
“I bring in different individuals and groups to entertain — we’ve had everything from dance troupes and musicians to singers and comedians doing monologues,” she says. “The program started out in the lounge of The Springs, but it’s grown so much that we moved it to the auditorium. A lot of our independent living residents love the show, too!”
Della has a lifelong love of dance and performing. Her dream is to one day open a studio that teaches a wide variety of cultural dance, such as Irish, West African, Mexican Folk and more.
“I’d like to provide an opportunity for kids to learn about different cultures through dance,” she says, adding that “it could bridge the gap of understanding.”
Recently named SGV Care Partner of the Quarter, Della says she loves working at St. George Village because of the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere.
“Everyone is so helpful to each other — staff and residents. Everyone is doing their part,” she says. “I find that really nice. You feel welcome here.”